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Local Org Wins $100,000

ami pr photoSANTA CRUZ > Nonprofit aims to unleash potential from the inside out

Ami Chen Mills-Naim’s approach to individuals seems well suited to Santa Cruz.  As co-founder and education director for the Center for Sustainable Change (CSC), Chen Mills-Naim drew on philosopher Sydney Banks’ studies to design a very “human,” yet rare, approach to access the universal “core of peace” found in all people, and to improve communities from the “inside-out.” The center’s mission was recently bolstered by a $100,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation, which they have used to help open a new location, and to continue spreading their services nationally.

Chen Mills-Naim’s goal is to help individuals with psychosocial distress to realize their own inner strength and capabilities as a method of finding relief—a drive that began for her via personal experience. As a young journalist in the ’90s, Chen Mills-Naim was intrigued by new medical discoveries that claimed they had “found the answer” to psychological issues exhibited in individuals. The answers to these “problems,” according to big national magazines, were prescription pills.  

The CSC offers more holistic, natural alternatives that that focus on healing the harmful views that people hold of their own selves, and how those translate into their daily lives.   The center, as explained in detail on their website, offers a range of services including one-on-one intensive consulting, leadership retreats, research projects, and couples’ and family consulting. All of center’s actions employ Dr. Banks’ three principles, which boil down to the idea that through showing individuals how to view themselves from a better perspective, they are able to live a more peaceful and rewarding life.

 

“I think all of the external ways of trying to fix problems—although they’re valuable and worthwhile—kind of stop at the place of human states of mind and ways of thinking,” Chen Mills-Naim says. Through the center and their projects, like the National Community Resiliency Project (NCRP), she hopes to “unleash the pent up potential of the human spirit by seeing through the fears and illusions we create about ourselves, about our capacities.”  By implementing the principles of Dr. Banks in their consultations, the center hopes to help them “gain the ability to live life with grace and creativity, because they see that the external world holds no power over their peace of mind.”

The NCRP takes Chen Mills-Naim’s ideals to a more national level, expanding the use of these principles in other locations. The project brings this way of understanding psycho-social issues together with partner centers in Iowa, Mississippi, and North Carolina. The $100,000 bump in funding helps the project in its work with communities dealing with issues in crime, assaults and homicides, increased civic engagement, school attendance and educational performance.

“What we’ve been really missing,” says Chen Mills-Naim, “is the dimension of the human spirit.  We haven’t found a way to unlock the potential of [it], and I think that these principles that we teach really do that.”

For more information about the CSC, visit centerforsustainablechange.org and cscmediacenter.org.

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written by a guest, June 07, 2012
Since I saw her first article/blog, I have been following Ms Schiff's work because it is always so informative and interesting. Here is another excellent one.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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