As many of you have heard, we’ve recently been awarded a 2 year grant from the McConnell Foundation through their Social Innovation stream. On Friday September 26 and Saturday September 27 we held our first Visioning Retreat. We called together a group of advisors, stewards, allies, elders, friends, and members of the New Mentality Network to learn from, help us plan next steps for our project plan, and dream with us about what The New Mentality could be.
Jermaine’s Recap of the Visioning Retreat
Re-thinq Reality Visioning retreat was absolutely amazing! Ever since I’ve been involved with The New Mentality I feel like I’ve been living heaven on earth. The depth of connection and inspiration that happens at these retreats is healing. There is something magical that happens in “the circle”. I still remember walking into the meeting room the first morning of the retreat, a familiar sense of communion and community was formed from the jump. Even though I came in late I felt the love. The first question they asked me was what was my most embarrassing or funny album I’ve ever purchased, I proudly answered “Snoop Dogg’s: Paid the Cost to be the boss”, we all got a good laugh out of that.
The space that we shared felt sacred as we acknowledge those who came before us and set our intention for the retreat. Gerard one of the hosts spoke to us about allowing Spirit to guide our movements, to recognize the kind of work we are doing. It was powerful; we all got to check-in and express ourselves before lunch.
After lunch we started the world café. It was an honour to share youth voice via our Rethinq Reality video challenge. Adult allies were able to hear what kind of reality they would like to see in the mental health community. As a group we were able to discuss the lesson and points we got from the youth videos. It set the tone for the rest of the session, we talked about youth engagement, navigating the system, and the impact and needs we have a youth serving sector.
These conversations sparked much conversation and feelings about the work we do and the kind of condition the system is in. Before dinner we met outside, acknowledged that we were having various feelings. We were posed the question “Does youth engagement save lives?” We split up either in pair or by our selves and reflected on it. Duane challenged us to come back with poetry that expresses our feelings. When we came back together we wrote our quotes on paper and shared with the circle our thoughts, it was enchanting.
Speaking of enchanting, after dinner we had a campfire. I will use few words because words can’t explain the rich experience. We were able to honour and show our gratitude to Cathy for starting The New Mentality and celebrate how far we’ve come. It was a ceremony that ushered in a new phase of The New Mentality as we offered our prayers and burned tobacco and other offerings. After all that we got to make smores, sing songs, share poetry and just be as a community. It was beautiful looking into the cosmos, underneath the bright stars.
The next day we were back to business. We had a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time. To be honest this time flew by so fast it was a bit of a blur for me. However I know that we are apart of some serious change and I genuinely felt like we were shaping the future of mental health in Ontario. With a big shift happening in the sector, like the Ministry of Children and Youth Services going from funding over 400 mental health agencies to funding 34 lead agencies, we have an opportunity to use our expertise in Youth Engagement. It was exciting brainstorming ideas on how The New Mentality can scale up and impact the sector in a more positive way.
I love how transparent and cooperative The New Mentality is. As a group we discussed how The New Mentality should think about Governance, Accountability and Core Principles. Being a part of this process made me feel a deep sense of value in the The New Mentality community and made me feel like I was a part of a group a revolution :).
Like I said in the beginning ever since I’ve been involved with The New Mentality I have felt like I’m in heaven on earth…talk about re-thinking reality ;).