UpliftAnother1

Building Community Through Better Relationships

Happily Ever After Includes Funding

Does “Happily Ever After” really belong in the no-nonsense world of community building, philanthropy and business? Touchstone Youth Resources Services had its 2020 annual fundraising tribute and the idea of “Happily Ever After” surfaced. This year the celebration was produced, edited, and delivered virtually because of concerns resulting from Covid-19. Nevertheless, “Happily Ever After” typically appears in fairy tales. In today’s reality, people exist where they stay on high alert concerning viruses, economic turmoil, and people’s ability to interact socially. People’s ability to connect normally has been seriously compromised. Society seems to be moving away from any possibilities featuring “Happily Ever After”. Once society succumbs strictly to rational thinking, then irrational hope is cancelled. In fact, any outcome that is outside rational bounds are eventually dismissed. Miracles are eliminated. Yet, “Happily Ever After” remains. It is not completely removed from possibility! Still, “Happily Ever After” needs funding! 

Live The Lesson 

Miracles do happen! The world is not completely predictable. When organizations determine that they are going to improve the livelihoods of the less-fortunate, then parts of the population can choose to encourage them. Similar subgroups can help with support. In living the lesson, populations can choose to suspend reality and pursue fairy tale endings. A significant component of uplift features embracing possibilities that are not commonly pursued.  

For example, a group of young people make a series of bad decisions that involve breaking the law. Many of their rights and privileges may be reduced as a result of these decisions. Nevertheless, opportunities still exist for them to go against the grain of common beliefs. Embracing lessons from other community members to avoid repeating errors, or aligning the individuals with positive community activities which emphasize their individual gifts can result in new and positive leadership opportunities. The point is to learn the lessons of prior choices and redirect energies toward life choices that distance them from youthful indiscretions. 

Overcoming The Odds 

While systems are put in place to eliminate positive outcomes from youthful mistakes, optimistic results are driven by the human spirit choosing to defy negative expectations. Identifying new opportunities from old, painful lessons, help overcome the odds. Repeated mistakes are a cliché. On the other hand, deliberate steps to improve individual lives is often a viable conclusion. Using tools like education, training, mentoring, or persistently pursuing employment, can realign individuals with a positive destiny.  

The key to succeed down that path is to plan for success instead of waiting for a handout. The path may be humbling and unfashionable, yet it offers a dignified alternative to correct the individual and to uplift the overall community with a positive example. Overcoming the odds takes time and effort. It takes deliberate action. It takes patience. It takes funding. Consequently, the “Happily Ever After” requires sacrifice. 

Conclusion 

Embrace the unpredictable. Dream bigger. In the same way that youth learn academic skills, they can be taught hopefulness and heightened expectations. “Happily Ever After” does exist. It exists among our sports heroes, our entertainment icons, our community leaders who have seen society’s best and worst. These successes take money. Community groups are organizations that require resources. Government programs require adequate funding and political commitment to improve targeted areas. Nevertheless, positive results create economic stimuli that creates jobs, entrepreneurship, and professional visibility. These attributes are great sources of funding for “Happily Ever After”. The most important step is to facilitate positive environments where youth can acquire skills and confidence to contribute to today’s community and tomorrow’s economy. The change begins at the individual community level. Where will you give toward this better outcome? 

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC  

Chair, Board of Directors, Touchstone Youth Resource Services. 

Watch Touchstone Youth Resource Services 2020 Tribute! 

Learn more about social emotional learning, or to donate go to TYRS.org 

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Community Building – For Fun, Profit & Ego?

INTRODUCTION 

“They came to do good and stayed to do well.” ~Anonymous. Community building starts with good feelings and self-sacrifice. American culture arrogantly boasts of traditions featuring the ability of lifting by one’s bootstraps and improving one’s livelihood. Regardless of where anyone starts, opportunities abound to finish in a better place. Hard work, loyalty and service are words that culturally resonate in American quests for success. Communities develop based on those success characteristics. Nevertheless, the challenge remains for many people to access sufficient advantages to smooth their transition to a better life.   

STARTING PLACE 

One challenge is different people start at different places in their struggle. Furthermore, advantages are unequally distributed. They can be allocated by favoring physical location, family attributes, emotional stability or any number of other traits. Regardless, embracing familiarity and associated comforts are important in establishing community. In locations or psychological space where one individual may experience trauma, the next individual finds solace. Furthermore, perceived physically dangerous locations often feature locals enjoying comfort because their familiarity helps avoid harm.  Community can represent both physical and social locations where struggle starts. Still, a common launch point for community provides a source of comfort, particularly upon recognizing that a better world exists beyond the present. 

PROFIT 

In other cases, community becomes a place of plunder. Charity may start at home but, beware of charlatans entering a location with expecting to take whatever valuables they can. Building community often involves outside influences bringing expertise, resources, and prior accomplishment to a specific location to replicate success. Too often, that success ends with outsiders bring resources in order to take more resources out. Schemers and scammers that manipulate charitable contributions or external generosity commonly enter a community, only to plunder what is already there. Then, they exit with their ill-gotten gains. Community building for profit can also feature the schemes of current residents. The integrity of the community is often the only defense. Those defenses must emerge when needed, or those that remain become victims to further dysfunction. 

SELF-GRATIFYING 

Occasionally, community building comes with self-gratifying agendas. Individuals contribute to particular communities in order to elevate their personal status. In these cases, the money does not necessarily matter. But, the plundering of social capital can be equally criminal. An individual who elevates his status on the unwilling shoulders of others is nearly equivalent to the outside thief. This ego-driven activity weakens the community as social capital is squandered instead of developing stronger people and institutions. Community building for ego means that physical capital will not be deployed for the greater good, but for the greedy few. In total, the entire community suffers at the hands of a few individuals feeding their own egos as other locals starve for attention, coping skills and emotional empowering. 

CONCLUSION 

While community building is essential to progress, the path is littered with ill-conceived plans and naked greed. Communities of all social-economic levels can thrive as a result of healthy human investment and cooperative economic effort. Problems surface when social, cultural, and financial greed overrides the benefits of the many. Beware of the group that falsely peddles that a rising tide raises all boats, only to sail away with plunder upon accessing the waterway on the backs of locals. In building community, the masses need their needs met. Benefits must be distributed. Savvy planning and accountable execution must remain at the forefront. Otherwise, communities of all levels will be susceptible to decay, misery and poverty. These pitfalls are not just from an asset perspective, but to the social-emotional core of the human beings who remain there. 

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC Chair, Board of Directors, Touchstone Youth Resource Services  Learn more about social emotional learning, or donate go to TYRS.org 

September 29, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Communication Using Compassion or Engagement?

Why do so many people talk and relatively few communicate? Verbal communication is relatively straightforward. A person speaks. Another person listens. Optimally, they are using the same language. But, even without a common language, grunts, expression and gestures can often carry the point. Still, what happens when essential communication is required? What occurs when a point must truly be made?

Urgency suggests two communication approaches emerge: Compassion and Engagement. Although many approaches are available, these two work well because they involve the emotional connection that best serves effective communication. If an idea is being communicated, then the associated emotion contributes to context.

Compassion

Communication with a sense of compassion reinforces the emotional component that facilitates transferring ideas. Compassion is best described as experiencing with your heart, as well as your ears. In return, the other party has the option of continuing the conversation with an emotional foundation. Feelings matter! The advantage through this verbal mechanism is creating support for an idea, a sentiment, or participation.

The advantage of sharing feelings in conjunction with the knowledge or point is that the emotion reinforces understanding. An infant demonstrates this point through various levels of crying: whimpering and wailing communicate very different messages. Additionally, school- aged children show this point as they respond to instruction. Children respond to praise and punishment based on the teacher’s attitude in delivering these responses. Is the teacher joyful in giving praise or treating it like an obligation? A child can tell the difference. Obedience by obligation is never genuine.

Engagement

Another facet of the communication jewel is engagement. In engagement the transceiver and recipient are bound in mutual benefit. Engagement goes beyond an emotional connection and can transcend into an intellectual connection. Engagement occurs best when the communication clearly involves vocabulary, voice inflection, and visual cues. Multiple senses and channels are involved in transferring information to maximize communication.

Engagement equally emphasizes the speaker and listener. Engagement features listening with ears, eyes and heart. Engagement is established with the intent of being understood and the expectation of sincere response. Engagement’s power resides in the expectation and establishment of a meaningful dialogue. Returning to learning environments, engagement comes equipped with the expectation of understanding, in addition to facilitating more communication to ensure better understanding. Engagement maximizes understanding by establishing the framework at the beginning.

Conclusion

These nuanced communication techniques are essential in elevating intellectual and emotional comprehension. Creating an environment where more understanding occurs enhances the learning environment, as well as inspires additional learning. The joy of learning is not a student’s transition to better English skills. The joy of learning is transcending to the point that an appetite for more knowledge emerges. Fundamentally, communicating with engagement elevates the joy of intellectual growth. Engagement inspires growth and cognitive development between teachers and listeners. Essentially, engagement facilitates educating more broadly and inclusively. Consequently, we all grow.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services

To learn more about social emotional learning, or donate go to TYRS.org

August 24, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s The Adult In the Room?

Sad-Office-Boy
Dinner tables across America have recently put an extra place setting at the dinner table. Trauma is coming to dinner! Without an invitation, trauma just showed up around dinner time, ready to eat. As families navigate the “New Normal” regarding Covid 19, riots and quarantines, social routines change.Dysfunction and domestic pressures quickly follow. Uncertainty and fear are now constantly in the home. Furthermore, parents are afraid because of instantaneous spikes in unemployment. Children are disoriented because school routines were either eliminated or transformed into blending learning. No authority figures communicated credible solutions nor expectations. What happened to certainty?

More Information
As a result of the pandemic’s health uncertainty, economic irrationality quickly followed. No known projections for social remedies applied. Furthermore, government models concerning employees, students, vagrancy or any other reason for people to congregate, now must factor in sickness and death. Imposed quarantines essentially meant that people socially withdrew to avoid fatal illness. Nevertheless, what did people know for sure from politicians or other leaders? The illness spread quickly so contact with other people had to be severely limited. Consequently, people corralled in their homes. Parents were now forced to engage their children on an ongoing basis; and they barely knew each other.

Frustrated parents now had to face the facts that their children had matured while they paid little attention. Children realized that their behaviors had evolved with input from peers, social media, and streaming shows. Neither party were ready to interact with the other party on an ongoing basis because work, activities, and socializing had diluted the functioning strength of traditional homes. All news sources discouraged everyone. Tempers flared. Violence struck. Groceries and assorted goods were sporadically scarce. And, no news source truthfully pointed toward a logical, trustworthy resolution.

More Uncertainty
As family, employment, political beliefs and trust quickly eroded, credible authority figures became more scarce. With limited credible options to secure direction, new evidence of trauma entered living and working spaces. Children looked to parents for guidance. Parents experienced skyrocketing tension resulting from quickly eroding and frightening workplaces. Still, no credible source emerged with a logical path to a solution. Trust eroded from familiar authoritative voices, which was quickly followed by trust eroding within homes. Dependence on substances, fear, and violence anecdotally escalated.

Unfortunately, people motivated by fear increase irrationality. Without leadership, people’s hope begin to perish. Schools sustained student engagement with lunch programs. Parents with multiple children tried to game the system for additional food during distribution. Both parents and school leaders pretended to ignore that in many cases the school lunch program often provided the one balanced meal that children enjoyed that day. Yet, who was responsible for determining the trade-off between encouraging academic progress or facilitating healthy nourishment choices.Teachers, parents, and political leaders were all uncertain concerning desired outcomes of this makeshift program. The practice simply evolved.

Takeaways
Sometimes, the emperor has no clothes! The authorities were not prepared to satisfy the people’s needs. Without an adult in the room, the children struggled to navigate rules that did not result in chants of “Kill the pig!” Whether authority figures are right, wrong, indifferent, or clueless, in the name of structure they need to be followed until clearly determined to be incompetent. Unfortunately, anarchy becomes an option. It is rarely a good one. As the Covid 19 pandemic continues to ebb and flow in alignment with questionable decisions by leaders and citizens, violent protests march toward a buffet of unintended consequences.

At some point the masses must decide what level of dysfunction is palatable. Will children be hurt, deprived, or just abandoned? Will public education become a luxury item for communities that can meet a presently undetermined level of civility? Or, will a leader emerge that saves our current way of life? Ultimately, an adult must stand in the room and be recognized! For the sake of the children’s future, let’s believe that this adult will be positioned to address assorted community trauma and re-build a society that values life, continuity and a future.

By Glenn W Hunter
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

June 15, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Community Trauma, Individual Pain

Reading Troubles

Little Joe was an eight-year old boy in an over-crowded elementary school in an underfunded, urban school district. He was illiterate. His teacher was predictably overworked and underpaid. Students filled her classroom struggling to learn at the prescribed level. She essentially had no resources to provide additional help. Her frustration met her every morning because that poor district left her few resources to ignite educational fires in these hungry minds with hungry bellies. In the middle of the semester, a new boy joined her class who had just moved from an out-of-state suburb. Trying to make a good impression on his new teacher, he demonstrated a reading ability two grades above his new peers. The teacher immediately gave her new star a special assignment. His job was to teach Little Joe how to read. The new student went home that day and cried uncontrollably to his father about his new job. Who was not traumatized in this true story?

Community
Community Trauma is when an incident happens that literally impacts the whole community. Some events spectacularly happen quickly, like community violence. Other events evolve more slowly likely systemic poverty. In both cases, the idea of community involves a sense of belonging in the physical sense, or in a social emotional space. The challenge with healing community trauma is that the pain spreads deliberately and quietly until it is too unruly to manage. The slowly spreading result becomes an unnoticed growing problem that overtakes the entire community until it is difficult to help the people who have gradually accepted their symptoms of trauma as the new normal. Essentially, communities denigrate at a rate where trust, pride and safety erode so slowly that community does not know it is in jeopardy until personal and social plagues have poisoned the people and the environment. The trauma has evolved into social ills.

Coaching
Coaching is an important tactic to combat community trauma because it introduces compassion and accountability. As social emotional tools are introduced into local communities through school groups, religious institutions, and community centers, the opportunity for locals to use successful tactics to improve social and economic outcomes appears. Unfortunately, coaching requires much more than spreading useful information. Even if the tools are available, do the instructors have the capacity to serve? Too many communities suffer because they accept bad doctrine to improve livelihoods. Successful coaching requires helpful information, consistent distribution, intentional reinforcement, faithful accountability, and repeated processes. The absence of any of these components result in the continued degradation of a community and its members.

Communication
Even with proper tools and great intentions, the rules of communication ultimately dictate the success of any society’s change. Effective communications require a clear, understandable voice and willing, attentive listeners. In introducing major changes in communities, too many rational voices are muffled by loud, misguided messages. Furthermore, many communities suffer because of ill-informed, or emotionally charged voices. Either way, damaging information transmits because of ignorance or irrationality.The community cannot progress because coherent, contributing messages are squashed. Loud, emotional, short-term thinking outbursts dominate conversations. The result is that the loudest, most incoherent chatter is mistaken for strong, logical discourse. The community suffers in every case that wisdom is lost in emotional moments.

Takeaway
Fundamentally, the ongoing pain that encompasses underserved communities is rarely neither ignorance nor apathy. The challenge features poor performance with regards to community, coaching, and communication. To uplift any community properly, tools and application must be in place so that the community is working together toward progress. Poor allocation of financial, educational, and health resources destroy social foundations leading to dysfunctional leadership and identity. Little Joe is not a bad kid because he is illiterate. But, the education system is bad when its solutions kills the spirit of the community’s future leaders because the resources are not available to save simultaneously the least and the most of these. While trauma may trigger the pain, misaligned leadership will destroy a community from the inside.

 
By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

November 30, 2019 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Think Outside the Box… Circle… Octagon

MMA SEL

Violence in society seems to build momentum continually. Violence as sport continues to evolve at a similarly explosive pace. A fairly new, extremely popular sport is Mixed Martial Artist (MMA). This competition combines boxing, Jiu-Jitsu and other types of hand-to-hand combat. Where boxing features more strict rules and etiquette, MMA enjoys a more ruthless style and blood thirsty popularity. Unsurprisingly, young adults and youth continue to embrace the sport enthusiastically while encouraging behaviors that are more de-sensitized to violence, in general. The result reinforces violence-induced mental health challenges and disintegrating behaviors in many communities.

Furthermore, considering that MMA has evolved outside entertainment’s mainstream, rambunctious youth have gravitated toward the violence as acceptable entertainment. Additionally, the unconventional octagon that outlines the fighting surface adds a visual experience encouraging unconventional behaviors, which too often glorifies violence. To encourage civil society, communal communication tools and intentional behavioral coaching must emerge to counteract explosive tensions that deteriorate communities. Furthermore, Social Emotional Learning’s evolution must progress with equal intensity and purpose to combat destructive violent tensions in learning environments. Healthy communities must rely on counteracting influences emerging from the Octagon with its violence, anger, and destruction.

Circle
In boxing the combat zone is a square that is called a ring. That contradictory image in itself adds to the mental and emotional stress that the sport glorifies. Boxing rules are clearly known. They contradictorily emphasize safety as much as violence, yet the goal is to knock the opponent senseless. In previous decades, boxing champions were heroes and household names. As long as they were inside the ring (which was actually a square), their strength was displayed and envied. In today’s society such unmitigated violence is less celebrated in society at large. Discussion regarding youth development focuses on de-glamorizing violence. Yet, violent images are visible. These mixed signals contribute to confusing, unaligned behaviors. With so many stressors, how can youth develop in a relaxed environment that promotes their emotional health?

In environments where responsible adults for youth development abuse authority for their own ego gratification and inappropriate pleasure, empowering youth to participate in civil discourse transfers some power to them. Another way to enforce youth’s power is to encourage their inward reflection skills. Exercises that reward meditation and relaxation reinforce positive behaviors that more accurately support social emotional balance. Simply training youth to quantify their emotional level by using an acknowledged one to ten scale – where one is barely breathing and ten is ready for violence – youth can address mental and social-emotional moods to assist in managing anxiety. The ability to articulate and quantify escalating emotional states has benefited teachers, counselors and school officials in minimizing violent incidents across grade school levels.

Octagon
Meanwhile, the Octagon directly associates with Mixed Martial Arts. This combat is more modern, and particularly brutal; analogous to many communities across America. Violence continues to escalate across most communities, ignoring cultural, ethnic, and socio-financial barriers. Consequently, modern pressures and increased media visibility accelerate new waves of violence into society. New drugs are introduced to parents and subsequently children at earlier ages. Violent perversion is likewise introduced earlier to youth as a result of technological advances in communications and media. To think outside the Octagon, with its many angles and perspectives, continues growing as a problem because more destructive behaviors are celebrated and reinforced as normal to younger people.

With so many destructive images attacking our communities, the social-emotional damage escalates at a more rapid pace. Simply put, more deviant behavior is available for more people, across more ages. Just like the Octagon gives more latitude and angles to disperse violence, our youth are susceptible to more deviant activity from more sources than previous generations. The result is more violence, substance abuse and social-emotional problems than authorities can process. While compassion, communication, and coaching are tools to assist diffusing tension, the sheer volume of incidents resulting from underfunded institutions and over-worked staffs remain as overwhelming problems. New solutions are necessary to resolve new social-emotional and behavioral conflicts.

Takeaway
Blindly using old paradigms and corrections for more modern problems makes as much sense as putting a boxer from the 70’s in today’s MMA Octagon. Give tools to kids to communicate and correct behaviors. Give them exercises to demonstrate power and authority in managing conflict. Teach youth to cooperate, engage and then share their challenges and victories. Equipping them with mechanisms, like meditation, relaxation and visualization to diffuse violence also helps. Disempowering bullies takes deliberate cooperation and social emotional skills. The point remains, development plans that improve communication, training and positive character images may seem to be out-of-the box thinking. But, it is actually out-of-the-octagon thinking such that it is equipped to manage better the problems that come with modern images, substances, and technology. That growth mindset will deliver enduring, community victories.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

August 31, 2019 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pop Tart Therapy

Pop Tarts

Pop Tarts have quieted children for generations. The original idea was to cook them in a toaster for a child to have a warm treat during the course of their day. Original flavors like Apple Currant Jelly, Blueberry and Strawberry, suggested enough fruit that parents could claim health benefits. The reality is that they are a sugar-injected, carb loaded treat that kids love. On the other hand, Pop Tarts are emotionally healthy. A quick treat on an empty stomach can be therapeutic. Stretch that concept to community building, then using that treat to bring people together makes them more receptive to sharing experiences. Pop Tart Therapy is about coming together and getting along. That connection starts community.

Food For The Soul
Real food nourishes. If someone wants to address a typical youth’s emotional problem, feed them. Exchanging a snack for a better attitude is often a legitimate communication technique. This technique has generationally driven results in faith-based communities, summer programs, and schools. Once fed, youth migrate toward a better mood; they become coachable. Then the opportunity slowly cracks to discuss emotional challenges. Over time, with a routine and conditioning, even youths’ willingness to be more sociable when they are not hungry becomes possible, too.

Particularly in cultures featuring people of color, food remains a major connective tool for community building. Pop Tart Therapy simply continues that cultural tradition. Neighbors gathering with a plate and a common cultural perspective facilitate connectivity, as well as engagement. Sharing Pop Tarts accomplishes the same objective. It is an easy, initial step to continued conversations. Whether the desired next step is team building, or community building, that outcome is a natural progression. Considering that the soul reflects people’s innermost being, feeding it with a Pop Tart does not destroy its essence. However, it definitely raises the energy level when the sugar rush kicks in! Now, people can address the deeper needs for the individual and the community!

My Daily Bread
Problems have priorities. “Feed me now, then let’s go build a stronger community!” The community’s deeper needs can surface in such a fashion that they can drive determining priorities in pursuing solutions. Daily Bread has co-equal functions in terms of establishing routines and expectations, while also speaking directly to fundamental nourishment. Whether metaphorically or literally, having something to eat helps people get along. Additionally, having routines results in establishing habits.

In school, youth have regularly scheduled lunch times so that they can be nourished to perform throughout the day. Still, they need to follow the regulated schedule to maximize their energy and productivity. Upon establishing routines, people have additional opportunities to create successful behaviors. By creating consistency and facilitating progress, the daily sustenance can be aligned with literacy, tutoring younger kids, accepting chores to clean the environment, assuming leadership roles as a direct response to individual initiatives. Daily Bread represents fulfilling the needs of individuals so that they are strengthened to the point that they can further contribute to the community.

Takeaway
Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the great. Social Emotional Learning is important because broken communities are comprised of broken people. Instant remedies are a myth. Deliberately nourishing bodies and minds are proven to improve quality of life. Foundations of people and community were not broken in a day, a year, or a generation. Still, repairs can start immediately. Pop Tart Therapy represents the first steps. Giving kids a place to grab a treat that causes them to return to a nurturing location is a start. Teaching them with minimal judgment and maximum compassion, the difference between right or wrong, is another step. Reinforcing their personal value, and subsequently their self-importance is a leap! Pop Tarts are simply a tasty metaphor. Community-based organizations that deploy Social Emotional Learning tactics deliberately take advantage of chances to steer youth toward better individual, community, and future choices. A marginally healthy snack is a small price to pay in exchange for building a community that embraces self-respect, self-esteem, then communication, coaching, and community.

 
By Glenn W Hunter
Board Chair, Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even donate – go to www.TYRS.org

August 7, 2019 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Want Me to Put the Burden Down

Lower 9th Ward Community Center

“We’re from the government, we’re here to help!” The statement has created laughs for generations, except when the absence of a real solution strikes too close to home. Outsiders with power and authority routinely launch brilliant programs in distant communities for minimal results. Too often, government programs lack effective outcomes despite valuable resources thrown at generic solutions. Locals have solutions, but impotently watch their true needs denied. While available resources help a little, too often only a limited group of contributors really benefit. Consequently, the greater good often means specific workers gain, and most individuals in the community lose. If only tools existed to equip community members with social-emotional power to articulate desires, then leverage inherent strengths?

Heavy Burdens
Unfortunately, allocating resources to local, social problems resembles bringing earth moving equipment to plant a community garden. The equipment is valuable and powerful, except it is being used for the wrong job. In cases where solutions require more finesse, and less pure power, burdens need to be handled more delicately. When improving the fabric of a community, the solution requiring finesse repeatedly contributes a little, as opposed to real solutions releasing raw power once.

Heavy emotional burdens combined with social suffocation drive poverty! Consequently, building social-emotional strength is necessary to battle poverty successfully. Regarding building community, desired results emerge from handling incremental improvements repeatedly, not just deploying one lump sum of assets. When considering a community’s population and improving their well-being, mental health and self-esteem must be prioritized. Success requires regular attention to account for individual progress and failures. Communicating and rewarding life-affirming behaviors solidifies the foundation for a community to prosper.

Strong Community
Nevertheless, good behavior and community pride only start stronger, more prosperous communities. Prosperity is attainable only upon reinforcing these behaviors. The more common solution is to empower adults and authority figures to communicate and enforce community building behaviors. But, kids are smart. Youth routinely see straight through hypocrisy and recognize abuses consistent with disingenuous programming. Strong and vibrant communities require a self-policing and cohesive environment that community members can respect. Otherwise, dysfunction emerges.

Deliberate action, where the community owns the process, is the only real solution. Such action requires equipping locals with life skills, tools and tactics to combat negative forces, like gangs, drugs, ignorance, and apathy that already occupy the community. Strong communities result from consistent, deliberate, and iterative improvement in behaviors and rewards. Social emotional skills to fortify a structure that rewards and reinforces life-affirming skills must be intentionally introduced and sustained. Communities that clearly know the risk and rewards of this approach are equipped to battle dark forces that attack community vitality.

Takeaway
Fundamentally, endorsing and supporting Social Emotional Learning and programming within communities will initiate positive change. Skill development for anti-bullying, self-esteem, and conflict resolution actually make a difference. Resistance will still be present. The difference is that delivering social emotional skills into local schools, community centers, and places of worship, reinforce the community as a place where people care. Opposition inside the community and government bodies will work to sustain the status quo. Nevertheless, success requires embracing, then lifting the burden. The burden is not the problem. The status quo is the problem. Lift the burden to develop community-based self-improvement. Educate to communicate with empathy. Community members must actively acquire tools, then own solutions for mutually respectful livelihoods! But first, people young and old, must unite to understand and reinforce social emotional benefits which will uplift another individual, then communities.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

June 30, 2019 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Your Value?

UA1 Community Center Value - 4

Finding people and organizations to pour into needy children and their communities is easy. Delivering meaningful progress in improving communities is much, much harder. Too many social initiatives proclaim to save underserved communities! Upon securing enough attention, these advocates shout louder about creating environments to improve everything that is ruining that community. Once the audience gets large enough, then references about returning to days-gone-by to build a better community overwhelms the emotions of any baby boomer with selective memories. Nevertheless, for building better communities, start with functional communities comprised of respectful people. But, what does that even look like?

Faith
Common beliefs regarding right and wrong is a logical starting place. While faith discussions quickly deteriorate into religious differences, constructive alternatives focus on observing faith as belief in a common set of ideals. Before religious conversion, common understanding is required. Otherwise, it is called a crusade and people die! Regardless, communication facilitates faith. In building a functional community, common values emerge to lead to agreement on the fundamentals for a better environment. Results require a structure that equips young and old with tools to reach common beliefs to benefit the community.

Growth
Community growth is a reasonable outcome for community improvements. Beyond wishes for prosperity, growth works well as a stepping stone to better communities. Additionally, economic development and education are often reasonable indicators for growth. But, those attributes also imply finite resources. In a community where numerous people will ultimately co-exist, not everyone will have equal access to resources. Too many communities and their residents believe, “I can only have more, if someone else has less.” To contradict such limiting beliefs, adults must demonstrate the ability and capacity to share to establish an example for the younger people. While advocating communal sharing of resources is most likely unreasonable, creating environments and safe spaces for people to exchange ideas and common experiences starts the path to trust. And best of all, when common experiences start to be shared in the spirit of having more, it is a short leap for shared trust to manifest additional community resources. Then, sharing objects logically results in sharing emotional well-being aspirations.

Legacy
As these first two legs establish a foundation of beliefs and common experiences, the third leg secures the community’s mutual improvement through background and attitudes. Spending one Saturday afternoon with a neighbor to check the box for community activity is clearly counterproductive. However, start connecting with hello. Then, have two adults from different families actually observe their children together sharing positive experiences. Parents can even set the example. The kids can keep their own toys, just acknowledge their time together. In this case, legacy can mean transferring knowledge from one generation to the next, or simply transferring examples from one grade to the next inside the same family. Socially, children learn from their siblings and immediate environment, as much as from their parents. A focus on growth through legacy allows for youngsters to benefit deliberately from their elders.

So, what is your value? Start with creating capacity and structure to continue important work in building better people inside communities. Consequently, these better people will be equipped to demonstrate faith, growth and legacy so that the community progresses toward delivering a vibrant, compassionate and enduring culture leading to better livelihoods in the future. Specifically, value is not necessarily an amount in this context, it is interpersonal assets building better people and communities. Teach tools, like empathy, to improve emotional character which results in improving the community’s quality of life. Then, despite communities’ previous perceptions, residents benefit from owning their individual self-improvement.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more (and even donate) go to TYRS.org

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What You Think You See

Demonstration against G8 Summit in Le Havre

“What you think you see is not really what you see!” is a personal favorite quote from the Los Angeles Riots. A juror first uttered the words following the verdict, and the words dramatically resurfaced after the actual rioting began. For this purpose, the idea is not political, racial, or legal. The quote focuses on mindset! What a juror first said to justify her de-sensitized perspective of police brutality, morphed to articulate an individualized, alternate set of facts. A looter re-introduced the statement to explain her participation in the ensuing devastation. She clearly presented her personal interpretation of facts. She owned her narrative!

Perception
Amazingly, different people can experience the exact same event, at the exact same time and leave with completely different interpretations of what happened. Whether it is a physical vantage point, a cultural lens, or personal history that filters information, every individual singularly experiences any given event. This revelation becomes particularly important when birthing a movement to launch change.

Facts matter, but interpretation and coinciding actions drives activity. Consequently, to facilitate effective change, events must impact perception. What people say is important, but what people hear is more important! Consequently, to create lasting impact in any given situation, the narrative must benefit listeners. Effective speakers coordinate their own best interest to persuade understanding of their broad audience. Everyone receives a slightly distinctive message. But, aligning aggregate received messages with the speakers’ vision facilitates change.

Influence
Creating social movements require delivering a narrative in which others will subscribe. Foundationally, a singular, communal truth relies on aligning individual perspectives toward the desired message. Progress results from conveying a viewpoint that empowers different perspectives to arrive at a similar conclusion. Consider two travelers on a road trip approaching a gas station late at night. The driver suggests filling up the tank. That traveler sees a chance to swap drivers so that she can rest. The other traveler sees the opportunity to load up on snacks because they still have more driving to do. In one stop, they both gladly meet their fundamental needs. The result is a trip that continues on time and with reduced anxiety.

Aligning points of view impacts goalsetting, as well as the ability to achieve results. A point of view also dictates how success is measured. Consequently, upon understanding various perspectives and their stake in the outcome, crafting a message that appeals to multiple parties gets easier. Effective narratives successfully rally followers to make their individual contributions as part of a greater good. Essentially, each individual works toward what they really want to see. And, these individuals purse their agenda under the covering of communal and aligned efforts.

Takeaways
To achieve communal goals, articulate clearly the desired results that benefit individuals. Furthermore, individuals must contribute individual narratives which will align with the framework that delivers desired results. Goals do not have to be admirable, conventional, or reasonable. They have to be perceived as attainable! Individuals perceive relevance to the extent that their contribution advances their individual agenda. Unfortunately, that mindset opens the door to manipulation by someone with a grander vision and a more convincing narrative. Essentially, “Anyone can get what they want as long as they help enough other people get what they want.” The risk is succumbing to another’s agenda. To contribute to a bigger cause, own your narrative. Be ready to live with the results.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director, Hunter And Beyond, LLC

December 13, 2017 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment