Last June at the Gathering of the Tribes event, I declared myself to be a “Community Elder”. Even though there is no such role defined within The Mankind Project, the term seemed to resonate with many men. In this post, I attempt to define my vision a bit further.
I have discussed this vision with the Northwest Elder Council, MKP USA leadership and many elders in the Northwest and British Columbia communities and the outgoing Board of Trustees and the incoming Area Council. It with has been received exceptionally well. It is now time to create a clear definition of the Community Elder roles and responsibilities.
Community Elder Definition
I envision two types of Community Elder: one who serves his MKP community and one who serves his local community. A Community Elder may chose either or both paths.
A Community Elder must be a strong leader with clear elder King vision and the ability to inspire others to share and manifest that vision. He must be seen by his community as holding elder wisdom. A Community Elder must also be able to access both his heart and his head. He must be able to organize and teach others to organize. And finally, the most important role of a Community Elder is to grow new community leaders, just as the NWTA Leader Body’s mission is to grow NWTA weekend leaders.
The Path to Community Elder
Any man over 50 may declare himself to be an elder. He may choose to become a Ritual Elder in Training and eventually become a Ritual Elder on NWTA weekends, but there are, at present, no other MKP-sanctioned and recognized paths open to elders. I envision several steps in a new process that will lead men to become Community Elders:
- Any elder who wants to become a “Community Elder” is encouraged to create a journal he can use to document his path through this process.
- Any elder may declare himself to be a “Declared Community Elder” simply by asking for the blessing of a representative sampling of his local community. This declaration should distinguish which path he wishes to take: MKP or Local Community.
- A Declared Community Elder’s first step is to form a King’s Court of at least five advisers and identify and document (preferably in his journal) what specific value each adviser provides to that man. This court will advise, council and support the Declared Community Elder as long as this man is an Active Community Elder. His court must include strong men who will provide him with clear and direct feedback. The members of the man’s King’s Court do not have to be MKP Elders or even MKP brothers, as long as the man can clearly articulate the value a proposed member brings to the man’s life and work. The King’s Court can change over time as the Declared Community Elder sees fit.
- He must then work on clarifying his mission and present it to his King’s Court. The King’s Court’s responsibility is to challenge that man to absolute clarity on his mission and how that mission will serve his declared community.
- A Declared Community Elder must then develop a clear action plan describing how he will serve his chosen community. This plan should be captured in his journal and reviewed frequently by members of the King’s Court until it is crystal clear.
- When the man has solidified his mission and created a clear plan of action, it’s game on time. The man should be documenting each step of his journey in his journal and carefully assess what is working and what is not working and course-correct accordingly.
- Each Community Elder should be checking in regularly with his King’s Court to report progress and challenges, and to request help as needed.
- When the man has accomplished clear results and completed at least some of the steps identified in his action plan, he may ask to be hot-seated by his local community for the position of “Recognized Community Elder.” This hot-seat should have three parts: the sitting in judgment part followed by clear feedback from his community which should be captured and recorded in his Elder Journal. The final piece is the blessing which is should be sincere and direct, clearly identifying what behaviors or results the man demonstrated that are found worthy of blessing.
- Any man on any step of this path may declare himself “inactive.” Stepping back on the Community Elder path after an inactive period will require a blessing from that man’s King’s Court.
MKP vs. Local Community Elders
The significant difference between the two Community Elder paths is their area of focus. The MKP path will focus on identifying and growing leaders within the local MKP communities. These elders will also work closely with the Community Chair on the Area Council to identify and meet the needs of the local communities.
The local path will focus on performing service work in their local communities. Grant Williams and his Edge team are rolling out their program in high schools all over the west coast, and Grant is clearly an excellent for a fast path to Recognized Local Community Elder.
Transforming this vision into a working reality requires inspiring many men to take this proposal seriously and give me good feedback. At our Second Annual Gathering of the Tribes at Camp Collins in June, 2014, interested elders will refine, adjust and clarify this vision so that we have a clear consensus around the definition of a Community Elder and the process of becoming one.
In parallel with these steps, I am actively working with my local I-Group in Bellingham, motivating them to step into missions of service in our local community. Initial results are very positive.
Once we have received feedback from the Elders in the Northwest, it is time to start the grand experiment here in our area. I will work with each community and help them identify and recruit Community Elders, have them create their King’s Courts and get started on their focused missions. I will invite all Declared Community Elders to form a council to improve this process and help growing new Community Elders.
If this process works in the Northwest Center, I will start jumping through the hoops needed to take it national. I have already received a tentative blessing from Jim Howard, the MKP USA Elder Council Chair.
My ultimate goal is to have the position of Recognized Community Elder to be a peer of the Certified Ritual Elder, and to create new paths to leadership for men throughout the project.