Showing posts from 2021

Wave. Say Hello. Repeat.

It's become a regular occurrence when I'm out walking through Lakeview Cemetery for folks to stop me and ask how to get to a famous gravesite.  "Excuse me," someone will say as they roll down their car window.  "Do you know where Rockefeller is?"  I pause and orient myself because, yes, I know where John D. Rockefeller's grave is -- I just need a moment to think on that in relation to wherever we might be in the 285 acres that is the cemetery grounds.  Then I give them directions and send them on their way.  And I chuckle -- because what made them think I'd know?   Over twenty years of customer service radiates from me.  Lakeview isn't the first place I've had strangers approach me for information that there's no reasonable reason I should have.  I've had old women come up to white-blonde-lady-me in a grocery store speaking only Spanish.  I've had people next to me in a coffee shop ask my opinion on Kindle versus Nook.  I've

Going Beyond the Blue Dot

  For me, it kept coming back to a blue dot in the center of a blank space.  Dr. Mark Chupp showed this image to all of us who were participating in the Appreciative Inquiry for Social Change workshop, which he co-lead with Carolyn Colleen over three days last week. He asked us, “What do you see here?” “A blue dot,” someone said. “A black ring around a blue dot,” someone else said. “I see a 4,” someone chimed in, noting the slide number at the bottom of the screen. “Very observant,” Dr. Chupp said. But what were we missing? We were missing most of what the image before us showed: a blank, white space surrounding a relatively small blue dot with an even tinier black outline.  Instead of seeing the entire picture, our eyes were drawn to one focal point -- all of our attention and effort went there, with the only exception being a page number.  But what about the rest of it?  What could we see if we took it all in? Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a strengths-based method of posing that very

Letter to the MSASS Class of 2021

Listen to this post here . To my fellow graduates, When I moved to Cleveland in the summer of 2019, I was leaving behind almost eighteen years of a life I built in Somerville, Massachusetts, just across the river from Boston.  When I first moved to The 'Ville in 2002, it was to attend Emerson College and earn an MFA in Creative Writing -- so the boomerang effect of returning to my Ohio roots to work on a second Master's Degree felt like poetry. I entered the Mandel School on my first day of class at least ten years older than many of my classmates.  I entered the Mandel School on my first day of class with over twenty years of professional, leadership, community-building experience.  I entered the Mandel School on my first day of class with the confidence of a woman who'd survived nearly two decades of life in Boston, a city not known for its friendly, opening arms (though they are there -- if you know how to access them).   I entered the Mandel School on my first day of cl

Trauma-Informed Facilitation Simulation

  Reflection on the Simulation of Working With Parents of Elementary School-Aged Children  Returning to In-Person Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic Identifying the Community  For my video simulation, my selected community is parents of elementary school-aged children in a district that is reopening to in-person classes. I selected this group because I have school-aged nephews as well as a number of friends who work in schools, and so I have seen all sides of this conversation around safety for students and staff amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on this group of parents also provides an opportunity for me to explore a multi-faceted and dynamic array of viewpoints and concerns. While some parents have worked from home during the pandemic, others haven’t had that as an option, while still others lost or given up their jobs in order to be home with their kids.  Additionally, different families had different assessments of safety during the pandemic, which could lead to some tens

Chakra Meditation Script and Recording

LISTEN HERE. DOWNLOAD HERE. Script from May 4, 2021: I am happy to be leading the grounding exercise and would like to dedicate today’s practice to our friend Kat and Baby Robert, who has joyfully arrived!   I invite you either to lay down flat on your back or if you remain seated to sit straight but without any forceful effort.  Close your eyes or draw a soft focus.  And breathe.  Begin with slow and steady deep breaths.  If you know ujjayi breathing, feel free to engage it now. If not - no worries.  Focus on even inhales and exhales.  I AM, HERE NOW I AM, HERE NOW I AM, HERE NOW What are chakras? In Sanskrit, the word “chakra” means “disk” or “wheel” and refers to the energy centers in your body. The belief is that when your chakras are “cleared” then you function at your best.  The chakra system follows your spinal column from base to top, so we will start at the beginning: Root chakra - Red (Muladhara) Imagine the color red. The root chakra is located at the base of your spine. I

Op-Ed: Community Safety Belongs to All of Us

 Written April 15, 2021 Community Safety Belongs to All of Us As I write, the trial of Derek Chauvin unfolds.  This Minnesota police officer murdered George Floyd, a Black man whose only crime was paying for some items at a convenience store with a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill.  For this nonviolent offense, Mr. Floyd was pinned to the ground with Officer Chauvin’s knee on his neck.  Video footage of the nine minutes and thirty seconds that proved to be Mr. Floyd’s final moments captured him struggling for air and gasping the words, “I can’t breathe.”  Even so, this officer of the law remained unmoved and Mr. Floyd died (Chappell, 2021).  The video itself became a tragic viral phenomenon capturing the cruel final moments of Mr. Floyd’s life.   The harsh and heartbreaking reality is that stories like this are only too common in the United States.  As “Policing in America,” a recent episode of the NPR podcast Throughline , thoroughly explores, the very nature of policing in this country

Policy Analysis of Greater Cleveland Public Safety

Policy Overview Policing in the United States has a long, often troubling, history (Anderson, 2016).  With law enforcement being tasked with the bulk of what is broadly defined as “public safety,” officers are said to “protect and serve” the public-at-large.  The harsh reality, though, is that Black and Brown people are targeted more often by the police, resulting in generations of community trauma and escalating violence between the two “sides” (Sakala and La Vigne, 2019). What’s true, too, is that these public safety trustees are called to serve functions that go outside of typical police officer training or common expectation of their duties (Vermeer et al, 2020).  This combination of implicit (or explicit) racial biases/tensions and the undue stress of calling the police for matters that they are not equipped or needed to handle has resulted in unnecessary violence and death, both of residents and sworn officers (Kahn, 2018).  In 2020, the murder-by-police of George Floyd, Breonna