Origins of Local Groups

The text description below I pulled from correspondence sent to potential meeting host organizations.  It more complexly explains the origins of the idea and the meeting framework I’m working to develop.   I’m sharing this here to provide greater context for those interested in learning more.

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This idea has emerged over the last couple years and I’m calling it CPR rEvolution.  CPR stands for Creating Positive Ripples.  rEvolution I chose because if we ever want to usher in a positive revolution of change, we each must to commit to and embrace our personal or individual evolution. Most days the vision is bigger than words and the communication skills I currently possess.  It often feels as though every attempt I put out there to talk about it on my website or another venue is like throwing this rope over the top of this massive balloon. All in hopes of a point I’ll have enough ropes in all the right angles to finally have a more tangible hold on it for people to see and understand it.

In all honesty, it’s a simple idea. However, through personal life experiences I’ve had, I know the potential of this could be profound.

My journey to the idea of these groups first started with the simple idea that every thought, action and word we engage in, put a ripple into the world. Through the stream of consciousness I’ve had the last couple years about this idea, I began to understand better some of the infinite and complex challenges people face at times doing the smallest of “right” things in the moments most needed.  So many factors whether it be fear, anger, insecurity, anxiety or just not knowing how, can impact the process negatively.  I began to realize how hard that is to do alone, especially if one has no baseline for comparison or mentored to live in the world this way.  It led me to the question and my life’s work going forward; what if we could co-create a support network of people seeking to raise each other up?

In my previous role as an Executive Director of a non-profit, it was an incredible opportunity to work with people from every corner of the community.  Daily I got to see and engage with people as they sought to be the best versions of themselves.  Whether that be a community member, a client, a volunteer or a donor seeking to make a tangible difference.  I consistently met folks from different communities, passionate about different issues, but all working hard to create change in an incredibly unique way, their words and actions demonstrated a commitment to engaging from a framework of love and compassion. 

I began to wonder to myself, what might their life experience be like if each of those people had space, a sacred space that spans all lines of identity, to seek support or community with similarly committed people?  What ripples might begin if these amazing people had a sense of safety and freedom to be vulnerable, share and be heard, have a space to practice listening to hear and understand, and not to respond?  How might this kind of space help in with the individual’s self-care, personal development, healing or just boosting the baseline for their energy reserves for the positive ripples they seek to put into the world?  Not to mention strengthening the muscles of compassion, empathy, understanding, respect and hopefully, love to carry into the world. What kinds of trust and bridge building might be possible if this space existed and how would each town or city as a whole benefit from those ripples?   Ultimately, I wanted to create a way to find support and strength in one another. 

 I began trying to find words for talking about this in November 2016 a week after the election.  I was exacerbated and frustrated, still searching for ways to talk about this idea without minimizing it’s potential.  I quickly learned more about public discourse and the myriad of breakdowns we regularly deal with when it comes to basic communication.  Quickly the idea I was sharing began to take on a life of its own and go in a direction that was not positive.  In part, it was an idea I was still trying to understand, so I took time to step back and regroup to find a better energetic baseline. I realized I had to set a high bar for energetic expectations of the group and individual participation.  And in turn, start a new series of deep personal healing to further seek to walk this vision with integrity. Taking the lead from our non-violence thought leaders of past and present, I’ve worked to begin seeking language and energy that would resonate with their teachings and life paths.  A path framed from love seems the only path to a comprehensive, deeply sought after, fundamental change in the issues, problems and injustices created and perpetuated for millennia. 

It isn't until we do the work to strengthen those internal “muscles” that hold compassion, empathy, understanding, respect or love will we find our way to collectively investing in seeking solutions to eliminate the problems and injustices we’ve created and perpetuated. It became the only path that felt right, to raise the conversation above politics, religion, identity, etc. and set a clear understanding of a baseline we all commit to value when gathered together.

I’m embracing a framework to introduce physical meeting spaces focused on creating short windows of unconditional love.  I’m pivoting off a very specific experience I had with a meditation group that existed in the 1990’s in Salt Lake City. Each week they met to meditate and engage in incredibly organic, self-reflexive and regularly vulnerable conversations.  I made a video trying to explain the energy of the group I’m trying to create and few life experiences that lead to this idea for the group. I hoped it would also help explain the energy I’m seeking to foster a bit better.   You can find the Youtube video on my website page describing the local communities here:  https://www.cprrevolution.org/creating-local-community/  I know is this has the potential to positively impact and create long-term ripples both for individuals and our collective community.

I’d like to provide more context as to the meeting structure and the nature of the partnership I’m seeking with host organizations. However, before I go any further please forgive me if any of this or what you find on my website feels culturally like an overshare.  I have embraced an ongoing commitment to expressing own my vulnerability, both interpersonally and publicly, in a desire to nurture conditions for others to feel safe to share their vulnerability. It is with that energy, I share the following. 

My idea at the most basic level is to build a weekly 2-hour meeting to welcome individuals who desire to co-create this space and energy.  I’m working to start a couple of meetings I will personally facilitate across San Diego County.  My ultimate desire and dream is to create a network of support for individuals who would like to create these in their neighborhoods, towns, or cities.  These groups started as an idea for friends in a small town, but I know once people have a more tangible understanding of what this experience can look like, this can be adopted on a much wider scale.

To start, I’m using the model of the original meditation group.  I am not sure why they started with this model, but I’ll try to explain why I’m choosing to keep it.  I began testing the idea last February or March when I started a CPR rEvolution group in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  I learned a lot from it that informs the perspective below. 

Meeting Framework:

20 Minute Meditation – This was a self-guided meditation, a moment of internal silence or prayer.  I want to keep the language open to welcome all, regardless of relationship to a faith tradition or nuanced orientation to spirituality.  The original meditation group had music playing in the background that I think helped those of us who were new to meditating for the first time.  I’ve realized how critical the element of meditation is to get people out of their heads and into their heart-spaces; so they can be less guarded and more present in the conversation.  I learned what happens when you welcome in people who are late or are not interested in sitting quietly or meditating.  It served as a serious disrespect to the group and completely changed the tone of the meeting, also leading to an imbalance of vulnerability among participants. 

The last 1h & 30-40m Organic Conversation – The original meditation circle used a version of “wisdom” cards as a way to get incredible organic conversations going.  It was people reflecting on their limitations, their growth, their failures and successes as they each sought the next step on their paths.  It was a vulnerability not naturally occurring in any version of real life I have/was experiencing.  Ultimately, it’s ripples in my perceptions and understanding of the world were profound. 

 It's my desire to partner with organizations who resonate with this idea and already embody this ethos.  As I move forward with this, I’m using the partnerships relationship to help develop a template to help others build these groups from scratch without having had previous organizing experience.  Due to that, I’m interested in setting a high bar and standard to maintain best the energy and integrity of the idea, the group itself and any partnerships with host organizations providing meeting space.  I want to not only provide facilitators a framework for creating a respectful relationship with the organization they reach out to, but more importantly to create a mutually supportive reciprocal flow between the CPR group and partner organization.  

 Although we do not want to create a financial barrier for anyone who wants to join a meeting, we will build an attitude of gratitude within each group.  At every meeting, each CPR rEvolution group will set up a “gratitude box” and ask participants who can contribute a few dollars or what they feel called to contribute as a demonstration of their gratitude for both our group and the space willing to host us.  100% of the meeting donations will go directly to the host organization.  It is my hope over time that each group would create a weekly funding stream that could become a solid contributor to the host organizations sustainability.   

I’m uncertain if this sounds like it might be something that resonates with you and your organization.  It is understandable if you need to vet me or this idea further.  I’m willing to meet with you at your convenience to answer any questions you might have, explain the idea more complexly or just fill in gaps where needed.

If this does resonate with you, it’s important to me that you feel there is a positive balance in investment from the beginning.  I know I’m asking your organization to invest in this idea by providing free access to your space as a host.  It may take a few weeks to get the word out and get this off the ground and build a solid donation level.  If it would help, I’d love to offset this disparity by personally volunteering with your organization for a few weeks until we reach a sustainable level.  I also know new volunteers require time and training, so if that’s an issue, I’m happy to tackle projects that serve the organization but don’t require training, such as cleaning, organizing or even a to-do list of admin or operational needs.  I’m confident I have a solid set of skills designed for service that could be useful. 

 If this isn’t a good fit for your organization, but you can recommend other organizations who might connect with this, I would appreciate your perspective.  I'll provide a few links below to my website for you to investigate me further if you are inclined to dive deeper.  My apologies for the length of this email.  I recognize how valuable your time and attention are and appreciate that investment in learning more about this idea. 

Website Home:  

www.CPRrEvolution.com

Local Community (This whole section is a work in progress):  

https://www.cprrevolution.org/creating-local-community/

Jackson's Corner, This is my personal space on the website.  I'm developing it so people can get a clear sense as to who I am and working to be in the world.  This is also where I’m hoping to explore harder topics and ideas.

Here you'll find three sections, 

Meet the Founder

https://www.cprrevolution.org/meet-the-founder/

Mission Vision and Personal Values for Being Human 

https://www.cprrevolution.org/mission-vision-and-personal-values-for-being-human/

…and lastly my "blog" Reflections from the Path.  Here I’ve placed the different videos and blog post I’ve created over the last 15 months as I worked to find language for this evolving idea. Scrolling down allows you to see that history going back all the way to the first video from November 2016.  I also wanted to remain honest or transparent about the thought and personal growth evolution that has happened along the way.  This blog will serve as a holding area for that history and evolution.

 https://www.cprrevolution.org/reflections-from-the-path/

 

 

Ripples from an Ally

When I served as the Executive Director of an LGBTQ non-profit, it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  I’d never had such an incredible opportunity to see our collective humanity in such a positive light.  For the first time in my life, most of my daily interactions were with people working to be the best versions of themselves in those moments. Whether it be a client rallying courage, strength and bravery to take a new step forward in their lives or a community volunteer or donor seeking to make a positive difference. I like to embrace the practice of acknowledging the ripples of individuals who profoundly impact my life in positive ways.  Sometimes the ripple is profound because it helps us heal.  I want to share with you one of those positive ripples in my life from this experience.

To best explain and contextualize the experience, I need to share the following.  I came into the professional position with my own personal baggage around asking others for help.  Because of how I’d experienced the world, I learned and internalized a self-preservation understanding that I needed to be as self-sufficient as possible.  There’s a great monologue Harvey Fierstein’s character delivers to his mother (Ann Bancroft) in the movie, ‘Torch Song Trilogy’.  His monologue went, “There's one more thing you better understand. I have taught myself to sew, cook, fix plumbing, build furniture - I can even pat myself on the back when necessary - all so I don't have to ask anyone for anything. There's nothing I need from anyone except for love and respect and anyone who can't give me those two things has no place in my life.”  I had this defense mechanism in spades…

The non-profit was entirely a volunteer-driven agency and I was the only employee.  By natural design, I had to step into my discomforts, overcome personal barriers and fears and put myself out there in hopes of strengthening the organization and team.  I could no longer protect myself by hunkering down and just pushing my workload forward.  This time I had to let people into the process.  This time I had to ask for help, repeatedly and ask it of a lot of people.  This time I had to be emotionally vulnerable without anyone having a clue it was a barrier I was trying to overcome. 

I’ve had a great many opportunities to reflect on this life lesson the last few months and there is one person whom I will always hold a tremendous level of gratitude for helping me through it. 

Early with the organization, a local advertising agency generously stepped forward to help us update our logo and visual presence.  When it came time to talk about the website, we learned a member of their consulting team stepped forward to build the website for us pro-bono.    

I met Bob at the first meeting to talk about the website.  He’s a white, straight guy with a wife and two kids, who at the time didn’t know a lot about the LGBTQ community.  He just had a big heart and seemed to want to be part of things that eased people’s suffering. 

After a few meetings, Bob seemed to deeply get the vision and direction we were trying to build for the organization. After only a few weeks, I was elated and surprised when he inquired about serving on our Board of Directors.  He found an organization in dire need of his skills and strengths and jumped in feet first.

Left: Bob, Right Jackson (Author)  

Left: Bob, Right Jackson (Author)  

Now a lot of amazing people do this in every non-profit organization.  It’s the only way most healthy non-profit organization functions.  But I’m writing this today, not because what Bob did for that organization or the community, but the positive ripples he created in my life.

If not for Bob, I don’t know what my accomplishment list would have looked like at the end of my time there.  Bob became a member of a personal team of people in my life who became an incredible support system to me.  At some point I’ll be able to find a way to both say thank you, and… I’m sorry for that.

Bob gave an incredible amount of time and energy to the organization, but at the same time I recognize I was personally benefitting.  Due to the configuration of my position, it often felt incredibly lonely building some of the bigger organizational pieces.  Bob started showing up to conversations and then kept showing up.  Without my realizing it, over time he became a teammate, my sounding board, the voice who would push back on me when I need to hear a different perspective and quickly he became my friend.  Bob showed up and kept showing up until one day I realized he created a rare space for me to embrace relying on his presence in my world. It was a new thing relaxing into this profound sense of support.  I can’t even tell you when it happened, but he stepped up and somehow helped me feel the load was not 100% on my shoulders.  It was an incredible gift I didn’t know possible.  He taught me a bit about my vulnerability by creating a space to experience it professionally.  Then over time, he became a rarely found safe space to be human, pained, frustrated, and at times even feeling profoundly broken.  He created a space that allowed me moments of healing, and for that I’m grateful.

Most important, he taught me what it is to feel supported and was an ally in every sense of the word. When he showed up to support us, he was often one of the first ones there and the last one to leave.  He’s a walking embodiment of service and always lead with action, not lip-service.  Each of those actions allowed me to relax a bit more, trust a bit more.  The ripple effect of that was that I knew someone had my back and that knowledge alone can help someone tackle climbing a mountain.  He made a lot of personal sacrifices to serve the organization.  I know my benefit comes on the back of that sacrifice and I’ll be forever grateful for its ripple in my life.

Bob, I’m grateful to you for all the work you did in service to that vision. However, it pales in comparison to my gratitude for the ways you’ve impacted who I am today.  In my community, we talk about the word Ally as an identity. Often people think that it’s an identity that we hold just by claiming the space, with only memory of past action or intent of the future action.  Often people wear their Ally identity proud, yet when real help or support is needed, they get stuck in their comfort zones, scared or fearful and do not speak up or engage any supportive action.  You’ve helped me think and talk about it differently.  Allies are not an identity, but an ongoing investment in action.  Allies step out of their comfort zones and find ways to engage in healing efforts.  Anyone can just slap a sticker on their window to claim to be a safe space or ally. However, without the courage of action in the moments they are the most needed by another human being, we can never claim the embodiment of an ally.

At every turn you step up in action, at every turn I’ve seen you use your voice and at every turn I needed one, you consistently embodied the word ally.

BobBeAnAlly.jpg

Throughout my life, most of the crappy moments happened when no one was around to help or step up. The experience allowed me a greater understanding what it means to be truly supported by an ally’s actions and what that feels like when all is said and done.  Ultimately the blessing in all of this is that I now can say with certainty, that I know what it feels like to really have an ally have my back in moments I needed it most.  Now that I understand that, it will inform and inspire me to engage as a better ally to others.

Thank you for the positive ripple.  I'm blessed to call you a friend.

BS With Bob Schmidt Podcast Interview

We recorded this conversation in December for Bob's new podcast.

I just listened to it the first time today. Listening to it makes me realize, I can’t express enough my gratitude for Bob. His ability to create a space for someone to speak their truth is a remarkable gift. He’s one of those guys you could sit down to have a beer with, but before you know it 4 hours have passed and you’ve tackled some big topics or ideas. Bob has continued to try to understand this path I’m on, despite me rarely having the comprehensive language to explain fully.

He’s taught me a great deal about what it means to listen to understand the person in front of me better. More personally, he’s given me the gift of knowing what it feels like to feel or be heard on a new level.

Bob, thank you for your friendship and being part of helping me talk about this part of my journey.

Podcast Interview:  BS With Bob Schmidt

Lessons from a Fire

The last few days, experiences and observations have provided me a tremendous opportunity to better understand the impact, panic, and crisis of a wildfire. The experience is teaching me some lessons I wanted to share.

For context, we are in a warning-evacuation zone for the fire and I expect that to continue for at least another couple days. I have to monitor news outlets regularly and I’ve found twitter to be a great resource for new links to information. One of the more regular kind of tweets I was seeing was angry and judgemental outburst directed at people who “left their animals behind.” Some people linked a news story to a stable fire impacted near the origin site of the fire. They began indicting them for lack of an evacuation plan. In one post I read, a person tagged PETA in what I perceived as an attempt to incite a response of public or organizational out-cry. They grossly added insult to injury. I found myself internally needing to process my anger at the posts. I then realized I was processing anger at myself because how often have I knowingly or unknowingly engaged in the same behavior. I know I’ve been that person, sitting in safety and comfort, self-righteous in my commentary about a situation in which I have little or zero understanding or expertise. I say that because I could have easily been that person indignantly tweeting. Let me try to explain…

I grew up weathering various sizes of hurricanes and floods. We all know how devastating they can be, however the experience of weathering those were different because we always had so much warning or notice. We would get multiple days notice if not longer. We could slow walk to an ideal solution for our family and critters based on the circumstances and as we received updated storm status information. From there we could either supply up and hunker down or pack up and move to safety. When I would hear stories on the news and learn about fire evacuations, I think it created a false perspective on how much time people have to get to safety in these situations.

The start of this fire is close to where I live, so I watched the real-time local news coverage and a sat vigil looking out the windows the whole day. I watched clouds of smoke rise in the distance filling the sky before seeing the flames in the distance later that evening. The fire started in a critical moment of exceedingly challenging conditions, building it into a perfect storm potential for firefighters to battle. The lack of rain over the summer led to a dry, brittle landscape and that day we had reports of 6% humidity. The other factor is the Santa Ana winds. They originate inland and move toward the ocean carrying dry and super-strong wind streams that wreak havoc during critical extreme fire conditions.

For a weeks state officials have warned about the dry conditions so we can avoid risky fire activities (fire pits, smoking, etc). This week the warnings were at their peak with the strongest winds gusting the morning the fire started. To give you an idea of the wind strength, it was blowing so hard at our place it cracked and began to push 4x4 patio posts (and thus patio roof) so hard I feared we were going to lose them. We nearly had a paneled fence blow over. Gusts were strong.

Due to these factors, the fire moved dangerously fast and virtually without warning. We watched palm trees explode into fire behind a reporter trying to provide updates from the front lines. The fire raced into a retirement mobile home park and an equine training center among a vast undeveloped expanse of easily ignitable fuel.

People in the vicinity of the origin point of this fire had no time or real warning. The news broadcast initial interviews at the equine center in the first few hours. It was clear they had little warning before having to go into life or death crisis management situation with hundreds of horses. I’m unsure what their emergency evacuation plans look like in detail, but given the circumstances, they went into the fight with a deficit I suspect no amount of planning could prepare one to overcome totally. They quickly worked to free hundreds of horses from burning stables and land. Right now they are estimating 25 horses of the 480 stabled there (last report I heard) lost their lives in this fire. News crews began interviewing those impacted. I watched them interview a man who works at the facility recount his experience. He ran into burning stables to rescue horses, his horse among them. He was able to rescue many but when he got to his horse and opened the stable, the horse was so spooked by the engulfing flames it refused to move. Nothing he could do would coax the horse out of the open stable. He risked his life and then he watched his horse die.

The affected area is also home to many family farm properties. It is likely that many people who work 9-5 jobs learned about the fire impacting their property and animals while at work. They would have had to sit anxiously and helplessly a distance away at work not knowing the actual status of their farm or be able to help their animals proactively. I know a few folks who had to rush to get home to prepare for possible evacuation. They were lucky because their home was a distance from the origin of the fire and it bought them enough time to make the crisis rush hour drive of 2.5 hours drive to travel 20-25 miles home.

This week has been a reminder about engaging with arrogance rooted in an oblivious and tremendous lack of a comprehensive understanding. A reaction often born at a comfortable distance and safety from the real impact of the issue, allowing for the disengagement of a basic level of compassion and empathy. Come to think about it, this rule should likely apply to most issues and topics we find ourselves discussing today.

Compassion seems to be in a deficit often and suffering at a peak. Piling onto that suffering serves no one and it only perpetuates a painful ripple.

However, with that has come some great moment for holding gratitude. I have an incredible appreciation for the around-the-clock work of 1000 firefighters and air support offered by Camp Pendelton. So many non-profit and governmental agencies have worked so well together to keep the public updated and apprised of changes. I'm in awe and have a bit of renewed hope today.

#LilacFire #FocusOnYourRipples

(Origin is a personal Facebook post 12/9/2017)

Expecting Peace is Childish

While visiting Sacramento, I jumped on an opportunity to visit the International World Peace Rose Garden.   It’s a beautiful oasis amid downtown Sacramento, offering meditative pathways that wind through rows of various types of roses.  Nestled on the ground between the rose bushes were small plaques immortalizing the ideas, sentiments, and reflections of local school children to celebrate the garden’s inception.  I was struck as I walked the paths, carefully stopping to read each plaque.   So many children beautifully articulating their personal understanding of peace and in some cases, their individual responsibilities to nurture it.   

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At that moment I finally had language for a personal and continual developing understanding of the incredible cycle we’ve created and perpetuated generation after generation.  We hold so many sentiments of peace as these sacred pillars or ideal aspirations for humanity.  Yet how often is our personal energy earnestly focused on the actions that create this lived reality?

We proudly praise the youthful perspectives promoting peace and relish the feelings of hope that flood over us. These sentiments are held as dreamy reminders of both the possibility we once embodied and memories of our expectations before they were altered by experiences or “reality.”  In those moments we regularly and proudly announce a version of the opinion, The child is all that is good about the future generation and how lucky we are…  In that flippant acknowledgment, we often hang every hope and intention of doing the work of creating a peaceful society on their shoulders.  Of course, by the time each generation is old enough to have an impact on the community, let alone voice; most have lost the youthful confidence that actualizing peace is even a possible concept.                       

We must question our common logic and rhetoric.  A child who is confident and believes peace is possible, we celebrate their innocence and praise them for these hopeful sentiments.  How often are we capturing those moments to build and nurture that behavior, instead of returning to the task of conditioning them to toughen or man up for living in the real world?   How many times do we fear what their experience of the world will be if they are too sensitive or compassionate?  

When I read the sentiments these children offered, they gave me great pause, hope, and joy.  I reflected on how differently we collectively tend to react to grown human beings sharing these ideas of peace.  We praise, find joy, hope, and comfort in the words when it comes from a child’s voice.  However, as the child ages and becomes an adult seeking conversations of peace, we collectively meet them with our discomfort, mockery, dismissiveness and/or belittlement. 

I’d been reflecting on why we hold two separate comfort thresholds for an individual’s relationship to peace based on age.  Why do we hold peace up as a value to embody, yet don’t invest the time, energy or emotion to live as though we believe creating and experiencing peace is an actual possibility?  Why do we work so hard to toughen people up to survive the “harsh” world; instead of seeking ways to prioritize a shared experience of thriving?  Why do we have so much invested in reinforcing the narratives of violence and pain and how many of us are contributing to the problem without realizing it?  

It seems incongruent that we create and perpetuate suffering in individuals in the name of strengthening their character.  We justify our behavior as preparing them for survival in this harsh climate. Then often foster the toxic environment through our current actions and greater inaction. 

When I reflect on the current state of the human condition, how we got here and how can we recover from this?  I ask myself many questions.  Have we given up?  Is it laziness? Maybe many of us genuinely desire to engage, foster and work to become the ideal we profess but don’t know where to start or wonder if we’d be doing it alone?  Many of us seem to be in a personal survival mode not even realizing we're trying to find excuses, reasons, and justifications to awkwardly cram ourselves to this world as it exists; instead of intentionally building a more compassionate, equitable, peace-focused reality.  We behave as though this constant state of hate, fear, and violence we’ve normalized generation after generation, as acceptable and a necessary constant with which to contend. 

When did we become so powerless in our thoughts and beliefs about our individual or collective capabilities to engage, learn, mature, and ultimately heal the issues or problems that afflict us? Maybe some see the potential for change, but think they’d be doing it alone or question how one person can bring peace?  I’m sure it is all of this and many more factors.   But at what point do we finally say “ENOUGH!” and begin to explore challenging and changing this oppressive narrative for ourselves?   At what point do we earnestly commit our own actions to be part of building and co-creating a peace-focused reality?   As that awareness grows, imagine what kind of ripples toward change might be possible on a larger scale for issues that overwhelm us to think about today?

My walk in that garden that day made me realize something differently.  Thinking we can build bridges toward peace in the purest sense of the idea is child-like.  Children continually come into this world to remind us who we are supposed to strive to be.  We old folks are the ones who resist living the values of peace.  Children are blessed with such incredible vulnerability that fosters this inquisitive relationship to the world.  As part of their development, they’re encountering new things with abandon as they explore, experience, and engage to understand themselves, others, and their place in the world.   Kids remind us that before we are taught who and what to fear or hate, we came in with this incredible light and capacity for compassion.   Each time this is a reminder for us of the potential that exists within ourselves we might have buried long ago. 

Adding to that, we live in a reality TV world.  Our avid consumption of many of these products has embraced and promoted the format of elevating and rewarding individuals committed to engaging in drama, toxicity, and severe disruption to the environments around them.  This is the same world where the mainstream news crews only show up to peace rallies if violence is expected or considerable opposition is scheduled.  They engage as though the virtues of peace is not a worthy subject for promoting and educating the populous.   Is it any wonder we don’t even know how to see our way out of this, let alone know where to start embracing personal action toward peace based solutions? 

I know people have adopted and will continue to find this childish notion that if peace is to exist, it must start with me.  As we commit to a path of personal reflection and do the work to heal ourselves, we heal our negative impacts on the world.  Each day, each moment is a choice.  The more individuals committed to that effort, the more comfortable the path becomes to just start the conversation; let alone begin trying to build bridges toward the aim of nurturing cohesive, healthy communities. 

As Haley so beautifully put it… 

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“World Peace Beings With Me!”

I’m grateful for that day in the garden.  I struggled to find words for the complexity of all these problematic dynamics I was witnessing.  It was not until that day, did I understand how profoundly saying the phrase publicly, “I want my life to stand for peace and love.” paralyzed me.  I feared the judgment. I feared the mocking.  I feared the disapproval.  I feared an inability to overcome social programming of peer pressure to conform and that desire most of us have, to “belong.”  I feared reactions rooted in fear and violence sometimes triggered when you even try to start a conversation about peace. 

But here’s what I now understand.  This is the only path that I can walk and still look myself in the mirror every night.  I learned to live from a place of extreme self-protection, cynicism, skepticism, fear, anger, self-loathing and regular emotional complacency.  It was a natural path because all of those things intellectually and emotionally protected me and kept me safely in my comfort zone.  It’s easy to feel superior, dismissive, or judgemental.  It is a hell of a lot harder to continually work to check my ego, learn, listen, and work to engage from there.    

In the incredible sermon, Three Dimensions of a Complete Life, Martin Luther King, Jr shared this wisdom, In a sense every day is judgment day, and we, through our deeds and words, our silence and speech are constantly writing in the Book of Life.

Light has come into the world, and every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness.  This is the judgment.  Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”

54 years have passed since Dr. King spoke those words.  As I reflect on today’s backdrop of societal chaos, I feel it safe to say, we have some room for improvement.  Despite that shared reality, I’m regularly blessed to meet new amazing people who have made a life commitment to walking a path of “light and creative altruism.”   I began to reflect on what all those passionate and creative people could achieve if only their paths connected.  So many of them move in different circles, causes and communities, natural connections seemed impossible. I thought, what if those people could find each other? What new, positive ripples might be created?

This idea of creating a community like this started off as a solutions-seeking pipe dream of what ifs.  But the idea quickly took on an additional value of possible potential in a more significant way.   So many of those friends had great ideas and wisdom in different areas.  The way they moved in the world, caused me to think more complexly about my negative or positive impacts. I never know who is going to be a teacher next. A space dedicated to this exploration creates a reciprocal learning opportunity.  Lastly, walking this path sometimes can feel lonely, isolating or not valued by others at times.  I realized many would benefit from just knowing they are not alone in the world on the harder days they need to find the motivation and ability to take their next step.   

What might come of a community of individuals whose main shared belief is a deep personal commitment to valuing, seeing and understanding the human being in front of them? How many spaces are you fortunate enough to occupy where that is your standard and consistent experience?  I think a person is fortunate if they can say 1 or 2.  

Welcome to CPR rEvolution. CPR stands for Creating Positive Ripples.  rEvolution is a nod to the individual and collective evolution we must co-create to usher in any kind of revolution framed in peace.  This is just the beginning and will evolve as we go. 

Welcome to the conversation.  Welcome to the rEvolution.

-Visit the website

-Join the discussion in our closed Facebook Group

 

Written by Jackson Jantzen

Welcome to the personal revolution, may we collectively turn positive ripples into waves. 

This is just the start with more information and ideas to come over the coming weeks and months. To learn more or to join the community and conversation, connect with us here: Website: www.cprrevolution.com Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/CreatingPositiveRipples/ Facebook Group (Closed): www.facebook.com/groups/CPRNationDiscussion/ Twitter: www.twitter.com/CPR_Revolution @CPR_Revolution Join the emailing List: www.CPRRevolution.com/contact-us

Greetings and welcome to the CPR Revolution website!  I'm Jackson and this part of the website is designed for my personal reflections and ideas related to my embracing a commitment to walk a CPR Revolution path.    Over the coming months I'll use this space to further explain the many layers of this idea and attempt to generate new ideas, reflections and conversations from community members interested in embracing this conversation with an intention of building bridges.  

If this video and idea resonates in a positive way for your and you wish to explore where this idea is headed, you can also join us here:

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/CreatingPositiveRipples/

Facebook Group (Closed): www.facebook.com/groups/CPRNationDiscussion/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/CPR_Revolution @CPR_Revolution
 

Don't Judge a Book by the Cover

**This is a historic post written for the CPR rEvolution community on January 19, 2017 and posted to the Facebook Group. 

"I’d like to apologize for the delay in corresponding. I’ve been trying to write this for weeks, but unable to find words. The last couple of months have been an incredible time of reflection, pain, sadness and disappointment for me. I’ve reflected on the communities I’ve chosen to move in, my personal contribution to current social and communication dynamics and my unwillingness or inability to participate in them the same way moving forward. It impacted my ability to even post to this group and stopped me in my tracks for moving CPR forward for a short time. Let me explain.

Shortly after we began the group and had our first local meeting, I witnessed something that shook me at my foundation, to my core. I watched a group of people I once would have considered allies in social justice work, use the energy, passion and anger of some in our community for self-promotion and personal gain. I watched a fabricated story designed to anger and engage action find its way into an organizing space. I witnessed individuals attempt to provide background information and details about the issue that revealed a more complete picture of the situation at hand. I then watched those attempts met, not with a larger discussion, but instead the individuals were called out as racist or “Uncle Tom” (depending on whether the person speaking fact to fiction was white or a person of color). I then witnessed changing versions of the fabricated story surface to combat facts and perpetuate the problematic momentum. It was a display I thought I’d only see at a Trump rally and it was playing out among a group of “social justice activists” shouting down anyone that disagreed with them, calling them names to shame and silence them.

The personally devastating thing for me to watch was how easily this manipulation worked in this community. I’m now embarrassed by my assumptions of a specific level of integrity and critical thinking being inherent in social justice organizing. It was a disappointing revelation to realize it is not always the case. What troubled me more was how many people with good intentions contributed to a dynamic that further marginalized the community they sought to help. Not realizing they were ultimately undermining the community further.

I thought people who read the situation with apprehension would come forward and try to help open up a more comprehensive dialogue to temper the direction and problematic tone of the discussion and group. Those people never came. With one fell swoop by an architect of the original story, they entered the discussion called people racist for just suggesting a more comprehensive dialogue and effectively shut down the conversation. Two outcomes were visible from those called out as racist. Those seeking dialogue either jumped in line apologizing profusely or the others were shut down with a clear message there was no interest in having a complex discussion about the situation and were silenced. I learned a lot about assumed allies. The people I expected to step up and speak to the toxic dynamic I can only assume didn’t want to put themselves out there, didn’t know how to, or feel safe to speak up. It was a travesty. At every turn the organized effort sought to undermine every positive option that did not serve the original architects personal goals of this fight.

I learned in a new way, not only are we struggling with an emerging movement on the right they want to call, the “Alt-Right”, but we have an emerging “Alt-Left” too. We have a group of people who don’t need facts, information or any concern for moving with integrity in relationship to the populations they claim they are fighting for. They will blindly shout down anyone who has a differing perspective or opinion and burn bridges vs. building them.

The most troubling part of this lesson for me is not that we have individuals who’ve learned to leverage the structure and language of oppression and social justice activism to manipulate and control, but how easily a collective of engage activists let it happen. These architects have learned to prey on the guilt, fear, anger and pain of passionate people who want to affect positive change. The most disappointing part of this for me was to realize how quickly an action could go from fighting for an issue to lift a community up, to working to undermine it long term.

A recent example of the dynamic I describe would be the “Youtube Prankster” Adam Saleh. He is a Youtube entertainer who has made his name (and now a living) by pranking people and posting it to Youtube. Saleh just recently faced another set of assertions that he manipulated an environment (in order to film the outcome) on a flight he was to take in attempts to create a fabricated perception of Islamic hate on the flight. It was not the first time he’d been accused of engaging people to reach a specific level of reaction. In case you’d not heard of this situation, he posted a video stating he’d been kicked of the plane because he was of Arab descent. People became enraged, understandably, calling for boycotts of the airline.

Within days more information came to light about him and the event. Youtube entertainers are financially rewarded based on the number of views the video has. An assertion was made that Saleh began and continued to instigate disruption on the plane until he got the desired dramatic outcome for the video he sought to post online.

It’s despicable because we know already what people with certain embodiment's already face from incredible discrimination, suspicion and/or aggression when trying to fly. It is beyond offensive when self-serving individuals manufacture conditions to point to injustice, then claim it was organic hate they experienced. It undermines and damages the community being leveraged in the facade, individuals who have or will experience real instances of hate and ultimately can create a deeper level of fear and concern for safety among individuals in said community.

It was one of the grossest things I’ve witnessed, but thankfully it made me finally come to terms with my own limitations. It showed me where I have held huge quantities of naiveté or ego about “my side”. I’d always assumed because we were always talking about these issues on the left, that these kinds of abuses wouldn’t exist in the same way. It was an illusion that came crashing down around me, leaving me feeling like a 5 year old who’s shitty next door teen neighbor just told me Santa AND the Easter Bunny didn’t exist.

This was ultimately a gift. A painful gift, but one I will not soon forget. This came on the heels of conversations our group had about understanding issues thoroughly, approaching conversations to listen and engage, not just respond. It was like watching our “What not to do” conversations unfold before my eyes in real time.

Last year, or the last few years, I’ve watched the national discourse deteriorate. I saw how it’s toxic ripples ran through local discourse and even conversations within similarly oriented communities. I began seeing in a new way how dysfunctional and disconnected my/our communication with one another is.

It reflected my limitations and culpability of previously participating in and perpetuating those dynamics. I feel a tremendous amount of embarrassment to think how many times I heard and trusted a source and moved forward self-righteously promoting that agenda. I realized how much of my life I spent approaching the world from fear, anger, pain or judgement (and how that opened me up to being someone’s pawn). I realized how much that approach limited my ability to not only be effective in my advocacy, but it kept me from finding a place of compassion both for myself and others. I was again reminded that approach is as critical as substance when engaging.

This is an embarrassing acknowledgement of my humanity, but one I feel I must share to honor the relationship we are attempting to build not only here, but physically in our communities. It’s also a truth I must embrace to build the community I’ve had a vision of participating in, but at a loss for language to describe last 12 months.

At some point I realized I’ve spent a life in silos of differently framed communities. The last couple of years have highlighted how much that collective attitude has damaged our ability to even have basic conversations from a place of compassion, let alone live with compassion for one another. After seeing the last political cycle unveil itself, it became apparent that for the most part, much of America has been operating from those silos of identity. For instance, we’ve rooted our identities even beyond being American by party or framed as liberal or conservatives. Our conversations often start out with talking points that are handed to us by pundits or politicians, but never really discuss the real issues or facts. Too quickly it then devolves to who can speaking the loudest and/or last.

We have lost the ability to even see the human being on the other side of the equation. The current approach modeled seems to be search and destroy vs. embrace and build. How can we ever move in a productive direction, let alone begin finding ways to heal if we can’t find ways to create spaces of discussion and understanding?

I began to understand the breakdown during the primaries when so many in my life on the left couldn’t even have reasoned conversations about the virtues of Clinton or Sanders. I started to reflect on how we could even begin to change this dynamic. It seems nearly impossible when you consider these divisions have been created by governments and politicians from the beginning of time. They’ve told us who to hate, why to hate them and then enjoyed us fighting and distracted as they raid whatever treasure we hold dear (insert health care, regulated protections, financial regulations, reproductive rights, medicare, social security, etc here). And again and again we play into the dynamic, even when we think we are fighting against it.

I started to think, what would it look like if we could find a way to rise above the noise and remove us from the cycles of fear, hate and anger that seem to serve as a current foundation? What might it look like if we could create a sense of connection, a space or a moment, for people committed to self-reflection, greater understanding, greater connections? What if we could find ways to welcome people from across every silo who are similarly oriented in building bridges, not leveling them. What if we could create a space where the core and objective is to frame engagement from a framework of compassion and love; allowing a cycle of further understanding, healthy dialogues and create more energy for the issues needing to be addressed vs fighting each other.

I think religion was positioned to serve this role initially with the compassionate teachings of Jesus, Allah, Buddha, etc. However, history has taught us that some of the corruptible humans leading them have prioritized political power over focusing on the compassionate teachings. They opted to use their positions, platforms and movements for personal or organizational benefits while selling out the ability to help set a compassion based tone. It’s a dynamic we see even today with the likes of the Jerry Fallwells. We’ve watched some of the largest hate mongers clothed as religious leaders alter political directions and conversations while accelerating this toxic dynamic.

Here’s another thing that would be a barrier for me to look to religion only for this effort. Religious spaces that could best serve this kind of movement are still a silo framed in identity. Meaning if a church organizes, inherently only those members subscribing to that faith will really feel connected to the outreach. Where is that space that regardless of identity as Atheists, Agnostic, Christians, Muslims, Mormons, Buddhists, liberals, conservatives, ethnic background, orientation, gender, ability, immigration status, like minded individuals in a community can come together in celebration of those differences to break down the walls?

Our lack of compassion is amplified by these silos and becomes more destructive the deeper they are entrenched (and the more technology we add to the equation). It’s a sad thing to witness how often people are against basic rights or accesses until someone they know and care about is affected by the issue. Let’s use health care as an example. How is it we have individuals who can argue from a position of essentially, “I’m healthy, screw you.”? That is, of course, until they, their kid or best friend gets cancer and all of the sudden their position on access to health care changes. Why is it pain that gives birth to empathy vs beginning at empathy and asking the basic question of how can we proactively relieve the suffering we have some control over?

What if we could flip the script on the powers that be just by finding and connecting with others of various backgrounds and marginalized communities similarly committed to this form of engagement? What if we could strengthen, support, and inspire each other; facilitating individuals to feel stronger, less alone, powerful and connected to positive change through each other? What if this movement grew bringing down walls, building larger dialogues and understanding; all the while helping people find ways to rise above the anger, fear and division orchestrated and perpetuated to limit and impact massive cultural change?

I know we can find some of these elements and can engage through established organizations. However to a large degree, often times the scope of programing or focus is limited by the silo or framework it was built within. This could hold no boundaries or barriers outside of that personal commitment in engagement.

I share all of this because I’ve spent my life living and engaging from anger, fear and pain. I’ve approached the world (aggressively at times) from this framework and it regularly left me with more anger, fear and pain at the end of the day. And over time, the feeling of being a bit more hopeless.

I share this acknowledging my own selfishness by trying to create this. In part, I know it could have tremendous potential for individuals and communities. However personally, I know that creating community with people who get this on a deep level and embrace it, would serve as an incubator and reflection for my aspirations to live a better version of myself and my life.

When I finally depart from this planet, I need to know I did everything I could to raise people up (myself included) and not tear them down. And, I’m really HUMAN, so I know this could take a lot of practice and patience. I also know sometimes these changes are a lot easier to see and make through inspiration and connection. It’s an incredible gift when you surround yourself with people working/walking a similar path, people who inspire you beyond the current best version of yourself and push you in positive ways to see and embrace your highest potential.

In closing, I just want to say that this is not a political effort or social justice one, but a human one. It’s not designed to be focused on any one set of issues, but trying to help each other find ways to impact as many of them as possible. I know this will not resonate with everyone and hope those folks that don’t connect with this find the right fit their needs and efforts.

But if you feel at the end of each day it be nice to… Feel like you’ve welcomed more positive people, actions and energy into your life experience. Feel more hope. Feel less alone. Feel like you could make a tangible difference in the life of one or many and watching it unfold before your eyes. Feeling like your part of a community that could move mountains when called on to do so. Or just long for a space where you have a new sense of being connected… I look forward to partnering and growing our connection.

In solidarity and hope.

Jackson"

The Beginning

This video was first published my personal Facebook page on November 14, 2016.  It was made a week after the 2016 election and was my first public attempt to find words for this growing idea I was trying to wrap my head around.  In a desire to be transparent in how my process has unfolded, I’m providing a link to the video below.  

As my understanding of an issue grows or my engagement evolves, I often struggle reminders of a point in my life when I was less articulate or knowledgeable.  Without the stumbles, we can never reach the summit.  Here is the first step of my public path to express this idea and I share this because it's part of the journey to where I am today with this project. 

https://www.facebook.com/jackson.jantzen/posts/10211815322882277?comment_id=10211819678751171