Here is Jack Pearpoint's response to What are you skating towards in 2012?

Local stories – Local people – Remarkably Ordinary

I am a prairie boy where skating on frozen creeks and homemade rinks was a way of life. There were always cracks and rills; often you had to clear the snow, but then it was alive with surprise.  Skating in a covered rink or ‘artificial ice’ is ok – but it doesn’t compare to the frosty crisp edge of the real thing.

We have been lulled into believing that ‘artificial ice’ is the only option.  It’s not.  It’s more work to clear a local creek or create your own rink, but it stimulates the soul (and freezes your toes) when you create it.

My current ‘outdoor skating journey’ is to record and share the incredible energy, talent and creativity of local stories of local people doing remarkably ordinary things.   When these stories find me, my heart sings, hope blossoms, and I become courageous to face another day in a world we do not control. 

I believe that sharing these stories in print, in video – on you-tube – enlivens the possibility for full contributing lives for citizens of all ages everywhere.  As humans, we have been sharing stories since the dawn of time.  It is time to remember how to share our stories around the campfires of our lives.

Many of the stories that find me are simple and profound.  A 16 year old boy telling the story of learning about life from his 14 year-old brother who has the characteristics labeled autism; a young woman with disability labels who has the courage to dance her dreams – and gives others the courage to explore their spiritual lives.

Many of the stories that find me feature a person with a disability label – or a demeaning label of ‘difference’.  Typically, these story creators courageously flip ‘dis’ into ‘advantage’, and thus became catalysts for convening new communities of untapped capacity.  A young woman boxer invited her gay, lesbian and transgendered friends to dream with her about creating a gym.  The Newsgirls Boxing Club now assists abused and labeled women in Toronto and Indonesia.

In Northern Ontario, isolated fly-in Aboriginal communities have unthinkable incidences of diabetes, poverty, and suicide.  Food supplies are abysmal.  A young man decides that ‘food sustainability’ will make a difference and creates a co-op.  He purchases bulk foods, arranges trucking and charter flights, delivering healthy groceries on time for half price.

Stories can maximize capacity and talent and turn depression and hopelessness into action and possibility.  They surround us, in our families, next door, around the corner. We discover them over coffee – in conversation – by keeping eyes and ears attuned for capacity. 

My secret: I believe that our culture desperately needs to slow down and remember how to listen.  Happily, unrecognized master tutors in listening surround us.  Typically, they need a hand to teach their wisdom – thus creating magical partnerships.  People with disabilities, significant labels and our discarded elders can be our teachers.  They are magnets for human gatherings.  And in the process of figuring out how to include everyone, they will teach us to slow down and listen.  Then we can see and hear the stories and gifts of everyone reemerge.

Jack Pearpoint is an independent Canadian Publisher (Inclusion Press) and catalyst for Inclusion, Diversity, Teamwork and CHANGE!  He is a respected and endearing speaker and consultant and is author of several best sellers including: All My Life's a Circle; The PATH and MAPS Handbook; and From Behnd the Piano.

Note: I am releasing individual essays from the collection, What are you skating towards in 2012?  on a regular basis. Upcoming contributions are by Kathy Bromley, Adam Kahane, Colleen McCormick, John Stapleton, Cheryl Rose and Peter Deitz . You can access the accumulated essays here.

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