Creating an Awe-Full Community

Awe is where science and art meet to create something beyond ourselves.

Creating an Awe-Full Community

I recently returned from a 5-day 2200-mile road trip through Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. In those 5 days I spent lots of time in communities, with even more time observing the landscape between those stops and noting how my spirit rose and the way I engaged with a place changed with the appearance of inspiring visuals both natural and manmade. The common element in both arenas is the sense of awe awakened. And, once we open up to awe, we are empowered to use that transformative energy to develop thriving communities.

After doing a bit of research, I discovered a cache of videos, podcasts and articles about the power of awe produced by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Earlier this year, GGSC hosted “The Art & Science of Awe” bringing together thought leaders, community members and others for “A day exploring the science and experience of awe. Attendees will gain eye-opening insights and practical lessons to apply in health and educational settings, as well as in their own personal lives. And they will experience jaw-dropping moments of awe throughout the day.”

Key Takeaways:

    • Awe transforms your mind, how you look at your social world and how you engage with others.
    • Awe shifts us from self-interest into being interested in other people
    • Sacrifice for your group, you become more connected to your community, good for wellbeing and physical health, connects us to others.
    • Awe is the counterpoint to these cultural issues:
      • Too self-focused? Awe expands your world
      • Too greedy? Awe makes you more generous
      • Lack of purpose? Awe brings focus to purpose
      • Too stressed out? Awe improves health

How Awe Transforms Community

In an earlier post, I noted that Transformative Capital is captured in the elements we know as Wisdom (I care about my family), Empathy (I care about your family) and Community (We care about our families). It is this transformative capital that activates the crucible from which commitment to community wellbeing is born. It is the invisible capital that shapes our lives to reflect our most closely held values, making a house a home and bringing individuals into a true community. It is what we all need more of as our local economies emerge, develop and deepen.”  After this road trip, I have amended those transformative capital elements:

Ultimately, we all have it within us to create a thriving community. I am absolutely certain it cannot happen without all of us engaging with our natural ability to experience awe, share our wisdom and practice empathy every day towards ourselves and others.


2 thoughts on “Creating an Awe-Full Community

  • November 1, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks for this Ruth. I blogged about another facet of awe in relation to mental / emotional health a few months ago. The focus of that blog was on the power of educating children outdoors and the power of appreciating the small things in nature. Here’s the basic premise:

    “We humans are innately happier, calmer, and less self-obsessed (more engaged in the moment) when we are:

    • Outdoors, feeling safe and physically comfortable

    • Open to and aware of the dynamism and multiplicity of living things around us (especially the miracles of small things in insects, soil, and vegetation)

    • Surrounded by other people (of any age) who are having or sharing the same experience: playing, learning, hanging out with us.”

    Contextually, i was reminded of the above via visiting a Christian preschool who are moving as much of their day into the outdoors as possibly, primarily because of the behavioral and educational benefits. Also because of the ethos. Here’s the full blog, thanks again!

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