The Listening, Inc. Vol 2, Issue 1

Letter from the Founder

ORiginally posted on Medium.com

A few weeks ago, I joined a group of community leaders at Harvard’s Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I could begin to give you the entire script of how I, the unlikeliest of applicants to this gathering, was selected to participate in what I believe to be among the most transformative events of my adult life, but that’d be unnecessary. Just know that it was an amazing experience, where I was afforded the opportunity to be equal parts spiritual and human and activist and idealist.

I don’t think I’ve hugged or been hugged so much at once.

From my understanding, the point of this gathering (which didn’t really have a name), was to converge together as community leaders with a passion for justice and change and an affinity for spirituality. Not all of us were of the cloth or even engaged in faith-based organization, but we seemed to recognize the importance of serving something greater than ourselves.

We prayed. We sang. We wept. We ate. We laughed. We cussed. We wondered and dreamed and thought. We danced to The Percolator. (By the way, white people dancing is still one of the funnest things ever.) I discovered the secret to the perfect hug. We cheered each other on and welcomed each others’ stories.

Personally and honestly, I found myself challenged by frequent thoughts of inadequacy and uncertainty. Here I was, sitting next to pastors and actual activists, people who had not only started their own businesses, but then was able to sell them for a profit.

I barely knew what I was going to wear tomorrow, much less the logistical planning of my own organization, practically speaking.

How did I truly fit in here? What was I doing here? Could I really change the world?

Speaking of changing the world, it’s already changing. I’m not even talking about the election. I’m over the election. Frankly, I wouldn’t care if we collectively stopped talking about the election, because I’m exhausted with feigning surprise or hurt every time (insert oppressive ideology) makes a move. I find it distracting from my own missions in life, which are to 1) Make famous the name of Jesus the Christ and 2) Take care of, guide, lead, and love my family. Simple.

Being among so many passionate, beautiful people was the best kind of exhaustion, because it reminded me of why The Listening, Inc. is still here.

The point of it all was and is to be a safe space for people to listen and be listened to.

I don’t think that’ll change. From a business standpoint, the demand will always be there. Until the bell tolls or the trumpet sounds, the human race as a collective will get the whole “treat-others-how-you-want-to-be-treated” thing wrong. As a result, there will always be those who want to connect, who want to be safe, who want to experience something different than what they’ve been used to.

As our time wound to a close, one of the lead organizers revealed a key thought behind this gathering of humans, which was our common thread and the main idea behind The Listening.

We are the strategy.

In response to what many seem to feel has been the most emotionally draining year in a while, we are the answer to the questions that arise.

How do we survive in this new world? How do we heal? How do we gain understanding? How do we love despite all the hate and hurt and pain, natural or mad-made?

We do it together.

This is not an attempt to violate anyone’s personal boundaries or victim-shame or –blame. This is not all hippy speech (although I did come face-to-face with the hippy in me).

I struggle to recognize a way to survive apart from each other, and with people who look/sound/believe/dance differently than me. I say that as Nick George the human and Nicholas Steven George, founder of The Listening Incorporated. We need each other to understand each other. Sometimes, we may even understand ourselves in the process.

There is a room, where business leaders and bright-eyed optimists sit together and dream. There is a place where those who have been historically disenfranchised and victimized laugh with reckless abandon, mouths split wide open with joy ringing out. They sit together, waiting for you to say something true, something with conviction. They are cheering for you, wanting to witness your healing and growth, or just wanting to know who you are. They want to change the world with you. Maybe even for you. They are listening.

What do you have to say?

- Nick

Open Mic Session: "A Love Supreme"

August 27 at Anne Spencer House

"There was a reckless abandon that I suppose attracted me to jazz, how what occasionally sounded like a uniformed effort was actually a laborious search for a groove, one that took a lot of time. Robert Gelinas discusses this in his book, “Finding the Groove”, and connects the natures of both jazz and spirituality, which I personally endorse and encourage you to read.

Isn’t love like that at times?

It often feels like a search for something grand, something that has an undeniable flow, but we don’t always know it when we see it. Especially when it feels contrary to our environment, or what history has told us."

McKenzie and Adam Snavely
Royal Shiree
Kole Siah
Laura Dreyer
This could all veer into Behind the Music territory, but it doesn't. Rapaport deserves credit for making a movie that's neither exploitative nor puffy, and in which we find ourselves rooting for these two friends to get over themselves and work things out—not because we'd like to fantasize that some return-to-greatness comeback album is possible (that'd be nice, but unlikely), but because their relationship is rendered so affectingly, even at its pettiest. Beats, Rhymes & Life ends on a hopeful high note... - Jonah Weiner, Slate, 2011

We've been in the news!

"Here’s a thought to consider: If you had a room full of people willing to listen to you, what would you say?

Would you talk about trivial things like the weather, the newest celebrity scandal or that TV show you watched last night?

Or would you strive for something more meaningful, open and honest? Would you talk about the struggles you’ve experienced and the conflicts on the news that have impacted you personally?

What would you tell the world if you knew it was really paying attention?"

Q: How do you think The Listening has been received by the community?

A: It’s always hard to tell because this community is much more broad and nuanced than it appears from any one vantage point. I’m not comfortable with it looking good through my eyes alone; the reception of The Listening is reflected in the attendance and participation at our events. If there are different people showing up and stepping to the mic or stage, then that tells me the vision is being received beyond my circle of friends. If one poet speaks on social justice, a songwriter performs an original piece about their childhood home, and an actor reenacts a scene from a movie, then we are doing something right.

Open Mic Series: "The Out of the Darkness Series"

September 28-30 at The White Hart Cafe / HiliFavrd Ministries / TOOLRY

The Out Of The Darkness Series - September 28-30th; Out Of The Darkness Walk - October 1st

Spencer's Vanguard: The Pursuit of Greatness

November 5, 2016 AT The Miller Center

(l to r) Peter Collins, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, Kole Siah
Cat Twomey and Sarah Day
KILLGXXD
Ramses Prashad and Rashaan Fuller-Wright
Nicholas George, Nakesha Moore, & Adam Snavely
There are a lot of people in our community with a lot of questions and a lot of proposed answers. If nothing else, this election season has brought a lot of things to the surface in our culture, our community, and our country. You know how it goes - everyone with a keyboard is a political commentator or cultural critic. Everyone has something to say, but it seems like not many people are interested in listening.

Upcoming Events

January 20th - Movie Night and Discussion: "What Happened, Miss Simone?" w/ Riverviews Artspace

February 11th - The Stripped Sessions Vol. 1 @ Speakertree Records

March 9th - Open Mic Session: "Revolution"

April 15th - The Stripped Sessions Vol. 2 @ Riverviews Artspace

April 22nd - Lynchstock 2017 (Tickets Available Here!)

May 2017 (TBA) - Open Mic Session: "Connected"

Credits:

Photos by Susan McLaren, Date of Dunbar Photography, Unsplash

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