It was probably during one of my spring rolls in the pasture that the dandelion began to speak to me of its possibilities for symbolically sharing the wisdom of the New Story we explore at Kindred. Grabbing a camera to take pictures of wild flowers in April is just an excuse to lay on the ground and say hello to the dozens of brief but glorious displays often missed from a glib walk past the earth-level celebration. (You can see photos of one of my wild-flower visiting, spring rolls in the pasture here and our dandelion and daisy hillside here.)
Following the dandelion’s promptings while picking grass out of my hair, I took some time to consider how this humble but ubiquitous native plant could capture and represent something so very challenging to put into words that we’ve created a nonprofit, website, retreats and educational projects devoted to exploring it.
In a nutshell, the Old Story is a belief in separation that allows individuals, institutions and corporations to act as if we are not an interdependent species on a living planet with finite resources. The New Story (also called the New Ancient Story) recognizes we are connected on every level – a belief that opens myriad possibilities for how we are going to heal the damage of the Old Story and, an on a more joyful note, work together to envision and create a more peaceful world. Kindred’s mission is to explore the space between the two interrelated stories that we occupy day to day, especially as parents who want to model for their children conscious living as a path to this more sustainable and peaceful world.
Over the summer, the seed-head form of the dandelion began to make its way into Kindred’s New Story Film Series with openings to Elly Taylor’s Becoming Us and Robin Grille’s rocking chair talk with Joseph Chilton Pearce featuring the blowing dandelion in the opening seconds.
Here were a few thoughts that I shared with my friend and artist, Richard Stodart, when I asked him if a new logo from, well, a dandelion, would be possible for Kindred. (See Richard’s books to the right, including his new forty year retrospective.)
– A dandelion captures childhood. Did everyone get to blow dandelion seeds as a child? Does everyone remember that, hopefully, care-free moment of being so at one with your environment, the Earth, that you participated in helping the dandelion to spread its seeds far and wide? Isn’t that what Kindred’s contributors are doing, spreading seeds of a new story? Isn’t sharing this New Story a joyful act?
– A dandelion is a herald of spring, a new cycle. After a long, dark winter, the dandelion is one of the first native plants to appear. It not only heralds the return of the sun, its medicinal properties, all of its parts, are powerful remedies for detoxification from winter and strengthening the body for the new season ahead. Could a dandelion help to remind us that cycles of seasons are natural, even the cycles of meta-views that govern human beliefs and actions?
– A dandelion is organic and conscious, and like the New Story, carries its plans for unfolding deep within itself. The old and new forms are not separate, they are one and the same. The New Story is new, but its seeds were formed by the Old Story which has now served its purpose and needs to go into the metaphysical and literal compost pile. Could the dandelion help us to understand that we carry the seeds of this New Story within ourselves?
– A dandelion is the mortal enemy of a chemically-saturated manicured lawn. How did this happen, I don’t know. But if you Google “dandelion and lawn” a hundred sites advertising planet-killing herbicides will pop up. Really, cancer-causing herbicides are preferred over an edible, medicinal, light-hearted herald of spring that might help you connect with your inner child? You know, the child who loves the Earth and recognizes killing its source of life is self-annihilation? Where’s the joy in that?
The insights Richard shared with me about using the dandelion as a “logo” were mind-blowing. I wish I could remember everything he said, but as he unveiled his design, he pointed out that this is no “logo” but a wisdom mandala, containing the atomic elements of the sun, the energy source of the dandelion, and the seeds which represent our actions in our daily lives, or how the New Story is planted and shared.
Of course, I had to take this exceptional work of art and blow it all to hell by asking Richard how it would look on a coffee mug or t-shirt. His response is as follows:
In “Emptiness: A Study In Religious Meaning,” Frederick J. Streng writes:
There are two elements in the process of symbolization.
1) the implicit norm of meaning involved in the use of words;
2) the process of “logic” of language through which a meaning complex is formed.
Since we live in a world that typically favors a mytho-intuitive structure of apprehension, the process of logic that best serves the Kindred logo should probably reflect this structure of apprehension.
At the same time, we can inform it with the logic that there is not something “true” outside the symbol.
The black and white version is more mytho-intuitive, in that it uses the symbol in a story-telling way.
The mandala version uses the symbol as the embodiment of wisdom.
I think we can combine these two structures in the following way to maximum effect. This way you can have your Kate and Edith, too.
Here’s my coffee mug.
A wisdom mandala? Wow, I wonder aloud about a dandelion logo and, in the hands of an artist – okay, Richard Stodart! – a hillside dandelion encounter becomes a wisdom mandala!
How does the concept of “wisdom” relate to Kindred readers? It is the “practical wisdom” or “phronesis” that social scientist, Paul Ray, says Kindred readers, who – by exploring the space between the old and new stories – are bringing forward into culture, which is why Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson named this segment of the population Cultural Creatives in their book of the same name.
“Is that a heart atop the stem of the dandelion in the ‘K’ of the Kindred in the logo?” I asked Richard. “They are lips blowing the dandelion seed,” he replied. FUN! So the lovely rose pink lip color throughout the site represents the joy of blowing dandelion seeds and sharing this New Story. Oh gosh, art is so much fun. And yes, coffee cups, organic tees and totes are on the way!
So there’s the story of how Kindred’s new wisdom mandala/logo began with a roll in the spring pasture, and the secret meaning of these dandelion seeds that you will spot blowing in our videos, graphics and pages are echoing.