Is CATALYST Still Relevant?

By Greta Belanger deJong

CATALYST celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. We visit our original mission statement and ask our readers, “How are we doing?”

1982 was the year of ET, Blade Runner and Olivia Newton-John. Ronald Reagan was president. Gas cost 91 cents a gallon. The first CD player appeared. Answering machines used cassette tapes. Time Magazine chose the computer as “Machine of the Year.” A rally opposing nuclear weapons drew 750,000 people to NYC’s Cen­tral Park.

And, in Salt Lake City, a little magazine called CATALYST hit the newsstands.

Ambitious in spirit, it was modest in presentation. Content consisted of an essay ((reprinted here) and a calendar of events: meditation with the Wasatch Zen Group, which was to evolve into the Big Mind Center; a presentation by Brett Nye, Salt Lake’s only Rolfer at the time; meetings for the Audu­bon Society and the Utah Wilderness Associa­tion; a workshop with musician Paul Winter at the Museum of Natural History. New Age singles were invited to meet each other through a local newsletter,  “Contact High.”

Advertisers included Park’s Goat Dairy (on 5400 South and 9th East; goats long ago gave way to houses), Nature’s Way Sandwich Shop (on 9th & 9th, close to where Pago’s now resides) and the now long-defunct bookstores of renown, downtown’s Cosmic Aeroplane and, near campus, Waking Owl. The Salt Lake Food Co-Op on campus at the Newman Cen­ter (run by some of the same people supporting creation of the new store­front Wasatch Cooperative Market today) was represented, too, as well as The King’s English Books, Cedars of Lebanon restaurant and Felden­krais practitioner Carol Lessinger, all still in business (Carol is in the Community Resource Directory of this issue, too, 30 years later!)

The mission, as you are about to read, was pretty lofty. I—and probably you—can tell it was written by a committee, including Lucy Powell, Victoria Fugit, Don Ashton, possibly Lezlee Spilsbury and myself. Through the years the clarity of the mission has ebbed and flowed. But it is a noble blueprint. To read it still inspires me.

In the intervening years, Salt Lake has gone from a handful of massage therapists to several massage therapy schools. Yoga, once practiced in two or three locations, is everywhere. In 1982 there were two organic groceries. Now we have two organic chains, as well as seasonal farmers markets. The environmental scene has changed, as well.

So here’s the big question: Is CATALYST still relevant to your life? How shall we carry on for the next decade that could prove to be decisive for our civilization?

Write to me. I will respectfully entertain all thoughts, and report back here next month.

From CATALYST, April 1982

CATALYST is born of the conviction that humankind is experiencing a radical transition in the evolutionary process more profoundly transforming than any prior change in human history. The basic nature of the change is an expansion of human consciousness leading to radically new ways of experiencing reality, of knowing, and of being, as persons and as societies.

Breakthroughs in this pro­cess are emerging globally in widely diverse disciplines and cultural institutions. A network of communication is transforming through publications, conferences and emissaries, which serves to strengthen and facilitate this transformative movement.

Discerning that growing numbers of persons and groups in the Intermountain area are factors in actualizing this process, CATALYST takes shape as a networking agent for this region. We address the growing community of those who share common concerns for the future we choose.

CATALYST begins as a monthly publication to meet the need for information exchange not presently provided in a single source. Our focus is on the underexposed events and activities on the forefront of creative change. We shall call attention to emergent patterns in society as a whole, and to news briefs from the frontiers of research and of action. We seek to be a link between our readers and sources of information, rather than attempting full coverage beyond the local level.

Our ultimate goals include regular feature articles, interviews, book reviews and columns on special interests. In the meantime, we shall regularly offer: a comprehensive calendar of events and listing of services; display and classified ads; letters to the editors; and news items, primarily local.

The CATALYST staff approaches its task more as an organism than organization, adopting a principle of flexibility in growth responsive to readers’ interests and for ever-changing cultural and political patterns. As a catalyst for personal and social transformation, we seek to help develop a cohesive force for creative change and to encourage cross fertilization and support among the diverse efforts with a common cause.

We nourish the hope that humankind will survive the present turmoil; that out of disintegration comes re-formation at higher levels; and that the cohesive efforts of the committed few will create the critical mass necessary for trans­formation. Indeed, there is ample historical evidence that there is a powerhouse of dynamic energy within a fully dedicated minority which, like a powder keg when ignited, can change the course of history.

The national scene

Signs of hope for global renewal are obscured by media reports of dis­integration and confusion through­out the world. Yet it is only out of the breakdown of outmoded patterns that the new can emerge. For those who see beyond the phases of chaos, powerful forces set off by research leading to new knowledge and new methodologies are translating it into action on the frontiers of the crusade for whole persons on a whole earth.

The forces for renewal are growing out of research in fields as varied as the biological, physical and social sciences; the transpersonal humanistic psychologies; studies of the paranormal; experimentations on consciousness ex­pansion and tapping the immense potential of the human brain-body-spirit. All of these are authenticated by reports of countless persons who are transcending old patterns of belief and behavior, breaking through to more creative living and becoming leaven, models, and change agents for others.

Breakthroughs which compel rethinking and restructuring of long-entrenched paradigms are being announced daily, though too often still in obscure, esoteric journals. The more discerning of the forerunners, however, seek to relate their discoveries to those of other disciplines. To name but a few:

George Leonard of the Stanford Research Institute and author of The Transformation (1981) describes the current period as being “unique in history,” involving radical change in the quality of human existence more thoroughgoing than any since civilization began. “It does not en­tail throwing over our civilized values and practices,” he says, “but subsumes them under a higher order.”

Robert Theobald, economist-and educator, urges the formation of a new coalition, a linkage of those committed to social change, in order to benefit from the insights of one another. In his recent book, Beyond Despair: A Policy Guide to the Communications Era (1981), he outlines programs for promoting such cross-fertilization, beginning at the local levels.

Joseph Campbell explores the vital link of humans to their myths and the way in which they can extend our human potential. He states that the only possibility for our time is “the free association of men and women of like spirit… not a handful but a thousand heroes, ten thousand heroes, who will create a future image of what humankind can be.” Fritjof Capra, physicist and author of The Tao of Physics (1975), defines the parallels be­tween modern physics and Eastern mysticism. Lawrence LeShan, psychologist and psychic healer, draws similar parallels in The Medium, The Mystic, and the Physicist (1974). Brugh Joy, M.D., left traditional medical practice to develop his own potentials for healing with body energies. His book, Joy’s Way (1979), provides a map for the transformational journey of others. Elmer and Alyce Green of the Menninger Foun­da­tion, in Beyond Biofeedback (1977), report their research of many years on voluntary control of normally unconscious functions. After describing the proven therapeutic values of biofeedback training, they enlarge on the implications their research has for non-pathological uses. Jean Houston, director of the New York Foundation for Mind Research, publishes Dromenon —comprehensive, scholarly, and excitingly evocative. Dr. Houston conducts seminars internationally which draw thousands to experience for themselves, under her dynamic tutelage, the further reaches of their own being. The above is but a brief sampling from a possible listing of hundreds.

A rash of books has appeared attempting to synthesize the findings reported from the various fronts. Chief among them is The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980) by Marilyn Ferguson. Her interpretations of her research are keen and persuasive. Her implications for the future of humanity are exhaustive and hope-filled. We urge that her book be read and reread for enlightenment, direction and nourishment on the personal journey as well as for the supportive prod it offers in the commitment for action on behalf of others.

The greening of the Wasatch Front

It is significant that a number of the leaders and investigators men­tioned have drawn large crowds here in Salt Lake City in giving lectures, workshops and seminars during the past few years. Organi­zations are springing up which focus on particular aspects of the transformative process. New centers and services focus on enabling the expansion of consciousness, evoking creative potential, holistic living and healing, whole-person educational experimentation, environmental protection and sponsorship of spiritual quest.

The World Futures Conference here last fall attracted persons from a wide variety of professions and institutions, and there was evident a commitment to choosing the future we want. At this and similar gatherings, many began to voice the need for a central networking system for communicating these services and events locally. It is this need that has given impetus to the birth of CATALYST.

In the faith that personal and social transformation is possibly and in fact necessary to planetary survival, we invite your involvement in this venture. We are neither sponsored nor funded by any organized group, and the staff begins on a volunteer basis. Our growth, our survival, will depend on the support we receive from the community.

We trust there IS a sufficient basis for such support in this area and that our readers will assume initiative in finding ways to cooperate. Immediately these include subscriptions and gift subscriptions; the placement of ads; leads on events, visiting leaders, courses, seminars, group activities and services, and especially by using the contacts and information within.

And, oh, yes—name dropping of CATALYST wherever there is the suspicion of fertile soil.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Forgiving its formal demeanor and that last hokey line—overall, it still moves me.

Much has changed—within the culture and within CATALYST itself. By the end of the first year, we went from subscription basis to free distribution. Advertisements are still what pay the bills. We still depend on you, our readers, to make our efforts worthwhile. And so we ask the question: Is CATALYST still relevant? To you personally, and to the Salt Lake community?

One thing is brilliantly clear to me: Symbiosis occurred. CATALYST has nurtured this community, and been supported by it, for 30 years. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this endeavor.

We’re in that reflective ‘What next?’ stage that all 30-year-olds go through. I’ll be musing on Salt Lake City’s holistic history throughout the next few months.  Your input is appreciated.

Greta Belanger deJong is a founder and the editor and publisher of CATALYST. She began it when she was 30, and writes this commentary in the first hours of her 60th year.

This article was originally published on December 28, 2011.