Tuesday, February 1, 2011

URI Multiregion Leadership Team meeting continues

Today, Tuesday, February 1st, was our second full day of meetings.  We started again at 7:30am with meditation in Jonathan's tea-house.  Over breakfast, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jonathan's wife Margarita.  Jonathan and Yoland also sang a Spanish birthday song.  I didn't know the song but I caught a reference to King David in the lyrics.  I asked about this and was told that the lyrics basically said: "King David greeted the morning with this song and since it's your birthday we sing it to you."  "How interesting," I said, "a Pagan song masquerading as a Christian one through a Biblical reference."  When they asked what I meant, I said that there wasn't anything obvious to connect the two parts of the song except that they were both addressing beginnings or times of "birth" -- of the person and of the day.  King David's song was clearly a Pagan hymn of praise addressing the rebirth of the Sun every day, but since David had done it, that made it "kosher".

Margarita also sang the King David song in Nahuatl, the language of the local people.  She mentioned that the suffix "-ita" or "-ito" in Nahuatl signified royalty.  When she and Jonathan first met and all of his friends called him "Jon", she took to calling him "Athon" as a pet name.  Over time, this became the more endearing"Athoncito", which we sometimes hear her call him.  :-)  We got into a discussion of how my name -- "Don" -- had been misunderstood in Latin American countries as being my title, and how this had led to assumptions about status that had interfered with building relationships.  Several suggestions were made for alternatives.  "Donquito", in imitation of Athoncito, was ruled out since it means "little donkey" in Spanish.  Margarita suggested basing something on my middle name -- "Hudson" -- possibly "Sonso", which is fine in Nahuatl, but means "stupid" in Spanish.  I wasn't having much luck until Jonathan pointed out that the longer form of my name in Spanish -- "Donaldo" -- is not as unusual as it used to be since there had recently been a Presidential candidate with that name (the only "Donaldo" he had ever heard of).  "Donaldo" it shall be, then, in future introductions.

After breakfast, we gathered again ion the terrace outside Linda's room to continue our meetings.  We started by reading aloud the Preamble, Purpose, and Principles of the URI -- a common practice at URI meetings.  (They can be found online at www.uri.org/about_uri/charter/preamble_purpose_and_principles)  We also read the description of the role of Trustees in the Charter:

"We use the term trustee in its truest sense: URI Trustees carry the trust of the entire global URI membership, charged with representing their interests in the larger body. The Trustees of URI are exemplary leaders who manifest the vision and values of the Preamble, Purpose and Principles through their actions, and have a deep commitment to serve the whole of the URI community."

Wow!  That's a lot to try to live up to, and we all felt the weight of that responsibility in approaching our deliberations.

We reviewed the Narrative Report covering what had been accomplished in the Multiregion from mid-November 2010 to the end of December, prepared by Jonathan as Regional Coordinator (RC) and submitted to Charles as Executive Director.  We also reviewed the Work Plan for the Multiregion for the first three months of 2011 in terms of Goals (Services provided to the CCs) and Intended Results (Intended Accomplishments by CCs) and worked out detailed steps to take to achieve the Goals.  We looked at shared governance in the Multiregion, nurturing of CCs, and our Seed Grant program.  We divided tasks into what could be accomplished in the three month period and what should be considered in terms of "deeper time" or more long-range goals of the Multiregion.

Highlights from the morning...
* The Trustees agreed to assist the RC and Webmaster in the collection of news and stories from the CCs for inclusion on the website (www.urimulti.org).
* We agreed that the Multiregion, more than any other Region, has an ethical obligation to be bilingual and that we commit to working towards all of our materials being available in both English and Spanish.  The idea was floated of a "Translators CC" of folks who might be interested in providing translation assistance within the URI.
* We realized that the Multiregion doesn't have a representative on the CC Approval Committee and agreed that Linda would be our person on that Committee (which is supposed to include one Trustee from each Region).

Before lunch, we started working on the requirements for a new, permanent Regional Coordinator.  We started by reviewing the input sent to us before this meeting from many of the Multiregion CCs with their thoughts on what qualities and skills were necessary in a Mutiregion RC.  We took to heart the URI's Manual of Standard Policies and Practices for Regional Development and let it be our guide through this process as we worked out the steps through which the Regional Leadership Team and the Hub Staff could work together to create a new RC position, announce it, evaluate applicants, and make a decision.

For lunch, we went out to a local restaurant to celebrate Margarita's birthday.  I had "cecina", a beef dish native to the area in which the beef is sliced very thin and cooked in a process resulting in something that tastes a bit like beef jerky, but is moist and tender.  On the way back to the Rose hacienda, I noticed several palm and card readers, a store selling Tarot decks and crystals, and a restaurant called "El Brujo" that is a 4.5 star place!  I'll try to stop in there before I leave on Friday.  Jonathan said that "brujo" is not a derogatory or negative word locally and would be how they would translate "Witch" in the way WE mean it.  Tepoztlan is an interesting town.

After lunch, Jonathan and Linda worked on incorporating the fruits of our discussion into the exiting URI document on identifying and selecting a Regional Coordinator.  They focused on the qualities we would look for in applicants while I worked on another computer on revising the description of the Multiregion.  Yoland took some time out from Multiregion work to catch up on other, pressing URI email.

We reconvened around 5:30 to compare notes and finalize our plans for tomorrow.  By 8pm, we were getting a bit fuzzy in the head and joined Margarita in the kitchen for some coffee and "pan dulce".  Today we worked about nine and a half hours and we were getting a bit fried.  We called it a night and I came back to the room to get a shower, make some corrections to yesterday's post, and write tonight's report.  While I worked, I turned on the TV in my room for the first time to find "Practical Magic" playing in Spanish! 

Well, it's 1am.  I seem to be getting back into me usual reporting pattern.  Time to get some rest before morning meditations.

Good night and Blessed Be,
Don Frew
National Interfaith Representative