Gathering: “Pulling Ourselves Back Together”.

Hello Petaluma Community,

I hope that you and those you love are safe. I also hope that you are getting outside to enjoy the cool air and not be cooped up too long.

What we are seeing transpiring Washington DC today is horrifying but, ultimately, not surprising. The culture war that fuels this attack on our democracy has many causes including ones that are psychological and thus within our capacity to understand and intervene. The opportunity is to meet this threat with a fierce and loving heart. We each can find our voice and bring those voices together in harmonic and emotional resonance that supports the emerging public emotional intelligence required by our times.

Besides the threat to our national government we are also in the midst of a pandemic and the beginnings of radical climate change. All of these are challenging us to think in new ways about our lives and our shared communities. We are also challenged to use our feelings in new ways that brings about the types of connection, fellowship, needed to pull ourselves together as a people. The threat is significant and the opportunity profound.

It is in this context that I am initiating a short-term zoom group intent upon providing a context, a way of gathering, where we can explore our experience of belonging, connecting our personal development with that of our community connections. I am seeking referrals to this group and hoping to bring together therapists, community activists, and other psychologically minded folk interested in exploring the interface between personal and community development.

This group will follow in the footsteps of a series of experiments I have been doing over the last several years that bring together psychological practice and leadership development with a modest amount of shared study. I am confident that this combination will help us explore how we fit together and how we can contribute to a new type of fellowship that reduces isolation and offers us an experience of belonging. I see this as a primary remedy to what ails us and what ails our communities.

It is my intention that this experiment could lead to an ongoing in person group in Sonoma County and national zoom group. The purpose of these groups are to combine personal and community development. This does not mean that I think we each need to become activists. Blessings to those who are called to be an activist. Regardless of that choice, I think each of us can develop our psychological-mindedness and apply that in any and all interactions and relationships. I think that this is how our psychological-mindedness provides leadership for the future.

I see this as a unique way of gathering that brings the best of psychology and community engagement together. I see no productive future without this integration.

With faith in the future,
Peter T Dunlap PhD