Monday, October 19, 2015

My Monday Morning Meetings And The Growing Of An “Exceptional Community”

Meeting Monday Mornings at Dublin Roasters Coffee (1780 N. Market Street, Frederick, Maryland, noon to 2:00 p.m.)

Sponsored by New Horizons Support Network, Inc.

This morning, another Monday morning, had its high and lows. The high point was that I was relieved and happy to not need to quickly leave the warmth under my down comforter or the serenity of New Horizons’ Harper’s Ferry Retreat Center, up here in the mountains, during this first of winter’s cold snaps.  

I do love warmth and coziness, especially when the great outdoors are getting a bit chilly and I want the days to still be the lazy days of summer.

The low part was that I truly missed my Monday Morning Meeting in Frederick to which I am quickly becoming accustomed and enamored.  The abundance of synergy and goodwill that is growing there, almost to the point of calling it a vibration of love, is the main draw. 

Aligned with this is that this wonderful ambiance is interwoven with the task of building a working community project through New Horizons Coffee House Conversations Project; destination -- a community actively engaged in being a touch beyond ordinary, in our local community of Frederick, Maryland.

The Coffee House Conversations Planning Project, while still new and very tiny, is, indeed, becoming a growing community entity within our greater civic locale, dedicating itself to building a more “exceptional community” throughout Frederick County with as many people as will join with us through dialogue and pro-active social and political engagement.

The road to individual and collective transformation has many elements, “the most important one is having a community.Murat Yagan, New Horizons’ Beloved Community Development mentor, Murat Yagan (1915 – 2013), affirmed this message for New Horizons and myself, personally.  

However, I had already come to know this in my earliest days, having been born into a strong community-life that I naturally was drawn to replicate in various forms as an adult. How sad it is to me that the experience of this most essential aspect of healthy, balanced living is all too often overlooked in this day of high speed everything.  

My Beloved collaborator, Sue deVeer, a birthright Quaker. came to New Horizons in 2006 knowing the importance of community – and -with a great deal of skill and experience in building and sustaining it through Quaker Consensus Process.

Communities, particularly the “exceptional” kind, do require certain kinds of investments, all too frequently disregarded in today’s world, such as time, especially face time, an altruistic commitment to the wellbeing of others, determination to pursue the highest good, a defining aspect of a passion for excellence in human affairs  -- and -- patience.

Here is how I have described the “exceptional community,” contrasting it to the "ordinary" in my manuscript in progress, “The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard.”

The following is excerpted from “The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard,” (a manuscript in progress).

Commonly held views of a “community” define it as “a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government and are bound together by various interests, characteristics and values they hold in common.   
A definition of community that is more exceptional, however, holds that a true community has several other distinct characteristics. These qualities carry the normally-held view of a community forward into an extraordinary form; New Horizons call this the exceptional community 
One characteristic of the exceptional community is that the members are particularly like-minded regarding the necessity for resolving conflicts in ways that represent social justice in a superlative fashion. A second is that they function synergistically. The presence of these two attributes*; like-mindedness and synergy, separates the exceptional community from all other communities.  
To the extent that members not only share common values, interests and characteristics (i.e. like-mindedness) in a particular locality and under one government, but also consistently seek to function synergistically, they set themselves on a course of evolving. Evolving as a group can be the basis for producing an “exceptional community.” 
The exceptional community is a thriving, healthy system that makes every possible attempt to maintain harmony and peace. In the exceptional community, violence could, someday, even become obsolete because the conditions that foster violence become unnecessary. 
In today’s world the exceptional community is an important model for creating a “culture of prevention,” a significant deterrent to the proliferation of violence. (The Tunisian Dialogue Quartet is an example of this.)
The Coffee House Conversations Planning Project Team is becoming an emerging “exceptional community.” Here is an invitation for your participation in it, even in short, periodic visits and in small ways.

There is room and work for everyone. 

No effort is too small or insignificant to make a difference in this endeavor.

We need YOU! We need everyone!

For details and registration, contact: 
Anastasia 240.409.5347

New Horizons is a 501 C 3 non-profit educational organization 
Cash contributions are welcomed to support this project!

*Regarding like-mindedness and synergy – I have come to realize that in communities of diversity, like-mindedness can be uncomplicated in building and sustaining an exceptional community if shared values regarding social justice and conflict resolution are agreed upon.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

How About A National Dialogue (Quartet or a Sextet or even a Polyhedron “Dialogue” or something) in the U.S.A.?

Let’s you and I make music! We can do it! 

I’m soooo excited! Being, as I am, a person given to a dedication to “think global, act local” as a mantra, what could possibly elevate both the rational and visionary/mystical parts of my mind as high as they are these days? 

Allow me to tell you what did it!

The Nobel Peace Prize being given to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet! The name alone of the awardee sends shots of joy up and down my spine! Yippee!

Especially that this prize was awarded while New Horizons is almost totally immersed, 24/7, in our own local Coffee House Conversations Project, built on the same basic principles (at least as far as we understand); dialogue  and consensus as viable pathways to large-scale civic problem-solving. 

I tell you I got myself soooo excited by these delightful turns of events; the local and global – I found myself unable to sleep for too many nights; one stint was four out of ten nights. OMG!

Jack, my radio show co-host on our Possible Society In Motion Radio Show, and I took up the topic of “How About A National Dialogue Quartet In The U.S.A?” because of this wonderful Nobel Peace Prize on our last program. And, I think we made a good start at considering the possibilities and the obstacles for our country.

One of the most frustrating hindrances that Jack suggested is that Americans aren’t in enough trouble to take up a project such as this. Could this be enough to really deter us?

Now that’s a sad state of affairs if I ever heard one; we have to go to violence and a total governing chaos to try something, which to me – and a good number of others, seems so logical and almost simple, but not easy!

Nonetheless I think Jack and I had a worthwhile discussion on this topic on our show, opening the way for more on the same and beyond.  After all, our Possible Society In Motion Radio Show began as a dialogue forum for overcoming the polarization running through our society and politics. 

Isn’t this, a Nobel Peace Prize for a “National Dialogue Quartet,” a sign of a time, the one we are living in now, that we, even America, just might be able to accommodate happenings such as a real “national” dialogue that involves large-scale engagement in our country, ushering in dramatic social and political transformation?

I can see that happening – in my mind’s eye; the eye in me that learned, while I was blind, to see beyond the mundane.

Check out our discussion for yourself on podcast. Perhaps it will get your own self so excited that you won’t be able to keep from joining us for our next Coffee House Conversation by Conference Call, scheduled for Thursday, October 29, 7:00 p.m. General details here, specific ones to come on the New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project blog site.

In the meantime, I , will do my best to discuss here why you, too, should be as excited as I am about this wonderful international turn of events; a Nobel Peace Prize for people talking to one another enough to make a difference.

Yeah, Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Groundswell of the Grassroots and The Nature Of Awe

Try explaining or describing the nature of awe to the ordinary person and what do you get?

Blank stares!

But talk about awe with someone who has been there, personally and with others, and what you get instead is a “real” conversation.

Wow! I have some of these “awestruck” friends in my life. They can, in a heartbeat, generate a conversation like this with me, even on the nature of awe!

So when I had the opportunity this morning to have a bit of a coffee/tea break with one of these friends, I got back even more awe.

Nancy is my friend’s name. She began as my acupuncturist but after a few years of working together, discovering in the process that we really like each other and have a handful of things in common, like understanding the nature of awe, more or less, we can speak of such things rather easily. 

Nancy and I had a break time telephone chat this morning in which I found myself “trying” to tell her about Monday’s Coffee House Conversations Volunteer Planning Meeting. And the awe I experienced in it. And how that meeting was, for me, in its tiny way, like the awe for some folks of seeing the Pope.

(Which, for me, is like the awe of being with Murat, leaving me so moved as to be almost speechless).

Only fireworks come to my mind as being as high and as bright as awe. Yet, being man made, they fall short of the awe of a baby’s birth, for example, or experiencing the purity and love of the Pope. Perhaps a perfect diamond, coming as it does from nature, might come close to the sparkle I feel inside, remembering and calling up the feelings of the precious moments of awe I have known. And, indeed, there have been many!

As I recounted my experience of that last volunteer meeting to Nancy, attuned and curious as she is, Nancy leaned in and probed that in me that had recently been to awe, attempting to understand more fully my experience of awe last Monday, connecting it with her own past moments of awe. 

Out of that exchange I had a grand surprise, accompanied by, once again, the wonderment of the well-lived facets of my own life, personally!

Trained as I am as a Certified Transactional Analyst to analyze interpersonal interactions, minute motion by motion, I was able to describe to Nancy (and amazingly to myself, too) some of the essential ingredients that brought the awe of that meeting to be; a simple formula, not easy to apply, learned from my dear friend, now deceased, Rabbi Edwin Friedman, noted systems analyst and author of Generation To Generation and A Failure of Nerve.

The formula has these three elements. I am convinced these three, applied consistently, can lead any one of us, as well as any group of well-intentioned folks out of the social messes of our day-to-day lives in to creating zones of peace wherever we go. So profound we can even experience awe!

Here is the formula. Apply it, transaction by transaction to how you reliably handle yourself, personally and interpersonally, and you will be more than half way up the Mountain of Awe – and – climbing. 
  1. Self definition,
  2. Investment in connection
  3. On-reactive presence 
(Fear not. I will bring these three elements to you attention again and again with explanations. Now that I’ve started.)

However, if it doesn’t seem clear to you how high you are climbing, applying this formula, in your own personal ascension, as well as the collective, contact me, Anastasia, The Super Sleuth. I will be your personal guide for climbing the Mountain of Awe and I will assist you in reaching that peak.

I am here to help!

Definitely more on this, especially as we head into the craziness of the coming election campaigns, in the midst of all the other craziness surrounding us in our society and politics.

It’s a wonder anybody can stay sane. Let alone reach awe!

But we can! I know I will -- and -- I know you can too!

Thus we become the "groundswell" of the grassroots, as Marilyn Ferguson suggested in the Aquarian Conspiracy, that can even topple that most exasperating of entities, our dysfunctional political machinery!