Here you will find writings that give some insight into Trinity’s programs.

Peer Leadership and Community – Part One

Posted on Aug 28, 2017 in

City Hall + Nathan Phillips Square

 

People have been gathering together in communities for a very long time.

But the way we do this gathering, as well as the dynamics actually at work in communities, have changed over the years.

We can safely guess that certain things were always present as catalysts in the forming of communities – the meeting of human needs (often around security issues) for instance, or the attempt to benefit from available resources.

As well, the members of the new community had to answer, either for themselves or through allegiance to a leader, their own version of the following questions- in our community what do we all more or less agree to as guidelines for conducting our daily lives together? What values and beliefs do we share which will inform the expectations we have of one another and how we settle our differences?

If we were to go back a thousand years in our Western history it would appear communities were in fact primarily expressions of racially alike people’s need for security – in essence what we would call today institutional racism.

Exclusion was a defining feature of all communities at that time – the exclusion of those who did not belong on the basis of race, and who it was necessary to keep out.

As communities developed they came to base belonging on ideologies, often religious, as well as race and exclusion.

In more recent history communities have based belonging- now called citizenship – not solely on race and beliefs but on processes of governance – things like law and the parliamentary system, the existence of human rights, and the idea of democracy etc for example.

And that brings us to where we are today – communities are still being organized by blood, belief and law – with the market and consumerism putting new ‘spins’ on old ideas of inevitability, absolute authority and the experience of mass behaviour.

But the basic questions for any community still remain- how will we live together and establish basic guidelines we can all agree to and which will bring every member of the community the opportunity to pursue a meaningful life?

The expectation of a meaningful life is a relatively new addition to the questions and actually makes answering now very difficult – difficult because pursuing a meaningful life is about more than meeting our needs or spending all your time with like-minded people – difficult because very few societies are one race anymore- and difficult because of our experience in history with great causes and different religions that lead to much bloodshed and/or ongoing acts of terrorism.

The issue in creating a functional community is made even more difficult because of the erosion of the political dimension to life with the constant discrediting of politicians and the political process that is happening in many societies.

Little more than 50% of people in our society usually vote. Many citizens, especially the young, think politics is corrupt, irrelevant, or boring. And this makes the difficulties I spoke of previously, and the lack of a coherent answer to how and why we organize into communities not just difficult but dangerous – since many are more than willing to fill the vacuum the lack of an answer leaves for personal or corporate gain.

So it is with this brief history and set of situations in mind that I will talk about the idea of Peer Leadership in a community in the next blog.

Peer Leadership and Sense of Person

Posted on Aug 12, 2017 in

Puzzle

Recognizing our interconnectedness.

We are born human, but it is our great work (or destiny) to become a Person.

A sense of what it means to be a Person is innate in every individual.

As a Person I understand myself as an individual intertwined in a field of connections so thoroughly that I both create and co-create myself

Consequently, each era in the development of being human will interpret this sense of Person according to the degree of consciousness the society of the era has been able to achieve

Both our individuality, (or awareness of being separate), and our connection to other people, places, nature, and events, are so thoroughly intertwined they are of equal significance and impact in our development.

We are as much ourselves in our bodies and brains, as we are in our ideas, our actions, and our interactions with others.

This intertwining is experienced primarily in our sensory experience of life, and reflected in our constant making of narratives of Self. We consequently experience growth both as a physical act and a psychological deepening in awareness.

This intertwining of “I/We” in our natures is also expressed in our capacity to extend our being into creations beyond ourselves- tools and technologies for example as well as all the arts.

These extensions of ourselves, our fictions of Self, technologies and art, can trap us and limit our growth if we do not continue to develop our Sense of Person. To do this it is important to explore three areas of life experience:

  1. The continual process of action/reaction we are born into, and which is mediated by reflection
  2.  Our ability to influence our development through our narratives and extensions.
  3. The brain/mind dichotomy- and the process of sensory data being converted and stored through filters into internal narratives in words, images, feelings, sounds, movement etc

If we are going to learn to live together in diverse communities it will be necessary to develop and extend our Sense of Person

Because diversity will always exist, the pursuit of an object based or objectified idea of commonality will always marginalize someone or something

So only when we understand and accept how profoundly we as individuals are intertwined with our ‘worlds’ ie each other, our objects and ideas, etc will we be able to live creatively in diversity designing life enhancing outcomes for everyone in community and compassion.

Without a developed Sense of Person we are trapped in our individuality, or awareness of being separate from one another, and can then only experience our own versions of reality, and not the actuality of life itself as it exists in our diversity.

Peer Leadership and Sense of Place

Posted on Aug 2, 2017 in

 

Peer Leadership

Peer Leadership is a dynamic part of a larger view of Leadership that is free of accumulated social and psychological conventions, and based on leadership as an aspect of personal growth.

Every person is in the process of creating, and co-creating, internal frames of reference based on their experiences which they then use to pursue their life. This self-leadership begins in our infancy and continues throughout our lives.

From this self-leadership all forms of leadership in groups, communities, and societies develop. This public leadership always involves a dynamic made up of an individual and surrounding context, and the interplay between the two. The skills and tools of the successful leader relate to the context in which they find themselves.

Peer Leadership is leadership between individuals in a diverse context (society).

Since individual leadership practice in the past has always been related essentially to either race/ethnicity contexts, or the addressing of a common cause for the betterment of a group/society, it is necessary now to look more closely at the personal skills and tools needed for leadership in a society where the primary context is diversity.

The primary skills necessary to be a Peer Leader in a diverse society are the development of our innate Sense of Place, Sense of Person, and competence in the practices of Community and Compassion.

 

Sense of Place

If we are going to stop viewing nature and ourselves as objects, we will have to change key ideas, or internal frameworks, such as ‘landscape’ for example.

When you look at a tree and see only a two-dimensional object you are imprisoning yourself in a reality system, or mindset called ‘landscape’. But when you “see’ the invisible ie see with insight and imagination the nutrients being absorbed by the roots and rising to the branches and leaves and the act of photosynthesis, you see the whole tree.

An important first step in breaking free of this objectified thinking would be to develop our innate Sense of Place, which means we see with both the head and the heart, with both our eyes and our feelings and imagination.

We are born with a sense of attunement to our surroundings. With the onset of an awareness of separation from our surroundings, our innate Sense of Place is overlaid by our developing rationality and its processes.

To get back in tune with our surroundings we must start to see any place as both a physical act (or geography), and as an idea (or experience). This would mean replacing our present ruling idea of ‘landscape’ with the idea of ecosystem. This means that instead of seeing only an object in a picture separate from us, we see and feel both the visible and invisible processes before us, and of which we are a part.

This is not actually as difficult for the mind to grasp as it first appears because it is well known that we as creatures are made of the self-same elements etc as our apparent ‘surroundings’.

The boundaries between person and place are not as black and white as they appear to the ordinary eye once we give up the framing mindsets of separation and ‘landscape’.

Needless to say the objectifying tendency of the unimaginative eye applies itself equally to people as well, and this will not serve us well in a diverse society.

We, like the tree, are dynamic agents in creating and co-creating our lives, and the profounder challenges we all face now are what guidelines will we create together to live productively and peacefully in our communities, with equity and opportunities for all.