America’s Soul Community: A New American Leadership in a Chaotic Time

This is a time when familiar institutions, ways of thinking, and habits no longer seem to work very well in America. In such a chaotic nation, we need a more creative, kinder response. The future we need starts with our conversations with each other in America’s Soul Community.

We must regain the collective spiritual and moral essence in American leaders. In resources provided by studies at the Fetzer institute, the link between spiritual development and the healing of our democracy is established. See our blog posts here. and here.

Our action research for America’s Soul Community Vision and Strategy shows how engaging in deep dialogue, reflection, and collaboration will:

  • Reduce fear, blame, projection and challenge division, racism, and oppression.
  • Increase love, inquiry, trust, respect, humility, inclusiveness, and connectedness.
  • Foster a just and sustainable America as a partner on the world stage.

America’s Soul Community Supports H.R. 6843, Building Civic Bridges Act, is a bi-partisan bill being considered in the US House of Representatives and was highlighted during America Talks: National Conversation Week April 25-30. Read our blog post Civic Bridges Strengthen Communities here. We are a member of Friends Committee for National Legislation, Alliance for Peacebuilding, Braver Angels, and partner with the National Association of Community Mediation Centers, The Trust Network and LIstenfirstproject.org, umbrella coalitions supporting America Talks: National Conversation Week. To learn more, read our press release.

These conversations require an emotionally safe environment to build trust, informed by deep listening. There, we can take on the important questions about our nation’s future and our role in creating that future by using Virginia Swain’s mentor, Dr. Elise Boulding‘s imaging process, a way to envision and make the future practical with an action plan.

Imaging plays a key role in our Community, because we can’t reconcile a challenge unless we see it in our mind’s eye. It is our belief a challenge cannot be resolved at the level it was created. Using the imagination in a brainstorming process, Community members can envision a solution and then work backwards with a timeline and action plan to make the image actionable. Participants are invited to image their soul gifts as a means to a higher level of awareness– the challenge is then resolved beyond the level at which it was created, a way to show their commitment to healing America.  

Virginia Swain, the founder of America’s Soul Community, was in New York City during the attacks of 9/11 and had a dream that evening in which a Phoenix rose from the ashes of Ground Zero. The Phoenix identified itself as our collective soul and offered a message of hope to people who wished to heal themselves. Each person in America can recover, cultivate, and nourish their spiritual and moral essence. We found we could co-create a community to take us beyond individual and group egoism, and overcome the fear and mistrust that keeps us separate and isolated from each other and from the rest of the world.

This is where America’ Soul Community and a new leadership for America plays a vital role. Virginia’s memoir, My Soul’s Journey to Redefine Leadership: A Phoenix Rises from the Ashes of 9/11, chronicles her call for new leadership “from the inside out“.


Above is a picture of a Phoenix tapestry, given to the United Nations by Norway in 1945 after the end of World War II. Also shown is the Phoenix revealed to Virginia on 9/11 and later articulated in her memoir,
My Soul’s Journey to Redefine Leadership: A Phoenix Arises from the Ashes of 9/11 (Xlibris 2017). In her memoir, she seeks to explain why the Phoenix tapestry hanging in the UN Security Council failed to inspire the end of war after World War II. Her redefinition of leadership over her 30 years in the United Nations, Reconciliation Leadership, is her offering of a means to abolish war. The book’s foreward by Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, can be read here.

After 17 years of careful reflection on her Phoenix experience and what America needs, Virginia created America’s Soul Community. She sees it as a vehicle for people to pool their wisdom and realize the hope for regeneration, rebirth, and resurrection, as symbolized by the Phoenix. In 2020, she created Our Global Soul Community, for the world’s needs, with Robert Kauffman and Sonrisa O’Toole. 

Virginia Swain reflects on the origins of this initiative here.


A National Conversation called America’s Soul Community

America’s Soul Community is a perfect place to dialogue about the “Soul” of America. Drawing on her longtime commitment to the United Nations, her friendship with a Hopi Elder delivering the Hopi Prophecy, and the wisdom gained from the life of the 2nd Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, Virginia uses the inspiration of a dream she had of a Phoenix as part of our Global Soul-starting with America.  She had been in  New York attending a conference at the United Nations during the World Trade Center attack.  Thereafter, she wanted to help build an America that embraced a shared moral and spiritual vision as a partner on the  world stage.

National renewal starts with us as we think and learn together and come up with the insights that will enable us to move forward. Through such conversations, we gain clarity and discover our place in this great adventure toward a sustainable, prosperous and peaceful nation. We can take comfort in knowing that on so many occasions the breakthroughs that have changed our country for the better started with just these types of conversations among small groups of people. 

America’s Soul Community gives us a setting in which we can find our own unique way to bring about the future that our heart’s desire.  Its focus is on the United States—however, we do inquire into the nature of America’s relation to the rest of the world and the ways in which it can contribute to a global peace.

What happens during America’s Soul Community?

In our online monthly encounters, we use the user-friendly Zoom technology. After welcoming and introducing everyone, we explain our sacred container that governs our meetings and provides a brief account of the philosophy and history of America’s Soul Community. Then we break out into small groups–usually with three or four participants each. In this setting, participants take up the question or questions which have been prepared by the hosting team, our role to become part of the Phoenix and the rebirth of America.  When we come back to the full group, we share our experiences and insights, and create an image or words that best expresses our understanding of what we each can offer the Phoenix.

Read more on our blog here.

To view sample images and experience the results of previous sessions of America’s Soul Cafés from January 2017-January 2018


Action Research for America Soul Community Vision and Strategy


Hosting Teams: An America’s Soul Community Hosting team is pictured above showing Kim Crowley, Bill Kelly, Eileen Beckett, Robert Kauffman and Chet Warzynski left to right. In 2022 hosts are Robert Kauffman, Sonrisa O’Toole and Virginia Swain.

Eileen Beckett, J.D., offers these comments:

“America’s Soul Community is a safe place where we can talk and listen to one another. We gain insights to carry our knowledge in order to listen better to our neighbors and colleagues. Somehow, by participating in the Community for just 2 hours a month, I feel that I am a better person working toward better solutions for the Soul of America. I hope I have the courage not to be silent.”


Lisa Stiller wrote:

“This was an amazing experience! I felt so connected to everyone so quickly! There was a very deep level of safety and trust built in at the start. The questions and discussion were open enough to allow for wide interpretation, and there was such genuine affirmation for our contributions. Also the teaching component and resources provided were extremely helpful. Thanks to all of you. Looking forward to the next one!”     

Join our blog.  Here are some samples: Spiritual Emergency and the Phoenix Forges a New Future for America

Learn the schedule of first Monday Eastern United States time from 7-8:30 pm and RSVP for the next online America’s Soul Community events here.

Join our Facebook America’s Soul Community here.

America’s Soul Community is A Case Study of the Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation to Develop Political Will and the Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service