BBDP Sharing and Learning Nationally

Posted: November 15, 2012 by Donna Bivens in Uncategorized

Recently, BBDP staff have been asked to share about the project in national gatherings.  In that process, we also get the chance  to learn more about how the issues we face in Boston are playing out across the country.

The work of the Center for Courage and Renewal (CCR)  has made a big contribution to the BBDP and the founder of that work, Parker Palmer, has agreed to be a national adviser to the Project.

In October,  I attended to a retreat for Courage and Renewal facilitators and had the opportunity to experience and learn more about the democracy work CCR is taking on. Democracy in education has emerged as a huge theme in the project as many have seen the increasing of inequities in race and class as strikes against the democratizing efforts of earlier liberation movements in education and society.

CCR’s  Healing the Heart of Democracy project puts forth five habits those of us committed to democratizing education and society must practice:

1. An understanding that we are all in this together.
2. An appreciation of the value of ”otherness.“
3. An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.
4. A sense of personal voice and agency.
5. A capacity to create community.

The need for these practices has been at the heart of the brokenness we hear in exploring excellence, equity and access then–during the busing/desegregation crisis –and now– as the quest for excellence, equity and access for all continues to elude us today. I came back from that conference convinced that integrating these habits into BBDP can truly help us to get beyond what we are working against to what we are working for in public education.

A couple of weeks later, our partner and supporter One Nation Indivisible, a program of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute and the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, invited us to what at first seemed an unlikely place for BBDP: a meeting of experts working in cities and towns with voluntary desegregation plans throughout the country. We were invited to share about the Project and to present some of the Courage work mentioned above.

For many at the gathering, it kept coming up that some core historical fissures have not been fully addressed and understood and continue to undermine real democratization –and for their work, integration–efforts. We shared a BBDP PowerPoint about the project and had lively discussion about how several of the different cities represented–including out host city Omaha, Nebraska have racial and/or socioeconomic histories that are at the center of their conflicts today. BBDP seemed quite relevant!

In sharing about the Courage work, this hard-working and largely data-focused group responded very positively to  focusing some time on the five habits in their own work as they explored: When to act and when to speak up in a resistant system? How to hold the many tensions and conflicts that come up in this work? How to practice “we’re all in this together”in the midst of a political climate that is polarized and promoting just the opposite?

Being there, I learned a lot about how others throughout the country are addressing excellence, access and equity issues and learning from their successes and  their failures. I also saw that BBDP, as One Nation Indivisible insisted, has much to share in this work and a responsibility to practice the habit of bringing our voice and agency.

  1. terry700 says:

    Thank you, Donna.
    I’m humbled that Parker J. Palmer’s book on Healing the Heart of Democracy and the Center for Courage & Renewal’s related work are found useful by BBDP and the gathered participants in Omaha. As a lifelong K-12 educator, I was encouraged and challenged by your reflection, “I came back from that conference convinced that integrating these habits into BBDP can truly help us to get beyond what we are working against to what we are working for in public education.”
    Blessings on your important work,
    Terry Chadsey, Center for Courage & Renewal

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