By: Blair Nelsen, Executive Director, Waterspirit

There are new bullet holes in the American Capitol today.

Yesterday, crucifixes and “Jesus Saves” signs peppered the mob landscape outside the building.

Jesus would never have supported the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The actions of the insurgents were anti-Christian and antithetical to the democratic process. I shouldn’t even have to write these words. This should be self-evident.

The work continues.

“This Isn’t America”: Living Through a Coup

Yesterday, I felt like I was in high school again. Nineteen years ago, I was a senior in high school in Caracas, Venezuela. Hugo…

August 27, 2020

By: Blair Nelsen

Executive Director, Waterspirit

UN-NGO Representative for the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace

Science alone will not create behavioral change. Lasting change — particularly change that flies in the face of the harmful systems in which we have been raised — comes from a different place. The values-driven narratives we craft using scientific data are what can lead to policies and lifestyles that will result in a healthy, thriving planet. Faith-based organizations (FBOs) are gifted at mobilizing at this level of morals and values.

On Thursday, August 27 the United Nations…

I know this is an uncertain time, one that triggers the worst in us: fear, scarcity, confusion, grief… Each moment feels like an hour, each day melting into the next. If we ourselves aren’t suffering from illness or mourning someone who is, we are in isolation, grasping for understanding of what to do, how long we will be here, and what the world will even look like when we emerge.

I humbly believe that the only way to discern what the future holds is to consciously create it ourselves; bit by bit, day by day, one tiny step forward at…

by: Blair Nelsen

“I am disappointed with the results of #COP25.”

— Antonio Guterres

The Secretary General’s understated tweet hardly matched the urgency of the situation. Perhaps the distance between the conversations being had and the action truly needed would have been lessened had the UN followed comedian Trevor Noah’s advice and held COP25 on top of a melting glacier.

Back in New York, on the afternoon of December 16, the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development (NGOCSD) held a conference to recap the COP25 proceedings and to look ahead toward the United Nation’s 75th anniversary in 2020. UN Assistant Secretary-General…

Photo by Blair Nelsen. Fresco by Bo Beskow.

by: Blair Nelsen, Executive Director, Waterspirit

The small, V-shaped room could only fit about a dozen people on small wicker benches. The din of the outer lobby was muffled nearly entirely; this was a space set apart. This was the Meditation Room at the United Nations. A huge iron block fairly pulsed in the room’s center, but back in the corner of the V, it was the abstract painting that held my fascinated eye. Specifically, it was the small, dark half-circle — a black void, it seemed, in the dim light — that drew me in over and over, sucked…

You will often hear “sustainability” being touted as a goal of environmental action. However, sustaining a world and systems that are in disrepair is nothing to strive for. “Sustainability” can also be used to refer specifically to sustaining — i.e., retaining and maintaining — a place for human beings on this planet. Surely, there is room for right human relationships with the Earth that go beyond mere survival. Instead of sustainable systems, we suggest reaching toward regenerative ones. Regenerative systems restore, renew, and revitalize their sources of energy and materials as they unfold. …

One World Trade Center is glimpsed through the tangle of buildings, marking the passage to and from yesterday’s Cultures of Peace event.

September 11, 2019: fifty or so people gathered at the Church Center of the United Nations in the name of peace. Waterspirit’s Blair Nelsen and Jean-Marie Donohue were among the religiously-affiliated attendees longing to see clear paths toward establishing cultures of peace. Sponsored by the Maryknoll Sisters and other partners, “Be Peace: Pathways Toward a Culture of Peace” demonstrated that the way forward is still fraught. However, this gathering of the hard-working and the well-intentioned gave us hope about what is being done right now.

Criss-crossing the conference were affirmations of the need for personal transformation; a culture of peace…

— by Blair Nelsen, Executive Director, Waterspirit

We are walking ecosystems. Inside of our intestines live microbes that produce up to 90% of our serotonin, a neurotransmitter; in other words, there are beings producing thoughts in our guts.[i]

When I first learned this, I experienced an ontological shift — a rearrangement of the reality I had known. I was never alone. I was made up of other beings who participated in a body that I had always believed to be just mine. Where, then, were the limits of my “self” if they did not align with that enclosed, isolated body?


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