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The Power of a Single Prayer & People Banded Together

I cannot express how much gratitude I have for the indigenous leadership of this movement… at this moment in time. I am learning so much. I am humbled. Please listen to Lyla June Johnston. I pulled out some of her words from the video, but you should listen to the story directly from her. It’s theatrical and she’s speaking serious truth. <3

“The people banded together to create a historic wonderful model to the rest of the world about how a single prayer can change everything. The people decided together that they would choose to use their prayers as a way to heal their own waters, their own people, and the waters of even those who chose to oppress and beat them.

These leaders, indigenous peoples, have created a blueprint which the world can follow which says that we do not need to lift a weapon or arm to change the world. Further more, our deepest strength comes from praying for all our relations. We can actually create a massive change when we adhere to the principles of non-violence, forgiveness, and prayer.

This is a model to the rest of us. Our strength comes from stepping out into the darkness against all odds and saying, you know what, I’m gonna try anyways. No matter where we are, if we are motivated by prayer, kindness, and the audacity to try against all odds, that we might just create a world wide movement.
We must take a moment to celebrate.

We must take a moment to celebrate the fact that we have united things that have never been united. We have united the Federal government with indigenous peoples. We have united Christians with indigenous peoples. We have united war veterans with non-violent peacenics. We have united Muslims with Christians.

The world has come together to put their stake in the ground and say, “Yes. We love our planet. We love the water. And we believe in creating some sort of solution to the century’s long issue of the oppression of indigenous peoples of Turtle Island.” This my friends is a victory, the first step to many more victories that we will have in the coming years and decades.

We have made history today by creating a critical mass where even the most Right-winged news sources cannot ignore the power and the beauty of this movement.
We have proven the efficacy of:

  • the strategy of nonviolence
  • the strategy of compassion and unconditional love for our enemies
  • having hope in the middle of the dark night when nothing seems possible, and stepping out and giving it a shot anyway.

Please, let’s all give a prayer of gratitude.
Together we have created a beautiful demonstration of human unity.

Lyla June Johnston

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Facing Race 2016

Screen Shot 2016-12-06 at 2.41.52 PMFacing Race Conference 2016
Largest multi-racial, multi-issue, intergenerational national gathering dedicated to racial justice
2300 people in Atlanta, GA
My notes from the conference

A cohesive multiracial movement is our best hope.
Rinku Sen, ED of Race Froward and Publisher of Colorlines

We gotta show folks what it looks like when we love and protect each other. Within our movements, we have to give each other the benefit of the doubt more often… And understand our different roles.”
-Linda Sarsour, ED of Arab American Association of New York

We’re stronger if we are not only united, but coordinated.
-Alicia Garcia, Co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter

Here are the top things that I left feeling clear that these need our attention.

  1. Fierce Urgency — A fascist moment is coming. The only thing that will stop it is us. A cohesive multiracial movement is our best hope. Rinku Sen
  2. Organize and Be Community — Invest in each other. Our fates are intertwined. We need to unlock the humanity of this country. Alicia Garza. Organize. Find each other. Bring forth a system that works for the good of all life on mother Earth. This is our responsibility. This is why we are here. Live the power of the people.
  3. Top priority is Protection of the Most Vulnerable — undocumented immigrants, Muslims, queer and trans, Blacks, women. Designate sanctuaries. Find ways to let people know who they can call, where they can go. Create local first response teams that can take the place of government institutions. Teams include roles such as witnesses, copwatchers, medical and mental health people, legal people.
  4. Radical Imagination is needed right now. Keep imagining radically different potentials for this next stage of our existence.
  5. Our Issues Are All Interconnected. Various movements and efforts must unite. We have to double down on what deep solidarity in practice looks like. We’re stronger if we are not only united, but coordinated. Alicia Garcia This includes all the suffering people.
  6. Whiteness — We must talk about, understand and address Whiteness — Whiteness is an identity formed out of violence and trauma. We must address it head on to move beyond its grips.
  7. History holds so many keys to what has already happened that we can learn from and not replicate. I am listening to the audio of the book the People’s History of the US and it is so valuable to understand the institutional and systemic racism this country was built upon
  8. Media. Who is telling it and what the narrative being told is, is key. Pay attention to who you get your media from. Create media.
  9. Ancestors & Future generations – The ancestors are with us. And we act in service to future generations. Avenging the suffering of our ancestors and earning the respect of future generations.
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We Are All In This Together

BoatSinking

This image flashed across my sea of Facebook, labeled as OUR SOCIETY. One of those images that says so much and continues to speak to me long after it has left my field of vision.

 

Other possible captions that I see in my society and feel in myself:
  • “That’s horrible. I don’t know what to do.”
  • “Those poor people. I wish there was some way I could help.”
  • “I feel compassion for their suffering and pain. I will pray for them.”

…and continue living life as if the water is over there.

The structures that are made to hold our society together and take care of our people have gaping holes in them. Healthcare and quality education are not accessible to all. Protection under the law and justice is not accessible to all. The ability to make a living wage, eat a healthy meal or have a place to sleep is not accessible to all. Safety walking down the street or using a public restroom is not accessible to all.

And the planet that we live amongst, that provides us water, oxygen and food to sustain us, shelter from the elements, is being destroyed. The species that live along side us are becoming extinct… “That’s horrible. I wish there was something I could do…”

There are many of us for whom society’s systems do function, the systems adequately serve us.

Privilege1 (1)

We can work hard, get a job, afford healthcare, and walk down the street and enjoy almost any city we visit. We can trust that if we are in trouble and call the police, they will likely act to protect us. If we find ourselves challenged in a court of law, the system will judge us fairly in the ways it holds us accountable for our actions or sees our innocence. We are equipped with good educations that help us to think critically, feel empowered to follow our dreams, and even use our degrees to work our way into or out of situations. We have access to healthy food and even time for leisure that keeps our bodies and minds in good shape to face the challenges inherent in being human. We can kiss the person we love in a public setting and only feel love. We can leave our house when we want to, not hindered by physical or mental challenges. We can take a day off for vacation or self-care and not worry about how our bills will be paid.

These are privileges that should be human rights… but currently are not. There are racial, gender, sexual orientation, religious and ability identifications that make these rights accessible to some and not to others. There are ideologies that support these inequalities — values and mindsets that prop up a system of oppression and superiority, strengthening a system of haves and have-nots, and creating a system that works for some and doesn’t work for others.

I believe there are enough of us with enough privilege that we could stand up to these destructive and violent inequalities.

We have the ability to work together to make being human a more thrivable experience for more people living on the planet… to make life for our grandchildren more bearable. But it requires that we recognize and act on the fact that even when life is working for me, I am still intrinsically connected to those whose boats are sinking. My boat is sinking too.

So many people are stressed and exhausted, pouring all of their life force energy into trying to empty the water out of the boat – trying to survive in systems that are rigged against their success. So many others are trying to save the boat because they know we are all in it together, they are working tirelessly to transform the current systems or create entirely new systems. And there are still many who sit back and continue on with ‘business as usual’, perhaps well-intentioned with compassionate thoughts and genuine uncertainty as to how to contribute, but still without action to stop the sinking boat. In a place of survival, priorities become simple and straight forward. In a place of privilege, options are abundant and priorities have to be intentional.

How are you positioned on the boat? What are your priorities?

Mlk

I am reminded of this quote from Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

If you’re not in the process of bailing out water right now,
please make sure you are actively supporting folks that are.

#TakeCareOfEachOther #WakeUp #WeAreAllSinking  #ThisHasToStop  #SelfCare&CommunityCare

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Gaming the Future

Gaming The Future introduces how an emerging cluster of social entrepreneurs, academic institutions and public agencies in Asheville, North Carolina are utilizing powerful interactive visualization technologies and decision-support techniques to explore new ways of imagining, planning and building a climate adaptive workforce and climate resilient society…for an economically and environmentally sustainable future.

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The Power of Collaboration

Whether you’re the CEO of a company, the super mom of a household, or the wide-eyed 7-year old in a room, you know the power of being in a group that plays well together!

Think of a time when you were working on a project or creating a family experience and the group was cooperating beautifully. I imagine ideas were sparking, people were curious about one another, everyone was contributing, it was fun to be together, and smiles were flashing from face to face. Isn’t it true that being able to do the dance of successful collaboration brings joy, inspiration and unimaginable opportunities into companies, families, classrooms, and groups of all types?

So what makes a group collaborate well? And how does collaboration connect with performance or individual happiness? A recent study led by Anita Williams Woolley from Carnegie Mellon University looked into what makes groups perform better, studying what they called the intelligence of groups. Her team recognized that in today’s world, such skills are critical. “More and more, people need to collaborate to solve problems,” she says.

The study found that a group’s intelligence is highly influenced by the quality of interactions between the individuals. Opportunities for equal participation, distributing turn-taking, and how socially sensitive the group members were proved to be the key factors in predicting a group’s intelligence. -source

This leads me to think about how we develop the skills for social sensitivity. How do we learn to better understand what other people are thinking and feeling in a moment? How do we become more graceful at allowing other people a chance to talk and genuinely valuing the contributions that they make?

One tool that I’ve been using lately and loving comes from The Center for Collaborative Awareness and is called The State of Grace Document. This is a collaboration process used to establish healthier, more resilient business and personal relationships. It is a practical way to learn more about the people you’re relating with, understanding what makes them tick. It gives you a window into their thoughts, feelings, habits and ways of interacting and allows you the opportunity to specifically desgin your relationship. I’ve found these practices potent for increasing social sensitivity.

Sedona, age 14, participated in the Milestones ProjectWise at Heart, and she notes that “people get angry at each other because they don’t understand each other.” So why not invest our energy in understanding one another better? Not only can it make us feel happier and more connected, but as teams and families we can actually become more successful!

You can also watch this 3 minute video to learn more about The State of Grace Document, also called the “Blueprint of WE”.

Colorful puzzle piece image from LuMaxArt and all other images from Center for Collaborative Awareness

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Wiser Together: Partnering Across Generations

This article originally appeared in Fieldnotes

BY JUANITA BROWN & ASHLEY COOPER

Tucked away in the small Appalachian community of Burnsville, North Carolina, is a family farm and a place of meeting that has recently become the new home base for Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, Co-Founders of the World Café. Together with Ashley Cooper, a young educator, community organizer, and Executive Director of TEDxNextGenerationAsheville, they are collaborating with Juanita’s 90-year-old mother and younger members from the nearby community to deepen the legacy of the farm for future generations.

In these “notes from the field,” Ashley and Juanita tell a story that will also be featured in the Innovation Marketplace at the upcoming Summer Institute.

Together for Life from Juanita Brown on Vimeo.

FIELDNOTES: It looks like you’ve made quite a radical change in your life, Juanita. How did you come to be living in the Appalachian mountains?

Juanita: In the early 1970s my parents, Millie and Harold Cowan, civil liberties pioneers from Florida, bought a broken-down 90-acre farm in one of the poorest counties of North Carolina, near Asheville. For the next four decades they worked with others in the community to create a special and welcoming environment for people from all walks of life. After my dad passed away, David and I brought my mom back to the farm and spent the summer here. Late one night, I had an “illumination” in which I felt completely embraced by the love and care that my mom and dad had invested here. In that moment, I realized that we could never sell this farm in our lifetimes—and that David and I had a unique opportunity to discover what wanted to unfold here.

In a purely intuitive leap, we left our home of 35 years in California to “listen the future into being,” and to embody here the principles of multi-generational collaboration that we’d been exploring in our global work with the World Café community. As you know, we’ve co-hosted many multi-generational dialogues since helping to organize the first multi-gen learning program at the Shambhala Institute in 2004. Our farm project is providing a place based learning field for us to deepen into the principles and practices of intergenerational hosting and partnerships. We see this field as having implications for community resilience and for organizations across sectors that are seeking to engage the wisdom and expertise of all of their members in addressing critical challenges.

FN: And what is the path that brought you into this collaboration, Ashley?

Ashley: Growing up in Georgia, the Appalachian mountains have always been my “heart home.” The West Coast swept me away for many years, but my return was inevitable. The timing fortuitously aligned with Juanita and David’s decision to move to the region. They have been colleagues, friends, mentors, and co-inspiritors over the years. I embraced the opportunity to learn and co-create with them while at the same time being adopted by a new “grandmother,” Millie!

The nature of this project and this place drew me in—the intergenerational partnerships and the shared dedication to processes of engagement grounded in principles that nourish life, justice, learning and the common good. It is a unique opportunity to be part of a group of passionate people, as we move between our roles as learners, teachers, friends, mentors, and family. At the core, we are living the practice of mutual partnerships where appreciation and respect for each other’s contributions is based on recognizing that each of us has unique gifts to offer, whatever our age or stage of life.

FN: Why is multi-generational collaboration and partnership so important to you both?

Juanita: I have always been fascinated by large-scale systems change and what might enable whole societies to shift into more life-affirming patterns. Over the years I had the great good fortune to have older corporate and community leaders take me under their professional and personal wings as I engaged with this work.

I began to think abut the challenges we face at every level of system today. I realized that there is a huge untapped large-scale social change potential in the wisdom, experience, and perspective of younger leaders as well as children. I began to ask myself: How can we honor and use the unique contributions and gifts that reside in all of us, as a single generation, alive and awake together—whatever our age or stage of life?

Ashley: Young children are my key teachers. I learn from their honest perception of the world, bright curiosity, and playful ways of engaging life. They keep me attuned —reminding me to be in the present moment and inviting me to enthusiastically engage my whole self in the process of living.

At the same time, I’ve been greatly influenced by many older leaders and colleagues in the fields of education, process arts, conversational leadership and therapy. Relationships that bridge the lifespan have provided a strong foundation for my life and work. Youngers shake up my field of vision and invite me to see things from a totally different angle. Elders have acknowledged the value of my contributions and enabled me to stretch into the unknown edges of my capacities with greater confidence as I learn from their experiences, stories and insights.

At this time of global challenge to our common future it seems irresponsible to believe that we can make wise decisions without listening to contributions from all members of the circle of life. The wisdom of multiple generations is desperately needed. I also find life more personally exciting and fun when I am partnering across generations!

If intergenerational collaborations provide such potential for large-scale social change, why don’t we see more of it?

Juanita: Collaboration between generations has traditionally looked like grandparents reading to small children, a one-way power dynamic between professional mentors and their younger colleagues, and awkward attempts to manage a next-generation workforce. There are also strong beliefs, held by many, that “youngers are to be seen not heard,” or even that the final decision should always be made by the oldest person in the room. These cultural and societal norms and habits seem to shape so much of our thinking.

Ashley: I can relate to this personally. A colleague once said to me, “I’m older than you, I’m supposed to be wiser than you.” Not everyone will say something that direct, but I often feel that tone of a response, and sometimes it even has more of a dismissive edge. The challenge seems to be our willingness to be humble and genuinely recognize when we are learning. If new understanding is igniting inside of me because of something another person is doing or saying, I am learning from them. They are contributing to my knowing and influencing my actions and decisions. This is a precious gift and we have the opportunity to step beyond traditional boundaries and be open to learn from whoever has the wisdom of the moment to share, regardless of their age or background.

FN: Can you describe how you see your vision for the farm unfolding?

Juanita: We aren’t approaching the visioning process in the traditional manner of creating our preferred picture of the future and driving towards it. More, we are together “listening the future into being.” We are experiencing each of the four seasons and asking ourselves questions such as: What is the story of this farm and its role in the local community?  How are we relating to the land and how is the land relating to us?  How can we honor and deepen the legacy of my parents and of those who came before? Assuming the farm has its own voice, what is it saying to us?  Sensing into the whole, what are the minimum, elegant, next steps?

Ashley: In addition to our own listening and imagining, we are inviting people who visit the farm to share their images of possibility and creative inspirations for this place. We are committed to collective intelligence informing our actions and we trust that this intuitive and collaborative approach will yield paths forward that none of us could have imagined on our own. For example, the local members of our team whose families have lived for generations in this mountain culture have helped us “see” different aspects of this place and its possibilities.

FN: What does this look like right now? How are you spending your days on the farm, Juanita?

Juanita: I´m experiencing the skills and wisdom emanating from the younger members of our team.  For example, Justin, age 22, has a unique capacity to find unexpected and innovative solutions to dilemmas related to renovating our 100-year-old barn while keeping its unique character. Not only am I thrilled to learn from him, but the other young carpenter he is working with will often turn to him and ask for his insight. At the same time, when I, as the elder, ask directly for his opinion, I notice that he will sometimes hesitate as I am breaking one of the unspoken cultural rules about relationships between the generations.

Ashley, as a ¨GiGi¨(girl geek!) has become my technical mentor, I am mentoring her in the next stages of her community organizing work, and we are partnering together on this farm project. Another of our team, Thomas Arthur, contributed the short video and photos about the project which accompanies this article, which I could never have imagined! For me, what is unique about these collaborations is that we are each ¨giving it all we´ve got¨ within the context of the cultural and historical factors that have shaped each of our lives.

FN: What have you been learning so far that may have broader organizational, community and societal, implications?

Ashley: We’re discovering that co-mentoring is a more useful construct than traditional mentoring, eldering, or teaching. By being open to fresh perspectives and actively learning from one another’s life experiences and skills, we are accessing leverage points that far exceed our individual capacities.

Juanita: Organizations of all types are facing critical issues as Baby Boomers, now in their 50s and 60s, enter their older years in a world that is dramatically different than the one they have been operating in. Doing it the way we’ve always done it is no longer an option. Younger employees deserve to be considered equal contributors to innovative solutions rather than needing to “wait their turn.” If organizations are to thrive in these uncertain and turbulent times, these new perspectives and redefined partnerships between generations in the workplace are sorely needed.

Elders can enter the legacy stage of their lives by forming alliances with younger leaders around the crucial challenges that not only organizations but also communities are facing today. This will require a new paradigm for all generations and we want to be part of the movement that is responding to this opportunity!

We’d love to hear your reflections and experiences with intergenerational collaboration and learning—in your organizations and in your communities.
Feel free to be in touch with us at:
Ashley: Ashley@easilyamazed.com
Juanita: Juanita@conversationalleadership.com


Juanita BrownAshley Cooper and Samantha Tan will be presenting a Skills and Lenses for Innovation session on Multi-Generational Leadership: Shaping Tomorrow Together at the Innovation Marketplace during the ALIA Summer Institute in Columbus in June.

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On Thursday, February 24, national scientists and leading developers of serious games and gaming technologies will convene at Gaming the Future: Connecting Innovation & Education, a national press conference and interactive science exhibition in Asheville, North Carolina. Hosted by ABSCI, a North Carolina-based sustainable communities initiative, Gaming the Future will take place at Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa from 9:00 AM until noon.

Gaming the Future is a nexus of cutting edge games, science, technology, art and design that highlights the best in the growing field of science-based games. Through formal presentations and interactive exhibits, the event will spotlight international organizations and companies that are using the power of games to raise awareness about the effects of global change.

Learn more.

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