Author Archives for IISC

September 18, 2009

The Rat Trap in the Farm House

A few months ago, while attending the 95th session of the Hampton University Minister’s Conference, I heard my most favorite preacher of all times, the Rev. Dr. Claudette Copeland use a brilliant illustration that got me thinking about systems thinking, networks and collaboration. I will surely integrate this illustration into my consulting and training practice, and recount it herewith for your enjoyment and cogitation: Read More

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September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

Eight years ago Today:

  • 8:46 am – AA Flight 11 hits the North Tower of the WTC 
  • 9:03 am – UA Flight 175 hits the South Tower
  • 9:37 am – AA Flight 77 hits the Pentagon
  • 9:59 am – South Tower falls
  • 10:03 am – UA Flight 93 crashes in Shanksville, PA  
  • 10:28 am – North Tower falls

As a nation of families, neighborhoods, communities and citizens, let’s pause to remember the lives and courage of the nearly 3,000 who lost their lives 8 years ago today, on September 11, 2001.

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August 28, 2009

The Lion of the Senate’s Legacy: How to Step into A Leadership Void

On Wednesday, August 26, 2009, a great public servant and leader died.  Massachusetts Senator Edward “Teddy” Kennedy’s legacy of service, championing the under-served and working class of our country, had come to an end in one form, now to transition to a legacy of another sort. It was the second day of the Facilitative Leadership course I was co-training, and of course, that morning, we paused to mourn, reflect, reminisce and examine our study of leadership in the brilliant, shining light of his life long leadership practice.

Later in the day, I came across this blog piece published by the Harvard Business Review, entitled, “How Ted Kennedy Got Things Done,” and couldn’t help but notice how much the observations of his distinguished service track so well with several of the attributes and principles of Facilitative Leadership: Read More

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August 24, 2009

Hope Born of Paradox

Eduardo Galeano is a man who really gets us to look at a new angle. And that is really what we need now right, new angles. New ways of thinking. New attempts at approaching the same problems that have plagued our history. A friend of mine tweeted this NPR article about Galeano’s current days, back home in Uruguay. It is short and sweet, and worth a read.

Galeano is famous for exploiting the beauty in contradictions, while at the same time being a forceful voice against injustice, poverty and war. One of his most famous writings entails the line, “Courage is born of fear, certainty of doubt”.  The article mentioned above, explores one of the short stories of history which Galeano recounts in his new book Mirrors. Read More

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August 10, 2009

Want To Be Inspired?

Who doesn’t? And who isn’t? We at IISC are inspired daily by those we cross paths with and all that we might read. And it is always wonderful to pass the inspiration along. Well, you might remember this video from a few months back, orginally posted by Marianne, a rendition of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” by Playing for Change.  Here it is:

But the song isn’t the great part right now. The great part is that Playing for Change will be on tour this fall in the United States and Canada! The will perform in many cities in the States, including our home base of Boston. I’m sure a few of the staff here will be attending. To see if they are playing by you, check here.

Inspiration often comes at times we least expect it, and most need it. How wonderful it must be to harness that energy and see it coming ahead of time.

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August 7, 2009

Community Solutions

Just a month ago, the  President called on foundations, philanthropists, and others in the private sector to partner with the government to find and invest in innovative, high-impact solutions that are found outside the Beltway.  The press release for this new White House initiative, Community Solutions, stated:

“Now more than ever, we need to build cross-sector partnerships to transform our schools, improve the health of Americans, and employ more people in clean energy and other emerging industries.  These community solutions will help build the new foundation for the economy and the nation. “

What say ye? What are the implications of a government that, at least in some sense,  “gets it”?

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July 31, 2009

Social Entrepreneurs, Social Change, Government & You

Last week while in DC for a work assignment, I took time to connect with a brother-colleague and former professor of mine, Dr. Shaun Casey, who teaches Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, and served as Senior Advisor for Religious Affairs for the Obama Campaign.  As he is gearing up for another semester, he is also in he throes of promoting his new book,  The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy v. Nixon 1960 and finds himself  well suited to speak to the transformative historical moment and opportunity that is the Obama presidency.  As we caught up, shared stories from the campaign trail, and spoke of our common passion for public theology, transformative policy making and ushering in social change informed and fueled by the grassroots,  he shared of his enthusiasm for the  White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and for the work of Senior Advisor for Social Innovation for the White House Domestic Policy Council, Michele Jolin.

Mentioning her work as Vice President of Ashoka, and with the Center for American Progress, Casey shared how he was hopeful that office’s ability to appreciate the role of  harnessing the thinking and experience of community-based,  faith-based, and other grassroots located  change agents to build policy and enact solutions for  some of our most intractable national issues. He recommended that I contact her directly (which I will, so stay locked in to this blog site), and also that I check out a book she co-edited, Change for America. In the book, Casey makes this claim in an article he authored, and which collectively sets forth a blue print of recommendations to the Obama Administration for real…change.  I recommend you check it out as well, so that we may continue our blog conversations with it in mind. Read More

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July 31, 2009

Social Entrepreneurs, Social Change, Government & You

Last week while in DC for a work assignment, I took time to connect with a brother-colleague and former professor of mine, Dr. Shaun Casey, who teaches Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, and served as Senior Advisor for Religious Affairs for the Obama Campaign.  As he is gearing up for another semester, he is also in he throes of promoting his new book,  The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy v. Nixon 1960 and finds himself  well suited to speak to the transformative historical moment and opportunity that is the Obama presidency.  As we caught up, shared stories from the campaign trail, and spoke of our common passion for public theology, transformative policy making and ushering in social change informed and fueled by the grassroots,  he shared of his enthusiasm for the  White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and for the work of Senior Advisor for Social Innovation for the White House Domestic Policy Council, Michele Jolin.

Mentioning her work as Vice President of Ashoka, and with the Center for American Progress, Casey shared how he was hopeful that office’s ability to appreciate the role of  harnessing the thinking and experience of community-based,  faith-based, and other grassroots located  change agents to build policy and enact solutions for  some of our most intractable national issues. He recommended that I contact her directly (which I will, so stay locked in to this blog site), and also that I check out a book she co-edited, Change for America. In the book, Casey makes this claim in an article he authored, and which collectively sets forth a blue print of recommendations to the Obama Administration for real…change.  I recommend you check it out as well, so that we may continue our blog conversations with it in mind. Read More

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July 24, 2009

This Week in Blackness: 2009 is the New 1952

The Brooklyn Comedy Company Proudly Presents the 4th Episode of season 2 of This Week in Blackness. In the latest episode host Elon James White talks about the past few weeks in so-called post-racial America…and this was even BEFORE the incident involving Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates that happened a few days ago, right in IISC‘s backyard. (For more on that connection and an extension of last week’s lively discussion on same,  check out Princeton Professor and MSNBC regular Melissa Harris Lacewell’s recent blog in “The Nation” entitled “Skip Gates and the Post-Racial Project”.) Read More

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July 17, 2009

The Door of No Return

On Wednesday’s edition of the Tom Joyner Morning Show, the Rev. Al Sharpton made a poignant observation about President Obama’s recent trip to the slave castles in Ghana. While noting the psycho-spiritual-historical significance of the First Family’s visit to the infamous “Door of No Return”  his statement was that, contrary to the intent of the enslavers, indeed we (descendants of the enslaved) have returned — as President of the United States, the most important and powerful leader of the most powerful country on Earth.

Journalist Anderson Cooper will air a 1-hr special this weekend on CNN (8p, 11p on Saturday and Sunday) of his exclusive interview with the President during the First Family’s historic tour of these monuments to evil. In this clip, Cooper narrates a tour of the dungeons where captured Africans were held until they would be shoved through the Door of No Return to face their fate of either death during the terror-filled Middle Passage or a life of enslavement in the Americas.

While such observations evoke sobering, grievous as well as prideful thoughts, when coupled with my reaction to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings of the brilliant, exceptionally qualified, impeccably credentialed, and yes, wise, Latina Judge Sonia Sotomayor — I am further vexed about the state of race relations in this country.
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July 15, 2009

Knowledge is Half the Power

Many of us in the United States have been assured from an early age that knowledge is power. While this is true, it is incomplete. Knowledge is half the power. (And if not exactly half, some percentage of power). There are a number of other factors which make up power including but not limited to, race, class, age, sexual orientation, finances, who one knows, societal norms of one’s environment and most importantly, action. Knowledge means little, if it is not acted upon.

We learn every day. Every now and then, we learn of an injustice in the world which hits us just right, to the point that we want it to change it. Often however, we are far removed from the injustice, so either we forget it or become overwhelmed by the task of taking action. As a result, we may fall into a cycle where we simply read more about the issue, or keep telling others of the injustice, but never get around to concrete action. And while action may be hard part, it also seems to be the most rewarding. How do we make that leap to act when the injustice seems insurmountable? How do we harness the energy of those who came before us, who know what tactics work for each issue?

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