Supporting Men’s Health in Movember
4-10 World Space Week
9-15 Mental Health Week
16-22 Anti-Poverty Week
22 – 30 National Children’s Week
24-30 Disarmament Week
As we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas I greet my diverse social media network with the universal message of peace on earth and good will to all.
I wrote this piece last year. It bears repeating just as our work of building peace and community is a constant refrain to life’s song.
May the ancient story of a child born in occupied territory open our hearts to the work of defending human rights.
May the birth of every child call us to our communal responsibility to protect children,to take them on wild adventures and to let them grow into the unique person they care called to be.
May the the image of a family forced to seek refuge and asylum far from their home inform our political choices as citizens of a global village.
May our messages of good wishes and happy holidays not blind us to the work of justice making and non-violence.
May the lights and decorations of the season remind us of our mission to bring light to the darkness and celebration to life.
May our gifting be generous as we remember those who live in situations of poverty and exploitation.
May we hear angelic voices singing our dream of peace on earth
The last week of October 2015 was spent at the the historic Woodlands estate just outside suburbia in Brisbane. Its history is a rich tableaux of family, religion and education on the land of the First Nations Peoples of Australia. It’s walls and grounds hold the stories of private families and public institutions.
I joined a group colleagues from the Queensland Community Alliance who came together to develop skills as social change activists with power brokers on the public stage. Our participants included representatives from Trade Unions, Churches and Community organisations such as mine, Micah Projects Inc
The QCA works to establish a community organising alliance in south east Queensland to forge a better community. QCA aims to be an alliance of faith groups coming together with charities, unions, community organisations and ethnic associations to work together for the common good This alliance will be based around the personal relations we will build across organisations in our local area. We will identify and train people to become leaders in community organising, who will decide our priorities for action together, through a process of listening to stories of pressures that our members face and witness.
The 6 Day National Training is a program for people committed to understanding the craft of community organising – who want to play a key role in leading the activities of the Alliance inside their organisation and acting as a bridge between our member organisations.
The residential course builds a close community of leaders across participating civil society organisations that represent the diversity our communities in Sydney and Queensland. The 6 Day National Training is also open to those seeding new Alliances across Australia.
Leaders are equipped with the tools they need to be more strategic and effective and to build and strengthen their organisations in the process. The course focuses on power, organisations, relationships and leadership.
The core process of the program builds around our understanding of power and relationships. The prepatory work included writing a personal biography and some pretty in depth analysis of a slab of good old fashioned Greek tragedy, the Melian DialogueOther resources for this training include the work of Michael Gecan.
The origins of this work in the Alliance comes from the Industrial Areas Foundation
Founded in 1940, the Industrial Areas Foundation is the largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations in the USA.
The IAF partners with religious congregations and civic organizations at the local level to build broad-based organizing projects, which create new capacity in a community for leadership development, citizen-led action and relationships across the lines that often divide our communities.
The IAF created the modern model of faith- and broad-based organizing and is widely recognized as having the strongest track record in the the USA for citizen leadership development and for helping congregations and other civic organizations act on their missions to achieve lasting change in the world.
Tools that we explored for our work in social change
1. Relational Conversations are conversations that have intentional direction to build relationships for action in the public domain. There is a framework in these conversations that builds on sharing common commitment to action for social change and a civil community. The relational conversation develops a skill in deep listening.
2 Public actions are opportunities to invite people into a new model of leadership and political engagement. Some public actions are free flowing such as rallies. Others have a structure to achieve a reaction from decision makers with whom we engage. This process comes from a relational culture of organising.
So, what did I take away from six intensive days of engagement with this process? The main learning comes from the Alinsky model of the distinction between the private and the public sphere. Click here for a good critique of this model.As this is the model adopted by members of the Alliance here in Queensland we now face the challenge of adapting it to our local situation as a tool of social change and effective political engagement.
I found the program somewhat challenging from a cultural perspective. It has a very “American” cheer leader feel to it i have described it as a cross between going to an Amway meeting and watching TV evangelists.The public events of the alliance are proscribed and scripted to an extent previously unknown in the Australian political theatre. There is a lot of work needed to give the Alliance a home grown feel Downunder.
Living with a group of people even for such a short time can build relationships that we want to nurture and continue.This is the strength of the Alliance which creates a new space for collaboration and political outcomes
The Relationships (Civil Partnerships) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2015 proposed by the Queensland Parliament seeks to reinstate legislative provisions removed in 2012 in respect of legally recognised partnerships between two adults, to:allow a state-sanctioned ceremony prior to registration of a civil partnership
This legislation first step on the journey of honouring the human dignity and commitment of same sex couples. It is also a basic human right that protects the legal status of the relationship. Written submissions addressing the Bill’s proposals as outlined above are now invited, and will be accepted until 4.00 pm on Monday, 19 October 2015.A guide to making submissions is available here.
I find it bizarre that so many of my fellow Catholics get upset by this. The Church blesses all sorts of inanimate objects including houses, cars, footballs, statues and buildings. It has blessings for all sorts of people from students to pilgrims but won’t even offer a blessing ritual to same sex couples.
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