The “why” behind the story of our creation
A visionary city, a visionary education
Philadelphia was founded on visionary ideals. In the late 1600s William Penn mapped a grid for the city that interrupted the main thoroughfares with five parks. Why? So the business of commerce would not overtake the business of conversation and community. His ideals of peace and nonviolence, gender and racial equality and fraternity, and care for the environment sounds like a contemporary agenda. The basis? The silence of the heart, discovering stillness within and allowing that to fill our minds and govern our actions.
One hundred years later, our nation’s founders paced Philadelphia’s center city streets, arguing, debating, and collaborating to create a structure for a new nation, one that could last and grow, that planted roots in the best of the past and reached its branches towards the open sky. Freedom, equality, the pursuit of meaning, purpose, and happiness guided their vision.
Now, well into the new millennium, we are ready for a visionary context as simple and robust as the ones that have come before us. This generation of Millennials is ready for an education that can prepare them for an unknown future, one that we simple cannot envision yet, one that we, who are educating, may not even be around to see. This generation of teens is facing both peril and possibility. They have the creativity, latent vision, and energy to create the possible. It is our job as educators, parents, role models, employers, to give them the tools to reach for a higher human potential, and in their own ways bring that into being.
The Inner Strength Foundation was founded to empower young people with the tools to inquire, observe, and believe that there is more to life than what they can see now.
That their experience is influenced by factors from our deep past and understanding that frees us to respond and create a better future.
That their biology and physiology explains quite a lot about why and how they react and teen responses are evolutionary triggers that have helped humans survive and develop over tens of thousands of years.
That they can access a depth of calm and awareness exactly as they are, which infuses their experience with ease, well-being, and connection.
That they are not alone, practicing compassion generates its own momentum and they can change the culture between themselves and their friends, and that is a microcosm of change in the world.
The goal for our flagship program Mindfulness & Cultural Development is to reach a significant percent of Philadelphia high school students, training these adolescents with the powerful tools of mindful contemplation techniques and the perspective of cultural development. When these tools become shared currency between classmates, siblings, neighborhood friends, teens will self-reinforce positive habits, peer groups will reinforce depth, joy, compassion, responsibility, purpose, and vision.
This will change their experience of the tumultuous time as a teen. It will change the classroom climate. It will change the experience of frustrated parents. And it will create the type of sensitive, self-assured, and proud young adults who will be great stewards of our shared future.