Community Story: A time to listen, learn and act

Sam Lardner, Director of Learnlife Barcelona, shares a heartfelt letter with our community that arises from the events of the last week in the United States

Sam Lardner, Director of Learnlife Barcelona, shares a letter with our community that arises from the events of the last 10 days in the United States and reflects on what we are doing, and why, at Learnlife. 

A Letter to our Community:

As someone who is an American, I write this at one of the most trying moments in my life and one of the most moving moments in recent history. At the risk of seeming unresponsive or disconnected, I have waited and watched the events unfold over the past 10 days in the USA and, indeed, the world. Nobody who works with me will be surprised by this because they know that the more serious, disturbing and emotional the situation, the more I tend to process, reflect and look for the learning before I act. Always the learning…

I needed to read David Brooks’ razor-sharp article on leadership in the New York Times, and I needed to listen to Killer Mike’s brilliant, compassionate call to action in Atlanta. I needed to call my most trusted friends in the U.S. to hear their perspective and, in some cases, help them through the tears and anguish. Because our generation in the U.S. was supposed to be the generation that breathed the rich air and celebrated the mind-boggling diversity of a nation rescued from its deeply flawed ways by Dr. Martin Luther King and the millions that he activated and dynamized to make the world a better place. But I believe the events in the U.S. show that we have failed. We have failed because the dream of equality, freedom and fundamental rights was not about a moment, a speech or a march. It was about a saga, a lifelong mission that we needed to accept and embrace and fight for in order to keep that dream alive.

At Learnlife we pride ourselves in the level to which we are personal and the degree to which positive relations flourish when we understand the person to whom we are talking, with whom we are working and, occasionally, with whom we are in disagreement. We build systems and spaces that encourage real talk and allow for emotions, fears and beliefs to be revealed, expressed and shared for the enrichment of the community and the creation of a pervasive ethos of empathy and caring. All I wanted this past week was for us to be together in the space again. I wanted to see us drop everything, as we so often do, and pivot - and be there for each other, talk with each other, analyze the situation, share our perspectives, learn from each other and turn our emotions into ideas and actions. As Killer Mike reminded us: plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize. As so often happens at Learnlife, it was the learners who brought me out of the darkness yesterday and into the light. I was so heartened and NOT SURPRISED to see them responding in so many tangible ways, even in our less-than-perfect remote environment. I was so heartened to see that the circles had formed, albeit online, and that our amazing kids and Learning Guides were churning through the issues and ideating and prototyping and creating. And it made me feel, like I so often feel, that I am in exactly the right place with exactly the right people doing exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.

Learnlife is in the first stages of its long journey. We have so far to go and so many challenges to overcome together. But the journey has begun, and I know with utter certainty that if young people worldwide were nurtured in our learning environment, they would be stronger, more empathetic, more resilient, more self-aware, more self-confident and, above all, more loving. Most importantly, they would be INCAPABLE of perpetuating the ignorance, hatred and violence that repeatedly tears us apart as people of this world, stewards of this planet.

This is a lifelong challenge, my friends. Let’s go.

Sam Lardner, Director of Learnlife Barcelona


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