It is the last few hours of the Toronto Summer Institute and John O'Brien is leading us through a reflective process before we leave. One of our reflections asks what our calling is or what we want to create, and then, what are our fears about doing that. I find my fear to be that I will lower my expectations and accept less, and I fear this because I think this may have been happening, actually since my arrival in New Mexico. It suddenly becomes clear to me that I have been taking inclusion for granted.
Two nights ago, in the open space to talk about this opportunity to create a new organization, AAAPD, Tim from PA advised that we use John's 5 accomplishments to follow as our framework. In my head, I'm saying, "yea, yea, yea, I know this - it is a given."
This morning, with precious few minutes left, I realize the most important thing I needed to know - I have been taking inclusion for granted. To me, it is a given. It is embedded in my soul; it is like a second skin; it is who I am. What I was thinking is because I am this way, so must be others. I accepted as a given that many of the people I have worked with since coming to New Mexico that are progressive in their thinking and share many important beliefs with me know what inclusion is. We had lots of conversation about community building, self-determination, self-advocacy, person-centered planning - but little conversation about inclusion.
I lowered my expectations for what was being accomplished or could be accomplished because it would eventually come together because we understand inclusion.
We don't. I nearly forgot. We can work very hard on Mi Via, but it won't do anything to include everyone in a better community; it is just a funding stream. We can talk about self-determination, and though this raises possibilities for freedom, authority, choice and responsibility, it doesn't clarify a vision of everyone belonging. We can support self-advocacy, which can give people an important voice, but this voice doesn't necessarily speak to inclusion. And what the heck is a person-centered plan that isn't at its heart about inclusion. None of these important ideas, tools and practices, as good and helpful as they can each be, considers how people belong, the places they share, the respect for peoples' gifts and contributions - the touch, the feel, the fabric of inclusion.
What is it about the magic of the Institute that helps you find the thing you need, even when you didn't know it?
Several years ago, the daughter of a friend of mine visited New Mexico. We visited Acoma Pueblo. Our tour guide told many colorful and sad stories about his people, their history, their forced slavery by the Spanish, their efforts to keep their traditions. At the conclusion of one of his stories, he made a gesture - with a fist, he tapped his chest twice, then with two fingers, he made the gesture of painting his face, saying, "We will not forget." I recently visited with my friend and her daughter, and we remembered the stories and the gestures. This morning, I affirmed my intention to not forget.
On the second day upon my return to New Mexico, I will share this powerful idea that I am committed to, inclusion, with some friends and colleagues that I am working with. I will invite them to help AAAPD design how to create the experience of inclusion with the people who work with us.
As for our prototyping, we created a 3-dimensional model of a stage with peoples' lives on stage and all the stuff going on back stage and a model of how people can have fun with a hands-on way to go about planning for budgeting and resources. With the help of Judith McGill, we created an Image Theater, acting out the interplay between on stage and back stage. We learned a lot from that about how to bridge the two. We created "permeable" spaces between on stage and back stage and tried prototyping how to create these "permeable" spaces. I was grateful to be part of John's experiment with design-thinking.
I participated in embodied practices with Anne Mitchell. I learned about embodying connecting with a gentle touch.
I found good-byes to be joyful because everyone was full of an experience that really mattered.
I write this at the end of the day, tired and full of the possibility of sleep. I have photos from the Institute and many other thoughts, so I will share more in the next few days.