REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo
MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with reservations
AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Watchful Eyes, Thoughtful Mind, by Radiance
WEB ADDRESS: http://www.watchful-eyes-thoughtful-mind.info/
BLOG DESCRIPTION: A blog trying to make a difference in the world of science and eco awareness. Caring about planet Earth and the Earthlings, trying to get them to learn from the past and care about the future, right here in the present.
MY REVIEW: This is an interesting blog, but it is updated only a couple of times a month. Neverthless, if you're into eco-awareness, you'll find this blog of interest.
L'Arche: Spreading compassion
Guest post generously contributed by Rebecca Happy, a long time dedicated and active member of L'Arche, Canada.
L'Arche is an international community of people with and without developmental disabilities who share life together in a family-like setting of a home. We were founded inadvertently, so to speak, by a philosopher and thought leader from Canada, who was the son of Canada’s first francophone Governor General (the Queen’s representative in Canada) George Vanier.
In 1964, Jean Vanier was in France visiting a Dominican priest who was the chaplain of an institution that used to warehouse people with developmental disabilities. The institution was shutting its doors and the keys were “handed over” to them. Jean invited 3 men to live with him in a small house he called L’Arche in reference to Noah’s Arc. He knew it was a long term commitment but had no idea how big it would grow. Today, there are over 130 L'Arche communities in 34 countries and on six continents. These communities are all part of the International Federation of L'Arche Communities.
L’Arche is committed to helping create an open, inclusive and compassionate society where every person is valued and can make a contribution. L’Arche has a unique vision of care-giving in that it fosters inclusion, understanding and belonging. L’Arche believes that people with developmental disabilities have gifts of the heart that are unique and powerful in their ability to change society. When we let go of our stereotypes of people and ourselves, we can be surprised by what people with developmental disabilities can offer us. At the core of the human experience we are all spiritual beings with the same basic needs and desires. To belong, and to love and be loved are certainly amongst the crucial factors that make up our hearts. In spite of the pretence and fictitious rules and regulations we create for ourselves, when pared all away we can receive our common humanity.
L’Arche members, with and without disabilities, share in decision making in all aspects of their lives. L’Arche believes that meaningful activities whether for work, play or spirit are important for the dignity of all members of society. Every year L’Arche attracts hundreds of young people from around the world to come and share life with people with developmental disabilities. Entering into intimate life-sharing with people with developmental disabilities is transformative and life changing.
I have been in L’Arche since the late 80’s. Initially I went to a community in France to learn about community and belonging, about faith, to learn to speak French, and to learn about people with developmental disabilities. I never imagined staying for so long.
I was welcomed unabashedly with open arms into people’s hearts. Most people with developmental disabilities have lived with so much rejection, abandonment and abuse, it is surprising they are not closed and cold hearted. The stats on abuse for people with developmental disabilities is 85% if not more. When people go to L’Arche, they think they are going to help the “poor” and look after “those people”. After you have been there a while you realize that it is the people with developmental disabilities that are actually training you to be more human. They see so many people come and go they have to adapt continually and they do it with amazing grace.
They have to adapt to people who do not speak their language, who are young or old, who can or cannot cook, who impose their beliefs and culture via food, music, clothing and expected behaviours and it goes on and on. People with developmental disabilities have a huge capacity to overlook and forgive. They accept who they are and thus can accept who you are. There is no attempt to be anything other than themselves. This is very powerful for people when they allow themselves to enter this kind of relationship. This video called “I AM” illustrates will this capacity. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYA6OjG_E4k
When I first came online a couple of years ago on the social platforms, I was surprised to hear all the discussions around community building and how the world is changing through the use of technology. A lot of the concepts and verbiage being used, like: “transparency, authenticity, adding value, sharing your gifts, everyone has a place, being grateful, story telling, creating relationships and building community” were things we have been living and discovering and exploring at l’Arche for 40 years. I was excited.
In learning about social media marketing, I found that creating relationships of mutuality and trust seemed to be a key factor to online success. The very, very first blog I put out on social media was about people-skills learned from a person with a developmental disability. You can read it here: http://www.rebeccahappy.com/getting-connected-in-the-new-mediascape-with-social-media/
I presently co-ordinate a very small seniors club of retired members of the L’Arche community I belong to. Here is an interview we did with a local news site http://www.ottawatonite.com/2009/11/larche-artists-art-and-smiles-in-a-thriving-community/ that gives you an excellent sneak peak into the heart of l’Arche.
For more info on the teachings of the founder Jean Vanier go here http://www.jean-vanier.org/home.en-gb.116.0.index.htm
For more information about communities near you http://www.larche.org/home.en-gb.1.0.index.htm
To hear about communities in Haiti read here http://www.larchenetwork.org/en/
--TED Tuesday: We need educational revolution!
--L'Arche: Spreading compassion
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Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death