Recently, we conducted a feasibility study with key leaders in Frederick County, Maryland. The study revealed a natural connection between our model and the needs of this community. Most significantly the study showed that, not only does an interest in community dialogue exist here, but there is a deeply-felt yearning; an actual hunger for meaningful, heartfelt dialogue (face-to-face). Of course, people are not after just "talking" like good ole hangin’ out (give me those bygone halcyon days of the sixties). Who has much time for that these days? But conversations with a purpose that can lead to positively altering the "system" of our community; dialogue that can help build a better healthier community within which – someday – violence could even be obsolete. Our prototype is viable enough to aid such an effort. (Its roots are actually in a successful prison rehabilitation model. See our web site at http://www.newhorizonssupport.org/).
Last month’s Think Tank Luncheon was a beginning. It moved our feasibility study forward, bringing together some of the key leaders interviewed in our study with one another. However, in the midst of conversation and a bit of unforeseen disruption from the food service, we barely scratched the surface of what we need and can do to make Frederick an exceptional community. Our next Think Tank Luncheon Meeting (information posted below) will further that somewhat incomplete exchange – and – take it to the next level. However, this online blog can also be vitally important in moving our mission forward. Please join us online and give us your input on how you think the Small "Zones Of Peace" (quoted from Gandhi) – "I’ve Got A Dream" (quoted, of course, from Martin Luther King, Jr.) Conversations Project can help our local community (and others) build small "zones of peace."
On my end I will be adding to this conversation with contributions from my forthcoming book, The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard, (stories and excerpted pieces to be posted on a separate, yet to come, blog site) to enhance our dialogue here. My commitment is to help build "exceptional communities" everywhere. I will be writing about that definition and how "exceptional leadership" creates this type of community. So, if you believe you are an exceptional leader or aspire to be one, please be sure to join our online conversation. We will be intent on getting to the heart of that issue in response to your comments and questions.