Our New Year’s Resolution

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Over 120,000,000 people voted in last year’s Presidential election. 96% of the individuals who voted did so in person. Our guess is that if you consider the commute to the polling location, standing in line and the act of voting itself, it likely took an average of an hour and a half to get the job done.

We wanted to share a few thoughts regarding this reality.

1.) Voting is the lowest common denominator of true engagement. While voting is important, true responsibility of citizenship requires engagement beyond an hour and a half commitment. The very nature of voting implies asking someone else to do something for you, rather than figuring out what you can do for yourself and/or others.

2.)  If those 120,000,000 voters mentioned above offered an hour and a half of time to a constructive volunteer effort once a quarter (four times a year), it would produce 720,000,000 hours of community participation.

3.)  Using an eight hour a day model those hours convert to 90 million work days.  

Just imagine what citizens might accomplish if everyone committed to giving six hours of volunteer time a year. Citizenship is not meant to be enacted in isolation. When we limit the benefits of citizenship to voting, passports and political opinions, we deny ourselves access to the fundamental value of democracy — PARTICIPATION. Furthermore, engagement with the world around us and true connection to other people is what helps us to evolve our consciousness and grow in compassion.  

Let’s re-imagine our role as citizens in 2017! Let us know what you are doing to get involved in your community. We promise to share our engagement with you too. Happy 2017! Now, get out there and spread some GOOD!

Photo: TTSM film director teaching yoga as a volunteer to 5th graders at McGlone Elementary School in Denver, CO

From Anger to Clarity

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From Anger to Clarity: Transforming Frustrations into Effective Actions

This past week offered many in our country a true opportunity for reflection. The atmosphere felt ripe with heightened emotions. Limiting my interactions in this atmosphere felt like a smart move. The temptation to blame anyone, everyone, someone for my internal sense of rumbling emotions felt overwhelming at times.

And, so I slept. I meditated. I listened to music. Fuming internally is no fun. I actually woke in the middle of the night to the smell of burning embers. It took me a minute to realize it was my own emotional stew pot simmering on a low boil. Experience offered me the comfort of knowing that this too shall pass.

We have all heard the expression anger begets anger. Which leads to the question can anger or any heightened emotion – for that matter – be used as a motivating force for good?

Years ago during a media studies course I was teaching, a student stopped me midstream and said, “Molly, I just feel so overwhelmed by the enormity of the problems I see in the world. It’s so depressing and so impossible to imagine my personal ability to impact change anywhere.” His sincerity silenced the room. Emboldened, I tossed my organized syllabus in the trash and totally revamped the semester’s learning objectives. By the end of the course, a cohort of students within my class had raised $5,000 by designing and implementing an entire “Who Cares?” media campaign dedicated to supporting Habitat for Humanity programs in Detroit. It was a small step, but an important development in my work as an educator. I had witnessed the most disgruntled and disengaged students in my course transform their attitudes with a simple shift in focus: away from cynicism, and toward engagement.

The simple truth is that when my students slowed down and asked in a moment of deep reflection, “Who Cares?” They discovered, they did. Rather than sitting and stewing in their own frustration, they turned toward service to others. And, in giving from a place of care, they made a meaningful contribution to their community.

In the Vedic literature, connecting with others through the experience of yourself is described in the following way: “I am That, thou art That, all this is That” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 1.4.10). Expanded consciousness allows individuals to actually “see” the personal in the diversity. This is why I believe meditation in the classroom is so important. Consciousness based education reminds students to slow down and interact with an awareness of their own impact on their surroundings.

Feeling anger is okay. We all get mad sometimes. But acting out of that anger is not so smart.  We must learn to transcend the calling to such primal states of understanding. Remember in addition to asking individuals to “be the change they wish to see in the world”, Mahatma Gandhi believed that “in a gentle way, you can shake the world” and that a “nation’s culture lies in the hearts and souls of its people.”  

Students ask me all the time what to “do” when others make them feel bad. They are often surprised when I respond by saying that they alone are responsible for how they feel. It’s okay to feel any old way but take ownership of it. It’s not “their” fault. It’s your opportunity.

~ Molly Beauregard

Image/Illustration by: @6bartwork   www.6bartwork.com

Sit, Meditate, Vote

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I have been seeing quite a few posts about meditating for peace lately. Several of them encourage meditating this weekend with the hopes of influencing a positive outcome for our national elections. Frankly, I think it is a good idea.

Neurology has confirmed that the individual human brain is actually hard wired to influence other people within our social circle. In fact, there is a body of scientific evidence that personal thoughts have an infectious nature. Karl Mannheim, the father of the sociology of knowledge, wrote about his sense of this phenomenon in his famous book, Ideology and Utopia. It was his belief that the social emergence of collective thoughts are a reproduction of feelings, understandings and perceptions of individuals living together in society. The ultimate chicken and egg puzzle – historical knowledge conditioned by groups of people living together and social change instigated by conscious beings becoming aware of the power of their thoughts.

It seems logical to me that thinking that comes from a nourished, calm mind will be more positively impactful than thinking that comes from an anxiety riddled mind. Recent research has repeatedly offered evidence that a meditation practice enhances areas of the brain involved in perception and the regulation of emotion.

Thinking is, simply put, a means to both individual and collective evolution. This is why a meditation practice is so imperative. It influences both the personal and the collective. Spending time in silence allows one to transcend the daily input of distractions, noise and stress. The repeated action of sitting in silence incrementally builds more and more purity of thought. Thoughts that bubble up out of an exploration of inner knowing are more likely to be connected to the finest level of feeling.

If my experience of twenty-five years of daily meditation offers one truth, it is this: All you will find at the basis of yourself is a well-spring of love.

Love as an undercurrent to thinking has just got to be good for the environment!

My advice for this weekend – sit, meditate, vote!

~ Molly Beauregard

Social Impact Media Awards

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We are thrilled to announce that the Tuning the Student Mind documentary has been selected as a finalist in the 2016 Social Impact Media Awards Short DOC category! We are honored to be in the lineup with some of the most powerful documentaries of our time.

Someone pinch us!

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The Empowerment Plan

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“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

― Rumi, The Essential Rumi

If there is one thing that I am a stickler on, it is class attendance. A few years ago, a former student, signed up to take a second class with me. When she missed the first two weeks, I was surprised. A good student, Veronika, knew about my “skipping class” pet peeve. Toward the end of the second week of the semester, I received a rather breathless apology email from a very obviously busy young woman. Veronika, it seems, had been otherwise occupied. She had been invited to speak at the UN regarding her burgeoning non-profit “The Empowerment Plan”.

The Empowerment Plan is a Detroit based organization dedicated to serving the homeless community. They hire homeless women from local shelters to become full time seamstresses making coats that transform into sleeping bags. Veronika designed the sleeping bag coat while a student at College for Creative Studies. Her coats are distributed free of cost to homeless individuals.

Prior to founding the Empowerment Plan, Veronika was enrolled in a freshman seminar I taught. In her final paper, she wrote about her own metamorphosis and her awakening to the many realities of life. I remember the assignment specifically because she bound her paper between two pieces of wood. There was a hand drawn vine running between the front and back cover of the “book”. On it were a series of illustrated butterflies. It was beautiful.

I have occasionally thought about that paper while watching Veronika’s meteoritic success from the sidelines. I believe that for every situation in our lives, there is a thought pattern that fuels our actions and maintains our focus. It’s as if that final paper served as a blueprint for her future success. As a young woman just breaking free from a challenging childhood, she had a strong desire to be seen as “worthy”. By giving worth to others, she ultimately imposed worth back upon herself.

In 2011, Veronika won an IDEA Gold Award from the Industrial Design Society of America. She is also the youngest recipient to be awarded the prestigious JFK New Frontier Award from the John F. Kennedy Foundation. In addition, she has spoken at various conferences and colleges, has a Ted talk circulating and has been featured in numerous magazines, new shows and newspapers around the world.

While it may seem like individuals have very little ability to shift cultural patterns, Veronika’s success proves that individuals are the only ones who can do the work. It is through transforming our own lives that we create and construct new realities for both ourselves and others whose lives we touch. “We” are creativity in action and where our personal action meets social issues we are able to produce new ways of seeing the world.

It has been a joy to watch Veronika’s journey unfold. Having recently enjoyed a coffee date with Veronika, I can attest to the fact that she remains grounded, sincere and committed to meaningful social change. She is a powerful game changer.

Please visit: www.empowermentplan.org

Is it Worth Fighting in a Generation War?

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You’ve seen these two articles circulating social media. You know, this one and then in response, this one.

Here’s my million dollar question: Are we really fighting a generation war? As someone who has been deeply interested in education and often inspired by the ever-changing educational paradigm, in my opinion, the dynamic of both articles is a step in the wrong direction. That is, if the right direction is toward creating meaningful and engaging learning experiences for young people to help them transition into happy and healthy adults.

I have spent the last three years talking, blogging and filming about the importance of bridging the gap between my generation and the one before me. Bridging this gap is an authentic teaching method. It comes down to this, you have to like the people you teach if you want them to learn anything. And people generally don’t learn much from people they don’t like.

So back to the questions at hand, what spurs this generational fight? Did Wait But Why further separate us from our older generation by naming us GYPSYs and did Adam Weinstein further separate our older generation from us by telling them to “Go fuck yourselves”?

I’ll add that there were things from BOTH articles that resonated deeply with me.

I happen to think it’s an important time for all of this to surface. And although I would love to break down my thoughts and lay them out now, the reason I started Tuning the Student Mind is to breed meaningful discussion among college students. Therefore I want you all to weigh in first. Millenials, GYPSYs, Baby Boomers, G.I.’s and everyone alike, how do these articles relate to you?

How are you bridging the generation gap?

Please comment below, or if you feel compelled to write a blog post about it, please submit to chelsea@tuningthestudentmind.com

With love and respect,
Chelsea

Lean, Mean & Green Trailer

When College for Creative Studies film student Kaylee Johnson posted this on her Facebook, we just had to know more about it. Turns out, she actually plays a significant role in the making of this film. She became an intern after pre-production was completed. Her job is to organize footage and have it ready for the editor. She is also making an ibook that contains the used and un-used interviews from the film. Her main role is to help complete the final stages of the film by meeting deadlines, having a smooth distribution process and helping to bring revenue to complete the film.

This trailer features three of the profiles from the film, including Youngstown, Ohio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Detroit, Michigan.

Click here to see Kaylee’s guest blog post, The Effortless Ease of True Creativity.

Start Small, Think Big: Building a Foundation for the Future

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I’m a dreamer. I have a huge imagination and a tendency to idealize the way things should be. But sometimes these high ideals cause me to become impatient because I’m not always able to get to where I want to be fast enough. ‘Start small, think big’ is an aphorism I’ve found comfort in reminding myself over the years, and one I’ve largely benefited from.

I’ve been blogging continuously for about 14 months now, and around the time of my initial blog launch anniversary in October, I realized it was time for a serious blog makeover. I took the best parts of my old blog and transformed it into something bigger and better—Sustainalizer. This transformation made me realize just how far I’d come in a relatively short period of time; that I started on a small scale and now my work is undoubtedly expanding in a positive way.

Sustainalizer is a grassroots hub for socially and environmentally conscious information. It is dedicated to creating a sustainable, just and peaceful world for all beings, by educating people on the most important issues today given humanity’s fragile economic, ecological, and social state. Sustainalizer advocates and shares information on taking action for change, progressive news, healthy recipes and restaurant reviews, self-help and alternative healing.

Start small, think big has been a wonderful affirmation for me; always reminding me that starting on a small scale is not a bad thing. After all, that is what sustainability is all about—building a strong, sustainable foundation so that the future is not compromised by a faulty infrastructure. With enough hard work and persistence, we will all end up where we want to be!

You can subscribe by email to Sustainalizer, here 🙂

With love and light,
Samantha | (Normally) Your Food Fanatic

Murder Mouth: Life, Death and Dinner

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This past weekend I saw Murder Mouth at the Adventure Film Festival here in Boulder. I have to say it was the adventure that resonated with me the most.

Follow the wildly endearing and expressive, Madeleine Parry (21 year old Writer and Director!) as she challenges herself to fathom the taste murder… ~Chelsea

 

“You can’t eat a steak without killing the cow.

Madeleine loves her Greek family’s traditional lamb souvlaki but her friends claim that meat is murder. Well, Maddie’s never killed anything bigger than a spider, so she decides to reconnect the animal and the meal or never eat meat again. After talking to the people who slaughter animals for their livelihood Maddie is encouraged to do it herself, but, even if she can kill an animal, will she want to eat it afterwards?”

For more information on when Murder Mouth will be at a festival near you, please visit the Facebook page!

http://www.projectorfilms.com.au
http://www.twitter.com/murdermouthdoc

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Democracy or Corporatocracy? Why History Proves Protesting Works

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As regular readers already know, I’m the food contributor for Tuning the Student Mind. Most of my posts involve tasty recipes that fill the mind, body and soul with delight and nourishment. Today I’m going to come at you from another maybe unexpected angle. Let’s talk politics for a few, because you should all know about this!

About a week ago I read President Obama’s commencement speech given to the women of Barnard College, class of 2012. In his commencement address, Obama urged women graduates to look to the history of social struggle in the United States for inspiration. Obama recalled pivotal protesting moments in history, and how they positively changed life for present and future generations. He said:

[Watch here – start at 28:37]

“The trajectory of this country should give you hope, previous generations should give you hope. What young generations have done before should give you hope. Young folks who marched and mobilized and stood up and sat in — from Seneca Falls, to Selma, to Stonewall — didn’t just do it for themselves, they did it for other people. That’s how we achieved women’s rights. That’s how we achieved voting rights. That’s how we achieved worker rights. That’s how we achieved gay rights. That’s how we made this union more perfect.” –President Obama commencement address, 2012, Barnard College

Upon reading this excerpt, I became placated by President Obama’s astute ability to assess past situations in a both factual and sensible manner. It lifted a weight off my shoulders to hear the President affirm what I always try to explain to those opposed to the Occupy movement. President Obama has conveyed the message that he himself cannot make the changes our country needs alone–we have to do it…we all have to do it, together.

That’s what all of these historical movements have been about–Selma, Seneca Falls and Stonewall. They’ve been about people coming together to create a change. Americans have been conditioned to believe that political action and engagement is useless; but as President Obama recalls, history shows the reverse–just ask your parents and grandparents how political activism produced significant advances in civil rights for blacks and women, gay rights, and equal voting rights. Coming together as a people with a collective consciousness, is the only thing that has ever really created change.

Unfortunately, Americans have been accustomed to believe that the power of positive thinking is a solution to our problems, our society’s problems, and the world’s problems. But this obsession with optimism is an impediment; something that is actually undermining America. Instead of taking action and fighting for what’s right, we sit around and assume thinking positive will create the changes we so desire. If one were to speak unequivocally about how messed up things are, he or she would be scorned as “negative”. But are they really being negative, or just realistic? We must know the truth and confront the truth before being set free.

History proves the way to true success and triumph is typically through hard fought struggles. I highly recommend reading the book, Bright-Sided: How the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America, by Barbara Ehrenreich. Positive thinking can be good, but we cannot be naive and say “everything is going to be okay” and not take action. Problems are only solved with great focus and attention; the more expectations we have for success through lazy and naive optimism, the more let down we will most likely be. I’m not saying you should be a straight up negative Nancy, but let’s be honest–to be a little pessimistic, and incredibly tenacious, is probably a better approach to achievement. I’m all for practicality.

I proudly support the Occupy movement and independent thinkers out there. Thank you, occupiers, for taking the time to publicly stand up for what you believe, and cheers to working together to create change!

“The Occupy movement has helped rebuild class solidarity and communities of mutual support on a level unseen since the time of the Great Depression.” -Noam Chomsky

Occupy Wall Street 2012

Selma (Chicago) July 26, 1965: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (center, foreground) walks in vanguard of crowd estimated at more than 10,000 persons who gathered in downtown Chicago to protest alleged segregation in the city’s schools.

With love,
Samantha Thomas

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