As an operating foundation, the Institute does not make grants. However, it does undertake projects and partner with others to mount programs and address areas of concern.
More recently the Institute's primary focus has been in this area, with numerous publications, and initiatives through its affiliate, The Orion Society. In the pages of Orion magazine one can experience the most extraordinary confluence of nature writers in American history. Essays, poetry, art, photography, and departments all encourage the clarity, balance, and strength that can develop out of a deeper appreciation of nature.
Another award-winning quarterly, Orion Afield addresses current environmental problems such as energy conservation, wholesome food, and urban sprawl from a more activist perspective. This publication supports the work of the Orion Grassroots Network, a network of smaller environmental organizations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The Orion Society has a number of other activities, awards, lectures and readings, teacher training institutes, plus OrionOnline. Click here for further information.
The Institute's original name was "The Myrin Institute for Adult Education". That changed because the Institute's mission evolved from offering lectures and publishing proceedings to one that promoted more thoughtful education, in the broadest sense of expanding horizons and awakening consciousness, for all ages. The publication lists indicate the range of issues addressed, from the traditional raising of Native American children to the impact of technology on our world and outlook. Conferences held by Myrin and The Orion Society have consistently tried to break down traditional or compartmentalized thinking in order to prepare for a future that makes far more purposeful and healing use of human potential.
The Orion Society's efforts, particularly institutes, internships, and awards for teachers, aim to make strides in the area of nature education.
A new initiative called Housatonic Press will begin to issue classic children's stories that capture the wonder of childhood and foster the creativity children will require in order to thrive in an increasingly complex and challenging world. The first in this series will be Manfred Kyber's Three Candles of Little Veronica.
The Institute works in several other areas. A sampling follows.
The roots of violence. With the Humane Society of the U.S., Learn and Serve America, and local organizations, Myrin recently co-sponsored a First Strike Conference exploring the connections between animal cruelty and family violence. Children's behavior toward animals provides both an indicator of serious problems and an opportunity to address them. Other important connections became topics of lectures and workshops.
Substance abuse. During his lifetime, co-founder Dr. Franz Winkler was extremely active pointing out the dangers of marijuana and LSD in particular. This was before the risks were generally recognized. His concern focused not only on health risks but even more on the fact that drugs are the mortal enemy of human freedom. After his death the Myrin Institute set up the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE), which was subsequently taken over by Phoenix House.
Asset-based community mobilization. With a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, Myrin through ACDE established an organization involving all sectors of society and called Berkshires Against Drugs. After three years of improvements this became a model for drawing together community organizations, leaaders, and other assets to fight substance abuse. The successes and lessons from this process were described in How to Mobilize a Community Against Drugs. Follow-up on the First Strike Conference strives to use a similar model on a less ambitious scale.
Preserving Native American wisdom before it is lost. Two conferences and at least three publications by the Institute have affirmed the contribution Indian culture can still make to our understanding of nature and ourselves.
The Myrin Institute is supported by voluntary contributions.
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