"Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Good morning… Last night was the winter solstice: the longest night of our year, marking the moment in Earth’s orbit (21.48 GMT, to be precise) when our hemisphere was at its maximum tilt away from the sun, and completion of this annual solar cycle. But this longest, darkest night contains the hope and promise of light and renewal; from this morning our days will lengthen as we turn gradually closer and closer to the life-giving sun. A new beginning.
This moment invites us to explore our hopes and intentions for the next cycle, as well as to reflect on the year that is ending. What is there to celebrate and take forward? And what might we want to leave behind or let go? In the natural world much is dying back and decaying at this time – yet the process of composting recognises that even as something comes to the end of its life, nutrients are released to replenish the soil in which new life can grow.
In this spirit we have a few things to share that we are celebrating and ‘composting’ below, including some new audio pieces and reflections Gemma has recorded from a windy Dartmoor to mark the solstice.
This solstice also marks a new beginning for me – I will very soon welcome a new baby to my family so will be stepping away from New Constellations from today for much of next year, and these newsletters will be dropping down to a more spacious rhythm. No words feel fit to express the honour and privilege it has been to nurture this work with this team, and I will really miss it, them and all of you who have supported and encouraged us so generously in so many ways, as I shift into a different kind of nurturing for a while. But I will be cheering from the sidelines and back before long.
As these newsletters will be less frequent, we will be publishing new audio encounters as soon as they’re ready, so warmly invite you to subscribe directly via your preferred podcast feed to hear them, as well as to our blog via Substack for occasional writing. We will be in touch when we can and, as always, love hearing your questions, thoughts, ideas and feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org or voice note.
Til soon, with love, hope and wishes for a nourishing and fulfilling 2023 for every one of you,
Iris, with Gemma, Hadeel, Jo and Lily
We are reflecting on a big year for our small team, one which has felt like a huge period of learning and evolution. We set out this year asking how best we could help meet this moment of great challenge and upheaval, and have focused on developing ourjourney methodology to help people examine and understand the present moment, become more comfortable in uncertainty, open up to new possibilities and discover bold new visions of human and planetary flourishing.
We’ve now had the opportunity to run the journey in place (first in Barrow-in-Furnessand then Sheffield), for the Bold Dreamers: a group of leaders serving communities across the UK, for the Yale World Fellows: a co-creation withHrund Gunnsteinsdóttirfor a group of leaders from 16 countries around the world, and have also taken the first steps of applying some of the methodology to specific systems such as care.
We’ve got some things really right and some things really wrong and we’ve learned a huge amount from both. 2022 has taught us that this methodology is powerful and beautiful and that it carries with it considerable responsibility. So we are also taking some time to think about how we can best put this in service of the world we, and all those who journey with us, want to build. These are all rich nutrients for a new cycle and for our new projects in 2023, which we look forward to telling you more about next year.
We’re also thinking more deeply about how New Constellations should be constituted so that it can, in some ways, prefigure that better future and how we can become self-sustaining and regenerative over time.
We are celebrating concluding Bold Dreams for Our Future: a year-long journey for an amazing group of 17 emerging and established leaders from all across the UK. Over a number of gatherings held throughout this year in rhythm with the seasons, we explored our visions for flourishing futures, the transformation we want to contribute and commit to, and the tools and practices we need to stay that course, especially in times of radical uncertainty.
We have some more new audio encounters for you: one with the wonderful Casper ter Kuile, co-founder of The Nearness, a new platform and co-op designed to help small groups of people nurture their spiritual life. We also have an encounter recorded over the course of the journey we ran with the amazing crew of World Fellows at Yale (see our previous newsletter for details). And one from Gemma to mark the winter solstice, reflecting on the year passing out and the one to come.
These, along with the Bold Dreams encounter above, make 38 unique audio encounters you can now explore on our website or by searching ‘New Constellations’ wherever you listen to podcasts. We will have more coming in the new year – to hear them first, as our newsletters will be less regular, you can subscribe directly via Apple, Spotify, Google, YouTube, or wherever you like to listen. And if you find encounters you love, please do pass them on.
If you are a community mobilising for long-term change, the Community Action Fund is now open to grassroots organisations that are building the power of their community and will provide flexible, one-off grants between £2,500 and £20,000.
If you’re looking for a place to host a retreat or event in 2023 in the UK, Selgars Mill is a beautiful venue with availability, and they have just launched an experiment to turn Selgars into a shared home for slow living from December to March – find out more here. In a similar vein Life Itself just opened applications for a Berlin residency for people working towards a regenerative culture. And if you’re looking to learn and be inspired deep in nature, take a look at Black Mountains College’s education for transformation in the Brecon Beacons.
Finally, we keep coming back to Rithika Merchant’s beautiful work: Return to Stardust, reminding us that we are all made of stardust (or ‘star-anese’… you'll have to listen to this encounter with Jane and Rod of Global Generation for that reference).
Thank you for reading, may the return of the light bring you hope and this next cycle be full of possibility.
New Constellations exists to help people imagine and create better futures; futures in which humanity and the planet flourish together. If you like what we’re doing, you can help us by: