Orientation for new Project Change Completed Today

Today marked the end of the Beginning for the new Project Change team. Director Paul Costello has been explaining the unique Storywise map of their AmeriCorps journey that they have all embarked on and whose goal is to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Aristotle maintained that for a story to feel whole, it needs a beginning, a middle and an ending. Using that ancient wisdom, the Project Change team are learning to recognize the connection between place and possibility, and to grasp that there is only one beginning, where the energy is charged with so much possibility and creativity. This is a precious time, and can’t be taken for granted.

We asked them- What do they want their AmeriCorps journey to be?

They can decide to make it anything they want it to be. As  friend Karl Hebenstreit likes to say, we can all make Awesome Things Happen. And what if they have already started?

After four weeks, it was time to convene the story circle and share some of the many stories of the beginnings, the Genesis of Team 2015-16. What we heard were amazing testimonies to an auspicious start-

Like the lad at the YMCA who is known as DJ and how he watches the supervisors desperately searching for the cues that would win him acceptance. He’s been in trouble before and the AmeriCorps team are not sure if he is ready to turn his life around or not. But he is paying attention to the Project Change team and they might be able to influence positive change.

Like the four year old boy who seems not to be able to pay attention in class- always standing up, ¬†but the AmeriCorps member suspects that he can’t see the Blackboard. The teacher has his hands full and is not ready to entertain the possibility that the kid can’t see properly. How will the Project Change member advocate for this kid? And how did he come to see that its not about attention but perhaps about an obstacle that even the young student is not aware of. Yet.

Like the member who thought she had the best idea- Innovation Day, giving the grade Eights their equipment of newspapers and tape, and instructing them to build the tallest structure they could. Well, that was not cool, and they sat down on the floor as a protest that this was too boring. The Team member decided to press on, and ignore them and work with the girls who seemed eager to have some fun. When it came to judge the tallest structure, the Grade 8 boys who were so bored had somehow changed their minds and delivered a Tower of Babel that almost hit the roof. They were so excited and proud and ready to rock for the next innovation day the member is running next month.

What did the member learn? That enthusiasm is infectious, and that with boys, once they get competitive, its amazing how creative they ca become.

The Beginning, we all decided, is a process of letting go, of trusting that the experience will provide the test and the answer so long as one is willing to be a learner, to have what the Buddhists call the “Beginners Mind.”

Here’s to Project Change and a great new Beginning.