There is more genuine religiosity in a heart-to-heart hug than in all the God-talk in the world.
~ Br. David Steindl-Rast

Radical Aliveness and Belonging:
Exploring the Intersections of Spirituality and Social Change 

This event took place on:

Friday September 27th, 1 – 4:30pm at
UMass Amherst, Fine Arts Center, Amherst, Massachusetts

We offer our deep gratitude to all those who made this event possible and will share an update in the coming days.


Join us for a dynamic afternoon of conversation exploring the landscape of engaged spiritual practice and action for social change. We will delve into the places where the personal and political meet, as well as ways to catalyze and sustain our love, stewardship, and responsibility for the Earth and each other.

The uncertainty of our rapidly changing world presents us with a profound opportunity. As Joanna Macy says, “There is so much to be done, and the time is so short. We can proceed, of course, out of grim and angry desperation. But the tasks proceed more easily and productively with a measure of thankfulness for life; it links us to our deeper powers and lets us rest in them.” Grateful for the opportunities offered by the gift of life and our irrefutable interconnectedness, join us to consider ways to positively impact the world by showing up as our most awakened, engaged, alive selves. 

The Radical Aliveness and Belonging Symposium is inspired by the life and work of Br. David Steindl-Rast, a 93-year-old Benedictine Monk known as the “grandfather of gratitude” and one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement. Br. David, whose papers are in the UMass Special Collections and are part of their significant holdings documenting social change movements and activists, will be traveling from Austria to participate in the symposium.

The afternoon features accomplished, contemporary scholars, who are also spiritually-inspired activists and leaders, to engage this theme in its many facets. Speakers joining Br. David Steindl-Rast include: 

The afternoon will also include poetry, music, meditation, and other special guests.

The Radical Aliveness and Belonging Symposium is co-sponsored by A Network for Grateful Living ( co-founded by Br. David) and Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries. Learn more about the sponsors below.

The moment we taste the mystical bliss of universal belonging, we say a willing yes to it. In this unconditional yes lies the root of ethics. And all ethical systems can ultimately be reduced to acting as one acts when one feels a sense of belonging.
~ Br. David Steindl-Rast

If you would like to make a donation to Br. David’s Legacy Fund, you can make a gift here. Thank you!


Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst

Drawing upon the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois, SCUA collects original materials that document the histories and experiences of social change in America and the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social justice, human dignity, and equality. Our decision to adopt social change as a collecting focus emerged from considering one of Du Bois’s most profound insights: that the most fundamental issues in social justice are so deeply interconnected that no movement — and no solution to social ills — can succeed in isolation. Rather than focus on individual movements, we therefore focus on the connections between and among movements and the flow of people, organizations, and ideas. Our hope is to provide a more robust framework for interpreting the deep histories of social engagement in America and to lay the foundation for a deeper understanding of the experience of social change. We are home to over one thousand collections which touch on some aspect of social change, including the Du Bois Papers, Brother David Steindl-Rast’s Papers, The Records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Quakers, and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

A Network for Grateful Living

A Network for Grateful Living is a global nonprofit serving a growing movement of people who embrace gratefulness as a guiding light and grounding principle in their lives. We hold grateful living as an engaged mindfulness practice, grounded in both wisdom and science, which supports our ability to see the wonder and opportunity in every moment, and motivates us to act boldly with love, generosity and respect towards one another, ourselves, and the Earth.

In service of our mission, we offer online and community-based educational programs and practices which inspire and guide a commitment to grateful living, and catalyze the transformative power of personal and societal responsibility.