Motivational Monday

Sep12

Think of the last time you communicated with someone.  What do you think of? A conversation with words, a phone call, or text?

Communicating can be anything from a greeting to a wave, to simply listening. The tone of your voice can say more than your words.  When solving a conflict, it’s important to keep your tone and your words kind.  Conflicts can easily be frustrating, but the way one goes about it can determine the outcome.  When discussing a problem, focus on the end goal.  What can be done to get there?  It is not about blaming one party or the other.  It is about coming to a resolution.

Listening is such a vital part of communication.  It’s often forgotten about amidst the words in conversation.  When you listen, you are receiving information.  When you listen, it gives you time to process what is being said.  When you listen, you take the time to decide the best way to respond.  It is not just about who can talk the longest or who has the most to say, but it’s about being active on either side of the conversation.

Sometimes people don’t need a response from the listener at all.  Sometimes we just need someone to listen, and sometimes we just need to talk.  One way or another, it’s important to be present when in conversation.

From the Intern

Sep08

This past Labor Day, I took a trip out to the falls.  I misjudged the busyness of the falls, and when I arrived, the entire area was hosting quite the number of people.

On this trip, I went alone.  The plan was to climb to the top of the fall and sit on the rock that overlooks the drop and the bank it flows into, and to read some assignments for class. Instead, I only read maybe one act of my play, spoke to people for longer than I intended, and naturally, people watched.

People watching is such a funny concept that has become fairly socially accepted.  While I sat on my little perch, I watched as people talked and took pictures for each other.  Everyone smiling and watching out for each other as they climbed over rocks and through the baby currents.  It reminded me of the holiday season or a festival.  The atmosphere had such a connecldblog2ted, interpersonal feeling.  I sat there and thought about everyone and how they were interacting.

I realized if we were all in a mall or somewhere just as goal oriented, hardly anyone would be stopping to say a small hello to a passerby.  People would not be as open as they are on a beautifully sunny day, or at a festival.  Honestly, that made me kind of sad.  I recognize everyone has their own agenda.  I’m okay with people being busy, but for it to have to be a special event, or Labor Day in an exciting park of strangers to connect with each other bums me out.

Picture this: everyone interacting and doing small actions to connect with one another.  Anywhere and any day of the year could be special.  I’m not saying you should be late to every meeting because you stopped to say hello to every single person. I don’t think it should have to be the place or time or the year dictating the atmosphere.  As Pittacus Lore said, “A place is only as good as the people…it’s the people that make the place.”

We each are more than capable of making any place special for anyone, and that in itself is a beautiful power we all hold.ldblog

Lego Listening

Aug10

LegoListen

Leah:

My role in Lego Listening was the listener. Sitting back to back with my partner, I had to listen to her describe what her lego creation looked like. No questions were to be asked by me, so I was completely in the dark. I could only rely on her descriptions to lead the way. In my mind, putting the legos together didn’t seem like it would be a hard task, but it proved a lot more difficult than I expected. I kept thinking in my head, “This can’t be right; I know it doesn’t look like this”. By the time the facilitator took the legos from my hands to show my partner, I was so confused by what it was supposed to look like. My partner was allowed to look at the legos to see where I was wrong, and we started over from the beginning.

The second time around I was able to ask questions to get clarification. I asked detailed questions about each individual lego I was adding to my lego set. At first, I was still confused from the first round, but being able to ask questions made it so much easier.  When I was able to get clarification from my partner through our communicate together, our lego structures looked more similar than the previous try.

I noticed I was trying to guess where the pieces went before she was done describing it in the first round, which could’ve hurt my lego building. Because I was stuck on what I thought was going to be the next step, I was not focused on listening. At the end, seeing the final product compared to the original I just laughed because it was completely different from how I pictured it in my head.

We were only a few pieces off of what the final structure looked like. From the pieces we did have, there was only one piece I placed wrong, and it was a matter of how you personally saw each lego and how you described it. Lego Listening was a really interesting experience, and it required a lot of listening skills from my side of the creating.

Arianna:

During Lego Listening, I played the role of communicator as I gave instructions to Leah.  I had to give her direction as to how to piece her set of legos together to match my creation.  In the first round she could not ask me any questions, so I had to be as descriptive as possible.  This part challenged me because I had to think of different ways she would interpret my words.  For each step, I tried to rephrase my directions to give her the best chance at understanding what I was saying.  In hindsight, this potentially might have made my directions more confusing.  I had no idea if she was following along, which made me unsure whether or not I need to clarify what I was saying.

The facilitator handed me her structure after about ten minutes of me instructing her.  I could see where the direction had gone wrong or had been misunderstood, but I could also understand why she did what she did based on my words.  I realized how I needed to change my words the next time around.

The second time around, I made more of an effort to be descriptive of exactly which lego piece I used.  She could also ask questions, so I tried to answer them as clearly as I could. The fact we could talk back and forth really helped.  Her questions let me know where she was and I was able to better guide her.

This exercise taught me how important it is to have communication because it not only lets you hear their part but it lets you know how you’re sounding to them.  At points I thought I was very direct, but after hearing her question, I would realize my directions were unclear.  It took the listening on both ends to fully understand each other.  In my eyes, people often think of communication as one person listening and one person talking.  Through Lego Listening, I learned that both parties need to be listening and both parties need to be talking to one another.

Social Justice Leadership Camp 2016

Aug08

SJLC LogoReflections by Clare Wildhack-Nolan (Director)

This year was an amazing year in the practice of Social Justice Leadership Camp. It was our fourth year of building: curriculum building, leadership building, community building, momentum building. It was all that! The Social Justice Leadership Camp has proven we are successful in achieving our mission of developing confident and knowledgeable leaders who analyze power systems in order to build a more equitable society.Our two-week day camp develops critical thinking, encourages personal reflection, leadership development, civic engagement, and creative problem solving; essentially, community organizing skills.

Our two-week day camp develops critical thinking, encourages personal reflection, leadership development, civic engagement, and creative problem solving; essentially, community organizing skills.  Camp covers the themes of: personal identity, power analysis, social justice and leadership, media analysis, economic justice, justice within gender and sexuality, racial justice, justice and disability rights, art and expression, and event and action planning.

This year the impact camp has had in our leaders’ lives, over the past four years, became evident. We are seeing campers who own their leadership, with a clearer understanding of how institutional power works. It is inspiring to see them work!

Paije, who was in our first group of campers ever, stayed involved in our camp meet-ups and returned this year to participate in a second round of camp. Her ability to identify injustice and articulate the sources in institutional power that affect her life is a concrete product of her involvement in camp, she says. She uses her understanding in any atmosphere she is in: school, work, home, while watching TV, with friends.  As her awareness and confidence has grown she has taken a leadership role in her school community, especially the Youth in Action Group she leads. The year before last they went to Washington D.C. to be honored for their work. After this year’s camp she plans to go back to her school and build more awareness about the challenges that immigrants face in the USA, as well as spread understanding of the multi-cultural and racial identities of the Latino community.

Ariana’s participation in Camp as a counselor is evidence that Camp is integrating youth in the power base of our practice. Ariana was a camper last year. After finishing her senior year at Herron High School, she joined us for camp before heading off to her first year at IU Bloomington. While at IU Bloomington she has gotten involved in a Filipino cultural organization and has continued her research around ableism and disability rights. During camp she expanded our curriculum to include an eye-opening piece on ableism, identifying personal to institutional impacts and a historical perspective on the framing of our concepts of normal. She brought a clear youth voice to camp leadership, and acted as a great role model to what is possible. She plans to head back to IU with her expanded facilitation skills, primed to push her cultural organization into deeper conversations regarding the impact of racism and interconnections between people of color and will continue her work for disability rights.

All of the campers make camp the positive and powerful space it is. This year we had 3 past campers, who although not enrolled in camp this year, came to support on specific days, sharing in our community and speaking to ways that new campers can stay involved. Calvin joined us on the community tour. He has taken time to use his poetry and art to speak on panels about the school to prison pipeline and host community building events with his family. Eboni joined us for the Social Justice Leadership Panel Discussion, the Community Tour, and our Final Event and Celebration. She is a sophomore in Ivy Tech’s Culinary Arts program. She attended and co-facilitated meet-ups throughout the 2015-16 school year, including a community discussion on Mass Incarceration, and she was a panelist in a dialogue on the future of I-Step.

Likewise, we see past campers jumping on opportunities that we are developing through partnerships. Three past campers were selected by the Desmond Tutu Center to be Youth Fellows and attended a social justice trip to South Africa this summer. They will then be returning to the city to complete a social justice community initiative. Additionally, SJL Camp co-founder/ facilitator Mat Davis has connected us with the directors of a Social Justice Scholars program at IUPUI, which offers full scholarships to accepted participants.  We plan on informing all of our participants of the opportunity!

Although camp is a quick two week program full of intimate discussion and self reflection, without any ”direct action” we see that our campers embrace the commitment and critical thinking it takes to live a life of social justice. They understand why and how, they want to approach whatever they do.

Our next step is to expand our school year offerings to support students in completing a solid and thoughtful social justice initiative in their school community. We would like to offer specific workshops around the needed organizing skills, a trip to Chicago to visit youth organizations, and to provide small stipends to help teens prioritize the important work they are doing, when many of them need an income. Additionally, we would  like to extend our reach to other teens who have grabbed on to specific causes to do their Social Justice work. We will do this by partnering with other youth social justice organizations to collaborate on a youth community organizing and power building summit. We have already been building partnerships with interested groups such as Earth Charter Indiana, IYG, American Friends Service Committee, shehive, Just Education Coalition, Felege Hiywot Center, and Planned Parenthood.

There is a beautiful genuine feeling of possibility and motivation at the end of camp. It is what we are together. Multiple campers sighted that they learned they need a community of people who understand them and challenge them to do the work they want to do. Annaleigh and Priscilla, from opposites sides of town, both came to camp looking for a home of open-minded people who want to learn and open their eyes to the diversity of experiences in this city. They often feel isolated in their usual school environments, alone and unsure of how to raise their perspectives and needs with the adults in power or their peers. At camp they found that they are not alone. Now, with confidence, they can build their power and voice. The whole camp family believes in them! As they move forward it is camp’s responsibility and joy to keep being that community!

Camp 2016

Climate Camp, Overview

Aug04

Final Notes from Climate Camp 2016

Indianapolis, Ind. (July 30, 2016) – Earth Charter Indiana and its youth program, Youth Power Indiana, along with partner Peace Learning Center and HEART, collaborated once again on their annual weeklong Climate Camp, July 25-29.

Youth are available for interviews upon request.

Highlights of the Week:
· Presentations by and on:
o #JustTrayNo youth, four 11-year-old students who convinced IPS officials to stop using polystyrene lunch trays starting this school year
o The Promise Project, Carmel-based Climate Campers working with elected officials on climate recovery
o Climate Recovery, Indy-based Climate Campers working with elected officials on climate recovery
o Youth action in the United States
· A public showing of Josh Fox’s (Gasland) new documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change
· A nature hike around Eagle Creek Park
· A visit to the Nature Conservancy, Indy’s most sustainable building, where Climate Campers also learned all about The Children of Indiana Nature Park, recently launched in Centerville, Indiana
· A tour of IndyGo’s new Downtown Transit Center
· A Mock City County Council meeting, where Campers familiarized themselves with the city county council and how the public is engaged in impacting local policy
· A trip to Freewheelin’ Community Bikes, where youth leaders helped Climate Campers tune up their bikes, learning bike safety and maintenance in preparation for their afternoon ride
· Indy’s first-ever Tour de Hives. Starting in 2015, tanks to a grant by SustainIndy, Earth Charter Indiana teamed up with beekeeper Kate Franzman (Bee Public) to engage in pollinator education project that resulted in hives placed at Indianapolis schools. Franzman met with students to talk about bee health and Mayor Joe Hogsett’s recent signing of the Monarch Pledge.
· Several campers paused their bike ride to participate in a public ALEC protest in full swing in front of the Indiana Statehouse
· A group discussion on environmental racism, led by assistant director Tabitha Barbour.
· Campers learned that a story on Climate Camp was published in the Indianapolis Star: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2016/07/27/indiana-students-work-fight-climate-change/87382560/
· Climate Camp was also covered in the local media via WFYI’s live Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/WFYI.Indianapolis/videos/10154265427065874/
· The Climate Camp 2016 Showcase, “Speak Out for the Planet,” held from 5-8 p.m. at the Indianapolis State Museum
· Delicious vegan meals including lunches catered by 3 Carrots, Shepherd’s Pie made from produce donated by Indy Urban Acres and Pogue’s Run Grocer, and dinner from DUO’s Foodtruck
Kristina Hulvershorn, co-director of Climate Camp and Youth Program Director for the Peace Learning Center, stated this year’s camp to be “extraordinarily powerful, because we have so many campers invested in real life, change-making activities. It was an inspiring celebration of hope and opportunity.”
Many others were equally delighted with the experiences of the week. Counselor Cora Gordon, an incoming sophomore at North Central High School, is “constantly inspired by all the kids. They are so brilliant. They have such great ideas and I love them with all of my heart.” Videographer Ryan McCracken, who recorded the kids’ camp activities all week, thinks climate camp is “a great opportunity to get their mission out. It grows every year and gives kids a unique set of life skills, leadership roles, and opportunities that they couldn’t get anywhere else.” McCracken’s video of this year’s camp will be released on the Youth Power Indiana web site.

Lastly and most importantly, this summer’s climate camp was also termed successful by the campers themselves. Soon to be sixth grader Emily, a member of the #JustTrayNo group from Sidener, thought the best part of camp was “being able to be in an environment where everyone really cares about climate change and how bad it is for the earth.”
Ocean, eleven, most enjoyed experiencing “new thing you haven’t done before, like eating vegan,” while her friend Jasmine loved the “hiking. I had fun picking up trash for the community and the earth.” Fifteen-year-old Hillary declared that she will “keep coming back to climate camp because a lot of camps are just fun, but this camp also incorporates learning and environmental awareness.”
Climate Camp co-director Jim Poyser said, “I am blown away not only by brilliance and commitment of these kids, but our ongoing partnerships with organizations and entities like Indiana State Museum, Freewheelin’ Community Bikes, Indy Urban Acres, The Nature Conservancy, Bee Public and IndyGo. What I see is a community coming together in support of these kids’ futures.”
Earth Charter Indiana and Peace Learning Center held their first week long Climate Camp in 2014. Earth Charter Indiana’s support for its Youth Power Indiana program, including climate camps, comes from The McKinney Family Foundation, The Netherleigh Fund, The Herbert Simon Family Foundation and Lilly Endowment Inc.
For more on Climate Camp, go to the Youth Power Indiana website and eye this short video.

Peace From the Eyes of Leah Trimpe, Summer Intern

Aug03

Peace to me means bringing a community together where distance and miscommunication were once major hurdles. I believe peace consists of working through those problems towards the common good of the community. To be able to achieve peace, we as a society must start accepting and celebrating each other’s differences. Once we see past these differences, we can start creating a community of peace. I also think in teaching the next generation to celebrate those differences will help our community since they are the future.

Leah
I chose to intern at the PLC because I wanted to improve my skills at facilitating discussion among a group. I also had the opportunity got to work with kids of all ages which taught me how to adapt to any situation.  While interning here, I was most surprised by the discussions we had as a group when talking about how to treat one another. I thought it would be too broad of a topic for younger kids to process, but they were the ones who contributed the most to our discussions. I was challenged when they would ask rather hard questions–making me think about my own choices in my personal life. This job really required me to reflect on my actions, and how I can change them to become a better role model to the younger generation.

After participating in a day at the PLC, I hope the groups will remember the lessons we gave on affirmation. As a young person, you are trying to find who you are, and there are so many outside influences affecting how you think about yourself. My hope is that they can take the time to reflect on what they bring to into the world and how their individuality is so important to our society.


Leah is going to be a senior at Indiana University Bloomington this fall.  She is majoring in psychology and minoring in counseling. Leah would really want to work with youth, specifically teenagers, in finding their special place in this big, scary world. She wants to push them to become the best people they could possibly be. Being a big lover of dogs, she would love to work on incorporating puppies into youth work.

Peace From the Eyes of Austin Elliott, Summer Intern

Jul27

AustinPeace, in my eyes, means there is a perception of tranquility and security in the present moment, whether that be in an individual or wide spread sense.  Thinking on a societal level to a national level, I believe peace is limited on how far it can reach due to differing senses on what that really means. To one community, broken windows and street graffiti can feel like home. However, to others, those could be signs of discomfort. Therefore, different initiatives that one person thinks would improve a community could in fact conflict with the sense of peace and stability that those living there feel. I think that a lot of places are peaceful, but it takes the right person to be able to see that in them. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I believe peace is limited to a community, and those there should do their best to ensure it is maintained. Yet, I do believe there are situations and experiences you can learn from (visiting the PLC) that will give you different perspectives on how to achieve that peace in the environment you place yourself in.

It’s nearly impossible for me to choose one most impactful moment of my internship this summer. There are countless moments every day I have with our amazing staff making it truly enjoyable to be here. Their constant support and positive energy make it a loving and educational environment for both myself and the children we serve. I couldn’t imagine doing what we do all summer without them. You couldn’t find a more selfless group of individuals that genuinely care about helping and supporting the lives of the children.   When our groups leave the PLC, my main hope is that the children know they are important and are able to be impactful members of their community. So much of what we do focuses on developing and/or harnessing leadership skills and qualities in these children. I want them to be able to realize this to become the outstanding people we are able to see in each of them when they are here.


Austin is currently a full-time student at the University of Indianapolis, and he will be a Senior this upcoming calendar year. While there, he has been busy working, being involved with various service projects, leading his university’s GSA, UIndy PRIDE, and studying to become an accredited social worker. In the future, he would love to be an advocate for children in a couple of different manners. Working in adoptions and with LGBTQ+ youth are dream jobs of his. At the PLC, we are so excited to see where his path takes him!

Volunteer of the Month – July

Jul26

Austin

Peace Learning Center would like to recognize Austin Elliot, Breea Vest, and LLeaheah Trimpe as the volunteers of the month! These wonderful students joined us as summer interns and have been a tremendous addition to our program.

Our Youth Development Facilitators worked closely with them and said, “This summer has been amazing with our new interns. They jumped in with enthusiasm. They shared their unique personalities and styles with Breeathe PLC staff and all the summer groups. They were always positive, willing to help and we could always depend on them to step up. They showed great commitment to peace and youth. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts.”

Thank you for everything you have done for our organization. We are very lucky to have you on our team! Interested in completing an internship with us? Contact jhoran@peacelearningcenter.org 

 

Peace From the Eyes of Breea Vest, Summer Intern

Jul19

When I think of peace, I think of everyone in a community working together.  One person can make a change, but together as a team, we can make a world of a change.

I chose to work with the Peace Learning Center because of all the great things I heard about them. The Peace Learning Center is definitely one of the kind. During one of my first few events here, I realized the large impact I could have on a single child’s life in such a short amount of time. When a child feels comfortable in a setting like the Peace Learning Center, it’s incredible how much they can open up to the group. On my first day at the Peace learning Center I was playing a game with a group who had just arrived, and something just clicked between a little girl and I. She was super shy at first, but between our fun interactions and my peace training, she felt I was someone she could trust and she was by my side the whole day. At the end of the day she gave me the warmest, sweetest hug before she left.

The one-on-one experience I had with this one child reminded how much of a change a single person can make. When I think of the great impact I had on this girl, I think of the even bigger impact our group has on all of the groups coming through our camps throughout the summer. It reminds me of how so much is possible, how so much peace is achievable, and how big of an impact we can all make by just trying.



BreeaBreea is an incoming Junior at Indianapolis University Purdue University in downtown Indianapolis. She is studying Health Science with a minor in health education. Breea hopes to be able to work with children in her career and focus on the importance of personal health and a positive community. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree she has plans to attend graduate school and to become a Certified Occupational Therapist and to work with children who have been involved in traumatic situations. Breea is thankful for the opportunity the Peace Learning Center has provided her and she hopes to continue building her networking as the Summer comes to an end.

Motivational Monday

Jul18

Many times, people get too caught up in trying to save everyone by donating to as many organizations as possible or volunteering every chance they get.  This is admirable, no doubt, but people often become discouraged by the lack of results.  On larger scales, like world hunger, it’s improbable to see an immediate change.

It’s easy to forget it’s not about how big the impact you make is, but it’s about the people you impact.  It’s not a matter of quantity.  Look at the small circle of people  you interact with.  Maybe they are not in a severe conditions, but you still inspire those around you.  Whether you know it or not, you are probably looked up to.  Changing the world can be as simple as leading by example for the person standing beside you.  Changing the world can be as simple as going out of your way to hold the door for the person in front of you.  Changing the world can be as simple as feeding good energy into a conversation currently controlled by anger.

Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  He wanted peaceful protests, not violence; he exemplified that to the very end.

When we lead by example, we end up putting a little good back into the world at the same time.  In my own heart, I want to help people, I want people to know they are loved, I want people to know they are not alone.  I don’t mind going out of my way to do this.  In life, we are all on the same team.  We are all human; there is no reason for us to go it alone.  The other day I was swooping some fast food, and I saw a guy standing on the median on Michigan Road.  I snagged an extra meal, ran it out to him then headed off downtown.  Later that week while at my retail job, a man came in.  He said, “I recognize you, you gave a stranger food earlier this week, didn’t you?”   I nodded, and he replied, “Thank you.  Thank you for reminding of the good, and reminding me a little goes a long way. I saw your kindness and passed it on.  You inspired me.”

I like to think I’m an invisible little elf when I do little things for others.  This man acknowledging my actions brought to my attention how much our kind acts–even small ones–can quickly start a domino effect.  Be an example, give a little love to those around you, inspire yourself and others.  Together, one by one, we can all inject a lot of love and kindness into our world.

Sidebar