Posts Tagged ‘community’

Lately, media coverage would have you believe that the youth of this city are on the wrong path. But then you encounter a group like the team of 12 students in Algiers, who recently decided they wanted to make “peace” the focus of their senior community service requirement, and you realize that hope is alive.

The Algiers Peace Fest, scheduled for Saturday, April 8, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at Brechtel Park, is the brain child of a group of students working with Positive Impact, a youth community service organization.

“We talked about what service learning means and different things we could focus on, but we all agreed that peace needed our attention,” said Kenneth Barnes, a local senior in Algiers.

The group of teens came up with the idea of bringing together community organizations as a sign of unity, and they have been meeting weekly at the Algiers Regional Library to plan the event. The fest will focus on different aspects of peace including inner peace, nonviolence, equality and freedom.

“We didn’t even realize when we picked that day that it fell during National Crime Victims Week,” said Shane Delery, a student participant. “I guess it was good timing because you can’t have a peaceful community or inner peace when you see so much crime in the city.”

The community is invited to come out and participate in the Peace Fest, which will include:

  • Peace through Knowledge: Tables and stations set up by various community groups exploring aspects of peace and nonviolence
  • Peace through Art: A community “peace art” project
  • Peace through Nature: A volunteer clean-up and planting of a “peace butterfly garden”
  • Peace through Community: Flag football game

The community will also be encouraged to explore aspects of inner peace by taking a walk down the park’s trail, which will have multiple self-guided “mindfulness” stations.

Businesses and community groups interested in participating or hosting a table should contact Alan Delery at 504-343-3432 or alan@positiveimpactnola.org.

NOTES:

Brechtel Park is located at 4401 Lennox Ave., New Orleans (Westbank/Algiers)

There is a vehicle entrance fee at the park: $1 for Orleans Parish brake tags; $2 for all other vehicles (for buses: $5 fee with Orleans brake tag/$10 for all others)

I’ve been talking about the Beatitudes for the purpose living life as a peacemaker. The Message translation says, “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s Family.” (Matthew 5:9) My life has been dedicated to this cause and I have considered myself blessed for it. That does not mean that I do not face situations that challenge my beliefs. It is not always easy to pursue peace with all men especially when you have been triggered by someone or simply find yourself in a situation where you unintentionally trigger someone with your words or actions.

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving down the road when another driver started to sway into my lane. I noticed he was talking on his cell phone and I quickly decided to tap my horn. I was thinking it might be safe to get his attention. Little did I know that my actions would become his trigger. My impression of his response was that he lost his mind. He yelled at me, swerved his car as if he was going to side swipe me then sped up to get in front of me and hit his breaks. I quickly got into the next lane over to avoid him. It’s difficult to explain the remaining sequence of events but due to traffic, I managed to get into a slower lane and avoid further interaction with him.The maneuvering lasted for another mile and I had ample time to think of how I wanted to handle things.

If necessary, I prepared myself to ram him if he got out of the car. I considered what weapons I had at my disposal. Would I keep my windows rolled up or would I try to calm him down if he caught me at a red light. I have to tell you, the adrenaline began to rush as I considered my response. Would I fight, flight or freeze?

I decided it wasn’t worth the possible consequences of a face to face standoff so I hit a left turn to go into a neighborhood to avoid further interaction. As he was still in front of me, I did not know if the driver would hit a turn at the next block to search me out as he was definitely trying to engage with me further.

As I drove my new route to get to my destination, I continued to be on guard, considering my next steps. Fortunately I never saw him again but I was still shaken up and thought of what I needed to do to keep myself safe. I even thought, I should have had a gun on me.

I’ve shared my thoughts because I find it interesting that even a person like me, who seeks peace and have a career teaching people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight, could find myself in a situation where I would have considered using a gun if it was at my disposal. I thought how quickly things escalate to violence. While I’m still not convinced that I would not own a gun for protection, I’m overwhelmed with sadness to think how fast life can be lost and the ultimate effect of it on society.

While I’m sure a conversation could go many ways, I want to go back to Jesus’ teaching where the King James translation says, “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” I don’t think any translation says, “Blessed are the Safe”.

While I’ve spent my life trying to develop safe communities, we have not been promised that. We live in a violent world and we have to be prepared to meet our maker at any time. I’m believing for long life but more importantly, I want to live a life of obedience to my creator. All of the Beatitudes  are about living according to God’s Kingdom which does not operate according to the ways of this world.

As I close, I want you to consider Jesus’s words that came immediately before He instructed us to be peacemakers. He said, “You’re blessed when you get your inside world — your mind and heart– put right . Then you can see God in the outside world.” (The Message)

Sometimes our commitment to God’s way does not coincide with the “Safe way” and we must draw on His strength to pursue peace with all men. (Meditate on that and let those words take you where they will.)

Peace,

Alan (Little Rock) Delery

 

peaceBWI recently started teaching a conflict resolution course at a high school where I work. During my reflection on a recent class, four ideas emerged that I believe are central to a study on violence. These ideas are: Respect, Weakness, Power and Control.

When we were developing our group norms for the class, I asked each person to describe how they wanted to be treated in the class. Every one of them said respect or some variation of it. We went on to detail what respect looked like and it was clear that they were passionate about being respected.

What was interesting to me, about the value they placed on being respected, was their treatment of others in the class. While they maintained their value of respect, they mocked the weakness of others and some expressed that signs of weakness deserved to be taken advantage of. They said that if you don’t display strength or dominance it was OK to be controlled by others.

An attitude of power and control permeates our society and is rewarded. It is my desire to turn our conversations towards how we treat the weakest among us. Rather than just fighting for our rights, we should be fighting for the rights and compassionate treatment of others. In doing so we can raise individuals who care for rather than prey on one another. I believe that we can raise a caring society rather than a violent one. I believe in the capacity of our youth to reflect this compassion but we have to show it to them.

What are you doing to advocate for those who are mistreated because they are assessed to be weak? God says, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” As busy as you might be, please do not neglect your birth responsibility to be a peacemaker. Otherwise, you might not be called a child of God.

The world needs more Peacemakers. Are you one?

I am calling for individuals who are willing to take a coordinated step of faith to become change agents for peace. Write back to me to let me know that you care and you want to be that change agent. The first step is to say yes to the call.

ADelery_1222px-150x150As I approach my ½ century birthday, I have been reflective of my life’s mission. It is summed up in Jesus’ own words when he was talking to the religious leaders of His time. They asked him to state the greatest commandment of the Law.

37Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’c 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’d 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-40

Almost 20 years ago I attended a community workshop and the speaker asked a question that continues to linger in my mind. He asked, “What kind of world does God desire?” He went on to ask, “What kind of community is able to create the kind of person who is able to put into practice the life that God desires?” His response was a “Caring Community”. It is my belief that the Law of Love that Jesus talked about is a  restorative approach in the community. It is a community that builds up people rather than tearing them down. It’s a community that teaches and practices patience, kindness, humility, forgiveness as well as accountability.

Let me be clear. I understand the reality that we deal with conflict on a regular basis. Conflict is normal. It’s how we handle it that can determine if it will be positive or negative outcome. It can become destructive or it can be transformative. Whether it’s with a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a stranger, even internal conflict with ourselves, we must practice the Law of Love.

How have you been responding to conflict recently? Are your words and actions helping train up the next generation to walk in fear, hate, unforgiveness, mistrust, selfishness and pride? Sit down with your family, friends, club members and others in your community to Talk About Love. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are walking in the God kind of love.

I’m serious. Examine your love walk. Sit down with others and discuss what love is. I personally am tired of the violence but believe that Love never fails. I hope you’re not getting tired of hearing me talk about love. Someone might say, “Kill that already.” But I say, “Love never dies.”

Next time we will examine the role our feelings play in walking in love.

When I first conceived of the phrase, “Let’s Talk About Love”, I was dealing with an almost overwhelming feeling of despair for my community, nation and for the world. I had been reading many post on social media and having conversations about the state of affairs which almost seemed hopeless. Societies problems seem so expansive and complicated it’s easy to think, “Why try, what difference would it make?”

A quick response that came to mind was to stop looking at just the problems and think about solutions. A simple analogy came to mind. In my house, keeping up with the laundry is a major complaint of my wife. We have three teenage boys in the house and doing the laundry along with all of the other chores needed to keep the house in order is a priority that we must stay on top of. If not, things quickly get out of control. We have a vision for a clean house but we must consistently work at it.

Every now and then I notice several loads of laundry beginning to pile up. I look at the pile and think, “Not me.” No one has been assigned to fold the cloths and it seems overwhelming.  I then think, “If not me then who.” and decide to tackle the task. A short while into folding it appears that no progress is being made but when I stick with it I began to notice a change.  Finally, the task is complete and I am satisfied with a sense of accomplishment.

Dealing with societies problems is very similar. Many people look around and see all of the things that need to be accomplished but allow themselves to be overwhelmed and do nothing. Things pile up and get further out of control because enough people do not have a sense of responsibility. I have learned that folding cloths is an act of love that goes a long way with my wife. The boys might not fully appreciate it but they reap the benefits as well. I have also learned that complaining doesn’t change anything. When I talk to them from the perspective of love rather than anger, I have a greater chance of changing their behavior to meet my expectations.

After considering this, I came to the conclusion to begin addressing life’s problems from the perspective of love. I don’t know how society can expect change without it?  I looked around and realized that people are not talking about love but want the benefits of a life where people practice it. I thought, “How foolish are we?” This is how I came up with the idea, “Let’s talk about love.” I have begun to talk to more people about this idea and want it to truly become a way of life. Like the pile of laundry, it may seem insurmountable but we know that with a little faith and patience we can see “mountains” moved.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

It’s time to make a change. Take the challenge and began to study and meditate on love and talk to others and see the difference it makes.

In 2012, we have embarked upon our “We Care” campaign to:

  • Expand our community support network of individuals, agencies, businesses and community groups.
  • Develop our network of financial supporters (annual, monthly and one-time giving).
  • Recruit additional volunteer leaders.

If you are interested in getting involved, contact us today.