Friday, February 27, 2015

Struggling Through Speaking Of Sensitive Subjects

It seemed evident to me that Jack, my Possible Society In Motion Radio Show co-host, was going to immediately be as completely enthusiastic as I am about New Horizons Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations project.

So when it was time for our regular pre-program planning meetings this week, preceding last night’s radio show, Community Conversations And The Yearning For Something Better, I assumed he was going to share my optimistic perspectives. We would, I thought, readily join together harmoniously, as we often do, on taking the topic to the next level; the next level, of course, based on “the truth” according to Anastasia.

If Jack and I had been of an ilk inclined to justifiable righteousness we would have been stuck right then and there!

No synergistically working together program would have come out of where we started, with less than twenty-fours to go until show time!

Whew! Thank goodness Jack and I are not inclined in this direction.

As it turned out I had already had one opportunity last week for a total breakdown in congenial solidarity. I had been attempting to support a friend who held this position; self-righteousness combined with an overdose of anger to make it even more excruciating. It wasn’t much fun!

But Jack and I have, over the nearly two years we have been doing our radio show together, become more and more willing and adept to “lean in” to the other’s perspective. We don’t necessarily end up in agreement with one another. But we are definitely civil and respectful.

Who could ask for anything more?

The fact that we do this so agilely, while still honoring our own positions, is real testimony, I believe, to how our personal actions on the show model the very things we’ve been discussing; overcoming polarization and my “Lean In Legacy Template.” And, the critical need for each and every one of us to both explore and take responsibility for transcending the Dark Sides of our very human natures and moving into the Light.

Still what Jack and I had as a challenge as we began last night’s show was not instantly surmounted. I was totally on the side of optimism about the prospects for our developing Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations. Jack, on the other hand, was definitely skeptical.

My perspective that a nationwide movement is growing of more and more people wanting to find ways to solve serious community problems by talking our way through them rather than more volatile, less cooperative actions, even violence in some cases, such as riots and protests or even the noise of the talking heads – was definitely not one that rested easily with Jack.

Since you, no doubt, missed us when we struggled through our differences on the live broadcast, listen in to our podcast on the topic of  --

Find out how Jack and I came through to our conflict of viewpoints.

Then mark your calendars for our next program. We will return in 2 weeks.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

6:30 p.m.

Topic: "Talking About Talking"

Listen in to our lively on-air broadcast by dialing 347.237.5351
or clicking on the above link.


You can join us with your viewpoints too!

Our usual on-air broadcast portion of the show is followed by a conference call forum discussion.  Guests are welcome to join in at: 712.432.0600, access code 640883 (also recorded).

Talk To Anastasia And Jack about “talking.”

If you miss the original conference call discussion, please contact New Horizons, the show's sponsoring organization, at: for access code for the conference call recording.

Friday, February 20, 2015

We Are Upping Our Game!

Made a good start. Here’s what we gained –

  • On January 31, 2015 we came together for our first of five Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations.
(From March 21 on we will have one Coffee House Conversation per month through June 21 (3rd Saturdays of the month). Look for future announcements for details.)
Here’s what you can do to help us advance 
  •  Coalition building. Join us for discussion to help us define our next steps. Next Coalition Building Conference Call Roundtable, Saturday, February 21, 11 am – 1 pm;
  • Attend Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations (limit 60 people so reserve early). Next Conversation March 21;
  • Bring your friends to our Coffee House Conversations. We are aiming, especially, for diversified participation, racially and ethnically;
  •  Develop your skills as conversations’ facilitators (open only to attendees) Next faciliator training day, Saturday, February 28.
We need your help so we can build a winning team effort!

Reservations and details for all activities

Contact: Blair Thomas
Cell: 717.451.0669

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Front Stories, Back Stories

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” so the saying goes. On the other hand, it might take a thousand words and more to make a picture. Even then that picture is likely to be far from complete.

If nothing else the golden thread in the picture to the right, binding a group of people together, especially of mixed races and ethnicity, for an afternoon of conversations on race and police relations and leaving with a bit of hope in this day and age will not easily be seen.

In that picture you are not likely to see that golden thread. But it is there as I formally welcome participants to the New Horizons’ sponsored Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations. It is in me. It is in our exemplary panelists and it is in the others present who came with a yearning in the deepest parts of themselves, searching for an unknown something better – and believing that it exists somewhere.

The event was held Saturday, January 31 in Frederick, Maryland. It was the first of five scheduled to be held by the end of June. Throughout that meeting space at the Dublin Roasters Coffee, I am told, some people did see/feel the magic. I am quite certain it was there in all of us, if even only in the smallest of karats. I saw it most in the goodwill toward one another that filled our space.

I know what I saw. I know what I felt. And, I know the agenda operating throughout, the intent of our non-profit for these programs to create this ambiance; a touch of hope and inspiration, if nothing else. So I know I was not merely introducing an event.  I was opening the door to a process geared toward advancing community unity to a level of inspiration.

We may look back to this day as a beginning of greater understanding, caring and compassion but hopefully there will be no end to what we are setting in motion.

I also know that before we are even half-way through this initial series I, too, will be sharing my personal stories. Their poignancy and occasional humor will impact others as their stories are already impacting me. In each of us are prayers that in taking up this adventure we may come a bit closer to “making violence obsolete,” a vision our Beloved community development mentor, Murat Yagan, implanted in both my mind and my heart.

I know this is an ideal. I realize I am unlikely to even live to witness our coming close to it. A brief survey of today’s news tells me immediately how fanciful is the ideal. But I believe in magic. And I know that Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that was not so dissimilar, based on the philosophies and practices of Mahatma Gandhi. Many of us are coming together now to realize this dream. This is what called us together on Saturday, January 31 at Dublin Roasters Coffee.

The specific initiative of New Horizons Support Network, Inc.,  the Small “Zones of Peace” Project, that is behind this Coffee House Conversations program, in fact comes from Gandhi’s words –

“We do best to begin by carving out territories or zones of peace in our personal relations where violence and deceit won’t be used.”

The Small “Zones of Peace” Project strives to build”territories” based on this principle through a community enrichment model we have developed called the “Exceptional Community Model.” Coffee House Conversations are one of its several programs. Storytelling is an essential component.

As the day advanced the room full of people shared bits and pieces of their personal stories. In doing this we were taking steps toward one another with the hope of greater understanding, caring and compassion as a desired destination. With storytelling as a backdrop we are also intent on finding creative solutions to local problems through overall general community dialogue.

Thousands upon thousands of words and stories must be told before we achieve our aim. It will take that time and more for each of us to get the full picture of who those “others” are and to honor each with respect and a brotherly/sisterly love.

Front stories and back stories will enter our forum. It has already begun.

One attendee told me that after the event she came away with a heightened realization that Frederick Maryland is truly her home and it just must be exceptional!  She has that much invested in it. Listening to the stories she heard and sharing some of her own brought this yearning closer to a reality.

We have a way to go to realize her dreams and ours. Yet we have made a good start.  Most impactful from the day seemed to be the willingness to work well together to find new and higher ground in this challenging world of ours. And to be able to develop heartfelt connections through the storytelling exchanges.

The courage this took was touching to witness.

Personally I came away from this first Coffee House Conversation realizing that one of the best things I can do is start listening more carefully than I have ever done before to the tales participants so trustingly offer of their often anguished experiences.

 We have a far way to travel if Coffee House Conversations on Race Relations in Frederick County, Maryland are to succeed at their objectives; healing the wounds that divide us and building a greater unity through that process.

I have a dream that this new project can become a county-wide effort. And that, over time, New Horizons and I may be around to, at least, get to experience more and more small “zones of peace” in Frederick County, Maryland.

Now a few weeks since our first Coffee House Conversation I have already begun to find a wealth of untold riches in the stories I am listening to from new people in my life because of our “zones of peace” initiative. In particular I have opened myself to listening to the stories of young or relatively youthful African American men; tales of growing up black in a dominantly white community.

I am often challenged by these stories. Their implications are huge, their pain sometimes nearly unfathomable. Yet I am grateful that I have been gifted with the skills, experience and determination that even my own “Lean in Legacy Template” provides me as a formula to keep moving toward rather than away.

I share these words with you now with a bit of trepidation that you will judge me for speaking of magic where so much is yet to be done. And so much tragedy has already been caused. But I have struggled for two weeks since the event to put into words what I observed and felt of this experience. The faith I have in the process I know like my face, in myself and in those who shared this experience with me gave me these words to best share what we have only just begun.

Front stories, back stories. This is my story today.

Thank you all who came together with me for Coffee House Conversations on Race Relations in Frederick Maryland on January 31, 2015.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

On Air Tonight: On The Way To Exceptional

On tonight’s Possible Society In Motion Radio Show co-hosts Anastasia Rosen-Jones and Jack Slattery welcome Frederick County, Maryland resident and community leader, John Chaney, to share his experiences of New Horizons’ recent Coffee House Conversation On Race Relations Event as well as his own personal journey “on the way to exceptional.”

Join us for a lively discussion

Listen in to our lively on-air broadcast by dialing 347.237.5351
or clicking on the above link.

Thursday, February 12, 2014 6:30 p.m.

As usual the on-air, broadcast portion of the show is followed by a conference call forum discussion. 

Guests are welcome to join in at: 712.432.0600, access code 640883 (also recorded).

If you miss the original conference call discussion, please contact New Horizons, the show's sponsoring organization, at: for access code for the conference call recording.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

On The Way To Exceptional

Our Coffee House Conversation On Race Relations had one specific aim. We were intent on creating a community dialogue rather than a debate. A dialogue that would generate community growth and development through purposeful conversation based on civility and respect rather than offensiveness.

But we were challenged by recent events. So we asked ourselves, could a group of, potentially polarized, concerned citizens come together and converse without volatility? 

Would present conditions, in the midst of the uprisings evoked by circumstances in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City surrounding the deaths of two young black men -- and then the murders of two policemen, allow cooperative conversations?

I never doubted that we could and that we would.

Yet in the weeks immediately preceding what would turn out to be a heartening and hopeful conversations experience several of my generally supportive allies set themselves to diligently riding me. They were concerned that our event might disintegrate into name-calling and other forms of oppositional discourse and disorder.

None of this occurred.

With the aid of an exceptionally fine panel of community leaders to support the intent of my opening address; Guy Djoken, NAACP’s local president, two well-spoken police officers, Capt. Jason Keckler and Cpl Rebecca Carrado, wholly dedicated to community engagement, and Kathryn Ruud of Stop Polarizing Talk, the tone was set for us to create an afternoon of community enhancement.

Dissension would have been as foreign to this group as a snowstorm in July.

I can’t say we are yet out of the woods. Pockets of substantial difficulty still surround that Saturday afternoon oasis we created, collectively. For example, gangs are known to proliferate in certain areas of this county, Frederick, Maryland, that yearns to be more than ordinary.  In fact, what may have been a gang-related incident of school violence occurred within days after our laudable event.

But we have made a beginning.  A spirit of “want to do” and “can do” is becoming the norm for the back story that is unfolding since our Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations made its auspicious start.  On a personal level, every day now I find myself coming home to a part of myself that may have been, beneath my consciousness, lying untapped; the part of me that knows that “life is with people”-- and -- that I am most alive when I am contributing to that life in motion!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Facilitator Training Track To Enhance Forthcoming Coffee House Conversations on Race Relations

No doubt about it, last Saturday’s panelists were definitely the show stoppers, winning high marks from attendees who took the time to rate the event. Which was almost everyone present.

I wasn’t half bad myself.

However, the unsung heroes of the day were out of the spotlight most of the time; our small discussion group facilitators. When all was said and done we realized that it was more of these folks that were most needed.

Our next Coffee House Conversation On Race Relations go round is scheduled for Saturday, March 21. So we must get on it right away!

Where to find these folks who will be the get down in the ground conversation leaders?

We are asking you.

Please help us get the word out that we we are now sending out a search team to find qualified conversation group leaders.  For starters we will need about a dozen of these very special people.

And, they must be a diversified group. Not too many of one color or another; just enough to make another one of those beautiful rainbow coalitions that have been seen in the past.

Details below.

Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations
Leadership Training Day
Dublin Roasters Coffee
Saturday, February 28
1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
A small “zone of peace” can be anywhere.
Why not begin building yours in your own backyard?
Do you qualify?
For Details and Reservations, Contact: Anastasia Rosen-Jones
Email: Cell: 240.409.5347

Monday, February 2, 2015

Today, We R Front Page News!

Frederick News Post
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Courtesy Frederick News Post, permission pending
Coffee House Conversations Deal With Issues of Police, Race

By Danielle Gaines

Entering Dublin Roasters on Saturday afternoon, things looked much the way they usually do. Groups of people sat talking and sipping coffee with chairs clustered every which way around tables.

The topics of conversation weren’t far from usual coffeehouse fodder: community relations, social issues, police relations, race relations. But on this Saturday, the two dozen or so visitors were taking part in The New Horizons Support Network’s first of four “Coffeehouse Conversations.”

The planned conversations are aimed at bringing different groups and people together to address racial inequality and other complex social issues in Frederick, said the network’s executive director, Anastasia Rosen-Jones.

“Frederick is a wonderful town. It’s a wonderful community. It is, in many ways, on its way to being exceptional,” Rosen-Jones said. “People that I’ve talked to don’t want to be just ordinary.”

The goal of the meetings is to help the Frederick community by talking through sensitive issues without using divisive, polarizing language, Rosen-Jones said.

For panelists names and details, see full article at
Frederick News Post 
“It can be very uncomfortable,” Capt. Jason Keckler, deputy chief of the Frederick Police Department, said of the conversations undertaken Saturday. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be had, he said. “We’ve made a lot of strides over the last several years, but we have a way to go. Things like this are a good part of that.”

Keckler, who has been with the department for more than 20 years, said he is committed to fostering change within the community.

New Horizons thanks the Frederick News Post for their generous support of our efforts; other days, other pages.  

Coffee house conversations on race relations will be held today

Frederick News Post
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Courtesy Frederick News Post, permission pending
By Ed Waters, Jr.

Frederick has not experienced the explosive problems of race and police as in Missouri and New York, and a local program will work to alleviate that happening here.

New Horizons, an organization dedicated to bringing diverse views together and working things out, will hold a coalition building event from 3 to 6 p.m. Jan. 31 at Dublin Roasters Coffee, 1780 N. Market St., Frederick. The program is sponsored by New Horizon’s Small Zones of Peace Project.

“Frederick is not Ferguson. Frederick has a lot of strengths. There can be things Frederick can pass on to Ferguson. But there still needs to be talks before there are problems,” said Anastasia Rosen-Jones, executive director and founder of New Horizons, based in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
Anastasia Rosen-Jones

There is diversity in Frederick, said Rosen-Jones, who was a practicing psychotherapist, as well as an author, researcher and who hosts two online radio shows.

Rosen-Jones said she uses her clinical skills in treating personality and relationship addictions as organizational skills to bring diverse people and groups together. “It’s getting people to talk across the aisle. To talk about sensitive issues like police and African Americans, faith, other issues in a low-key way. We don’t tell people ‘do this’, but get them to work together,” Rosen-Jones said.

Article continues here at Frederick News Post....

Group to hold dialogue on race in Frederick

Frederick News Post
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Courtesy Frederick News Post, permission pending

The New Horizons Support Network, a nonprofit which offers mediation, educational and camp services, will hold a hold a discussion about race in Frederick County from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Dublin Roasters Coffee on North Market Street.

The goal of the meeting will be how different groups and individuals can work together to address racial inequality, with an eye to forming a coalition.

The network's executive director, Anastasia Rosen-Jones, and other community leaders will open the discussion with brief comments, but the focus of the event will be on comments from attendees. 

Those interested in participating or attending should contact Rosen-Jones at 240-409-5347 or More information about New Horizons Support Network is available online at
— Kelsi Loos