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Belonging - Living Ties Newsletter

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Jean Vanier

Belonging according to Jean Vanier

"The longer we journey on the road to inner healing and wholeness, the more the sense of belonging grows and deepens. The sense is not just one of belonging to others and to a community. It is a sense of belonging to the universe, to the earth, to the air, to the water, to everything that lives, to all humanity."


Al Etmanski

Prime Minister David Cameron's Big Society Agenda

David Cameron
Al Etmanski is an author, advocate and social entrepreneur specializing in innovative solutions to social challenges. He is President and co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), assisting families across Canada. PLAN Institute is co-editor of the Appartenance-Belonging website.
Now that David Cameron is the new Prime Minister of Britain, it is worth taking a look at his views on civil society. Cameron campaigned on a Big Society agenda. He spoke about the need to restore the balance among civic sector (Big Society), public sector (the Big State) and private sector (Big Business).

Jacques Dufresne

Social Resilience: 5 Types of Action

Jacques Dufresne
Jacques Dufresne is chief-editor of Appartenance-Belonging. Long time columnist for La Presse and Le Devoir, he is editor of L'Encyclopédie de L'Agora online.
We are persuaded that despite the modern trend to reduce community life to governance or market values, there remains in our society a solid and healthy core of vital and indestructible social values and virtues that are at the heart of community. They are also at the heart of what trust relationship there remains with respect to governments and business, and provide both with their sometimes fragile sense of legitimacy. We see them emerge vibrant and intact in times of crisis, when neighbours emerge from their social cocoons to engage, cooperate and assist each other. Looking at these universal values more closely can help us rethink community and citizenship in ways that will let the natural resilience of communities repair the living tissues of our communities.[...] Five types of social actions flow from this natural model for social action: Liberating actions, Inhibiting actions, Catalytic actions, Inspiring actions, Nurturing actions.

Jonathan Boulet-Groulx

Haiti or the risk of not Belonging

Photo by Jonathan Boulet-Groulx
Jonathan Boulet-Groulx is a wandering photographer, a writer about things human, an artist who captures human fragility. His blog, Mwen pa fou, dedicated to the cause of intellectual disabilities in Haiti, has become a touchstone for those who wish to follow the inside story of Haitian life since January 12th.
It is said that Haitians are a proud people – but proud of what? Make no mistake here: They are certainly proud, and with good reason, of their rich culture, of their history, marked by the genius of the revolution, of their collective memory - but of the country that exists now they seem rather to be ashamed: Three out of four would like to escape from this poverty which seems to have no end in sight. What is belonging without pride?

Beth Porter

Supporting Life in the Urban Context: The Grounded Wisdom of Jane Jacobs

Soutenir la vie dans un contexte urbain
Beth Porter works for L’Arche Canada in the area of Educational Initiatives and Publications. She has a particular interest in the dynamics that make for a compassionate and inclusive Canadian society.
What are physical characteristics of hospitable neighbourhoods? The houses often have front porches where people can sit out and exchange a wave or greeting with their neighbours—rather than the protruding garages of suburbia that may give the much vaunted privacy developers advertise but isolate people from those who live next door. They have sidewalks, bike paths and good public transit so that people can move about in ways that allow meeting and mingling, rather than having to travel in the isolation of automobiles.


Preventing Home Foreclosures - a Promising Innovation in Philadelphia

If my house belongs to me, and if my city helps me keep it when I am going through a difficult time, my feeling of belonging to this city will be reinforced. In Philadelphia, just such a philosophy has inspired the city to launch a program to prevent foreclosures. The program requires the bank representative and the threatened homeowner to meet, in a setting designed for this purpose, and in the presence of a mediator. In one year, the number of foreclosures that appeared inevitable has been reduced by 60 percent.


An open letter to Ted Kuntz, author of a Peace Begins with Me

Ted Kuntz
Hélène Laberge is co-founder and editor of L'Agora.
"Your book is entirely inspired by your unique journey toward joy and peace, carved out along the route of suffering. As a therapist, you have yourself practiced the methods you prescribe. As a human being, you share with us the thoughts that sustained you along this difficult path. With you, we encounter the long line of human beings – known and unknown, of all races – who have experienced suffering in its various guises, and who inspired you. From them come the apt quotations that underpin your thinking."



Abeille pollinisatrice

Coming from the Greek words phorein (to carry) and meta (beyond), metaphor takes words beyond their face value, rescuing them from habit and time's erosion and bringing their meaning back to life. It consists in descending in order to rise, in using the concrete to soar above the abstract.
When the flower of a fruit tree is not visited by pollinating insects, it withers without ever bearing fruit. No longer able to attract people or nourish the birds, the flower becomes, in effect, lonely, its living connections severed and its links of belonging broken. Just so, people need to be nourished by the presence of others: other people – but also plants, animals, works of art and so on.

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A word from the Editors
On an Internet site, the medium should resemble the message. If the message is about the stock market, it makes sense to place it on a lively, even hectic site, one that you might visit the way a hummingbird lights and then darts quickly away. If, however, the message is a reflection about belonging, it makes more sense to place it on a gentle, slow-moving site, a site designed to instill a feeling of belonging. To belong to a place, one must stay there for sometime and learn its ways.We have created this site in that spirit.



Japan revives kemari, a sport with no winners or losers

Japan has a way of combining conservation of the distant past with innovation at the cutting edge of technology. Thus it continues to cultivate the art of calligraphy in the age of the keyboard. In the field of recreation, it has been able to revive kemari, a sport that has no winners or losers.

The Lonely World of Modern Architecture

The blog Unhappy Hipsterspokes some good-natured fun at Dwell’s photos by writing pithy captions that turn each photograph into a story with just a few words. According to the blog’s tagline, “It’s lonely in the modern world.”

Reading Fiction Connects Us to Others

Could it be that people who read a lot of fiction are more empathic and socially intelligent than those who don't? This is the question that Raymond Mar, Jacob Hirsh, Jennifer dela Paz, Jordan Peterson, and I asked in a 2006 study.


Canada Ratifies UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Charter for Compassion

Slow Money

Project for Public Spaces (PPS)