Conversation is underrated

Imhotep Adisa, Director of the Kheprw Institute (KI) in Indianapolis, often says conversation is overrated and I have found that he is correct.  KI has been holding monthly book discussions for several years, which anyone is welcome to participate in.

At one point these discussions were used to teach the KI interns how to think critically, and to develop their leadership and speaking skills by having the interns lead the discussion.  For the discussion of “The New Jim Crow”, Rasul and Keenan would read a couple of chapters, and then write a blog post related to that.  Those blog posts were available for everyone to read prior to the discussion.  Then when the community got together, Rasul and Keenan led the discussion.

The book of course is just the vehicle to generate discussion, and fascinating conversations occur.  People are very respectful of what each other have to say, and everyone has great stories and thoughts to share.  The photos below are from the latest discussion, which was of “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver.  I really enjoyed the new things I learned about food and the environment.  I had been so focused on Keystone and extreme extraction up until now, and was delighted to read these stories of creating local sources of food, and the interrelationships between food and the environmental impacts of growing and transporting it.

North Meadow Circle of Friends is piloting a new program from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) called the Quaker Social Change Ministry program.  The idea is to find a community that is experiencing injustice, and accompanying them.  Accompany is used to try to avoid the mistakes of the past when Quakers would tend to try to help such communities, but tended to offer help from their perspective, not realizing that perspective is often part of the problem rather than the solution.  Accompaniment acknowledges that those experiencing injustice have a much better idea of the factors involved, and are either working on solutions already themselves, or at least have ideas of what the solutions look like.

In the process of doing these things, such as having these underrated conversations, we are all growing together into Martin Luther King’s vision of a beloved community.


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