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Conference Room in Concord House

Suggestions for Study
Circles are always welcome.

Donna at worldculture dot org

Newcomers are welcome to join at any time.



robin kimmerer
Robin Wall Kimmerer
and Student




Weekly Study Circle meetings are held on Tuesday Evenings from 7:30 to 9:00 pm
You may attend Study Circle meetings in-person or via Zoom. We meet at 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara, California. Please email for more information on attending in person or If you would like to be on the list to receive a Zoom link.


A short article, video or essay will often be posted on this site for each meeting.  It would benefit the discussion if everyone could look at the material beforehand. 

There will be a brief introduction to the topic at the beginning of each meeting and the rest of the time will be open for discussion. 
We very much look forward to your participation. 

The Institute of World Culture theme for the year is "Opening Doors through Non-Violence and Magnanimity"
The Study Circle plans its meeting around this general theme by focusing on trying to understand the theme and apply it in our daily lives. Topics for each Study Circle, as well as what we will take up at each Tuesday meeting are posted below.


People-centered communities tend to focus on "People Care, Earth Care, and Fair Share" (a maxim of the Quail Springs Permaculture community).
Such communities offer opportunities for reimagining happiness, education, land use, wealth, work and crafts, fairness and justice.

Happiness, Morality and Peace
The meeting will focus on the reading below. Please read it beforehand as there will not be a summary given at the meeting. ,
We will also show a short TED talk on the topic of imagining peace by Padraig O Tuama, a poet, theologian and former leader of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland recognized as a center for peace and reconciliation around the globe. Click here for more information on Corrymeela
Reading: Chapter on Consuming Happiness" from the book "Morality, Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times" by Jonathan Sacks

Fairness, Justice and Mercy
Folktales from Siberia to South Africa express a model of natural reciprocity that inspires generosity, compassion and humility in indigineous societies around the world. What goes around, comes around. We will look at several stories to see how reciprocity works towards justice, fairness and mercy.
Reading: Wild Justice: Natural Reciprocity in Folktales by Madronna Holden

Fairness, Justice and Mercy in the Judicial System and in Terms of the International Court of Justice
To give a more comprehensive approach to the subject of justice, we will watch an engaging and personal TED talk from 2012 where human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America's justice system, inspiring one of the longest and loudest standing ovationsin TED's history. He is also a law professor at New York Unibersity School of Law and the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. We will also view a video that defines what constitutes war crimes.
Questions for contemplation: 1. How can we apply the natural law of reciprocity to the judicial system and so called war crimes? 2. Why are Americans so focussed on retributive justice verses rehabilitation?
Reading: No reading this week


What is an ecovillage? We will look at some examples of intentional, traditional and urban communities, consciously designed through locally owned participatory processes in order to regenerate social, cultural, economic and natural environments. We will look at examples of ecovillages/communities to discover what they have to offer humanity.
Reading: "What is an Ecovillage?"
PDF version: Click here for a printer-friendly pdf version
Word version: Click here for a Word version

Education, Trades and "Soulcraft"
Our focus will be on how working with our hands, in cooperations with our heads and hearts, affects us on all levels is of great value for vibrant and resilient communities. We will look at a chapter from Matthew E. Crawford's book: "Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work", and hope to have a guest, someone who delights: "in the endless learning and sharing of skills", join us to share some of their experience and insights.
Reading: "A Brief Case for the Useful Arts" from "Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work" by Matthew B. Crawford
Reading: "I Am Not Proof of the American Dream" by Tara Westover

MAY 10
Quail Springs Permaculture Values

Quail Springs Permaculture is an educational community and farm in the Cuyama Valley practicing regenerative agriculture and building principles that include building fire-resistant and climate-appropriate earthern homes, growning food and build healthy soil in the desert, protecting the local watershed, regenerating rangeland and sharing what they learn. Ashwin Manthripragada, co-executive director of the Quail Springs Community will join us to talk about permacurlture and community values and principles.
Website for Quail Springs:

MAY 17
The Value of Ashrams
Our focus will be on the 'Brahma Vidya Mandir', the ashram of Gandhi's student and disciple, Vinoba Bhave, still a working ashram in the heart of India and located close to Sevagram, one of Gandhi's ashrams.
Reading: "Six Important Lessons from the Ashram" by Roger Gabriel

MAY 24
Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengalli polymath and Nobel Prize laureate was a poet, writer, playwright, composer, phiosopher, social reformer and painter, but primraily a person who sought numberous ways to serve humanity.

MAY 31
Summary of the Year's Adventures

The Study Circle meets from September through May each year so this will be our last class until next September. From September 2021 through May 2022, we have taken up a diverse range of topics, including 'Ethics for a Whole World' in September and October; 'Environmental Issues' in November; and 'Musicians and Music' in December. In January and February, we focused on 'Lessons on Life, Love and Courage', including examples from the life Nelson Mandela and others who followed in the footsteps of Gandhi. We began the topic of 'Looking for a Humane Civil Society for March, April and May. For this meeting, we will review of the highlights of our meetings and discuss their relevance to a Humane Civil Society.
Reading: No reading this week

MARCH 2022 –
Is Singapore a Model for Future Cities?
A video documentary on Singapore will be shown with discussion to follow.
Reading: "This Could be Home: Raffles Hotel and the City of Tomorrow" by Pico Iyer

Technology and Politics
In last week's documentary on Singapore, the importance of modern technology was highlighted. But is this road to the future sustainable? In what ways does high tech honor the value of all the life of the Earth? What mental attitudes are developed with an emphasis on technology? In what ways does technology promote or hinder democracy?
Reading 1: Technology and Politics from Parapolitics by Raghavan N. Iyer
Reading 2: Technology and Democracy

Felt Fair Play
The concept of "Felt Fair Pay" speaks to what is fitting compensation in the workplace
Reading: N/A

Chile, Writing a New Constitution in a Transitional World
Reading: Chile Writes a New Constitution
Click here for a Word document or click here for a pdf version

Experimental Local Economies
Economics should respond to the needs of people and of the planet.  They should be capable of supporting the long-term wellbeing of life in all its forms by ensuring access to green and wild spaces, prioritizing people and the planet above profit and growth, and fostering freedom, equity, and prosperity for all.
Click here for reading:
PDF version: "After 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle': A Local Restaurant Helps Rebuild a Town"
Word version: "After 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle': A Local Restaurant Helps Rebuild a Town"


We long for heroes and have too few. Nelson Mandela is said to be the closest thing the world has to a secular saint. Mandela writes that: "In Africa there is the concept known as 'Ubuntu' – the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others".

JANUARY 2022 In January we will look at Nelson Mandela's through the eyes of his close, personal friend, Richard Stengel, former editor of "Time" Magazine. In his book, "Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage", Stengel has distilled countelss hours of intimate conversation with Mandela into fifteen essential life lessons, and recounts moments in which "the grandfather of South Africa" was tested and shares the wisdom he learned.
Jan 4, 2022 Nelson Mandela photo Courage is not the Absence of Fear
We have included the Introduction to "Mandela's Way" for those who have the time to read it, but the discussion will focus around the fist chapter on courage.
Reading: Introduction, "Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage"
Reading: Chapter 1, Courage is Not the Absence of Fear", "Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage"
Jan 11, 2022   Lead from the Front
Reading: Chapter 3, "Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage"
Jan 18, 2022   Lead from the Back
Reading: Chapter 4, "Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage"
Jan 25, 2022   Seeing the Good in Others
Reading: Chapter 7 from "Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage"
Supplemental reading: The Sacred Warrior by Nelson Mandela
FEBRUARY 2022 In February we will take up chapters from: "In the Footsteps of Gandhi: Conversations with Spiritual Social Activists", edited by Catherine Ingram. Ingram writes in her book that: "The men and women who speak to us in the pages of this book have each been willing to see light in darkness. Their lives show us that in both hard and good times, love is the only power that matters."  
Feb 1, 2022 A. T. Ariyaratne, Sri Lanka
Reading: A. T. Ariyaratne, "In the Footprints of Gandhi: Conversations with Spiritual Social Activists"
Feb 8, 2022

Mubarak Awad, Palestine
Reading: Mubarak Awad, "In the Footprints of Gandhi: Conversations with Spiritual Social Activists"

Feb 15, 2022 Jane Goodall, England
Video clips will be shown and discussion will follow
Feb 22, 2022 Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnam
Reading: Thich Nhat Hanh, "In the Footprints of Gandhi: Conversations with Spiritual Social Activist"