Black History Month offers us many invitations for learning. We’re encouraged to learn more about the contributions of individuals in history who may not have originally made our history lessons : black artists, inventors, authors…
We’re also encouraged to learn about American history through a lens of race relations. Understanding more about the experience of slavery, more about the experience of segregation and desegregation, more about the civil rights movement, etc. allows us to make clearer sense of how racism exists today and allows us more tools to address racism in our society.
Finally, Black History Month brings race into our collective awareness, providing us with more opportunities to directly consider race and racism and to commit to new strategies for anti-discrimination. This is a particularly interesting year, as 50 years has passed since the landmark Civil Rights Act was passed which made segregation illegal and paved the way for the Voting Rights Act and the end of the Jim Crow era.
Meetings are an essential element to community work. Most action is made stronger through the engagement of more people, the shift to collective action, and collective action usually requires meetings. There are some great resources to help those planning meetings make them better but nothing beats an in-person training session!
To that end, the League of Women Voters of Maine and Portland Public Library’s Choose Civility Initiative are pleased to offer two FREE facilitation workshops. Seating is limited, so save your space for one or both by registering here. Feel free to share this information with others.
Saturday February 8th at Portland Public Library Main Branch, Meeting Room # 5
9:30 – 11:30 : Never Another Useless Meeting : Meeting Facilitator Training
This training is intended for those just beginning to convene meetings AND those with a lot of experience who would like to share support and gain new skills. The focus will be broad enough to include core facilitation skills for all kinds of meetings – big and small, public or private.
11:30 – 12:30 : Lunch break – on your own (brown bags welcome)
12:30 – 2:30 : The Balancing Act of Candidate and Issue Forums : From Design to Day-Of Details
This session will focus on the range of issues to consider when convening a community forum to discuss election issues, including candidate forums and forums on particular ballot questions.
Both sessions will be conducted by Anne Schink,a consultant in volunteer management, training, and facilitation offering services to nonprofit organizations, public entities, and faith-based organizations. From 1995 to 2009 Anne was the Program/Training/Disability Officer at the Maine Commission for Community Service. In 2007 Anne received the CVA designation from the Council on Certification in Volunteer Administration. Anne currently serves on the National Board of the League of Women Voters.
Last year on this date, Maine poet Richard Blanco shared his poem “One Today” at the Presidential Inauguration. The poem reminds us of all we share : “One ground. Our ground… ” and reminds us that our differences also shape our uniquely personal path:
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever.
In the end, Blanco reminds us that it is our collective vision, spirit, effort and attitude that will shape our collective future.
It is much this same message that No Name Calling Week proffers — a message to youth and adults and to the institutions within which we learn and work to embrace kindness and make it active… to Choose Civility in a big way. To resist a bullying culture is not just to punish those who cross the line but to develop strategies to encourage and enhance empathy in ourselves and our communities.
The GlSEN site offers many resources for engaging young people in conversations about bullying and about kindness — their suggested reading list is here.
Portland Public Library offers many provocative and helpful materials as well — a small sampling is here but a reference librarian can help you find just what you’re looking for!
Join us on Thursday January 24th for an evening of “Kindness Shorts” including winners from Kindness The Movie‘s video contest and an opportunity to watch Blanco read “One Today.”