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Posts Tagged:

Advocacy

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This week we are giving away 5 FREE Learning Service books written by star alum Dragons instructors Daniela Papi-Thornton and Claire Bennett on Instagram.

To enter the contest, go to Dragons Instagram Feed: 1. ❤️ this post (pictured right) 2. Follow Dragons on Instagram That’s it! We’ll randomly pick names of those entered (via both steps above) and announce the winners on Monday December 10th! Learning Service answers tough questions like: What does it mean to serve? Who benefits? How do you do more good than harm? For those engaged in service and volunteer work, it’s a must-read. [post_title] => Learning Service Book Giveaway on Instagram [post_excerpt] => This week we are giving away 5 FREE Learning Service books written by star alum Dragons instructors Daniela Papi-Thornton and Claire Bennett on Instagram. Read on for details on how to enter the contest... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => learning-service-book-giveaway-on-instagram [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-12-05 15:42:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-12-05 22:42:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 697 [name] => Dragons Travel Guide [slug] => dragons-travel-guide [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 697 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 18 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 18 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Dragons Travel Guide [category_nicename] => dragons-travel-guide [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/dragons-travel-guide/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 640 [name] => Dragons Instructors [slug] => dragons_instructors [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 640 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [parent] => 0 [count] => 19 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 19 [category_description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [cat_name] => Dragons Instructors [category_nicename] => dragons_instructors [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/dragons_instructors/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 651 [name] => Announcements [slug] => announcements [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 651 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [parent] => 0 [count] => 31 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 31 [category_description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [cat_name] => Announcements [category_nicename] => announcements [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Travel Guide, Dragons Instructors ... )
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    [post_date] => 2018-11-29 12:43:44
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    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_153975" align="alignnone" width="1080"] Photo by Christy Sommers, Madagascar Summer Program.[/caption]

 

ESSAY BY MICAH LeMASTERS

Follow the trade winds southwest out of Indonesia, keeping the Indian subcontinent to starboard, and you will eventually find Madagascar, adrift, at the edge of the Indian Ocean. It floats alone, a dust-red crescent moon, stretching nearly a thousand miles from north to south. Traveling from the central highlands to the coast, one is never quite sure whether the massive island is drifting slowly westward toward Mozambique or slipping slowly south and away from the great African continent. It is known for its astonishing endemic flora and fauna and, of course, as the only place on earth where lemurs live in their natural state.
If you want to travel to Madagascar to “save the lemurs” then you should have come 20 years ago.
If you know anything about Madagascar, it probably has something to do with the eponymous animated film series or, more likely, the lemurs—the most endangered primates on the planet and the principle force driving the Malagasy tourism industry. The situation for these prosimians is so dire that scientists estimate up to ninety percent of the population could face extinction within the next 20 to 25 years. If you want to travel to Madagascar to “save the lemurs” then you should have come 20 years ago. Madagascar has a single digit percentage of its original forest left and that number is shrinking by the day. Generating tourism dollars or publishing spectacular photographs may buy lemurs some time, but it won’t prevent their extinction. The challenge is much greater than a marketing campaign can solve. In order to stave off extinction, Madagascar—a country with a per capita income around $450 dollars, approximately 30 percent less than North Korea—needs to provide viable alternatives to impoverished farmers who have few options to generate a meager subsistence other than clear-cutting forest timber to sell as charcoal.
Unless significant and strong action is taken to stem the upsurge in unsustainable and illegal logging and exploitation of other natural resources, the ultimate risk may be irreversible loss of forest and biodiversity for Madagascar.
According to USAID, “The illegal export of...threatened and endangered species that are found nowhere else on earth will result in the loss of globally renowned biodiversity. Unless significant and strong action is taken to stem the upsurge in unsustainable and illegal logging and exploitation of other natural resources, the ultimate risk may be irreversible loss of forest and biodiversity for Madagascar.” Although Madagascar is listed as the seventh poorest country in the world, the travel and tourism sector contributed $1.16 billion to the economy in 2014, one-sixth of the country’s revenues. Tourism isn’t suffering from a dearth of funds, the people of Madagascar are. The problem is economic inequality. According to the World Bank, 99 percent of Madagascar’s population lives on less than four dollars a day. Poor policy has led to mass poverty, and the resultant desperation has led to the destruction of critical ecosystems.
Tourism isn’t suffering from a dearth of funds, the people of Madagascar are. The problem is economic inequality.
A small cadre of both amateur and professional scientists and intrepid explorers spend thousands of dollars to travel across continents to see the few remaining lemurs that still live free and wild in the dwindling forests of the Red Island. These people touch down in the dense, polluted air of Antananarivo clad in adventure-grade pants, floppy-brimmed hats and vests made to hold rolls of film no one has carried in years. They are whisked from the tiny airport in air-conditioned 4x4 trucks and set off on a small predictable loop that takes them to the few well-known spots where they stand a reasonable chance of seeing what they came to see.
A person traveling to Madagascar for the sole purpose of seeing a lemur runs the risk of missing an incredible number of amazing things
A person traveling to Madagascar for the sole purpose of seeing a lemur runs the risk of missing an incredible number of amazing things that can’t be found in the dwindling forests. They will miss the inviting smell of rice cakes cooking in an early morning market. They will miss the singsong of an excited seller loading unsold bread at the end of a long day or the choke and cough of an ancient taxi running out of fuel on a steep hill. They will miss the way the sun slides across a terraced rice paddy as a day quietly  ends. They will miss the warm embrace of a sincere handshake. They will miss the taste of too much sugar and condensed milk in the tiny cups of coffee sold on the back streets of Antananarivo. They will miss the heavenly taste of freshly fried bananas. They will miss long afternoons chewing sugarcane under the shade of a small tree. They will miss the loom of ancient baobabs in the distance. They will miss the warmth of burnt-rice tea. They will miss the excited laughter of children racing water carts down the dirt-and-stone roads of some forgotten highland village. They will miss the scent of saltwater and the sound of a traveler’s palm bending in the breeze. They will, almost undoubtedly, miss the actual essence of what it is to be someplace as preternatural and wondrous as Madagascar. The problem is that Madagascar’s chances to attract attention, international aid and tourism dwindle with each passing year, and each year fewer lemurs remain in their natural habitat. Sadly, most people who make it to Madagascar end up missing the real beauty of the place. And in missing the beauty, they miss an opportunity to learn about and draw attention to the conditions and factors that are perpetuating irreversible harm to the fragile ecosystems that support the last remaining lemur populations. What the tourist or scientist misses on the preordained journey is tragic because it neglects the human factor. To neglect the human factor is to ignore the agent singularly responsible for the extinction of the lemurs.
To neglect the human factor is to ignore the agent singularly responsible for the extinction of the lemurs.
Madagascar, like so many countries in the world, is infinitely more important and fantastic than we think. As Westerners, we tend to push our own values and expectations onto the places where we travel, and because of this we tend to build a very narrow and unstable idea of what a country should be and what it should offer us. Long before we board the plane, we tend to decide what an experience should look and feel like. We imagine photographs of dirt-stained farmers and coy children half-hidden behind open doorways. It is unfair and unsafe to allow a place as unique and beautiful as Madagascar to be pigeonholed as some sort of tropical bazaar or uncanny nature park. It is home to around twenty-five million of the most welcoming and compassionate people on the planet. People that will, without fail, invite you into their homes to share whatever they have (although often they have next to nothing) with you. A few months back I was traveling from the capital city of Antananarivo to Lac Aloatra, about 250 kilometers away. A friend of mine heard I was going that way and came over to ask if I would get her a couple of fish from the lake and bring them back for her. In making the request she held up her right arm, bent at the elbow like a Hula dancer, to indicate that she wanted a fish at least as big as the distance from her elbow to the tips of her fingers. I agreed to keep an eye out for some nice fish and bring them back for her. While I wasn’t crazy about the idea of hauling any number of fish 15 hours from Ambatodranzaka to Antananarivo without a cooler or ice, I did wander through a couple of fish markets just to see what was available and maybe snap a picture that could serve as a surrogate gift. I immediately noticed a lack of fish and when I asked around I quickly found that the lake had been drying up at an alarming rate and that huge parts of what used to be open, fresh water, were now just a mixture of muck and silt run-off from the deforested hillsides. My friend, who lives just a few hundred kilometers away, had no idea that what once was Madagascar’s biggest freshwater lake and the center of what was referred to as Madagascar’s “rice bowl” is but a glimmer of what it used to be. Similar stories can be told of the beautiful remnants of forest that streak down the eastern coast of the island and the bizarre and unique moonscapes of the western deserts. Madagascar’s unique beauty is slipping away and not many people seem to be noticing. If you ask a Malagasy person what is unique about their country, they will tell you about their beautiful forests and their lemurs. They are proud of those things and rightfully so. However, Madagascar is losing huge amounts of forest every year, most lemur species are near extinction and too few realize it. One of the best things that can be done for the lemurs and forests of Madagascar is to create space and opportunities for people to truly understand and appreciate all of what the island has to offer and not just the few things that we expect it to provide for us.
One of the best things that can be done for the lemurs and forests of Madagascar is to create space and opportunities for people to truly understand and appreciate all of what the island has to offer
Frankly, there is more at stake in Madagascar than the prolonged existence of the lemurs. Madagascar, like a ship caught in a storm, wildly sliding down the face of a churning wave, is jettisoning its last few precious resources in hopes of keeping her bow pointed into the wind and sea. Madagascar, an island in distress, is frantically holding on, tossing endangered species and precious hardwoods overboard in desperation, because there seems to be no other way to stay afloat.  
MICAH LeMASTERS is a former Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar and led the first Dragons summer course in Madagascar. He graduated from IU with an MA in Education. Read more about Micah.
[post_title] => Don't Save the Lemurs. The challenge in Madagascar is much greater. [post_excerpt] => "As Westerners, we tend to push our own values and expectations onto the places where we travel, and because of this we tend to build a very narrow and unstable idea of what a country should be [...] Madagascar, like so many countries in the world, is infinitely more important and fantastic than we think." READ MORE... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dont-save-the-lemurs-the-challenge-in-madagascar-is-much-greater [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-11-29 12:54:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-11-29 19:54:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 697 [name] => Dragons Travel Guide [slug] => dragons-travel-guide [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 697 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 18 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 18 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Dragons Travel Guide [category_nicename] => dragons-travel-guide [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/dragons-travel-guide/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 675 [name] => Map's Edge Newsletter [slug] => mapsedgenewsletter [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 675 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Archives of Dragons Map's Edge Newsletter [parent] => 0 [count] => 14 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 675 [category_count] => 14 [category_description] => Archives of Dragons Map's Edge Newsletter [cat_name] => Map's Edge Newsletter [category_nicename] => mapsedgenewsletter [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/mapsedgenewsletter/ ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Travel Guide, Map's Edge Newsletter )
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    [post_date] => 2018-09-24 10:46:44
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One of our dear friends and a longtime Dragons instructor, Gina Collignon, has started a campaign to help bring our friend Sandy Pinto, one of our Bolivia instructors and a well-known Afro-Bolivian activist and organizer, to Honduras as part of a delegation supporting human rights, feminist initiatives, and awareness-raising surrounding violence against women under the Honduran dictatorship and in the wider region: Building Bridges of Solidarity. This effort is part of an initiative to help make these delegations availability to a wider demographic, specifically supporting women of color from the Global South to be part of these kinds of delegations.  As Gina writes:
I am part of an amazing community of people who understand the power of travel. What can happen when we use that power not just for our own personal growth, but to also grow connections between amazing organizers who might not otherwise have the chance to meet? I would love to find out.
Please consider contributing to this cause, even a small sum can go a long way!
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    [post_content] => Teachers, alumni, students: Did you know you can bring a Dragons Instructor right into your classroom for engaging conversations on critical global issues? This might be one of the best things we do. We call it our Global Speaker Series. (And ps. it's free.)

Class Topics with our Guest Teachers Include:
  • The Forces Behind Migration from Central America
  • Introduction to Islam
  • Good Intentions with Complicated Outcomes
  • Urbanization in China
  • Structural Violence
  • Seeds of Culture
  • The Flow of River and Wealth
  • Woven Stories
At Dragons we see exceptional beauty in diversity. And we believe that the experience of connecting with unfamiliar cultures has something to teach everyone. We are dedicated to cross-cultural learning because we know that future leaders will be required to think beyond borders. Part of our educational mission is to bring what we’ve learned from remote corners of the world back home to share. With this mission in mind, each year we send our best teachers to schools across the United States to share their experiences, perspectives, and insights from years living abroad with students ready to engage with critical and compelling global questions. We invite you to look at some of the conversations our staff are facilitating in classrooms around the country. Whether you are a teacher of Language Studies, Geography, Science, History, Social Studies, Religion, or Art, we hope to have a topic of interest to you. If one of the following class titles piques your curiosity, please get in touch. We’d be happy to coordinate a visit from one of our teachers to speak to your class on the subject. And if there’s a topic you would like to address that’s not on this list, let us know. It’s exactly this type of question-based collaboration with students, schools, and educators that inspires us. The Global Speaker Series is sponsored by the Dragons Global Education Fund, in partnership with The Futurity Foundation 501(c)-3. PLEASE SHARE THIS BOOKLET with your teacher or school or call us to have one sent to you. Or just get directly in touch to learn more about our Global Speaker Series: 1800.982.9203
 
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Dragons Global Speaker Series (GSS)

Posted On

10/18/17

Author

Dragons HQ

Description
Teachers, alumni, students: Did you know you can bring a Dragons Instructor right into your classroom for engaging conversations on critical global issues? This might be one of the best things… Read More
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    [post_content] => 

Dragons Community Grant Fund

In an effort to give back to our incredible community partners, Where There Be Dragons manages Community Grant Fund. This fund awards grants to community organizations based on a comprehensive application process. Ultimately, the goal of the fund is to provide community organizations with financial support for local projects and to provide a mechanism for Dragons administration, instructors, and students to give back to the places that so generously welcome Dragons participants. All applications are reviewed by a Community Grant Fund Committee and awarded on an annual basis. The Dragons Community Grant Fund is supported by under-budget funds from student programming. At the end of each term, 100% of seasonal total under budget funds will be designated to support the Dragons Community Grant Fund.

Grant Proposal Guidelines

Giving Philosophy

Through community grants Where There Be Dragons hopes to help address needs and opportunities in the communities in which we work, and thereby better fulfill our organization’s mission statement and core values. Emphasis is placed on supporting projects that will have many beneficiaries, are community-oriented, and will have a continuing benefit to the community.

Funding

Grants range from $500-$5,000 per applicant. Dragons reserves the right to adjust the amount awarded to grantees at their discretion.

Eligibility Criteria:

Grants are available to any community member or community organization that meets all of the following criteria:
  • Applications may be submitted either directly by a community member/organization, or by a Dragons instructor, alumni instructor, or former student on behalf of a community member/organization.
  • The individual/organization must demonstrate a recent (within the last 2 years) or ongoing relationship with Dragons as an organization.
  • If an applicant is a current member of Dragons administrative staff or a member of the staff’s immediate family, then the administrative staff may not serve on the the Community Grant Committee for the funding cycle when that application will be considered.  
  • The objectives of the project and projected cost must be shared in the application process.
  • Applications must be submitted online using the stated format, unless otherwise requested in writing.
  • An individual/organization must submit a completed grant proposal by the stated deadline.

Review Criteria:

Applications will be assessed based on the following criteria:
  • the potential impact on a local community - including the number beneficiaries and the potential for continuing benefit to the community;
  • clarity of the project plan, including the viability of the objectives and the proposed timeline, and the clarity of the cost structure;
  • the amount of community involvement in design, implementation, and leadership of the project; strength of applicant’s relationship with Dragons; and
  • thoroughness of the application.

How To Apply:

All applications must be completed using this form (unless otherwise requested in writing): Dragons Community Grant Fund Application Additional supporting documents can be submitted via email to hr@wheretherebedragons.com with the subject “Community Grant Fund Additional Documents - XXX Project.” Please note that Dragons will primarily communicate with the applicant via email so the email address provided in the application should be checked regularly.

Application Deadlines:

Applications are due by March 1 of each year. Applications are reviewed in March and award announcements are made in April-May. Applications may be submitted at any time during the funding cycle. A maximum of 2 applications per individual/organization is permitted per year. Submitting a proposal does not guarantee funding. Any requests for information should be emailed to hr@wheretherebedragons.com.

Restrictions:

The Dragons Community Grant Fund does *not provide funding for:
  • Academic research
  • Individual scholarships
  • Fundraising events, sponsorships, or advertising
  • International travel for applicant
  • Endowment or memorial campaigns
  • Government agencies
* Note: If a need is identified within the above categories, please reach out directly to the Program Director of that region to begin a conversation of how Dragons might be able to support.

Award Process:

Designated Community Grant Fund Committee members will review grant proposals to select which, if any, projects to fund. Applicants will be notified via e-mail about the decision related to their proposal after application review is complete. Awards will typically be made in *May of each year. *Note: At the Committee’s discretion, time-sensitive proposals may be reviewed on a rolling basis. Note that all applicants agree that if a grant is awarded the individual and/or organization will be asked to acknowledge Dragons as a sponsor of their project and are also asked for permission to publish or reproduce any materials provided during the application and/or reporting processes. [post_title] => Dragons Community Grant Fund [post_excerpt] => In an effort to give back to our incredible community partners, Where There Be Dragons has created a Community Grant Fund. This fund awards grants to community organizations based on a comprehensive application process. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dragons-community-grant-fund [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-08-08 14:57:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-08-08 20:57:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 653 [name] => Global Community [slug] => global_community [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 653 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [parent] => 0 [count] => 11 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 11 [category_description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [cat_name] => Global Community [category_nicename] => global_community [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/global_community/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 641 [name] => About Dragons [slug] => about_dragons [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 641 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [parent] => 0 [count] => 22 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 22 [category_description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [cat_name] => About Dragons [category_nicename] => about_dragons [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/about_dragons/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 669 [name] => Engage [slug] => engage [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 669 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [parent] => 0 [count] => 11 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 11 [cat_ID] => 669 [category_count] => 11 [category_description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [cat_name] => Engage [category_nicename] => engage [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Global Community, About Dragons ... )
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    [post_date] => 2017-04-18 12:30:02
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    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_150918" align="alignright" width="418"] Haitian community leaders and Ellie conduct a survey on access to water in communities affected by mining in Haiti.[/caption]

Ellie Happel is a social justice lawyer who has been working in Haiti for more than a decade. Since graduating law school, she has worked closely with various Haitian civil society groups and NYU Law School's Global Justice Clinic on cases of forced eviction in the Internally Displaced People (IDP) Camps in Port-Au-Prince. She has a complaint filed against the United Nations over the introduction of cholera into Haiti, and most recently on issues involving hard metal mining. These are some of her observations.

CREATE SPACE
Leaders for social change create space for movements to thrive, change, and to reinvent themselves. Often, leaders rise not only because of who they are—their charisma or skills or vision—but because of privilege. Leaders acknowledge power and privilege, and work to create the space for those who are less privileged to speak, to contribute, to shine. Strong social movements push themselves to be more inclusive and more creative, and demand leadership that embraces plurality. Leaders invite movements to grow in size and to grow in imagination, to strive tomorrow for a dream that is unforeseen today. Strong leadership and strong movements embrace nonconformity and embrace change. They practice inclusivity.
GET PROXIMATE
Leaders get proximate. Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, said “If you are not proximate, you cannot change the world.” Getting proximate means knowing the People, the masses, the Other. True proximity breeds empathy, and is possible only in the absence of fear. Proximity disappears the Other. It creates unity; differences are celebrated and respected, and a common vision is defined. Leaders get proximate. Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, said “If you are not proximate, you cannot change the world.” Getting proximate means knowing the People, the masses, the Other. True proximity breeds empathy, and is possible only in the absence of fear. Proximity disappears the Other. It creates unity; differences are celebrated and respected, and a common vision is defined.
PRINCIPLES OVER POPULARITY: THE POWER OF DISSENT
Leaders choose principles over popularity. They not only document injustice, but they demand action to change the status quo. They are the authors of (unpopular) dissent. Justice Harlan was the lone dissent in the 1896 decision Plessy v. Ferguson, arguing that the Constitution is color-blind. It took 58 years before Brown v. Board, when the Court made this the law of the land. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously dissented to promote free speech. Recently, Justice Sotomayor has authored dissenting opinions to document and criticize the racial discrimination in our criminal justice system. The authors of dissenting opinions and the promoters of unpopular ideas are rarely Leaders choose principles over popularity. They not only document injustice, but they demand action to change the status quo. They are the authors of (unpopular) dissent. Justice Harlan was the lone dissent in the 1896 decision Plessy v. Ferguson, arguing that the Constitution is color-blind. It took 58 years before Brown v. Board, when the Court made this the law of the land. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously dissented to promote free speech. Recently, Justice Sotomayor has authored dissenting opinions to document and criticize the racial discrimination in our criminal justice system. The authors of dissenting opinions and the promoters of unpopular ideas are rarely identified as leaders. They should be. In dissenting, in voicing the unpopular, they encourage alternative visions and promote change.
DARE TO CHANGE COURSE
Leaders dare to change course. Two examples are Toussaint Louverture, leader of the Haitian revolution, and Ernest Shackleton. Toussaint Louverture allied with the Spanish, the French, and then fought for Haiti’s independence, the only slave revolt to result in a sovereign nation. According to C.L.R.E. James’ account, The Black Jacobins, from the beginning Louverture had a singular goal: to abolish slavery and create a free Haiti. Sir Ernest Shackleton led a team of 27 men in an attempt to cross the Antarctic continent. Shackleton is famous not for the transverse—they failed—but for keeping every member of his team alive. Shackleton led his team away from their ship, frozen in the ice, on a two-year journey for survival. Along the way, Shackleton “got proximate.” Shackleton did not use his position of leadership to insulate himself from the pain of the journey. The ship’s captain, Frank Worsley, said that it was Shackleton’s rule that “any deprivation should be felt by himself before anyone else.” For more, go to: bit.ly/1qpL7G8
LEADERSHIP FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
Movements make the leader as much as the leader makes the movement. Leaders for social change encourage broad, ambitious, inclusive social movements. They not only listen to the people, but they work in close enough proximity to know the people, and they give the movement the space it needs to thrive. Leading for social change is less about individual qualities of character than about the back and forth between leaders and the masses, the process of collectively dreaming and redesigning a more just world.
ELLIE HAPPEL’S first experience with Dragons was on a summer program in Dolpo, Nepal. Ellie was later admitted to NYU Law School as a Root Tilden Kern scholar in 2008 where she focused on racial justice issues. She has since worked on environmental justice and public health issues in Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru and Washington, D.C. Ellie has led Dragons programs in Guatemala, India, and Peru. She most recently led Dragons Fall 2016 Andes and Amazon Semester
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