1.18.2010

Supporting Change Through Friendship and Compassion


Glyness Hernandez

Today I honor present and past teachers, visionaries, activists and leaders who have dedicated their brilliance and gifts to creating a world that works for all, opening opportunities in subtle and bold ways for freedom, equality, justice and healing.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

At last year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Rally I was walking with a first grader I worked with. Suddenly he looked up at me and said, “Oh, I know why you’re here today, Ashley.” “Why?” I asked, curious to discover the connection he had just made. “Because this is all about friendship… and you’re the friendship teacher.”

He taught me such a simple lesson in that moment - friendship is at the heart of the work we do and efforts we make towards creating a world where all people may flourish. Every child has the right to reach their full potential and feel loved. Friendship and friendliness are powerful forces that we use to support one another in living our full potentials. We can extend care and compassion, invite intimacy and connect with one another in nourishing ways that leave us feeling loved, respected, appreciated and capable of being the beautiful and potent forces we are.

Today I also want to thank the extraordinary people in my life who care for me, encourage me and have given me so much practical help in my pursuit to become a leader in transforming the United States' Education System. I applied to Harvard's new program in Education Leadership last week and have been astonishingly humbled by the generosity, encouragement, feedback, belief and care that has been bestowed upon me and this journey I am on. Thank you to each of you who gave of yourselves to support me. Words fail to carry the weight of my gratitude.

All the conversations I've had since stepping into the application process have fiercely enlivened my belief that we can do this. We can make a difference and organize ourselves into action, facilitating the change that is necessary so the dreams of Dr. King and so many other compassionately active forces may come to fruition. Through our friendships, our willingness to drop barriers and open vulnerably to genuine connections with one another, we can create transformative change. I am awed by the people that I know, the work that you are doing, the lives that you are living and the hearts that you continuously touch. I am awed by the human power, the power of love that swells forth upon this Earth and the impact it has in so many subtle and complex ways. And I am eager to meet, connect with and learn from those I have not yet met. I see this beautiful tapstery of connections. We are weaving together the social fabric that supports the well-being and actualization of children on this Earth.

Every child (every person) has the right to feel loved and respected and valued for their contributions. We can create opportunities for children to feel safe and stay connected to their intelligence, creativity and inspiration, as well as their neurological impulse to learn and love. We can affect the future of our world by investing in the livelihood and well-being of our children and the social systems that impact their lives.

"With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is the work I am called to do in service and in love. And I extend the deepest swells of gratitude to the dear friends who support me on this journey and to the many teachers and leaders who have paved the way for me and others who are on this path of living, learning and loving.

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posted by ashley

3.15.2009

Good Being is Contagious


“Good being is contagious.”

~ Brandon Leonard, Youth Mentor

I met Brandon at workshop during a mentoring conference. His bright spirit and
compassionate perspective was the highlight of the workshop. This comment rocked my world!



Photo by carf from a powerful story that is part of their Children At Risk Foundation. This organization is an incredible example of using social media to invite involvement for a meaningful cause. I just stumbled upon them because they have very moving pictures that are all under a creative commons copyright. I'm in awe as I look more into this rabbit hole of goodness I've just discovered. It's true, good being is contagious.

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posted by ashley

12.02.2008

A Long List of Links

Here's a peek at my internet life over the last few weeks. These are all the tabs open in my browser right now. Some are pages I want to go back to, others I have yet to explore, some are open as references for current projects I am engaged in, and a few I just wanted to share with you! Enjoy and please do tell me if something catches your attention.

Happiness, Well-being, Inspiration
  • 10 Things Science Says will Make You Happy:
    #1 Savor Everyday Moments
    - Pause now and then to smell a rose or watch children at play. Study participants who took time to “savor” ordinary events that they normally hurried through, or to think back on pleasant moments from their day, “showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky.
  • Happiness Can Spread Among People Like a Contagion, Study Indicates:
    The study of more than 4,700 people who were followed over 20 years found that people who are happy or become happy boost the chances that someone they know will be happy. The power of happiness, moreover, can span another degree of separation, elevating the mood of that person's husband, wife, brother, sister, friend or next-door neighbor.

    Experts praised the study as a landmark in the growing body of evidence documenting the influence of personal connections and the importance of positive emotions.... The implications are you can't look at individuals as little entities devoid of their social context."

    "For a long time, we measured the health of a country by looking at its gross domestic product," said Fowler, a political scientist at the University of California at San Diego who co-authored the study. "But our work shows that whether a friend's friend is happy has more influence than a $5,000 raise. So at a time when we're facing such economic difficulties, the message could be, 'Hang in there. You still have your friends and family, and these are the people to rely on to be happy.' "

    "Laughter and singing and smiling tune the group emotionally," Seligman said. "They get them on the same wavelength so they can work together more effectively as group."



  • Benefits of Busy Parents Practicing Self-Care:
    What is involved in self-care? It is useful to look at four dimensions of people's lives in thinking about our range of needs, as well as some activities or techniques that may be readily available for replenishing ourselves. The group was asked to think about people's intellectual, spiritual, emotional/social, and physical needs and to generate ways people might care for themselves with respect to those needs.

    The intellectual dimension is defined as the need to expand one's mind. Spirituality includes uplifting or inspirational aspects of one's life including those that relate to the core value system. The emotional/social aspect involves learning about oneself, especially through relating to others. The physical dimension is concerned with taking care of one's body. According to Ms. Reeves, it is essential to renew ourselves in these four realms, and each person is responsible for self-renewal.
  • Would You Guys Just Knock It Off? 10 Steps to Peace in Your Household from the magazine Half Full: Science for Raising Happy Kids:
    Positive conflict resolution is pretty simple, but unless you are a lot smarter than me (entirely possible) you might need to reference this list a few times to get the hang of it.

    Each time we take kids through those 10 steps, they learn that they can solve problems in ways that make them feel competent and effective. They’ve increased their ability to cooperate, to empathize, and to build strong relationships. So conflict really is a good thing. And so are fights between friends. Why? Conflict provides the fuel for growth we all need to become healthy, happy, and resilient adults.

  • Imogen Heap kept a video blog, i-Blog, while working on her most recent album. I'm slowly making my way through her videos. I've fallen in love with her (I was a fan of her music... but now it's grown to her person!). Her creativity and bubbling enthusiasm are highly contagious and inspirational for me!
  • 10-Minute Practices to Reconnect with Spirit.
    Roger Walsh, the author of Essential Spirituality, was a guest teacher at Integral Institute's Integral Leadership seminars, where he presented the seven essential practices of the world's great Wisdom Traditions. Here is a selection of the experiential exercises led by Roger at those seminars. Each clip is 10-15 minutes long, and is a quick and easy way to recontact the sacred dimensions of this and every moment. Just sit back, relax, and let the next eight minutes be devoted to your higher Self....Experiential exercises led by Roger Walsh
  • Danah Boyd shares a tip for how to deal with your email inbox while on vacation Warning: Email Sabbatical is Imminent:

    No email will be received by danah's ornery INBOX between December 11 and January 19!

    For those who are unaware of my approach to vacation... I believe that email eradicates any benefits gained from taking a vacation by collecting mold and spitting it back out at you the moment you return. As such, I've trained my beloved INBOX to reject all email during vacation. I give it a little help in the form of a .procmail file that sends everything directly to /dev/null. The effect is very simple. You cannot put anything in my queue while I'm away (however lovingly you intend it) and I come home to a clean INBOX. Don't worry... if you forget, you'll get a nice note from my INBOX telling you to shove off, respect danah's deeply needed vacation time, and try again after January 19.
Youth and Education Related

  • Mighty Writers 2008-2009. Students blog their thoughts about why their school, Arbor Heights, should be kept open (and not closed as has been proposed by Seattle Schools).
  • The Guiding Lights Weekend: A playful, experiential conference on the art of mentoring where you will learn concrete ways to motivate, mentor and inspire. The Guiding Lights Weekend is a place to reflect, clarify values, try new things and imagine possibilities. You might just find (or become) the mentor you've been waiting for. Join me January 30th and 31st.

    Experiential workshops. Participatory panels. Talking Circles. Big-Idea Presentations. Community conversations. Awards. Performances. A few surprises and a lot of fun!
Social Change, Taking Action, Leadership
  • The Girl Effect:The powerful social and economic change brought about when girls have the opportunity to participate in their society.
  • Playing for Change: Playing for Change is a multi-media movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music.
  • Best Buy @15 Challenge: 15 teams will wil $10,000 to change their communities. Every week, a voter between the ages of 13 and 20 has the chance to win $500 for a school or organization of their choice and an IPod shuffle for themself!

    I learned about this from the team Richards Rwanda: helping girls in Rwanda get an education. Richards Rwanda was created by Jessica Markowitz when she was in the 6th grade, shes now in eight grade. My family hosted a man named Richard who told me about the genocide hat occurred in 1994. Many children lost their parents and could no longer afford school. Richards Rwanda is an all girl group supporting girls in Rwanda to go to school. We hope to build a school or learning center for the girls we are supporting and the next generations.
  • Charter for Compassion: By recognizing that the Golden Rule is fundamental to all world religions, the Charter for Compassion can inspire people to think differently about religion. This Charter is being created in a collaborative project by people from all over the world. It will be completed in 2009. Use this site to offer language you'd like to see included. Or inspire others by sharing your own story of compassion.
  • Is compassion catching on? Tracing the impact of a historic event: An article in ParentMap Magazine and a little self promotion! “I think it’s a slow process,” says Roots instructor Ashley Cooper. “We have to touch people’s willingness to put compassion into action. In my school community, people are talking more spontaneously about empathy and compassion. To me, that’s a great outcome.

    “But I think it’s really important that we move beyond the Dalai Lama. It was fabulous that he was here, but I really feel like it’s up to us as ‘normal people.’ What are we going to do to make something different happen?

    “I feel hopeful, and I feel like Seattle has that capacity,” Cooper says. “It’s a matter of: How much do people want to do these things that are important — and what are we each willing to do to start making a difference?”
  • Let's Say Thanks In Support of Our Troops: This website gives you an opportunity to send a free printed postcard to U.S. military personnel stationed overseas showing your support and appreciation for their service to our country.
  • Light Up the Night for Equality: On December 20th, we ask that you join us again for a nation-wide demonstration that will make an impact on the private sector. Candlelight vigils will be held at commercial centers in cities across the country in remembrance of the rights that once were for 18,000 marriages, and in honor of the rights that one day will be again - for EVERYONE.
  • Diversitywork.org on A Framework for Transformation and Change: As simple as it may sound, the goal of social justice education is social justice and liberation. Liberation is defined in many ways: freedom, equality, fairness, equal access to resources, respectful treatment, living without the struggles, to name a few. Liberation means human kind will be closer to the achievement of unity. Our society must embark on a transformational process if we our to achieve this goal. Transformation means change, and this change will not come about from well-intentioned people simply wishing it so. Action has to be taken.
  • Project Implicit:
    It is well known that people don't always 'speak their minds', and it is suspected that people don't always 'know their minds'. Understanding such divergences is important to scientific psychology.

    This web site presents a method that demonstrates the conscious-unconscious divergences much more convincingly than has been possible with previous methods. This new method is called the Implicit Association Test, or IAT for short.

    We will ask you (optionally) to report your attitudes toward or beliefs about these topics, and provide some general information about yourself.
  • The Moment of Leadership by Michael Herman: Harrison Owens says, "If you are going to talk about Leadership you have to talk a lot about caring, responsibility, and the point where they cross — which I call Nexus of Caring." Michael's response: "I think what Harrison is calling Nexus of Caring, I would call the Moment of Leadership. The crossing of caring and responsibility that is the cause for motion. And it’s just that small, a moment. Like an invitation...The practice of doing something about the thing you care about. Beginning. The nexus of caring and responsibility. The moment of leadership."
  • Change.gov: Building the community: A guide to comments:
    These online conversations are truly groundbreaking -- no other transition team has ever opened these types of channels of communication with the American people. We're proud of what we've accomplished so far, and look forward to building this dialogue.


    We've read through the thousands of comments posted on Change.gov, and are excited by the volume of participation.

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posted by ashley

11.17.2008

Signs of Change


Please take a moment to watch this video I helped Thomas Arthur make after Saturday's march protesting the passage of Proposition 8 in California.

In cities across America people took to the streets in national demonstrations to promote love and marriage equality rights for every American. Saturday's marches showed the importance of each of us speaking out for change we believe in. There is a strong current of belief in this country right now that if we work together for a shared purpose, we can make a difference, we can have an impact on the policies in our country. Please take a moment to watch the video and feel the positive spirit of change that marched through the streets of Seattle. Stand up for change and equality.

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posted by ashley

8.22.2008

Ride for Meaningful Climate Change Legislation

During the week of September 20th, my friend Jake Stewart, will be participating in the 1st annual Climate Ride. On Sept 20th, he will join others to start a 300+ mile bicycle journey from New York City to Washington, DC. They will be delivering a unified and non-partisan message to the Capital encouraging our government to adopt meaningful climate change and renewable energy legislation.

Jake shares a personal blurb of why he's riding in this event and why he's asking for support:
I sincerely believe there are few issues more important to future generations than ensuring a stable climate and healthy planet. This is not a partisan issue, this is purely a Human issue and there is nothing that we share more commonly than the planet that sustains us. In that light, I'm convinced that we can overcome the many standing hurdles if we come together in a positive way.

Progress is being made. In fact, despite fervent protest from oil & coal interests, even the few remaining figures that remained hesitant of climate change action (President Bush, etc) are now publicly acknowledging that the science is overwhelming: climate change is happening and it is being driven largely by human activity. The good news is that scientists have determined we can slow down and possibly reverse the global warming process that man has set in motion. But we must take substantial and immediate action to reduce the almost 10 billion tons of fossilized carbon we are releasing to the atmosphere every year.

I'm optimistic that we will rise to this challenge and that America will take a leadership role in this effort. In a small nutshell, that's why I am riding and asking for your help.
If you'd like to donate to Jakes ride, you can do so here.

Some more background and info:

About Climate Ride
Today's climate change reality
Why we must act now

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posted by ashley

7.26.2008

Carrotmob


Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.
Carrotmob Website


What power do we have to create change with our everyday habits of spending money? What's possible when we organize together that isn't when we act on our own?

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posted by ashley

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