Emotional Roots of Community Transformation

For my work here in Atlanta I am co-planning and co-facilitating a Community Transformation Training based on the methodology of Paulo Frerie, Brazilian educator and social organizer. Freireian methodology is about people connecting to their own emotions and using them as a vehicle for action. To that end, one of the first things we do with people is put them in small groups and ask them what they are worried about, what they are happy about, what they are sad, angry, and hopeful about. From those answers we listen, and we ask everyone to listen, to threads that run through many of their emotions as a group. It’s not all that different from listening for the sense of the meeting, and involves discerning what comes out of people’s hearts and what pieces are narrative from the mind only. Similar to listening through a popcorn meeting for the ministry that is stirring. Listening, no matter what vocabulary is put on it, is a powerful tool for human connection, which can lead to change making in the world. No matter what the generative theme (Freire’s words) of a group is, identifying it is the beginning of being able to identify useful and motivated action steps. So I ask you: What are you worried about? What are you happy about? Sad, angry, hopeful about? What would it be like if you talked to people about emotions and found that a group all had a thread running through their lives?

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