I’ve been in the Chair a month now and it’s time for me to check in with you. It may not be possible to sit in circle with you, look you in the eye, and establish that Brother to Brother contact that is the essence of our work. And, yet, I hope that you will choose to hear what I have to say in that context, for that is what I wish to do – check in with you on a personal level in this most impersonal medium. So, here goes:
Robert Powell, Joyous Wolf with Raven, November 1992, Greater Washington (DC). (The rest of my Warrior resume is available on MKP Connect). My mission is to co-create sacred space through acceptance and compassion for myself and others. And, for the last 21 years, that mission has been focused within the Project and brought me this year to being your Chairman.
I check in with joy and fear. Joy that I have been entrusted by your representatives on the MKP USA Council with the responsibility and opportunity of leading our Region this year. Fear that I may not be up to the challenges we are facing in our effort to advance the work that we do.
Whatever your engagement with MKP USA, you and I are connected in a great work. On our Weekends, we hear the challenge of the Context Presentation:
With our past healed and our missions of service in focus, we accept our individual and shared responsibility for the future of humanity. As New Warriors, we accept responsibility for our own problems and take action with others to create solutions.
For me, this responsibility now takes the form of manifesting with you the vision of a robust, strong, and growing brotherhood of circles of men in Communities, Areas, and the world. And, I hope that you accept, in some degree, that same sense of responsibility. Whether a man’s vision of MKP is captured in an I-Group or a Community or the world, the challenge is the same – how do we keep our circles safe, strong, stable, and connected. With these circles supporting us, we forge bonds among our families and communities that change the world. It is already happening, and with our commitment to the transformation already underway, this change will only accelerate.
Background: Four years ago, the Project took a giant step in regionalizing and MKP USA, under the Chairmanship of David Bauerly, set off on a quest to build on its twenty-five year history and create a new region ready and able to thrive for the next twenty-five years and beyond. Much of David’s term was a struggle just to stay afloat and, at the same time, David led the Board in forging a vision for our future. This new vision is built on three big, audacious goals: restructuring our institutional organization through unification, deepening our collective commitment to a membership culture, and recognizing that our core identity as men sitting in circle with one another.
Community: There was a time when Community and Center were congruent. All the men sitting in circles knew each other and met at community events and, especially, at NWTAs. But, that was a long time ago. Centers became bigger and, with more men, fewer and fewer connections bound the men together. The decision to unify the 34 Center corporations into one MKP USA organization originated from an urgent recommendation by the ACT studies for us to become more efficient by centralizing core administration and investing more in local community health and development. What has come out of that effort, thanks in no small part to Mike Elser’s vision as Chair, is the re-emergence of local Communities focused on forging connections between men (and their families) and between the circles they sit in.
Paradoxically, as Centers become Areas and Areas become larger administrative entities, you and I can focus on the men in our circles and the circles in our local Community. While a lot of men don’t understand or care about “unification,” they are getting this notion of Community and embracing it wholeheartedly. Perhaps you and your Center already have and you’re beginning to identify as a Community (as I am with the Northern Virginia [NoVA, for short] Community in the Mid Atlantic Area (formerly, the Greater Washington Center). If not, I hope you’ll actively engage in this process soon.
Membership: This is one of the more challenging cultural changes we are engaged in. The key point of clarity for me is a distinction between my personal identity and my social identification with a cause greater than myself. My personal identity in these Circles is as a New Warrior Brother. That is who we became late one Saturday night and nothing can change that – except my or your decision to let go of that identity. This is a statement of our experience of our self.
My identification with the MKP USA mission is indicated by my “raised hand” on MKP Connect. What it means is that I have chosen to give of my resources (in addition to what I give of my time and my energy) to ensure that our work can go forward into the future.
Expanding our Membership culture is critical to MKP USA’s survival. We cannot support our Circles solely on the fees and revenues from NWTAs. Becoming a sustaining, automatically renewing annual Member is the best way that a New Warrior can support all our Circles and insure a living, growing, thriving ManKind Project for the generations to come.
My vision this year is that Membership becomes an expectation. Why would any man who sits in an MKP USA Circle and supports our work, knowing what’s at risk, not be a Member? Membership is critical.
Circles: This whole transition effort is about refocusing our institutional and cultural mission on the creation and support of MKP Circles where NWTA graduates and men new to men’s work can experience the Gift of this work. Whether that Circle is an I-Group, an Open Men’s Group, a Co-Gender Group, an Open House, an advanced Training, an Online Training, an Elder/Young Warrior/Lodge Keeper gathering, a Weekend, or some Circle not yet thought of – it is why I and you and every man stays connected to MKP USA.
This is why I am sitting here with you right now. I believe in the power of these Circles to change lives and to create solutions that my world, my country, my community, my family and I desperately need to survive and thrive.
2014 Chairman, MKP USA