What If All Real Living is Meeting?

Posted on April 1, 2013 by David Blumenkrantz

A Conversation with Richard Geer, David Isaacs & David Blumenkrantz

Integrating rites of passage into community organizing effects individual, group and community transformation that result in collaborative actions, which support continual adaption. When the Story Bridge process works as an explicit rite of passage, the bedrock wisdom of that ancient human tradition helps a community move from being a collection of alienated individuals to a cohesive force for committed action. Join the conversation in  Staging Change Institute – 2 April 25-28, 2013. 

Richard Geer

[caption id="attachment_213" align="alignleft" width="119"]Richard Geer Richard Geer Co-Founder of Community Performance International[/caption]

When I met David Isaacs & Juanita Brown they discussed and described the work of their good friend, Dr. David Blumenkrantz, who has been engaged in youth and community development through rites of passage for almost 40 years. I immediately had a ‘light bulb flash between my eyes’ experience.  I realized that our Staging Change Institute work with community stories and performance leading to community transformation (which resulted in our book Story Bridge: From Alienation to Community Action) just might be experienced as a rite of passage.

I wanted to know more and so David and Juanita introduced me to Dr. B.  The light bulb kept flashing as I realized that by sharing our Story Bridge work as an explicit rite of passage, the bedrock wisdom of that ancient human tradition supported everything we did.  The more we explicitly framed Story Bridge as a rite of passage, the greater the prospect of community transformation. David's architectural structure for youth and community development through rites of passage offered valuable design principles in support of our different, but fundamentally related, change work.

David Blumenkrantz

[caption id="attachment_214" align="alignleft" width="302"]David Blumenkrantz David Blumenkrantz, Big Island – Hawaii – March 2013 Playing with youth and community development through rites of passage[/caption]

It is an honor to be with the other resource partners in re-searching the relationship between story/performance as ritual, rites of passage and conversations that leads to new knowledge. My idea of real play is to join in this pioneering adventure of the creative imagination.

When we co-investigate the essential conditions for initiating individuals within a community, what might we find? Collaborative committed action that emerges and adapts over time? Preeminent evolutionary biologists say that village-oriented rites of passage strengthen the bonds of community.  They help a community adapt to a continually changing world.  They are central to survival.

Rites of passage are among the Great Transition Stories that inform and guide our actions.  They help us transfer knowledge to our children and adapt to the never-ending changes in life. I offer some navigational aids, design principles, which appear in all village-oriented rites of passage. In fact, they seem to be present wherever change exists. Our work together at SCI-2 might just be the embodiment of the old Russian proverb: There is no path, pilgrim. The path is made by walking.

Who one is, as a person, is critical to the process of community organizing for a change. We must reflect on our own initiation to understand our fitness to be instruments of change. When explicitly explored, we are able to tune ourselves as instruments of change.  We are then able to play within an orchestra of community exploration. When we are initiated together, a synergy is born in our process of change.  Together we embrace service to our community, the planet and ourselves.

David Isaacs

[caption id="attachment_215" align="alignleft" width="145"]David Isaacs David Isaacs – Co-Founder of the World Café[/caption]

In the meeting of Community Performance, World Café and rites of passage, I am reminded of a quote from Martin Buber: “all real living is meeting.” The meeting that will take place at the juncture of these three processes is very compelling; all three hold the opportunity for living systems change and transformation. I have every expectation that it will enhance our lives.

You've heard from Richard how I introduced him and partner, playwright Jules Corriere, to David's work on rites of passage. When we put our heads and hearts together we began to design and integrate David's insights around village-oriented rites of passage into the Staging Change Institute work.  In this way we make explicit what was already implicitly present.

SCI-2 is the result. Based on the experience that Richard, Jules and David B. had in working in a community together over the past year I sense nothing but magic is likely. The Story Bridge Method helps a community move from being a collection of alienated individuals to a cohesive force for committed action. Through this intentional initiatory group process, people move from a focus on "I" to a focus on "We."  They are drawn by the opportunity to share personal stories, and hear the same from neighbors and colleagues.  Through the fun and the work of sharing stories, constructing and enacting performances, strangers become family.  Attachment, relationship, and commitment lead to conversations that matter between people who cross the Bridge together to a new vision of their place.  As a group they have undergone a rite of passage experience through which they can become the change they’d like to see in their own lives and in the lives of their community, and the new Story Bridge community, which continues to emerge.


Held at the International Story Telling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee APRIL 25-28, 2013. For more information & registration click here.

Posted in ROPE

Read more about Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage in the new and highly acclaimed book by Dr. David Blumenkranz.

David Blumenkrantz, Ph.D., Ed.M., Founder & Executive Director, the Center for Youth & Community

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