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End of Month Checkpoint

A sixteen hour day leaves little time for writing, and there is so much to write about. We are in the final days of the municipal election in Woodbridge. Elections are a lot of work, but they are also a lot of fun.

#rhizo15 continues to give me lots to think about. Content, Connection, and container, after thinking about measurement, mastery, and mystery.

There are the bigger issues from Baltimore to Bernie. There is poetry to read and written, along side the news, and the Gospel.

Then, there are all the events at work and at home. It looks like it will keep up this pace for at least a few more days. Instead of trying to go into any of these in detail this evening, I’ll wait until my mind is fresher and I can spend more time writing.

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Woodbridge Crooks and Liars

Today, in a Facebook discussion about the upcoming Woodbridge municipal elections, one person wrote, “All politicians are liars” and another responded, “They are all a bunch of legalized crooks”. Much of the venom was directed at the challenger, Cathy Wick. It was pointed out that on her website she says she believes zoning commission members should be elected, but that when asked what she would do about issues in the flats, she talked about wanting to appoint someone from the flats to be on zoning.

You can’t have it both ways, the writer complained. I’m not sure these comments are really fair. As much as someone believes zoning commission members should be elected, until that’s the case, they are appointed. One could easily say, I believe members of the zoning commission should be elected to make sure all sections of town are properly represented. Until that happens, I will do everything in my power to make sure that the members are appointed in a manner that I believe best achieves this, including appointing someone from the flats.

Actually, I have to give Cathy a lot of credit for running, twice. Running is hard. I know. I’ve run twice for State Rep and was also elected alternate to the zoning board of appeals. I do not believe that either Ellen or Cathy are crooks or liars. They both have their visions of what’s going on in Woodbridge, and what should be done.

Cathy may not have spoken clearly. She may have a different view of what’s going on in Woodbridge than I do, but I won’t call her a liar. I’ll just acknowledge that Ellen’s description of what is going on in town and what should go on in the future better matches my view.

#rhizo15 Baltimore

A friend of mine posted on Facebook yesterday,

It'll be interesting over the next several days to see if my students can make connections between what is happening in Baltimore and our discussions this semester in my Urban Politics class about the formation of ghettos in America's central cities.

My initial reaction was to encourage them to share their thoughts online. How well can they explain what they’ve been learning in Urban Politics and how it relates to what is currently going on? What can others learn from their experiences? Can we have a meaningful discussion?

This led me back to thinking about the #rhizo15. How do we make sense of different perspectives on race in America in an online learning environment? Can online learning circumvent the ghetto walls? Do filter bubbles just create new information ghettos?

It’s late. I’m tired. There is so much more to say about this, about helping people find their voices, about learning to be a motivational listener, about measurement, mastery, and mystery.

Change: #GaSP #GTS8 and #SaveSweetBriar

On Sunday, we sat around table after sharing a meal and had a serious talk about the future. It was one of those difficult discussions that families sometime have to have. In this case, it was with my church family.

For several years, I’ve been attending Grace and St. Peter’s Church in Hamden, CT. I’ve served on the vestry and am now the clerk. At our annual meetings and at our vestry meetings, we’ve talked about how the church is facing a substantial operating deficit. It has been for years, and has had to rely on drawing down the endowment to cover these shortfalls.

Our rector pointed out that the two largest items in the budget is her benefits and maintaining the building, and it is a very lean budget. No one wants to see us move from having a full time rector. No one wants to see us have to give up the building, but we need to do something to address the deficit, and it is better to do it now, than at some point in the future with much more precarious finances.

So, we sat down on as a family, on the day of the bishop’s visit. We discussed how we could move to having a part time rector while continuing to be a growing vibrant parish. The bishop commended our efforts and expressed a desire that more parishes would approach changes that the whole church is confronting the way Grace and St. Peters is.

To me, there are a few things that Grace and St. Peter’s is doing right that other institutions could learn from. First, we are being proactively transparent. Yes, vestry meetings are always open and the minutes are always available, but rarely does anyone not on the vestry attend a meeting or read the minutes. The lunch with the bishop after church was part of the effort to have the whole parish informed about what is going on.

A second thing that Grace and St. Peter’s is doing right is staying focused on our mission. When we talk about our finances, the goal isn’t a balanced budget, a growing endowment, or other financial measures. These are tools to help us achieve the real mission. Borrowing from the Book of Common Prayer, “The mission of the church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”

Our vestry meetings are an opportunity to be restored us to unity with God and each other in Christ. So was the lunch we had. So are the many other great things going on at our parish.

Another important aspect of how Grace and St. Peter’s is approaching things is that we are talking about our finances and the changing world we live in well before we get to any crisis.

All of these things come to mind as I read Crisis-hit General Theological Seminary is being 'groomed for failure' because of its real estate value, letter alleges. It comes to mind as I read Sweet Briar says faculty lawsuit is attempt by professors to get a ‘financial windfall’.

We live in a challenging changing time. Boards, whether they be the vestry of local parishes, or boards of institutions of higher education, need to approach these changes, prayerfully, openly, and honestly. I don’t know what is going on at General Theological Seminary, or at Sweet Briar. I don’t know how much property values are getting in the way of institutional values, but it does seem like more openness, more honesty, and especially more prayer is need for these institutions, and I feel very honored to be serving on the board of an institution that currently appears to be approaching these changes in an exemplary manner. The most I can do right now for General Theological Seminary and Sweet Briar is to pray.

#rhizo15 Measuring Maslow

Yesterday, Lenandlar Singh posted a link to the Facebook Rhizomatic discussion, The quantified self movement: some sociological perspectives. It is a great article about measurement which relates nicely to the Rhizomatic learning discussion.

It is interesting to think of measurement as an effort to keep things under control. We can measure our exercise, our nutrition, how much sleep we get, and all kinds of different things. We can measure how many problems we solve. We can echo Brene Brown, “life's messy, clean it up, organize it and put it into a bento box.”

Yet I go back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We can measure the lower level needs, physiological and safety. We can measure our grades get into good schools, get good jobs that help us earn money to meet the physiological and safety needs. It might even bring us a little esteem.

But I go back to other parts of Maslow’s hierarchy. I echo Rent and Rhizo, “Measure in love” (and belonging). But how do you measure self-actualization?

Perhaps next I will tackle measurement and mystery, and the realm of part objects and the divine.