Friday, December 18, 2009

The “I’ve Got A Dream” Conversations Project Community Leaders Think Tank

Dear Friend, Frederick is a wonderful place to work and call home. Many of our energetic leaders exemplify cooperation and compromise. Too often, however, our community is divided by disagreements and divisions between divergent groups who do not understand each other’s concerns and may even distrust one another. Controversies are sometimes aired in public, revealing that our beloved Frederick is rife with challenges. Without a systematic approach and forward-thinking strategies, polarized groups frequently remain entrenched. We, the organizers of the “I’ve Got A Dream” Conversations Project, are committed to finding productive ways to build bridges for unity. We see the potential here in Frederick for a more exceptional community. To accomplish this end, it is important that all segments of the community be represented from the beginning. Thus, we are reaching out to key leaders in Frederick, such as yourself, who are making a difference. To achieve this vision, it is important that everyone take the initiative. We invite you to participate in the “I’ve Got A Dream” Conversations Project, Community Leaders Think Tank Luncheon. We have been developing and refining our community conversations model since 2003 with notable success and profound impact. Recently, we have been conducting feasibility studies with key leaders in Frederick County. The feasibility studies have revealed a natural connection between our model and the needs of this community. We seek to share results from our study and ask key leaders such as yourself to share your insights, strengths, and personal vision for building bridges in our community. The main intent of the meeting will be to form a Guiding Coalition for the “I’ve Got A Dream” Conversations Project. We hope you and your organization will consider participating in: Community Leaders Think Tank Luncheon Meeting Thursday, December 3, 2009 Dutch’s Daughter Restaurant. Noon – 2:00 p.m. (Check in from 11:30 a.m.) Please register by completing the Registration Form and mailing along with your check to “Encourage Life” P.O. Box 1871, Frederick, MD 21702. To request a registration form, please call 202-345-0396. RSVP deadline: November 24, 2009. The cost for the Think Tank Meeting is $50 ($30 of this is tax deductible.) We look forward to working with you on this project, and to hearing your dreams for Frederick. Your ideas and inspiration are important. Each of us is carrying a piece of the solution towards reaching our common goals. We look forward to seeing you.

Thanksgiving Day, 2009

I am surprising myself this Thanksgiving Day by being “at home,” more or less in Frederick. The extensive remodeling underway at my house, also the home of our non-profit’s Harpers’ Ferry Retreat Center, has brought me to sojourn awhile here. Now for the first time since I was little I am truly experiencing what it means to be a part of a community life; Frederick is that for me. Passionate as I am about doing what I can to help build healthy communities; thinking global, acting local, once I got somewhat settled in here, I engaged some of the Small “Zones Of Peace” Conversations volunteers in several new projects. We had just recently presented our “Third Annual Abkhazian Dinner” on behalf of the Season For Non-Violence,” an annual event series presented by Frederick County community interfaith and peace organizations. Check it out at http://unityfrederick.org/SNV2010.html. Now it was time to move our project forward to its next phase of emergence. Rewarding as that event had been, it seemed there was a next appropriate step for our Small “Zones of Peace” Conversation’s Project in Frederick. After carefully considering several options, we decided to embark on a unity building and related fundraising campaign effort with the Centennial Memorial United Methodist Church. That project engaged us for nearly seven months, closely involving us with two congregations operating in one church. The opportunity turned out to be quite an adventure, affording us a wide range of opportunities within which to showcase our coaching, consulting, community development and conversations programs. What I loved best – and I did love it -- was our successfully bringing together diverse factions within the church. During our time with this church, we presented three conversation programs, held numerous organizing meetings, helped to create and activate committees and committee chairs and guided creative problem solving meetings for the “Saving Centennial Mission.” To date this effort has been the singularly most joyous one for me since the Small “Zones Of Peace” Project began in 2006, giving us much opportunity to provide the full range of gifts, talents, services and programs that make up our project. The process and the results were so awesome I now have volumes to say and write about the experience and the people with whom we worked, especially the two pastors. My appreciation to the senior pastor, Pastor George Earle, Jr. whose love, dedication and vision invited us into the project is boundless for the opportunity his church provided us to showcase what we are able to do to effectively alter the system of a group through our coaching, consulting and conversation programs. Among the rewards of doing this program it showcased some of what our project does best; dinner and conversation to help a participating audience build bridges of unity. I love how we guided that process and how our participants brought it to fruition; “building community unity through conversations.” With mixed feelings, however, the Small “Zones Of Peace” Project needed to move on, again. The invitation letter that follows describes what our next steps turned out to be; we are now off and running to create a “Community-Wide Community Conversations” effort! Stay tuned in for what’s happening next. And, join our online conversation to help us develop it. Happy Holidays, Anastasia New Horizons’ Small “Zones Of Peace” Project Executive Director and Founder