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Prairiewoods Welcomes New Intern, Reflection 1

This week, Prairiewoods welcomes our fourth summer intern, Pia Fritsch. She is a student at Maharishi University in Fairfield and is passionate about issues of sustainability. Several times a week, Pia will write a blog about her experience at Prairiewoods. We will post them here and would love to hear your feedback!

Pia FritschReflection 1

by Pia Fritsch, Prairiewoods Intern

Everyone at Prairiewoods has been exceptionally friendly and welcoming to me. This is probably because hospitality is such a focus at Prairiewoods but also because everyone seems to genuinely love their job. Everyone said that they were happy to have found Prairiewoods and that they enjoy going to work. This in itself is pretty exceptional. Andi explained that a lot of the reason they love their job is because of the work environment. It is committee run which allows everyone’s voice to be heard. Rather than being micromanaged to produce results there is a sense that everyone is trusted to get their work done. This attitude creates more trustworthy people as well. They are self-motivated rather than doing their work diligently simply because they don’t want to get in trouble. It creates a totally different atmosphere than most work environments. When I was talking with two AmeriCorps volunteers outside they said this was the most relaxing nonprofit they worked with. Even though they were working just as much as any other place, it was still relaxing just because the environment is so peaceful and welcoming.

Something else that is really evident here is that the people at Prairiewoods value relationships, and that is built in to the way it is run. I was given time as an intern to just get to know each of the staff members individually. I was kind of surprised that I got the chance to do that. It just goes counter to the mindset of productivity, but it actually increases productivity. I am an introvert, so for me, getting to know people individually helps me to feel more comfortable interacting with them. That policy even caters to a wider variety of people. I always felt that American culture and work spaces are made for extroverted people. Somehow I feel like people are less likely to understand the gifts of an introverted person, because the environment is not well suited to bring out their strengths. This policy helps bring out the best in all people. In my meeting with Laura I mentioned offhand that I have an art minor, so then she asked me to make some decorations for a celebration this Friday. I didn’t even know that I could use my art skills here. I guess the idea that art degrees are useless got ingrained in me without me even knowing it, so I didn’t even think to mention it as a skill that I have. It is nice to be in a place that does value art as well. At another place, hand-made decorations might not really be a priority. Now I get to make these drawings that no one else felt inspired to make but that will be fun and easy for me to do. Also, I can now understand everyone on a deeper level. By being able to see where people come from it makes it easier to understand them and relate to them. It would be really easy to go about my day to day activities without ever getting that understanding of people if I didn’t have this change to sit down with everyone one on one. Ultimately, it deepens everyone’s experience here. Prairiewoods is definitely a place that starts creating a better world starting with the self. The people here are happy and inspired by their work and relationships so that spreads to the people that come here.

One book Laura recommended for me to read is “Leading from the Emerging Future: from ego-system to eco-system economies” by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer. I have never come across a book that covers so many of the main points I have learned in my classes at MUM in such a short and succinct way. The overview ties some of the main teachings of Maharishi and of sustainability. It frames the problems with the world today as ‘systemic disconnects that give rise to symptoms” (5). A disconnect between the infinite growth imperative and the finite resources of Planet Earth, a disconnect between governance and the voiceless in our systems, a disconnect between gross domestic product (GDP) and well-being are some of the structural disconnects that handicap the way society relates to the world. It essentially creates systems that have delayed feedback loops that “prevent decision-makers from experiencing and personally feeling the impact of their decisions” (7). Without feeling the ramifications of those choices institutions rarely change their destructive practices. Something I noticed with people at Prairiewoods was that a lot of them had been implementing sustainable practices at their previous places of employment, but there was no other support for them to continue doing that. They did it because it felt right as individuals. However, the institutional structure they were in didn’t value that at all. This is why the environmental crisis is systemic and not simply an individual responsibility. It is individual to an extent, but it is also much more than that.

The book also talks about how the transformation that needs to occur to prevent the collapse of the earth’s life support systems is a shift “from ‘me’ to ‘we’” (16). This is the same concept that deep ecology promotes, which is a shift in identity from the limited ego-self to include other people and the natural world as well. Scharmer and Kaufer say this comes in three parts: “(1) better relating to others; (2) better relating to the whole system; and (3) better relating to oneself” (16). All of this focuses on relationships. One article in the magazine Human Development said that the root of the word religion comes from the Latin word that means to connect. So if we go to the roots of religion it is about connecting ourselves to the community, to the Divine, and to our Selves. I feel like Prairiewoods creates the space to begin that exploration by helping create those connections to other people, the natural world, and our higher Selves. The book talks about how we need to shift the source from where we operate. This is the same idea as expanding the identity that deep ecology talks about. It is also the same idea that consciousness based education focuses on. Maharishi said that education that does not promote better understanding of the self is like building a castle in the sky because there is no foundation for the knowledge. Therefore, in the knower (rishi) is missing from the knower (rishi), known (devata), and process of knowing (chandas). This book seeks to address the same issue by illuminating the blind spot in the source to process to results outline of action. The source is the self. This is the blind spot for most people. These two models are essentially mirrors of each other. They both recognize the lack of reflection and introspection in our society and identify that as the root of the matrix of crises confronting the world right now. I would love to explore those parallels in further journals.

Spirituality in the 21st Century

2017 SP21C Logo

Consciousness & Christogenesis:
Mind, Matter & Emerging Wholeness

with facilitator Ilia Delio, OSF
& musician Sara Thomsen

Friday, May 5, 7–9 p.m.
& Saturday, May 6, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

at St. Ludmila Catholic Church
(211 21st Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404)

“All my relations, come! Every nation, come, all my relations under the sun. We are one!”

Water is Life, music and lyrics by Sara Thomsen

Click to Register

A new era celebrating convergence is upon us! Humanity is at the precipice of an evolutionary watershed, one in which loving union is the oceanic flow that buoys our emergent future. We are intentionally evolving into a species that reveres the inter-connection of all life, consciously choosing the breadth and depth of our predilection for love and wholeness. We are opting for all that unites us for the good of all creation.

In this year’s edition of Spirituality in the 21st Century, Ilia Delio, OSF, will steer us into the trembling waters of God’s magnificent, emergent creation through the lens of evolutionary consciousness. Drawing upon the work of evolutionary philosopher and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, Ilia will offer her reflections on Teilhard’s notion of “Christogenesis,” or the advent of the Cosmic Christ, whose Body inheres in the whole of creation. As the universe expands and evolves with greater complexity, it tends toward fuller and more profound union. With the convergence of consciousness, we are becoming the very extension of God’s creative and loving impetus—alive and active—in the unfolding of the universe.

Complementing the profundity of the weekend gathering is the musical accompaniment of the soulful Sara Thomsen, whose acoustical renderings are soothing waters for the parched spirit, and whose melodies sing through us, reaching out to all our relations and crying out with abundant joy: “We are one!”

2017 Ilia Delio OSF 2_square Ilia Delio, OSF, is a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC, and American theologian specializing in the area of science and religion, with interests in evolution, physics and neuroscience, and the import of these for theology. Ilia currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University and is the author of seventeen books. More information about her can be found at www.OmegaCenter.Info/Ilia-Delio.

2017 Sara Thomsen_squareSara Thomsen is an artist of the melody, whose music touches the soul and invites us to respond for the good of the global community. Sara’s gentle, soulful and uplifting acoustical renderings celebrate the beauty of the cosmos and call us into fuller communion with the global family. Check out Sara’s website at


Conference Registration
The cost of the two-day conference is $75 and includes Saturday lunch. (After April 15, the cost is $80.) Friday only is $25, and Saturday only is $50, including lunch.

Limited lodging is available at Prairiewoods for $50 per night or $75 for a double (includes breakfast) by visiting our registration page or calling 319-395-6700. Additional lodging is available at Country Inn & Suites (Cedar Rapids North) for $92 per night for one king bed or $94 for two queen beds (includes hot breakfast) by calling 319-294-8700 and asking for the Prairiewoods block.

Join us for this inspiring community event that will remind us that we are all one!

Click to Register

Compassionate Action

Rooted in Compassion 1

What makes Cedar Rapids a compassionate city?  What compassionate movements are you connected with in the corridor, in the Midwest, in the United States or around the world?  Please share your insights below.

Connect with others focused on compassion:
Green World Campaign
Planetize the Movement
Wake Up For Your Rights Movement
Trees Forever
Matthew 25
Indian Creek Nature Center
Cedar River Garden Center
The Tapestry

Click here to see a recap of the Rooted in Compassion conference that sparked this conversation.

Rooted in Compassion 4

Creative Compassion

Rooted in Compassion 2How does your creativity inspire you to be compassionate, and how does compassion inspire you to be creative?  Please share your poetry, photographs, art and reflections below.

Click here to see a recap of the Rooted in Compassion conference that sparked this conversation.

Rooted in Compassion 3

2014 Spirituality in the 21st Century Speakers Announced

Rooted in Compassion: Cosmology, Eco-Justice and Empathic Wisdom
March 28–29, 2014

Rooted in Compassion

Come and be energized by Marc Ian Barasch and Drew Dellinger as they inspire, challenge and accompany us in our spiritual journey to renew the face of the earth!

Marc Ian Barasch is the award-winning author of The Compassionate Life: Walking the Path of Kindness, a national bestseller that inspired the film I Am. He also founded the Green World Campaign on principles of “green compassion.”

Drew Dellinger, Ph.D., is a performance poet with literary acclaim across six continents, known for his love letter to the milky way. He studied with the late Thomas Berry and celebrates the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is part of Prairiewoods’ Spirituality in the 21st Century series and will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Cedar Rapids on Friday evening, March 28, and Saturday, March 29, 2014. For more information or to register, contact Prairiewoods at 319-395-6700.

Get in the Spirit of the Season at the Holiday Bazaar

Holiday Bazaar 2013The holiday season brings with it a sense of wonder, gratitude and generosity. Welcome the spirit of the season at Prairiewoods’ annual Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, Nov. 23. It will be a great opportunity to cross items off your holiday shopping list!

Our doors will open at 8 a.m. so that you can enjoy a wide selection of baked goods and gifts for family and friends. You will have until 1 p.m. to fill the Christmas stockings and the space under your tree.

Prairiewoods will offer special items from its Gift Shop and kitchen. Other vendors will offer an array of goods prepared by local artisans. You will have your choice of freshly baked breads and pies, Trappistine caramels, scarves, handcrafted aprons, jewelry, bags, baby blankets, mittens and much more. You also can enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee or cider, a homemade baked good or a made-rite at our Coffee Corner.

We hope you will join us for the official start of the season at the Holiday Bazaar!

Barasch and Dellinger Speaking at 2014 Spirituality in the 21st Century Conference

2014 PresentersPrairiewoods is pleased to announce that we will welcome Marc Ian Barasch and Drew Dellinger to the 2014 Spirituality in the 21st Century conference March 28–29, 2014. Marc and Drew will talk about compassion, eco-justice and hope for the world today.

Marc Ian Barasch is an award-winning writer, editor and producer. He is the founder of the Green World Campaign and author of The Compassionate Life: Walking the Path of Kindness (2009). Marc’s work on compassion inspired the documentary I Am by Tom Shadyac. (Learn more about Marc at

Drew Dellinger, Ph.D., is an evocative speaker, poet, writer and teacher who has inspired minds and hearts around the world, performing poetry and keynoting on justice, ecology, cosmology and compassion. He also is a consultant, publisher and founder of Planetize the Movement. (Learn more about Drew at

Welcome the Marginalized

“Every single person has capabilities, abilities and gifts. Living a good life depends on whether those capabilities can be used, abilities expressed and gifts given. If they are, the person will be valued, feel powerful and well-connected to the people around them. And the community around the person will be more powerful because of the contribution the person is making.”  —John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight

When we befriend those on the margins of society by practicing hospitality and welcome, we create communities where justice can be lived out. Through these relationships, we will develop the new knowledge, practices, courage and commitment that lead to broad-based change.

Circles currently forming (If you would like to join a circle, click the contact to send an email request.)
A Place of Grace, 
contact Joe Kruse
Catherine McAuley Center, contact Gregory White
Cedar Rapids Metro Economy Alliance, contact Quinn Pettifer
Des Moines Contingent, contact Denny Coon
Four Oaks, contact Jim Kirks
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church,
 contact Randy Kasch
House of Hope, contact House of Hope staff
Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, contact Christian Roth
Johnson County Social Services, contact LaTasha Massey
Metro Catholic Outreach, contact Christin Tomy and Barb Kane
Neighborhood Transportation Service, contact Mike Barnhart
Northwest Neighborhood Association, contact Linda Seger
People’s Church, contact Rev. Tom Capo
Progressive Theology, contact Joann Gehling, FSPA
Shelter House, contact Kafi Dixon
Shelter House, contact Crissy Canganelli
Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, contact Gary Hinzman
St. Cecelia’s Parish in Ames, contact Tom Primmer
System Thinkers, contact Ellen Bruckner
Third Avenue Churches, contact Heather Hayes
Unity Center, contact Jan Griffith
Wellington Heights Neighborhood, contact Sherrie Ilg

Safety & Security

“All we have to do to create the future
is to change the nature of our conversations
to go from blame to ownership,
and from bargaining to commitment,
and from problem solving to possibility.”
 —Peter Block

Studies show that there are two major determinants of our local safety. One is how many neighbors we know by name. The other is how often we are present and associated in public outside our homes. Connections among neighbors are critical. 

Circles currently forming (If you would like to join a circle, click the contact to send an email request.)
Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, contact Quinn Pettifer
Cedar Rapids Neighborhood, 
contact Carol Sindelar
Cedar Rapids Police Department, contact Chief Bryan Jerman
Family Promise of Linn County, contact Becky Knudson
Mound View Neighborhood Association, contact Clark Rieke
Knowing My Neighbors
Sixth Judicial District Department of Correction Services, contact Bruce Vander Sanden
SixthJudicial District Department of Correction Services, contact Melanie Steffens
SixthJudicial District Department of Correction Services, contact Julie Rochford
Sixth Judicial District Department of Correction Services, contact Kelly Schultz
Sixth Judicial District Department of Correction Services, contact Malinda Lamb
System Thinkers, contact Maridee Dugger
Jail Ministry Mentoring

Resilient Local Economy

“Determination, energy, and courage appear spontaneously when we care deeply about something. We take risks that are imaginable in any other context.”  —Margaret Wheatley

“The economy” is the sum total of transactions between people. And people’s lives and experiences are about much more than just dollars, profit and growth. As the conventional economy continues to crumble, we the people at the grassroots still need to keep a roof over our head, feed our children and maintain a relative degree of peace within our local community. In order to keep things going, we are going to have to use different economic tools than we have in the past: tools to facilitate transactions between people. A citizen economy gives form to the belief that the local exchange of goods and services supports a community’s competence.

A citizen economy is a mixture of a gift exchange and currency economy where people believe that much of what we need we can find locally, which keeps the currency local too. Develop practical life skills which will get you through challenges. Grow food. Now. Everywhere you can. Relocalize: shift to lifestyles that require far less transportation. Powerdown: decrease your energy dependence overall. Develop a supportive community circle around you to fall back on emotionally or more tangibly. Develop Inner Resilience—the character and spiritual base to remain flexible and feel good about it.

For more information on how to build a resilient local economy, visit or the Economic Resilience blog.

Circles currently forming (If you would like to join a circle, click the contact to send an email request.)
Axiom News: Engaging Strengths Catalyzing Change,
 contact Peter Pula
Business Policy and Strategy for Sustainable Development, University of Northern Iowa, contact Adele Santana
Center for Faith and Business, contact Anna Geyer
Center for Faith and Business, contact Lon Marshall
Cedar Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, contact Jennifer Pickar
Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission, contact Stefanie Munsterman-Robinson or Karl Cassell
GoDaddy, contact Amy Grotewold
Iowa Cultural Corridor, contact Jessica Johnson
Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, contact Rev. Susan Guy
Rockwell Collins, contact Melanie Richert
Source Media, contact Chuck Peters
St. Joseph the Worker Church in Dubuque, contact Constance LaBarbera
Van Meter Inc., contact Jennifer Bleil