Thursday, 6 September 2012

Adventures in community-building

Last weekend we celebrated 10 years of Inclusive Leadership Adventures,
a community-building project on Vancouver Island, BC. Its network is now spreading seeds in other regions. Aimed at youth, ILA includes all ages, all origins and orientations, all abilities and levels of experience.

It combines Marshall Rosenberg's nonviolent communication and heart-to-heart listening, Michael J Cohen's ecopsychology, Earth Charter principles, cooperative games, art and music, and Open Space process infused with First Nations and Quaker spirituality. From the beginning it has involved native elders and their families, and volunteers from many different cultures.

We took part in a typical ILA activity day of icebreaking games, workshops (antidiscrimination First Aid, compassionate listening, biodiversity exploration), swimming, boating, art and music, improv skits, childcare and cleanup, team skits and personal commitments.

Many of the teens from previous years have returned as guides/facilitators in later activities. They are impressive young people, mature beyond their calendar age. Some are already employed as college residence staff, or plan to be educators, psychologists, ecologists, social work and health professionals. Participants came from countries such as Germany, Brazil and Cowichan (more properly, Quw’utzun’) First Nation.

Core principles of ILA:
- non-hierarchical structure (everyone is a leader)
‪- practicing inclusion‬ (all ages, origins, etc.)
- exploring, sharing and celebrating diversity
‪- ‬joining with others to take action at home, at school and in our communities
- The emergence of a global civil society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic and humane world.  Our environmental, economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected…together we can forge inclusive solutions. (Earth Charter)
- Our children are the hope of the world…  searching for simple answers to very difficult questions. The answers they need [can be found in] in cooperative and creative childhood pastimes from around the world. Playing and laughing together in an atmosphere of safety, respect and fun is the natural way children heal their hearts and learn skills for connecting with each other and their communities in healthy ways. In a relaxed atmosphere with televisions, radios, and computers turned off, it becomes possible to tune in and listen carefully to the children who look up to us. (Linda Hill 2001)

In previous years ILA has provided encounters with other faiths (e.g. indigenous teachings and wisdom around the globe, Sikhism, Hinduism, Yemanja), spiritual selfcare, the art of gratitude, drum making, traditional canoeing and canoe safety, an optional overnight solo in the forest, First Nations languages and traditional territories, elder & youth talking circles, photography and social change, story telling, permaculture, youth caregivers, Multicultural Leadership (after-school youth drop-in centre, ESL tutoring), Take Back the Night march, Diversity Caravan, conservation and community gardening projects.

These activities are now spreading to other regions. ILA has published a DVD (forthcoming) and several guidebooks for facilitators: Discovering Connections. Building Bridges (1998), Discovering Connections: a guide to the fun of bridging disability differences (1999), Connecting Kids: exploring diversity together (New Society Publishers, 2000), Exploring the Earth Charter (2005), Handbook of Inclusive Leadership Skills (2005), Packs of Play From Around the World (n.d.), Inclusive Leadership Adventures: for exploring sharing and celebrating diversity (2012). List and order form here. See also books by ecopsychologist Michael J. Cohen and his theory of the 53 senses. For more info contact Linda Hill or Linda McDaniels at ILA.

In the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community. (Earth Charter)

1 comment:

sophie said...

This is a highly inspiring example, people coming together of all ages, faiths, and races to work together for the earth, our earth. I want to be reminded at all times of this necessary coming together as we work towards communities that live in peace with the earth and with each other.