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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Intentional Communities
Posted: October 24, 2019 at 11:25 am
With co-housing on the rise in the UK, it is touted as a model for better homes and stronger communities. In Brexit Britain, can this type of living where decisions are made by consensus and everybody pulls together in times of crisis also help us become better citizens?
Poppy Stones is redirecting trains. Its 9am on a Sunday morning and, on a homemade map of Network Rails London North Western route that takes up most of the living room floor, she is diverting the miniature locomotives from their assigned course, much to the irritation of her five-year-old brother, Jasper.
At 15 months old, Poppy is Lancaster Cohousings youngest resident, and she and Jasper have lived in the intentional community all their lives. We were really drawn to the way of living where you know your neighbours it felt like an old-fashioned village, says their mother, Becky Stones.
Forgebank, home to the familys community, is one of 27 such developments in the UK. Poppy and Jaspers home sits on a quiet terrace along with 40 others, facing south across the River Lune and overlooking the woodland opposite.
Like Stones, many residents are attracted to living in a way that affords better relationships with the people around them. I dont think its actually natural for humans to live alone, says Mary Searle-Chatterjee, a retired anthropology lecturer.
She is Lancaster Cohousings oldest member although she says: I dont believe with age comes wisdom and lives on her own. She wanted to balance her independence with being part of a community. I wanted to live in co-housing. This one seemed practical, down-to-earth, politically committed and in tune with my views, she says.
Like any other street in the UK, the households along Forgebank contain a spectrum of human life: residents (some 60 adults and 15 children) range in age from one to 77 years. There are young families and couples expecting new arrivals, households with teenage children and empty nesters, child-free couples, LGBT couples, people living alone all with their own private homes with a lockable front door.
Unlike other streets, however, it also has a common house halfway along it, which is shared by everyone who lives here. Its a large, high-ceilinged space with an industrial-sized kitchen, tables for group meals, plus a log fire and sofas. French windows lead out on to a terrace overlooking the river, where theres patio furniture and a recent addition: the childrens trampoline. With the idyllic river backdrop, it feels a little like a holiday camp.
Becky moved into the community with her now-husband Robin in 2012. Since living in Forgebank theyve got married and had two children: Jasper, whos five and Poppy, 15 months.
Across the walkway, there are letterboxes and the communal laundry, deliberately separate to encourage residents to chat with each other. Several storerooms have been given over to a small grocery shop as well as a bike room, a kids playroom and a meticulously organised garden shed.
Vehicles are confined to a carpark near the main road, meaning Jasper and other children on the street can safely whizz between each others homes on their scooters.
We could have chosen very different options. We wanted to live as part of a community and somewhere that would be really great for kids, says Charlie Little, a social worker who lives with her partner Johnny Unger, a linguistics lecturer at Lancaster University. They are expecting a baby this autumn, and Unger also has a four-year-old son, Byron.
Co-housing began, in 1960s Denmark, based around the philosophy that a child should have 100 parents. Its ideal for children and parents, confirms Becky. You have instant playmates without having to plan things all the time.
Jasper has lived in co-housing all his life
Theres also instant support. When Poppy was born, one of our neighbours came and washed up for us for about four weeks, which was incredible. The next-door neighbour said, if you ever need me to hold Poppy while you do something. Ive only done it a few times but its so helpful when theres something that I just cant do while Im holding the baby.
And its not only parents with young children who feel the benefits of living communally. This is a very stimulating place to live. Its full of opinionated people, a lot of whom are quite independent, and I value that, says Searle- Chatterjee.
There are so many different people with different interests organising different things, says Patrice Van Cleemput, a retired health visitor who lives with her partner Corinne Cambrey, an ambulance driver. We have lots of experiences that we probably would never have had if we didnt live here.
The access to resources that living here gives me has been so normalised that I dont even think about itChris Coates
Co-housing is gaining in popularity in the UK. In 2013, there were 14 completed developments just over half todays number. This year alone has seen two new projects finalised Marmalade Lane in Cambridge and Cannock Mill in Colchester with a combined 65 new homes between them.
Often described as a model for a better way of creating houses, it offers alternatives to a host of problems and is increasingly attracting the attention of councils and housing associations. For a start, homes are designed by or for the people who are going to live in them one of the defining characteristics of co-housing developments. Its people-powered housing getting people to think about whats best for them and their community, as opposed to being passive recipients, says Angela Vincent, a board member for the UK Cohousing Network.
For the community in Lancaster, one of the projects original aims was to create sustainable, energy efficient homes. As a result, the houses and common house have been built to Passivhaus standards, a German-originated building style that promotes passive heating (such as heat via the sun) and insulation, and which require, on average, 75 per cent less energy to heat, compared to standard new-builds in the UK.
The homes are heated via a biomass-powered district heating system and receive electricity from solar and the nearby Halton Lune Hydro plant. Growing up in Austria, I find that houses in the UK, particularly newer ones, are built with pathetic levels of insulation and very little thought to sustainability, says Unger. Its really good to have a house thats really well insulated, and has a district heating system and renewable energy.
Forgebanks shared bike store
Lancaster is not the only community to have chosen to build their homes to such a hi-spec: Cannock Mill has also built Passivhaus homes. The 20 homes at Lilac (Low Impact Living Affordable Community) in Leeds include some Passivhaus features and other low-carbon building methods.
I think weve managed to persuade the council that if they build council houses again, they should build them to Passivhaus standards, says Chris Coates, a Lancaster Cohousing member who lives with his partner, Kate.
Then theres the community aspect of co-housing, a potential cure for the loneliness epidemic sweeping the UK. According to figures published in 2018, 5 per cent of UK adults often or always feel lonely, and 16 per cent feel lonely some of the time. The number of people living alone surpassed 8 million in 2018, up from 7.7 million in 2017, and is projected to rise further.
Theres also evidence to suggest that living alone has an impact on health. People aged 65 or older who live alone are 50 per cent more likely to go to A&E than those living with other people; they are also more likely to suffer with a mental health condition.
There are limits to its ability to solve the UKs ills, however. While some communities (such as the one in Leeds) have found alternative financial models to make ownership accessible to people on lower incomes, co-housing often presents the same barriers as any other housing its unaffordable for many people.
Many Lancaster Cohousing members are passionate about environmental issues
Sunday brunch is a regular communal meal time for Lancaster Cohousing. This week, its veggie fritters with mushrooms and homemade beans and around 30 people trickle into the common house from about 10.30 am. The community had originally hoped theyd eat together four times a week. But in practice, its proved tricky to organise 60 adults that frequently.
The scale excites me but I know it doesnt other people, says Coates. We afford the scale of communal resources because were the size we are. At some point, it became cheaper to do district heating than to provide everybody with a central heating system in their house.
Sharing within communities allows the individuals to consume less. Theres a car club, with a pool of six vehicles including two electric. Anyone wanting their own car has to meet strict criteria to prove why they need it. Three washing machines in the laundry serve 41 households.
Mary Searle- Chatterjee is a retired anthropologist and has lived in the co-housing community since 2013. Were not singing from one hymn sheet, she says. But I feel going into the future with people who are active in different ways for me, I feel thats a good way to live.
The on-site grocery shop sells everything from milk to pulses and pasta, Fairtrade coffee or chocolate. Everything comes from brands carefully selected for their ethical and sustainable values that arent always available in mainstream supermarkets: tinned groceries from co-operative Suma; dried food in bulk containers so residents can avoid single-use packaging; toilet roll made from recycled tissue.
We were really worried if we let too many retired people in wed have to look after them. Its completely the other way around. The retired people look after the community, because theyve got the time, explains Coates.
Keeping everything running is no small task. There is always something that needs doing, says Van Cleemput. A condition of membership is giving two and a half hours per week to necessary work for the community, such as helping with finances or overseeing the grounds.
Residents take turns to cook for the community
Several members have taken the responsibility running Halton Mill, which sits at the top end of their site, nearest the main road. Once a factory for an engineering firm, it was derelict when Lancaster Cohousing was looking to buy the site in 2010, and restoring it became a condition of the communitys planning permission.
It now serves as a village hall, with studios to hire that are used for events or yoga lessons run by local instructors, as well as office space and a hotdesking hub that several co-housing residents work from.
The access to resources that living here gives me there are people here who run a food co-op; I can drive cars Id never be able to afford because Im part of a car club, says Coates. Those things have been normalised and I dont even think about them. The mill is the icing on the cake.
One thing Ive really learned since living here is the power of consensus decision makingJo Lyons
Though he rejects the term founder member (too much baggage were way past that now) Coates was one of the five people who first formalised their intention to create a co-housing development in 2006 by incorporating Lancaster Cohousing Company Ltd.
He and his partner, Kate, are also the only members of Lancaster Cohousing to have previous experience of living in intentional communities. You have to be a bit thick-skinned to live communally, to a certain extent, he cautions.
Because for all its benefits, co-housing comes with pain points, too. Its the longest and most expensive personal development course youll ever go on, says Jo Lyon, a knowledge and learning specialist in the charity sector who lives in the community. You learn so much about yourself and other people.
The thing that has caused me to re-evaluate so much is realising that what I understood as diversity was actually a very narrow form of diversity, says her partner, Miles Doubleday, a software developer. The breadth of the axis on which two humans can be different from each other my eyes have been totally opened to that.
Miles Doubleday, a software developer, and Jo Lyons, a learning specialist in the charity sector, moved from Oxford to join the community. They were the first members to move into Forgebank, in August 2012. I look around the world at people falling out with each other; the only way I could imagine trying to work against that was to move to an intentional community, says Miles.
Like any society, Lancaster Cohousing has a set of policies that community members must live by. There are general meetings every other month to discuss policies and other community matters. Decisions are made by consensus, as opposed to a majority rule. Anything by consensus is slow, says Van Cleemput. Some people might find a certain policy draconian; for others, its too weak. But, crucially, everyone needs to agree.
We woke up the morning after the EU referendum and Miles said I wish wed done that by consensus, says Lyon. One thing Ive really learned [since living here] is the power of consensus decision making. We follow quite a structured process and weve really worked hard on making that better and making sure no one is using power to influence other people.
It takes a lot of active listening, really trying to empathise with somebody that you dont agree with. It feels like the complete opposite to the way we seem to be making a lot of our political decisions at the moment. That winner-takes-all approach is horrendously divisive and potentially quite dangerous.
There is one topic that has caused factious rifts in the community: food. Specifically, the presence of meat and animal-derived foods in community meals. On one side, passionate vegans; on the other, omnivores who enjoy eating meat.
Its a conflict that has nagged at the group for years. There have been unpleasant meetings and arguments; community members have left. Its become a bitter war of ideologies: Lancaster Cohousings private version of Brexit.
Lancaster Cohousings district heating system
Unlike Brexit, however, both sides have to address their differences head-on. We had some strong conflict and high emotion, says Chambrey. [But] we cant run away from here. We have to solve it. If you dont learn to compromise, she says, the alternative is shrinking away from community life altogether.
Hours have been spent in meetings trying to reach a mutually satisfying solution, trying different methods of conflict resolution: restorative justice circle; one-on-one meetings between key protagonists. It has required a tremendous amount of patience and compromise. When you move into a community, its never going to be the community you dreamt of, because other people come and bring their own ideas, says Chambrey. You have to adapt.
Not everyone can. Several people have decided that communal life wasnt for them and moved out (the first few years typically bring the most movement for co-housing communities). I dont think there was any way of knowing if it was wrong for you, says Coates. We were selling a concept.
Ultimately, it comes down to putting a desire to be part of the community ahead of a desire to get your own way on individual issues. Its a sharp contrast to the politically polarised state the UK currently finds itself in.
Because were all in this space together, you have to work out how to maintain your friendships while sometimes profoundly disagreeing on an issue, says Lyon. Its a skill, she adds, and one that everybody has been forced to develop. The number of casual relationships Ive got with people who I dont see eye to eye with is great.
The community eats together a couple of times a week
One thing everyone does appear to agree on: community living really comes into its own in times of crisis. Storm Desmond was the best bit of community-building weve ever done, Coates says. All differences went out the window.
The 2015 storm resulted in floods that put parts of Lancaster and Cumbria under more than a metre of water. Miraculously, the rising river stopped short of the homes at Forgebank, however there was still talk of evacuating the street. Luckily, the community was organised to deal with such an event.
Something happens, and were like a team of ants, says Chambrey. Everybody knows what they have to do, when they have to do it and we all check on each other. Thats brilliant.
Last year, the community dealt with its first death. It was very moving, says Coates, but, it was a very positive experience. It didnt feel in any way tragic, because of the way it had happened.
Roger had moved into the community knowing his cancer was terminal. He was living on his own, feeling very lonely so he moved here and got very involved in the community, Coates explains. As the side effects of his treatment got worse, however, Roger had decided stop taking the drugs. He made an announcement, said: Im quite happy to talk about it; quite happy not to talk about it if you find it upsetting. Come and see me.
So his neighbours sat and chatted with him and friends took care of him. At his suggestions, a coffin was placed in the mill for the community to write messages of farewell on. For the last two weeks he was in a hospice and the nurses could not believe hed been looked after for the previous six months by his neighbours. He would have been in hospital well before the last two weeks if he hadnt been living in co-housing, says Coates.
Johnny Unger, a linguistics lecturer at Lancaster University, and Charlie Little, a social worker, have owned their home on Forgebank since August 2018, having rented for six months before that. Having people around that you can depend on if it comes down to it was the attraction, says Johnny.
Every member has their personal gripes with the community, but a shift in perspective is often all it takes to remind them of everything they get right. Im a member of a tennis club and our committee meetings are so disorganised compared to our meetings here, says Van Cleemput.
Its a giant experiment, what were doing here, and all of us are working on it together in our different ways, adds Doubleday.
The rift, although not completely healed, has found an equilibrium. The people who have left have been replaced by new members who dont carry the baggage of past conflicts; Little and Unger, for example, bought their home in August 2018. When we came in we were all fresh-eyed and full of energy, explains Little. I think that was quite good for the community.
And life carries on. Since moving in, Lancaster Cohousing has had intra-community marriages and a handful of babies born with two more due to arrive before the end of the year. Weve matched, hatched and dispatched, says Coates. I feel incredibly lucky and privileged. This is far more than I thought we could ever achieve. I cannot believe what weve done here, from where we started.
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Posted: at 11:25 am
Salt and Light founder Adrianne Hillman plans community for homeless based on successful model created in Austin, Texas
By Paul Myers@PaulM_SGN
TULARE If there is one thing everyone agrees on about homelessness in Tulare County its that it is not going away.
Where some turn to the government to handle it, others are putting themselves in the mix to try and find a solution.
Adrianne Hillman, founder of Salt and Light, welcomed Tulare County community members from all over to her home on Saturday, Oct. 12 to launch her vision for helping the homeless community. She said she was divinely inspired to do something for those in need.
God talks to you in whispers and then He taps you on the shoulder, and then sometimes He comes at you with a brick, and I didnt want the brick, Hillman said during her speech.
According to saltandlightworks.org, Hillman has lived in Tulare County her entire life and was raised in the rural dairy community of Tipton. Prior to founding Salt and light she practiced as a life coach, speaker and founder of the empowerment brand, Do It Afraid.
Salt and Lights mission is to create an intentional community that lifts Tulare Countys chronically homeless neighbors off the streets. Their goal it to reinvent the perception people have about the chronically homeless, revitalize local communities by offering palliative relief to the homeless, reawaken the homeless to a sense of purpose and value through partnering with them; reconnect a human to human experience; and renew lifestyles of abundance by inspiring people to offer their best.
Hillman has chosen to predicate her vision of a community on the Mobile Loaves and Fishes Community First! Village model in Austin, Texas. Initiated by Mobile Loaves and Fishes founder and CEO Alan Graham, Community First! Village has housed over 100 previously homeless neighbors, and is currently in Phase 2, which will total the village at 51 acres and over 500 tiny homes.
Graham was invited to speak at Hillmans launch party to give perspective to what Salt and Light is aiming to achieve. According to Mobile Loaves and Fishes website, Graham and his four friends, answered Gods call to love your neighbor. They did so by delivering meals to homeless men and women from the back of a green minivan. Since their founding they have served more than 5 million meals to the homeless living in Austin.
Graham is the author of Welcome Homeless: One Mans Journey of Discovering the Meaning of home and also hosts the Gospel Con Carne podcast that explores the wondedness of society through untold stories of individuals who have encountered homelessness.
At Hillmans launch party he noted some key reasons why people become homeless. In his Community First! Village, Graham said that people have ended up on the streets because of loss, and only community is the solution.
People have ended up on the streets because of a profound, catastrophic loss of familyHousing will never solve homelessness but a Community will, Graham said.
He added that it is important to understand how a home is supposed to function.
Home is a place of permanencewe should feel safe in our environment, Graham said.
At the Community First! Village, Graham and Loaves and Fishes attempts to create the permanent and safe environment he believes everyone needs. But first it starts with an extensive vetting process, and paying rent. Graham said that rent is a must because it puts some skin the in the game and gives them some level of ownership. But there are also micro enterprises.
At the village, residents have a bed and breakfast, blacksmithing and culinary courses in addition to several others. This way people have the purpose they need in their day-to-day lives.
Graham brought his message home when he talked about a friend and long time resident of the village, John Vincent Billard. Billard was abandoned by his father and family when he was 8 years old. Graham said that he lived a hard life filled with drugs and multiple arrests, but eventually found Mobile Loaves and Fishes Community First! Village. He was one of the first residents.
He was the life of the village, Graham said.
Then, Billard had a heart attack. Emergency Medical Services arrived and managed to bring him back to life after several rounds of chest compressions. On the way to the hospital they lost his pulse, but brought it back, again with chest compressions. Billard was in a coma for 10 days at the hospital, and his doctor made the call that there was little hope for his long term health. Billards wife decided it was time to pull the plug. Friends and family surrounded his bedside to say their goodbyes.
He was being loved on and cared for. A man who was abandoned by his familywas being sent off by the love the people of this community, Graham said, as a message to what the village could provide.
Hilman said during a Q&A segment of the launch party, that they are still exploring land opportunities to create a small community similar to that of the Mobile Loaves and Fishes village. She added that she plans to sell her home in Tulare and live in the community when things were settled.
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Posted: at 11:24 am
A camp for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Photo by: The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ CC BY-SA
When everyone is struggling to recover from violent conflict, singling out one community for assistance among many ethnic and religious identities can actually make matters worse. Yet, to heal the inter-community rifts that set the stage for conflict, targeted outreach to groups that have been historically marginalized is a key element of stabilization.
When a conflict is greatly influenced by perceptions of grievance among different religious and ethnic social groups, working with underrepresented minority groups becomes critical to bolstering resilience and social cohesion.
Consider the conflict in northern Myanmar where Rohingya Muslims are subjected to violence and systemic discrimination. Or northern Iraq, where religious minorities were singled out for particularly brutal treatment by the Islamic State. Religious and ethnic minority-based discrimination extends from Colombia to South Sudan. In areas such as these, development projects can hardly consider transitioning the states from fragile to stable without first addressing the needs and inequities of persecuted communities.
Chemonics and all of the development community must be sensitive and intentional in how we work with local partners and beneficiaries, and insist that both minority and majority social groups play an active role in programs, from design to implementation.
Moreover, we know that no one has just one identity. Belonging to multiple underrepresented identities rooted in ethnicity, religion, and gender, for instance, compounds disadvantage and discrimination. For that reason, development implementers and local stakeholders must heed those underrepresented voices and account for historical inequities to strengthen social cohesion effectively.
The very nature of stabilization assistance necessitatesstriking a balance between targeted assistance to marginalized groups and the overarching goal of strengthening and building the resilience of the whole community. In turn, its essential to follow a set of interlinked best practices to meet implementation challenges and ensure effective, inclusive, and lasting stabilization.
Opinion: Determining the 'how' with stabilization
The term "stabilization" has become as prevalent as the terms "resilience" or "countering violent extremism." But do we really understand what stabilization is and how to do it effectively?
To ensure any activity will work and to know how to best structure a project, implementers must tailor approaches to the unique local context. That often means identifying and analyzing the institutions, stakeholders, and key leaders necessary to facilitate social cohesion. It is critical to invest in partners who demonstrate capacity and interest in bridging divides.
Chemonicsidentifies and vets those who have already shown a willingness and ability to work with diverse actors to stabilize and rebuild their communities. Take our work in Cte dIvoire, for example. The country is diverse religiously and ethnically,with roughly equal numbers of Muslims and Christians and a significant animist minority. The countrys violent post-electoral crises of 2010 and 2011 threatened to reoccur during its 2015 presidential election, and we therefore worked with religious representativesfrom across the spectrum to disseminate messages of peace and tolerance.
The project worked with local organizations to provide training and interfaith idea exchanges during the presidential campaign and post-electoral period, as well as crafting billboards featuring locally influential religious leaders standing united with leaders of other faiths. In this case, doing our homework truly mattered.
The campaign could have fallen flat if the project team had not analyzed the local sociopolitical landscape to understand key influencers, identify those willing to collaborate, and leverage existing attitudes, organizations, and efforts to craft messages that were resonant and culturally sensitive.
Working with individual groups whether majority or minority can invite scrutiny from other groups and might propagate the misconception that assistance is benefiting one group over another, deepening rather than repairing the social divides. To counter actual or perceived favoritism and further marginalization of one group in fragile or post-conflict areas, it is imperative to choose activities that benefit all residents of a given area.
For example, the Islamic State's occupation of cities in Iraq devastated infrastructure and public spaces. One strategic activity for our work in Iraq is to increase accessibility to a popular and symbolic public space through the rehabilitation of a stadium. The assistance will accelerate social and economic recovery in the area by creating opportunities for recreation, and facilitate connection among residents, working to restore stability and a sense of common identity among the citys diverse citizens.
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While stabilization activities should benefit the entire community in the long-run, at times, implementers must address the pressing needs of marginalized minority populations to improve relations and social cohesion to benefit the whole community.
In Ukraine, the Roma community lacked understanding of their rights and the justice services offered to them. We worked in collaboration with a local organization to train Roma representatives to understand the procedures for, and importance of, child-birth registration; the resources available for people, particularly women, experiencing domestic abuse; and approaches to defending their rights and applying for legal and sociological assistance, if needed. The inclusion of the Roma minority in these larger efforts was of fundamental importance to ensure a stronger, more cohesive, and effective justice system in Ukraine.
Of course, to initiate reforms and rebuilding efforts, implementers must distribute resources strategically, transparently, and in compliance with funders' rules and regulations. U.S.-supported stabilization efforts are rigidly dictated for good reason by legal restrictions outlined in the U.S. Constitution. In particular, theEstablishment Clause of the First Amendmentprohibits the government from taking actions that unduly favor one religion over another. For Chemonics and allUSAIDimplementers these legal parameters affect our stabilization work at every stage of implementation.
This means, for instance, that we can support religious leaders and groups but only in activities that will clearly benefit the larger community, without regard for religious affiliation. But resource distribution and vendor selection processes are more than mere bureaucracy and legalese; they can and should foster inclusion and community cohesion.
For our projects, we consciously extend assistance to groups from diverse communities, incentivizing representation and collaborations between those communities. Activity design including the allocation of resources is strategic and aimed at ensuring all members of the community benefit, not just a few.
For example, in Colombia, Afro-Colombian and indigenous women leaders came together to examine the national governments peace accords with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to ensure the inclusion of safeguards to Afro-Colombian and indigenous womens rights. This, in turn, informed the finalized accords and provided stronger rights for all Colombians.
Employing resources to intentionally gather these underrepresented voices to inform and counter historically predominant perspectives helped to ensure a more stable peace for the government. Development implementers must build social cohesion by ensuring fair and inclusive procurement, hiring processes, and service delivery, and encouraging collaboration by involving stakeholders from across the broader community.
When effective, a strategy will vary greatly from context to context. But universally, we know that a projects success depends on addressing the needs of all groups involved, not only to help heal the wounds of conflict but also to prevent future conflicts. Chemonics and all of the development community must be sensitive and intentional in how we work with local partners and beneficiaries, and insist that both minority and majority social groups play an active role in programs, from design to implementation.
This approach is essential to lasting, inclusive stabilization. Through our work across the world, we know that peaceful societies with a strong culture of human rights protect and empower ethnic and religious minorities, and ultimately amplify rather than stifle the voices of those most underrepresented in society.
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Posted: at 11:24 am
Above, Bishop Steven Lopes provides the Precious Blood at first Communion for St. Albans Catholic Church, an ordinariate parish in Rochester, N.Y. Below, children receive first Communion at St. Joseph Oratory in Detroit. (A.C. Smith Photography; courtesy of the St. Joseph Oratory Facebook page)
Renewing Catholic discipleship and the Catholic understanding of fellowship flowing from the Eucharist are key to revitalizing Catholic belief in Jesus Real Presence.
Five years into building disciples of Jesus Christ with a slow and steady pace, St. John Nepomuk Church in Yukon, Oklahoma, has started to see remarkable changes.
At this Catholic parish in the heart of the Bible Belt, Eucharistic adoration is growing, parish fellowship is strengthening, and Catholics who may have felt like an island in a sea of Protestantism are now going forth with confidence to carry out the Gospel.
The parishs ongoing transformation comes at a time when the Catholic Church in the U.S. is faced squarely with the problem that most Catholics do not believe in what the Church means by the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
According to a Pew survey published July 23, seven out of 10 Catholics believe the Eucharist is a symbol of Jesus, but they do not believe what the Church actually teaches and has taught since its inception: that the bread and wine actually becomes Jesus Christ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
At the same time, however, Pews survey revealed a problem that could not be addressed simply by Sunday catechesis on the Eucharist. Most Catholics (63%) who went to Church weekly actually believed in the Churchs teaching but the vast majority of Catholics do not go to church regularly. Among these, upward of 75% did not believe Jesus is really present in the Eucharist.
Yet there are parishes in the U.S., such as St. Johns, reinvigorating faith in, and love for, Jesus in the Eucharist with a renewal of authentic Catholic discipleship and parish fellowship.
Parishioner Ann Cook told the Register the discipleship process at St. Johns a lay-led initiative in response to Archbishop Paul Coakleys 2013 pastoral letter Go Make Disciples aimed to slowly and deliberately go about building disciples who are equipped to build disciples over the course of a year. At the end of each process, the discipleship group leaders identify among the formed disciples other potential leaders to form new groups that will train more disciples.
Cook said the parish church and school are now seeing the fruit of this fifth generation of spiritual multiplication. Eucharistic adoration has gone from one evening per month to adoration every Friday from 9am-9pm, as well as on Wednesday evenings. More people also are going to confession.
The impact is seen now at Mass, Cook explained.
I hear a lot more from new parishioners, or people who are visiting, or even people who have been coming for a while, but haven't necessarily felt connected, now saying, Your parish is so hospitable: When we walk in, we were welcomed, she said. Thats not something that would have been going on [before the discipleship process]: looking for the outsider.
Father Rex Arnold, St. Johns pastor, told the Register that, at first, he hoped to see an explosion of missionary outreach activity, but now he sees the growth is actually built to last.
Parishioners are suggesting new outreach efforts to people with mental illness and addictions, particularly pornography, and are actively discerning where Christ is calling them to live their baptism.
And the priest said the discipleship process channels the genius of the early Church: Its small faith groups coming together, learning what the Church teaches, and having a personal relationship with the Lord.
Worship and Fellowship
According to Stephen Bullivant, the director of the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St. Marys University in London and author of Mass Exodus: Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain and America Since Vatican II, one of the overlooked causes for the collapse of Catholic faith, such as Mass attendance and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, is the loss of a social architecture in which the faith is lived and passed on.
We need to work out what we can do to solve that transmission problem, sociologist professor Bullivant told the Register.
Bullivant said that in the early 20th century, Catholics in the U.S. and the United Kingdom had a social architecture in which transmitting the faith, and being strong in it, is easy and natural. The Catholic parish, he said, was not simply a center of religious activity, but often your whole social life, from Rosary sodalities to drama club to sports teams.
These Catholic communities started to break down with greater mobility (and greater prosperity) encouraged by the GI Bill, suburbanization and automobile ownership. Bullivant said no one should romanticize these bygone communities, which could be mired in poverty and insulated along ethnic lines, but they do provide insights into key elements missing from Catholic life today.
Catholic parishes have been becoming less and less genuine communities, he said.
People dont necessarily know the other people at Mass, he said. And even if you do know them at Mass, you dont also know them outside of that context.
Bullivant said genuine communities were crumbling at a time when Catholic leaders were de-emphasizing Christs Real Presence in the Eucharist, insisting that he was just as present in the community as he was in the tabernacle. At the same time, he said, many of these same leaders in the 1960s insisted on getting rid of all these sorts of little ways in which the faith was weaved into the day, such as Friday fasts and traditional communal devotions, on the basis that they detracted from the Mass.
Thats just not bad sacramental theology; its also a bad kind of social psychology, he said.
Bullivant said niche parishes such as Latin Mass communities, Vietnamese parishes or Syro-Malabar (Eastern Catholic) parishes, have developed genuine forms of Catholic community because they bring people together with a common identity among those who are invested in it. Bullivant said there is also a movement among orthodox Catholics to create intentional Benedict option parish communities where the bonds among Catholics intentionally extend outside of worship.
Theres a sort of particular reason that people make the effort to be involved, and that is a genuine community, he said, where people have very serious and meaningful friendship.
Kevin Tierney, a traditionalist Catholic in the metro Detroit area, told the Register that the St. Joseph Oratory in Detroit, staffed by the Canons of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest (IKCSP), is one traditional Latin Mass community that has a social life that is rooted in the liturgical calendar.
The parish life is very liturgical, Tierney said, explaining that the activities are built around the liturgical calendar. The parish exclusively celebrates both a low Mass and high Mass in Latin (extraordinary form) on Sundays in the morning, the priests give spiritual talks, and vespers with Benediction is held on Sunday evening.
The parish provides faith-formation activities, Friday Eucharistic devotions and educational opportunities for groups like the St. Philip Neri home-school group. St. Josephs also has major celebrations, such as Oktoberfest (which originated in the predominantly Catholic state of Bavaria in 1810) and St. Josephs Day.
But Tierney added that the Detroit traditionalist scene is very decentralized and much broader than what takes place in the parishes. He said the old neighborhood parish model is becoming obsolete among millennials and the upcoming generation, and so the model has to be rethought going forward.
What the Detroit trad scene has going for it is its heavily lay-involved and lay-run, he said. People come together for socials and dinners outside the parish schedule. Tierney said the laity in traditionalist communities had to make this common life work for a long time without a regular priest on hand such as those provided regularly now to traditionalist parishes by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, or the ICKSP. Because there was such a dearth of traditionalist priests in the past, these faithful took the initiative to forge a community that was not strictly neighborhood-based but usually spanned a larger geographical area, and their gatherings really focused on the liturgical life and fellowship.
A Eucharistic Theology of Fellowship
The contemporary Catholic experience of people rushing to the parking lot to escape barely an hour of worship on Sunday does not truly manifest a Catholic understanding of the Eucharist, but the appropriation of a more Protestant me and my Jesus thing, explained Bishop Steven Lopes of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a Catholic diocese with Anglican traditions for North America established by Benedict XVI.
Bishop Lopes, an authority in Eucharistic theology and former official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, told the Register in an interview that the Catholic understanding puts equal accents on the seriousness of worship and the seriousness of fellowship.
This parish fellowship flows from the Eucharist, he explained, and is necessary for Catholics intentional discipleship of Jesus Christ, but it also leads [them] back to the Eucharist.
Because once youre interacting with your brothers and sisters in Christ, youre going to be more aware of their needs, more aware of the human brokenness and relationships and whatnot, he said. And then out of love for them, of course, when you go back to Mass, youre bringing their prayers, their intentions and your concern for them.
The bishop said parish communities in the ordinariate are deliberately smaller in size than most diocesan Catholic parishes and have a real emphasis on spending time together, not just getting to Mass and then going home.
Bishop Lopes said the worship-fellowship dynamic of the Mass always goes hand in hand.
The Holy Spirit, he said, is transforming the bread and wine into Jesus Christs Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at the consecration of the Mass. But also the outpouring of the Holy Spirit transforms in a way the assembly into the Body of Christ, where we start to recognize each other, not as strangers, not as individuals who have nothing to do with my life, but as members of the same body.
This is what happens at Mass, he said. And so to celebrate Mass means, of course, to reverently receive the Eucharist, but also reverently to receive your neighbor as members of the same body of the Church.
Bishop Lopes said Catholics who leave the Church are often not really making an active decision so much as dropping out.
The biggest driver of that is the feeling of anonymity, the feeling of that if it doesnt matter if Im there, then it doesnt matter if Im not there, he said.
Catholic parishes, particularly large parishes, Bishop Lopes said, have to be more creative on how they form that sense of intentional community and intentional discipleship around the Mass.
And parishes who have taken on that challenge directly through prayer groups, through social groups, through various initiatives of the parish, he said, have reaped the benefits of it.
Peter Jesserer Smith is a Register staff writer.
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NFL Alumni and HELP Consulting, Inc. Announce Partnership to Provide the SCORE Program to Youth in Communities Across America – Yahoo Finance
Posted: at 11:24 am
Mutually beneficial partnership will deliver educational and community police relations programs nationwide
Mount Laurel, New Jersey, Oct. 24, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- NFL Alumni (NFLA) today announced a partnership with Higher Education & Learning Professional Consulting, Inc. (HELP) and the Shaping Careers with Officers and Relating Experiences (SCORE) program, whose mission is to improve community and law enforcement relations by building collaborative partnerships to enhance social connectivity and increase college and career preparation for youth and young adults. The partnership not only helps advance the NFL Alumnis Caring for Our Own and Caring for Kids initiatives but will also seek to leverage opportunities provided by the National Football Leagues Inspire Change platform and grant opportunities through the National Football League Foundation (NFL Foundation) in communities that host the NFL Alumnis 36 regional chapters and in the home towns of the NFL Alumnis membership.
We were looking for an opportunity for our membership to take part in the NFLs Inspire Change platform in addressing social justice issues, especially in the 36 communities that we have alumni chapters, says NFL Alumni President Bart Oates. Through this partnership with HELP and SCORE, we feel that we have created the opportunity for the NFLA to join in the movement in a meaningful way.
"We are excited to support the NFLs Inspire Change platform and build out our successful program that can be modeled and provide data towards best practices, said HELP President and CEO and SCORE Executive Director Dr. Edward L. Tarlton. We feel that the SCORE Program addresses an important need.
As part of the NFL Foundations social justice matching grants to players and Legends, HELP a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization received funding and teamed up with 32 former NFL players, local law enforcement and community leaders to provide the SCORE Program to high school varsity football teams. These communities were selected by the player partners to help student-athletes reach their full academic potential, address social justice issues and build trust with local law enforcement. Through the partnership, HELP and SCORE will develop and implement educational intervention programs in local communities that will include the NFL Alumni and its former cheerleader members, schools, law enforcement departments, youth development programs and community business leaders in an effort to highlight the broader awareness and importance of college and career readiness, social justice and community police relations.
Dr. Tarlton states that, The lessons learned this summer and the data gathered among the students and law enforcement officers were invaluable to the development of this partnership with the NFL Alumni and frames our goals for the future.
The SCORE Program established its first partnership with the NFL Alumni Dallas Chapter this summer led by Dallas Alumni Chapter President Liffort Hobley. Within the Dallas Metroplex area, SCORE held workshops in Arlington, Dallas and Fort Worth attended by NFL Alumni players, along with officers from the Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington Police Departments and high school students from each of the school districts.
Ive seen the SCORE Program at work first-hand and have witnessed the impact it had on youth participants, law enforcement and former NFL Players alike, said NFL Alumni Dallas Chapter President Liffort Hobley. In fact, one of the youth participants at the Arlington SCORE workshop told me that the activities and information discussed during the workshop not only had the ability to change his life but could also keep him safe.
Partnering with NFL Alumni to bring the SCORE Program to communities across the country will allow the NFL Alumni and HELP to positively impact the landscape while giving each NFLA chapter an opportunity to cultivate sustainable relationships, increase fan affinity, foster sponsorship opportunities, impact the NFL pipeline, support ongoing youth initiatives and promote higher education and social justice as the pathway to not only play in the NFL but to also be productive citizens in the community where youth live, learn and work.
About NFL Alumni
NFL Alumni was founded in 1967 and is the oldest and most recognizable national organization of retired professional athletes. NFL Alumni consists of former NFL players, coaches, executives, spouses, cheerleaders, and associate members. NFL Alumnis mission Caring for our Own is to serve, assist and inform its members and their families. NFL Alumni offers a wide array of medical, financial and business programs to help members lead healthy, productive and successful lives. NFL Alumni also promotes the post-playing careers of its members and it also contributes to local community initiatives under its Caring for Kids programs.
For more information please visit http://www.nflalumni.org.
About Higher Education & Learning Professional Consulting, Inc. (HELP):
HELP is a federally recognized 501c3 non-profit, founded in 2011, whose mission is to help studentsget to and through high school, college and graduate school and on to careers. To accomplish the mission, HELP partners with youth serving organizations, faith-based institutions, businesses, community leaders, and secondary and postsecondary institutions to enhance college and career readiness levels enabling students to become productive members of society where they live and work.
For more information please visitwww.helpconsulting.org.
About The SCORE Program
The SCORE (Shaping Careers with Officers and Relating Experiences) Program was designed by the non-profit Higher Education & Learning Professional Consulting, Inc. (HELP) specifically to address the need for intentional programming in support of the NFL Inspire Change initiative and the NFL Foundations Social Justice Grant Matching Program. SCOREs mission is to improve community law enforcement relations by building collaborative partnerships to enhance social connectivity and increase college and career preparation for youth and young adults.
For more information please visitwww.thescoreprogram.com.
Michael GaimariNFL Alumni973email@example.com
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FRA highlights initiatives to curb trespassing incidents and intentional deaths by rail – MassTransitMag.com
Posted: at 11:24 am
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has been working on initiatives to address the number of trespassing incidents and intentional deaths by rail through funding opportunities, testing new detection and deterrent systems and creating summits to engage local stakeholders.
James Payne, staff director for FRAs Highway-Rail Crossing and Trespass Programs Division, provided attendees of Metras Oct. 4 event, Breaking the Silence: Restoring Hope, Savings Lives an update of the administrations efforts to increase rail safety.
According to FRA data,there were 536 fatalities in 2018 from trespassing excluding highway-rail incidents. Additionally, there were 261 suicides reported in 2018.This number is lowercompared to the past three years where 2015 and 2016eachhad 318 suicide fatalities and 2017 had 273 suicide fatalities.
To address these incidents, FRA has developed a national strategywith four areas of focus:
Data gathering and analysis: FRA will examine data to determine why people are trespassing.
Community engagement: FRA will conduct site visits to hot spots for trespassing to determine why these areas are being impacted.
Funding: FRA will continue funding the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Infrastructure Grant Program to continue updating rail infrastructure for a safer system.
Partnerships with stakeholders: FRA will soon be announcing a Notice of Funding Opportunity grant of $100,000 to partner with a railroad or nonprofit to create a suicide prevention program. This first-of-its-kind grant will be awarded to the entity that creates an actionable program that is more than just a report.
In addition to its national strategy, FRA has also been testing deterrent and detection systems, awarded the first round ofgrants through theLaw Enforcement Strategies for Reducing Trespassing PilotProgram anddeveloped traveling summits to engage local stakeholders.
FRA has conducted testing with large-scale video detection systems. This has been tested as both a stationary and portable camera system with the video captured on these systems able to be sent to the local law enforcement dispatch center.
FRA has also worked on developing camera triggersto be installedon the arms ofgrade crossings. This footagecan befed straight to the local dispatch center, which allows law enforcement to contact the local train dispatch center much quicker to alert train operators of an unauthorized person on the tracks. This type of photo/video detection can also help follow peopleafter theyleaverailroad property so law enforcement can figure out why they were trespassing.FRA says this equipment was successful ingetting locallaw enforcement to buy into not only the equipment but also policing the tracks because the liability shifted to them.
Drones have also been tested by FRA for both video surveillance and the reconstructing of a fatal incident. For example, a drone was able to capture high resolution pictures up to 390 feet in the air using a zoom lens and GPS trackingthat could then be sent to law enforcement to findatrespasser. By using a drone, many more miles of track can be covered from one stationary location.
In another example, drone usage was tested for completely reconstructing a fatal incident, which law enforcement estimated would take four hours to reconstruct with the standard method. When the drone was tested, it arrived at the site at 3:45 p.m., finished surveying the incident area by 4:07 p.m. and the road was opened to the public by 5:00 p.m.
The drone was able tocapture morethan700 high resolution photos in the span of 15 minutes. These photos were thenfedinto a mapping software program which made a 3D diagram of the incident that was more accurate than the standard method,according to Payne.The 3D diagram allowed officials to pull back layers of the scene, move cars out of the way and seedetails, such asskid marks,they otherwisemay nothave seen.
Photo and video detection arent the only things FRA has been working on to address trespassing. In 2018, FRA introduced the Law Enforcement Strategies for Reducing Trespassing Pilot Grant Program to evaluate the effectiveness of local law enforcement activities intended to reduce trespassing on the rail rights-of-way" accordingtothe administrationsoverview of the grant.
FRA offered a total of $196,357 for the grant, which was available to any state, county, municipal, local and regional law enforcement agencies that showed a problem with rail trespassing. According toPayne,FRA hadmore than$1.4 million in requests from law enforcement agencies within 48 hours of making the grant available. The following four projects were awarded funding:
City of Lake Worth, Fla. -- $75,000
City of Worcester, Mass. -- $93,357
North Tonawanda, N.Y. -- $24,000
Town of Brighton, N.Y. -- $4,000
Payne explained most of the programs that receivedfundingsaw positive results. For instance, Payne said the grant that went to Brighton funded 19 weeks of law enforcement patrollingareas alongthe local railroadsright-of-way.
Payne also said law enforcement in Worcester benefitted by learning why certain hot spots existed and were able to address them.Inthe first week, law enforcement made multiple arrests and issued citations for trespassing. Within a few weeks, they werent finding anybody on the tracks due to the frequent patrolling.
A second area in Worcester was found to be a hot spot due to recycling dumpsters placed next to the tracks. Law enforcement was able to go to the city and ask officials to move the recycling center to a different location away from the tracks.
FRA plans on issuing a second round ofLaw Enforcement Strategies for Reducing Trespassing Pilot Grant Program grants. A date is yet to be announced for when the Notice of Funding Opportunity will be issued.
Coming next year, FRA will take its Trespassing Summits on the road to the 10 counties with the most trespassing incidents. By traveling to communities directly impacted by these incidents, FRA aims to leverage local stakeholders to drive change and address this issue.
To accomplish this, the summits will raise awareness of the dangers of trespassing, work to find low-cost solutions to local trespassing issues and discuss actionable ideas. Summits will take place in California, Texas, Illinois and Florida.
In addition to a second round of grant funding and summits, FRA is also looking at how it analyzes its data to create better risk assessment models.
It has been developing the new hot spot map, which illustrates geographically where trespassing and fatal incidents occur. It has also updated the railroad trespassing dashboard to be quicker and easier to use and features a new tab for suicide statistics.
Posted: at 11:24 am
Nafisa Isa 08, Minh Nguyen 08, Beadsie Woo 86, and Ying Zhang 07
As proud Davidson alumni, we write in support of the Asian American Initiative, the creation of an interdisciplinary Asian American studies (AAS) program, and deeper support and greater resources for Asian American students.
We graduated in different decades and had markedly different experiences as Asian Americans at Davidson; however, we all care deeply about how the college adapts to remain a place where exceptional students can continue to learn, debate, serve, and contribute to our diverse society.
Our Impact: Asian Americans at Davidson
In the 1980s, the number of Asian students on campus could be counted on one hand. It never occurred to us to advocate for an affinity group. While on campus, we were supportive of Project 87 a student-initiated, administration-backed effort to create Black studies courses, hire ten Black professors and one Black dean, and increase the number of enrolled black students to 100. Today, according to Janet Stovall 85, there are nearly 200 Black students, sixteen Black or multiracial professors, and four Black members of the colleges senior leadership team. This is just one example of the college responding to student needs. Environmental studies, gender and sexuality studies, and Latin American studies are further examples of other interdisciplinary programs that reflect contemporary world views.
In the early 2000s, the number of Asian Americans quadrupled to a few dozen on campus. The Asian Cultural Awareness Association (ACAA) re-chartered to build solidarity and space by and for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). We became institutional assets to Davidson. We called prospective students for the admissions office to tell them why Davidson would be a great choice, speaking to their potential impact as future service leaders and as trailblazers on a predominantly white campus with few AAPI faces. We enriched student life, organizing the annual Lunar New Year and Diwali celebrations, partnering with other under-represented student groups such as the Muslim Students Association, and brought several vans of students to national Asian American conferences. We objected to and shut down the problematic and racist Ke$ha and Geisha party where, today, photos or videos of a party like that could easily resurface to challenge careers, reminding us the benefits of diversity then and now.
Ying Zhang 07 grew up in the South, frequently experiencing stereotyping and racism as a norm, which reinforced the feeling of being an other. Her experience at Davidson was one of personal growth, introspection, and leaning into the pride of being Asian in America, which was cultivated and supported by ACAA. Ying remembers late night conversations with friends who shared the struggle of being a person of color on a majority white campus, faculty mentorship from role models like Dr. Fuji Lozada and Dr. Helen Cho (both in the Anthropology department), and being active in ACAA, which kept her grounded and allowed her to share her roots and identity with the broader campus.
Lozada supported ACAA as its advisor. He was invaluable as one of few professors of color who understood what it meant to be Asian American. He served as a sounding board for what actions we wanted to take. He helped us see ourselves and our experiences as normal just by being present on Davidsons campus. He supported organizing as a vehicle for change, one we are seeing now through the Asian American Initiative.
Our charge for Davidson: Asian American Studies, More Resources
Having an AAS program at Davidson is a stepping stone towards increasing the visibility of Asian American history and the current issues faced by our communities. An AAS program would reinforce a social and institutional commitment to Asian American students on campus.
More students would have the opportunity to know how the single racial category of AAPI unites us and how it masks the rich and diverse histories, conflicts, languages, religions, economies, arts, and cuisines. Furthermore, students could understand the importance of both, finally revealing the invisible challenges and disparities that many Asian Americans face.
For example, while overall graduation rates for AAPI students are among the highest in the U.S., only 38% of Hmong have high school diplomas. Furthermore, poverty among specific subgroups of Asian Americans far exceed the national rate (12.3%), according to the Urban Institutes reporting on economic disparities among Asian Americans. AAS has the power to reveal these complexities through the study of intersectional topics like poverty, migration, refugee narratives, and intergenerational trauma that are so often collapsed under a single label, or worse, the stereotype of model minority. Without these nuances, how do we all garner needed resources to address such complex social challenges?
An inclusive campus means creating community and being intentional about the needs of distinct groups. At Davidson, this can take form in hiring Asian American faculty, staff, and administrators, like Lozada and Cho, and connecting students to AAPI alumni to provide guidance, mentorship, and support. Seeing people who look like us in positions of leadership, scholarship, and community engagement sends strong messages about what is possible and reinforces Davidsons commitment to inclusion and diversity on every level.
Our histories (whether shared or personal), cultures, and traditions shape us, our views, and our interactions with others. Our identities are rooted in these heritages and allow us to feel a sense of belonging. A program in AAS offers all Davidson students the opportunity to learn and understand the AAPI narratives in America.
Our years at Davidson launched us into lives of meaning. We are proud of the many ways that the school has grown and changed since we were students, but there is more to be done. We stand with the Asian American Initiative as it seeks to push Davidson to do more to reflect all of America. As the U.S. population grows more diverse, we all have much to gain as we learn about and celebrate our differences and similarities.
Nafisa Isa 08 can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Minh Nguyen 08 can be contacted at email@example.com. Beadsie Woo 86 can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ying Zhang 07 can be contacted at email@example.com.
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The world must hear the deafening silence from occupied Kashmir and stop looking the other way on the issue in order to protect strategic interests in India, said renowned author Rana Ayyub on Thursday.
In an opinion piece for the United States-based news publication The Washington Post,Ayyub urged the intentional community to wake up to the rights abuses being carried out by India in occupied Kashmir.
Ayyub, who is an Indian journalist and writer documenting the rights violations of the Indian government in the occupied valley, further said that Kashmir and her children were waiting for justice.
Also read:Fact-finding report on occupied Kashmir reveals that locals are turning to peaceful civil disobedience
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had revoked the constitutional autonomy of occupied Kashmir on August 5 this year and imposed a military curfew in the area, imprisoning millions of people.
Thousands of political leaders, businessmen, rights activists and other ordinary citizens were detained after the move. The detained included former chief ministers and the mayor of Srinagar.
Widespread allegations of torture and abuse of these detainees by the Indian security forces were published by the international media in the following weeks. These reports still continue to pour in, as the curfew nears three months.
Also read: Occupied Kashmir: Modi government makes post-curfew plan
In her opinion piece, Rana Ayyub highlighted how the curfew had silenced and paralyzed entire communities in the occupied region because of the continued communications blackout that accompanied the curfew.
She also referred to specific cases in which the brutality of the Indian forces was on full display. For example, Indian forces picked up several minors in the Shopian district on October 14, without charges.
According to the Indian journalist, when she questioned the local police about the arrest, they refused to have even made the detention, and instead said that they were in a communications blackout too.
Also read:Indian tea exports to Pakistan plunged 50% since clashes in February: report
A few weeks ago, Prime Minister Imran Khan had also penned an opinion piece for an American publication, urging the world to recognize the fascist tendencies of Indian PM Modi.
He also expressed fears of an impending bloodbath in the valley when India lifted the curfew. According to the premier, the people of Kashmir could not be expected to stay silent while their rights were trampled.
India has refused to lift the curfew in the occupied valley, and even though communication restrictions were partially lifted last week, they have since been reimposed, suggest reports.
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Posted: at 11:24 am
Were living in an era of deep divisions. Cable television, social media feeds, and fraying personal relationships all reflect the same troubling pattern: Differences of opinion quickly escalate into attacks, mistrust, and civic stalemates.
In this contentious climate, many Americans have retreated from civic life, or have responded to social conflict with calls for civility. But abstaining from civic life only cedes our public dialogue to the most contentious and polarizing voices. And too often civility means the mere absence of argument, or politely ignoring our differences.
We believe that American civic life doesnt need fewer arguments. Instead, it needs better arguments. We believe that argument has the potential to help bridge ideological dividesnot by papering over those divides but by teaching Americans how to engage more productively across difference, whether in town meetings or across the dinner table. Indeed, argument has always been a critical aspect of American democracy: Fundamental and perpetual tensions between core values such as liberty and equality, for example, have existed throughout our countrys history. The point of American civic life is not to resolve these tensions. Rather, we need to understand their origins and grow smarter about engaging them. Through the clash of different ideas and points of view, we often emerge with deeper insights and stronger solutions to the problems that affect us all.
However, the arguments in American politics today are inadequate. We believe the more we can equip communities to argue thoughtfully and constructively, the healthier our country will be. We created the Better Arguments Project to make this possible and, by doing so, to help renew civic life.
The Better Arguments Project is a collaboration by the Aspen Institute Citizenship and American Identity Program, Facing History and Ourselves, and the Allstate Corporation. Our efforts began with a deep exploration of the question: What is a better argument? Over the course of a year, our team met with more than 75 advisers from all around the United States. Drawn from more than 25 communities, our advisers were high school students; experts in law, history, politics, communications, and psychology; educators; and former elected and White House officials.
Our advisers helped us to distill five major principles of better arguments. Our team then partnered with communities around the United States to explore what these principles could look like in practice. From rural Arkansas to urban Queens, from Anchorage to Detroit, in large public gatherings and intimate conversations, we tested how to nurture better arguments in the context of real communities divided by real and pressing issues.
Here are our five principles that make arguments betterand what they look like in practice.
We may be suffering from a general sense of division in the United States, but a Better Argument event must begin in the needs, culture, and context of a specific community.
In our process, local, on-the-ground partners identify issues most relevant to their own community. In Denver, Colorado, we recently explored tensions about housing, jobs, and political power emerging from the regions major tech boom, in partnership with Anythink Libraries. In Anchorage, Alaska, we considered the human impacts of a changing climate with the Alaska Humanities Forum. All of these arguments expressed the deep American theme of individual rights vs. collective responsibility in a distinct way.
Attending to context also means intentionally structuring the conversation to create shared knowledge and reflect local culture. In Detroit, Michigan, where a large community event focused on tensions between natives and newcomers in a changing city, a shared sense of the citys history was an essential precursor to argument. Our local partners at the Urban Consulate invited a prominent local poet to give a dramatic reading that painted a vivid picture of Detroits past for all attendees. In Anchorage, where Native Alaskan culture prizes group relationships and cohesion, we invested more time in longer introductions by participants, and facilitators considered a Native talking circle as a model for the conversation.
Everywhere weve worked, intentional grounding in the local context has been key to a successful encounter.
Many public arguments surface in contexts where a lot is at stake: persuading the city council to approve or reject a new housing development, or debating a new school districting plan. A Better Argument, however, is not about winning or losing, defeating or converting the other side. Its about presence, and the robust exchange of ideas. Whatever the issue, setting those boundaries fosters a more open and honest discussion.
In Queens, New York, our team worked with a local museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, that wanted to engage the citywide debate about controversial public monuments and memorials. The city government had instituted its own process, with a panel of experts and formally structured public hearings to decide the fate of monuments to Christopher Columbus, Theodore Roosevelt, and others.
Our partners aspired to something different. We suggested inviting a broader public into a shared inquiry framed by open-ended questions that would surface divergent views, like How should public art reflect the identity, history, and aspirations of our community?
When we take winning off the table, we preserve a space to both speak and listen, creating relationships that can build connections, support better decision making, and inspire civic involvement.
An argument becomes better when we start the conversation with human connection and prepare to listen, not just advance our own points of view. The Better Arguments weve hosted are crafted to bring together people of diverse viewpoints who may not have engaged with each other before. No matter the setting or the topic for argument, we always ask participants to be human first. This means inviting people to share their identities and their stories, not just their opinions.
We set the stage for a better argument with conversations that surface personal identity and shared experiences. We began our discussion of the Denver tech boom by asking, What makes you proud to be a member of your community? In Detroit, longtimers and newcomers each responded to the question, Where do you feel at home in this city?
Any difficult conversation, whether facilitated or informal, can begin with open-ended questions like those to humanize participants as individuals with complex identities, not just representatives of opposing viewpoints.
We also promote listening with intentional reflection questions. As the conversation evolves into argument, pairs and tables are asked to step back and consider questions like What is something someone else said that you appreciate? How has others thinking connected to, extended, or challenged your own? Active listening and perspective taking dramatically can enhance arguments, at least as much as evidence and logic do.
Better Arguments are hard work, and there is inherent risk in showing up. A successful Better Argument depends on participants willingness to be open, honest, and vulnerable, as both speakers and listeners. Weve had success with brief contracting exercises to establish trust and set norms at the beginning of each event.
In Detroit, the conversation about natives and newcomers was threaded with difficult issues of race, privilege, and painful history. We asked each participant to silently finish the sentence, When I think about how Detroit is changing, I feel _________ because ________. The facilitator asked participants to call out the feeling they wrote down: Angry. Excited. Conflicted. Invisible.
Given this wide range of powerful emotions, the facilitator asked, what do we need to feel secure and take risks in todays conversation?
Some participants asked for patience; others requested confidentiality. As important as the actual norms is having the opportunity to construct them together.
Without a goal of winning or even reaching resolution, the experience of a Better Argument can instead change how we engage with a difficult issue and with one another. Our events end with an invitation to reflect on the shared experience with a simple but powerful prompt: I came in thinking ________; Im leaving thinking _______. In Anchorage, a policymaker said, I came in thinking I wasnt sure I wanted to be here, and Im leaving thinking that this was a different conversation than Ive ever had about this topic and I want more.
We also connect reflection to action by asking participants to complete a final statement, So now I will. Their responses reveal how engaging consciously in a Better Argument can spark small but powerful changes in individuals and communities. In Detroit, participants said, I will stay in touch with the five new people I met today; I will introduce myself to my neighbors; I will plan a tour to introduce my part of town to newcomers; and even I will not be so afraid to talk about difficult topics going forward. Some event organizers have used the I will cards to identify promising ideas and then offered support to those projects. Others have created opportunities for participants to continue to come together to explore the Better Arguments topic.
Every Better Argument weve hosted has been distinct, but these five principles were core to each and will be the foundation of our work going forward. As we continue to travel the country and learn from communities, were working forward a vision of inspiring and supporting all Americans to have better arguments in the coming years.
Fundamentally, engaging in Better Arguments means showing up for one another as citizens. Painful at times and celebratory at others, Better Arguments are an opportunity to evolve and expand our sense of community. In this sense, arguments dont have to drive us apart. Better Arguments can bring us together.
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The InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit will present a panel discussion Organ Donation Across the Faith Traditions, 2:30-5:30 p.m. Nov. 3 at St. Johns Episcopal Church, 26998 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak, free, registration requested at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-978-6664.
Rare Traveling Exhibit, A Look Inside the Life of Young Cardinal Karol Wojtyla Before His Ascendency to the Papacy as Pope John Paul II through Nov. 10 at the Orchard Lake Schools Campus, 3535 Commerce Road, in the old gym. Exhibit hours are: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 4-8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., http://www.orchardlakeschools.com, 248-392-9209.
Be Healed, 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sundays at The Healing Center Church, 3225 Fenkell, Detroit, 313-543-4896.
Sunday Singles Brunch, 11:40 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays at Einsteins Bagels, 750 N. Telegraph, Dearborn. Free, email email@example.com.
Free community meals, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Mondays at Lake Orion Methodist Church, 140 E Flint St., Lake Orion, 248-693-6201, http://www.lakeorionumc.org, (Anderson Street entrance).
Combined Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon Meetings, 7:30 p.m., Mondays at Unity of Lake Orion Church, 3070 S. Baldwin Road, Orion Township, unitylakeorion.org.
"Save A Life" Free Community Naloxone Training is 7-9 p.m. Oct. 29 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church, 6805 Bluegrass Drive, Clarkston, ages 12+ welcome, must be 18+ with a drivers' license or State ID to receive a kit which includes Nasal Narcan, http://www.calvary-lutheran.org, presented by the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities, 248-221-7101, achcmi.org.
Free community meals, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Tuesdays at Immanual Congregational Church, 1 Hovey St., Oxford, 248-628-1610, icucc.org.
Meditation, 7-8 p.m. first Tuesday of the month at Unity of Lake Orion Church, 3070 S. Baldwin Road, Orion Township, unitylakeorion.org.
Mid-Day Bible Class- A Study on the New Testament is 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Tuesdays, at In His Presence Ministries, 26500 Grand River, Redford, http://www.detroitinhispresence.org, 313-533-1956, detroitinhispresence.org.
Alcoholics for Christ open talk for substance abusers and families is 7 p.m. Tuesdays at First Assembly of God, 5650 S. Telegraph, Dearborn Heights, 313-673-3985.
Lunch with your Neighbors is 12:15-1:15 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at Spirit of Grace Church, 2399 Figa Ave., West Bloomfield Township, 248-682-0770. Donation: 60+ $2.50; younger than 60 is $5. Community lunch for seniors provided by Pontiac Meals on Wheels.
A Vigil for the Persecuted Church- 24 Hours of Prayer in conjunction with International Day of Prayer is 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. Nov. 6 and 6:30-8 a.m. Nov. 7 at Birmingham First United Methodist Church, 1589 W. Maple Road, Birmingham and 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 6 and 6:30-8 a.m. Nov. 7 at Berkley First United Methodist Church, 2820 W. Twelve Mile Road, Berkley. Attendees can continue the vigil overnight in homes, Berkleyfirst.org, 248-399-3698.
Jewel Heart Bloomfield Hills hosts regular weekly classes in Buddhist study and meditation at the Birmingham Unitarian Church, 38651 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills. The current program is Bodhisattva's Way of Life Chapter 4-Conscientiousness, 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, through Dec. 4, register at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 734-239-5985, jewelheart.org.
Wednesday Night Bible Study is 7:30-8:30 p.m. at 2951 Watkins Lake Road, Waterford, 248-332-3681.
Free community meals, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Oxford United Methodist Church, 21 E. Burdick St., Oxford, 248-628-1289, oxfordunitedmc.org.
Narcotics Anonymous meetings are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Unity of Lake Orion Church, 3070 S. Baldwin Road, Orion Township, unitylakeorion.org. Enter through side door entry.
The Aftermath of Overdose grief support group meets at 7 p.m. every other Wednesday in Highland Township. Call 586-854-6218 or email email@example.com to register.
Bible Study, 7 p.m. Wednesdays at Landmark Community Church, 24520 N. Chrysler, Hazel Park, 248-545-8800.
Relating to a Female Image of God through Christian Scripture and Tradition is 7-9 p.m. Nov. 14 at First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, 1669 W. Maple Road, Birmingham. Featuring Rev. Bethany Peerbolte, MDiv., Associate Pastor/Youth and Mission, First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham. Part of Exploring Religion Landscapes series presented by the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit.
Free community meals, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursdays at LakePoint Church, 1550 W. Drahner, Oxford, 248-628-0038, lakepointcc.org.
Celebrate Recovery program, 6:30 p.m. Thursdays at Utica United Methodist Church, 8650 Canal Road, Sterling Heights, 586-731-7667, http://www.uticaumc.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, working through sound Biblical principles and steps.
Connection Groups Discipleship and Bible study with junior/teen services, 7 p.m. Thursdays at Evangel Ministries, 13660 Stansbury, Detroit, 313-836-7732, evangelministries.org.
The Drive for Christian adults, ages 21-40, fellowship with music, 7-11 p.m. 3rd Fridays, The Rotunda, 26555 Franklin, Southfield, 248-384-8729.
World Medical Relief's 66th Anniversary Gala fundraiser is 6-10 p.m. Nov. 2, at St. John Armenian Church and Banquet Center, 22001 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield, http://www.worldmedicalrelief.org/anniversary-gala, 313-866-5333, tickets are $125, $50 for active volunteers and students with ID, formal native attire encouraged.
Community Marriage Talk- Being Intentional for A Better Marriage is 10:30-11:30 a.m. Nov. 2 at the Pontiac Public Library Auditorium, http://www.2as1forever.com, 810-354-5315, free.
Sculptures of Familiar Bible Stories by MaryEllen Dohrs is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 2 at First Church of Christ, Scientist, 900 W.4th St. Royal Oak, 248 542 0687, https://christiansciencemi.org.
Mind and Meditation Workshop is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Birmingham Unitarian Church, 38651 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills. Register at email@example.com or phone: 734 239 5985, http://www.jewelheart.org.
St. Augustine Lutheran (SALT) Church Celebrate Recovery meeting for people struggling with hurts, hang-ups and various addictions, first Saturday of the month, 5 p.m. church service, followed by a light meal and one hour meeting, no cost. Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12 step recovery program. SALT Church is at 5475 Livernois, Troy, 248-879-6400, http://www.saltchurch.net.
Community Breakfast, 8 a.m. Saturdays at All Saints Episcopal, 171 W. Pike, Pontiac, 248-334-4571, free.
Community Produce Market, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays at All Saints Episcopal Church, 171 W. Pike St. Pontiac, 248-334-4571, allsaintspontiac.org.
Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch and prayer time, 9 a.m. Saturdays at Amazing Grace International Fellowship, 7810-7824 Southfield Fwy., Detroit, 313-465-5111.
Submit faith events to the calendar submission form online at bit.ly/1iUM73e.
AP Marketplace and MediaNews Group staff
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