This discussion in its entirety begins with this article.
Q and A: A work in progress
Question #3:1 from a reader: Anastasia, you have given us an overview of some different types of communities. Still you seem to keep stressing that “the” type of community that is most exemplary would be likely to have certain characteristics in common with the New Horizons “Exceptional Community Model.” Can you describe your “Exceptional Community” approach – and – additionally….
|A small "zone of peace" can be anywhere.|
Answer #3:1: In my manuscript in progress, “The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard” I describe New Horizons’ “Exceptional Community” as follows.
The following is excerpted from “The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard,” (a manuscript in progress).
Commonly held views of a “community” define it as “a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government and are bound together by various interests, characteristics and values they hold in common.
A definition of community that is more exceptional, however, holds that the most exemplary type of community has several other distinct characteristics. These qualities carry the normally-held view of a community forward into an extraordinary form; one that has the potential to deliberately elevate its members in such areas of human development as character development, cooperation, civility, conflict resolution and violence prevention.
New Horizons has a model of this type. It is called the New Horizons “Exceptional Community Model.” It may be a bit idealistic but its application is do-able while its sustainability can be acquired over time, once set in place. New Horizons own version lasted for close to twenty years (1976 to 1998), succumbing to a wearing away only after I lost my eyesight.
One characteristic of the exceptional community is that the members are particularly like-minded regarding the necessity for resolving conflicts in ways that represent social justice in a superlative fashion. A second is that they function synergistically. The presence of these two attributes*; like-mindedness and synergy, separates the exceptional community from all other communities.
To the extent that members not only share common values, interests and characteristics (i.e. like-mindedness) in a particular locality and under one government, but also consistently seek to function synergistically, they set themselves on a course of evolving. Evolving as a group can be the basis for producing an “exceptional community.”
The exceptional community is a thriving, healthy organic system that makes every possible attempt to maintain harmony and peace. In the exceptional community, violence could, someday, even become obsolete because the conditions that foster violence become unnecessary.
In today’s world the exceptional community is an important model for creating a “culture of prevention,” a significant deterrent to the proliferation of violence. (The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet is an example of this.)
The Exceptional Community Model is an example of an intentional community approach.
Answer #3:2: Sustainability is, indeed, a challenge, as evidenced by the high rate of mortality of communities of this type; the intentional community variety. However, the impermanence factor need not be a constant deterrent if we remember the following:
- Lasting cultural change is slow and accumulative. For example, many fought for the abolishment of slavery in this country as well as an instituting of voting rights for women before these came about;
- Social change, thus, is a long-term investment. For example, now, more than forty years after the widespread counter-culture movement in this country of the late 196os and early ‘70s, many of us who came of age in that era are watching our children and grandchildren – and – even great grandchildren incorporating our progressive ideals such as civil rights and women’s equality into their “ordinary” daily lives as though they were second nature to them;
- In actuality we can pay attention to the words of Gandhi on the subject of creating world peace when he stated that to accomplish this “We do best to begin by carving out territories or zones of peace in our personal relations where violence and deceit won’t be used.”
"I believe this quote (Gandhi’s) to mean metaphorically that if you are angry, you could find a quiet place in (your) mind. In reality, it could mean that if two friends live near each other, and there was a park that was close to both of them, they could call the park a zone of peace."To us at New Horizons, Brittany’s statement exemplifies that each and every one of us has the wherewithal to build small “zones of peace” and/or exceptional communities by reaching out not much farther than an arm’s length. Thus one might say the effort is ours for the making.
Notes on the New Horizons’ “Exceptional Community Model” approach.
Many types and varieties of communities exist today, especially in this day and age of the internet. Additionally, there are likely many types and varieties of even “exceptional communities.” Those I have been able to find that have had a natural or organic emergence have, consistently, been of an indigenous nature, originating in native lands and circumstances. Other than these I have found intentional communities such as have grown up throughout the United States since its founding and, particularly, in the latter twentieth century.
To the extent these communities do, indeed, aspire to attain individual and collective transformation as does New Horizons, I know of very few and wish you well in finding them. If and when you do, if you decide to participate in them, you will be, as I have been along with many others, likely to be changed for a lifetime. New Horizons has been known for close to forty years to have established communities of this nature.
By my describing the origins and operations of New Horizons’ “Exceptional Community Model” you may get a taste of one intended, created and sustained exceptional community. (The “old” New Horizons community ceased to operate in 1998 when I lost my eyesight. It is now in the process of intending to re-build.)
In general New Horizons as an exceptional community model derives from five main sources:
- Asklepeion Therapeutic Community Model or Total Learning Environment (TLE);
- New Horizons’ modification of the Asklepeion TLE model (“old” New Horizons);
- Kebzeh Community as taught by Murat Yagan;
- Quaker Process as introduced to us through my collaborator and New Horizons’ board member, Sue deVeer and;
- The Everyday Democracy methodology for community dialogue and problem solving.
When you have done this background work, conscientiously, you are likely to still be in the dark as to how exactly our approach works, intent always on turning lead into gold in individuals and the collective.
Then your real deal, Dark Side transformation work can begin to reach for the next levels of development with guidance such as I have available to provide or with someone else who has traveled the path and has come to know its intricacies.
This aspect of the adventure; mentorship, coaching and guidance, is essential as you will not and cannot find all the hiding places of your Dark Side on your own and the transformation of this entity, the Dark Side, is critical.
Choose your guide carefully as relatively few are equipped to assist you with this discovery and transformation, systematically, as I have learned to be. I credit my two mentors, Martin G. Groder, M.D. and Murat Yagan, with this edification of mine and, also, Ken Windes who taught me some of my most important skills.