Nenana Wellness Coalition
October 7, 2014
Municipal Elections today. Don’t forget to vote!
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate , masticate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
We had six participants today: Kat McElroy, Jessica Durtsche, Bonnie Reed, Miles Martin, Mary Alexander and Tim Horn.
We enjoyed beef pasta casserole with garden veggies, mixed green salad, Ritz crackers with sliced cheese and walnuts & raisins for lunch.
WELCOME and READING OF MISSION STATEMENT: By this week’s chairperson, Jessica Durtsche.
PRAYER was lead by Bonnie Reed, followed by recitation of The Pledge of Allegiance.
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were no additions to the agenda.
MINUTES: Posted at the WIN link at http://www.railbelt.org and submitted electronically to the WIN e-list with no reported issues.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: No new guests this week.
WIN agenda format: We had discussion regarding having a formal prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance as part of our meeting format. Miles said that while he feels it is important to acknowledge that having a spiritual connection is part of wellness, he is afraid that having specific prayers out loud is off-putting. He said that people have told him they are unwilling to participate in wellness because they do not want to be part of a formal prayer process. He said that WIN has a history of exploring different belief systems and he likes that. He would like to see a return to exploring diverse belief systems. He wonders if a solution to the prayer/no prayer dilemma might be as simple as adding a statement to our mission statement that WIN recognizes that different people believe differently, that all beliefs are honored here, that we recognize the importance of spiritual wellness and that any one person’s prayers represent only their own beliefs. Or, he mused, perhaps the prayer should be replaced with a moment of silence for each person to reflect upon his or her own spiritual beliefs. On the Pledge, issue, he feels that the pledge is brainwashing and he wonders why we have it at all, but he participates in his own way. He doesn’t believe our nation has “justice for all,” so he says “for a few,” and leaves it at that.
Jessica said she would prefer a moment of silence and no formal prayer. On the other hand, she likes the Pledge of Allegiance, saying, “This is the only time I do this (say the pledge) and I like it.”
Mary said she feels that the group changes very much from week to week depending upon who is here, and she likes that variety. She feels that WIN has gone a long ways to let people know that we honor a broad spectrum of beliefs. She likes having prayers to open our meeting and she likes have the Pledge.
Bonnie said she loves the flag, loves God, loves our country. She likes having prayers and the Pledge. She says she looks at other countries, what’s going on, she is glad she is here. She says our nation is having problems right now but she thinks, “Maybe we can get it straightened back out again.”
Tim sees several issues. No matter what, she doesn’t think we should make any immediate decisions about the issue. She thinks we should have further discussion and actively seek input from others. She believes WIN and wellness have a spiritual component. As it is now, anyone can pray at WIN. Perhaps we need to go back to having a rotating list, if people feel the group is being dominated by any particular belief system. “One thing I know, “she said, “When I take offense at anything, I am the person taking action. It is my action.” WIN, she feels, is a safe place, and we should do anything we can to help it stay safe. She spoke of the discomfort she felt once when a presenter made a homophobic statement that Tim could feel caused other participants in our meeting great discomfort. She wonders how is best to address situations such as that.
Kat said she heard once, “So long as there are tests in school, there will be prayers in school.” This is an example of what she believes about prayer, that it is a private thing between a person and their creator. She isn’t uncomfortable with formal prayer, but doesn’t want it to be off putting to others. “When this was suggested to be put on the agenda as a topic for discussion,” she said, “I was nervous because it does not seem like people anymore have the ability to disagree without getting ugly, or to have different opinions.” Regarding the Pledge, she said that she has stopped saying it. She explained that this decision was based primarily on a conversation she had with her grandson about the prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay, wherein he asked, “Are we the bad guys?” and she honestly felt “Yes, we are.” So long as we have state sanctioned torture and rendition, she does not feel comfortable saying the pledge. As a city assembly person, she expects someday to be attacked for this stance, as people’s beliefs are at such flashpoints around patriotism and religion. She gave an example of an attack she experienced this week on Facebook. “I don’t want to express any opinion to anyone in a group setting,” she said because of the blowback.
Discussion ensued regarding strategies for having difficult conversations or exploring alternate viewpoints without engendering bullying or arguments or hard feelings in others. Kat said she feels that a huge part of wellness, for her, is being able to have a different opinion from others, and that doesn’t make her wrong or have to make the other person wrong wither, just they believe differently. Jessica said it feels like bullying to her, when others attack a person because of their feelings or beliefs being different. Miles mentioned a book that was brought to WIN years ago, Crucial Conversations, which explored having differences in opinion or disagreeing with others without giving or taking offense. Tim said that maybe we should try to have a quarterly meeting devoted to Non-Violent Communication, like what Chuck Hugney and Tara taught to us last year. Kat said her fear was that even trying to discuss this, it could tear our WIN group apart. “Our nation is so polarized right now,” she said, “That people avoid issues to avoid conflict.”
It was agreed that Miles would play around with some verbiage that might be inserted into our mission statement to make prayer more inclusive. Kat agreed to put this on the agenda again and suggested perhaps notifying everyone on the WIN e-list when it is going to be a topic of discussion.
Alternatives to Violence Project Workshop: Kat McElroy passed out some flyers Carrie Farr emailed her regarding this three day workshop planned for the end of the month. It is 3 hours Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday. Miles will post the flyers around town. They have pull off tabs along the bottom with contact information for anyone interested in attending the workshop. There is a $100.00 fee for the workshop but there is sliding fee and scholarships available for anyone wishing to attend for whom the fee would be a barrier. (Chuck Hugney emailed Kat that he and Carrie believe they could find overnight accommodations for anyone wanting to avoid making multikle trips back and forth over that weekend to attend.)
WELLNESS THOUGHT: We have a biological father and mother, but our real Father is Tunkashila [the Creator] and our real Mother is the Earth.
–Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA
Tim: The Nenana Book Club is reading What Is the What, a memoir of one of the Sudanese Lost Boys and will be meeting to discuss this on Monday, November 3, 7 PM at Karen Harvey’s house.
Jr Basketball game Tuesday, October 21st, 4:30 PM.
The Blood Drive has been cancelled, for a variety of reasons. Our next scheduled blood drive will; be February 11th.
Neal Charlie’s potlatch will be this weekend in Minto.
Bonnie: Tut Whitney’s funeral will be held Saturday, 2 PM at the Civic Center, with a pot luck meal to follow afterwards.
Greta Duyck was taken to the hospital yesterday.
The Seniors will be taking a trip to Anchorage October 31 through November 2.
Kat: They will be taking two pigs to the butcher tomorrow, and one bull. David plans to winter the cows out on pasture but will have breeding pigs in town. You should come see the baby pigs. They are getting big. She now knows the meaning of the terms Pig Pile.
ADJOURNMENT: 1:50 PM