"praxis: reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it."
. . . Paolo Freire
It is an honor to join with my esteemed co-founders to create the Praxis International Network for Community Transformation. Click on About Founders and you will see that we hail from Chicago, Milan, San Diego, Munich, and Newark. A disparate group it seems.
What do Praxis founders share in common? For decades, they have been fighting the good fight -- working to transform challenged communities into better places -- desirable places to live, work, and do business. And they have been succeeding, in dozens of communities around the globe.
More than that, though, our founders share a common dedication -- and the belief that change comes at that magical time when relationships blossom from thoughtful, critical reflection and common visions into informed action.
In 1972, my friend and Professor Bob Byars told me about the Brazilian educator and philosopher Paolo Freire. While working for the World Council of Churches, Freire helped peasants learn how to read and write in weeks by helping them understand why they were hungry. He understood that people cannot overcome their circumstances simply by changing their habits. They must participate in actively changing their society for the better. It is through praxis, said Freire, that change occurs.
It is that notion of praxis that inspired me then, and it informs and inspires our founders today.
And why the Praxis International Network for Community Transformation?
Quite simply, many of us are looking for a place to reflect on what we have learned. We want to share experiences and learn from others. We are hoping to build relationships with those who are seeking to transform their communities. We are seeking to build the bonds that will inform action in communities around the globe. And, to use that knowledge to transform our own communities.
Not through a paid association. Or an expensive fraternity. Or an exclusive club. But instead, through the Praxis International Network for Community Transformation -- an open, free network in which to learn, grow, share, invent, and re-invent -- and transform. As Freire so aptly said,
"Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.”
As Jim Capraro is fond of saying, "All opportunities come from relationships. Always!" So, we invite you into new relationships with others around the world who are developing their communities. We invite you into that hopeful inquiry, to invent, and to re-invent -- and to participate in the opportunities that emerge -- through Praxis.
Reflect. Act. Transform. Come join us.