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Monday, February 8, 2016

Steve Pavey Question

Post your questions/comments here by noon on Wednesday, February 10.

Try to respond to all of the sources. You can synthesize your questions or you can break them up. It's up to you how you format it. But make sure you read every one and respond to as many as possible.

The sources can be found in the email from Kurt and Kremena on February 5th--or in the links below.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Community

Steve Pavey-Acompanimiento-2014

Accompaniment as Policy

Baldwin-White Problem-1964

21 comments:

  1. Thirteen Ways...It is interesting that the article points out that we are not genuinely intimate with many people throughout our lives. Yet does that make us lonely even if we had a sense of community?
    Accompaniment as a Policy...It is interesting that the author points out how poverty is often linked to illness. It is still prevalent even if less than in the past in regards to problems like AIDS and the fact that it is harder to find sufficient healthcare. I just wonder if it will ever truly change--this hierarchy.
    Acompanimento...Marco's response was interesting and thought-provoking. I had never thought about the U.S. in regards to Mexican immigrants, which is sad because they are growing in number in the US and should not be treated in an inhumane way.
    The White Problem...Obviously, repression has not been helpful in educating the future, so why is it that, just now, we are just starting to realize that this perpetuates white privilege?

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  2. Thirteen Ways...It is interesting that the article points out that we are not genuinely intimate with many people throughout our lives. Yet does that make us lonely even if we had a sense of community?
    Accompaniment as a Policy...It is interesting that the author points out how poverty is often linked to illness. It is still prevalent even if less than in the past in regards to problems like AIDS and the fact that it is harder to find sufficient healthcare. I just wonder if it will ever truly change--this hierarchy.
    Acompanimento...Marco's response was interesting and thought-provoking. I had never thought about the U.S. in regards to Mexican immigrants, which is sad because they are growing in number in the US and should not be treated in an inhumane way.
    The White Problem...Obviously, repression has not been helpful in educating the future, so why is it that, just now, we are just starting to realize that this perpetuates white privilege?

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  3. 13 Ways of Looking at Community-
    Is seeing community as a gift rather than a goal really a new concept or just a new concept for the privileged?
    Acompanamiento-
    I had never thought of allowing immigration as a way of settling the American debt to those we have massacred, enslaved, or abused over the years but it is a very logical suggestion.
    Accompaniment as Policy-
    The author expresses surprise that a program to treat AIDS in underprivileged communities but I was not surprised at all. As a society, have we become more accepting of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in the past few decades?
    The White Problem-
    How can we continue to combat the dehumanization of African Americans in this country as it clearly still exists in the forms of police brutality, wage discrimination, loan policies, etc.?

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  4. "Hard experiences—such as meeting the enemy within, or dealing with the conflict and betrayal that are an inevitable part of living closely with others—are not the death knell of community: they are the gateway into the real thing. But we will never walk through that gate if we cling to a romantic image of community as the Garden of Eden. After the first flush of romance, community is less like a garden and more like a crucible. One stays in the crucible only if one is committed to being refined by fire."

    Does this suggest that community can't be enjoyable? Or, does it mean that if you are not struggling or gaining something in community you are not a part of it? What if my community does feel more like a garden of eden, is there supposed to be something wrong with that if I am not constantly being challenged?

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  5. I think what I gathered from all of the readings is a grander sense of the notion in community. That word tends to be meaningless when we group all people in a regional space because there are often many connections we do not intimately share, but also cannot ignore. I don't understand where people intend for community to go. Do we expect people who feel that they have little to gain from others to suddenly, not only acknowledge their impact, but also respect these people via sharing culture etc? It seems like many of the writers are suggesting that the notion of community as a project of inclusion is often idealistic, but the notion of community as form of lens for behavior is much more fruitful because it works a general principle, rather than an abstract goal. There's a lot to think about in these articles, but I wonder what is the point of community when people throughout history have died in order to segregate themselves through class, race, culture, nation, and ethnicity; do we suddenly expect these divisions to be transgressed in the 21st century because of the evident connection to the world? I know that I strive for community building in a smaller notion of the word, but I also don't expect that people who are inherently entrenched in a notion of separation to suddenly accept, or become a part of a community.
    TLDR: I think community is often a mutually exclusive act that can be more one-sided than not; what do we do about that?

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  6. 13 Ways of Looking at Community--Parker J Palmer
    On page three, Palmer states: “In 1974, I set off on a fourteen-year journey of living in intentional communities.” Do you think we have to intentionally move around, travel, and search for community. Is there such thing as “imperfect” community? Perfect community? Furthermore, Palmer mentions that we form relationships to find “that which we cannot abide in ourselves.” Do we ever search for community unselfishly?
    2014 Steve Pavey Acompanimiento
    On page 73, Pavey states: “too much respect for the law...has led people to do many unjust things.” Is there any way to respect the law while simultaneously avoiding participating in these unjust things?
    Accompaniment as Policy Farmer
    In the piece, the author quoted Father Gutierrez saying, “As a society, we are happy to help and serve the poor, as long as we don't have to walk with them where they walk, that is, as long as we can minister to them from our safe enclosures.” How can we accompany the poor – not merely “help” them? How can we cross the line between them and us?
    Baldwin White Problem 1964
    In this piece, the author points out that America was built on a series of heinous crimes. Furthermore, he states that people today are responsible for perpetuating those crimes and allowing their residual presence to play a major role in the way society is today. How can we end this cycle of the perpetuating suppressant that society places on the people that America exploited to become what it is today?

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  7. 13 ways: In this piece, Palmer gave 13 reflections on community and that humans are in a 'complex ecology of relatedness'. The question I have is what about the environmental factors in creating community and how could alterations to the environment assist in the building of communities? Also, off-note, but it strikes me how similar Palmer's model of a community is remarkable similar to monastic life, especially in Buddhist Monks

    (This one is brushing over all four of the pieces):
    And although it is redundant and is always said at the end of the day, how can one take the philosophizing of academia and change it into action? I think this is a good question to ask you Steve considering your involvement with the DREAMers act but also your interest with academic Sociology. Tanya and Christian Torp gave their methods for action last week with getting involved/empowered by organizations like Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and now, I would like to hear yours.

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  8. In “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Community,” Parker J Palmer proposes a different way of thinking about community and what it means to be part of a community. He writes: I am not proposing the transformation of bureaucracies into communities, which I regard as an impossible dream. I am proposing “pockets of possibility” within bureaucratic structures, places where people can live and work differently than the way dictated by the organizational chart.” This leads me to wonder if CETA is such a pocket and, if the answer is not yet, how it can become one. I wonder what other pockets there are at the bureaucratic structure that is a university, that Transylvania is as well.


    One thing I was struck by in Steve Pavey’s “Acompanimiento” is the simplicity of reasoning behind not calling oneself “an ally,” as well as the simplicity of what Steve proposes instead: walking alongside those on the margins. Yet, that kind of walking is not so simple because it might call on us to go against the law, something we are trained to revere (note the words our children are asked to recite every morning in public schools: I pledge allegiance to the flag….”). I wonder about teaching oneself to go against the law, to know when it’s needed.


    In “Accompaniment as policy” Paul Farmer writes against what he calls “failures of the imagination: “When the iron cage of rationality leads to an imaginative poverty, cynicism and disengagement follow…. True accompaniment does not privilege technical expertise above solidarity or compassion or a willingness to tackle what may seem to be insuperable challenges. It requires cooperation, openness, and teamwork.” This leads me to wonder whether what we call liberal arts education has become too concerned with rationality, whether it manages to cultivate the imagination.


    In “The White Problem” James Baldwin points out that in creating the cowboy—Indian stories, we’ve made a legend out of historical massacre. My questions has to do with the need for telling alternative stories, if that—not a rational change of mind—will be a better way of challenging our historical memory/amnesia.

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  9. There is so much I found so very powerful in “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Community” by Parker J. Palmer. But this is the part that speaks to an internal conversation I’ve been having over the last week: “My concept of community must be capacious enough to embrace everything from my relation to strangers I will never meet (e.g., the poor around the world to whom I am accountable), to people with whom I share local resources and must learn to get along (e.g., immediate neighbors), to people I am related to for the purpose of getting a job done” My internal debate has focused on the ethics of accountability to one’s different communities, to my own different communities. Am I just as accountable to the poor around the world as to my immediate neighbors who are lacking resources? How do I prioritize? Need I prioritize? I’ve been struggling with these questions.

    In “Accompanimiento,” Steve Pavey writes: “I believe that too much respect for the law and its bureaucratic iron cage has led people, including allies, to do many unjust things… We must seek to do what justice requires regardless of the costs.” I am struck by the juxtaposition between law and justice. That same juxtaposition is at the heart of a novel I love, a novel I am this very week teaching: The Known World by Edward P. Jones. I think one of the reasons I love Jones’ vision for us is because it insists on this very same dichotomy: doing what one has a right to do as opposed to doing what is right. Jones—and the characters he wants us to sympathize with—claim over and over again that it is imperative to do what is right. Otherwise, we continue to live in an unjust world where some are masters and some are slaves, where human beings are treated as property, where love is permanently crippled.

    In “Accompaniment as policy,” Paul Farmer writes that “the beginning of accompaniment is often clearer than the end.” I find this idea both extremely compelling and quite frightening. The work of accompaniment is never done, just as the work of becoming human is never complete (to quote Steve Pavey). This speaks to the authenticity of a life lived as accompaniment, I think. But we get old(er), tired(er), weak(er), and our lives get more complicated. How do we carry on the work of accompaniment through old age, weakness, complications?

    In “The White Problem,” an essay he wrote in 1963, James Baldwin says “for the nigger is a white invention, and white people invented him out of terrible necessities of their own.” Gentle as Baldwin is in pointing his finger, he does point it at what in his 2010 speech Farmer calls “failures of imagination.” So many decades after Baldwin, we, white people, continue to not be able to imagine some of our brothers and sisters differently: with dignity (as Steve would say), as complete human beings. And I wonder if failures of the imagination are best addressed imaginatively, if art and literature are what can “save” us.

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  10. Baldwin's article, The White Problem, explains the delusions the white population collectively share regarding the formation of our country. It calls to mind with a striking immediacy the genocide of Native Americans , and the atrocities of slavery. These are terrible aspects of our culture that helped bring us to the point of "greatness", but we do not like thinking about them because they are so hideous. While none of us have personally killed Native Americans or enslaved black people, we still have an obligation to ensure that we respect the struggles of other people. It is quite simple for privileged college students like us to act like the world is a great, fair place, but the truth is that it is not. So I suppose my question is this:; doesn't refusing to acknowledge racial, or financial inequity as a legitimate problem seem just as awful as slavery or genocide? Is confiding in ignorance on the matter any less morally reprehensible than presenting prejudice freely? Is it the same thing, just for a new generation ?

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  11. 13 Ways…..
    I found this article extremely interesting, especially in the sense of changing the way that we, as citizens who are part of some sort of community, view what a community is and how to be a part of it. I thoroughly enjoyed how the author goes through both the old and the new ways of thinking in order to show how we must change our thought processes in order to make being a community successful.
    I prefer to ask questions on more of a personal standpoint with this article. How do you see yourself as being part of the leadership of your community? How does the hierarchy of a community impact the way that people view the sense of “community?” Does this make it more negative or positive? Can we have a community without leadership of some sort? Can community exist without first having a period of trial and error for hardship?

    Accompaniment and Accompanimiento
    I am absolutely in shock from the information that has been provided in both of these sections. I truly have never thought about immigration in this way, and the readings have done nothing except make me think further about our society and how it works. As a country, we are a community, and in a way, we are keeping that community extremely closed off and inaccessible to anyone on the outside. In a way, we view these “outsiders” as not “like us” and suppress them from even the basic needs in life, including food and healthcare. Is there a way to widen the community and open the barriers to at the very least end a helping hand? These are the types of things that the media does NOT focus on, but maybe should. Would this possibly change the way we view residential versus immigrants? What about those who are naturally born and are receiving ill treatment due to heritage? What way can we close off these gaps? Aren’t we all people? Don’t we all deserve a chance at life and to truly live?

    The White Problem
    This is such a powerful piece of literature. I have encountered this reading before, and it is just as impacting as it was the first time. While it goes on to talk about the country being built on exploiting crimes, it brings a HUGE point that “society is created by men” which means, “it can be remade by men.” That statement alone is the most empowering of the entire piece. Man did indeed create society and its rules/norms based on majority and maturity of right/wrong in the eyes of the hierarchy. However, history has proved that these norms can be changed, and that step by step, society can also change. In fact, we are already taking steps (baby steps… but steps nonetheless) in changing the inclusion within our society. In order for attitudes to transform, society must look at the roots of history to understand why and how those attitudes came to be in the first place. With that, can we re-transform the sense of our country? Can we “remake” society? Hasn’t society been molding throughout history through revolts and amendments? How can we further this along? Is this on an individual level, or above? Is this truly just a “white problem” as the name state? Is it found in other societies? Finally, how does this relate to today with the changing attitudes with terrorism? What does this mean for us and for the future generations?

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  12. 13 ways- In number ten, Palmer mentions how people can become threatened by leaders that give them the resources to complete something without the help of others. The reason people believe they can’t do something is because educational and industrial institutions have told us so. In a way, I think this threatened-ness comes with privilege. I think people that are forced to provide for their family at a young age or find a place to sleep for the night don’t feel threatened in that sense. They have to think for themselves. They also may not have this sense of helplessness because the educational and industrial institutions haven’t engrained that in their heads. With the new ways of community, these social issues of being able to provide for your family, or not having a place to sleep should decrease. If everyone in the community knows these 13 steps.
    Steve Pavey- Pavey discusses how being an ally doesn’t always help the problem when it comes to undocumented friends. Instead, being an ally means acting on what you believe, rather than sitting back and hoping things change. Do you think people know they need to act to make a change, or are people content in their ways, even if they are an ally, and will only stand up if it personally affects them?
    The White Problem- Baldwin reasons that there is a white problem that has existed since the beginning of the United States and still prevalent today. He mentions that a lot of history is left out in schools regarding the removal of Indians, and slavery of African Americans. The reasoning for certain parts of history being left out of the schools is due to the faced that we put on to show the American people and others around the world that we are the best- no flaws. With more and more people standing up and speaking out against what is not taught in schools, how do you think the teachers feel on the matter? Do you think they know to avoid the criminal acts or are they blindsided just as well?
    Accompaniment- Farmer mentions that students understand there’s a problem, and that they get it. Yet not enough implementation is put into place. This is common in America. We think we can’t make a change so we put the idea aside- even if we are aware of the problem. This especially resonates to me with racial equality.

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  13. In all these articles, I found pieces I agreed with and those I didn't, as well as parts that shocked me. In the Palmer piece, I thought his first point about "relaxing into community" was outdated. I think he really though so too, because he had 13 more points about how to gently cultivate community without squashing it. I don't think a large sense of community can just be relaxed into--in my experience, you must seek it out, work for it, and nurture it. I think Palmer was really just speaking against strained and unnatural ways of community building, but I don't think there's any denying that it takes some real work.

    Pavey's point about being an "ally" was very powerful. I had never thought about the strange separation and assumption of benefit that term implies, and how it creates an idea of mere tolerance rather than acceptance. That goes along with my thoughts about the White Problem article--I was particularly struck by "upward mobility" and how it leaves an aftertaste of shame about where one comes from. I thought these two pieces connected well too when Baldwin brought up how America has always been a refuge for those in bad situations; it makes no sense then, now, that we should turn people away for being in a bad situation.

    In the Farmer essay, I was shocked by how much of the points he made about Haiti are relevant here. On the second page when he talked about a squatter settlement displaced by a dam project; it made me think of Bourbon lot and the athletic complex and Not that the people displaced by these projects now live with the same level of injustice of compensation, but there is still a level of disregard when something is perceived to be for the greater good.

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  15. The discussion of accompaniment as policy reminds me of travel-abroad trips to help those in need. I've always thought that it was strange to say "yes, we're coming to help you for a little bit, then we'll go back to our own lives and you're on your own." It's not to say that it's shameful to try and help someone for even just a little while, but it seems like a lot of those trips end up being more expensive than the amount of help they actually give.

    Farmer's definition of accompaniment contrasts this: "I'll keep you company and share your fate for a while. And by ‘a while,’ I don't mean a little while. Accompaniment is much more often about sticking with a task until it's deemed completed by the person or people being accompanied.”

    To stay until the wound is deemed to have been assuaged… Such varying and indeterminable conditions. It seems like, if people aren’t positive that they’ll be able to return to “their own lives” after a while, a lot of these trips wouldn’t take place. These aren’t necessarily answerable questions, but how is it possible to live in accompaniment with someone not ever knowing if you’ll solve the problem and get to “return”? In this case, it would seem that the accompaniment is seen as a chore to be finished, rather than a building of community. Is there a point that comes where one thinks “I’m not helping,” or “this is too long?”

    The White Problem addresses something we’ve discussed a bit already. That is, the internalization of misconstrued history. Massacres turned legend. (White) killers turned heroes. Yes, most Americans are probably aware that we “stole Indian land,” but those same people will talk about it in a disaffected manner. We aren’t taught that we were the horrific murderers of Native Americans and that it was a terrible thing, nor are we made to feel responsible for what happened. In my personal experience, I recall learning about white people taking over the land of Native Americans, I recall learning about white people bringing slavery to America, but I don’t ever remember being made to feel bad about it. The idea that there’s always a “good Indian” or “happy slave” contributes to the idea that “it’s okay because we’re friends with some of them.” How many of these inaccurately framed histories and propaganda stories are still being taught in elementary schools today?

    The discussion of “ally” in accompanimiento reminds me of a comment by a friend in gender and communication class. They said that men shouldn’t call themselves feminists, because that implies that they have had similar experiences to the women calling themselves feminists. To me, it seemed like using the same word for both of those cases strengthened the sense of community in the group, but I’m not certain any longer. I believe it’s very important to discuss the ways we use labels and phrases such as “solidarity” and “ally,” however, because the language we use shapes our thoughts (and vice versa). The language of authority controls much of how groups are perceived by a great number of people, whether implicitly or obviously. How much is “changing the way something is talked about” a part of effective social movements?

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  17. I was intrigued by Palmer's discussion of the word "Intimacy". I wonder if we really need to take intimacy out of the definition of community- because maybe we could redefine intimacy. Intimate interactions can be anything, a glance, a wave. Even fostering an intimacy with the space itself and therefore creating intimacy for those who inhabit it? I'm not too sure. I just know that my definition of intimacy is pretty broad, though I get that he's trying to convey community should involve your "enemy" as well.

    Like Hannah, I also had never considered the connotations that come alone with the term "ally". Those militaristic associations now feel obvious, and it's hard to believe I hadn't drawn that connection today.

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  18. 13 Ways: When Palmer mentions, “community is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives,” I feel this relates back to our discussions on gentrification. One person within the community is attempting to make a change and the rest of the community does not appreciate the change. Do you feel that people within a community should be more open to change than many seem to be?

    Farmer: I liked Farmer’s idea of accompaniment. However while he discussed issues in Haiti and how they need help which is indeed true, do you feel there are many parts in the United States that need the help as well.

    Pavey: Pavey has a good point when he states, “I believe too much respect for law and its bureaucratic cage has led people, including allies. To do many unjust things.” I agree also when Margo, a member of Dream 9 says, “we will survive, it’s the only thing we know how to do, let’s settle.” I think it shows how you should never give up the fight, especially a fight for your rights. Going of off what Pavey mentioned about allies, one must protect themselves when attempting to “survive” because you never know what even your allies may attempt.

    The White Problem: “If the Negro had not done all that totin’ of barges and liftin’ of bales, America would be a very different country, and it would certainly be a much poorer country.” I feel this statement holds a lot of truth. Which leads me to the thought; Why are African-American continued to be looked down upon when really without them America would not be in the working state it is today?

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  19. In one of my classes we've been talking about The Gift, an ethnography by Marcell Mauss. He says that a society or a group of people that gives, receives and reciprocates and applies this to everyone, can simultaneously oppose one another while still being a part of a complex system of giving. Today Social Welfare may be considered a reflection of that system. Thinking about how we literally gift on Christmas or Birthdays it is imbued with whatever monetary value it has. But we tend to forget what it is worth to an individual. In accompaniment by Paul Farmer, he talks about accompanying people, I see that as a form of giving but also receiving. Generally policy and international affairs in this country deals with people that are in the most need, there is a danger with feeling that you are gifting to someone and not receiving something back your may start to become jaded in that way. I think that many people in development or in social justice do not feel that they are receiving enough for their work.. In a book that I can’t exactly remember there is a form of gifting where if you have more you give more, and when you have less you give less, but to that individual you are giving what you have and hopefully to the one receiving they recognize that. So I guess my question is how to we not become jaded in a society that generally sees accompaniment or helping those in need as handouts? When we all at times may need accompaniment of some form.

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  20. 13 Ways of Looking at Community-
    I think this article is very interesting. The author talks about 13 of his reflections of the way he looking at the community. The author talks about the community is complicated, there are different relations in this community. There are always a lot of issues in the community. For example, people will always find their "enemy" in the community. This concept will never change as long as there is a community.
    This article is written in 1998, I think nowadays, community is way more complicated than 1998. With the development of the society, there will only be more issues in the community. People's relationship will get more complex.

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  21. 13 Ways: In part VI, Palmer talks about the motives for building community being important to how well community develops. How can we be sure our motives are to confront unhappiness instead of developing happiness?

    Accompanimiento: It's mentioned that allies often have more respect for the law than for human life. How can allies benefit those who are in need. Is there a way allies can effectively challenge laws that harm people while remaining credited by those who create laws? Not so that allies aren't harmed, but so that they can call for a reformation of the law without being written off as America-haters?

    Farmer: Towards the end Farmer discussed investing in women's education reduces poverty. Would that trend be more obvious if it accounted informal education such as sex ed and other life skills? How invested is Lexington in women's education?

    White Problem: I think its really interesting that the author brought up Native Americans. I've read a lot on race issues because of my WGS classes, and only one or two have focused on the maltreatment and erasure of them.

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