Responses from Retreat Centers,
Environmental Groups, and Others

"The three evenings we spent with Connie and Michael at the EarthLight offices in December were not only delightful and thought-provoking. They inspired hope. The presentations and the participatory activities engaged our minds and our bodies and helped ignite our imaginations. We're looking forward to having them back in the spring!" — Lauren de Boer, Editor of EarthLight Magazine

"At the Northwest Earth Institute in Portland, three hours with Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd provided a powerful culmination for our staff and volunteers involved in a two-month study of the work of Thomas Berry. Michael's grasp of the Great Story and the Great Work took us much more deeply into Berry's vision and its premises. As a biologist, Connie took us down the path of deep time with wonderful insights on co-evolution of plants and animals, and the lingering impact of extinct or extirpated species on their co-evolution partners. — Jeanne and Dick Roy, co-founders, Northwest Earth Institute, Portland OR

"Connie, you were splendid! We're still talking about you, your messages about the Great Story and about living simply, your peeks into the past, your enthusiasm and brilliance! Thank you for opening an extraordinary door into the past here at Selby Gardens. Thank you, Connie, for opening an extraordinary door into the past here at Selby Gardens. Your enthusiastic message (and great slide show!) about the Great Story, especially about evolutionary 'ghosts,' gave us all a palpable sense of botanical history. Now, when I look at the cycads and Pandanus on campus or the Gleditsia along the Upper Myakka Lake, I almost hear the rustlings of Pleistocene mammals ... or some Jurassic shadowy thing emerging from the forest! With the conviction and voice of a preacher, you pulled us into the Great Story and showed us the way. Thank you from all of us here at Selby: researchers, interns, volunteers, administrators. A thousand blessings." — Bruce Rinker, Director of Research & Conservation, Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota FL

"Thank you, Connie, for coming to our environmental retreat center in Baltimore County, and staging the 'Coming Home to North America' ritual. Seventeen people participated on Saturday afternoon, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. We will never look at North America the same way again. Even though we could only talk about a few selective features (animals, plants, and physical landforms), we nevertheless got a wonderful 'deep time' perspective about what has been happening on our very own continent. What an imaginative process you came up with to help us learn and understand what has come before. This should be taught in all of the schools! Thank you, thank you for bringing it to us." — Robin Hessey, volunteer and organizer, Earthome, Baltimore MD

"Thank you for gifting us with much clearer knowledge about the New Story of Creation. Your passion for sharing this information was vital. You seeded us with hope in the midst of our chaotic and violent world. May you be blessed on your journey as you help teach that the Universe can be trusted." — Jeannette Love and Juliet Twomey, La Casa de Maria, Montecito CA

"Connie, your program ["The Ghosts of Evolution"] was fantastic — so well researched and lovingly presented. Passion and science — what a wonderful mix!!" — Nancy Henry, Highlands Nature Sanctuary, Ohio

"Michael Dowd's presentation helped me go beyond a narrow view of myself and identify with a creative process that has been going on since the beginning of the universe, 14 billion years ago. The story of this process is both inspiring and fascinating. He offers us the science of non separation." — Sheridan Adams, Berkeley Buddhist Sanga, California

"Thank you so much for your spirited presentations in Cincinnati and for exciting us with a compelling new story. How wonderful for the two of you to have found your great work — living, learning, celebrating, and sharing the great story with others. A deeper understanding of the epic of evolution, the story of the universe, our place in time, and our responsibility for the earth community is indeed an important message for us all. It was certainly a pleasure having you at Cincinnati Nature Center. Again, thanks for spending time with us and best wishes with your hopeful mission and meaningful journey." — Rob Monteserin, Director of Volunteer Services, Cincinnati Nature Center

"Connie Barlow gave a lively talk, one that has all of us looking at the produce aisle with new eyes. Her show-and-tell presentation, including some of the large seeds and seed pods, conveyed her message in an way that her book alone cannot." — Lori S. Eggert, Ph.D., Molecular Genetics Lab, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC

"Enthusiasm, a comfortable, relaxed style, and an obvious, deep understanding of the subject matter are a potent combination that assure audiences an evening they will enjoy, understand, and remember. Connie Barlow's program helps people look at plants they have known for a lifetime in new ways and just may encourage students to delve a bit deeper into their science studies in a quest to explore the unknown that is so close to hand." — Margie Gibson, Office of Public Affairs, National Zoo, Washington DC

"I had such a wonderful day yesterday with you all! I can't remember when I was nourished so completely by nature, the wisdom of science, and the inspiration of remarkable people! I am deeply grateful. Please know that for the days and months to come I will continue to share the gifts you offered so eloquently and lovingly." — Deb Weaver, founder and director of EarthVoice, Volo IL

"Thank you for being here, and for the life and energy and presence with which you shared the Great Story! In just one evening you covered so many aspects of how this Story, still so new to us humans, inspires and expands and deepens our sense of who we are, and who God is, and how intimately we are One with all beings in this Sacred Universe. Folks are still talking about the program." — Mary Southard, SSJ, and in behalf of The Well, a spirituality center of the Sisters of St. Joseph, LaGrange IL

"The reading that was required for your teleclass was stunning, Michael. As Oliver Wendell Holmes once reflected, 'The human mind once expanded by an idea never returns to its original size.' I must confess that since meeting you and Connie last year The Great Story has found its way into nearly everything I teach here at the District and in the larger field of Restoration Ecology." — Ed Collins, Manager of Glacial Park, IL

"The North American Ritual that Connie and Michael shared was a most powerful kinesthetic experience. Through words, visuals, and enactment, we were able to take in 70 million years of history. Through a playful and celebratory tone, I began to feel shifts of time within me. I was deeply moved." — P.L. Andrews, Interfaith Minister, MinGei Center for Creation Spirituality, Madison WI

"Basing their talks on cutting edge scientific observations and discoveries, Connie and Michael, who can be called "the Johnny Appleseeds of evolution", give their audiences an experience of awe and wonder at the miracle of creation and the sacredness of human life. Through their passion and zeal, dry scientific facts come alive as a sacred narrative for our age. Listening to them is a truly remarkable experience, an intellectual journey and a spiritual adventure." — Igal Moria, Impersonal Enlightenment Fellowship, Lenox MA

"The goal of the What Is Enlightenment? Magazine Speakers Forum is to inspire an appreciation for the evolutionary trajectory of the universe and a deeper recognition of our connectedness with one another, as well as a sense of responsibility for our future. Connie and Michael did all of that with our audience, and more. Their warmth, passion, humor, and knowledge transmitted the science of cosmology with such a genuine appreciation of our kinship with all of life that we immediately grasped the mind-boggling connection between the atoms that make up our earth and their origins on some distant star. I am sure their visit marks the beginning of an ongoing evolutionary dialogue and all who attended, both in Lenox and in Cambridge Massachusetts, are already looking forward to the next installment!" — Amy Edelstein, What is Enlightenment? magazine

"Dear Connie and Michael: Words float trying to reach our heights of joy and thankfulness at what you have brought to this weekend at DeKoven, and the gift of yourselves, as well as your ministries. Please find time-space to come back." — Travis DuPriest, DeKoven Center, Racine WI

"Thank you, Connie and Michael, for your visit to our retreat center earlier this week. There was a lot of positive response to your presentation of the Great Story, and the breakfast conversation the morning you and Michael left was all about what people had learned about the evolution of life in North America the previous evening. We look forward to your return." — Minor Lile, Camp Co-Manager, Indralaya Theosophical Center, Orcas Island WA.

"Dear Michael - We would like to thank you so much for coming to speak at La Providencia. All of us who participated were inspired and challenged by your presentation. We were caught up with your enthusiasm about the Great Story .Afterwards, we certainly enjoyed what Connie shared with us about the "stuff' of the universe and our wonderment of being stardust. We can understand how you complement each other. The following are remarks made by some of the participants:

  • "It was wonderful the way Michael involved us."
  • "After hearing Michael's story I felt very connected with him and was eager to hear what he had to say."
  • "I felt we were part of the same story."
  • "It is great to see that Michael is helping people of all faiths to understand that the Story of the Universe is all of humanity's story."
  • "I was so inspired to hear that when Michael and Connie didn't get the grant they applied for that they went ahead, leaving everything behind, using their old van and set out on their journey knowing that they would be taken care of."
  • "Blessings on your journey. May the Holy One guide and direct you." — Srs. Patricia Hanson and Millie Peaslee, La Providencia Spiritual Renewal Center, Alpine CA

    "I thoroughly enjoyed your wonderful program at the Foundation for Global Community in Palo Alto. It was a fabulous program, and I heartily congratulate you and Michael for the creativity you put into it." — Ed Smith, retired Programmer/Analyst, Palo Alto, California

    "At our recent Windstar One World Symposium, we had the good fortune to have Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow as presenters. Connie and Michael provided us with a fascinating and inspiring look at the new cosmology of the evolution of our universe. It is a perspective that restores the experience of sacredness to nature, the Earth, and the entire universe. I highly recommend Michael and Connie's presentation to all our Connection Groups." — Jim Toth, President of Northern Ohio Windstar

    "Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your presentation at the Sophia Center last week. I've attended many Thurday morning Public Forums at the Sophia Center, and yours was unquestionably one of the best. MIL GRACIAS! Continued blessings on your mission/ministry; it is truly of the Spirit. You have a special place in my prayer as you continue on the journey." — Sincerely, Anne Devaney, R.S.M.

    "This was my first time at an EarthSpirit Rising Conference. I must say, I was completely enthralled with Connie's charismatic and enthusiastic presentation for children." — Millie Willis, Roanoke VA

    "We just finished watching your video, Michael. You have spoken my mind. And you have done so eloquently. With passion and a magnetic clarity. You must be seen and heard by more. Many more. Thousands. Has Public Broadcasting seen this tape? You bring The Great Story to life so powerfully. You thrill us with your telling. In this grim political time, your story - 0ur story - THE STORY - is like a bright flame in the midst of a depressing and weary grayness." — Bill Bruehl, playwright

    "I was very moved, to tears in fact, as I took in how "great" this is. Indeed, to be subject not object in life of the the Universe! And to realize we are made of elements made 13 billiion years ago! Absolutely amazing! Told with spirit and passion! Sirred excitement in me that I think of daily and try to remember my true connection to the universe." — a workshop participant

    "Thank you for the fine presentation you offered to our community. The work that you do is so inspiring; I hope that you will be able to come back soon." — Chris Goffredo, Events Coordinator, Ross Institute Center for Well-Being, Long Island NY

    "Michael's "Beyond Sustainability" program was the best in-person presentation of The Big Picture I've ever heard in my entire life. Embodied. Engaging. Encapsulated. Comprehensive. Truth telling. In the database of the collective wisdom of humanity, Michael stands out." — Paul C. Hoffman, EarthSeals, Berkeley CA

    "Michael: We loved having you and Connie stay at our house. Your presence provided our family with an infusion of new thought and excitement. You two are like traveling prophets leaving petals of wisdom and blessings in your path. I'm so glad we had the opportunity to be in your path." — Mary Ellen Failey (Columbus, Ohio)

    "Connie Barlow is a pioneer, a sure-footed and spirited guide who is equally at home in the two terrains of scientific theory and eco-religious experience. Green Space, Green Time, a much-needed tour de force, once and for all breaks through the illusion that science and the spirit are exclusive and separate domains." — Lauren deBoer, EarthLight magazine

    "The biggest story there is, told with pizzazz and panache. Michael is a spellbinder as he weaves the tale of all existence. I can hear it again and again." — David Sweet, National Outreach Coordinator, Northwest Earth Institute

    Anonymous written comments from participants at a one-hour program on the Great Story that Michael presented at the Northwest Earth Institute National Training, in Portland OR, in September 1999:

  • "Loved the Universe Story. Michael is an excellent storyteller, and what a story! In complete accord with everything I've learned about the New Science, and told in a compelling way."
  • "Absolutely delightful."
  • "The Universe Story was fabulous."
  • "Michael Dowd — oh my God!!"
  • "Excellent, Awesome, Inspiring. Michael was so powerful, and fun!"

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