Imagine a community that is caring and compassionate. Is that your community? If not, could it be? And what would that community look like to you? What kind of children live in that community?
The answers to these questions are out there and the Dalai Lama Center has developed an exciting initiative that aims to find these answers with participation from all elements of a community.
It is called the "Heart-Mind Inquiry" and it is designed to engage parents, grandparents, children, youth and key stakeholders in a change process focusing on the social and emotional learning and development of young people in their families, schools and community.
It is based on appreciative inquiry (AI), a tried and tested cultural change methodology of finding creative solutions by asking the questions, “what are the strengths within the system?” and “What do we want more of?” The Heart-Mind Inquiry is unique in its ability to engage a wide cross-section of people in schools or the community by recognizing and building on assets, integrating diverse perspectives and co-creating a vision of the future.
The initiative has been designed and implemented in consultation with appreciative inquiry expert Dr. Gervase Bushe
, Professor of Leadership and Organization Development at Simon Fraser University, and in partnership with Frog Hollow Neighboorhood House.
There are five stages to the Heart-Mind Inquiry.
What is the focus of the desired change? How do you state that in a positive way? In this phase, the change focus is defined as an inspiring, inviting statement that motivates others to engage in the Inquiry.
What’s working well? Where is a community finding success? Through the “Discover” phase, you will unearth the wisdom and assets within your community that are already modeling the outcomes you seek. This is a highly engaging and inspiring process.
What could a community that nurtures heart-mind learning of children look like? Who are the people that you would meet in that community? How are children learning to be compassionate and kind? “Dream” is a highly creative phase that takes the lessons learned and new ideas, which have surfaced during discovery, and imagines how they could be implemented in the future.
What structures, processes and behaviours would allow us to actualize our vision of the future? How do we get there? The “Design” phase is a co-creative process, identifying key directions and strategies to create the compassionate community you imagine.
An ongoing process, the “Destiny” phase is the development and implementation of the plans created by the community – for the community.
Heart-Mind Inquiry Initiatives
Compassionate Children, Caring Community
The Heart-Mind Inquiry was developed and first implemented in the Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House community. This year-long project has had enormous impact as it engaged a broad spectrum of families and community members in exploring, "how can people and the community encourage compassion, co-operation and confidence in children?" Over 2,000 parents, youth, community members, educators and other stakeholders contributed to an inspiring vision of their community and creative innovations that impact the hearts and minds of children and the adults who nurture their learning and development.
Adam Robertson Elementary School, Creston, BC
School staff recognized that they wanted to take school-wide approach to promoting social and emotional learning and committed to participating in the Inquiry through the 2013-2014 school year. Teachers, support staff and school administrators gathered on two professional days to pursue their central inquiry question: "How can we nurture belonging, calmness, joyfulness and responsibility throughout our school community?" They are currently pursuing the plans and innovations that they envisioned together.
Heart-Mind Inquiry Institute, Trail, BC
The Greater Trail Community Skills Centre worked with the DLC to bring a training institute to the community. With the purpose of inspiring effective community development in Greater Trail, three working teams from Women Creating Change, The Family Action Network, and the Compassionate Youth Network gathered for two days to learn the principles, processes and tools of the Heart-Mind Inquiry. Following the Institute, the teams applied their learning to promote their uniquely defined change focuses within their own contexts.