Contributed by: Show Editorial Team
Gary Sheng, Madison Adams, Zoe Jenkins, Aaron Piano, Jasmine Lewis, Chabu Kapumba, and special guest David Cooperstein discuss the beloved community on this week’s episode of The Trek
- Civics Unplugged hosts Trek Session with Gen Z community on MLK’s ‘Beloved Community
- Prominent Gen Z figures discuss building a perfect community to fit Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for a perfect society
- Future leaders of America discuss building a utopian society, what that means, and what it will take to build it.
Brought to you by: Humanity 2.0 – a Non-Profit (Non-Government Organization) focused on identifying and removing the most significant impediments to human flourishing through technology and thought-leadership in collaboration with the Holy See (Vatican).
Special consideration; to CommPro Worldwide for their PR and media support
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Gary Sheng, Co-Founder/COO at Civics Unplugged, Madison Adams, Director of Dialogue at Civics Unplugged, Jasmine Lewis, CU Builder at Civics Unplugged, Aaron Piando, Civics 2030 Builder at Civics Unplugged, Zoe Jenkins, Steering Committee Chair at Civics 2030, Chabu Kapumba, Senior Fellow at Civics Unplugged and special guest David Cooperstein, Strategist at Civics Unplugged
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:09
Hello everyone. And welcome to the Trek. The Trek is a new Civics Unplugged series where community members participate in meaningful discussions on topics that are too often neglected when thinking about building the future. Through prompting questions and provocations we’ve entered together into complex, but important conversations related to building the future and democracy. We understand that this work requires ongoing dialogue, but it’s a journey worth trekking through. My name is Madison and I’m a high school senior from Verdigris Oklahoma. And today we’re going to be talking about the beloved community. So bear with me while I read off a quick definition here. So we subscribe to Dr. Martin Luther King’s definition of the beloved community as a global vision in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth and the beloved community, poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred, peace and justice will prevail over war and military conflict. So that’s just like a quick definition, pretty timely with MLK day being on January the 18th. And so first we’re going to start off with a word association. We have everyone’s names up on the screen. So before you do your one to three words, just do a quick introduction. I can start off. So I would say that I think of peace and harmony, just because those are the things that come to mind. I think even peace was even in the definition of that. But I think that’s like the ultimate kind of harmony that we’re striving for and trying to build towards.
Jasmine Lewis – CU Builder, Civics Unplugged: 02:23
I’m Jasmine and I’m from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and I’m a freshman at the university of Alabama. And the two words that I probably choose would be inclusivity and receptivity because I feel like beloved community is rooted in hearing everybody’s opinions and making sure that no one is restricted from the group, regardless of who you are and your character attributes, your race, gender social, economic status, anything like that. I feel like hearing other people’s thoughts and ideas is very important in beloved community, as well as making sure that everyone feels included in is welcome with open arms.
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 03:18
Yeah, I’ll take a stab. I was ready for you, Gary, but I’ll go I’m David Cooperstein and I’m on the framers council for Civics Unplugged, I’m in here in Seattle, which is a warmish, but raining. And well, the first word that came to me was idealistic. And maybe that’s just because you know, just looking at the world through what we’re going through now versus what that would, that description sounds like. So idealism, but also equality was a big theme that came out of that. Like, it seems like it’s trying to lay a level playing field that everybody should benefit from some from the beloved community. So those are the two words that did it for me.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 04:04
Happy to jump in. I’m Gary I’m one of the co-founders of CU I’m calling in from New York city. One of the words is global because the beloved community vision of MLK’s was a global one. I think he was prescient and thinking that well injustice anywhere signals that there’s injustice everywhere, right. And that any really catastrophes today affect all of us. I’ll have to leave it at that.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 04:45
I’d be happy to go next. Hi, my name is Chabu. I am 19 and based in Toronto and I first year at the university of Toronto, when I think of the beloved community, the first word is necessary. I do agree with David in the sense that, it seems lovable and a bit too ideal, but I do think it’s necessary. I can’t think of a single goal or ambition that we might have a society that can’t be enriched by taking place in a beloved community. And my second word is fortifying, which is in the same vein of that you can get through really difficult things as a collective, if again, it all takes place in a beloved community.
Aaron Piando – Civics 2030 Builder, Civics Unplugged: 05:35
I guess I’ll go. Hello, my name is Aaron Piando. I was born and raised in McAllen, Texas. That’s where I’m calling from today and I’m currently a junior at ATN quest college preparatory. And when I think of the beloved community, the first two words that come to mind are love and appreciation because I definitely think that’s where everything starts with the beloved community. Just simply acknowledging the fact that your neighbor exists and appreciating their existence and wanting the best for them. I feel like you can go into a lot of planning and be arising about creating this ideal community, but I think it all has to start with having love and appreciation for your neighbors.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 06:23
Yeah. Sorry for hopping on late, but hi everyone. My name is Zoe. I am a senior in Lexington, Kentucky. And the two words that come to mind love for sure. I say that’s already been written down, but also restorative. I think that part of being in a beloved community is that you can really help people fulfill everything that they’re supposed to fulfill, but also help them, I guess, overcome other things that have faced them in the past.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 06:48
Thank you all for sharing those words. And now we can get into the actual discussion. So if anyone wants to pose a question or provocation we can get started.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 07:13
What do you think is standing in the way of the building of this beloved community?
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 07:38
I’d be happy to start with this question. I do think that there are tons of things like our society and cultures aren’t really conducive to having a beloved community like individualism is so popular, but among all that, it’s also the fact that there aren’t a lot of examples of beloved communities. There are a lot of examples of bad ones. And so it’s really hard to replicate something that you haven’t witnessed before.
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 08:14
So does a definition vary depending on who beloved community is? I mean, I’m not sure it’s completely different, but I think there might be different interpretations of what that phrases. So it might mean very different things to different people.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 08:27
So the one that I think, I’m sure many people have different definitions, but I think let’s talk more about the kind of global, almost a utopic vision that MLK spelled out of like no war, no poverty type thing.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 09:02
I think that our word association is pretty telling of some foundational things that are standing in the way. So I see love brought up twice you know, appreciation, inclusivity, just those foundational things that can not the beloved community cannot exist without them.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 09:31
Yeah, I guess I would like what you said, Madison, I think love is pretty lacking right now. I think that our society has started defining love in a way that really boxes it in of like, you love your romantic partner and you love your family. But love means a lot more than that. And you can love a lot of people even without knowing them. So I think that limiting that definition has really hurt people and how they can see what love really is.
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 10:08
Yeah. Maybe just to follow up on my question about or my point about different things to different people. I guess what I’m trying to express there is what’s standing in the way is whether people all want this or not, or whether, utopian ideas tend to be led by people who have that utopian idealist, which is why that was one of my words view of the world, but I’m not sure everybody thinks that that’s a utopia. So that’s why I was asking what’s standing in the way is I don’t think there’s in order to have your token, you have to have universal agreement that’s what everybody wants. And so I think what’s standing in the way might be, not everybody wants the same thing. They might want something different. Like they don’t want everybody to live in peace and harmony and they might want something that’s more challenging. And if you don’t have universal buy into it, it’s very hard to get it to be achieved. So that was sort of what I was saying about what it means for different people.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 11:08
On that note, one thing getting in the way of building any vision really, especially a big vision is even talking about long-term visions. I think it’s really uncommon to talk about long-term visions 10, 20 year visions, 30 year vision.
Jasmine Lewis – CU Builder, Civics Unplugged: 11:34
I think another barricade between humanity and achieving a sort of beloved community would be a lot of people feel like it’s impossible to do it. So they’re not even motivated to even try and push towards becoming a part of, or starting a beloved community.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 12:01
And I would say on David’s point about not everyone wanting the same thing, I think equity plays a big role in that. And also what Chabu was saying about individualism that if you have grown up in a certain world with a certain worldview where things seem perfect, you don’t want to lose that, which I don’t think that beloved community means that you would lose any of the good things that you do have, but I think humans are resistant to change and change does mean uncertainty and could mean that things look differently.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 12:41
This makes me think of another question based on what David talked about and what Jasmine did as well. The whole idea of a utopia. I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re never going to reach a utopia, but I think it’s really interesting to think about why is it important to strive for a sort of utopia like the beloved community when you’re trying to build the future?
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 13:08
Right around this time I was in Rwanda and Rwanda’s a really interesting country because they had to go so far down to the depths of living hell, if you know the story of Rwanda and then put in what is essentially a benevolent dictator who has made society and incredibly uniform place and incredibly uniform, not in a, like everybody does the same thing, but everybody has housing. Everybody’s taken care of places and it’s a spotless entire country. There’s actually one Sunday. I think it was a Sunday a month. Everybody does nothing but clean around their community. Everybody, a hundred percent of the population has to do this. And I don’t know if that was done to, it was a reaction to something. And it was also because the person who came in as a result of that reaction has full control of the country. It’s the opposite of most dictators that you think of most dictators are not benevolent. He’s very benevolent. But I was just curious how that, you know, did you have to sing solo that you rise up to be, to seek utopia is the question that I’m trying to get to. It was an amazing experience to go there.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 14:35
I think a really interesting point is the fact that in order to come to a point where that nation was able to really rally and commit to investing in their community, there had to be a really extremely negative experience. And I don’t even know if this is a question and answer to the question of striving for utopia. But I think that if we’re not in a constant, I wish that there was a way to be a constant state of wanting to do better without necessarily having to have a really negative, extreme experience to kind of bring that reaction out of people. Because in the few experiences where I’ve seen something similar, there’s always just something horrible that preludes that sense of community that’s established. Like I think about the U S and 9/11, there was so much cheer that took place and so much gathering of people and investment in the community. But I don’t think we needed to have such an insanely negative event to prelude that. So I think striving is necessary because we can’t only do it as a reaction to that events.
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 16:15
Yeah. It’s an interesting point. I mean, clearly we’re going through that at the moment with a different crisis. Somebody kind of mentioned that at this point, I mean, to get to what you told me, you have to believe a hundred percent, that a hundred percent of the people around you are deserving of the same utopia that is laid out in the vision. And in order to get to that point, I think you do need to shake people up because you need to show that the foundation that they thought was true is no one true, and that you’re all trying to build towards something. I don’t like that that’s the case. But it’s a utopian thought to think that everybody wants to strive for something better for people around them only in addition to themselves.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 17:16
So I know that we read off that definition, but I’m almost wondering what else besides what was right off of the definition, do you think should be included in the beloved community?
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 17:40
Maybe the beloved community point, is that it should be the striving. So rather than it being an end state, which is the way that MLK defined it, if I recall you saying that instead of saying what the end point is, maybe it’s too defined what an end point would look like, but that the real utopia is that everybody’s working together to get there. Based on the points have been made, you know, like, what Chabu said. Maybe utopia is actually people all wanting the same thing and moving towards the same thing as opposed to actually arriving there.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 18:16
And I think that raises another kind of it’s not an additive question, but I guess it’s a question to validate what David said was that, is that achievable? Like, will, you know when you’re done? Because I feel like any progress you make, there should always be something else that you are going to be fixing because other problems are going to arise. So, yeah, I like the idea of the beloved community being a pursuit and a joint process versus you know, when we have these 10 things, the world will be perfect because we know that’s not the case.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 19:01
I mean, just reacting to what’s Zoe said there, I feel like the definition also needs to be the process of achieving. It needs to be inclusive of the fact that like, there are people who may not resonate with it. There’s not always going to be a culture where people are excited or invested or understand the necessity. It almost needs to include the fact that this is bound to fluctuate.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 19:34
Yeah. It feels like the beloved community building process needs to be highly evolutionary. And if there’s one thing that everyone agrees to it’s that it’s evolutionary and participatory and the evolution is a participatory process itself. I think it’s interesting. I think that if there’s a coalition of people that are actually trying to be inclusive, beloved community building process it’s sort of a forcing function to see like, who is not interested in this also. And then also on the other end, it’s like, I hope that this is the case. One of my favorite phrases is race to the top. I don’t see that many of them happening. Right. But, you know, we often talk about race the bottom, right. Like getting worse. Like they talk about iPhones going from China to Myanmar, right. To cheaper and cheaper places because labor keeps getting more expensive in the country that they’re already asked like a race to the bottom. But how do you spark races to the top, right? Like how do you get powerful entities to race to start being in this participatory process?
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 21:27
You know, one thing I’ve learned over time is that if the goal is to far away, it’s hard to get people there. So breaking it down into, so this is part of striving for utopia is if you can break down the problem and sort of work your way up, like how poverty has been eliminated a lot of the world until this past year but poverty reduction in poverty, you is going the right direction. Reduction in hunger is going in the right direction. If people saw those milestones as part of maybe to Gary’s point, there’s 10 things we were trying to strive for. And we want to race each one of them to the top, rather than trying to make the utopia BB angle. It would be easier to be able to break that down and say, in order to refute, yes, I want people to be less hungry. Yes. I want people to live with less poverty. And then you can sort of get the world to see why those things are good and they get people to do the things that need to be done to get there versus defining it very broadly. And then having people say, well, I don’t know what to do next. So, you know, bringing it down I think it would be helpful.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 22:42
Yeah. I’ll say two things on that. I think Chabu mentioned this earlier, but not having any examples, like we don’t know of a world that has no poverty. Like none of us can even fathom exactly what that means for much of the world’s population or how you even get there. And so I think that alongside that, I mean, we publish a lot of really negative statistics of look at how many millions of people don’t have this, or don’t have that, and while that is a problem in itself, we often don’t look at the progress we’ve made. I would say that it wasn’t until last year when I actually had a Google, like where the world was with poverty, I was like, wow, we’ve actually come a decent way with reducing poverty, but that’s not what you’re seeing in the news. That’s not what people are telling you in that pessimism can be kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy where you’re like, we’re just never going to be able to fix that. And then you give up and then of course it will never get fixed because you believe it won’t be fixed either. So I think a growth mindset I think is really important when working towards that evolution.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 23:52
Yeah. I think that’s a really good point to bring up about the things being discouraging. It also reminds me of what Gary said about making long-term visions. I think that those are important, but you have to be careful with that as well, because I think if you’re not, you can think too far in the future and be like, Oh, there’s going to be so many new problems anyway. Like what’s the point in spending so much time trying to build this one, we’re never going to achieve that. So then there’s an interesting dance between that as well. And also between thinking about we are doing things to eradicate poverty, but we’re nowhere near where we could be. And so it’s a dance between both of those and long-term vision and actually thinking about it in ways that will optimize your ability to contribute and build towards that utopia.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 24:48
This is something we talk a lot about here, but I just think that the process of getting there should be fulfilling and energizing and invigorating otherwise it’s pointless in and of itself. And then you have a widespread sense of just it being really difficult or feeling unattainable, getting there should feel like an accomplishment in and of itself and how we go about that and how people engage with it. I feel like that should be fulfilling of the goal and of the people who are participating.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 25:25
Joyful participation, it has to be fun too, to be active by the way travel. So David we’re kind of cooking up a school of thought that we kind of subverted into saying it’s a school of process. Cause there’s a lot of thinking, but not a lot of doing. So we’re creating the unplugged school of process. And what I’m realizing through this conversation is what are the processes that school of process funnels up? Right. And I think that they all at the end of the day should probably be oriented around supporting, building the beloved community. And the macro processes depend on the most micro processes, like on the individual level. So if to Chabu’s point, what is a personal development processes have to do with kind of the most macro societal change, everything, really.
Jasmine Lewis – CU Builder, Civics Unplugged: 26:45
I also want to add that another thing I feel like should be a part of the beloved community would be persistence and resilience because being a part of a community, regardless, I feel like one of the key purposes is to uplift others and empower other people to keep the community bond so strong and to make sure that everybody is still motivated. So even when hardships come up in the beloved community, you have that persistency, you have that resilience being a pillar of the community that you know, that you have to strive for it.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 27:27
On that note, I feel like we really prioritized comfort in our in our society. And I think having a different relationship with pain, which doesn’t have to be suffering so that we are more resilient to the inevitable shocks that we face as individuals and on a wider scale. It’s really essential. That’s a great point, Jasmine.
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 28:04
Yeah. I mean, to your point, Gary, I think a lot of the spirit of the individual is pervasive, at least in our society probably in Western society. And I think that’s where this becomes, that’s why my initial point was, who’s defining it because the spirit of individuality has definitely grown over the last say 40 or 50 years since this was defined. And you see this probably more in Asia than you do here in the States where people are willing to go through a little bit of pain if it’s just for the greater good or that they’re more just the nature of a community in the first place is a stronger motivating force than the what’s in it. For me, if I participate in this community, which is a more Western view.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 28:54
Yeah. This is kind of making me think of another question that I want to pose. I think that, you can either be working towards a beloved community or you can be working away from it. So my question would be, I’m going to leave this as broad as possible. What entities do you think are working towards building the beloved community? It can be a small like yourself, you think maybe your school, a certain organization, I’d like to hear that.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 29:43
I love how broad this is Madison. But I do think that some of the entities that work towards the beloved community also work against it. It really just depends on who’s participating. So an example that I could think of is a social media it’s prevalent for not being a beloved community, but in that same breath, you can’t ignore the fact that, it is a tool that has widened the scope of our potential to have beloved communities that go beyond physical spaces and where you live or who, or even just getting to witness other beloved communities that you’re not a part of. And having a genuine understanding of them from a firsthand perspective, I think that’s really cool. So, but it can work towards or against. I really just depends on how you interpret it, how you engage with it and how the world uses it either as an asset or a weapon.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 30:45
So it seems like some of you are using the word love and community as something that there’s a bunch that could be in the world. And that’s interesting. And that’s maybe useful to even think about is the macro blow to community. Would it ultimately be composed of, would it be nested communities that are all kind of collaborating with each other? And could you individually maybe embody the macro beloved community? Is that even essential?
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 31:25
I think it is. I know that, like we’ve mentioned before, it’s hard to strive for something when you don’t have an example of it. So I think that’s really important for all of us at CU to be living embodiments of the beloved community and eventually for us as an organization to really feel like we embody that and show people an example. I think that that’s what’s key to building towards it, but I didn’t have that realization until you mentioned that either.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 31:58
And I think a neat example full of nesting, I guess, communities that are working towards the love of the community are our civics 2030, Juntos that are within the larger CU community that you have a group of eight people that you’re getting way closer to than maybe you could with a larger group, but you’re also working towards a larger mission, even though you’re in your own groups. And I guess in terms of other entities weirdly, the first thought that came to mind was summer camp. I think a lot of kids have very fond memories of summer camp, or you kind of have a very niche group of people. You’re all there for something in particular. That’s why you came to the summer camp in the first place. But I think there are a lot of values and virtues that are embodied in that kind of environment that you don’t get in a school or in many places that you will work in your life.
Aaron Piando – Civics 2030 Builder, Civics Unplugged: 32:59
My mind’s been kind of buffering for a bit here, but my first reaction to Madison’s question, I immediately started thinking of a bunch of youth organizations, because I think in general, all the youth organizations that I’ve personally seen or that I’ve heard of in general are trying to turn the tide on what’s currently happening. So I think JSA and how they’re trying to fight political ad cuppy. I think he said it was unplugged and trying to promote civic education among the youth. I think nowadays in general, I’m going to say youth organizations have definitely been focused on missions that are working toward beloved, like performing a beloved community. And maybe they’re not as large right now, but I can definitely say that they’re growing and they’re also growing popularity. Like there’s definitely more popping up. It seems every day. So that’s my answer for this one.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 34:11
Okay. I have another question based on what Gary said earlier about micro beloved communities. And so I think that something that we talk a lot about here is personal development and starting with yourself. So my question would be, what can you do to build towards slash embody the beloved community.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 34:43
I will nest this question underneath yours Madison, but I mean, can you yourself be a beloved community? Like, can you share community with your own self and is that necessary before you start, I guess, sharing that candy with other people.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 35:01
That’s great. David, we talked a lot about how there’s some personalities inside, just different, at least different impulses, like when you’re making decisions and getting those in harmony. Making sense of them just recognizing them that they’re valid. Right. And it’s interesting. Cause I guess something that we’ve realized is that learning to be empathetic with other people hinges so much on learning to be empathetic with yourself or the different selves that you have.
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 35:35
Yeah. I was going to say that based what you just said, but also what Zoe was talking about. Can you be a beloved community? Probably can be, but it’s in solar. I think you have to understand what your role would be in creating that community. So for example, you know just thinking about the Civic Unplugged leadership, like each one of them, and from my experience, at least Nick, Josh, and Gary have very different personalities, but they know how to work together. And that’s what creates their little nest of community of beloved community. Cause I’m sure that’s how they could describe themselves. But we were also talking about family and even within your family, if you pursue family relations in a way that is more empathetic, you’re more likely to get your family to operate as a, as a small beloved community. But there’s certainly ways in which families don’t do that. So I think that the way I was thinking about what you were saying, Zoe, is that if you think about yourself and then how you participate in your local community or your direct environment, and then how that environment connects to the broader environment, you know, so it could be, high school or college my friends then the school, then the community, then the country or just think about what you see as your stack to use a very technical term. That’s a way to think about how you can have impact and where your role might change to you might be one role in a smaller community, in a different role, in a bigger community.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 37:06
I love the question that you posed Zoe, in the sense that the word community is also just a larger subset of the word relationship. And so can you have a relationship with yourself? Absolutely. And if anything, that’s absolutely necessary. And I think it’s important in the inter supports building a beloved community for two reasons. One being how your relationship with yourself and your dynamic with dealing with things that happen both good and bad forms how you engage with the people around you. Like if I’m having a bad day or have some unresolved issue. And it’s very personal to me, I might have a tendency to snap at the person that’s around me or snap at my brother later today. You know what I mean? That’s just an example, but I think that you need to have a good relationship with yourself so that you can be a part of the community in a way that’s conducive to it feeling beloved. And then second to that, I also think that cause I think a lot about just having a good relationship with yourself and it definitely takes time. And it requires ongoing investment and learning and relearning things about yourself. And so those are skills that also transferred to engaging with the wider community, because if I know that this is something that I struggle with and I’m just dealing with myself, like the simplest person you can deal with I’m more empathetic with coming across those struggles in dynamics with other people, because if it’s complicated with person it’s definitely complicated with two or three or four. So I think that there’s a lot of duality and having a good relationship with yourself and how that impacts having a good relationship and a beloved community.
Jasmine Lewis – CU Builder, Civics Unplugged: 39:01
The first thing that came to mind when you posed this question was ambition. For some reason I feel like ambition is very important in wanting to be a part of a beloved community in building yourself to become a part of that beloved community. You have to want it bad enough to build it. If you understand what I’m saying, you have to actually, in order to strive forward in order to even have the idea of the possibility of a beloved community, you have to be ambitious. And then going back to what Chabu was saying, I feel like it’s very important to tap into your own personality and to tap into self-compassion and making sure that you’re showing compassion to yourself, you’re understanding yourself and knowing yourself to see what road you can play in a beloved community and how you take part in the leadership of it.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 40:01
Well said. I think that there’s sometimes a misunderstanding that work related to love, doesn’t take a ton of audacity. Like it’s kind of scary to say that you want to basically build I mean, change the world, but you’re not going to take meaningful steps until you admit that to at least to yourself. And then you have to admit it to others that you would, that you build with.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 40:47
All right. There’s no more thoughtful question. We can go ahead and start reflection. So I’m going to send a link to these notes in the zoom chat so that you all can look over them and then we’ll go through and each talk about reflecting on this Trek and charting next steps. What it shouldn’t mean is reflection and application. I can go ahead and get started. I think my big realization during this conversation was the idea that Gary brought up again of the macro and then the macro bowl of a community that is built by the micro beloved communities basically within your life, like even starting with yourself. And I’m really relating it back to the idea of civic season and our whole concept with that of just really redefining what it means to civically engage. Because if we’re building towards the beloved community, like civic engagement can look so different. If you make that the end point, it can even be like building yourself as David mentioned, trying to make your family a small beloved community. So I think that that’s a really cool connection as well.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 42:12
Yeah, on that note, sometimes we just got to be honest, or even just a relative or our immediate families and relatives, the system that is that the community that it’s often really dysfunctional or discordant. So I think just living life is practice for trying to build something bigger. And I think it doesn’t get enough credit for being that training ground.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 42:49
Something that I kind of learned throughout this conversation was earlier at the start of the conversation. I mentioned how, we don’t really have enough good examples of the polemic community. And I think I take that back, especially after having been through the different entities that participate in creating that. I think we don’t have perfect examples of the epileptic community and we also shouldn’t seek out perfect examples because it makes the process like almost unattainable if you’re looking for perfection. And so again, thinking about the fact that this could be such an overwhelming goal to try to achieve as David mentioned, I think that it’s good to just appreciate the qualities the specific practices or minor examples that you might witness in different communities and then carry embody those rather than trying to replicate a singular vision of what the beloved community could look or what it means to be a part of that.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 43:51
I know one thing that really stuck out to me was a lot of what David was saying towards the beginning that people have to want it. And what people want can be very different depending on, just what they’ve lived. And that empathy and equity are just so important. And how do you instill that in other people? And I guess get people to take risks when it really might benefit them to not do so. So figuring out how do you sell people on trekking forward towards a beloved community?
Aaron Piando – Civics 2030 Builder, Civics Unplugged: 44:34
So I’m going to take away from this conversation is definitely a point that was made earlier about how we define the beloved community in the first place or how we define utopia instead of defining it as an end goal that you would definitely achieve more, it’s a process because telling people about something that we want to achieve. It’ll be harder to actually visualize how to get there as compared to when you tell people you have to be actively doing every day to ensure that we’re working toward that ultimate goal. Like that’s certainly more realistic in terms of building toward that beloved community. And definitely something we’re thinking about more deeply.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 45:23
Aaron, that’s a really great point. And what that made me think of is that if we are to say that the beloved community is more of a process than an end point, then we have to make the process look fun and enjoyable and also make the on-ramp to be part of the process a lot less scary, right? It’s like you don’t have to be a full-time activist, and that’s again another part of civic season, which we can have a whole trek on that. But David, the idea is that imagine that there was two weeks before July 4th, where people just spent a lot of time thinking about their commitment with their civic contribution over the past year and thinking about how they want to contribute over the next year so from July 4th to July 4th, how do you want to contribute to your country to the beloved community?
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 46:26
Yeah. I mean, my big takeaway from this is that well, for one thing, I’m probably less idealistic than all of you are. There’s a distinct reality that needs so I’ve been putting some dose of reality in here, but it’s important for me to realize that the only way you get to something idealistic is to suspend your belief in sort of the day to day and that people are working towards this and that there’s sort of value in being realistic and there’s value in being idealistic. They need to be matched together in order to make some of the things that were said during this part, you know, both Gary and Aaron but to get to the point where you’re moving forward, you need a healthy combination of those two sides, the idealism and the realism.
Jasmine Lewis – CU Builder, Civics Unplugged: 47:14
I realized that a lot of what’s involved with beloved community revolves around individuality and looking into yourself first, before you expand outward to build a beloved community. So I feel self-knowledge and knowing your demeanor, knowing your characteristics or idiosyncrasy is very important to beloved community as a whole. And I feel like it’s kind of that first key step.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 47:50
I think a cool observation that I’ve kind of witnessed, while we’re doing this reflection is the fact that there’s definitely a bit of a difference in terms of how we view the beloved community and how sometimes it feels idealistic. And for me, it doesn’t feel idealistic. It feels ambitious. But ambition is kind of correlated with the idea of it’s still a doable task, but I think that the differences are important too, because here we are not necessarily completely agreeing on something, but this still feels like a beloved community. And that’s a cool example of how, again, the pursuit of perfection, isn’t the point here, but just it can still happen while reconciling with the realities of how people act in different dynamics.
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 48:41
I really like what you just said about ambitious versus idealistic. I think that’s a great way to sort of capture the difference that I was thinking.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 49:01
Okay. So for everyone joining the Trek for the first time, what were your thoughts on the format? And just the overall conversation?
Jasmine Lewis – CU Builder, Civics Unplugged: 49:27
I really liked the format of it because I feel like, it’s a natural conversation. It’s not too structured. It’s just us talking and sharing our ideas with one another. So I enjoyed it.
David Cooperstein – Strategist, Civics Unplugged: 49:56
Yeah. I think it’s great cause first of all, you’re not diving into this last minute you learn a lot about how people think and also how you think over the course of the conversation. So you think more, you understand more about how your own biases come into play. So I’ve been catching myself before I say things and thinking very clear about what I’m going to say before I say it, instead of just blurting stuff out, to make a better conversation.
Aaron Piando – Civics 2030 Builder, Civics Unplugged: 50:22
And I completely agree with what Jasmine said, this felt like genuine organic conversation. And I definitely like taking on kind of the listening role for most of the parts. I also enjoy sharing my ideas, but I definitely think that you guys gave me a lot of food for thought as well. And I definitely did enjoy listening to everybody.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 50:46
Zoe, as someone who’s seen kind of the evolution over the past 20 installments. What are your thoughts on how this has evolved?
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 50:59
I think it’s only gotten more organic over time. I have learned that I need to be very conscious about jumping in because I think when we first started going and I got comfortable, I just wanted to talk all the time. Cause I was like, I don’t have a lot of spaces where I can just talk about this stuff, but I also have a tendency to talk way too much. So, it’s been a good exercise in listening. I think it’s really cool how we can have people come for the first time. And we now have a format where people really can get into the deeper stuff pretty quickly. And I’ve enjoyed how everyone has been super open to experimenting with new things like doing the word association at the beginning, doing the reflection at the end this for all things that we’ve just iterated on. I’m excited to see what other new experiments come as we keep doing this.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 51:53
Awesome. Any final thoughts before we wrap up? Okay. Well thank you all so much for coming and I hope to see you at a future Trek have a great rest of your night. Bye everyone.
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