A unique approach has been designed and is being adapted and refined to meet the extraordinary challenges in contemporary western society of supporting our children’s awakenings and yearning for connections. It is through a whole system’s community-oriented rites of passage called the Planetarium Initiatory Event – PIE®. Yes, it happens in a planetarium.
I admit from the onset that a planetarium, while technologically sophisticated and providing enormous potential for learning at the level of the heart, or what academics might call “social-emotional learning” does not replace indigenous practices for reconnecting with ancient wisdom. And, by indigenous I mean those practices informed by one’s ancestor, spirit and their life-spaces, the places in the natural world in which they reside. However, under certain conditions a planetarium has the potential to become a place for the confluence of science and spirituality, technology and ancient wisdom.
When we sit within the dome of a planetarium it is like we are in a womb. Through proper preparation and orientation we have the potential to cross a threshold, achieve transcendence and become present during the Big Bang and remember our connection to all the elements that flared forth from that time.
PIE is not your grand parents planetarium show. It is a community engagement event for parents and their children entering puberty. It is designed to affirm a child’s awakening within the context of their family, school and community and includes high school mentors that are authentic partners in helping to make and serve PIE for younger children. PIE helps to unleash the full power and potential for a planetarium to engage a community and be a center for learning and youth development.
PIE is based on several assumptions and guiding principles.
First, it acknowledges that a central task of adolescence is not based on resolving intrapsychic or psychosocial conflicts manifested in storm & stress. It is to affirm our children’s “awakening” and guide their yearnings for sacred wisdom that reveals to them a connection between all things.
Second, It recognized rites of passage as our species central method for responding to our children’s awakening and yearning for connection.
Third, reciprocity characterizes the primal process of community-oriented initiation and rite of passage essential in strengthening cultural and community resiliency and adaptation for survival.
Fourth, housed in a planetarium PIE recognizes the power of multi-media methods, i.e. video, theater, movie, music, drama and contemporary technology to capture and hold our children’s, as well as their parent’s attention and stimulates transformation and transcendences as well as self-reflection, innovative thinking that stimulates conversation which uncover new ideas that can be brought to bear on community issues.
Fifth, a planetarium offers a unique setting to engage people in the unfolding story of the Universe. It can position youth and their parents in an emotionally charged drama within the context of community that can be both instructional and provide a platform for conversations that support youths’ transition to adulthood and mediate the potential collision of transitions between adolescence and mid-life.
Sixth, it recognizes that programs don’t help people, but people in authentic meaningful relationships can provide the necessary support and compassion that meets the needs of human beings.
Seventh, activities and designs that comprise a strategy or program can’t be completely manufactured and delivered into a setting or community fully baked. The best designs and strategies emerge within a set of principles that inform and guide people in authentic conversations as a foundation for our children’s transition to adulthood. We say: “Everything you need to know you already know. You just need to talk among yourselves for the right (rite) way to emerge.”
Eight, language is consciousness. If we really want to “think outside of the box,” be innovative and develop alternative ways of creatively imagining a new future and ways to get there we need to change the way we talk and work.
Confluence of Science and Spirituality
Astrophysicists, astronomers, evolutionary biologists and scientists have informed the narration for the animated sections in PIE that depict the birth of the Universe and evolution of our solar system and the emergence of humans. The design honors the confluence of science and spirituality where the unity between all things becomes apparent. The narration describes the dynamic elements in the universe, which are held together by balancing opposite forces: matter and antimatter, gravity and antigravity, good and evil. Through narration linking astrophysics and evolutionary biology, children come to recognize that the most powerful Force in the Universe is love. The design is concentrated on fostering children’s awakening to their individual purpose and the purpose of adolescence: to balance the opposite forces, especially good and evil, kindness and meanness, and to help their community remember that most powerful Force.
PIE also includes entry and exit rituals, chanting, conversations in a World Café style, delicious local food, and graphic remembrances of the event—thereby enacting one of our guiding principles: “Everything you need to know you already know. You just need to talk among yourselves for the right (rite) way to emerge.”
Figure 2. A graphic remembrance of authentic conversation among children and parents at the conclusion of the “First Taste of PIE” trial in Glastonbury, Connecticut in 2016. Art: Janine DiNatale
“Problems can not be solved at the same
level of awareness that created them.”
For more information of PIE® visit: www.PIEvent.org - view the trailer and take a journey into a new story that you can participate in to nourish life in your community.
Reflection: What does it takes to build whole communities and repair fractured ones?
Dialogue: What would we be doing when we are making and serving PIE in our community to nourish life?
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It’t time for a Paradigm Shift – a fundamental change in beliefs, theory and approach – in developing community-centered responses to the challenges faced by today’s Youth & Community. More here>>