Periodically, we feature a thought piece from one of our amazing CNE board members. We hope you’ll enjoy this chance to get to know them better and hear a bit of their story. This piece was written by John Dumm, Vice-Chair of CNE’s Board of Directors.
I have found myself reflecting on Michael Suarez’s talk at Philanthropy Day, and considering how to act on his message of engagement and “heart work.” In the aftermath of the August events in Charlottesville, Michael let us know that it was no longer sufficient for us to be high-performing professionals in whatever line of work we pursue. We should also take on the virtues of the heart: humility, generosity of spirit, and love, and live them in all our interactions, at home, among friends and strangers, and throughout our communities.
As I reflected, it came to me that the starting point just might be to relearn the virtue of listening. As we grow older, we tend to gradually stop listening. I mean really listening so that we learn. We stop listening in many of our relationships, in the work setting, and in our political and community lives. Our beliefs and biases become hard wired and we don’t actively open to the words and experiences of others, especially those who believe differently from us.
Nonprofits clearly have a role in helping communities relearn how to listen. One new national nonprofit, ThePeople’sSupper.org, is coordinating small meals in individuals’ homes with members of their community who are different from them. The United Way’s Community Table offered a similar opportunity last October. Food, talk, laughter, even some good old arguments. What’s better than that? Let’s listen.
CNE Board, Vice-Chair
Other opportunities to listen and engage in conversation take place throughout our community. Some examples you can explore include Creciendo Juntos‘ monthly roundtable where organizations connected to the Hispanic and Latino/a communities come together and The Haven Homecooking which extends a weekly invite for everyone to dine together.