GREEN FUTURE BAD? The Pachamama Alliance, a chat with David Tucker, Executive Director.

I’m into practical spirituality, which is what I’ve learned from the indigenous people.” Interview with David Tucker, Executive Director of The Pachamama Alliance By Willi Paul,

Are you a spiritual person?

Yes, I consider myself a spiritual person, but I guess I see it more as just embracing a fuller dimension of my humanity. I’m into practical spirituality, which is what I’ve learned from the indigenous people. Many people think that indigenous people are holy and mystical and the truth is that they don’t even have a distinction for spirituality. There is just life, and included in daily living there are spiritual (by our definition) practices that help them live well. It’s very practical.

Do you create art?

I’m an untrained musician and love to play, sing and chant. My favorite form is spontaneous jamming that includes all people present at any given moment. There’s the opportunity to bring a song into existence that has never existed and will likely never return in the same way. It’s like singing the moment and there is something special about that to me. You have to be so present and out of the thinking mind to let lyrics flow through. It’s a great practice to bring you into the present.

What are your remembrances from your last New Moon celebration? When was this? See:

Well the most meaningful New Moon celebration of recent memory is the birth of my daughter, Secoya, on January 27 of this year. My wife, Sabine, went into labor on January 26, the New Moon and Lunar new year. That was the greatest experience of my life.

What myths are you using – and/or creating – in the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposiums?

The biggest myth or belief that we’re using is that we have the power to change our personal and collective dream. This is an ancient technology that has been used by indigenous cultures for millennia. This is an empowering myth because it tells us that we are not passive recipients of the destructive dream that is being foisted upon us at every turn. It says that we have the power to change our reality if we first have a dream, or vision or even intention.

Who are the Shamans? How can I be trained in this realm?

They are people trained to work with the spirit world for healing their people (and some use their power to harm). They fulfill a necessary role in the community – that of the doctor, religious figure and/or warrior/leader. In my experience, they are everyday members of society who have families, hunt, and participate in collective communal activities like everyone else. For Pachamama, they, along with other elders, had dreams and visions that foresaw the threat coming and guided them to reach out and form an alliance with committed folks from the modern world.

The Achuar are master alliance builders going way back because their survival depended on it. In the times of tribal warfare and head hunting parties (not that long ago) they never knew who they could actually trust, so building strong alliances was a key to survival, as it is today. There are many training programs in shamanism throughout the world. To train in a traditional way, one needs to locate a teacher and apprentice.

Is there a “critical mass” for the vision of the Dream Symposiums to make a difference?

I think a critical mass is important, not so much for the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, but for the message it contains. If enough people are empowered to believe that we can break free of this consumptive trance we’ve been in with all the unexamined assumptions that go along with it (we are separate from earth and one another, more is better, this is just the way it is, etc., etc.) then that may make all the difference. It’s a conscious awareness that needs to reach a critical mass.

What is your track record on social justice issues?

As an organization we recognized, with the help of many friends and allies, that if we were going to talk about social justice in our mission, then we had know what we were talking about and do some of our own work. And we’ve done that over the past few years through different trainings, workshops, alliances, and independent study – on the topics of cultural competency, white privilege, racism, building partnerships, economic disparity, colonialism, etc. I’d say we have a basic core-level competency around social justice issues, and we still have a long way to go.

What green symbols and stories do you see throughout your site. Do you see a new mythology of sustainability under construction on the planet?

I do think a new mythology is being generated and that it is gaining momentum everyday through the largest unnamed movement the planet has ever seen. I think the more that this movement can recognize itself and come together, despite issue, sector, country, race, then people will increasingly gain hope and power. Very quickly we’ll see that we are in the majority and old power structures will be replaced. Then we can move beyond sustainability, which is about survival, to a vision where we and future generations thrive and grow into our true potential as human beings.

Many are talking about a major collapse in the world economy and a catastrophic period of anger and hunger. Do you see this near-term scenario? In not, what is your perception of the next 2-5 years on the planet?

I, and we as an organization, see the next 3.5 years as the most critical in human history which will affect life on the planet for the foreseeable future. If enough momentum is generated between now and 2012 then we can possibly avert disaster. Currently, most scientific models don’t predict a positive outcome. Something unpredictable needs to happen that we currently can’t see right now. I personally think it’s a breakthrough in something that science can’t fully measure yet – consciousness, alchemy, magic.

This is the time for indigenous wisdom to be applied in the modern world. We must transform or shapeshift the current nightmare into something that enhances life. Use the crisis and breakdown and pain and anger and compost it into fuel that feeds our commitment for change. Even if we make it, a collapse or transformation of some kind will likely happen to bring us back into balance, and that will be painful for people who are invested in maintaining the status quo or those who are uncomfortable with change.

What is the visioning process for the Alliance Board?

The process may look fairly typical for a non-profit board, yet there is a way of relating, listening and including the wisdom gained from our indigenous partners and the rainforest that allows for great things to happen. It is not a person or idea driven board, but rather a mission-driven one where there is always space for guidance to come through that is true to our origins. The Pachamama Alliance was called into existence and we still honor and listen to that call.

What are the opportunities and lessons at so far? Who is your competition for hearts and minds and money?

Well, referring specifically to our website, the biggest lesson is to stay current with technology! We could use a makeover on our website and a communications and technology plan is currently being looked at. Regarding competition, we are understandably influenced by our co-founder Lynne Twist, and her Soul of Money book. We try to embody a concept that Lynne describes as “sufficiency” – where this is enough for everybody, rather than the common assumption that there is not enough to go around, or you need to get your slice of the pie.

We don’t see competition, just potential allies – we are an alliance. The good work being done by many expands the pie for all. And this is also the time for “stange bed-fellows”. Logical ‘enemies’ need to start finding ways to collaborate in meaningful ways and connect at a human level, because we’re all in this together.

From your web site: “The Achuar, indigenous people of the Ecuadorian Amazon, had no contact with the outside world until the early 1970’s. Now, with this film, they want to share their extraordinary way of life and speak about our common future.” How did this desire to teach the west transpire? What are consequences to date?

The Achuar are an unconquered people who want to continue to live as they have for centuries. I’m not sure if they have an actual desire to teach or just want to go on living as they have and this can be a model and inspiration for all. They are powerful people who are intimately connected to the natural world. They get global citizenship and what it means to take care of the whole. In being themselves, they embody the values that are needed in our modern world at this time. One learns just by being with them. They simply said at the beginning, that if we were to be successful over the long term, then we would have to change the dream of the modern world.

So, after many years we created The Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium, aimed at doing just that. It is a message with global resonance and is now in about 30 different countries with over 50,000 participants and close to 2000 people trained. And the new international version is about to be released in another month or two which will make it less US-centric. So the consequences to date have been significant and we’re just getting started.

David Tucker
david at

The Pachamama Alliance Office
The Presidio Bldg. 1009, Ground Level
P.O. BOX 29191
San Francisco, CA 94129-9191
info at
Phone: 415-561-4522
Fax: 415-561-4521


“The biggest myth or belief that we’re using is that we have the power to change our personal and collective dream. ” The Pachamama Alliance has a two-fold mission:

1) to preserve the Earth’s tropical rain forests by empowering the indigenous people who are its natural custodians, and

2) to contribute to the creation of a new global vision of equity and sustainability to all – and the implementation of that vision.

Bio: David Tucker,
Executive Director
David is the Executive Director of The Pachamama Alliance, a not-for profit organization that was born out of a unique relationship with a remote indigenous group in the Amazon region of Ecuador. Pachamama works in partnership with Amazonian indigenous peoples to preserve the tropical rainforests, and to contribute to the creation of a new worldview or “dream” for the global North. David has been with Pachamama for nearly seven years and has been bridging the global North and South for over a decade. He leads journeys to South America for Pachamama and is a committed student of indigenous earth-based wisdom.

The Pachamama Alliance

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About [ open myth source ]

The [open myth source] project gathers conversations, symbols, songs, visual art and stories. Building a house for Myth in the Sustainability Age.
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