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Cultivating Goodwill & Democracy

Cultivating Goodwill & Democracy with the Healing Help of Poetry and Poem-Making Presented by John Fox, Erika Brown, and Tony Vento

Cultivating Goodwill & Democracy
Cultivating Goodwill & Democracy

When & Where

Aug 02, 2024, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM EST

Cleveland, 1971 E 66th St, Cleveland, OH 44103, USA

About the event

To register, click here.

Cultivating Goodwill & Democracy with the Healing Help of Poetry and Poem-Making

Presented by John Fox, Erika Brown, and Tony Vento

Friday, August 2, 5:30–8:30 pmANDSaturday, August 3, 9:30 am–3:00 pm

Neighborhood Connections

1971 East 66th (near Euclid Avenue), Cleveland, OH

This offering is our gift; your presence is yours. As an extension of your gift, we invite you to financially support this gathering, as you are able. We thank you in advance. Every amount, no matter how small or large, is valued.

RTA Healthline stops exactly at the corner, then walk towards Chester Avenue. Free parking curbside and in the lot nearer to Chester Avenue. We will arrange for rides home as requested.

Dinner, breakfast and lunch will be served with coffee, tea and snacks.

We prefer not to restrict our programs to a fee-for-service that limits who can come.

This two-part event begins Friday evening. Friday attendance is open to 40 participants.

We will carry through on these themes the next day where attendance is limited to 18 participants.

If you plan to attend Saturday, please, if possible, also attend Friday evening.

Register for Friday ONLY here.

Register for Friday AND Saturday here.

Terry Tempest Williams calls the heart “the first home of democracy,” the place where we can wrestle with democracy’s basic questions, emerging with answers on which so much depends.

~ Parker Palmer from Healing the Heart of Democracy

In a political season that signals that all power is found elsewhere and beyond us, it is important for those who care—as citizens, as human beings, as individual persons—to explore opportunities that return significant power to the individual—and by that we mean you. We invite you to bring your unique and beautiful voice into a circle that is committed to preserve, give voice to and create anew goodwill and democracy.

Our lives are immensely challenging—unexpected events, responsibilities, finances, ill-health, relationships, family, losses—all of these understandably deflect our concern from thinking of democracy and goodwill. That said, these days, and especially in this election year of 2024, we are sensitive to and aware of this—goodwill and democracy, facts and honesty are not abstract considerations. They are on the ballot. They are a choice.

We believe that an opportunity to reclaim power is possible when based on an invitation to creativity. Creativity rooted within you. Creativity wholly yours as an adult—just it was wholly yours as a child.

We believe the loss of democracy and goodwill is at risk when this birthright of creativity is ignored, criticized, or more dangerously, when its importance and value are denied.

Creativity appears in many forms—dance, music, art, photography & drama. In this weekend exploration we will focus on encouraging your creative voice through poetry and poem-making. Prior experience with poetry is not necessary. If this sounds too serious, please know we are committed to fun. Our intention is to surprise you in a good way!

This isn’t a typical poetry workshop: there is no critique. Rather it is using poetry and our own writing to sit down together in a nonjudgmental, invitational, respectful, trustworthy, courageous circle to write, to deeply listen, to respond/discuss, to bear witness to one another and to ourselves. This process is an act of goodwill.

Listening is at the center of community-building. Listening, joined with community & creativity & heartfulness, nourishes democracy and goodwill.

The foundation of our weekend, as a gentle approach to cultivating goodwill and democracy, as our footbridge to cross over this significant current challenge, will be Five Habits of the Heart as described in Parker Palmer’s superb book Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. We will use these “heart habits” to inspire our creativity:

     • We Are All In This Together

     • Appreciation of Otherness

     • Capacity to Hold Tension Creatively

     • Sense of Voice and Agency

     • Capacity to Create Community

Every day we are faced with how fragile our most cherished values are. They could be lost unless we care for them. Let us gather to strengthen ourselves creatively and by doing that, help goodwill and democracy thrive.


John Fox, Practitioner of Poetic Medicine, is a poet, author and President of The Institute for Poetic Medicine, a nonprofit he founded in 2005. IPM brings poetic medicine to communities throughout the United States and internationally.

Erika Brown manages Training and Special Projects at Neighborhood Connections. She creates and maintains the integrity of welcoming spaces where people connect and discover what’s most important to them.

Tony Vento founded Purpose Matters to consult in civic life, education and social movements. A Courage & Renewal® facilitator, he trained with Parker Palmer, holding over 70 retreats since 2016.

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