Dear Friends,

To grow community, we must ground ourselves in a set of assumptions that are counter to dominant culture.

Margaret Wheatley's ten principles for healthy community seem deceptively simple. You might skim the list below and think, "Yep - got it!" But integrating this wisdom into our lives is far from easy.

In my first year of graduate school, I skipped an economics midterm to spend time with Wheatley on a learning journey through Detroit. (Pictured above.) We visited a school run by students, a bakery creating equitable economic revitalization - with the best salt chocolate chip cookie I've ever tasted, and the incredible community leaders at the Boggs Center.

Each of them lived out these principles - as communities at the margins often do.

In this moment where we are bombarded with images of human badness, Wheatley tells us that our work is to intentionally explore human goodness.

She writes in her book, Turning To One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future, that though "it is more difficult to do good and lasting work, or to create healthy change...people still are basically good and caring. We may feel distressed, overwhelmed, numbed or afraid. But beneath these feelings, we still desire learning, freedom, meaning, and love."

We still desire learning, freedom, meaning, and love. That's what these principles are designed to help us remember.
  1. People support what they create
  2. People act responsibly when they care
  3. Conversation is the way human beings have always thought
  4. To change the conversation, change who is in it
  5. Expect leaders to come from anywhere
  6. Focusing on what is working gives us energy and creativity
  7. The wisdom resides within us
  8. Everything is a failure in the middle
  9. Humans can handle anything as long as we're together
  10. Generosity, forgiveness and love.
I highly recommend watching this brief video playlist to hear Wheatley share more insights on each principle. Every few months I return to them. Watching these simple truths always reminds me why I care about this work, and reveals a new glimmer of wisdom.

As Wheatley quotes the words so often misattributed to Walt Whitman at the end of the last video, all that matters in the end is that,

"We were together. I forget the rest."

Have a wonderful weekend, Shabbat Shalom,


The world of dew
is the world of dew.
And yet, and yet....

Kobayashi Issa

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