The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community
David Korten (Actor), Robin Mallgren (Director) 2006

This movie provides a whirlwind overview of the multiple socio-political-economic strands feeding into the tangled knot of environmental destruction and looming oil crisis we are leaving for our children and grandchildren.  David Korten makes the case that largely the knot is tangled by the stories we tell about who we are as a species, how we do business, and what political structures best ensure our survival.  The most tragic part of these stories is that they may actually run counter to our survival as a species. By changing our stories we can change the way we approach each other and how we do business, which will ultimately increase our chances of survival.

As I approach the end of a master’s in sustainable communities, I can attest to the truth in Korten’s reasoning.  Because this is an overview, he doesn’t lay out in a way that will convince the unconverted.  However, the areas where he is less than convincing may entice viewers to conduct a bit of research on their own. I would suggest holding a discussion group after this movie so that you have an opportunity to assess the group for any frustrations with those limitations, and bring them around to a place of curiosity instead.

The extremely positive conclusion at the end is Korten’s focus on the solution, which again finds strong support in the world of sustainability: we must forge community where we are, and find common ground with our neighbors.  We cannot rely upon governmental bodies or corporate entities to make decisions that are in our best interest.  Instead, we must join together one relationship at a time to create a strong community that shares a vision of a more just and sustainable world.

I have yet to read his book, which I hear is fabulous.  I can envision this movie being the lure that sparks interest in forming a book group that delves deeper into the questions raised. If you’re interested in reading the book, which goes into greater detail, the Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economy page can provide you with information on how to order a packet including the book, CD of David Korten’s slides from General Assembly 2006, and supplemental materials.

About the Author
Shelley Dennis

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