Blog > Michelle Strutzenberger
Did Cincinnati Effort Set New Precedent?
More than 500 Cincinnati residents from many different walks of life gathered this past weekend in the grand ballroom of the Millennium Hotel on Fifth Street West for a kind of conversation that guaranteed has never taken place at such a scale in this city before.
As a participant, I felt I was living a kind of history I’d only read about, a story where courage and beauty in spirit prevail, the stuff of William Wilberforce’s legacy for instance.
I kept looking around the room awed by the bravery I felt must have been required for most of us to be there.
We had all most certainly given up something and/or overcome some kind of angst to attend this gathering that on one level promised nothing more than free food and really hard work.
Beyond the courage, the more I heard from people in one-on-one, group and whole-room discussions, the more I was moved by the beauty of the people in the room. There was a beauty in the gifts they were bringing to the table, both from themselves and the sectors and areas they represent.
As those gifts were shared, and inspired by a certain line of questioning, another wave of beauty spilled out around the room as people talked about their dreams and thoughts on the greatest possibilities for the future.
There was Margaret, who told us about the Ohio Empowerment Coalition that creates opportunities for people diagnosed with mental illness to not just manage or even recover from their illnesses, but actually become peer leaders and help others along a similar journey.
Talk about a shift in what’s possible — people moving from the receiver to contributor position in the very context of their weaknesses. Perhaps less important but certainly noteworthy is that this program is proving not only to be less costly but more effective, and those in power are sitting up and taking notice. As a group we talked about the potential in this model for other chronic illnesses.
There was also Maria who told us about an emerging local, organic food co-op, inspired by the Mondragon co-op in Spain. She was passionate in sharing her dreams of being able to work in such a place of organizational democracy, and together we envisioned Cincinnati a haven of co-op activity in the future, where innovation and engaged workers are the norm.
And those are just two examples. This same sort of beauty was very clear in the whole-room sharing as well.
In the face of such beauty and courage at such a scale, all in one room, and also given the context of other challenges in the city of Cincinnati, the gathering truly did have what I felt must characterize an historic event for the city.
More than that, I felt it was not only another jewel to add to the line of best of humanity’s acts of courage, but very possibly the first of a new kind of courageous act – or at the very least the introduction of a kind that has not been predominant.
While of course all of humanity’s most renowned acts of courage are sparked and driven by a new vision, many of those visions – and not to discount them in any way because of this – are historically an inversion of the current reality – no slaves, women’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, the end of Apartheid.
Is it possible we’ve reached a new stage in humanity’s history with this Cincinnati effort?
Have many of those visions of an inverted reality been realized, and is the new task at hand to gather as citizens around a cause that is no longer predominantly about “no more of this” but to co-create a previously unimagined reality built on a new configuration of existing gifts, assets and resources?
Axiom News will be providing further coverage on the Cincinnati CoreChange summit. Check our Cincinnati page for updates soon.
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Michelle Strutzenberger brings more than 10 years of experience in writing, social media, curation and digital distribution. Subject areas of interest include creating abundant or deep communities, social-mission business, education that strengthens kids’ sense of hope and possibility and journalism that helps society create its preferred future. Contact Michelle at michelle(at)axiomnews.com.
While participating in the third session of the Peterborough Dialogues, a dialogue and media initiative Axiom News is hosting in our home town, I first had a wonderful feeling of sinking into rest, into freedom from striving — and then the thought came, “This must be what being in an oasis feels like.”
An intriguing number of those who joined the Peterborough Dialogues “taste-test” yesterday admitted they weren’t sure why they had come. Some went so far as to say they had absolutely no idea what the dialogues are about – even after having reviewed the media that’s been created. Still, they came.
I had the privilege of joining another set of conversations with community members yesterday as plans for the Peterborough Dialogues continue to unfold.
The Peterborough Dialogues have been described as a forum for finding new ways to be active as citizens alongside existing systems. The initiative is set to launch in the few weeks.
If we agree the community economy holds great promise for Canada’s future, what else might be done to make it more real and visible?
With news like that of the heightened risk of inflation and even more jobs on the line as Target announces its plans to pull out of the country, the sense that Canada’s economy is skating onto increasingly brittle ice can leave one feeling a need to do one or both of two things: fret or hunker down and work even more feverishly at what’s still left on one’s desk to get done.
I had a feeling of being privy to an historic moment as I listened in on a call this week about designing a new ecology of practices to make more visible, connected and alive Canada’s community economy, new economy or whatever the most apt term might be.
There’s a pretty good chance those of us joining a call about the new economy this week had all the knowledge to instantly trigger a wholesale jump to the new economy
— if knowledge was all it took.