The Work That Reconnects

(Active Hope)


(For 6 -20 participants lasting 1or 2 days)



Since its inception in the late 1970’s, it has helped countless thousands of people around the globe find solidarity and courage to act despite rapidly worsening social and ecological conditions.


This work is also known as Deep Ecology Work (as in Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan), Active Hope (as in Japan) and Despair and Empowerment Work (as it was known in its first years).


This work can be done alone and has enriched many individual lives, but it is designed for groups. Its effect is deeper and more enduring when experienced interactively with others, for its approach is improvisational and its impact is synergistic.

Workshops have varied in length from an evening to a full lunar cycle.

From the first public workshop in 1978 it has been the aim of the Work to help people trust their raw experience and give voice to what they see and feel is happening to their world. Its interactive exercises frequently involve role-play and a shift in assumed identity; the Work aims to engage and expand people’s moral imagination, bringing wider perspectives on our world, while fostering both compassion and creativity.

Conceptual Foundation

The Work That Reconnects is informed by Deep Ecology, systems thinking, Gaia theory, and spiritual traditions (especially Buddhist and indigenous teachings), psychology, as well as group wisdom from earlier workshops. Common to all of these is a non-linear view of reality. It illuminates the mutuality at play in self-organizing systems, and unleashes the power of reciprocity.

Martin one of the facilitators in Norway draws on a decade of experience in organizational leadership combined with his education in Innovation and Ethics, as well as years of activity as an environmental activist, taking action against Nuclear Reactor in the Nordic to Oil Rigs in the arctic.

Furthermore, central to our use of systems thinking and the Buddha Dharma is the recognition that self-reflexive consciousness is a function of choice-making. Whatever the limitations of our life, we are still free to choose which version of reality –or story about our world– we value and want to serve. We can choose to align with business as usual , the unraveling of living systems, or the creation of a life-sustaining society. 

Structure of the Work

The experiential work follows a spiral sequence flowing through four stages beginning with gratitude, then, honoring our pain for the world, seeing with fresh eyes, and finally, going forth.

These consecutive stages reflect a natural sequence  common to psychological growth and spiritual transformation. The Spiral is like a fractal, governing the overall structure of the workshop while also arising in its component parts. Within a given workshop, we can move through the Spiral more than once, and become aware that with every cycling through, each stage can yield new and deeper meanings.

The critical passage or hinge of the workshop happens when, instead of privatizing, repressing and pathologizing our pain for the world (be it fear, grief, outrage or despair), we honor it. We learn to re-frame it as suffering-with or compassion. This brings us back to life.

The Workshop is participant focused and lets them, work through and develop their own voice. With activities that match each group individually, from mindfulness training to speaking the truth about the current ecological crisis. Each part of the workshop is put together to both get participants to interact physically and verbally with each other to develop a shared sense of compassion and understanding of self that leads to taking action individually and as a group. The work was built with the primary goal of helping activists recover from burn out and inspire communities to take action. But can be adapted to organizations that wish to make a impact on the climate crisis. In the later years the work has been developed to greatly include work with undoing oppression / decolonisation  and working with communities of color. To help heal the deep-rooted divide.

Martin Reinholtz

WTR Facilitator, Norway