Dr. Marj Barlow on Transformation (part 2: Feminism, Biosphere, Joy)

Dr. Marj Barlow on Transformation (part 2: Feminism, Biosphere, Joy)

Marj Barlow, PhD., started life in 1929 as a Fundamentalist Baptist and went on to co-lead the world’s first, industrial-scale, net-zero sustainability corporate makeover. In Part 2 she shares about the beginnings of the Feminism movement, her views on biosphere care, and her compass of joy.

This unedited / unproofed transcription provided by Otter.ai.

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Dr. Marj Barlow, pt. 2

Chris Searles 0:01
Welcome back, everybody, this is part two of this interview with one of my favorite mentors, Marge Barlow. And I'm not going to do any more intro than that we're in the thick of the conversation right now. And we're going to transition to a new subject. I consider you historically important in this space of being a feminist leader, because of your academic background, you, you know, you got into the schools pretty early relative to American history, and so forth, because of your incredible contribution to people's lives as a therapist and care provider. Certainly, because of your work with Ray at interface, and I think also this meme, the kind of orientation of pocket grandmother and become your own pocket grandmother, and you're really trying to teach self care as a form of identity. And, to me, these are things that come from a feminine worldview. And then I'll also say, our previous issue is sort of arrived at becoming about the kinship worldview, which is a relational worldview. And ultimately, to me, you could say, feminine wisdom, that we are here together in this moment.

Dr. Marj Barlow 1:09
Let's talk kind of thing. Let's listen.

Chris Searles 1:13
And so I wanted to ask how have these things changed? How has feminism, womanhood, grandmotherhood, so forth? How has that sort of changed the identity of that? And then also, how have these things changed in the ways that your peer group of feminists originally intended? How well are we doing? And how correct was the vision maybe 60 years ago, when the feminist movement began to sort of name itself? I think,

Dr. Marj Barlow 1:40
yeah. What comes to my mind is that, and as my therapy work, and counseling, expanded, I became aware that most of the people who initiated the meetings were female, it would be the mother bringing in a song or the mother bringing in the whole family. In fact, I was trained to treat families as systems. So for many years, I wouldn't see a family member without the whole family there. And the mother would be the one always organizing that rarely was the Father. So my clientele was mostly female. At the same time, I had some friends outside of the therapy world, and we made a trip to San Antonio for us. And by the time we got back, we had planned our first female, only weekend. And eventually we called it the possible woman, and began to do weekends on Padre Island.

Chris Searles 3:02
And the possible woman sort of in a nutshell is about exploring potential.

Dr. Marj Barlow 3:06
Yes. And it was one of the possibilities for you and your life as a female. So we would have up to 60 people at those weekends and all female. Then one of these four women moved to Atlanta, and she called me and she was kind of deeply depressed and we talked a long time and I said, Can you do something with the possible woman? And so she her name was Linda wind, and she started doing big seminars with women's well known women. We always had a featured speaker like Geraldine was her name Ferraro that ran for vice president way. Yeah, people like that. We had an Richards one time. And we took a group, we began to do cruises. We would book 100 Women on our cruise ship that had 700 people on it, and they would know all about the possible time the cruise was over. And we would go to Cancun or the some of the islands, Jamaica and so on. And actually I met who was the lawyer? I can't say her name. But the one that did Roe versus Wade. I don't know that name. Yeah, anyway, yeah, roomed together, and she was our featured speaker in America. And so we weren't political. We just were encouraging. We had a lot of coaches, that Swen coaching began to kind of blossom and so people would come and we would have 1000 weapon at a one day event with a featured speaker, like Ann Richards, and saw the possible enrollment and became an institution we have, I think there's still scholarships in Atlanta. And I was going there for ever face. As you've mentioned, Ray Anderson, visionary with his, he was on Bill Clinton's Environmental Sustainability Council. But he had the dream of climbing Mount sustainability for the world.

Chris Searles 5:40
They nearly got there. Yes.

Dr. Marj Barlow 5:43
And so the environmental picture on one side and women's development on the other. And we would always honor a man it our one day event in Atlanta with the 1000 women there. And Ray Anderson was one that we honored one time, and he spoke about his passion, and his dream, his his mission. So it was again asking those two questions, who are you? And what could you be? And, yeah, and I think it's part of the shift, broadly speaking, historically, from the Piscean age, which is the age of the great religions to the Aquarian Age, which is more egalitarian and more inclusive, and bringing women to full power.

Chris Searles 6:45
That's a That's a funny kind of thing to mention, that's really important. For me, the song, this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius is a parody. Because I was a child, you know, when that was already over. And so then it was sort of Saturday Night Live type material, the costuming and that kind of stuff. And I've never quite understood what the Age of Aquarius, why they were so excited about it. You know, that's where the parody comes from, is they're just giddy as can be when they're singing that song. But yeah, so can you describe, again, that shift?

Dr. Marj Barlow 7:20
Well, the age of the great religions is based in, he got he religion, it's pretty masculine, dominant. And the goddess religions, which were part of the previous age, and 20, you know, give or take 2500 years. So that the goddess religions were stamped out, and women were burned as witches and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That's our history. I thought it was interesting, there is a book called The Devil in the shape of a woman. And it's the story of the Salem witch trials, which happened in Puritan America. The research shows that most of the women convicted as witches were in line to inherit property, and had no brothers or sons. So, you know, when James died, I had to go to the county judge and get permission to sell my car, or to sell any property. They it was very paternalistic. And it was like I had to prove that I had done right by his money and his children. It's still very

Chris Searles 8:48
difficult. I think in certain cases, it's only very recently started to shift. And then of course, leave the US or leave the so called Western developed world. And yeah, a different set of rights for people for sure. Yeah. What's interesting to me, though, about that, as I'm going to project a little bit here, but like these possible women gatherings with 1000 women, there's some kind of momentum that then started to build that's different, you know, and in a way maybe even has sustained itself and ways because it is based on the true identity that's like, what Who are you and what's your potential, as opposed to kind of marketing language and momentary ecstasy, your turn trying to build, transform into a future that is about

Dr. Marj Barlow 9:34
true kinship, true identity.

Chris Searles 9:38
And once we can begin to do that, it seems like it starts to propel itself forward just like nature, which is why this is such an important theme to me. As we see that everywhere in the natural world. As soon as there's a few kind of principles in place for nurturing, then life will take off. Yes, and right. So please continue. Yeah.

Dr. Marj Barlow 9:58
Well, what came to my mind And as we were bringing those ideas forward is the expansion of love from erotic love, where male female are attracted. And the essence of life is guaranteed through that. Attraction. There's a next level called agape love, which is true friendship. And that is, I see that now more and more with more of a leveling we have now females in every profession, thank God. Yeah, not just limited. So from agape friendship, type love, you build then to a family kind of love. And so, if you think of all we're now 8 billion, if you think of that as a species, a plant a planetary presence, called human, homo sapien Sapien. Perhaps we could have by Leah, which Philadelphia is named for brotherly love, family love, almost like avatars?

Chris Searles 11:30
Well, I may ask you a question about Maslow love. This idea of the five levels or whatever it's like, those are such masculine versions of what's needed, aren't they that, you know, issues, the idea of like, the, the soundbite of what the kinship worldview is about trying to achieve is a society that you already named, it's where every individual is important and nurtured. Right, society is nurturing, and you're an important individual in that nurturing community. That's kinship. And, and Maslow is more of an industrial male about this thing, like, Well, you got to have this, this, this and this, to achieve that, you know, and there is some idea of emotional relational health in there. But from the standpoint of your identity, your you know, feminism movement really began to claim identity and the integrity of it.

Dr. Marj Barlow 12:18
You gave me a new idea there, thank you for that. I'll go back to Maslow and think, Do you know his latest writing, I mean, his last writings seem to indicate there was something beyond self actualization.

Chris Searles 12:36
And that's the other thing I wanted to throw in is like, because of that kind of culture, it's like agape could just be the beginning of an area that we haven't really explored that I think maybe women do dwell in more and you in particular,

Dr. Marj Barlow 12:49
well, the, the final rung of this from arrows to find Leah, is Carrie toss, and that is Christ love, sacrificial love, where you give your life for the good of others, cheerfully, happily, not. It's not so much sacrificially as it is a calling, or a joy. Even I've studied happiness a lot. And I have a friend who is a joy apologist, and I love that as a new profession.

Chris Searles 13:33
And a lot of her job is about oh, maybe all of her job is about coordinating nonprofits to help people and nature

Dr. Marj Barlow 13:40
giving away. Yeah, yes,

Chris Searles 13:43
Joy is sharing and caring and supporting and sharing the wealth from that company. I have noticed in my limited experience that you know, helping others caring for others, Cara toss, you know, making the effort to help someone else when you could be sitting in front of Netflix or whatever. It feels way better than sitting in front of Netflix, you know, to get out there and do things that you care about, for those who need.

Dr. Marj Barlow 14:06
It's activating the frontal lobes. If you start with the reptilian complex, where you just, you know, you want to eat and sleep, like crocodiles on the riverbank. And you come up through mammalian warm bloodedness and the logical brain that we can educate with. It's B, we used to do right brain, left brain remember that? But the frontal lobes are where altruism are. So it's the part of the brain that is newest and the big forehead is relatively big forehead.

Chris Searles 14:52
Big nose is a sign of intelligence. Of course, feet that actually transitions nicely in a show sort of way to the next thing I wanted to ask about the next topic of two more. So this is biosphere care. And I was gonna ask you to describe your relationship with other life. And your sort of spiritual religious perspective on this idea of how to be in relationship with the microbes, the plants, the insects, the animals and each other, how do you kind of relate to this living all creation?

Dr. Marj Barlow 15:33
I'm not as new as you are with that, and being a part of Ray Anderson's network for so long, and learning biomimicry, it's not my forte, but I do have a sense of gratitude and all about how it all works. It's the most fascinating thing in the world, to think of life, as it exists here on this little blue, tiny planet. And my life is the human being, and the lives that they create. And that's my joy and my pleasure and my calling my intention. But I am so in all of your work. And of the people who are serving water, especially here in Central Texas, the people who are learning more and more and more about how to be good stewards of our physical environment. I am still just in all of indoor plumbing. Right. And so I have an appreciation of electric lights, and two years since COVID. With zoom, I've met with people all over the world this way. So that's to me, the biggest change that's on the horizon is the fact that we are hooked up now. And we can communicate. And therefore we can't keep pockets of secrecy. And I think, I don't know how you measure this. But I think more and more are enlightened as to our environmental crisis emergency, I think there's more awareness, certainly

Chris Searles 17:55
living. I didn't know that about the frontal lobe, but we're certainly living in that space of our anatomy right now are really I focused on screens all the time. Everything is intellectual for kids, I think, you know, they don't they don't get to run and play, they get to play games and think about things. Yes, exceptional games.

Dr. Marj Barlow 18:14
They have animated people on the screen, and they can control and

Chris Searles 18:19
which helps with surfing the web and knowing how to read about environmental issues, and you know, everything as slippery slopes to it as part of the, to me the transformation that needs to take place as we've made such a black and white, social conversation about reality. Yes. And I see the possible woman as being one of those really important transformational pieces of how we're now going Yeah, except that I'm not that person. You know, that's simple, whatever person that society wanted me to be as more more to me than that. I don't just need to run a preschool. You know, I can write books, you've written several books, you know, I can do a lot of things. We really have enormous positive possibility. And this final question is about religious institutions, and how they should transform in your opinion, how you see that? I really, I think it's obvious, but I really respect your worldview, your vast intelligence and your life experience and the way you've kind of evolved through your life. I just think it's an incredibly beautiful and honorable path. So I think also that the context for this question is, to me cultural diaspora is good, we should celebrate our differences. Diversity is reality. We know this from the science on how life emerged in the universe. So far, we know that it began with microbes, and here we are today with human beings and redwood trees. And so we depend on diversity. And I think, again, the possible woman sort of represents and Paul's introducing you to positive psychology represents this idea of trying to integrate identity See, and diversity and care and positive potential into institutional identity. So that's how I see that that's what I want to see there. And I'm just curious if you can comment on religion, however you see that now or religious institutions and how we should transform to achieve a better future?

Dr. Marj Barlow 20:22
Yes, wow. Those are deep questions, aren't they? What came to my mind is, I kind of have an inner path that I follow. And if I were to give it substance, it would be more like, um, I prefer to be curious, rather than certain. And I think that has has led me to a lot of diversity. It's like, there's not just one way. As many of the fundamentalist sermons that I heard suggested,

Chris Searles 21:20
I will interrupt and say, I feel like that is maybe even a male problem, to some degree that we want to find one way we want a winning team or whatever it is, and and it's the wrong orientation.

Dr. Marj Barlow 21:32
It's ever the hunter, it's the hunters and gatherers. So that the male does tend in our species to focus that makes a good TV watcher. The female is more than gatherer. She's, she's born to shop. That's the problem right there. So can the shoppers and the officers get together some way to declare the one you know universe means one? So some kind of common goal?

Chris Searles 22:23
or program or something here? Yeah.

Dr. Marj Barlow 22:25
Yeah. Oh, for me, the common goal is long, and climbing that ladder of erotic love to Ballia love to agape love to sacrificial Christ's love, is it it's pretty good religion in a way. It's easy to love them when they're acting the way you want them to. No stretch there, but love that stretches. And a mind that is eternally curious. That's sort of how I see our evolutionary drift. And if you go back to the superstitious eras, we will look back on this perhaps in the future as another one of those superstitious arrows. Because we like to have answers, we like to think we know there's something about

Chris Searles 23:27
certainty that is physiologically ecstatic or secure or something secure and calming about that or energizing or both. Right? And same with anger. Same with arrows, you know, these different states.

Dr. Marj Barlow 23:45
But curiosity, the kind of want to stick your finger in the light socket as a way of expansion. I don't think we do expand unless we're curious. Because if we're absolutely certain that we know the way and we got it that's kind of the end of life and away goes there's no more search. There's no more quest. And using the hero's journey as we did so often in James work, like if we were studying Odysseus, we simply did become Odysseus and do the voyages,

Chris Searles 24:31
which is kind of a Torah classes are practiced. They put themselves in the time because that's their people.

Dr. Marj Barlow 24:38
Yeah, yeah. So at this age, I honestly don't think I know very much. I've got this library of books that I keep going back to and and reading somebody else's wisdom, somebody else's ideas. is, and finding that they make sense. But the fundamentalist narrowness that I grew up in was based mostly in fear. And I don't, I do think that we do better if we move toward the positive emotions. And consequently, studying happiness has helped me recognize the value of our choice making. So every day I get up and say, what is today, and I have a sense of gratitude, and oh, and every person that comes into my life, I have a sense of all that makes it new and real and exciting, and nothing ever dull or boring. So perhaps curiosity, and all are valuable attributes

Chris Searles 26:12
at institutional sort of identity scale,

Dr. Marj Barlow 26:15
and institutional identity scale, beautifully said, Yeah.

Chris Searles 26:21
May I say back to you a couple of other things I jotted down.

Dr. Marj Barlow 26:25
So I was

Chris Searles 26:27
trying to think in those terms, what would be the institutional directive in a way or the identity? And so for religion, perhaps seeking love? Right, that seems to be in the texts does seem

Dr. Marj Barlow 26:41
to be the ultimate sacrifice is that you love unconditionally?

Chris Searles 26:49
Yes. And so then I see you exemplifying this, in some of those terms you just described. So you know, all Yeah, gratitude, a life of ministry and a bunch of different ways that is, was seeking and creating love, healing to allow love to prosper. And the curiosity about positive potential that you probably bring into every conversation you have.

Dr. Marj Barlow 27:15
Yeah, I can't help it is sort of how it is for me.

Chris Searles 27:20
Yeah. And I'm gonna stop there. I think those are pretty great qualities for institutions to try and take on as values. And, you know, we have to move past this sort of, kind of Survivor profit criteria of what's best about the developed world and get into more of these criteria, I think. Taking care of each other, being curious about positive potential being in all of what's actually happening right now. Even just breathing is plenty. Yeah. etc, the gratitude for that. And you know, you can take that into your own religious spiritual identity as you wish and as you evolve throughout your life, but it puts us on a

Dr. Marj Barlow 28:03
better path. And explain path, yes, ascending path. We're not done yet. Right, we're still evolving. So I use the eight directions, that in the South West, I want to show up every moment, to be real. I want to go to the north, east and listen up. Because I don't know anything I need to learn, and then open up to my creativity and then grow up. We're not done yet. We're still evolving, and moving more into the frontal lobes and into that altruistic position. And then lighten up life is kind of a comedy, it's not trapped.

Chris Searles 29:02
Tragedies will be there but yes.

Dr. Marj Barlow 29:05
But to learn to keep learning and then learning to love, and then offer in service, that's a directions that I like in my lifelong compass of joy. I call it that. You have the joy of being present, listening, and curiously seeking something new. So that's, that's what I think it's about.

Chris Searles 29:38
That's how we'll end this podcast. This conversation. Thank you very much. Yeah. For anyone listening. March barlow.com is one place to find marches materials. That'll of course, be in the podcast notes. Marge, is there any other place you want to?

Dr. Marj Barlow 29:54
Yeah, contacting me you can go to pocket grandmother.com. We didn't wait didn't explore that little piece but it it anyway. Everybody needs the grandmother in their pocket gets the feminine face of God. This great Sophia. Yes. Yeah. Yes that that

Chris Searles 30:18
that whole idea of self acceptance. Yes is another nutshell of where that comes from this non judgmental presence who is your bobby? Yeah Be your own Bobby

Dr. Marj Barlow 30:30
and to take ownership of your projections that's the last little piece on giving I have some scripture on that whatsoever thing my neighbor do is that pull aside chain punches that button ring a bell that thing has more to do with the than with that neighbor

Chris Searles 30:54
All right, everybody. That's yeah. Thank you, Marge.

Dr. Marj Barlow 30:59
Thank you. It's a joy

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