Well, that’s the idea here.
More specifically, I would like this to be a place and space where students and colleagues go. I’d like this to be a destination (ok, but isn’t this what every blogger wants?). I want this to be a place where we can find support, ideas, questions to ponder, ponders to questions, food for thought, and maybe even some humor (depending on the day). And though it sounds strange, perhaps here we can find a kind of community — here in the independent land of individual bloggers???? Yes, I think we can. Or as one of my favorite quotes goes: “Yes we can.”
So I begin with the image of this here tree — it is rooted, and yet it has new branches, new leaves, new avenues for growth, without compromising the underlying structure, its root-ed-ness. My grandfather, a peach and grape farmer when he was alive, would have appreciated that with such a tree, we can graft — we can change the very nature of the tree and its fruit by adding new branches to it. (Perhaps this is a perfectly prime pluot tree!)
My colleague and friend Pam and I found this image (thank you Google images) and selected it to represent the “vision theme” that we are co-leading for our university strategic planning team (the “Mission” team) . Here is the language of this theme:
“Embrace the founding mission and values of the University, as established by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, to educate the whole person, serve the underserved, promote interfaith dialogue, and engage in social action for the good of the community.”
Though this wasn’t originally the “team” or the theme that I was most interested in working on, it has, in fact, “grown” on me. The four focus areas resonate with me in different ways, but each significantly:
- Educate the whole person — why would we not? Do we want students who just want to learn something but not have it be meaningful or relevant to them? To what end? Isn’t the most meaningful learning that which is connected to our heads, hearts, bodies, and lives?
- Serve the underserved — “Underserved” certainly has a lot of interpretations, but the idea here is strong. There are those who need access to higher education and it would be lovely to embody an ethic of “service,” accordingly. (And I don’t mean “customer service.”)
- Promote interfaith dialogue — This is my own growing edge. I have a lot to learn about this aspect. I greatly appreciate that Pam is one of my teachers.
- Engage in social action — This reminds me of a sign posted at St. Mary’s College of California: “Enter to learn; leave to serve.” Lovely!
The tree image also reminds me of a sign that used to hang in the kitchen of the house in which I grew up. It said, “Bloom where you are planted.” That is what I am attempting to do in general, yet I also know that I need to change the conditions if they are not right for blooming.
And I know that I can. Yes I can.