…we were not the experts, they were…, says Joan Hoxsey

(This is a story from Joan Hoxsey on Life competence. She is the Managing Partner of AIC, a global consulting organization dedicated to lifting up Appreciative Inquiry across the world. She is based in Ohio, US. Thanks Joan for sharing this beautiful, inspiring experience. The story reflects my favourite quote- "I can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses. It's all how you look at it." ~ J. Kenfield Morley)

Joan- We have been working with young African American men who live in circumstances that, in their own way, are very difficult. About four years ago we were asked to teach a "life skills or relationship skills" class for these young men who frequented a local neighborhood house.

The first thing I did was to write a "proper" curriculum. Well, it took us about two "classes" to realize that we needed to throw out the curriculum - the question then became what do we do on Monday and Wednesday evening. We finally decided that we would just hang out with these "guys" - we were not the experts, they were.

I cannot tell you all that has happened, they made a real movie called "The Last Shot" on their own with support from Peter Block and from us. Five have gone off to college, they have gotten jobs, not because of us but because we asked them "what do you want to do" and how can we help. Peter has written about them in his book 'Community, the Structure of Belonging'. This was to have been a school year project that has turned into four going on five years. The movie is in post-production (we knew nothing about film-making) and will be shown by the Plexus Institute when it is a final product. We held a Hollywood type premiere when the movie was first finished - we hired a theatre, got a red carpet and a limo and the guys and girls put on their prom dresses and tuxedos. It was a celebration none of us will ever forget.

Lest you think everything turns out rosy with this approach - we also have the heartache of one of these young men sitting in jail right now. He is on 2 million dollar bond for having shot another young man in a fit of anger. The wonderful thing is that he is still "one of our guys” and we are cheer leading his and their progress.

(I did a little research on Peter Block's book and found it interesting from perspective of the community. Peter discusses his book on http://www.designedlearning.com/Articles/NewsForAChange/Time%20with... Thanks. Rituu)

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Comment by bobby ramakant on November 30, 2009 at 1:42am
thanks for sharing Rituu, this is truly an inspiring story. This reminds me of another person who completed his jail term for killings, turning into a real activist in Hardoi village (Lalpur village). thanks,
Comment by Geoff Parcell on November 29, 2009 at 11:21pm
Here is a summary of the book by Peter Block - by himself - a list of questions we might pose. I found it thought provoking but not practical. I'm working at how to operationalise it in my own community.

GeoffCommunity by Peter Block.doc


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