FLDWRK, located in Orange County, California, is an organization that focuses on ways that entrepreneurs, artists, and social activists can cooperate and become “culture creators.” The members share a dream that "one day, all cities will be full of organizations that are culture-creating forces for the good of humanity." I learned about them from a longtime friend, Jonathon Murillo, whom I've admired for always thinking outside the box. I decided to explore how FLDWRK is helping to strengthen our democracy.
FLDWRK aims to overcome the isolation that is birthed in an overemphasis on individualism and to return to practices and commitments to mutual community. While the scope of their work is vast and diverse in nature, one thread that holds it all together is their desire to partner with and support efforts for the common good. Their services are catered to projects in the fields of education, business, art, and humanitarian services, and their support covers in-person events, small group cohorts, and online resources.
I was drawn to learn more about a communal time they initiate weekly called “socials”; these are designed to create opportunities for meaningful connection with one another over a meal and conversation. During socials, I learned from Jonathon, “members are invited to see one another as more than the work they do and to engage one another more holistically as human beings.”
At a recent social, they decided to extend their communal commitments to include those in the wider community. Members were invited to write letters of encouragement to children who attend local schools. This reminded me of the Practicing Democracy Project practice called "Prayers for the Neighborhood" by Tom Cowan: “Build into your spiritual practice regular prayers and rituals for the good of the neighborhood where you live. Occasionally light a candle or a stick of incense, and let it burn down as a symbol of your prayerful intentions for the health and well-being of all who live near you.” FLDWRK has also invited members to deliver gift cards to those who are struggling from poverty in their city. For FLDWRK, such activities are ways to remember “we are all in this together.”
In conversation with FLDWRK's director of programs, I learned they had gleaned some other resources from the Practicing Democracy Project for their "Impact Program," designed to help leaders discover their why and build spiritually informed momentum for their work. A recent small group cohort used content from the “Practicing Democracy at Work” program plan ("Create a Mission Statement," "Pause") as well as quotes and questions for personal exploration from the "Community" topic. They reported that these resources helped them facilitate a more democratic space characterized by trust and empathy.
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