Series to change thoughts on “Abundancy”

The Marquette University College of Professional Studies has initiated a Community Transformation Project in partnership with the Peter Ziedler Center for Public Discussion and the Cardinal Stritch University Leadership Center.

The project aims to combat scarcity through its “Abundance” series. The three-part series will occur this month, in March and in April.

Lisa Bates-Froiland, director of the Ziedler Center, said the series has been in the works for a very long time. She said it is a five-year-old project that investigates how making connections among community leaders can result in fruitful collaboration between people working on similar problems in Milwaukee.

She acknowledged the assumptions of today’s financial outlook but believes they reinforce the series’ goal.

“Even in hard times like these, communities really have all they need to function well. It’s just a matter of locating abundance that can be hidden under the appearance of scarcity,” Froiland said.

Robert Pavlik, project manager for the Community Transformation Project, said the purpose of the partnership with Cardinal Stritch Leadership Center is to introduce a new way of improving the quality of life in Milwaukee. He said the project seeks to initiate discussions between sectors that otherwise may not engage one another.

“The new paradigm involves identifying the gifts of the community rather than just going out and buying something or waiting for the government or churches to address the needs of people,” he said. “How can for-profit and non-profit organizations share our gifts?”

More than 100 people are expected to attend the first part of the series, “Creating Abundance Together,” held tomorrow in the Alumni Memorial Union. The discussion will feature three speakers — John McKnight and Peter Block, authors of “The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods” and Walter Bruggemann, author of “Journey to the Common Good.”

According to the event flier, the authors will focus on how associations, institutions and citizens can create relationships that allow the sharing of gifts to create a better community.

“This process will allow us to move from a narrative of scarcity to one of abundance,” the flier reads.

Froiland said the discussion will answer some of the questions people have in these tough times.

“It presents a different way of looking at life and what’s around you and what’s possible,” she said. “Sometimes all you need to know is who to ask.”

Many, like Emily Daley, a sophomore in the College of Education, believe one must travel outside of Milwaukee to find resources.

“I don’t know the Milwaukee area very well, but I think it depends on how far people are willing to go,” she said. “If you take advantage of buses and have a car it will be easier (for Milwaukee residents) to find resources.”

Pavlik said one of the project’s goals and discussions is to create an atmosphere of appreciation.

“All of this effort in sharing gifts is based on how we can be better listeners and engage in more unifying conversations,” he said. “The overall purpose is to move from stories about deficits and what we don’t have, to abundance of what we do have and how we can use our resources equitably and wisely.”

The series tomorrow will have two sessions, one from 12 p.m.- 3 p.m. in the AMU and one from 5 p.m.- 8 p.m. at Redeemer Lutheran Church. You must be registered for this event in order to attend.