Who Are We?
Kindred: A Vision, Practice and Identity for Sustaining Humanity
“Reaching back to antiquity, but intensifying dramatically the last fifty-years, a dark spell has been cast, trapping and enchanting parents, children and their cultures, in a false vision of who we are together. Realizing that adult development is the prerequisite for child development, Kindred breaks that spell, awakening a completely different way to relate to each other, and to all of nature.” – Michael Mendizza
What Have We Learned?
Kindred World (formerly Families for Conscious Living) began as a grassroots, consciousness-raising organization of parents and professionals in 1996, twenty-five years into America’s decline to the bottom of all international indicators for family, maternal, and child health. After a total fifty-year race to last place of every family wellness indicator, today, Kindred World’s mission and vision are more relevant and important than ever.
During the current climate crisis, pandemic, and political upheaval, Kindred World’s quarter century of investigating and sharing a New Story of Our Human Family is a blazed path to wholeness and wellness ready for others to follow. For a quarter century, we have explored the interconnectedness of all of the “categories” you will find on this website. This holistic approach – looking for the connections between all of life’s interdependent and diverse forms – has allowed us to discover integrated insights into creating lifelong wellness.
Below, in the Our History section, you can discover how and when we learned what we’ve learned in this past quarter century. But first, we will get to the heart of what we’ve learned so far. The New Story requires new language, so be sure to follow the highlighted words and phrases to our New Story Glossary for help in shifting your perspective and grasping these insights clearly. You are also encouraged to consider the Worldview Chart, created by Four Arrows, an International Advisory Board member, to see at-a-glance the worldview shift needed.
- We are endangered. Humans are an endangered species because so many are disconnected from being, including ourselves (we are nature), each other, our children, and the living environment. Darcia Narvaez’s (Kindred World’s president) award-winning research shows that we are now “atypical members of our species” who have created a culture of competitive detachment that ignores biological birthrights, causing lifelong suffering. In order to restore our connection to life we need to challenge our millennia-old industrial programming with our million-year-old biological intelligence. The Old Story should be replaced with the Ancient, Connected Story that characterizes durable societies tens of thousands of years old.
- We are traumatized. Our enculturation into a Dominator Culture, and its patriarchal, industrial, materialistic cultural imperatives is, as Riane Eisler says in a Kindred interview, “a trauma factory.”
- Our disconnection began long ago, generations ago. The trans-generational trauma, and patterns of dysfunction and disconnection snowballed from a cultural split from nature and being, into a species atypical state of consciousness. Our deep insecurities fuel racism, misogyny, sexism, white supremacy, racism, and adultism (childism), systemic manifestations of dysregulated individuals and communities.
- We are an indigenous species to the earth. With a return to our indigenous species’ worldview and species-typical practices for raising children and one another, we can revamp ourselves by healing our neurobiology and our spiritual intelligence. We can restore a culture of cooperative companionship.
- We are built for love, compassion and peace–when our basic needs are met. More importantly, we can foster human beings built for optimal health, sustainability, and peace by providing our original million-year-old “evolved developmental niche” – Evolved Nest – to pregnant mothers, babies and young children, but also to everyone at every age.
- We can heal. In summary, with great self-compassion and love for one another, it is possible for us to wake up from our entranced state of disconnected consciousness and its identification with Dominator Culture values and beliefs (see Four Arrow’s worldview chart). We can break cycles of family trauma, heal ourselves and our world with the Connected Story of who we really are and what we’re really capable of to guide us. We can learn what durable sustainable cultures have always known, a process called decolonization and indigenization.
- We can act together to create a Partnership Culture and Caring Economy. In a healed, whole state of being with our indigenous worldview and its values of connection to guide us, we can then, through conscious activism, move to create a Partnership Culture and Caring Economy.
- The USA’s global last place ranking and epidemics of illbeing, will not reverse without the New Story. The United States currently ranks 41 out of 41 developed countries for family friendly policies that would support species typical, early life optimal wellness and wholeness. Epidemics of depression, addiction, chronic illness, and gun violence are all hallmarks of a failed, disconnected population. (See United Nations chart below.)
- We have much work to do. And in our current trifecta of pandemic, climate change, and political crises, there is a growing public interest in understand how we got here as a species, and how we are going to get out. Kindred World, and its 25 years of experience in gathering researchers, thought leaders, and activists and in serving those interested in self and cultural transformation, stands ready to help.
Please support our nonprofit work, initiatives, and volunteers with your tax-deductible donation today. You are welcome to contact us at any time for more information about how you can help us reach our goals.
Here is how we learned these insights over the past quarter century:
Our Organic, Grassroots, Consciousness-Raising History
Kindred World began as a grassroots, consciousness-raising, family wellness movement in 1996 as an organic, intuitive response to the sharp breakdown in the United States’ institutional, governmental and social safety nets for families and children. By 2018, the United States was ranked the most dangerous developed country to be born in by a 50-year time-trend analysis, 1 which also found:
- A child born in the U.S. is 76 percent more likely to die before their first birthday than infants born in other wealthy countries
- Children who survive infancy have a 57 percent greater risk of death before reaching adulthood.
The study concluded: from 1961 to 2010, while the world’s wealthy, democratic nations made consistent improvements in survival rates for children of all ages, American children were less likely to survive and transition into adulthood. “Persistently high poverty rates, poor educational outcomes, and a relatively weak social safety net have made the US the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into,” states the study’s conclusion.
Along with the 50-year decline in overall population health, the US has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries. Many factors contribute to the high number of maternal deaths in the US, including racism, too few midwives, and lack of access to comprehensive postpartum supports, including paid maternity and family leave. A 2020 study of maternal mortality and maternity care in the Unites States compared to 10 other developed countries found:
- Although a large share of its maternal deaths occur post birth, meaning they are preventable, the US is the only country not to guarantee access to provider home visits or paid parental leave in the postpartum period.
- The number of deaths for black non-Hispanic women was more than two times higher than that for white mothers.
And ongoing data collections, through the CDC and states, reflect a growing epidemic of pregnancy-related suicidality. Maternal and infant mortality studies, like the one above, directly link the skyrocketing maternal and infant deaths to America’s last place ranking in paid maternal and paternal leave. The minimum paid leave available should be 6 months, according to a report published by The New America Foundation. Postpartum mothers are met with numerous challenges in the weeks and months after childcare, including but not limited to: depression, fatigue, general pain and illness, and lactation issues including mastitis, not to mention figuring out how to take care of their newborn.
According to PL+US, 82% of fathers want to equally share the responsibility of parenting. yet even when companies do offer parental leave to fathers, they often feel they are not supported and unable to take more than a couple of weeks off.
In an interview with Kindred in 2020, Joan C. Williams, founder of the Worklife Law Center at the University of California at Hastings, shared with readers that in America, “Your baby is your problem.” Listen to the interview: Class Conflict, Breastfeeding Policy, and Creating Systemic Change.
When Kindred World first organized in the state of Virginia in the mid 1990s, midwifery was illegal in the state and parents who chose homebirth were threatened with jail and loss of their children. In 2005, after years of working with sister organizations in the state, Kindred World celebrated the legalization of midwifery with the first production of the now internationally renown play Birth, by playright Karen Brody. This is just one example of how, historically, Kindred World courageously championed many family wellness issues through its holistic educational, grassroots approach to public education and outreach.
During the 2000s, Kindred World’s Gathering Groups, as the locally organized support groups were called, grew to 70, with one in England. In 2007, the successful support group program was transferred to the care of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, where the program grew to 400 international support groups. Lisa Reagan, Kindred World’s co-founder, shepherded the group’s growth, now known as Pathways Connect, and served as the associated editor and educational director between 2007 and 2013. You can listen to Lisa Reagan share the story of the grassroots founding of Kindred World on a presentation to practitioners and parents here. The program was endorsed by many thought leaders, including Ervin Laszlo, PhD, who said, “Wellness is the key to a peaceful and sustainable world. And wellness on the level of the family is the way to achieve it. Pathways is a precious guide for achieving this paramount objective.” Laszlo is the recipient of the Peace Prize of Japan, the Goi Award (Tokyo 2002), the International Mandir of Peace Prize (Assisi 2005), and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (2004 and 2005).
Robin Grille, author of the seminal book, Parenting for a Peaceful World, said of the original Kindred World Gathering Groups and their Pathways Connect platform: “My work as a psychologist brings me every day into contact with families who suffer cultural isolation for their efforts to live more sustainably and to reflect their social conscience in their lifestyle choices. What I find so exhilarating about Kindred World is their template for forming supportive groups around shared core values. Kindred World has a long proven track record for gathering families into dynamic and supportive communities in which children can thrive in greater health and emotional wellbeing. Their work books for discussion draw from leading edge health sciences. My research in early intervention and child development tells me that the innumerable groups created under the Kindred World umbrella are the building blocks of a more peaceful, vibrant, ecologically harmonious and sustainable society. This not-for-profit is an engine room, it generates rivers of social capital. It is exactly the kind of initiative that brings me hope and reassures me – someone is doing something powerful to change the world from childhood up – and the ripples will be felt far and wide.”
In 2009, Kelly Wendorf, founder of the first global eco-parenting magazine, Kindred, moved the Byron Bay, Australia-based magazine to the care of Kindred World. The magazine, Kindred, became the alternative media and public education initiative Kindred Media, whose positive and empowering mission is “Sharing the New Story of Childhood, Parenthood, and the Human Family.”
Because Kindred World’s founders were parents who wanted to understand all issues affecting their children’s health, a holistic inquiry, questioning everything and seeking the overlap of issues, was practical. This grounded approach questioned the connections of issues, peeled back layers of corporate spin doctoring, sought out unconflicted sources of information, and championed the emerging science of human connection as the foundation for lifelong wellness.
In Kindred Media, over 18 years and through multiple discussions, interviews, features and contributions from our progressive writers, we discovered this:
We’re asking the wrong questions as an industrialized, materialistic, disconnected society. The answers cannot be found in our current worldview, as Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
What then is the question? The exploration and forming of the right questions that would lead to grounded answers supporting of health, sustainability and peace is the purpose of Kindred Media. Our leadership for this quest includes a seasoned and committed board of directors, over 200 contributors to Kindred Media, over 2,270 volunteer hours a year, and donors dedicated to expanding our capacity for individual and cultural transformation.
Decades ahead of mainstream media, Kindred Media, serves as a vehicle for exploring this new story, presenting interviews with researchers and activists, and creating and distributing resources to support anyone seeking to understand the challenges to creating and supporting healthy, sustainable, peaceful humans in American culture. The original impulse of Kindred World’s founding families to explore fearlessly all issues impacting our human family’s capacity for optimal wellness still animates and inspires Kindred Media’s mission.
What Are People Saying?
Kindred Media’s compassionate approach and advocacy for adults who become parents is lauded by supporters and fans, from Hollywood directors, to playwrights, professionals, and parents themselves:
Stephen Gyllenhaal, Hollywood director and filmmaker writes: “The challenges facing parents today are numerous and daunting. From African American women’s outrageously high maternal morbidity rate to our failing education system, it can be hard for parents to know who to turn to for guidance in facing these systemic challenges. Lisa Reagan’s Kindred World provides an invaluable resource that parents from all walks of life can turn to. Kindred World’s mindful, holistic approach empowers parents to make healthy decisions and to fight for a healthier future for everyone.”
Cathleen O’Malley, playwright of MilkDrunk, theater actor and director writes: “Trustworthy, compassionate, essential. Kindred (and Executive Editor Lisa Reagan) takes a cross-discipline approach, amplifying the work of healers, scientists, psychologists, child development experts, activists, even artists (and parent-artists like myself) so that we may understand, holistically, our shared bio-cultural situation. The research, articles, and online community are guideposts in my journey as a modern day parent — rooted in values, authentic, and connected to the larger human story. An invaluable resource.”
Martha Joy Rose, scholar and founder of the Museum of Motherhood writes: “As an academic and activist, teaching at the college level, I have had the great pleasure of working with Kindred World and Lisa Reagan on multiple occasions. This is a groundbreaking organization focused on making a difference in the world. Kindred Media articles, educational content, and referenced resources are required reading in my undergraduate “Sociology of Family” classes. In addition, I first worked with Kindred in 2011, at the Museum of Motherhood when Lisa organized several high-profile events. Presentations by leading experts in conscious-parenting, family wellness, and holistic-living drew wide audience participation and encouraged a conversation that continues today. Over the course of the last eight years, I have witnessed Kindred’s commitment to an important cultural shift, of which we are proud to be part of. This is such significant work – Thank you, Kindred! Thank you, Lisa!”
Marti Glenn, founder of the Santa Barbara Institute for Prenatal Studies writes: “Families for Conscious Living (now Kindred World) is an incredible resource that supports families and those who work with families. Resources are easily accessible, very interesting and incredibly valuable. FCL weaves the latest research from many fields into practical, easy-to-apply suggestions, applications and programs that support parents and professionals. Their reach is international and their offerings always feel like they are right next door. Thank you so much, FLC, for all you continue to do that makes our jobs easier and more effective!!”
Stephanie Mines, PhD, neuroscientist and author of We Are All In Shock writes: “As a neuroscientist, mother and grandmother, I feel intimately linked with the mission of Kindred to provide resources that promote equanimity, inner confidence and co-regulation for children and families. At this juncture in history when safety is illusive and often non-existent, inner anchoring, alignment and personal empowerment are crucial. If we are to meet this existential threat and systemically transform society we need the Kindred orientation towards connection and alliance with the natural world. I speak for both the TARA Approach for the Resolution of Shock and Trauma (www.Tara-Approach.org) and Climate Change & Consciousness (www.cccearth.org). These two global organizations are dedicated to a more beautiful world for the children of the future.”
Samantha Gray, executive director of Attachment Parenting International, one of Kindred World’s many nonprofit partners, writes: Families for Conscious Living serves families in ways no other organization does – with creative and knowledgeable leadership and a heart for parents and children–along with cutting-edge strategies and pioneering news. It’s a pleasure to partner with FCL and feel encouraged that together we can change the course of lives and the world through compassionate parenting.
Read more of our reviews on GreatNonprofits here.
How Is Kindred World Leading The Way?
Today, in the context of climate change and a pandemic, the US’ trend toward disease, mental illness, and now, a breakdown of our Dominator Culture continues. Americans under the age of 60 score at or near the bottom on multiple health indicators than citizens in 16 other advanced nations. 3 The US has heightening epidemics of depression, anxiety, psychosocial and health problems at all ages.4 Because, as neuroscience shows, humans are holistic creatures, attachment, sociality and moral capacities have also been declining (e.g., empathy, moral reasoning).5 Avoidant attachment has been increasing along with narcissism, both of which undermine social and citizenship capacities.6 Sociopathy has become a cultural phenomenon.7
Our Old Story isn’t going to work anymore. We need a New Story.
Over the past 25 years, Kindred World’s founders, directors, thought leaders and volunteers have worked together to identity strategies to create family and child wellness that are not presented in existing institutional thinking or mainstream American culture. As a grassroots, consciousness-raising nonprofit educational organization, Kindred World continues to realize its vision of creating healthy, sustainable, and peaceful humans through our:
- Multiple virtual educational and resource centers
- Work with scientists and thought leaders
- Collaborate with business owners, for profit entities, universities, and nonprofits to extend the reach of our growing insights
- Discover creative ways to empower and inspire
- Create practical and shareable resources
Here are a few of the initiatives Kindred World has championed and created to answer many of the challenges toward creating a more peaceful and sustainable world:
Why Do We Need A New Story?
For over 20 years, Kindred Media and its sister initiatives have been exploring this New Story from the ground up, in grassroots’ communities, and from the top down, with frontier science researchers and social changemakers. Kindred’s nonprofit work has been led by diverse and brave humans who have sought out insight and solutions to shifting their own awareness from the limits of the Old Story to the practical wisdom for conscious living emerging from a New Story.
This New Story comes with its own language, phrases like Cultural Creatives, Grounded Expansion, Mindful Parenting, and the Ecology of the Child. You can see our collection of New Story language, the New Story Glossary, at Kindred here.
What is needed at this time is a gathering place, a sanctuary, created with great compassion and willingness to call upon our imaginations, to engage in open dialogue, to create community and to identify resources that support an adventurous exploration of holistic, peaceful and sustainable living.
Kindred Media, with its extensive platforms supporting dialogue and exchange of experiences, insights, and ideas for re-imaginging and rebuilding our world, fulfills this need.
How Do We Return To Million-Year-Old Baselines For Wellness? What Are They?
The Evolved Nest is a breakthrough concept that integrates findings across fields that bear on child development, child raising and adult behavior. The Evolved Nest promotes optimal health and wellbeing, cooperation, and receptive and sociomoral intelligences. Societal moves away from providing the Evolved Nest have contributed to the ill being and dysregulation we see in one another and society. Learn how to nest your children and re-nest yourself.
An educational project spear-headed by the award-winning neuroscience research and books of Darcia Narvaez, PhD, the Evolved Nest presents our million-year-old neurobiological baselines for optimal wellness. These baselines for wellness replace the compromised, shifted, and ignored baselines reflected in America’s public policy and UN ranking as 41 out of 41 developed nations supporting infant, mother, and family wellness.
How Do We Author A New Story? Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey Offers Guidance!
Calling on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey insight, this virtual retreat series featuring pioneering thought leaders of the conscious parenting movement explores just how we created the story we live by to begin with, how to discard narratives that do not serve us, and how to become the authors/authority of our New Story.
The Parenting as a Hero’s Journey Work/Play Book and Journal is a compilation of essays, exercises and keep-sake journaling created by thought-leaders of the conscious parenting movement.
Visit the Parenting as a Hero’s Journey website.
Can We Parent For Social Change?
The Parent Liberation Project and Alliance is based on Teresa Graham Brett’s seminal work, Parenting for Social Change. How do we teach our children the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion from the beginning? Brett takes parents through this online, 14 part series to learn the neuroscience and social skills.
The Parent Liberation Project and Alliance has partnered with international parent nonprofits and NGO’s to bring the Parent Liberation Project and facilitator training to their communities. Find out more about this global outreach and how your international organization can participate.
Where Does Parent/Child Empowerment And Bonding Begin? Family Literacy!
The Book Fairy Pantry Project is a grassroots family literacy movement. This project will be implemented by the people, for the people. Volunteer book fairy helpers will collect new and gently used, quality children’s books from donation boxes and book drives and deliver them to participating food pantries and WIC offices to be given out to parents.
Read Pam Leo’s insights into family literacy and connection on Kindred.
1. Child Mortality In The US And 19 OECD Comparator Nations: A 50-Year Time-Trend Analysis. By Ashish P. Thakrar, Alexandra D. Forrest, Mitchell G. Maltenfort, and Christopher B. Forrest. 2018.
2. Maternal Mortality and Maternity Care in the United States Compared to 10 Other Developed Countries. Roosa Tikkanen, Munira Z. Gunja, Molly FitzGerald, and Laurie Zephyrin. November 18, 2020.
3. National Research Council (2013). U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
4. e.g., UNICEF (2007). Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries, a comprehensive assessment of the lives and well-being of children and adolescents in the economically advanced nations, Report Card 7. Florence, Italy: United Nations Children’s Fund Innocenti Research Centre; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (2009). Doing better for children. Paris: OECD Publishing.; Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2013), How’s Life? 2013: Measuring Well-being, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264201392-en
5. e.g., Konrath, S. H., O’Brien, E. H., & Hsing, C. (2011). Changes in dispositional empathy in American college students over time: a meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15, 180-198.
6. Twenge, J. & Campbell, R. (2009) The narcissism epidemic: Living in the age of entitlement. Free Press.
7. Derber, C. (2013). Sociopathic society: A people’s sociology of the United States. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press.