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June 2007
Rev. Celeste Shakti Hill

Community is the theme of this issue’s Good News. Being a part of community reminds us that we are part of a whole that is larger than ourselves. Being part of this wholeness gives our lives a context and a richness that we cannot achieve alone. It is through community we remember we are not alone. We are a community of the earth and of the universe.
Enjoy the stories of Community.
We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly embracing each other.
-- Luciano de Crescenzo

IN AFRICAN CULTURE, ubuntu is the capacity to express compassion, justice, reciprocity, dignity, harmony and humanity in the interests of building, maintaining and strengthening community. An Nguni word from South Africa, ubuntu speaks to our interconnectedness and the responsibility to each other that flows from our connection. It's about mutual affirmation and communal responsiveness. It is about the self being so rooted in the community, that your personal identity is defined by what you give to the community.
'I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am' is a good example of the 'self-in-community' foundation that gives rise to sayings in Zulu, such as umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu - 'It is through others that one attains selfhood.'

Ann Cooper is not your typical lunch lady. The former chef, who spent much of her 30-plus-year career working in white-tablecloth restaurants and catering for celebrities, is now best known as the "Lunch Lady" in Berkeley, Calif., schools. In cafeterias there she has tossed out fried, frozen, and sugary foods and replaced them with fresh, seasonal, and mostly organic meals. Driven to reform school lunches as concerns grow over childhood obesity and diabetes, Ms. Cooper gets up at 3:30 each morning to begin cooking school lunches by 5 a.m. She believes there's a direct correlation between what kids eat and how they perform at school, that knowledge of food is integral to one's education, and that all children deserve delicious and nutritious meals. Most of all, she says: "I want to change children's relationship to food."

PERSONAL leadership is one of the most studied topics in American life. Far less studied -- and perhaps more important -- is group leadership. The disparity of interest in those two realms of leadership is logical, given the strong individualist bent of American culture. But the more I look at the history of business, government, the arts, and the sciences, the clearer it is that few great accomplishments are ever the work of a single individual.
Our mythology refuses to catch up with our reality. And so we cling to the myth of the Lone Ranger, the romantic idea that great things are usually accomplished by a larger-than-life individual working alone. Despite the evidence to the contrary -- including the fact that Michelangelo worked with a group of 16 to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel -- we still tend to think of achievement in terms of the Great Man or the Great Woman, instead of the Great Group.
As they say, "None of us is as smart as all of us." That's good, because the problems we face are too complex to be solved by any one person or any one discipline. Our only chance is to bring people together from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines who can refract a problem through the prism of complementary minds allied in common purpose. I call such collections of talent Great Groups. The genius of Great Groups is that they get remarkable people -- strong individual achievers -- to work together to get results. But these groups serve a second and equally important function: they provide psychic support and personal fellowship. They help generate courage. Without a sounding board for outrageous ideas, without personal encouragement and perspective when we hit a roadblock, we'd all lose our way.
(See full article by Warren Bennis-
Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer; into a selflessness which links us with all humanity. --Nancy Witcher Astor


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