People who know me well, know that I am called "the love doctor" in New Orleans and they also know that over the last ten years most of my passion, effort and skills have been focused on organizing a base of really beautiful men to share their experiences and themselves as success examples with groups of boys in middle school. We started, a couple of guys, myself and a young Pastor Arthur Wardsworth by changing our focus from from trying to change circumstances to changing people to enable them to overcome circumstances, we moved from the frustration of being "fed up" with what evil, hateful, greedy people do to changing trajectories for generations by helping men and boys see themselves as powerful solutions, ready, willing and able to swim upstream. Initially we two men came together and began to love, respect, and teach, consistently showing up without pay for children in our community. Our first school was near my home and many of our boys would use the park across the street from where I live. Over a few years, the love and respect from our relationships with the boys at that school was reciprocated and has changed the culture in our park to one that respects the park and all its neighbors. In a very real microcosm, I have experienced how the love we brought into that school bore fruit for our neighborhood, as the park transformed from an unruly and often criminal haven into a place where families feel safe to bring their small children, walking right pass the loaded basketball court to get to the playground equipment.
It really is that simple. Our movement, the Silverback Society, organizes the love men, (currently 150) have in their hearts for community to the benefit of future generations by working with boys, who, feeling cared about and respected by elders have more to offer as examples to siblings, friends, their future children... and one another because they too are organized as part of a group and encouraged to respect and be helpful to one another. I don't really believe that we convert any of our volunteers into becoming loving caring men, we just provide organization and infrastructure which allows them to have greater impact by working together. All of these guys have worked in community one way or another. They work with us because, together, we can offer a variety of examples and a consistency of engagement that none of us could accomplish alone.
"Polite Conversation" is a behavior we teach at the boys fine dining etiquette training, and it is quite simple. Engaging in polite conversation means that, one, we respect the ability of others to have a conversation at the next table by only speaking loud enough to be heard at our table, and two, we can talk about anything we want except one another. When asked what happens if we don't talk about one another, the answer is universal, "nobody gets mad", "everyone has a good time", "every body feels safe". Every so often a kid will expand the notion, "man we ought to do this all the time". We always encourage them to do just that and they acknowledge that no one will get mad and want to fight. Once again we helped adolescent boys to organize love.
Now we are learning that the boys in whom we have invested and are beginning to organize in high schools also have love to give. Simply organizing them into chapters and having them elect their own leadership gives them the opportunity to take coordinated group action, organized action, as one group did when they initiated and executed a relief effort for tornado victims in New Orleans. These high school chapters are being organized with an offer of support for three simple directives: help one another become better men, help the school become a better school and be of service to community. In other words, Love one another, Love your institutions and Love your community.
Organizing can start with two people turning love into creative action. If that action bears fruit, other caring people will be grateful for a way to turn their love into impactful action.