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Category Archives: Intentional Communities

Intentional Community and Capitalism – Shareable

Posted: April 10, 2024 at 5:32 pm

Challenges and strategies for anti-capitalist community design (part 1)

Capitalism isnt just an economic system we live inside. It is a culture that lives inside of us. It influences our psychology, how we design our communities, how we relate to each other, the kind of culture we create, and whats possible for us to do together.

Capitalism is one of the most harmful aspects of mainstream society and is deeply entwined with white supremacy, patriarchy, colonialism, and imperialism. Societies, including micro-societies like intentional communities (ICs), are a mixture of structures and culture, and economies are a key aspect with implications for both. Capitalism is a structure that encourages individual finances and embeds commodification and transaction into our relationships with each other and the world around us. This fosters and reinforces a culture of hyper-individualism, privacy, competition, objectification, and entitlement. It creates an experience of separation, isolation, loneliness, and fear, and normalizes inequality, oppression, exploitation, and violence.

ICs are idealistic responses to the problems of society. We see and experience the harm caused by human civilization on people and ecosystems. We want to live in a way that is more healthy and satisfying, where we can have a different relationship to people and place. We want lifestyles that align with our values and help make the world better. But as much as we want something different, we are susceptible to recreating the problems we want to solve.

At their core, ICs are about sharing. As places for sharing lives, resources, land, and purpose, they provide and maximize an interconnected set of ecological, social, and economic benefits. ICs integrate aspects of our lives that are usually kept separate. The experience cultivates belonging and accountability, which inspires us to act from a deep understanding of our interdependence. ICs are spaces that allow for experimentation and learning about ourselves, relationships, culture, and systems in a unique way.

The more we share, the more opportunities we have to practice.

An essential task we face as a species is to learn how to share resources equitably, democratically, and peacefully, within the bounds of what our ecosystems can support. But sharing is hard. Mainstream society does not prepare us for living in community, and we dont magically know how to do it simply by stepping into it. We underestimate how deeply the culture of capitalism is ingrained in us, and the extent to which we make choices that are antithetical to our desires for community.

Because of the trauma and enculturation, the lack of experience and availability of alternative models, as well as the unavoidability of operating within capitalism, the gravity will always be towards capitalist ways of doing things. Unwittingly trying to live our values using capitalist vehicles makes things more complicated and less satisfying, but we dont understand why.

Alternatives that would align better with our values, but would involve being more economically entwined, if we are even aware of them, are mostly rejected at the outset for reasons we dont fully explore. Even if we understand the benefits intellectually, we have to believe that its possible, and that its worth the risk and discomfort to do the work to create an experience of it.

(I offer this brief analysis as a basis for what Im advocating. Please see the references section for more in-depth works on the subject.)

When I say capitalism, I dont mean the use of money as a medium of exchange for goods and services, which is separate from and predates capitalism. Im talking about the modern, dominant, global capitalist economy, largely established and perpetuated by the US and Europe starting around the industrial revolution.

Capitalism revolves around capital, defined as anything that confers value or benefit to its owners, such as a factory and its machinery, intellectual property like patents, or the financial assets of a business. It is based on a central mechanic: The control and investment of capital to make a profit, which is then reinvested to make more profit, and so on.

A system designed around the perpetual generation of profit depends on infinite growth. This growth comes from the extraction and exploitation of natural and human resources. Infinite growth is fundamental to capitalism, but the resources needed for this growth are finite, which makes this system inherently unsustainable.

Capitalism perpetuates inequality because it relies on it. There must always be people who rely on wage-earning jobs. Through their labor, these people create value for those who own the means of production. This owning class can make money by doing nothing more than investing money. In this system, wealth will tend to consolidate into fewer hands, who will have an outsized influence on government, causing it to pass laws designed to benefit them, which are protected by the threat or use of violence and imprisonment by the state. This is inherently unjust.

Capitalism has become what it is today because of imperialism, colonialism, genocide, and slavery. It is based on laws protecting private property ownership, which are based on racist, dehumanizing ideologies like the Doctrine of Discovery, and the subjection of nature characterized by mechanistic philosophy. A core assumption embedded deep in our collective psyche is that I should be able to do whatever I want with my property regardless of how it impacts others, and that I should get to keep people off my property even if there are people who dont have access to the basic resources they need to survive.

All wealth is stolen or based on stolen wealth: it is accumulated by some at the expense of others and in ways that are unsustainable for the ecosystems on which we all depend with no possibility for meaningful accountability.

Scarcity and competition are built into the financial system. Money is created when debt is issued, but the money needed to pay the interest is not created, which means there is always more debt in the system than there is money. Any amount of wealth we gain comes at the expense of someone else, and some people will always lose the game regardless of how well they play.

Capitalist culture is highly aligned with what are widely discussed as the characteristics of white supremacy culture, and we internalize it in various ways.

We subconsciously believe that we deserve to be where we are in the class structure, are entitled to whatever level of wealth we have access to, and that if someone makes less money than us its because they havent worked as hard.

One of the central deceptions of the American Dream is the idea that anyone can make it. While it may be true that anyONE can make it, this is unconsciously interpreted to mean that EVERYone can make it, which is not true. But this drives people to unrealistically pursue success in capitalism and even defend it against their own best interests.

Capitalism tells us, Youre not enough, There isnt enough, Youre alone, Youre not safe, and any problems or failures we experience are because theres something wrong with us. It ingrains a connection between production and our sense of self-worth, and turns busyness and material accumulation into badges of honor. It exacerbates our tendency to compare ourselves to others and see ourselves as separate. Everything is seen through the lens of private ownership and its monetary value as a commodity in a marketplace, including our own identities, extending into the need for personal branding. Cooperation is portrayed as risky, inefficient, and counterproductive to the goal of individual security.

Capitalism robs us of our ability to get along and our sense of belonging. Its no accident that its hard for us to be vulnerable, to trust each other, that were emotionally fragile, terrible communicators, and conflict-avoidant. We werent raised knowing how to work things out with each other or even to feel comfortable being close. But more than that, were traumatized by the lack of connection and belonging we experienced growing up. That trauma interferes with our ability to experience belonging by making us avoid or even sabotage situations that would foster it but are unbearably uncomfortable.

Capitalism is designed to keep us separate from each other so that we can be the best consumers we can be. It trains us paradoxically to operate in a hyper-individualistic way within a system that we are utterly dependent on for survival. An increasing majority of people around the world do not have the skills or access to resources for self-sufficiency. We dont have access to the social or practical skills to be able to get along with each other, nor the resources to have a reasonable shot at collective self-determination.

There is no way to avoid participating in capitalism. To whatever extent ICs create a semipermeable membrane that allows for an internal self-sufficient economic system that operates differently from capitalism, the community and its members still have to make some amount of money.

Since its the only game in town, if were to have any hope of creating systems that disrupt it, we need to know how to play it, regardless of the moral dilemma that represents. This includes understanding financial and business management and dealing with the baggage we have around money because of our class background and financial circumstances.

It would be wonderful if people could simply live lives that do no harm to the world. However, in societys current state of oppression and exploitation, death and destruction, there is no neutral ground, no option to step to the side, live well, and be absolved. To some degree we have no choice about whether we participate in capitalism. But we do have a degree of choice over how much we work against it and create alternatives.

Ultimately the question is, what are we going for with this crazy thing called intentional community? What do we want? What do we think and say we want but find deeply uncomfortable and dont actually pursue? What would we actually find satisfying if we did the work? How do our choices support or undermine that?

Active resistance to harmful systems is crucial. Creating alternatives that meets peoples needs outside of harmful systems is also crucial. And this needs to happen at scale. If we dont seek to affect change in the world at a scale that can have a meaningful impact on the direction society is heading, even alternative systems will get run over. At some point simply creating nice places to live that buffer against the worst of mainstream society will no longer be tenable.

Sharing is an important part of the strategy. In our struggle with capitalism, sharing is power. Leaning into greater sharing, and being in solidarity, can generate greater capacity. This can be used to make our ICs more supportive and accessible, and can be leveraged to support the equitable and democratic development of just and regenerative local and regional social, governance, and economic systems. This will require getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, letting go of whatever sense of entitlement we have, and leveraging whatever privilege we have for collective benefit.

Its not just that it is in our self-interest to participate in this effort, it is our moral imperative.

This is the first in a three-part series by Sky Blue. The next parts will cover the economies of intentional communities and key-choice points for building ones.

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How alternative communities have evolved from pacifist communes to a solution to the ageing population – The Conversation

Posted: March 12, 2024 at 1:56 am

People have sought solace and strength in communal living for thousands of years. But unlike traditional villages bound by kinship or geography, intentional communities are deliberately constructed by people who choose to share not just space, but also a specific set of values, beliefs or goals. Such forging of a collective path is often in response to times of social change.

Here are three instances where people have turned to intentional communities to seek sanctuary, purpose and alternative ways of living.

As the war raged across Europe, one particular group of people was looking for alternative solutions. Conscientious objectors were people who refused to fight for moral or religious reasons.

It is estimated that there were around 60,000 male conscientious objectors in Britain. Some took up non-combatant roles, such as medics, but others sought out less conventional opportunities. With farming identified as an exempt occupation, some conscientious objectors joined pacifist back to the land communities.

One such community was Frating Hall Farm in Essex. It provided a safe haven for those who did not wish to fight in the war. As well as farming, the community lived, ate and worked together.

Another such community was Collow Abbey Farm in Lincolnshire. This was a farming cooperative set up by a different set of conscientious objectors. Again, the principles of pacifism, farming and community brought individuals and families together in a time of need.

Many of these communities dissipated after the war ended, having served their purpose as safe havens for pacifists.

Still in the shadow of the second world war, the 1960s blossomed into a more permissive era which allowed for a freer sense of self and expression. This decade heralded a sense of social change with movements such as civil rights and womens rights emerging. As the decade progressed, so did the different types of intentional communities.

The 1960s commune movement has been described by some experts as a hotbed of free love, drug taking and loose morals. But others argue they embodied something much more important and were representative of the social changes under way at the time.

In an attempt to escape straight society, many young people sought out spaces that allowed them to experiment with alternative forms of living and identity. These were communities that often embraced the non-nuclear family alongside other counter cultural ideas such as veganism and non-gendered childrearing.

One well documented example of this is Braziers Park in Oxfordshire. It was a community that formed in the 1950s but flourished in the 1960s and 70s. Braziers was initially set up as an educational community.

Its alternative nature attracted the likes of Rolling Stones frontman, Mick Jagger, and his then girlfriend Marianne Faithfull, who had lived there during her early life. She described it as otherworldly in her memoir. Braziers still exists today and now offers courses, workshops and retreats.

Read more: Four reasons to consider co-housing and housing cooperatives for alternative living

Another example was Crow Hall in Norfolk, which was founded in 1965. Although they denied they were a commune, it had all of the marks of being one, with elements such as shared accommodation and collective child rearing. The community operated an open door policy, inviting others to come find themselves. It eventually dispersed in 1997.

Like Braziers, some communities set up during the 1960s are still in place today such as Postlip Hall near Cheltenham, or the Ashram Community near Sheffield. But many others ended as society moved on. Experts who have reflected on this period describe it as both a time of freedom and, for others, mistakenly liberal.

The communities scene continues to flourish but this time under new challenges such as an ageing population and climate change. Its difficult to estimate how many such communities exist in the UK, as nobody keeps official figures.

Arguably, some of the same generation who were tuning in and dropping out in the 1960s are now seeking equally alternative solutions for their older age. For some, this is to be found in the phenomenon of senior cohousing. These are intentional communities run by their residents where each household is a self-contained home alongside shared community space and facilities.

One example of senior cohousing is New Ground in north London. This is a community of older women, founded in 1998, who took their housing situation into their own hands. Defying some of the more traditional models of housing for older people, such as sheltered accommodation, New Ground is an intentional community for women over 50. They live by the ethos of looking out for, rather than looking after each other.

For others, the solution involves joining an intergenerational community such as Old Hall in Suffolk where octogenarians live alongside children and adults under one roof. This is a community of around 50 people who farm the land, share their meals and manage the manor house in which they live.

As society evolves, so too do the forms that intentional communities take. While the specific challenges may change, the human desire for connection and a sense of belonging remains constant.


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Georgia Power Announced T. Dallas Smith named to Georgia … – All On Georgia

Posted: November 18, 2023 at 7:12 pm

Georgia Power announced that it has elected T. Dallas Smithto the companys board of directors, effectiveJanuary 1, 2024. Smith is founder and CEO at T.Dallas Smith& Company (TDS&Co), the largest African American-owned pure tenant representation commercial real estate firm in the country. Since founding the firm in 2007 inAtlanta, Smith has led the team to incredible growth. Collectively, the team at TDS&Co has worked on assignments in 40 states exceeding$15 billionin aggregate value. As CEO, Smith is responsible for the firms branding and strategy, which includes creating and overseeing all new business opportunities that align with the companys core business.

Smiths roots inGeorgia, and in the real estate community, run deep. He began his commercial real estate career in 1982 at Atlanta Air Center Realty and, in 1989, he became the first African American broker at Cushman & Wakefield of Georgia. In 1995, he pioneered the brokerage division for H.J. Russell & Company, where he served as Vice President of the Brokerage Division. In 2006, with the support of the lateHerman J. Russell, Dallas opened T.Dallas Smith& Company, specializing in tenant representation.

Were excited to welcome Dallas to our board of directors at Georgia Power, saidKim Greene, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. Through his decades of experience in business, he has helped uplift communities all across the country, while fostering commercial development, bringing jobs to Georgia and strengthening our economy. That commitment to community is a hallmark of our state, and its because of leaders like Dallas that Georgia continues to grow and thrive as the number one state in which to do business. Dallas brings a unique perspective that will serve our customers and communities well as we continue to deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to millions of Georgians.

Widely recognized as an innovator and thought leader in the commercial real estate community, Smith is also intentional about cultivating and developing diverse talent, as well as giving back to the industry and Georgia. Smiths notable leadership and service roles include serving as 2023 President of the Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS; a member of the Board of Regents of theUniversity System of Georgia, and chairman of its Real Estate & Facilities Committee; a member of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce board; and serving on the board of the Westside Future Fund. He has also served as Real Estate Committee Chair of theGeorgia State UniversityFoundation Board, and on the board of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Smith is a graduate ofGeorgia State University, as well as Leadership Atlanta. He has been recognized as one of the100 Most Influential Georgians(Georgia Trend),as well asMost Admired CEO(Atlanta Business Chronicle),and has received theEntrepreneur of the Yearaward from the Atlanta Business League.

SOURCE Georgia Power

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CSRWire – Thought Leaders Gather for Critical Community … –

Posted: at 7:12 pm

Published 11-17-23

Submitted by The PNC Financial Services Group

Were acutely focused on the impact were causing. How does this change lives and provide capital to own a home, start a business, stabilize or revitalize community, Richard Bynum

PNCs second annual Community Leadership Symposium brought together business, policy and community leaders from across the country for a full-day of networking, panel discussions and evidence-based learning at The Tower at PNC Plaza in Pittsburgh.

At last months invitation-only symposium, nearly 120 leaders from a diverse cross-section of industries gathered with PNC leadership and stakeholders to share data-driven insights and actionable solutions to elevate and advance economic opportunities for low and moderate-income communities and communities of color.

Forums like these offer our stakeholders a shared space to learn, network, and discuss the work we do to create a more inclusive economy, said Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer Richard Bynum. To drive real impact in our under-resourced communities, we have to continue to listen and to build on the transformational work were accomplishing with the Community Benefits Plan.

PNC hosted the annual gathering of community stakeholders as part of the companys broader pledge to provide $88 billion in loans, investments and other financial support to bolster economic opportunity for low- and moderate-income (LMI) individuals, communities, and people of color. During the event, Bynum shared an update on the Plans progress, noting that even in a difficult interest rate environment, PNC expects to outpace home lending goals outlined in the four-year plan.

New Community Stakeholder Assessment Shows Critical Need for Housing

Across the country, demand for affordable housing continues to exceed supply. And despite increased funding efforts like PNCs Community Benefits Plan, stakeholders expect the pipeline of future projects to continue to fall short as both developers and consumers face growing cost pressures.

Thats one of the key findings of new research unveiled by Community Development Banking Managing Director Reymundo Ocaas at this years event. An in-depth survey of nearly 1000 community stakeholders, PNCs inaugural 2023 Stakeholder Needs Assessment Survey examines the most pressing barriers, needs and trends among community economic development organizations serving LMI communities across PNCs footprint.

We received responses from nearly 500 community organizations and by far affordable housing emerged as the top ranked need for LMI members across our regions, followed closely by workforce development and neighborhood revitalization, said Ocaas These findings give us an opportunity to create intentional and actionable strategies to better support the communities that need it the most.

With a focus on creating measurable community impact, Ocaas noted that insights gained from the research study will support future implementation of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and Community Benefits Plan programming and strategies in PNCs markets and help strengthen the Banks existing community development efforts.

Panelists Share Actionable Solutions to Accelerate Community Impact

Leaning into a commitment to deliver evidence-based learning to advance economic opportunities in LMI communities, the Symposium included four discussions panels that offered attendees the opportunity to explore several challenges highlighted in the Community Stakeholder Survey.

Moderated by PNCs Chief Diversity Officer Gina Coleman, Retail Banking Alex Overstrom and head of C&IB Mike Lyons, a series of panel conversations centered around compelling community investment topics emphasizing best practices in economic inclusion, affordable housing, workforce development, small business, and climate resiliency.

From elevating entrepreneurship as a way to boost generational wealth to leveraging alternative credit history models to improve affordable rental and homeownership, experts from the Center for Economic Inclusion, Raza Development Fund, National Community Reinvestment Coalition and other noted community organizations shared experiences and actional solutions to support sustainable economic development within under-resourced communities.

As a Main Street bank, we are committed to delivering on each of our strategic priorities while looking out for the best interests of all of our stakeholders, including our customers, communities, employees and shareholders. Our focus on operating with integrity drives us to help our customers achieve their goals while also strengthening our communities, reducing our environmental impact and empowering our employees to grow.

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EPA centers diversity with first-ever environmental youth advisory council – Yahoo News

Posted: at 7:12 pm

President Biden has said from day one that we needed a diverse coalition, including young people, to help us come up with the best solutions for todays challenges, EPA Administrator Michael Regan told theGrio.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the federal governments first-ever youth advisory council to help solve the global climate crisis and ensure equitable outcomes for Black and brown communities.

The National Environmental Youth Advisory Council comprises 16 members between 16 and 29 and includes diverse young leaders representing Black and brown communities in the environmental space.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan told theGrio that the historic advisory council was intentional for the Biden-Harris administration to bring young people and minority communities to the table as a brain trust to collectively address the rising threats of the climate crisis and other environmental harms.

President [Joe] Biden has said from day one that we needed a diverse coalition, including young people, to help us come up with the best solutions for todays challenges, said Regan.

I think we all can recognize that young people have been at the forefront of every major movement in society, whether it be political or social change, he continued, and the environmental movement is no different.

The advisory council represents 10 regions designated by EPA, including urban, rural, and tribal communities. Members hail from 13 states and Washington, D.C.

Weighing things such as race, ethnicity, gender, and even political views, Regan said the EPA was intentional about who was handpicked from the more than 1,500 applicants.

National Environmental Youth Advisory Council member Wawa Gatheru, a native of Philadelphia, told theGrio she is eager to get to work with her colleagues and Regan to represent the voices and concerns of youth of color, in particular, who have for so long been left out.

The 24-year-old entrepreneur got involved in environmentalism as a teenager after learning about the environmental justice movement from a curriculum created by her high school teacher.

[It] showed me that the climate crisis was not this far-off issue, but it was actually a lot more personal, and that it not only creates new problems but exacerbates every existing social ill, she said.

Gatheru is the CEO of Black Girl Environmentalist, an organization she created to empower and resource early-career Black women and Black gender-expansive folks in the climate sector and movement.

Black Girl Environmentalist began as an Instagram page in January 2021, but as it expanded its digital community, the Rhodes scholar decided to build out the national organization.

As the federal government makes historic investments and commitments toward environmental justice, Gatheru said communities need to know how to access the available funding. As a youth advisory council member, she also wants to ensure that Black and brown lives are centered, both in conversations and policy.

Were all weathering the same storm that is a climate crisis, but were not all in the same boat, she explained. Its so important that environmental justice and participatory justice is emphasized in these processes.

Young people have been at the forefront of the climate and environmental movement, leading mass marches across the country and, at times, bringing them to the gates of the White House. Young activists have also been critical of the Biden-Harris administration, urging officials to do more to avert the continual warming of the planet as more natural disasters decimate Black, brown, poor, and rural communities.

Regan told theGrio he and the administration welcome the critical voices of young people.

We hope that the young people will challenge us in a way that produces better solutions, better products. After all, were solving the climate crisis; we are addressing climate anxiety for their futures, he shared. They should have a seat at the table, and they should be a part of this future vision that we are shaping.

The National Environmental Youth Advisory Council will meet at least twice yearly starting in 2024. Regan, who noted this will be a true partnership, said he would sit down with members to determine their first orders of business but shared that priorities will include climate change, environmental justice, conservation, air quality, and access to clean water.

The administrator shared that he will also rely on the young leaders to reach demographics and communities that he and Biden cant reach easily in helping to educate them about climate and environmental issues.

We hope to [rely on] not only their intellectual capacity but their social media prowess, their ability to communicate, educate, and disseminate information, he said.

Gatheru said forming the advisory council is a great step by the Biden-Harris administration and that she appreciates how intentional officials have been in engaging young people, including hosting various roundtables with youth across the country.

While youth washing is something she said often occurs in the climate space, so far, she said the administration has shown signs that they want to make sure our voices are actually influencing and that we have this reciprocal relationship where were all working together.

They have a lot of opportunities here to help the Biden administration really cement some of the ideas and efforts that were putting forth, said Regan, who noted that the president has not been shy about doing what is necessary to combat the climate crisis.

He has worked with Congress to produce the largest amount of resources ever put to tackling the climate crisis. Were talking about billions of dollars that will impact a trillion-plus dollar economy, he continued. Its vital that young people have a seat at the table as we implement our policies or regulations.

Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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Rigor, Relevance, & Reality: Education Collaboratory at Yale … – Yale School of Medicine

Posted: at 7:12 pm

In July 2023, YCSC Assistant Professor Christina Cipriano, PhD, together with her colleagues and collaborators, launched a new, independent research lab, the Education Collaboratory at Yale. The lab is committed to advancing the science and practice of social and emotional learning in schools worldwide. In this Q&A, Cipriano shares some insight into her journey and about her teams work.

Growing up my parents instilled in me and my three siblings a deep commitment to education as a means of opportunity and access. My dad, who went to school through the 8th grade, would always remind us to stay in school, love learning, and when you have a question, ask your teachers! They are the experts and there to help you succeed. It's no surprise that all these years later, I am a champion of educators and their expertise!

Lately, I have been asked a lot how I got into the field of SEL. The truth is, the way I see it, the field found me.

I was fifteen years old and a sophomore in a large public high school in suburban Long Island when the Columbine school shooting happened on April 20, 1999. The first mass school shooting to make national attention, I was struck by how the school and community was responding to it. Our high school and many others nationwide quickly banned the wearing of leather jackets, trench coats, and studded belts, and started profiling students based on what they were wearing while working to install metal detectors. These reactionary behaviors were concurrent with the mass media blasting and damning certain types of rock music.

So, I wrote a letter to my local Congressman and asked why the schools on Long Island were profiling students rather than working to address the actual issues at hand restoring our safety. The letter, that included a snarky line that the gunmen were wearing underwear too, why arent you banning that, and why is it based on what you can see, won me an award, an invitation and the honor to meet then President Clinton, and to be an author of the first national Youth House Resolution Against Violence. I returned from Washington and spent the next two years of high school rolling out peace games, anti-bullying pledges and programming across the district and neighboring communities in the region.

Fast forward to September 11, 2001, I stood in the caf on campus at Hofstra University on the first day of my undergraduate education and watched the second plane crash into the tower live on a little square TV on CNN. After two weeks of shut down, as our campus became a hub for first responders going in and out of Manhattan for recovery efforts, I was struck by the racial and ethnic profiling I was witnessing in the media and in our community. I volunteered as a campus ambassador for Facing History and Ourselves and facilitated community building and bias training sessions to support healing and safety for all students and their families.

If space allowed, I could continue to share one experience after another across my life where I intersected with discrimination, bias, and hate and leaned into the discomfort to effect change and promote justice, equity, and inclusion through social and emotional learning. It was not until I was a doc student at Boston College that I had a phrase for the work I was deeply committed to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and from then on, across my development and life I have been invested in ensuring all students, families, and communities are safe to learn and thrive in school.

There is not a day where I am not grateful for the path I have traveled to the privilege I have today to learn and grow alongside students, teachers, and communities nationwide. The collaborative work of our team to advance the science and practice of SEL is our calling and evidenced by our deep commitment to build the fields way forward at this critical inflection point.

As an applied education scientist, Ive been learning and leading in the education field for nearly two decades. Most recently, I incubated the foundation for the Education Collaboratory for five years as Director of Research at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence under the frame of the Division of Research. During this transformational time for the field of SEL and our collective research, I supported the expansion and built out our rigorous and relevant research agenda. Now as a fully independent entity housed at Yale, the Education Collaboratory is built upon intentional collaboration with students, educators, leaders, and organizations to investigate, inspire, and address questions in the Who, What, and How of inclusive and equitable SEL.

Our science is leading the national discourse to evolve the definition of SEL alongside a burgeoning field by undertaking critical evidence synthesis, identifying promising practices for inclusive and equitable implementation and evaluation of SEL in school settings, and supporting the next generation of data practices through novel SEL assessments and community-based approaches to intervention science.

We are a thought leader and catalyst for evolution in the fields of social and emotional learning, educational measurement, and implementation science. Our collaborative science is currently organized in three main areas:

1. We intentionally center the experiences of students, educators, and families that are marginalized in the school community in our collaborative research projects. Marginalized populations are students, educators, and families in the school community with minoritized racial, ethnic, linguistic, gender, sexual, or disability identities and the intersections there within. Our work seeks to support conditions for learning, teaching, and thriving for all marginalized students, educators, and families.

2. We are committed to advancing the science of evidence synthesis for the field of SEL. What counts as evidence? How do we understand and support access to contemporary evidence that is transparent, inclusive, and meaningful for the diversity of SEL stakeholders? What methods can be employed to support translational science for SEL to support the proliferation and evolution of evidence-based practices in SEL implementation and evaluation?

3. We are deeply invested in the co-design, building, and evaluation of meaningful measurements of discrete and necessary SEL assessments that support the SEL field in understanding and connecting the dots in their respective and collective SEL implementation journeys. Our measurement portfolio includes school-based assessments at the student, classroom, teacher, and school level, and utilizes web-based technologies and rigorous, equity forward methodologies that are anchored in feasibility and real-world utility to support classrooms, schools, and communities' data-driven decision making. All our assessments democratize the data collected and reported to ensure participant access, ownership, and application.

Our collaborative inquiries co-construct youth, educator, and family accounts of discriminatory, inequitable, or prejudicial practices, policies, and pedagogies and offers novel opportunities to improve, advance, or optimize accessible, inclusive, and safe experiences for marginalized student, educators, and families.

I think the future of the field rests in our ability to demonstrate our social and emotional skills in action through finding commonalities across different perspectives, increased heterogeneity of SEL as a construct, and the evolution of how we assess and evaluate it. To be more precise, its incredibly important that we attend to the evolution of SEL honestly so that it can be a truly inclusive and helpful support for all students, schools, and communities. Continuing to treat SEL as one thing, or as all things, or as all the same thing, will not be helpful to the field and will not support the fields necessary evolution in support of all students, schools, and communities.

Since January 1st 2020, the Education Collaboratory has produced more than 50 publications, reports, and commentaries, spanning top tier peer reviewed journals and media outlets, and more than 90 presentations at national and international conferences, agencies, and universities. Currently, the Education Collaboratory is learning alongside 64 school partners, in 22 states, and manages an active portfolio of $8 million sponsored project dollars. This work is generously funded by:

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Rigor, Relevance, & Reality: Education Collaboratory at Yale ... - Yale School of Medicine

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Gaza: UN experts call on international community to prevent … – ReliefWeb

Posted: at 7:12 pm

GENEVA (16 November 2023) Grave violations committed by Israel against Palestinians in the aftermath of 7 October, particularly in Gaza, point to a genocide in the making, UN experts said today. They illustrated evidence of increasing genocidal incitement, overt intent to destroy the Palestinian people under occupation, loud calls for a second Nakba in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, and the use of powerful weaponry with inherently indiscriminate impacts, resulting in a colossal death toll and destruction of life-sustaining infrastructure.

Many of us already raised the alarm about the risk of genocide in Gaza, the experts said. We are deeply disturbed by the failure of governments to heed our call and to achieve an immediate ceasefire. We are also profoundly concerned about the support of certain governments for Israel's strategy of warfare against the besieged population of Gaza, and the failure of the international system to mobilise to prevent genocide, they said.

The bombardment and siege of Gaza have reportedly killed over 11,000 people, injured more than 27,000 and displaced 1.6 million persons since 7 October 2023, while thousands are still under the rubble. Of those killed, about 41 per cent are children and 25 percent are women. On average, one child is killed and two are injured every 10 minutes during the war, turning Gaza into a graveyard for children, according to the UN Secretary-General. Almost 200 medics, 102 UN staff, 41 journalists, frontline and human rights defenders, have also been killed, while dozens of families over five generations have been wiped out.

This occurs amidst Israels tightening of its 16-year unlawful blockade of Gaza, which has prevented people from escaping and left them without food, water, medicine and fuel for weeks now, despite international appeals to provide access for critical humanitarian aid. As we previously said, intentional starvation amounts to a war crime, the experts said.

They noted that half of the civilian infrastructure in Gaza has been destroyed, including more than 40,000 housing units, as well as hospitals, schools, mosques, bakeries, water pipes, sewage and electricity networks, in a way that threatens to make the continuation of Palestinian life in Gaza impossible.

The reality in Gaza, with its unbearable pain and trauma on the survivors, is a catastrophe of enormous proportions, the experts said.

Such egregious violations cannot be justified in the name of self-defense after attacks by Hamas on 7 October, which we have condemned in the strongest possible terms, the experts said. Israel remains the occupying power in the occupied Palestinian territory, which also includes the Gaza Strip, and therefore cannot wage a war against the population under its belligerent occupation, they said.

In order to be legitimate, Israels response must be strictly within the framework of international humanitarian law, the UN experts said. The presence of underground tunnels in parts of Gaza does not eliminate the civilian status of individuals and infrastructure that cannot be directly targeted nor suffer disproportionately, they said.

The experts also raised the alarm about the escalation of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, by soldiers and armed settlers. Since 7 October 2023, at least 190 Palestinians have been killed, more than 2,700 injured, and over 1,100 individuals displaced in the occupied West Bank. On 9 November, Israeli forces also bombed, for the second time, the Jenin refugee camp with heavy artillery and airstrikes, killing at least 14 Palestinians. The increasingly coercive environment has also led to forcible displacement of several communities of pastoralists and Bedouin People in the Jordan Valley and south of the Hebron Hills.

We are deeply distressed at the failure of Israel to agree to and the unwillingness of the international community to press more decisively for an immediate ceasefire. The failure to urgently implement a ceasefire risks this situation spiralling towards a genocide conducted with 21st century means and methods of warfare, the experts warned.

They also expressed alarm over discernibly genocidal and dehumanising rhetoric coming from senior Israeli government officials, as well as some professional groups and public figures, calling for the total destruction, and erasure of Gaza, the need to finish them all and force Palestinians from the West Bank and east Jerusalem into Jordan. The experts warned that Israel has demonstrated it has the military capacity to implement such criminal intentions.

That is why our early warning must not be ignored, the experts said.

The international community has an obligation to prevent atrocity crimes, including genocide, and should immediately consider all diplomatic, political and economic measures to that end, the experts said. They urged immediate action by UN Member States and the UN system as a whole.

In the short-term, the experts reiterated their call to Israel and Hamas to implement an immediate ceasefire, and:

They also recommended:

The international community, including not only States but also non-State actors such as businesses, must do everything it can to immediately end the risk of genocide against the Palestinian people, and ultimately end Israeli apartheid and occupation of the Palestinian territory, the experts said.

We remind Member States that what is at stake is not only the fate of Israelis and Palestinians, but a serious conflagration of the conflict in the region, leading to more human rights violations and suffering of innocent civilians, they said.

*** The experts: Francesca Albanese,** Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers; Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Claudia Flores, Ivana Krsti, Haina Lu, and Laura Nyirinkindi, Working group on discrimination against women and girls; Surya Deva, Special Rapporteur on the right to development; Ravindran Daniel (Chair-Rapporteur), Sorcha MacLeod, Chris Kwaja, Jovana Jezdimirovic Ranito, Carlos Salazar Couto, Working Group on the use of mercenaries; Barbara G. Reynolds (Chair), Bina DCosta, Dominique Day, Catherine Namakula, Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Damilola Olawuyi (Chairperson), Robert McCorquodale (Vice-Chairperson), Elbieta Karska, Fernanda Hopenhaym, and Pichamon Yeophantong, Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; Siobhn Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing; Ashwini K.P. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Paula Gaviria Betancur, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons; Ben Saul, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Irene Khan Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Ms Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences.

The Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system, is the general name of the Councils independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.


Gaza: UN experts call on international community to prevent ... - ReliefWeb

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Fathering Together Announces Acquisition of City Dads Group – PR Web

Posted: at 7:11 pm

Fathering Together and City Dads Group Join Forces to Offer Essential Resources to Fathers Around the World

CHICAGO, Nov. 15, 2023 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Two leading organizations dedicated to supporting and empowering fathers, Fathering Together and City Dads Group, are thrilled to create a stronger and more comprehensive platform to champion engaged fatherhood through local communities and provide vital resources and connections across the globe.

This new organization integrates the collective strengths and expertise to advance the work of promoting active and engaged fatherhood. This strategic partnership will result in a broader network, enhanced programming, and a more significant impact on the lives of fathers, families, and communities.

Cordan James, a respected leader in the field of fatherhood advocacy, will lead the combined organization as Executive Director. Cordan states, "I'm honored to step into this role. As a dad of three kids and as a child of adoption, I understand the important role and influence dads can have on creating positive change in the lives of their children. My goal is to build on the past success and create a movement that brings about a more equitable and inclusive world for all."

Key benefits of the partnership include:

Commenting on the partnership, Matt Schneider, Co-Founder of City Dads Group, said, "We are thrilled to join with Fathering Together to strengthen, sustain and expand our communities. We have a real opportunity to positively impact the way we view and value fathers as a society."

Brian Anderson, Co-Founder & Board President of Fathering Together, added, "We are honored that City Dads Group places their faith in us to continue advocating for fathers worldwide. We look forward to bringing the City Dads Group community into ours so we might empower dads to be emotionally courageous, connected, and committed to their families."

As Fathering Together integrates City Dads Group's operations, it will continue to reimagine fatherhood through intentional communities, championing new narratives and implementing school-based programs for dads.

About Fathering Together:

Fathering Together is a global network of over 125,000 fathers and allies around the world dedicated to promoting active fatherhood and providing support, resources, advocacy, and education for dads. Established in 2018, Fathering Together is passionate about challenging stereotypes and advocating for equitable parenting. Their work has touched the lives of countless dads, offering guidance on parenting, relationships, and personal development. Fathering Together has also been a leading voice in promoting equality in caregiving responsibilities and emphasizing the importance of fatherhood as a cornerstone of healthy societies through virtual panels, workshops, and digital stories. To learn more, visit

About City Dads Group:

City Dads Group is a diverse community of fathers dedicated to being actively involved in their children's lives. Founded in 2008, City Dads Group has chapters in 41 cities across the United States and Canada and is committed to redefining and promoting modern fatherhood. Their commitment to breaking down stereotypes about fatherhood and fostering inclusive communities has made them a recognized force for positive change. To learn more, visit

Media ContactRebecca Hochreiter, Fathering Together Board Member, 1 718-909-8923, [emailprotected]

SOURCE Fathering Together

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Company to pay over $50 million in largest environmental lawsuit settlement in D.C. history: Health risks to the public – Yahoo News

Posted: at 7:11 pm

In the largest environmental lawsuit settlement in Washington, D.C. history, the Potomac Electric Power Company (commonly known as Pepco) will pay out more than $57 million over $47 million to clean up the river it polluted and another $10 million in fines.

D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb recently announced the settlement, saying that Pepco would pay for persistent toxic pollution of the Anacostia River, which runs through D.C. and Maryland.

CBS News reported that Pepco, which has operated in the area for a century, previously ran two facilities on the river, Buzzard Point and Benning Road, that, according to the Attorney General, resulted in spills, equipment leaks, and intentional releases of petroleum and hazardous substances.

Those other hazardous substances included polychlorinated biphenyls, which were banned in 1979, per CBS, and which the Environmental Protection Agency considers probable human carcinogens.

The Benning Road Facility was operational from 1906 to 2012. The government began overseeing an investigation of the facility in 2011, shortly before it shut down. The other facility, Buzzard Point, was accused of spilling or intentionally discharging its pollutants into the river.

It is certainly a good thing that Pepco is being made to pay to help clean up the river it intentionally (per the attorney generals office) discharged toxic chemicals into (going against its own stated policy in the process). Unfortunately, though, none of that money will go to the human victims of its crimes.

A 2012 study partially funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that nearly half of the people living near the Anacostia were unaware of the dangers of eating fish from the river and that about 17,000 could be eating the contaminated fish.

The report uncovered further evidence that many local fishermen who were disproportionately African American, Latino, or Asian are catching, eating, and sharing potentially contaminated fish with family, friends, and others, greatly expanding the possible long-term health risks to the public, a website summary of the study read.

This is yet another example of environmental racism, which the Natural Resources Defense Council defines as the intentional siting of polluting and waste facilities in communities primarily populated by African Americans, Latines, Indigenous People, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, migrant farmworkers, and low-income workers.

While this settlement goes toward fighting environmental racism in the future, to many of its victims, immense harm has already been done.

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Student death is now part of the routine at Middlebury – The Middlebury Campus

Posted: at 7:11 pm

Ivan Valerio 26 passed away last Tuesday. Evelyn Mae Sorensen 25 passed away in mid-September. Yan Zhou 23 passed away of apparent suicide on Oct. 20, 2021.

After three deaths in two years, student death on campus is beginning to feel like a normal part of life at Middlebury.

While the causes of Ivans and Evelyns deaths apart from the fact that there was no foul play involved have not been shared, it is clear that the deaths themselves have affected the mental health and well-being of the larger student body. We call on the administration to make a more concerted effort to support students and faculty following a tragedy, but not only in the days immediately following such a tragedy. The college must commit resources, funding and attention to mental health on campus through expanding access to a variety of counseling services.

Similar to their responses following Evelyns and Yans deaths, the administration said in their initial email notifying the student body of the student's death on Tuesday morning that they plan to continue classes and other activities as usual so that the community can remain connected. We understand that this approach is grounded in community and public health best practices, but such an attitude inevitably contributes to moving on from the tragedy before processing its weight and normalizing student deaths as a routine part of life at Middlebury.

When students were in the midst of the vibrant and lively student activities fair in September, the college released Evelyns name as the student who had passed away in Forest Hall. This experience encapsulates how normalized these events have become. The college has begun to act as though student death is an acceptable topic for a mid-afternoon email, rather than a tragedy. The initial email announcing a student death last Tuesday came at 11:13 a.m., and students were expected to begin their 11:15 am. lectures a mere two minutes later.

Professors with classes scheduled for late Tuesday morning or afternoon had to act on their feet to comfort their students in the wake of the tragic news, and they did so in varying ways. Board members noted everything from professors breaking down and crying in front of their students to professors telling personal stories about dealing with loss to some not acknowledging the news at all.

There is no good way to announce a student has died on campus. But there are far better ways to support a community. We need more than a bulleted list of the same six resources over and over again: TimelyCare, College Counseling, Scott Center Chaplains, the Abernathy Room gathering space, Care Management and the Department of Public Safety. These are merely the standard mental health resources on campus, but student deaths should not be treated as standard occurrences. Tragedies like these call for more intensive support.

We all feel the pain of these deaths in different ways. We do not know exactly what the student body needs at this time of mourning, and we are not really sure how we would benefit as a community from temporary dean drop-in hours or one-time offers to write notes to our loved ones. Many professors have opened their doors to students, but they were not trained in graduate school to support their students through a death on campus. The administration must provide professors with more guidance and support in dealing with tragedy in the community.

Middlebury is prepared to support students who need to drop in to de-stress for 20 minutes, but it is not prepared for students who are in crisis, or undergoing serious challenges. We call for specialized professionals to be available for students in need of intensive support, such as external grief counselors and a more diverse staff of long-term therapists. Middlebury must raise the entry-level salary for college counselors from the listed starting salary of $60,000. Doing so would attract and retain more high quality counselors at the college. It is appalling that mental health resources were not even mentioned in the colleges recently launched For Every Future campaign. Funding assistant coach positions and building renovations are a higher priority than mental health resources to the administration, and we have clearly seen the results this semester.

We need to consider how our long-term community can be unified and built on campus. The Commons System once provided students with an assigned Dean who was on campus and available to meet with students in a comfortable, unforced environment. It also established defined communities outside of individual friend groups, classes and clubs, which benefited students who otherwise may have felt isolated. We now struggle to name a specific person or resource where students are supposed to turn when experiencing a mental health crisis or personal struggle. Likewise, Deans no longer remain with one group of students throughout their time here, weakening connections and relationships. This is especially true for junior and senior students, who belong to some of the largest classes in Middlebury history yet share only one dean among the two class years. We call for the intentional creation of such communities with ties to specific people as designated available resources to fill this gap in Middlebury life.

In a time of grief where the college has proven unable to support us, it falls on students to support one another. It can be uncomfortable to talk about mental illness, but we must foster an environment that is genuinely dedicated to supporting one another. While it is devastating that we have to support each other through such horrific events, students have shown remarkable strength and care so far. Keep your hearts open, and keep your friends close. Though Middleburys insularity can be frustrating at times, its closeness is an important strength of our community when faced with tragedy.

The aforementioned For Every Future campaign was launched by the college in between two student deaths, brushing past the obvious deficit in mental health resources on campus with glossy, full-page spreads of Middlebury students thriving at the college. Millions of dollars will go to professional development and sabbaticals; new residence halls and architectural classrooms; and student internships and experiential learning but nothing for mental health. If the colleges allocation of money reflects its priorities, we are forced to consider the underlying question: for whose future?

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