Monday, January 30, 2012

Announcement: Think Tank Schedule Change

The “open” Think Tank meeting for participants of the Possible Human, Possible Society Study, scheduled for Thursday, February 9, has been temporarily and indefinitely postponed.

In lieu of putting our attentions into a format that would be primarily geared to “thinking” (as in “Think Tank”), New Horizons, sponsors of the study, will instead shift its program planning time into preparations for our (almost) Annual Abkhazian Dinner in support of the Season For Non-Violence project in Frederick County.

You are cordially invited to a feast for the body, mind and spirit –

New Horizons (almost) Annual Abkhazian Dinner, Sunday March 25, 2012

Open to study participants as well as the public.

Details coming soon. Find out --

What is special about the Abkhazian Dinner Event?

What and where is Abkhazia?

How is this honoring relevant to the Season For Non-Violence series?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Thought For Today: Quote From Anne Frank

Possible Human, Possible Society Study Report

An interesting trend showing up in the study.
What do you make of this?

Responding to the study question below:

Do you have one or more people in your life that you consciously and actively practice peace-building with on a regular basis?

Peace Buddy definition: A Peace Buddy is someone with whom you currently have an ongoing, conscious relationship that has as its intent a striving for the highest levels of integrity, clarity, mutuality and even synergy (beyond cooperation and consensus).

Better than half of the people interviewed so far, prefer to interact, primarily, with like-minded others. Of course, that runs true to human nature. Most of us are most comfortable with people that are like us. The challenge here, however, is that this proclivity suggests, by interpretation, that most of us might have some work we could do in this area. That is, if we are truly seeking to build unity amidst the diversity of this country; folks being increasingly tolerant of others and really at-home-comfortable with differences. We can help community unity building along by purposefully expanding the number of people we are willing to invest in as “peace buddies.”

Particularly, by making an effort to interact with at least one or more people who are markedly distinct* from ourselves in terms of ethnicity or culture, religion, value systems or viewpoints including political perspectives in ongoing, conscious relationships. A few years back, I set myself to this task and it was challenging! So much so, in fact, that I got discouraged and gave it up for awhile. But practice what you preach, Anastasia, right? Now I am reminded that for the good of the whole, I need to purposefully get back to that intention.
Thought For The Day
"Diary Of Anne Frank"

Thought For The Day

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Diary of Anne Frank

* "markedly distinct" doesn't refer to someone, for example, who goes to your same church but is from another country or a different race. Or someone you talk with at an event or so. I mean someone who might be different enough to really push your hot buttons that you have to stretch yourself to befriend.

One person I sought out was Muslim and I am of Jewish heritage. I heard a voice inside of me telling me (the idealist me -- the "Why can't we all just get along with each other ME?") -- "Be careful here this man might want to kill you." Fears and judgements lurk, often unconsciously, in almost everyone. So the "markedly distinct peace buddy" challenge I am speaking of here is the one that you might avoid that would, thus, be a stretch for you. Just because that is how it always has been up until now when you purposely take on the challenge

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Truckload Of Warmth

One more 2011 story before it slips any further into memory.

A truckload of warmth and a climb up a small Mountain of Awe helped New Horizons usher in 2012. Amazon-type woman power, teamwork, a huge donation of our favorite varieties of wood for burning and a new friend warmed our hearts the last Thursday afternoon of 2011. The donation by saw mill owner, Bobby Lowery, of as many truckloads of fire wood as we could load and haul, made for a fun-packed and bountiful adventure.

To make it quite perfect, we found a new friend, Judy Moeller, the “velvet-gloved lady,” a woman with her own unique brand of elegance. Driving her snazzy blue pick up truck and packing a mean muscle to boot, somehow Judy seems to always be moving with the agility of a deer and the dignity of a lady. What fun we had! And, Judy took home her own truckload of warmth.
Bobby's welcoming

By New Year’s Eve, New Horizons Harpers Ferry Retreat Center was all fired up for a toasty warm welcoming in of the new year. So it came to be that our monstrous, newly-repaired Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, our heating-the-whole-house woodstove, big enough to shame a small caboose, bellowed out Auld Lang Syne and her hello song to 2012 as it made its entrance known.

How about that for abundance? Both Bobby and Judy, each with their own gifts brought New Horizons the kind of support that New Horizons needs, including that touch of “awe” that comes of people offering what they can and working together. Thus as 2012 was making its entrance, the board members of New Horizons would be reflecting on the amazing experiences 2011 had provided. (We did that the next day at a board members’ luncheon.) Bobby’s gift of glorious wood and Judy’s working with us to bring it home gave us a most perfect beginning to our being ready to receive as much (and more, why not?) as we are giving. Your support will also be warmly received.
In case you are not sure how you can give back to us, here is a short list for starters.

 We need:
  • Sponsors;  
  • Volunteers to assist with the Possible Human, Possible Society Study (administrative assistance, data management, interview skilled assistants and fundraisers);
  • Gifts in kind for our Harpers Ferry remodeling project, grunt work volunteers for the remodeling project, and;
  • Of course cash donations! (This link will help you do that.)
For the real fun stuff; community building, study participation and volunteering, write or call Anastasia, cell 240.409.5347.
Bobby in his best
Anastasia climbing a
small Mountain of Awe; 
Bobby's woodpile
Silly Sue

And, for your sawmill needs, be sure to contact Bobby Lowery, the generous man feeding our fire- eater, Chitty. Shown here modeling his favorite shirt. Bobby Lowery, 540.338.2362.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Storytelling As A Path To Peace

A Study Report

Tell me about this and tell me about that. I will hear you and I will see you with these eyes of mine that have learned to see into the world that goes beyond the ordinary. (Technically only one eye of mine can totally see the physical world. Can that fact and the one about my having been blind for five years (1998 –2003) be playing its part in the stories you share and I hear?)

Overcoming differences is what fosters
the greatness of our nation. Telling our
stories helps us do this.
“Hello, this is Anastasia. Thank you so much for the generosity of your time and your willingness to participate in New Horizons’ Possible Human, Possible Society Study. You can read details about the study on our blog. Now that we have settled in for our phone interview, there are ten rather simple questions I will ask you to begin the process. They are basically yes or no answers. However, you can feel free to tell me more than just the black and the white. For the purposes of the study I want to know about the grey areas in between. Please feel free to share that too.”

So we begin. Before too long, you are telling me stories to illustrate your answers to my questions. Next you are telling me that which sounds as if it has been stored up, waiting for someone to simply ask the right questions. Apparently I am able to do that. And, you honor me by releasing to my listening ears that bottled up genie inside of you, wanting to speak your truth about today’s socio-political climate in America. I ask and you explicate why it is that the polarization of our national politics, the economic depravity of this country, the wars in the Middle East and the devastating decisions that our politicians have made, is so personally upsetting. This is your life and what matters most to you for yourself and those you love the most.

When I reflect upon our interview, I am moved. I am changed and the alteration of my consciousness that you have effected is far more than just a subtle nuance. You are almost every man and every woman I have interviewed thus far. And, I am called to realize that your stories – and the you that you have become – are part of our national treasure chest. The stories you tell me need to be told. They tap into the very heart of personal perspectives behind being upset with America today in this momentous 2012 election year where cultural upheaval seems to be at its peak. They are the stories that generally are masked by complaining and othering. But what I am hearing beyond this is profound as well as moving.

In the now-famous words of the Twelve Step programs; trite as they may sound, “Thank you for sharing.” You have freely given of yourself and some of the principles of living that you have meticulously carved out for yourself; your own unique paradigm. Crafted just so. Each piece in its place. Set by the master crafter of your heart and your mind.

My interview assistants tell me that most of you are finding study participation to be “thought provoking, interesting and even fun.” Most amazing to me, however, are the reports I am now getting that some of you are even calling it “magical.” Whatever can be going on here to merit that accolade?

Perhaps it is simply that Anastasia The Storyteller has now learned how to invite out the storyteller in you; your stories that must be told, if reason is to remain in the insanity now surrounding us. Stories of personal dreams and concerns. The tales which we will, collectively, leave behind for the next generations. Stories that depict the logic and the passion that has and can, again, make America great. Your stories tell of a new kind of pioneer spirit, a pioneering of the heart and the mind of twenty-first century U.S.A., striving for expression in all that you are and do.

Interestingly, one of the most uplifting things that you show me is that the greatness*(see note below on greatness) that I am privy to, reflected by your choosing that rather than accept the quagmire our leaders are creating, you are searching in heart and mind to keep doing your best in spite of them. It looks to me as if the people are taking back their rights and responsibilities. What to do? What to do? At the bare minimum in a land of freedom of speech, we know to, at least, keep talking.

So we are Possible Humans striving to make a Possible Society.

*Note on the subject of greatness. Since I first saw it quoted, I have loved and been reminded to be humble by these words. "We like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants can see more and further, not because we are keener and taller, but because of the greatness by which we are carried and exalted." Bernard de Chartres (1100) and later similarly Isaac Newton.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Horizons Thanks To Our Study Participants

“While the obstinacy of the political leaders puts fear into our hearts, the common sense and conscience of the peoples of the world give us hope.”

Introduction to Gandhi: All Men Are Brothers
by S. Radhakrishnan, former President of India, August, 1958.

In 2011 over fifty participants (of our intended 400) got on board with our Possible Human, Possible Society Study; an inspiring start for a study with the intricacies and scope of this one, accomplished in approximately ninety days. Each and every interviewee vividly exemplifying the thoughtfulness and convictions of representative Americans who are as passionate about their visions for a healthfully functioning U.S.A. as our politicians have been stubborn.

Have we been listening only to the “choir”?

Have we been lulled into a foolish hopefulness by the rhetoric?

I think not. As we begin this momentous year, 2012, people power appears to be making itself heard in voices loudly spoken and those much quieter. Out of the disappointment in our leaders has risen an individual and collective spirited momentum, offsetting our former habituated complacency. No longer are the American people allowing themselves to passively stand by with their president to be –

“Of the people, by the people and instead of the people.”

As a collective entity, we are striving to raise our half-humanness to full. Certainly only the seeds of change have been planted thus far. But with spring and summer on their way, the life in those seeds promises to blossom ‘ere another year be upon us.

New Horizons thanks all of you who have given of your time to the Possible Human, Possible Society thus far. You allowed us to peek in the window of your common sense, your values, beliefs and visions of a “Possible Society In Motion,” strikingly animated by the frequent movement in interviews from complaining to hope, on the spot, as we talked.

We are most grateful.

With best wishes for a happy New Year, 2012, filled with anticipation and promise.

In gratitude,

Anastasia and New Horizons Board of Directors