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50th Anniversary Event Reports
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50th Anniversary Celebration
Find an Anniversary Event Near You!

Events have started for the celebration. We'll be adding reports and videos as they become available from each event.

New York State Neighborhood Revitalization Conference

On September 21 and 22, 2012, the first New York State Neighborhood Revitalization Conference brought together more than 100 participants eager to share ways to make their communities attractive places to live, thrive, and enjoy.

The event was held on the Russell Sage College’s campus in downtown Troy, NY. Local businessman Rocco DeFazio initiated the planning for the conference. Rocco had been instrumental in initiating the Little Italy Neighborhood Association the Troy Neighborhood Action Council (TNAC). ICA colleagues Dorcas and Ken Rose were part of a small organizing committee, taking responsibility for recruiting the workshop presenters. When work began, participants knew that Troy groups and organizations had much to offer, but it was essential to interact with the greater Capital Region and the state as a whole.

The conference began with greetings from Lou Rosamillia, mayor of Troy and a keynote speech open to the public on Friday evening by a local writer, James Howard Kuntzler, whose book The Geography of Nowhere, which depicts "our nation’ s evolution from the Pilgrim settlements to the modern auto suburb in all its ghastliness.”

Kuntzler began his speech by emphasizing that we no longer have enough financial and energy resources to sustain the lifestyle America has been accustomed to, giving examples from the northeastern United States. He followed this with examples of how communities have developed people-friendly downtowns and other public spaces, emphasizing the importance of walkable communities and the need to recreate public transport.

Saturday morning opened with a talk by Alan Mallach, non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, which focused on why people choose to live in a particular community. He discussed the factors that make neighborhoods desirable: appearance, parks and open spaces, economic opportunities, transportation, shopping and services, schools, and strong neighborhood organizations.

This was followed by a panel of invited guests: Doug Melnick, Director of Planning for the City of Albany; Michael Skrebutenas, Chief Operating Officer of the New York State Homes and Community Renewal Office; U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian, Northern District of New York; Wade Beltramo, counsel to the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials; and Dr. Susan Scrimshaw, president of the Sage Colleges and a medical anthropologist with previous experience in Latin America and Chicago.

After an extended lunch break, the afternoon was devoted to a set of 21 short workshops. There were also two trolley tours: "Presenting the Heritage of Troy” and "Birth and Rebirth in Troy Neighborhoods”, and several displays in the central conference area. The Alley Action Project (www.TroyAlleyAction.org) brought a paint-by-numbers scene on box-wall cardboard set on drop cloths. Small pots of paint and brushes invited participants to join in coloring the picture.

ICA-India Holds 50th Anniversary Event

To mark the 50 years of the ICA in India around 60 people gathered together on October 2, 2012 at the ICA-India facility in Talegaon, just off the Pune-Mumbai Highway.The event was promoted mainly by word of mouth over two weeks.

The schedule was simple:

  • Welcome by Vijay Lokhande.
  • Rabindranath Tagore reading by Ramesh Agarwal of Delhi.
  • Remembering Gandhi on his birthday.
  • The morning of introductions and rejoicing in each other's presence was hosted by Vinod and Kamala Parekh.
  • A small dramatic play presented by students of Aditi Learning Centre.
  • Lunch: a wonderful gift of love from ICA-India in Pune.
  • Photographs and small group meetings.
  • Momento presentation by Hiraman Gavai.
  • Send out by Mangala Gavai.
  • Departures.

The highlight of the day was the witness by three or four of the young adults, children of our staff, who said that they were different because of their experience of having lived in our ashrams and being exposed to the community life and the work their parents were engaged in.

Hiraman Gavai had created a coffee mug. Each family was given a set of two white mugs with the turn symbol and the grid with the 54 areas. Manoj Prasad and Rekha Taksande had brought a rose for each of the families present.

Current Colleague Engagement

  • Ramesh Jamlekar is in the business of construction. His wife Prabhavati is a field worker on for the study of cancer in Wardha.
  • Ramesh Agarwal works as a media consultant for the police.
  • Vinod Taksande is running two different programs for training nurses in Sevagram.
  • Gautam Gosavi is running an organization in Mumbai to help people in need.
  • Hiraman Kokane is a facilitator and conducts programs for the private sector.
  • People working at Capgemini include Hiraman Gavai, Pooja Gavai, Vijay Khaire, Raju Jadhav, Rekha and Yashoda Taksande and Mr. Shah.
  • Bhimrao is working for the Learning Basket in India.

The future

One of the possible probes is to work with the new generation of young adults.

Showing of "Journey Of The Universe” in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 9, 2012

The newly released documentary film, "Journey of the Universe” was shown and discussed in a roomful of family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors at the home of Norm and Judy Lindblad in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA on June 9, 2012. They had all gathered to celebrate the Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary of the Lindblads and during a "down time”, watched the film.

Produced by Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, the fifty-minute film guides viewers through an elegant telling of the 14-billion-year epic story of cosmic, earth, and human transformation, from the origins of life to our present challenges.

Today, the survival of species and entire ecosystems depends upon the choices humans make. Weaving modern science with enduring wisdom from the world’s cultures, the film explores cosmic and Earth evolution as a profound process of creativity, connection, and interdependence, and offers an opportunity to respond to ecological and social challenges of our times and our communities.

Through it’s fifty-year history, the Institute of Cultural Affairs has sought to operate out of the widest context possible for human, community, and global development, focusing mostly on the human species on the planet earth. The emerging "New Cosmology” seeks to expand that context to the whole journey of the universe and history. Awareness of this long history is having a profound impact on human consciousness and has the potential to transform the way humans see themselves and their environment and their responsibility to the whole journey of life.

50th Anniversary Event in St. Louis, MO on May 19, 2012

One of the events marking the 50th anniversary of the Institute of Cultural Affairs took place on Saturday, May 19, 2012 in Ferguson, MO, a first-ring suburb of St. Louis. It was an "Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream” symposium, an experience of inspiring exploration into the links between the three facets of a "new dream” for humanity and planet earth: environmental sustainability, social justice, and spiritual fulfillment.

The idea of the symposium grew out of the Pachamama Alliance formed ten years ago among indigenous peoples in Ecuador, Latin America and their concerns about what the industrial nations were doing to their land and their way of life. It combines leading edge information, live presentation, excellent video clips, and group interaction. The Ferguson symposium was held from 8:15 to 12:15 p.m. in the parish hall of the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and was hosted by Carleton and Ellie Stock, long-time members of the ICA, living in the community the last 14 years.

There were 27 participants, two hosts, and two facilitators from the Rockhaven Ecozoic Center about an hour from the site. 22 were female, 5 male, ranging in age from late 40’s to 80. Two thirds were from the greater Ferguson area via residency, job or organization. Thirteen were newcomers and unlike the others had not attended any of the monthly environmental video nights leading up to the symposium.

Highlights of the event:

  • Good attention, participation, sharing and spirit.
  • Excellent trained and experienced facilitators from the Pachamama Alliance network.
  • Tears of pain because of what we are doing to the earth, our mother and tears of joy and hope because of what is already being done by others and can be done by us.
  • The weaving together of the personal, the spiritual, and social justice.
  • Display table with books, videos, local organizations, and ICA video and newsletter.
  • People were introduced to the world-wide Transition Community movement.
  • Focused participation in the ICA art form project of writing promises, hopes and vision for the next 50 years on pieces of fabric to be incorporated into one large art form in Chicago.
  • Ellie Stock sang a song she had recently written for the occasion, "Let the Earth Breathe.”
  • Seven signed up for the Ferguson Transition Team, meeting in two weeks to follow up on what all this means for the Ferguson area.

The two biggest challenges coming out of the symposium were the need to recruit more males and more young participants to the event and figuring out what the agenda for the Ferguson Transition Team will be.

For more information about the symposium contact Ellie and Carleton Stock at carletonstock@aol.com or (314) 941-9378.

The Southern CA 50/50 Event

On May 19, 2012 the Southern California contingent of the ICA held their 50/50 Celebration with 12 in attendance. It was a fine event! It’s amazing how much we recalled after 50 years. It is good that we got all this out, as we are not getting any younger. We saw ourselves as passing the torch to the new generation.

Attendees were:
Charles H McDermott
Dianna McDermott
Eva Yakutis (Community of Practice)
Frank Cookingham
Frank Knutson
Jann McGuire
Linda Hamilton
Milan Hamilton
Paul Noah
Roger Butcher
Maxine Butcher
Suzanne Esber (Community of Practice)

Cleveland Region Celebrates 50 for 50

Sixteen amazing folks - six in the flesh and ten through letters and videos - became a Wall of Wonder on behalf of the Cleveland Region on Saturday, May 19, 2012, in Hamilton, OH celebrating EI/ICA's 50th Anniversary.

Those present included: Emma Melton, Cleveland; Ann Antenen our host at her Berkeley Square Community in Hamilton; and Myra Griffin, Brady Melton , Jr., Norm and Judy Lindblad, Cincinnati. In spirit and by YouTube: Mark, Jenelle and Tim Dove, Columbus; Jim and Joan Armour, Cincinnati; Michael May, Bloomington, IN; John Gibson, Indianapolis, IN; Nancy Lanphear, Bothel, WA; Frank Knutson, Redlands, CA; Gordon Harper, Seattle, WA, via e-mail and video; Doris Jane Conway, Granville, OH; and Suzanne Wason, San Antonio, TX, via Brady's cell phone! All are "Alumni" or current residents of this region.

An In Memorium table bore the pictures of deceased colleagues Jay Antenen, Anita Gibson, and Barbara Barkony.

As we sang "Believe - That The Time Has Come" we marvelled at how contemporary the words felt in our mouths. Our song sheet is available if you're interested or curious.

Memories were shared from EG (Emerging Generation) adventures to Global Odysseys, and amazing, urgent requests for funds and faithful responses. Myra Griffin said that she finds herself reflecting, "now where did I learn this?" and so often it is ICA. Then she remembers the person who taught or said it and the memories just flow...it"s like her Meditative Council. Emma and Brady Melton shared a "Recipe" for Second and Third Generation involvement in "The Movement" that bridged the past, present, and future. It will be posted soon on the ICA-USA website. Videos of Ohio Teacher of the Year for 2011, Tim Dove, and the Phoenix Middle School in Worthington, OH and Gordon Harper's ToP Trainers Crowd Meeting the Occupy Crowd also seeded our images of the future.

We discerned a few other local building blocks for the future: the Sustainable Indiana 2016 initiative that John Gibson is working on; an Art therapy program for persons with Alzheimer's that Ann Antenen has sponsored in her retirement community; Brady Melton's "Yes I Am" program for youth drawing on Imaginal Education; and Emma Melton's "Breakthrough Schools" and "Greater Cleveland Congregations" collaborative.

The day concluded with Celebrations...Ann's 87th Birthday and Norm and Judy's 50th Wedding Anniversary... 21 Challenges, and Hopes for the Future "Strips" were created for the Anniversary Fabric Artform. In closing we again affirmed that "These Are The Times and We Are The People!"

ToP Holds Annual Conference in Sacramento

Trainers of ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP) met in Sacramento, California for their annual conference. More than 90 people from across the country were in attendance with at least a third attending their first conference.

Terry Bergdall, CEO of ICA-USA, spoke to the gathered attendees telling them about ICA-USA’s activities of the past year. The conference was also one of the 50 Events for 50 Years in celebration of ICA-USA’s 50th anniversary. Those at the conference wrote their thoughts and hopes on cloth strips to be included in the art installation that will be created for the anniversary.

The membership also elected a board for ToP. The new board members are Mary Flanagan as chair, Molly Shaw as secretary, Nancy Jackson as treasurer and at-large members Ann Epps, Heidi Wilson, Dennis Jennings and Suzanne Esber.

Celebrating the Past and the Future

Longtime colleague Dick Alton celebrated his 70th birthday in grand style at the ICA Friday, December 16, 2011. About thirty people heard an update of ICA programs related to GreenRise 4750 (e.g., six new wind turbines on the 8th floor roof, total light retrofit, green roof) as well as the status of the Sharing Approaches that Work (SATW) Project which will celebrate sustainable initiatives in all 77 Chicago communities in September 2012.

Dick had many highlights for his past year. He shared one through photos taken of his trip to Nepal to work with ICA staff in preparation for the ICAI Conference there in October 2012. The second highlight was assisting his church in Oak Park to finance and install a new geothermal heating system. The third was his obtaining eighteen commitments from Chicago's sustainability leaders to be a part of the ICA Advisory Committee for its SATW - highlighting 231 sustainable initiatives, three from each community.

If you know Dick, you can imagine the stories, laughter and warm memories as people shared their experiences with him in the past decades. Mary Laura Jones and Bruce Williams led us all in walking down memory lane.

Dick's energy and commitments create a sign for everyone to live every minute fully - at any age - and be a part of creating the future that is before us.

ICA-USA Board Gets 77 Communities Update

The Institute of Cultural Affairs in the USA hosted a reception for the Accelerating Green Initiatives in Chicago’s 77 Communities Advisory Committee with the ICA-USA Board to hear an update of the initiative and to give feed back on the work done to date.

James Cappelman, Alderman of Chicago’s 46th Ward, was there along with executives from non-profits working with sustainability in communities (Center for Neighborhood Technology, Seven Generations Ahead, The Field Museum, Openlands, Uptown United, Active Transportation Alliance and Faith in Place). The City of Chicago was represented by the Department of Housing and Economic Development. Debbi Gillespie of the Joyce Foundation introduced the Advisory Committee. Jim Troxel of Millennia Consulting and the Chair of the Advisory Committee hosted the reception.

Terry Bergdall, President and CEO of ICA-USA, updated the gathered people on the project as well as reviewing the key strategies: first, many community- based sustainability initiatives remain isolated from many like-minded work across Chicago as well as being unaware of the availability of resources. Second, the ICA believes it is possible to create mechanism to guide such efforts to new and deeper ways. Thirdly, there are many partner organizations willing to share in this accelerating task.

Terry celebrated the green research that 55 DePaul students have done in 15 Chicago communities this past fall. The ICA is now in conversation with ten Chicago universities about completing the research between January and June of 2012.

The reception was then broken into small groups to review Terry’s talk with discussions on what was on target and what are concerns? In the closing remarks, it was noted that this five-year program to identify, engage, connect and accelerate is finally out to foster collaboration, celebrate innovation and deliver best practices

Terry Bergdall Speaks on 77 Neighborhoods

Terry Bergdall, President and CEO of the Institute of Cultural Affairs in the USA, spoke about the the ICA's Accelerating Green Initiatives project at the ICA-USA Board reception on November 13, 2011. The projects looks to connect sustainability projects in all of Chicago's 77 community areas. The reception was also one of the special events for ICA-USA's anniversary.


Think Tank Describes Strengths of Learning Basket

On October 22 and 23, 2011, a group of educators and practitioners gathered as part of a Think Tank to discuss the unique strengths of the Learning Basket approach. The group was composed of practitioners from Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Illinois as well as Ontario.

The gathering provided the opportunity to share perspectives gained after working for multiple years in 16 schools in the Chicago and Phoenix area as well as with a variety of cultural groups.

Some of the strengths of the approach included engaging parents as partners in nurturing the development of young children; acknowledging and affirming cultural differences; flexibility of the approach which complements school outreach initiatives and home visiting requirements as well as multiple curricula; incorporating multiple domains of learning that are consistent with learning standards of Head Start and state standards of Illinois, Arizona and New Mexico; embedds critical thinking and problem solving in learning materials and strengthens parents to be contributors to their children’s learning experience.

Those gathered for the session blended their perspectives and experience to determine the critical strategic actions needed to position the Learning Basket approach as a resource to address the concern for School Readiness. The group determined that the program emphasizes the power of cultural differences and identity, and the importance of socio-emotional development for both children and parents. The result is a much-needed emphasis to programs concerned with children’s learning success.

In the early 1960s before the advent of Head Start, the ICA developed a research-based approach to nurturing the learning of children from infants to three years old. This approach was developed in the 5th City Preschool Institute which included an Infant School and a Mini School for toddlers. For the past 15 years, ICA-USA has carried forward this pioneering work in the Learning Basket program, which has reached underserved families in seven states in the United States as well as internationally. The Learning Basket has inspired the development of similar programs that have engaged parents across the world as well as in the United States.


Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium

The first of the events was held on October 9, 2011 in Binghamton, N. Y. Organizers sent this presentation with photos from the event. Stay tuned for the full story!

Check back on a regular basis as more event reports are added in. If you would like to participate and host an event in your area, then get in touch with any of the following colleagues:

Judy Lindblad - nj.lindblad@gmail.com
Ellen Howie - rhowie3@verizon.net
Janice Ulangca - aulangca@stny.rr.com
Ester Mae Cox - missestermae@gmail.com