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Seminar VI Recap

Friday, July 22, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rachel Rana
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Closing and Broadening the Fellows’ Circle

On June 2-5, 2016, the 2014-16 Friday Fellows gathered in Bryson City, NC for their final seminar of the two-year cycle. Exploring the far western part of the state was an important and unique learning experience for this class.  As it was the culminating seminar for the group, we used the time to solidify the integration of the skills and tools Fellows have been learning for the past 18-months. Together the group explored:

  • working across leadership strategies that are based in moralist versus moderate orientations,
  • adaptive challenges facing the state illuminated in the documentary projects,  
  • visioning shifts in power dynamics that undergird those adaptive leadership challenges, and 
  • using movement to analyze how the Fellows move toward collective impact to use their individual and collective power to make progress on the state’s most important issues. 

We were pleased to have Michelle Pearson, Chair of the WLI Board, with us to usher the Fellows into the next iteration of their Fellowship lives. The group dove into North Carolina’s history through visiting the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and learning about the Cherokee people’s resistance to their removal from their native lands and their resilience as they returned to reclaim it. We have made it a practice to recognize and talk about the original people of the land we are on. And, we are grateful to have a recorded history of the land that Wildacres sits on through an incredible history shared by Tom Belt, a Cherokee scholar, who was with us at Seminar IV there. 

The Fellows celebrated their graduation on Saturday evening and shared their “Where I am Going” poems with the faculty and each other. It was a distinct pleasure to have Michelle with us to represent the Board, congratulate the Fellows and issue them a charge to remain involved and engaged with one another and the full community to change how leadership is done in North Carolina. 

This class has been together through many human relations issues starkly unfolding in the world around us—they experienced a string of high profile of shootings of unarmed black men, the massacre in Charleston, the passing of HB2, as well as breakthroughs such as marriage equality, the rise of groups of resistance and a lot of heightened activism in the face of injustice. All of this influenced the energy the Fellows brought to the circle and gave them ample issues on which to apply their increasing competence in the core competencies. They were continually grappling with large adaptive challenges in our shared contexts which allowed them to better apply it in their micro-contexts.  

The Friday Fellowship has succeeded in bringing together a wildly diverse group of leaders, and with the diversity comes a direct connection with people who are differently affected by and grappling with the human relations issues of our day. The Fellows brought a tenacity and an urgency to engage each other and their differences in confronting the world around them. They demanded that the leadership tools of the Fellowship be relevant to address these crucial issues. As faculty, we were greatly pleased with their work in this regard and were on our toes to meet their urgent and dynamic demands. As the Fellows disband as an intact group we know that they will continue to challenge and support one another. 

Wildacres Leadership Initiative is connected with Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, NC.