Creative Home Adventures, Warm Community, Simple pleasures
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
January brings chilly nights and more opportunity to slow down and simplify. During this time of hunkering down, we invite you to create home adventures and reflect with us on the simple things that really matter like finding community in different ways.
Adventure at Home Through Drops of Experience
Time to hygge!
Cocoon Yourself in Coziness. We can’t be together with extended family and friends, but we can create a cozy feeling as we wait out the winter and the pandemic. Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cozy, charming, or special. Hygge is a knitted blanket and a warm fire in the fireplace. It’s a hot cup of tea, wool socks, and a good book. Hygge encompasses all five senses, so food should certainly not be overlooked. Warming beverages such as tea, coffee, and glögg (Scandinavian mulled wine), and hearty dishes such as pie, pastries, and porridge—any type of comfort food, really—will help you achieve the ultimate hygge moment. Community plays a huge role in hygge, because it’s believed that life’s feel-good luxuries are best experienced in the company of friends. Dress in your most comfortable soft sweater, grab a cup of hot tea, and join your Institute community on Zoom for John Cobb & Friends Tuesdays. We can't hug but we can hygge!
- a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
"Why not follow the Danish example and bring more hygge into your daily life?"
Sometimes, the simple things are more fun and meaningful than all the banquets in the world
―E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly
I write today with much gratitude today, to share my view of what we accomplished in 2020, and what more we can do in 2021.
What a remarkable year it has been! Despite the painful loss of John Gingrich, and perhaps also because of the many great challenges we all faced, 2020 was a very difficult year. But it was also a year of tremendous growth for the Cobb Institute. Here are some of the highlights:
- In 2020, we sponsored two “Process Conferences”: a smaller gathering of leaders in the process movement at the University of La Verne in February during John Cobb’s Birthday Party, and more recently a “Zoom” conference, “Process Thought At a New Threshold,” which bought together groups and individuals from the wider process family to reflect on our past, consider our current situation, and brainstorm about future possibilities.
- The Cobb Institute, led by Michael Witmer, co-sponsored the Pomona Re-Imagining conference, the first of four community building events set for the coming year. The conference hosted break out sessions attended by two dozen local activists to discuss how urban agriculture can help meet the food shortages being experienced during the pandemic.
- The Cobb Institute information technology team, led by Director of Operations Richard Livingston, redesigned our website, created our Facebook page, established our YouTube Channel, began our podcast series, Conversations in Process, and jumped into the social media world with both feet. Our Facebook community grew from 48 members to 220. YouTube subscribers increased from 16 to 329 subscribers, and our podcasts, begun in July with 149 downloads, finished with over 300 in December.
- Our “Tuesday with John Cobb and Friends,” facilitated by Ron Hines, are weekly events that have grown from 15-20 to an average of 45-50 attendees. Our “friends list” grew from around 50 folks to 170. Tuesday conversations have been led by such notables as Rev. Dr. Thandeka, professor and author Bob Mesle, Professor Peter Sellars from UCLA, Mary Evelyn Tucker Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale, our own Professor Jay McDaniel, and many others.
- John Cobb’s “Probing Process and Reality” online class had over 1,000 registrants! And Jay McDaniel’s “Walking with Whitehead” class attracted over 50 participants and had tremendous positive feedback.
What about 2021? We have some ideas for more exciting adventures in process, and we continue to pursue the theme of “What is, What Could Be.” With your help, we will continue on our mission to promote . . .
a process-relational worldview to advance wisdom, harmony, and the common good. It engages in local initiatives and cultivates compassionate communities to bring about an ecological civilization. These aims will be accomplished by fostering creative transformation through educational development, community collaboration, sustainable practices, and spiritual integration.
I’m filled with hope, and I’ve never been a part of anything like this. More and more each day, I feel we are building a process community and making a difference. We’re ready for 2021, eager to go, and I’m deeply honored to have the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people!
Many thanks and best holiday wishes,
Chairman of the Board
P.S. It’s the end of the year, a time of giving. Your gifts will pave the way for the Cobb Institute to enter 2021 as strongly as possible. Thank you so much for considering it. Please make any donations at the Cobb Institute's donation page, or send a check to PO Box 931, Claremont, CA 91711. Checks should be payable to “Cobb Institute.” The Cobb Institute is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and their tax ID number is: 83-3795165.
In Good Company: Thoughts on Community
Our Institute understands that community is central to a process culture. This is true at many levels. Most human societies in the past have encouraged local communities as the foundation for larger ones. Both in apartment living and in suburbs we have experimented with individualism. The result has been a society of lonely individuals who do not feel responsible for others and for whom no one else is responsible.
We may join organizations by paying dues, but in many cases, they do not function as communities for us. Covid has not helped. We work with other people, but the climate is often more competitive than cooperative. A little competition can be fun and helpful, but unless it is in a wider context of cooperation, we pay for it with lack of community.
Some people have learned how to exploit our need for community in such a way that we end up supporting dangerous political or religious movements.
But lots of healthy small communities still exist. Process thought calls on us to build on this, to learn from them, and to bring new communities into being. Many boards of organizations are made up of fine people, but they often do their business as efficiently as possible so as to get on with life elsewhere. We take time to listen to one another, to learn, and to share.
We want to create more community with and among other members of the Institute, and perhaps also other communities elsewhere in the country. We want to be part of a larger community of process organizations. As communities and members of communities we can accomplish a lot, because we don't waste energy in competition, and use it instead to support one another. Even small groups of people, working in community, can accomplish a great deal.
I said it at the “New Threshold” conference, this is a warm community. That is our superpower. I have connected with people all over the world because of this group. I have made many new friends and have explored process philosophy with them and learned from them. I especially like our use of the word friends for our weekly John Cobb & Friends gatherings. I like being part of the process family, but it is the individuals who bring warmth to our group. Even though the pandemic threatens to keep us apart, we have found each other through Zoom. Now so many more can join than before. As relational beings we impact each other, and the awareness of this connectedness brings meaning to this philosophy that we embrace. We are all process superheroes!
Lynn De Jonghe
Coretta Scott King once said: The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members. As we move into a new year, and hopefully into a more positive perspective, we may reflect, like Robert Burns, on our auld acquaintance and auld lang syne.
Who do we know...and how...and why? What commonalties do they share with us? Gender? Ethnicity? Age, Local neighborhood? Religious, political or ethical beliefs?
How do they differ from us?
How do we connect with these folks? By walking? By car? By train or plane? By telephone? By email, Facebook, and Zoom?
Who do we reach out to help...and how...and why? To family? Friends? The old man struggling with his cart in the store? The homeless woman on the corner? Well-meaning NGOs? Political groups? Local civic groups?
Who do we ask for help...and how...and why? Family members? Neighbors? Friends? Clergy? Professional experts? Who do we avoid...and how...and why? People of different color? Religions? Ages? Educational levels? Wealth and social status? Political views?
Too often our sense of community these days is defined by the same specialization that is plaguing our society as a whole. Too often we may find ourselves limiting our connections by age, by race, by political persuasion, by social status and wealth. The sense of separateness and anonymity that has tended to characterize urban life is now spreading to many local neighborhoods. It is time for each of us to ask how we can reach out beyond our restricted zones of comfort to embrace new acquaintances, new ideas, new perspectives.
It is time to recreate the vision of American neighborhoods. We must make them more accessible to our diverse population–to singles, single parent families, the working poor, the elderly, to people of different color, ethnicity, and faith. We should reclaim those traditional values of diversity, community, frugality and human scale that provide the basis for reaching out to each other with respect, care and compassion.
An old children’s song, sung in rounds, says it this way:
Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, and the other gold.
Alone Together, Building Community
The pandemic this year has forced many—especially retired seniors like me—into social isolation. Through this time, the Cobb Institute has certainly been a lifeline for me and for many others. The fact the Institute deals so heavily in ideas and intangibles has allowed our community to grow exponentially online through the magic of Zoom.
In the Community Collaboration Working Group which I lead, the progress we are making in Pomona has not been so clearly evident. Significant opportunities have presented, conversations are initiating and developing, relationships and networks are built in. Even agreements have been made and grants obtained. But we have yet to see much tangible change. Still, I feel we are a part of a great ferment among community groups and volunteers, like a mycelial network developing underground, one that will help bring critical resources to the city’s civic institutions once the time is right.
For now, it must be enough to just keep pressing forward, looking for the openings and opportunities the world presents. What keeps me going is that doors seem to open, people arrive, or key opportunities seem to present themselves at just the right moment. And they seem to come with a subtle reassurance that larger forces are at work, and we are working with them. I take these moments as signals that we’re on the right path; they are consolations and prods to keep faith and keep going.
What an exciting year of possibilities lays ahead!
"We need one another" by George Odell
We need one another when we mourn and want comfort.
We need one another when we are in trouble and are afraid.
We need one another when we are in despair, in temptation, and need to be recalled to our best selves again.
We need one another when we strive to accomplish some great purpose, and realize we cannot do it alone.
We need one another in the hour of success, when we look for someone to share triumphs.
We need one another in the hour of defeat, when with encouragement we try to endure, and stand again.
We need one another when we come to die and seek gentle hands to prepare us for the journey.
All our lives we are in need, and others are in need of us.
Flowers. Long Hugs. A soft robe and warm socks. Lynn’s poetry. A child’s laughter. Open Horizons. Holding hands. A warm cup of tea. Sleeping late on a rainy day. Unexpected kindness. Strangers that became friends. Kat’s videos. Freshly baked cookies. A good book. A card in the mail. John Cobb’s smile. An old movie. Ron’s red bow tie. Soft pajamas. Charlie and Bernie and Rosie doodle dogs. A song that touches the heart. A beautiful poem. A community of friends. Luna and Levon dogs in process. Good conversation. Birdsong. The scent of something baking in the oven. Bill’s Banjo. A long walk. Tom’s photographs. A pink sunset. A new jigsaw puzzle. Dog snuggles and cat purrs. Homemade art. Richard running our zoom meetings. Drops of experience.
We often focus on the big events in life, but we know that it takes many drops of experience to make a life, and many more to make a world. During this pandemic when we must stay in our homes, we look for the meaningful moments. Thanks to Zoom, we can continue to meet, even while wrapped in a blanket, or in our favorite pajamas.
In Japanese tea ceremony during the winter months, once everyone gathers inside, the tea house door is closed, and the kettle is moved from the tatami mats and placed in a sunken hearth. This is to keep the warmth inside. There is a togetherness in the tiny room as the warm tea is served. We learn about finding pleasure in the simple things in life and enjoying them with good company. At the Cobb Institute, we are grateful for your company.
“...Tea. There is nothing saner than tea, he thought. ... Tea was the great leveler. It brought calm, quiet, contentment, warmth. And it was something to do.
.....Tea – so normal, so mundane, so hot...
It required both caution and abandonment of the senses. It demanded that you move into it slowly and savor the moment. And it rewarded you with warmth and delicacy of taste and refreshment.
And after you were done, it could parse out your future.”
― Thea Devine
Process at Sinai
Rabbi Rachel Safman and Jay McDaniel discuss process thought and Jewish theology, drawing on three videos by their friend, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Everyone is welcome.
What: Three-week Course
When: Jan 18th, 25th, & Feb 1st, 7:00 Central
Who: Rabbi Rachel Safman, Temple Beth El, Ithaca, NY and Dr. Jay McDaniel
- The garden in process
- Sacred work-listen to the earth
- What to plant and when
- Preparing the ground- a partnership
- Seeds- the future banquet
- Soil is holy
- The elements-Water, Sun, weather
- Garden helpers- ladybugs and bees
- How to prune
- Saving seeds
- Urban harvest: extra food and community
- A process approach to growing food
- Recipe exchange
When: Thursdays, 6:00PM Pacific, Jan 28th thru Feb 18th
“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.”
Our Beloved Friend John Gingrich
Dr. Reverend John Gingrich passed away on Monday, December 7th, moving forward into the next phase of his journey. We miss him very much. He served as the Cobb Institute’s first Chairperson, and looked over many of us as an anxious but loving parent watching his children start a new adventure—the Claremont Institute for Process Studies, and then creatively advancing even further—the Cobb Institute: A Community for Process and Practice. He guided us in our first steps, offering us calm presence, practical advice, humor, and quiet, thoughtful wisdom. He presided over our board meetings with a gentleness and kindness we so admired, pulling and pushing us into a cohesive whole so that we could accomplish many projects and enjoy the journey along the way. He was always urging us to trust each other, and he was a shining example of that trust. We thought then, and think now, that the world needs more John Gingriches.
John was a wonderful teacher, and loved being one of John Cobb’s “oldest students.” He studied with Dr. Cobb and competed his PhD at Claremont Graduate University in 1973. He also held an MDiv, and began his Ministry as a Campus Minister at the University of La Verne where he eventually served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, embedding process thought into much of his work. He and his beloved wife Jacki also served as the Directors of Brethren Colleges Abroad, an academic exchange program in Germany. John was a professional choral singer with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Roger Wagner Chorale (although we never could get him to sing for the Board!).
John and Jacki are long-time Claremont residents and devoted members of many “communities of communities of communities.” They are proud parents of 2 adult sons, John and Joel, and 2 grandsons, Gus and Hans. John’s family has requested that any donations made in John's memory be directed to the John Gingrich Memorial Fund at the Cobb Institute. Click here to contribute to the fund.
“A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”
― Desmond Tutu