Sunday, April 4, 2010

Moishe/Kavod House March Blog

Moishe/Kavod House Blog
Working with other Houses

Over the last year, Moishe/Kavod house has come to learn a lot about working with other religious and community groups to act our shared values. Through our participation with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization Moishe/Kavod housemates and leaders have learned how organizations of models, structures and faith traditions can work together to identify common values and act together on those values. According the GBIO model, congregations and member institutions begin by having a series of one on one conversations in their institution. Key leaders in the community commit to having 5-10 one on one conversations with community members, to try to delve deep into what our community cares about. What are the issues we are facing in our lives or the values we are wrestling with.

The leaders having these conversations then meet for an interpretation session, to identify common themes they are hearing in their conversations. Once they have identified themes, they begin to have a series of housemeetings. Going back to the people who were engaged in one on one conversations, they ask some of the people with compelling stories or things to say to speak at the housemeetings, to get conversations going on the issues that seem to matter to us most. At these housemeetings, community members are able to recognize their common values, issues and problems. They are brought together as a community through shared conversation, and identify things they can work on together.

Finally, as several institutions go through these series of one-on-one conversations and into housemeetings, leaders from the institutions come together to find their common issues and passions. Through a larger interpretation session, communities come together to find the common concerns they want to wok on together. Community members then report back to their community about their findings and next steps. Through another series of communal conversations, the community commits to taking steps to acting on their shared interest. Community members from across the institutions come together for a delegates assembly, and commit to communal action.

We would like to propose that this inter-institutional organizing model would be a useful one for the Moishe House network. All Moishe Houses have different models, constituencies, priorities, communities, and leadership. Our differences, particularly in structure and priorities, can be so striking, it can be hard to imagine how we can work together. Only by going through a thorough process of really identifying our commonalities, our common passions and concerns, can we find a way to work together.

These conversation also have a double value in that they not only help us reach out to one another, but they help us strengthen our own communities. By pushing leaders to engage their community members in one-on-one conversations about what they care about, we help stregnthen the identity and common bonds of that individual institution. It is also an opportunity to identify new leaders in the community, grow existing leaders. Furthermore, it is an opportunity for the institution to do an self-evaluation, where are we putting our energy and where should we be doing so? What is our vision for our future, and how do we get there? How do we get people committed to getting there?

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