Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Truly Beaut-i-full And Impactful!

The agenda for last Saturday’s “community gathering” was to introduce New Horizons’ new project, the “Counterculture Community Development Experiment” to participants and the “Principles” that will foster its success.

With just that one day at hand to try out the template now being designed for the project by our board of directors, having “Making Violence Obsolete” as its centerfold, and only a small core group of participants for this initial run through, the impact of what we accomplished in just a few hours still left no doubt in my mind that we have now made a beautiful and impactful beginning.
Bravo! And congratulations to “US” for the take off of this exciting next project.

A “beautiful” set of Power Point slide handouts -- (if I do say so myself as I am the one that created them) -- provided participants with a well-delineated  overview of what we are intent on bringing into widespread application -- a movement perhaps might even emerge from our intention; doing our part to help “make violence obsolete,” G-d willing and the creek don’t rise. These prompted enthusiastic discussion and lively interactions to drive home our objectives. 

The most prominent aspect of our conversations, from my perspective, was the indepth consideration of how exactly -- as Margaret Mead suggested -- “a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world” (i.e. in New Horizons lingo, “make violence obsolete.”). 

I believe most of those present were contemplating the answer to that question I was certain, at least as much as basic formulae go and their applications, I had been learning how to achieve, if only, for more than forty years already; by living "it" not merely thinking about it.

And, of course, there was also the potluck and the camaraderie of hangin’ out on one of our last nice, but a bit warmer than we like, end of August days.

significant part of the answer I am inclined to stress is -- very slowly and step-by-step!   As evidenced by the “takeaways” participants identified as their next action steps in line with our stated agenda, I could see they were already begin to consider that direction too; the pathway to awe -- and -- possibly grant me the privelege of being their guide.

Long time coming!

The single most agreed upon, by a good portion of the group, of the various angles presented tat day was to devote serious, personal attention to altering the following, day-to-day characteristics of polarization in themselves.
  • Emotional barriers;
  • Defensiveness;
  • Communication breakdown;
  • Seeing the “other” as an enemy;
  • Fear, anger, blame, criticism, power struggles;
  • Conflict, withdrawal, avoidance, collusion, secrets, aggression, bullying and violence. 
Nary a participant could attest to being free of each and everyone of these.  So they pledged to begin there.

How about you?  What are your next steps to help "make violence obsolete"?

Coming soon – “Making Violence Obsolete” Seminars, open to the public
Beginning in October.

Next Harper’s Ferry Retreat Center Community Gathering --
Saturday, October 1

Look for details.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Community Gathering To Introduce “Making Violence Obsolete” Principles

So much can happen in the few short months of “never long enough" summer. What has happened at New Horizons during this time is that we discovered our next powerful, community building steps to follow on the progress we made with Coffee House Conversations Project --

New Horizons Counterculture Community Experiment is now in the design, moving forward  stage, with some of its principles and practices ready to be introduced.


Find out more about what we are up to next!

We are ready, already, even this coming Saturday, to begin demonstrating the profound transformative power and strength of our next adventure.


Get in the action! Join us if you can at -- 


Summer In The Mountains at -- 
New Horizons’ Harpers Ferry Retreat Center
Monthly Community-Building Work Days and Potluck Dinners





Next scheduled gathering date: 
Saturday, August 27, 2016


Find out how you can participate.
(September and October schedule of events coming soon!)


Check out details here for this coming Saturday’s tentative schedule.

To request additional details and make your reservations, 
email us at: HarpersFerryNH@aol.com


Monday, August 15, 2016

Make Violence Obsolete!

New Horizons next amazing project, "Making Violence Obsolete."

Find out how you can get involved in – 

“Making violence obsolete”
  1. Take the Spectrum of Love Inventory!
  2. Share your results with friends, family, co-workers and neighbors! Build your own “village” (i.e. exceptional community).
For some good words on bringing "love" into politics, check out --

The New Yorker Magazine, "The Power of "Love" In Politics" by Rebecca Mead 

“Trust Me!  (Ha Ha) Trust You!

Violence can become obsolete, if we start doing more and more of the right things and, together, stop doing the “wrong” ones!”



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Making Violence Obsolete: New Horizons’ Next Amazing Project


New Horizons Support Network, Inc. proudly announces  

The Counterculture Community Development Experiment:
Frederick County, Maryland Project

Vision -- 

Small “Zones of Peace” Project: Working with others to construct sustainable, community prototypes wherein all forms of violence and deceit can become obsolete

Tag Line: “Making violence obsolete”

Mission Statement – Preliminary, August 9, 2016

To unite diverse groups in Frederick County by creating an experimental counterculture approach to community unity based on the development of enhanced communication and conflict resolution skills. 

Counterculture is defined here as a subculture situated within the mainstream whose values and norms of behavior differ from those of the traditional society surrounding it.

History

At New Horizons we have come to believe that violence can someday, conceivably, become rare or even obsolete when improved ways of developing working community structures, healthy communication, and conflict resolution become the norm. 

New Horizons, as a frontrunner, since the mid-1970s, in establishing and sustaining community entities based on this principle, now pledges itself to bringing its knowledge base, experience and skill to Frederick County, Maryland because we believe this county has demonstrated that it has enough of the necessary ingredients to approach this ideal. We envision ourselves supporting the potential for this attainment in Frederick County, Maryland, based on the evolution of our working philosophies and practical applications.

Find out how you can become a participating member of this experiment!

More details on the way.

For details and additional information, contact –

Anastasia Rosen-Jones, Executive Director, New Horizons Support Network, Inc.

Cell: 240.409.5347, Email: SuperSleuthDSW@aol.com
Blog site: zonesofpeacenh.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Anastasia is now officially on vacation until mid-August 
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
For me this a season to be quiet in public as I watch and wait and spend my days, privately, trying to put gentleness first in my life; next to my ceaseless quest for Divine Guidance, amidst tumultuous days that I am trying to see simply as Divine Chaos.  

But serenity and gentleness do not come easily, probably not to anyone else either, these days.

On my end, my way up came when I finally embraced the astrological symbolism of Mars being retrograde; a planetary pattern I had not knowingly encountered previously. Maybe it possibly brought the recent upset into my life. 

What I read of Mars Retrograde corresponded, time wise, almost exactly to a heavy onslaught of turbulence entering my life. Then escalating into high drive by the time another eye crisis almost completely upended the joy I was experiencing in my new found visual clarity.   

It has been one upheaval after another since.  Until I read about Mars retrograde straightening itself out, as my daily astrology report informed me that it would, I wondered if I wasn’t heading full force into my own demise. “Just a matter of days,” I told myself, as I fearfully awaited the doom of my personal, final earthquake.

Then, upon reading of Mars retrograde, I took another look and began to consider that the upheaval I was experiencing might not be anything personal. In fact, perhaps most people, at least the sensitive ones, might have also been aware of the ground rocking beneath them in that same time frame. Now it is a week or so since Mars made its direction change – and – I’ve got to admit I see all kinds of shifts occurring toward the positive in my life, personally; the sheer quantity of little shifts quite striking. 

But then there is Baton Rouge and Minnesota and Dallas – and – the presidential campaigns, heading into high gear, as the RNC and DNC conventions get set to start. And, again I am called to realize how chaotic life is these days and helpless I am, or almost so, up against mass upheaval.

All of this comes to a crescendo in my limited purview of the world, alongside the realization that I am now just about one week before my birthday; a day for me and everyone else best suited to giving honor to the sacredness of one’s life. So I think, as I haven’t had much to say anyway this past month as I dealt with one personal upheaval after another, especially my eye crisis, it is time for me to officially take a vacation from blogging, which I have apparently been doing unofficially.  And give myself time to regroup.

With this in mind, I hope to be reminded, once again, as I rest and rejuvenate and heal from my recent eye crisis, of the one thing I can do, remembering one of Helen Keller’s favorite sayings originating with her friend, Everett Edward Hale –
I am only one, 
But still I am one. 
I cannot do everything, 
But still I can do something; 
And because I cannot do everything, 
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
Look to hear more from me around mid-August or so, unless I am moved to pen a word or two before hand when I will again know the “something that I can do” in this sea of turbulence where I am fairly powerless but not entirely.

 In the meantime, I will be doing my best to be serene and gentle up here in the mountains. And, hope to return with a filled reservoir from within which I can, again, speak out on the many reasons and experiences I’ve had that tell me that we MUST make it a a top priority– that we get used to talking to one another – and -- just keep talking to one another to get our societal problems resolved or on the way to solved, no matter what; African American and white, Muslim, Christian and Jew etc. etc.!

Without our politicians!!!  They are no where near showing us how to come together at this time. Just talk, talk, talk. I'm ready for action! How about you?

See you in September, if not a bit before.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Conclusion: The Way It’s Supposed To Be, Part III of III:

Read Part I here and Part II here.


The Way It’s Supposed To Be: Part III

Excerpted from 
The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard:
How Communities Come Apart and How They Heal


December 15, 2015 -- Continued from Parts I and II

There was one particular snag with a participant that had really saddened me as I was particularly captivated by him. I will call him Henry Clayman. Henry stole my heart almost from my first meeting with him at our very first Coffee House Conversations event. I remember him as sincere, vulnerable, straightforward, dedicated and articulate with a big heart that almost shone like gold.  Once I got to know and interact with him I felt I would do anything for him. And, from his side he pledged to always get my back and I believed him without conditions like I had rarely ever done. 

But Henry had gone away, I am sad to say, never even letting me know why he had “fired” me as his friend and mentor.  Was I “othered” because of my whiteness up against his African American Black?

Whatever the real reason, this much I do know: As Freddie Gray lay dying in Baltimore, in another situation of police brutality to a young Black man and Baltimore, correspondingly, erupted in a blaze of violent protest, Henry stopped talking to me; another one of those dialogue blockers -- silence. Was he disappointed in me about the time I  took him to our local Human Relations Commission to make a complaint, having to with his perception of negligence on the part of our local county toward the African American community, with no change resulting?

Or was it our visit to the Mayor’s office where lip service promises had been tendered him, fooling no one but the Mayor himself, if that?  Several months down the road Henry suffered a stroke; possibly because he was so plagued and heartbroken by the racial inequities surrounding him. I guess I will never know because Henry’s not telling; no dialogue, no discussion, no problem solving or bonding opportunity; polarization hangs over our heads instead.  Still I did come away with another lesson learned from our Coffee House Conversations; being white, even Jewish American white, is not an easy ticket to bridge building these days, if it ever was.

The New Horizons model, on the other hand, values conflict resolution, seeking common ground as opposed to either-or, black or white thinking – and -- above all, synergy rather than polarization. We define the latter, synergy, as the increased effectiveness resulting when two or more people work well together, even when it’s gut-wrenching hard. When we achieve this state, it is often accompanied by a sense of “awe.” But it takes resources; time, energy, talents and at least some minimal funding to sustain leadership and training efforts; all of which we are presently working to develop. Neither Sue nor myself are much good at fundraising and marketing. And a program such as ours needed both.

Right from the start at our very first Coffee House Conversation, back in January, we kept, along with printed handouts, introducing – and – stressing that the single most essential and practical principle for community development is through meaningful dialogue coupled with seeking win-win problem solving solutions. This means always choosing to lean in toward others, not blocking them as in debate or pulling away in anger, silence, withdrawal or “othering.”  

Leaning in skills include listening fully to the others viewpoints with no investment, whatsoever, to doing anything other than respecting them or perhaps inquiring more about what something means to another. Thus we really hear the essence of what is meaningful to the other person. Then, of course, we welcome the same from that other person.

Though we repeated this message again and again and at each event handed out an outline of fundamental principles on choosing to dialogue rather than debate, apparently the message just hadn’t held much weight. 

It certainly did turn out to be true that I had been so steeped in planning and organizing from one event to the next that I hadn’t taken enough time, other than a bit now and then, until this uprising with An-Nur, to stand back and assess the overall cumulative gains and losses from what we were doing and find out what I could do to further our agenda and I definitely had not done enough “leaning in.” Now with our 2015 calendar of events complete and the holidays coming on us – and – An-Nur’s apparent upset that was anything but subtle, I would have the leisure to do this. But how, I wondered, under pressure, as her anger seemed to escalate on the spot as she spoke?

Grasping for straws of experience and wisdom in my mind, at last I got hold of one of them and held on to the idea for dear life.

 “How about drawing An-Nur’s immediate attention to the handouts I always carried with me to this meeting on “Dialogue versus Debate,” I thought, prompted by urgency.

I did that! And it worked but not easily. Still I held my ground proffering her the fact sheet page I had in hand, repeatedly until she simply surrendered her upset, ready to move beyond it.

“Here, An-Nur,” I said, “Look here at this handout we have shared at each and every one of our events. Look here, you are debating with me, not having a dialogue at all. Nothing can get resolved this way!”

My voice sounded to me like a rant to match hers but I held on still as if my very life depended on it. Maybe in some ways it did, at least the life I had been standing up for in recent years.  Then like a Nor’easter blown violent and abruptly stopping as, unexpectedly, An-Nur quieted down; so much so that it seemed as if I could feel her heart reaching out for mine.  This was awe for sure!

It wasn’t completely smooth sailing from there forth. But we had survived the storm and we were intact. Just the way it’s supposed to be when hearts and minds reach out to one another in peace and love. 

What has come of this to date? Joy of all joys, through this upheaval and its calming Jewish American me made my first Muslim American friend. I hope it lasts a long, long time. Maybe we were now already on our way to truly building a “real” community; one person at a time.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be!


The End (for this piece)