Monday, 18 June 2018

mildly ECSTATIC - From the Top

The online magazine New Human City went live in August 2016. Its founding team had been meeting for over nine months, with the working title OM Union, before one of the group, Nijen Cherkezyan, decided it was time to act. With NHC a WordPress fait accompli, Nijen brought in Monica Molotkiewicz as manager, Rob Caico as designer, and Jamie Ker as editor—all OM Unionists and excited volunteers.

By September 2016 the design reached the plateau it sustained for over a year, with Rob's idiosyncratic news heading a weekly list of articles in sections with titles like Marketplace, Travel, Sustenance, Evolve, The People... and a weekly column of editorial license, called mildly ECSTATIC, written by jme.

"Head and Heart", the first mE piece—copied from a post on the Google discussion page for The Move Collective—amplified the message to the Move at the dance on May 1, 2015. "The Long Walk" was the last of the weekly mE pieces; after the May 22 2017 issue, NHC began re-publishing pieces under the heading "GREEN movement" (from a private discussion group for greenmovementtoronto), with the mE column appearing every two weeks.

In October 2017 jme decided to pursue other opportunities, continuing as editor and part of the NHC team but not actively recruiting writers or providing articles. The last mE piece, "Princely Prerogative", came out on October 2. That month, with the looming possibility that NHC might be legally bound to share content, jme hastily deleted the mE files from WordPress. The complete "mildly ECSTATIC" series is being republished here by readwritetoronto.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

mildly ECSTATIC - "Head and Heart"

I've only got my fear to put above you/
you know we all get scared from time to time.
- John Martyn, Head and Heart
Valerie's theme last night was "Heartfelt Resilience", or "How do you pick yourself up when you've been knocked down by circumstances?" She has a mailing list for distributing dancers' answers, but the topic is also great for discussion here.
Val mentioned hate, provocatively, as common to all of us. Ow! Strong feelings have power over our thoughts; the heart overpowers the brain every time. If it weren't so, we would be machines—or we'd have achieved Nirvana. Who would claim such an achievement?
We collect to dance without words and to let our bodies speak our hearts and put our minds in the back seat (the baby seat). We will be hurt to the degree we are open but also to the degree we put our faith in ideals of what humans can be. People are frail: we're creatures of the heart, not of the mind. We will let each other down—but someone will be there to pick us up, too.
Thanks, Valerie!

First published by newhumancity on September 9, 2016

Saturday, 16 June 2018

mildly ECSTATIC - Reach

Youth is the man [sic] of whatever age who risks believing in the possibility of change.
- Matteo Renzi
We take risks like that here in the conscious community. We've become conscious of the need for change, as individuals and as a group-or groups. We try to put bad habits behind us and we habitually reach out to strangers with open minds. We are on the watch for new ways.
We are often out of step with the mainstream culture and we love it that way.
Humans as targets
Last night, U of T Professor Dilip Soman provided a seminar on marketing in which he focused on approaches to behavioural change and the need to ensure that "outcomes are both welfare-enhancing and ethically defensible." He asked, "What does it mean to be human?"
Apparently, we like to keep things in the future and we only make decisions when asked. The task of marketing is to overcome mindless behaviour, to help people think, and to remove the often trivial obstacles to that end. To marketing experts, humans are targets for prodding. The expert sells the latest ways of pushing us out of our set ways so we'll try something new.
Professor Soman is an expert who advises governments and very large corporations, so he speaks with authority about human behaviour. His research is creative and impeccable and has helped to change the behaviour of millions, not only in their purchasing decisions but in matters like filing taxes more promptly or bequeathing their organs.
Marketers live off and feed mainstream culture. They target apathetic and uncritical minds by pressing the buttons that awaken self-interest, acquisitiveness, the desire for convenience and comfort. What does it mean to be ethically defensible? To push products and processes that the powerful deem to be in the best interests of us all. Money's just a tool of exchange and our welfare is measured by gross (!) domestic product.
To the New Human City and the conscious community we target, humans are basically amazing learning beings. Changing behaviour doesn't take prodding, it's essential to why we love life. We aspire to change and to be change agents for each other.
The ethics of our interactions are moderated by our peers. If the group we meet with begins to seem exploitive, it's easy to catch on and move on. Our standards are set by the examples we set for each other.
OM Union
NHC had the working title "OM Union" for most of this year. It stuck for a long time, maybe because we liked the consciousness of an "OM", or because we were sure there was a void to be filled: a union of like minds, hearts, spirits and bodies to be nurtured.
Our community reaches out, ethically and for the well-being of all. Behavioural change comes from inside, naturally, not from analysis calculated to target our purchase habits or to streamline our behaviour in completing questionnaires. To the extent we can be, we are free to reach for the changes that beckon.

First published by newhumancity on September 13, 2016

Friday, 15 June 2018

mildly ECSTATIC - Wacky Thinking

Age harmonics
I'm sixty-one, a prime number. For at least a decade, I've played with the notion that every prime year of one's life is like a blank slate and non-prime years echo with the events and choices of years that are their multiples. For instance, last year I may have been in some sense revisiting a whole bunch of previous years: two, three, four, five, six, ten, twelve, fifteen, twenty and thirty—all numbers that go evenly into sixty. (I love math!)
Like ripples emanating from a pond or sound waves moving out from their source, the highs and lows of your past form harmonics that subtly affect you every day, then once in a while this "age harmonics" effect recedes and... then what?
Opening doors
Wacky thinking can only take you so far. Hopefully, it's harmless fun and not the basis of your self-image (or worse, your psychopathy). Bumper stickers as CIA social engineering? Clouds as messages from aliens? Most of us have had the experience of conversations playfully veering off into speculation and the person we're talking with saying, "Yeah, I was thinking about that, too!"
Please play! You never know where your imagination may take you and your friends. Sure, you can be the party pooper: "Every day is a blank slate! Besides, when you're sixty you're actually in your sixty-first year..." Maybe I'm pathetic, but I find comfort in the notion that this year is a blank slate, and if that notion helps me put my circumstances into a framework that suggests I try a little harder to think about my limitless (?) potential, I will happily indulge in auto-suggestion.
Casting stones
Last night at an NHC meeting I was gently chided by a co-editor about the use of "target" in my last article, Reach ("To the New Human City and the conscious community we target..."). Let the marketers target; we "aim to reach". Truly, it's easy for the mildly ecstatic to be so confident in their worlds that they become insensitive to how their thoughts and words might be misunderstood.
There is no New Human City, only the idea of one. Is it wacky thinking? One simple measure of that is how the idea affects you. We hope it brings the pleasant thought that you are a little more connected than you were the day before you found this website and the beautiful spirit here—not to mention the pleasant anticipation of new encounters in real time.
Will you judge the ideas that pop up in the conscious community, be a wet blanket? "People who live in grass houses shouldn't stow thrones." (Please write in for the rest of that joke.)
Help needed
The help needed in the New Human City includes tolerance and courage. Tolerance opens us to the strange and courage brings us to embrace it and maybe even to give it our own expression. Creating afresh on a blank slate or resonating with experiences we had long forgotten, we express individuality and the commonality of our kind. "There's nothing new under the sun", but there's a lot under the sun to discover, eh?!

First published by newhumancity on September 20, 2016

Thursday, 14 June 2018

mildly ECSTATIC - Conscious City

Happiness, optimism, passion or tribal pride

On September 19th the New Human City team decided that the site is ready enough for us to begin publicizing it. Lots of readers will sense our enthusiasm and lots of those will embrace New Human City like a new friend they want to know better. How groovy!

Many readers, however, won’t get far before they feel less positive reactions. Hopefully this mildly ecstatic article will address annoyance, boredom, complacence, confusion, indifference, or pessimism—substituting curiosity, or drawing out your altruism, benevolence, or sense of whimsy.

Maybe readers will feel surprise at recognizing a pull to connect with Toronto’s conscious community.

Movement outward

The weekly event run by The Move Dance Collective (—AKA “The Move”—exists “to provide community members with freestyle movement gatherings that honour dance as an essential expression of self, and way [sic] of connecting with others.” We come together to dance without speaking so we can be more conscious of our bodies; it’s also an opportunity to learn Contact Dance, an art form that heightens conciousness of our Toronto’s conscious dance community also flourishes in Ecstatic Dance Thursdays (, Conscious Dance Parties ( and The Move spin-off CreateMoveConnect.

The Move has inspired New Human City because of its size and energy. The NHC staff met because of The Move, and like many who dance there we linger when the lights go up, to meet and catch up with community news. The variety of people at The Move shows the breadth of Toronto’s conscious community but the dance collective is just one way of connecting that community.

NHC represents a movement outward, seeking and encouraging connections all across the city.

Nurturing consciousness

Stillness and awareness are important aspects of becoming conscious of our capacities. It’s natural to rest and rejuvenate in contemplation of the sweetness of life beyond the rat race. For many, the escape from the cares of every-day life is very important for mental health. So we participate and are satisfied.

But awareness of the healing side of attending to consciousness also brings a longing to share its benefits with friends. It’s sad to contemplate the gap between consciousness of how to live more fully and the evidence that most of society pursues shallow goals of comfort, consumption and convenience. Why does the conscious city have to be on the fringe?

New Human City helps us see beyond ourselves and the communities we belong to, even if they’re as deep and broad-based as The Move. By encouraging learning and exploration, NHC increases opportunities for more individuals to identify with and support more expressions of what it means to be alive and kicking.

As you renew yourself in community, imagine a city full of others doing the same. Keep yourself open to possibilities of which you’re not yet conscious.

First published by newhumancity on September 27, 2016

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Seasonal Affective Flux

        “I’ll lock the vagrant winter out and bolt my wandering in.” 
                                         – Joni Mitchell, “Urge for Going”

‘Tis the season of increasing darkness. Bins of pumpkins have popped up in No Frills parking lots. The sweet vegetable links Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en: one to honour the fecundity of earth, one to contain (and market!) the bottomless, beckoning unknown of the Beyond. Soon the madness and disorientation of adjusting our clocks will once again challenge our bio-rhythms.

Manic Depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder. Bipolar Affect. Moody Judy. The labels seem more affirming and nuanced as society slowly develops a deeper appreciation of consciousness. Stories of madness become easier to share. Survivors of our health systems are finding their voices and affirming their dignity.

Tooker Gomberg, a victim of our health system, championed Bike Lanes on Bloor, for now a partial reality. Treating heroin addiction was the subject of the very mainstream CBC call-in show “Cross-Country Checkup” as it kicked off October; the voices of compassion were overwhelming.

Busy not coping

So much of Western culture exalts action, flash, living fast at the expense of appreciating the unseen or the overlooked (your child’s drawing?). Orientation to the light and the visible can make the flux of seasons—and moods—seem like a threat instead of an opportunity.

A ten-year old family friend plans to be Donald Trump on Hallowe’en, a sharp comment on the horrors that walk the planet. The blood and gore that colour so much of Hallowe’en are poor stand-ins for our collective fear of a nasty end to our species. What costume can convey the threats of climate change?

Hidden power

Is there any other season as challenging? What other time of year physically demands humility in the face of nature’s strange power (misty, drizzly, cold) or calls to mind our dependence on each other (street encounters shortening with the dwindling of temperature)? As October tips Toronto further away from the sun you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself feeling off-balance.

The power of the hidden can certainly be destructive if its ways are not understood and respected. The spirit of the season will be oppressive unless we see in it the invitation to wonder at our duality: we are knowing and foolish, fearful and wild, active and passive, awake and asleep.

Hibernation, the long wait for rebirth, suggests that it’s time to be rooted and contemplative, to rejuvenate. Some folk navigate the season with medication or by physically escaping to warmer places. Our New Human City is a warmer place with healing ways for coping with our seasonal affective/emotional flux.

Rituals and community

Rituals are among the healthiest behaviours of society at large because in binding us they bring opportunities to develop compassion. Toronto’s conscious communities are bursting with awareness of our needs and with the skills to meet them. The scale of the training and support available here stretches from the intimacy of meditation to the graceful hive behaviour of Tai Chi groups.

Mildly go in this season of masks and shadow. Remember to layer. Dig what’s inside.

First published by newhumancity on October 3, 2016

Monday, 11 June 2018

The Apologists

mE this week

Is unity desirable? Does progress demand conflict? What’s the use of heaven?


          There’s a tavern across the road, where the old soldiers go
          now that the war is over, now that life is slow
          upstairs from a funeral parlour,
          and they call it ‘Heaven’s Above’.
                             -   Kyp Harness, “You Should Know Better Now”
Last week I attended a packed meeting of The Q Commons, an organization created to “educate and stimulate your thinking on how we as Christ followers can participate in helping our city flourish.” Attendees were given the current issue of inContext, The Canadian Apologetics Magazine (Vol. 4), published by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries ( The meeting—and the excellent magazine—was certainly stimulating for me: the parallels with NHC are striking and there’s much to learn from RZIM’s approach to putting the world back on track.

Christ followers, of course, believe in heaven. It’s likely that many in Toronto’s conscious community do, too, but it’s also likely that many of us don’t. We’re unlikely to share any belief short of a vague, if firm, conviction that human awareness is incomplete and that if we’re very nice to each other our species is capable of learning a lot of skills that will gradually make our planet return to the heavenly state it may once have been in. Or something like that.[1]

Fuss n fight

It’s fun to poke fun at friends but very distressing to be misunderstood and put on the defensive. People who demonstrate sensitivity to the ways of the conscious community impress me, not the least because you never hear them griping about being misunderstood. Sure, there’s darkness in everyone and the ability to put up with crap apparently knows no bounds, but there’s a charming positivity about people who identify with conscious communities and accept that we don’t know how far our explorations may bring us.

Whatever our relationship to the creative force of existence, we do not feel the need to hone our skills as apologists, to defend our beliefs. We find virtue in multiplicity of paths and recognize that paying attention to how others find their way—exhibit their unique human abilities—helps us glimpse more of life’s mysteries.

When your mindset is, “What’s behind that curtain?”, you’re not going to get your knickers in a twist about answers that don’t satisfy you—unless they’re obviously antisocial ones.

Destination unknown

This work in progress is not about unifying against the perceived wrongs of our oppressors or people who seem to be sleepwalking through life, it’s about living fully in community. Consciousness is a beautiful mystery, a gazillion impulses dancing to the music of eternity. It’s how we find heaven in this lifetime, whatever our later destination.

          “Eenie weenie, chilly beanie, the spirits are about to speak!” “Are they friendly spirits?”[2]

[1] NHC needs help fleshing out the big picture and welcomes submissions via
[2] Rocky and Bullwinkle (my favourite cartoon characters, along with Pogo)

First published on October 17, 2018 by newhumancity