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The Journey to Transformation Starts with a Resurrection of the Ordinary

Posted on March 29, 2016
By Al Etmanski

There is a great deal of caring, conserving, creating, innovating, entrepreneuring, protecting, advocating for all life on earth (human, plant and animal) that is done by so-called ordinary people. A quick scan of my friends and neighbours reveals C. who has been growing organic lettuce and greens for 15 years; P. a young mom of two who is leading a campaign to stop dirty coal-bearing trains from entering Canada; J. who is a sole source of support for a friend who may never recover from a debilitating stroke; W. who stopped the trees on our local dyke from being cut down; V. who is caring for her ageing mother; T. and his neighbours who cleaned up a local stream making it possible for salmon to return and D. who is part of a network of support for a friend with cancer.

What is unique about these caring actions is that they are not unique. Caring takes place every day, everywhere by just about everyone. What is noteworthy is that these individuals and their actions seldom get configured into the plans of those who seek societal transformation. They are the under-appreciated rank and file of society similar to the many who built the pyramids. The equivalent of dark matter – unseen and unfelt but pivotal to the Universe’s formation.

Imagine what would happen if these individuals were networked? Imagine if their actions were linked in with yours?

The transformation we seek depends on a recognition and resurrection of this unifying phenomenon. So ordinary we barely recognize it. Yet so essential for the transformation we all desire.


“Gardening is not a rational act. What matters is the immersion of the hands in the earth, that ancient ceremony of which the Pope kissing the tarmac is merely a pallid vestigial remnant. In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

– Margaret Atwood


Check out this beautiful piece performed by acclaimed Québec harpist Valérie Milot Zaragoza by Albéniz. Listen here. Buy here.

Al Etmanski

By Al Etmanski

Al Etmanski is the President of PLAN (Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network) and has been a leading advocate for people with disabilities and their families in Canada for more than two decades. He is widely recognized as a visionary thinker in areas of social policy, community development and individualizing services for people with disabilities. Al is an author, advocacy consultant and social inventor who specializes in finding innovative, non-governmental solutions to social problems.

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