# 3 Brother Henry's _TWEAKING_ of Geoff's original BGF Purpose Statetment with the Six Irreducible Questions of Forum Planning, with extensive explanatory footnotes
# 3, 09-14-10: Geoff’s BGR Purpose Statement “tweaked” with
BHs Six Irreducible Questions of Forum Planning
Geoff’s Purpose Statement
Baltimore Green Forum Purpose (Mission Statement)
The members of the Baltimore Green Forum seek to improve the quality of all life in the greater Baltimore area.
Our contribution to this goal will be to gathering monthly to:
· talk about the progress towards regional sustainability that has already been achieved
· find connections amidst the chaos of the movement and build a community of like-minded individuals.
· make plans to address the challenges we face together.
We will focus on transforming and sustaining the health of the following systems:
BH’s “tweaking” with the 6 Irreducible Questions of FORUM Planning
Baltimore Green Forum Purpose 1
The members of the Baltimore Green Forum seek to improve the quality of all life
—who?— —how?— —what?—
in the greater Baltimore area at regularly planned formal and informal gatherings.3
Our contribution to this purpose 4 (goal) will be to gathering monthly in general forum gatherings and smaller affinity group meetings 5 to:
· discern 6 (talk about) the progress towards regional sustainability that has already been achieved
· discover or explore 7 (find) connections amidst the chaos of the movement and build a community of like-minded individuals.
· take appropriate action 8 (make plans) to address the challenges we face together.
We will focus on transforming and sustaining the health of the following systems, both in our general large forum gatherings and in our smaller affinity group meetings 9 :
1 Suggest we keep it to “purpose” for simplicity’s sake and drop “Mission Statement”
2 A good statement of purpose should be limited to one sentence and 25 words or less. Although this limit is violated here with the use of 26 words, rule of thumb is always “the shorter the better.” A first-rate statement of purpose should be akin to a motto or a cheer, and easily remembered by all with words that capture the imagination and excite further inquiry. All of the wonderful things that we do can later be spelled out specifically under each of the six categories, later as goals, objectives, criteria, evaluation, etc. We may gradually reduce and polish this statement as we move on to boil it down to even less, but more electrifying words. Too many people make the mistake of trying to include everything in the statement of purpose. That is a mistake, for no one can ever remember all of that.
Remembering accurately the statement of purpose has several assets. First, it is good for getting the interest of people aroused. Second, a short statement impresses people, a long statement simply bores them. Third and most important, it serves as a criteria, a judge, and an evaluator of everything we write, do, say, and include in our Forum. It becomes very easy constantly to ask the questions: “Does this agree with our statement of purpose?” “Does this validate our statement of purpose?” “Does this (or, how does this) carry out our statement of purpose?” “This is a wonderful idea, but I don’t see how it reinforced our stated statement of purpose.” The rule of thumb is “the shorter the better!” Now, “BGF Rocks!” is both short and breath-taking, but it hardly qualifies.
3 The statement of purpose is “why” is “who” doing “what,” “how,” “where” and “when.”
The actual entire statement of purpose itself answers the fundamental question “why” we exist in the first place and “why” we are doing what we are doing. Geoff’s GBR statement of purpose magnificently includes succinctly five out of the six irreducible questions of “forum” planning. We need to include the response to the question “when,” the “timing,” the “succession of events and experiences during which the learning process of the forum ‘occurs’.”
This process is actually called “The Six Irreducible Questions of Program Planning” and was developed by the great Canadian process theologian Bernard Lonergan a and the legendary Columbia University Educator for reverence and meaning, Phillip Phenix.b
Both of these men were searching, it seems at the same time, for a true method to integrate all the academic disciplines with a unifying set of questions to bring them all, together with any planning process, on to the same level fundamental basic human meaning and reverence.
Note: As Geoff has said in the past, “It is the questions that get at the real heart and meat of the matter, and bring forth the best material.”
4 The word “goal” is, like “objective,” is an excellent word and to many connotes the same meaning as “purpose.” However, in the interest of consistence, I suggest we stick with the word “purpose.”
5 In this part of describing more in detail and in spelling out more specifically all the aspects of the statement of purpose, it might be well to explicate more exactly what we mean and understand by “gathering monthly.”
6 It seems to me that we want to do a little more than “talk about” the progress toward regional sustainability that has already been achieved. It may simply be a matter of taste her, but I believe a more “action” oriented verb might motivate more. I selected the word “discern” because it seems to include more action and activity that seems to involve the spirit, intellectual “connecting,” motivating, etc. “Discern” means to perceive or recognize something; to distinguish someone or something with the eyes or intellect; to detect; to recognize or comprehend mentally; to distinguish; and to both perceive and recognize as being different or distinct. Its synonyms behold, note, notice, remark, espy, descry, observe, contemplate, survey, view, perceive, discern are all verbs which refer to being or becoming visually or mentally aware of something. They just seem to have a little more action and passion in them. It’s just a matter of taste for an unemotional German!
7 Again, a matter of taste. Any word could do. “Discover” or “Explore” just seems to connote more “action” and motivation and digging in, for me.
8 Again, a matter of taste, Any words would do. “Take appropriate action” seems to move us a little closer to, again, “action,” especially for those who want to get in there, roll of their sleeves, mix it up, and get dirty. I put the word “appropriate” to modify the action so we don’t follow my motto which is “shoot, ready, aim” rather than the other way around.
9 Again, like in footnote 5, above, in this part of describing more in detail and in spelling out more specifically all the aspects of the statement of purpose, it might be well to explicate more exactly what we mean and understand by “when” we will focus on transforming and sustaining the health of the following eleven systems “both in our general large forum gatherings and in our smaller affinity group meetings.”
a Bernard Lonergan is a Canadian philosopher-theologian and an economist from Buckingham, Quebec. He taught at Loyola College (Montreal) (now Concordia University), Regis College (now federated within the University of Toronto), the Pontifical Gregorian University and Boston College. He is the author of Insight: A Study of Human Understanding and Method in Theology, which established what he called the Generalized Empirical Method (GEM). The University of Toronto Press is in process of publishing his work in a projected 25-volume collection edited by staff at the Lonergan Research Institute at Regis College. Lonergan's work may be seen as the culmination of the postmodern hermeneutic revolution begun by Heidegger
b Phillip H. Phenix Professor of Philosophy and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, whose study in the fields of Mathematics, Physics, Theology, Philosophy and Education foamed a lifelong search for final meaning. He acquired notoriety in 1934 when, at age 19, the senior thesis he wrote on “The Absolute Significance of Rotation” while at Princeton University, was praised by Albert Einstein and reported in the New York Times. Einstein, who wrote to the then mathematics major’s professor expressing his desire to speak with Phenix in detail, commented that “The clarity wit which this young man has grasped this problem is astonishing, as is his mastery of the formal apparatus.”
He was elected the youngest Fellow in the American Actuarial Society, taught at Princeton University, Union Theological Seminary in New York, Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and finally at Columbia. He firmly believed that teachers who possess reverence for the wondrous diversity of nature and for the uniqueness and potential embodied in individual selves, can help students to form integrated life styles in a world of meanings that the human spirit discovers are its native home, and that the inculcation of reverence is the root of wisdom and virtue.
In his Realms of Meaning, Man and His Becoming, and Education and the Common Good, among his eight other published books, many of which were translated into several different languages, he asks that spiritual values and universal values inform the teacher’s reverence for the student so that in the classroom the student is able to participate in a world of meanings that the human spirit discovers are its native home. Here the student learns how to go about truly living life as part of the human community.
He maintained that “The average person believes truth is science. The challenge to education is to recognize the feeling of aesthetics, the wonder of religion, and that ethics are an integral partner in knowing. A world defined by the sciences, is not attractive enough to motivate students to strive for their potential.”
Purpose Statement as a result of “tweaking”
Baltimore Green Forum Purpose
The members of the Baltimore Green Forum seek to improve the quality of all life
in the greater Baltimore area at regularly planned formal and informal gatherings.
Our contribution to this purpose (goal) will be to gathering monthly in general forum gatherings and smaller affinity group meetings:
· discern (talk about) the progress towards regional sustainability that has already been achieved
· discover or explore (find) connections amidst the chaos of the movement and build a community of like-minded individuals.
· take appropriate action (make plans) to address the challenges we face together.
We will focus on transforming and sustaining the health of the following systems, both in our general large forum gatherings and in our smaller affinity group meetings: