2017 Palmer Award Recipient

We are excited to present to you our most recent recipient of the Palmer Award, Mitchell Tijerina (Denison University). The vision Mitchell created at the Institute centered around developing an interest in the affects of climate change and environmental issues by providing opportunities for people to experience nature first-hand. Through this exposure, he believes people will develop a sense of love and respect for the environment. Mitchell shares that “…a vague passionate idea at the Institute helped me bring into a sharp well-focused vision.”

Mitchell sees that without a personal experience, people are unlikely to cultivate a love for the outdoors or come to truly care about the well-being of it. To combat this barrier and bring exposure to the importance of Earth, Mitchell is creating a documentary film called La Gente de la Tierra.

La Gente de la Tierra focuses on the influence that the natural world has on the art, culture, and spirituality of five indigenous groups across Perú. Through this film, Mitchell hopes that people will discover how our day-to-day lives are intricately connected to the earth.

In preparation for the documentary, Mitchell applied for scholarships, developed a Kickstarter campaign, and assembled a team. He then spent four months living in Lima, Perú. During his time in Lima, Mitchell spent time studying as well as connecting with NGOs and indigenous communities across the country. He then spent two months traveling, filming, conducting interviews, and living with the amazing people in the area.

Through all of this, Mitchell tell us he “mastered the Spanish language, different editing programs, and film equipment through taking classes at La Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.” He also invited two other filmmakers from Denison University and Saint Olaf College respectively to join the effort and employed the help of a number of local translators to help with the 6 different languages they worked with.

MitchellQuote_post-feature

Beyond an awareness of and care for the environment that the documentary hopes to create, Mitchell’s work has also directly contributed to some communities in Perú. He and his team have created a promotional video for Porvenir Perú, an organization that provides greenhouse building supplies to communities that often lack in nutrition due to vegetables being unable to grow at the extremely high altitude. They are also working on promotional videos for the Ayahuasca Foundation, which focuses on medicinal plant knowledge, and Threads of Perú, an organization that promotes and sells artisanal work of indigenous women in the Andes.

While we wait for the documentary to be completed, the trailer and update videos are being shown by science high school teachers in New York. Mitchell is hopeful that they will soon be shown in high schools in Columbus. The final product will be aired this spring at Denison University and at a local community theater in Columbus.

Mitchell shares that, although long and difficult, the journey has been worth it. We have to agree and can’t wait to see the documentary in its totality. Congratulations Mitchell!

To Lead, Live & Look Ahead

Here at LeaderShape, we want to experience a world where everyone leads with integrity and lives in possibility. Where we work in community with one another. Where everyone sees their own gifts and finds ways to use them for the greater good.

We want to intentionally create spaces for others to be included and contribute in this world and then by doing so, lead others to do the same – “to lead, live and look ahead”.

This blog series is a place to hear updates from our Community Engagement team at the beginning of each month. The updates will include #Day7, #LeaderShapeChat, and any other upcoming campaigns and projects you can participate in with us.

Day 7

This month, #Day7 will be focusing on creativity. Many believe that only certain people can be creative, but LeaderShape believes that every individual is capable of being creative in their own ways. We will debunk this “only certain people can be creative” theory and share ways to find and embrace different kinds of creativity. Throughout the entire day (Saturday, October 7th), we will have quizzes, articles, videos, and other fun ways to #FindYourCreativity on our Twitter feed – be sure to follow along.  

#LeaderShapeWeb

Join us for this month’s LeaderShape Webinar Series on Monday, October 16th at 12 p.m. CST. We will be welcoming Tricia Homer and Jackie Pearce Garrett as they present A Space for Reflection: Recharge your Leadership Through Nourishment/Self-Care. To register and attend, visit bigmarker.com/leadershape.
leadershape webinar tricia-jackie-01.jpg

#LeaderShapeChat

Each month, we host a Twitter chat that exemplifies our belief of “to lead, live”. On Wednesday, October 25th, we encourage you to join us on Twitter for our #LeaderShapeChat about activating your strengths. “With the new day comes new strengths and new thoughts” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

Oct. LSC Announcement.png

In September, we talked about how self care plays a critical part in leadership and our lives. Catch up on the recap here.

LeaderShape Graduates

In September, we continued to strengthen our engagement with LeaderShapers through our social media efforts by starting a “Where Are They Now” campaign. We highlight members of our Institute, Catalyst, and Resilience programs by sharing their story, advice, or favorite quote.

Institute Jave'on Thompson.png

If you would like to be involved, send an email to community@leadershape.org and we will find a way to share your story!

#ToLeadRead

It’s National Book Month! To celebrate, we want to send you a LeaderShape gift bag with one of our favorite books! Throughout the years, we have been inspired by many stories, learned some lessons, sparked creative ideas, and even had a few “how fascinating” reflections. All of this happened by simply turning a page. Throughout the rest of the month, we invite you to post on Instagram a picture of you and your favorite book with the hashtag #toleadread.

Being Visionary

During the month of May, there will be 38 sessions of the Institute held all around the country! Somewhere around 2,000 people will spend six days considering how they can lead and live with integrity, hold a healthy disregard for the impossible, and work towards a vision that is rooted in their most deeply held values.

Creating a vision is an exciting, challenging, and moving part of the week. It pushes each of us to consider how we want to make a positive impact in the world based on what we care about most.

Beyond the actual vision that this exercise helps us to create, participants are taught a process that can move them from having a vision to being visionary! We are grateful to have visionaries in the LeaderShape community and want to introduce you to one of them.

faceMeet Varun Arora! Varun is the CEO at OpenCurriculum, a California-based nonprofit education technology company that is helping K-12 teachers all around the world teach better. In 2011, Google named him a Zeitgeist Young Mind. Varun has a Bachelors and Masters in Information Systems Management from Carnegie Mellon University and participated in the Institute in Doha, Qatar in 2009. This is what he has to say about being visionary. 

What does being visionary mean to you?
It actually is quite contradictory what it sounds like. It means being so so so close to the hopes, desires, and aspirations of the people whose lives you care to affect that you are able to see for their future what they are incapable of seeing themselves. And then believing in that future more than they can.

What do you think it takes for someone to have a visionary mindset?
A visionary mindset is a very hard skill be good or maintain because it requires a lot of work to build. It’s different from dreaming; dreaming involves casually thinking about a utopian future, but doesn’t actually focus on you understanding how to get from where you are to where you want yourself or your community to be in the future.

In my opinion, here are the quintessential traits a visionary mindset:

Discipline & focus
A visionary operates in the framework of the existing state of the world. To be able to imagine and create the future, he/she needs to understand the past and present in great depth and have a grounded understanding of why it is that something that does not work according to how he/she wishes it could. It takes enormous determination and effort to avoid distractions in this process of building understanding and making oneself skilled enough to do something about it. Distractions are hard to avoid because the entirety of human energy around you is hung up on the status quo.

It takes years and years of hard-work, and that’s only if you get lucky very often.

Practice
A vision is not something you see once and come back to on weekends or during “free time”. It is something you practice and improve upon every single waking minute. You practice the skills and tools at your disposal to achieve change. You practice how to deal with critique of your vision. You practice patience. You practice grit. Many of these skills are counter-intuitive, and thus, a visionary mindset isn’t something you have or don’t have, it is something anyone can build with hard-work, tradeoffs, and sincerity.

Progression
A vision is never static in nature. To conceive a complete change in how humans would behave or act in the future is impossible without making progress every single day towards that vision and evolving oneself and planned milestones during that journey. A vision is never achieved in its entirety – ever. Achievement is measured in progress towards that vision. A vision is only as beautiful as the progress made towards it.

What does being a visionary mean to you?
We hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comments!