Expanding CommonAction

It was 1997, and I was a 22-year-old youth worker, already eight years into my career. Early in that year my mom offered me a chance to work for the Family And Children’s Services Bureau in her small town in rural Canada to create and deliver a youth empowerment program. The catch was that I’d be a contract consultant for the town. I haven’t stopped since.

For the last fifteen years I have consulted government agencies, nonprofits, foundations, schools, and other organizations. My work has centered on the question of how to engage people more effectively throughout our communities.

Today I’m announcing an expansion at CommonAction, the business I keep to hold my work, including Freechild, SoundOut, and now, Heartspace. Rather than anything radical, it’s a subtle shift of focus.

I have been concerned about social change since cutting my teeth in youth work when I was a youth. For several summers I worked for a former Black nationalist in the Midwest. He taught me about Saul Alinsky and encouraged me to read Franz Fannon, Paulo Freire, and others. I devoured this education, forming environmental justice campaigns and organizing youth campaigns in my neighborhood throughout my teens. I learned early to be a cultural operator, later evolving to work inside the system to change the system.

Today, I’m announcing that I’m evolving my tactics. Rather than focus exclusively on social change and systems design, I have determined the most effective lever of change for me to pull is that focused on the Self.

Today I know that I’m supposed to focus on the question of personal development. While not ignoring the need for social change, I intend on teaching people to change themselves first- the world comes in short order during that. I will be writing, speaking, and training more about love, creativity, communication, joy, critical thinking, meditation, and other personal development topics than ever before.

CommonAction can contribute to personal development by integrating my learnings about social change with lessons about making our own selves more effective, for the benefit of ourselves and the world we share.

I hope you join me. If you’d like to learn more about workshops, consulting, speeches, and other activities CommonAction can help you with, contact me today.

Take care, and let me know what you think.

– AF

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