Greetings to all, and the blessings of Fall wherever you may be:
 

As cliche as it sounds, I did get the name for The Higher Ground Initiative from listening to Stevie Wonder singing the song while driving into Boulder one night, maybe five years ago. The lyrics just seemed to say it all. But then, I wanted to arrange the song for hand percussion and tribal vocals, so I could bring it to my special drumming friends in our Djembe Orchestra in Longmont. My friend, music partner, and all-around remarkable music man Gregg Hanson had been teaching the djembe to beginning through fairly accomplished drummers, and I was blessed with a couple of years of working with the DjO, sort of our “master class”.

The DjO was a group of about 13-15 really good players that had come up through Gregg’s classes. We knew much of the African styles, but we blended them with pop styles and arrangements of Beatles, Grateful Dead, and other very cool stuff. But the people in the group were why it was such a special thing. College students and teachers, several ethnicities, professionals, retirees….everyone came together around the drum circle and had these amazing musical conversations with each other.

This is why the name of The Higher Ground Initiative is so completely appropriate. It’s about so much more than helping people in the community resolve conflict; it’s about understanding the language and nature of conflict, knowing how to see it coming, and rationally deciding how to respond to it. It’s about what I think of as “preventative peacemaking”, bringing together a community around a common language. DjO did that for all of us, bringing us together in the drum circle to learn it as a way of communicating with each other, regardless of our different experiences of life up to then. And we were a community.

There are so many ways to build and sustain a community. Drumming and dancing, facilitating public conversations, building things together, whatever, and doing it all with people who you might not typically find yourself side by side with, doing and experiencing together in community.

This is the kind of community that Higher Ground is working to help to support and sustain, organizing and providing conflict services, and we want to do it with you, side by side in the circle of community. We’re well on our way, but need some more help. Our GoFundMe campaign can be found at:

 
www.gofundme.com/thehigherground
 
Go check out the cool video of DjO street-jamming, with yours truly shouting out the vocal. If you click on the DONATE button and do what you can, $5 or $500 or anything in that range, the circle will grow. I hope to see you there soon!
 
Blessings to all, and Happy Fall!
 
Dave