About Green Sangha
About the organization
Green Sangha is mindful practice for awakened action:
We meet to meditate, educate, and support each other, and to plan environmental actions. These mini-retreats are designed to foster the qualities of calmness, clarity, and goodwill which are vital to our effectiveness as activists.
We incorporate a deep ecological perspective based on Joanna Macy’s work, and draw inspiration from the lives of non-violent leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama, and Julia Butterfly Hill.
Green Sangha is dedicated to restoring our sense of oneness – healing our communities and the earth through mindful practice and awakened action.
Inspired, awake individuals with a commitment to service deeply affect everything and everyone they touch. We aim to: 1) raise awareness of the interdependence of humans and our environment; 2) inspire mindfulness in daily lifestyle choices; and 3) catalyze systemic change in business practices and government policies.
We envision the restoration of a healthy biosphere that supports the infinite creativity and diversity of life. We engage in this work on three fronts:
1. Restoring oneness. The unraveling of the fabric of life on earth is a result of a fundamental misperception – thinking that we are separate from other life forms. Green Sangha works to raise awareness of what Thich Nhat Hanh calls “inter-being.”
2. Engaging with compassion. Activists sometimes forget that we are all part of the one body, earth. This forgetfulness can lead to hostility and burn-out. By meeting even those whom we oppose with thoughts, words, and actions rooted in love, we find common ground and solutions that serve the deepest needs of all involved.
3. Inspiring awakened action. For humanity to survive, the general population must be mobilized at the grassroots level to adopt lifestyle changes and advocate for systemic change. Green Sangha provides a model for ordinary citizens to meet in their living rooms for a few hours a month to catalyze change and adopt environmental actions.
Activities and accomplishments include:
2000. Founded by Fairfax teacher and psychotherapist Jonathan Gustin. Met in living rooms for meditation, reflection, and discussing ways to live more sustainably.
2004. Gave talks in churches and schools, distributing CFL’s, toilet tissue made from recycled fiber, and faucet aerators.
2006. Rethinking Plastics campaign. Co-led successful Fairfax plastic bag ban. Collaborated with government, grocers, and non-profits in Marin to pass three single-use plastics ordinances and several council resolutions. Catalyzed a steep reduction in plastic produce bags at local markets, saving an estimated 8 tons of plastic film per year.
2010. Low Carbon Diet. Through this educational program and its companion in Marin, Resilient Neighborhoods, we helped participants reduce their household carbon emissions by over 200,000 pounds a year.
2015. Mindful Leadership Training. Since 2008, over 500 youth, civic officials, and citizen activists have attended workshops in mindful communication and “sustainability from within.”
About the Founder
Jonathan Gustin, MA, MFT is a purpose guide, integral mentor, and spiritual teacher. He is a licensed psychotherapist with offices in San Francisco and San Rafael.
Jonathan has taught throughout the Bay Area, including at: Spirit Rock, CIIS, & JFK University. Jonathan teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mind-Body Medicine, and Integral Life Practice at Kaiser Permanente.
Jonathan Billig, MA, environmental educator
Trathen Heckman, Founder and Director, Daily Acts
Jack Kornfield, Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Kiki LaPorta, co-founder, Sustainable San Rafael; principal, DesCom Studios
Joanna Macy, Author and activist
Carol Misseldine, Director of Grassroots Organizing, Humane Society US
Mark Squire, Natural Foods Grocer, Fairfax
Diana Winston, Mindful Awareness Research Center, UCLA
By integrating spiritual development and environmental stewardship, Green Sangha contributes uniquely to the movement for sustainability:
1. We offer environmentalists the insights of meditation and the notion of tempering activist zeal in the light of spiritual principles.
2. We encourage spiritual organizations to examine their consumption practices, making resource use as conscious a practice as yoga, meditation, or charitable service.
3. We seek to awaken the entire community to the interdependence of all beings, encouraging fellow citizens to live consciously in their bodies and on this earth.