Her inspiration for her work dates back to the days of the Civil Rights movement, when as a young student she traveled to the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee, the place where Rosa Parks was trained in the principles of civil disobedience. It was at Highlander where she learned that meaningful social change happened first in small groups.
“It was a life-changing thing for me,” she said. They would bring people together and just have them talk, talk, talk. No experts or authorities, no trainers. Then they would go out and get involved, after having generated their own ideas.”
She then worked in the women’s movement for many years before striking out in other arenas. An emphasis on the “voluntary simplicity” movement led to a book and “simplicity circles” of people meeting to figure out how to live a more conscious life.
These days, she’s sparking up meetings of young people and meetings of older people on the establishment of an “Elder Culture.
“John Dewey said, ‘Democracy is born in conversation,’” she said. “Both are give and take, nonviolent, collaborative, and done with respect.”