An open space for global conversation
We are in mourning. Shock, grief and anger wash over us in waves. For many, the media (old and new) has become the place we turn in order to deal with such an event. In traditional societies, we would have physically gathered together as a community to process our pain. This week, Occupy Cafe will attempt this virtually on behalf of its members, including founding steward Ben Roberts, who is a Newtown resident.
A friend wrote Ben an email saying that she hoped that "we can use this as a catalyst for new ways of making sense together." We would especially like to hear from one or more people who have gone through something like this and come out the other side with their spirit intact. Perhaps they even discovered some sense of mission and purpose that is their own form of "making sense" of something that seems to defy the very notion with its randomness.
Join the online conversation by posting below. Our Cafe Calls are complete for 2012 and will resume on Jan. 7, 2013.. Perhaps we might all contemplate this question:
How do we respond to this tragedy in ways that serve life?
Image: memorial display on Church Hill road in Sandy Hook, CT
Thanks Bro J. Of course I'm interested. Especially in a passion like THAT! thank you, and keep thinking along those lines. The zone of possibility has shifted in a very positive direction.
Which is not to say that is isn't completely awful that it came at this cost. I've had two Newtowners in the past days tell me, in tears, that they wished they had been murdered instead of those children.
Thanks for your presence and your ever bountiful inspiration toward love as the only sensible response we could possibly have to anything.
Peace brother~ Jitendra
With love we'll find a way. The purpose of Community Weaving is to weave a new world of Good Neighbors who freely give and fearlessly receive deeds of love to create a more caring, just and civil society.
In a recent conversation on the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) List Serve Mary Gergen shared:
With everyone else, I'm so saddened by what happened in CT. Many of us think immediately about controlling guns. Yet, I think it is impossible, for now, to eliminate the presence of guns in contemporary life. We can have more controls, but they are not very helpful. We are too far gone in another direction. It is not just political views or cultural views that constrain us, it is about the existence of so many guns, which I suppose are, for the most part, legally obtained. For me, the focus should be on the shooters. We need to pay more attention to mental health issues... of helping "loners" find connections, of allowing mothers to get help when they find that their son is losing touch with reality, of teachers and others having resources to help the kid who is being pushed away because he is odd or undesirable. Of sanctuaries where people who are mentally ill can find comfort, support and rest from the world that makes them crazy, and of institutions where dangerous people can be contained, with the eye to restoration of their sanity. Today, the only institution that keeps mentally ill people is prison. We need good parenting, good marriages, and good communities where people learn how to care for each other. Attention to this side of the issue would yield fewer tragedies of this sort, as well as less domestic violence, child abuse and other social ills.
In response I posted the following:
This has been my experience. In fact, I've discovered that when people feel powerless and become hopeless, even those from upper-middle class who have a financial crisis or relational issue they can't control, they tend to turn to mood altering drugs such as alcohol/drugs/prescriptions and their thinking becomes irrational. I'm a prevention specialist who started Family Support Networking in 1993. It now has evolved into Community Weaving. Our group attracted many parents who were at the end of their rope. One executive's wife struggled with the mental health system trying to get her son the help he needed for his impulsive (and dangerous) behaviors. He was anti-social and self-medicated on drugs. She has written a book about her experience in fighting the "system" to get the help her son needed. She found relief when she discovered the Family Support Network. Here is an excerpt from the letter she recently sent us about her experience:
"It was about 15 years ago that I met Cheryl who had just started an organization called "The Family Support Network". I was very happy to learn that I could join with our son who had some serious medical/emotional issues at the time. We had just moved to Washington State and my family and I knew no one.
The word "family" jumped out at me and was music to my ears. I called Cheryl immediately after learning her number and she agreed to meet me at a local restaurant. When I met Cheryl she told me she was creating a safe place for parents and their children as well as others who needed community services to be able to come together, exchange ideas, learn of new resources and have fun. It sounded wonderful to me! I had been struggling so long without friends who could or even wanted to help, without family as they were on the East Coast and we on the West. It was a god-send to be able to dream of belonging to a group who would grow together and help one another along the way.
For the better part of my stay in Washington State my family and I participated in camping trips, cook-outs at different parks in the Seattle area, educational community-weaving presentations, mental health symposiums, and always Cheryl opened her home to all the networkers at Christmas when we all would bring food and share fun gifts. This was especially fun for the kids who loved the gift-games. Truth be told, we adults enjoyed these games as much as the youngsters did. For many of us it was very therapeutic to forget our troubles and the drudgery of daily struggles to participate in something light-hearted yet so meaningful. We always had new folks to help for Cheryl would be given names of folks who needed a hand and if they lived close to us we would volunteer to help in whatever way we could.
I remember a day when Cheryl showed up with a baby that was abandoned at a local hospital in her arms. His mother was at her wits' end because she had not slept decently for 9 months because this baby had severe colic. He cried and cried and cried. She hadn't slept in days and didn't have a system of support to help her. The nurse on duty called the Family Support Network and Cheryl picked up the baby and called the mother. I lived within 3 blocks of the mother so Cheryl asked if I would help out. When she dropped the baby off I gave him a soothing bottle of a gentle herbal tea which caused him to fall asleep. My son rocked him for hours. Then my son helped with dinner to make sure that I did not have to make supper. That baby slept on my lap until his mother came to pick him up. We and the FSN group may well have adopted this baby and his family. Something in my son shifted that day. I'll be forever grateful for how this experienced changed our lives forever.
Women who worked in Social Services were part of the group of ladies who would gather to cook and go to movies. My children remember these get-togethers and have noted that they were filled with a great deal of warmth, kindness, laughter and kinship despite cultural differences. This was the first place my son was accepted and made friend and I didn't feel ashamed or embarrassed by his behaviors. He made friends who he still talks to today. Though he continues to struggle with mental health issues, our involvement with the network gave us a purpose and made us feel like we were part of a caring family."
The thrust of Community Weaving is to weave a safety net to offer support to people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as give parents of angry kids a way to connect to a natural peer support system unfettered by regulations, costs and impersonal treatment. Many of these families wouldn't go to a town hall meeting until their life stabilized. I suspect there are more families struggling than we realize.
I chose not to post a Catalyst Proposal because every one of the ideas posted would benefit by integrating Community Weaving into everyone one of the approaches proposed. Please consider including Community Weaving to weave a safety net for all the those who gather together around public policy issues to build and bridge social capital. It will certainly help sustain dialogue initiatives and a lot more. Offering people the opportunity to self-organize will offer indicators of what's happening in the grass roots. It will also grow a constituency base that will be more responsive and adaptive and produce volunteers to help organize future activities.
I wish I had more time to engage on this list serve. I work full-time as a cashier in a grocery store to keep my finger on the pulse of what's happening' in my community here on Long Beach, WA. Sorry to say we had three suicides last week alone. Fortunately, they didn't take anyone out when they decided to depart this life. This is only the beginning sorry to say.
We need more gun controls...AND...we need to redesign community supports as budgets are cut. That's what Community Weaving is all about and has been for the past 20 years. Few people truly understood the purpose of the design. When I'd share how Community Weaving offers hope, purpose and belonging which are the keys to resiliency organization leaders responded "We're already doing that." John McKnight in his book "The Careless Society" explains how systems can't care for people, people care for people. Based on the emails I'm getting these days...it seems community leaders are looking for new ways to weave grass roots support systems to create a more resilient and adaptive whole community system. My days as a checker are numbered.
It will take more than prayers to help these families. It's time to take action!
In service to the greater good, Cheryl
Cheryl Honey, CPP
Family Support Network, Int'l
"The more resourceful we are among ourselves, the more valuable a resource we become to our families, our communities and our world."
Thank you so much to everyone who joined today's call. What an amazing journey! I should have a podcast available later in the afternoon.
Brilliant share, Jerry.
The foundation of the breathing/emotional integration practice I teach has precisely to do with the releasing pressure we build and hold in our bodies via stress and resistance to allowing emotional energy to flow. When a traumatic event or trigger occurs, like being shot, witnessing a shooting or becoming a shooter, it's as if all that pressure comes blasting through the neurophysiology of every participant in the field of that event.
I won't try to name all the variations of effect this causes, but there is a chain reaction the passes the magnitude of pressure behind the "original" incident, and like a ping pong ball going through a sheet of plywood, all in the physical, emotional and psychic proximity of the event are hit with that undeniable emotional force. It's not guns as much as it is our fundamental lack of understanding of our own nature that is literally killing us. (Not saying accessibility to firearms isn't a problem-but troubled people will generally find a way to express their trouble).
I pray that we forge a new collective agreement with regard to what inspires us to look within and forgo the perpetuation of the shock of impact. This is in the process of happening already, though it's during these times we wish the shift was something we could describe in past tense.
Prayers and healing Love to all.
This morning I read Dr. Brene Brown's latest post about Sandy Hook. I think what she shared is relevant to our conversation here. Dr. Brene Brown's work is the study of shame. It is extremely important. We seem to have an epidemic of shame in our country. It is why I have incorporated her work into my HeartWork of creating connections and conversations that matter.
In yesterday's Cafe call, I heard many of us talk about the need for more love in our world. I think what Brene' shares adds to that conversation. I found many of the comments left on her blog are very powerful and expand my understanding of the pain and anger felt by many.
Friday, Dec. 14 - http://www.ordinarycourage.com/my-blog/2012/12/14/prayers-for-the-s...
Monday, Dec. 18 - http://www.ordinarycourage.com/my-blog/2012/12/17/our-stories-matte...
This diatribe reminds me of the flourishing Self Improvement industry... so many people who 'know'... apparently even more who are insufficient and who need improvement. And graves get deeper.
Here is a poem I wrote. I think it has the potential to be taken the wrong way, but I have gotten positive responses to it so far. I think it is important that we recognize the suffering of other children in the US and around the world and we just don't. The system is absolutely failing children and the rest of us.
Mother of the world
Don't ask me to grieve
for these children only
ask me to grieve for them all.
Ask me to grieve for the 16 million*
who go to bed hungry
every night -
ask me to grieve for them all.
Ask me to grieve for the 1.6 million*
who go to sleep without a home
every night -
ask me to grieve for them all.
Ask me to grieve for the six million*
around the world who die from hunger
or the 176 killed by US drones in Pakistan* -
ask me to grieve for them all.
You don't have to ask me to mourn
for these innocents
for I mourn all the children of this world
and I am ashamed
and I am grieving.
The Fairfield Hills campus in the geographic center of Newtown. 150 acres. Abandoned state mental hospital, mothballed in 1993. Central area has a number of huge buildings, mostly collapsing and contaminated with water, mold and asbestos, but also beautiful and historic. One was renovated to be our new town hall (right). Newtown Youth Academy also there--a new structure. And ball fields, woods, and hay fields.
I was on the committee that reviewed the master plan for this property in 2011. There is still no active plan in place to actually do anything with the campus, due to lack of funding or commercial developer interest. Also a history of decisions on what to do with the property having divided the town bitterly in the past.
Mushin suggests we develop it as "a global playground for world citizens that is child-centric."
child = innocence = vulnerability = immature = energetic = imagination = spontaneous = playful = innocently self centered = emotional = socially clumsy = risk ignorant = impressionable = truthful = happy
adult = statuesque = insecure = mature = self-image = ambition = socially fickle = mindfully self centered = serious = stressful = competitive = afraid = judgmental = sensible = protective = accumulative = risk averse = difficult to change = difficulty with honesty = denying = no play = comparing = conditioned = lack inner authority = gross thinking = self caged = sad
If you followed the coverage of this tragedy, you may have noticed that there has been no single place where people have consistently gathered in large numbers. Sandy Hook center is tiny, and not in the main part of town. Main Street is beautifully tree lined with historic homes. There are a number of parks scattered about. But unlike most old New England towns, we have no true central green--no natural gathering point. At least, not yet! Many in town have of course imagined that FFH, as it is known, would fill this void once it was redeveloped.