Archive for category: 2010-02 TMLP Times

Life Is A Legacy

When Fred and Esther Hendrickson retired, they moved to a senior community in Plymouth, Indiana near their hometown. The community was created by a man who took six blocks of blighted real estate, tore it down and built brick buildings with sliding doors that opened into a courtyard in the middle. The goal was to provide seniors with a comfortable place to retire.

In 72 years of marriage, the Hendrickson’s raised a family, survived the Depression and a World War. When they were married in 1919, cars were just being developed. There were no televisions, microwaves, computers, calculators, icemakers, or washing machines. They didn’t even have indoor plumbing in the early years. It was a different world.

In retirement, Fred liked to sit in his La-Z-Boy and tell stories to his grandchildren.

He was old and bald, his granddaughter Sharole Beckman remembered. He was funny, witty and smart. He painted a picture of wherever he was in his mind, she said, recalling her childhood. I would rather be with him than my friends.

Forty years later, the experience of listening to her grandparents share the wisdom they gained throughout life inspired Beckman to create a project so that other children and grandchildren will have an opportunity to get related to their families in a way that will live on for generations to come.

People often die with their song unsung, Beckman said. We live life; work hard, get it all figured out and then we get old, retire and die. [Often] all that experience, knowledge, wisdom, and insight is never shared. I see an incredible resource of information, wisdom, and love that needs to be tapped.

As part of her participation in Landmark Education’s Team Management and Leadership Program (TMLP), Beckman created Life Legacies, Generations Connected, a game that will give people the opportunity to sing their songs and tell their stories.

It’s a big game with a lot of players. I am enrolling friends, colleagues, senior agencies, said Beckman, who is in her first quarter on Team 1. She intends that by December 2012, there will be a Life is a Legacy presence in every state.

She has assembled a team to create an interactive web site called For a small fee families will be able to access user friendly templates and create their own stories that will profile and showcase the lives of seniors as well as future family members and the difference each one has made. It also will serve as a social networking site allowing families to stay in touch out.

Her team is conducting interviews of seniors, profiling their lives, dreams, wisdom, and advice. They are encouraging seniors to share their victories as well as heartaches, demonstrating that experience is the best teacher. No matter how challenging life can be, the human spirit is victorious.

The provoking questions on the templates bring seniors present to the value of their lives as they recall and share. The questions and answers are designed to enrich the lives of the family members and create a role model and foundation for the youth, however two of the questions may have the greatest impact on both the storyteller and the reader.

The first question, As a child, what did you dream of being when you grew up? is designed to connect people to their dreams and gain awareness to the value and legacy of the life they did pursue and that it’s not over till it’s over.

The next question, Did you ever realize that dream? looks at how easy it is to get off track from what our heart really desires, settling for something less in the name of being realistic.

What we want to look at here is the possibility that the life we created and the choices we made, that took us in another direction, were just as valid and had an impact, not only in our lives, but others – like the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, said Beckman.

Her goal is to have future generations enriched with the
knowledge and lessons from their ancestors through this virtual story book of memoirs that the entire family will treasure for generation to generation.

What everyone has to show for life is who they’ve been that can leave an impression on generations to come. All too often children’s dreams become short lived. With the Internet, mobile phones, and 24-hour news cycles, children are much more aware of, and concerned with, problems facing our society. Beckman believes that many children skip the magical childhood adventures that come from creating something from nothing.

Today’s children jump from babies to adults. They are not allowed to be children anymore, said Beckman. A generation or two ago, parents and grandparents taught us to create. They taught us ways of being – they taught us to say please and thank you, to be civilized.

Today’s family members operate more independently than in the past where everyone ate together, prayed together, played together, and parents knew the parents of their children’s friends.

The team has marveled at the answers children give when asking, ‘What do your grandparents do?’ Often the answer is, ‘They shop and buy me things.’ The Life is a Legacy project will transform that point of view.

They don’t know who their grandparents are, Beckman said. I want children to experience some of the joy that I carry with me, my strength, integrity, self esteem, and ability to dream — I inherited it. The vision my parents and grandparents instilled in me was a result of getting to know them and spending time. Through, they’ll be able to visit and re-visit the rich history of loved ones and truly see the contribution as a legacy.

The ultimate goal of this project, is Life is a Legacy Living Centers, communities that allow seniors to retire comfortably and lead active lives contributing to the community, like the community her grandparents lived in when she was a child. The best stories from will be published in a book. The proceeds from the website and book will go to subsidize the living centers.

The experience of creating a team to connect generations has left Beckman inspired by people’s willingness to be generous and selfless as a result of sharing a cause that is greater than one’s self.

There is no end to resources that are out there if we keep asking, “What’s next?”

For Beckman, what’s next is completing her game of allowing people to share their legacy with generations to come. And by playing this game, she will add a piece to her legacy as well.


Promoting Peace through the Arts

by Steve Schapiro

“I was at war with war,” says Dhamay Kanthan.

Growing up in Sri Lanka, where civil war was an element of life, Kanthan became cynical at an early age about war and those who participated. “[Soldiers] were stupid. I spent a lot of time making them wrong.”

Then, she took the Landmark Forum. “On Sunday [of the Forum] I got a glimpse at how my life’s been,” she said. After the Landmark Forum she accepted the choices of the soldiers as their self-expression, and got
present to the possibility of being a stand for peace.

In the Self Expression and Leadership Program, Kanthan created Feel the Connection, a group of volunteers committed to promoting peace through music, dance and poetry from around the world with the goal of inspiring audiences to feel the connection to each other, our community, and the world as a whole; and to realize that peace is possible now and it begins with each one of us.

The first show was in September, 2007 at a small community theater in Toronto. The program included Bharathanatyam (classical Indian dance) by Calai Chandra from Chicago, an Indonesian shadow play by
Me and My Shadows, African drumming by Mutadi World Drummers, and Hip Hop artists Little Empire.

After the event people demanded she create more events. Despite living inside of a commitment for peace in the world, her response to those requests was, “Are you kidding… that took so much already. I have no time.”

She was at a crossroads. How could she fulfill on creating peace given her concerns and disempowering conversations?

Kanthan gave up her resistance and conversation about time and joined the Team Management and Leadership Program as an opportunity to get the training that would have Feel the Connection expand and fulfill her commitment to make the difference in the world.

“I saw that communication was access to peace on the planet. People get more incomplete in war,” she said. The distinctions from the new model of communication “creates conversations where people are left complete.”

Inside of the possibility of being effortless excellence, inspiring leadership, and delightful fun, Kanthan continued Feel The Connection as her Game in the World. Being in the Team Management and Leadership program has given her training and development to create teams and teamwork with anybody.

“Before it was just me and it was work. Now I have a few hundred people on my team and partnerships with Rotary Clubs. There is no way that would have happened before TMLP.”

Now that there is a team helping to create Feel the Connection, there have been two lively shows and another event is scheduled for September 2010. Kanthan’s team includes a partnership with community organizations and preparations are under way for a four-day outdoor international festival in July as well.

As a member of Team Toronto, Kanthan now distinguishes her life as one of protecting and defending herself, her children, her opinions, and her way of being.

Her experience of leading Feel the Connection has also shifted from having a project outside of herself, to being the clearing for the possibility
that the organization fulfills. She now experiences herself as powerful and able to take on being accountable with ease. “It has shifted from
being a game to being myself.”

Feed the Little Tummie

Imagine feeding 200 children with only $50. To some of us, this sounds like a dream. However, Nidhi Malik from Team Toronto has turned this dream into reality. Her Team Management and Leadership Program
Game In the World, Feed Little Tummies, provides food for poor children who live in the slums of India.

Nidhi enrolled friends and acquaintances in the United States, Canada and India into her game by sharing her possibility of Love, Abundance and Cherished Childhood. She uses what she calls “Feed Little Tummies Magic Jars” to collect the funds. In one conversation she raised $50. These contributions were sent to Nidhi’s parents and in-laws, her team players in India, who purchased food from a local store. On three separate days in January and February, food was distributed directly to approximately 200 children in need on each occasion.

Nidhi’s commitment is to have gatherings to raise $50 every two weeks and to empower others to raise awareness and start their own “Feed Little Tummies Magic Jars.” She has created a team with members in Toronto and Los Angeles who are raising funds through magic jars in their homes. Currently her team has raised $900 since January 2010. Her vision is to enroll a corporation in India to expand the project through sponsorships.

Before joining the Team Management and Leadership Program (TMLP), Nidhi was very afraid of rejection and what her friends and family might think of her. Her reasons and circumstances kept her from living her dream.

“When I became a parent I dreamt of a world where all kids are cherished and loved. I wanted to create a hunger free world for children,” Nidhi said. “I thought that there is nothing I can do right now because of all my own responsibilities. How can I help these kids so faraway?”

By participating in TMLP, “I get that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. This is a game that I would have taken on later in life but the Team Management and Leadership Program inspired me to take on my dreams right now,” said Nidhi.

Slums are commonplace where Nidhi was raised, in a suburb of New Delhi, India. “Families that live in the slums come running when they see food,” she said. Nidhi understands the daily struggles of children who are raised in poverty.

“Their experience of life is one of being unappreciated and unwanted. I am a stand that every child be taken care of,” she said. “If children are fed they will go to school. They do not have to work or beg to feed themselves. People can take advantage of hungry children and make them do illegal activities.”

Asked about what she envisioned for all children in India, Nidhi replied, “Anyone can entice you with one meal, but if you know that food is consistently available, then education, health and the arts would be considered more than basic amenities. If children did not have to worry about food, they could start making a difference for themselves and others.”

Through her game, Nidhi is doing more than feeding children in her home country. She is nourishing the future of India and demonstrating that any and all of us can make a difference anywhere in the world.

Reclaiming Communities

Have you ever driven through a city neighborhood filled with vacant lots and boarded up buildings?

What do you see?

Trash. Dirt. A wasteland of gray. There is a sense of despair. Dissolution. Desperation.

When Larry Smith sees vacant urban lots, he sees possibilities.

He sees jobs. He sees communities. He sees public access parks and smart green neighborhoods. Smith feels hopeful. He is excited.

Smith has been driven to make a difference since high school. He went to UCLA in the mid-1970s and studied ecosystems, but he got burnt out from that experience.

“I was going to make a difference at any cost,” he said. “That has negative impacts that negates the difference

Smith spent his career working in public infrastructure. A year ago he lost his job “really because I wasn’t successful in creating teams even though I was accomplishing a lot.” He immediately joined Landmark Education’s Team Management and Leadership Program (TMLP).

Since March 2009 when he founded Atlas Green Works, Smith’s game in TMLP is coordinating a diverse group of public and private organizations to revitalize a contaminated 10-acre lot in a poor community in south Los Angeles County.

The Brownfield site will be converted into a public park and the revenue generated from an adjacent privately developed 5-acre industrial solar energy park will provide the funding for operations and maintenance. The plan also includes a job training center focused on green technologies located at the
park and operated by the non-profit division of Atlas Green Works.

Converting a Brownfield to something usable requires various public agencies conduct investigations and issue permits. It is critical that someone facilitate the project and bring all the pieces together. Otherwise the project can easily “languish and things fall through the cracks,” said Smith.

“Projects like this don’t get done because there isn’t a single stakeholder whose sole purpose is to make sure the project comes to fruition,” he said.

Enter Atlas Green Works. With the training from the Team Management and Leadership Program and his passion for making a difference, Smith has put together a team. The team combines the non-profit Los Angeles Conservation Corps, which is providing grant funding with the for-profit engineering company Weston Solutions, which is providing investment capital as well as engineering support. Other team members include LA County’s Regional Planning Board, the State of California Department of Health Services and the public relations firm Adi Liberman Associates.

“It can be hard to get a team together.” Smith said. “You need some entity to do things in a non-standard fashion. You have to do things outside of the box.”

He views this park as a demonstration project to show people what is possible. His goal is to replicate this project throughout the US and the world.

“I’ve learned a lot from TMLP about building a team. It has required me to apply the distinctions of communications,” Smith said.

“If you are creating a team, it’s important that people are enrolled in the possibility. It’s always about enrollment and registration,” said Smith.

Before joining TMLP, Smith said although he was able to accomplish a lot of things, it came at a high emotional cost. “I wasn’t really in a space to be with the communication taking place.”

Now Smith comes from a context of listening. “It’s important to learn what people are committed to. To make sure each member of the team gets what matters to them. If they don’t, it won’t work.”

You might have to talk to lots of people with many not interested. He found being clear in his communication is much better than having someone join the team only to find out later their priorities are different.

As Larry Smith completes his year on Team 1, “possibility is really coming home.” Atlas Green Works is moving forward with long term plans to improve a disadvantaged Los Angeles neighborhood, with a possible future of taking this game global.

by Steve Schapiro

Living Dreams Through Song

Karen Maynard was about to sing the song “Big Fat Daddy,” at the request of her friend. But she “wasn’t feeling it,” didn’t really think she was that good, and was really just doing it because she has promised her friend she would.

This song was a breakthrough, however. “The full energy from the audience was there,” Maynard said, “and I sung it like I never sung it before – I was excited and joyful for the honor and privilege of being able to sing to them.”

As she started to sing the audience responded, and for the first time she listened to that response, instead of the doubts in her head. “I opened my mouth and they totally got me to another space. If I hadn’t given it my all, it would be like passing someone bleeding on the street and not calling an ambulance.”

Karen is a music teacher working in the New York City Public Schools for the last 25 years. As part of her participation in the Landmark Education’s Team Management and Leadership Program, she is also fulfilling on a lifelong dream by creating and producing her debut CD, Dream.

Karen is clear: “Singing always was my dream, being a music teacher was safe.” In the Team Management and Leadership Program, she gave up the point of view that she didn’t know what to do, and would probably get ripped off along the way. She gave up the thoughts that this could never happen to her. Using the training and encouragement from her Team in New York, she attended the “Artist Boot Camp” and found Lenora Helm as a singing and career coach. Karen’s first step was ending business relationships that weren’t working.

“The people on that orignal team were around for the money, not the love of the music. They were the wrong people, and I was embarassed to do anything about it. Instead of finding the right people, I questioned my talent and thought it was something wrong with me.” Karen, with Lenora’s support, realized she needed to work with people who supported her
dreams and vision.

“You are too close to let your dream die,” Leonora said. Karen saw that the closer she got to realizing her dream, the more the questioning and doubts kicked in. Leonora reassured her that this was common. She
gave up her concerns for looking good, gave up avoiding, and took on saying what’s really going on inside of her—she began to let people into her world.

With the first CD ready, Karen is now planning her new career – a recording every 18 to 24 months, singing and traveling, and transforming lives with the power of her music. She will be on the next “Artist Boot Camp” panel as a coach. And with her newfound confidence, a Grammy nomination is a milestone in her new career as a musician.

by Patricia Hernandez

Find Your Voice

Katherine Filer began stuttering when she was a child. By the time she was in high school the problem worsened. Everyday communication was a struggle – talking on the phone, ordering food at restaurants, saying how much gas she needed in her car, or simply introducing herself. The words didn’t come out of her mouth fast enough. It took her five minutes just to say her name.

She felt anxious as people grew impatient waiting for her to speak. She couldn’t say what she needed or wanted. Since she couldn’t express herself, she couldn’t develop friendships. During school, she avoided social situations. The impact was that she felt isolated and alone.

Fast forward 20 years in the future. Karen is standing in front of a room presenting a workshop to 250 people for the National Stuttering Association. She leads introductions to the Landmark Forum. She has found her voice and her calling.

As part of her participation in the Team, Management, and Leadership Program, Filer developed her own workshop with her friend Deb Chamberlin called, “Find Your Voice – Find Your Power.” The purpose of this 5-session workshop being held over five weeks is to help others who have barriers to expressing themselves – no matter what they are. Being shy, reserved or inhibited are barriers to self-expression. But also talking too much without saying anything important is an obstacle to true communication. “I’m committed to everyone’s voice being heard, not just those who stutter. I’m dedicated to helping people speak their truth, so that they’re heard powerfully in the world,” said Filer. 

Her evolution from someone who was unable to speak, to talking in front of large groups of people and leading others happened over time. As a young woman she hoped that one day she would wake up and be able to talk freely. But when she was 23 she realized that wasn’t going to happen, unless she did something about it. So, she looked through the Yellow Pages and found a speech therapist who helped her push through her fear and frustration.

After five years of diligently working with her therapist, Filer found her voice. She learned how to say what she wanted to say, when she wanted to say it, to whomever she wanted to say it to! Inspired by her new found love of language, Filer started the Tri-County Fluency Group in New Jersey, a support group for other people who stutter. By creating a community of people who shared the same challenge, members were able to develop more confidence to speak.

The local tri-county fluency group was so successful it was made into a chapter for The National Stuttering Association to provide more exposure for people across America who stutter (see below for more information).

Although Filer was making a difference for people, she often did things alone. “Before being in the Team Management and Leadership Program, I was like a star doing it by myself,” she said. “When I joined Team I saw a possibility to create things in my life that I want to create, like the workshop. I knew I could do much bigger things with a team.”

The difference is showing up not just in creating her project, but in all aspects of her life. Her friend got engaged and asked Filer to host two showers. In the past, she would have been running around, trying to get it all done by herself and complaining she didn’t have enough time.

With the training from the Team Management and Leadership Program, Filer has a new level of relatedness, being present to people in the moment. She created two different teams, one to plan each shower.

The night of the shower, the parent of the bride came up to me and she was so proud,” said Filer. “She didn’t think she could help because she speaks Spanish and isn’t confident with her English. So we created a team to help her design the invitation and she got to know herself greater than she knew herself before.”

Filer has had the same experience. “I don’t get to play small. Team listens to me as a big person,” she said. “I believe for me it’s about letting other people contribute to me.”

Creating teams and allowing people to contribute to her is creating the space for Filer to be fully self-expressed and make a difference in the world by sharing herself. In addition to the workshop, she is writing a book about her process of learning to be a powerful communicator in spite of stuttering.

For more information and resources for people who stutter go to:, which is a National Organization that offers support for children and teenagers who stutter, or, which is the National Stuttering Association’s web site to support, self-help and advocacy for all people who stutter.

by Djuna Wjoton

All Together Now – Transforming Special Education

Five years ago Denise Clarke found her calling when she started teaching her first functionally non-verbal student. Serving students with complex physical and communication needs has given Denise a sense of fulfillment, while inspiring her to begin a conversation around taking education of special needs students to a different level.

As a result of the training she received in Landmark Education’s Team Management and Leadership Program (TMLP), Denise took on the position of Academic Program Director at Standing Tall Inc., a private school for special needs students who are functionally nonverbal.

The particular education that has been delivered at her school is known as “Conductive Education,” often described as rehabilitation through learning. Developed by Dr. Andras Peto in Budapest, Hungary, in 1948, this unique and intensive group method of special education expects and demands active learning and participation by the child in attempting to overcome his/her motor disability, which could include cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, cerebral vascular accidents, and others.

Trained “conductors” work as generic therapists. The conductors are responsible for facilitating education, utilizing concepts of goal directed activity, verbal regulation, and group dynamics. The method is a kind of occupational therapy based on the idea that a damaged brain can be retrained for problem solving.

The child’s active learning, within this group, is supported by “rhythmic intention” — using counting, songs, and rhythmical games — to provide the child with a basis of normal movement. This engages the child’s inner language in order to independently voice motor directions to him or herself, and ultimately incorporate these motor patterns into everyday life. Conductive Education focuses on the whole person, recognizing physical, social, intellectual, and emotional aspects of learning. Focus is on functional skills such as dressing, feeding, and walking.

While this method has proven to be very successful in developing functional skills, Denise saw an opportunity to build on this model and take it to a different level. To do this, she created a game called, “All Together Now,” with the goal of creating an outcome where all students are excited, inspired, and eager to share what they’re learning; teachers have access to having all students fulfill on their possibilities; families are thriving inside of what is possible; and all people experience each other as unique, undeniable, and valuable contributions to society. Denise’s team members for her game included three of the “conductors”/teachers at her school, two other professional colleagues from other schools who are experienced teaching similar special needs students, and a parent of the one of the students at her school.

The idea is to adapt New York State Education Standards so that it can be incorporated for use by special education teachers. Training to become a “Conductor” has traditionally been focused on child development education. “All Together Now” intends to expand that model to include training on how to actually teach the subject matter mandated by the New York City Dept. of Education. Thus far the results of her game include the development of a modified curriculum based on the standardized NYC Dept. of Education elementary school curriculum. This is being implemented by the staff at her school in all academic areas. Different bodies of the staff are coordinating, collaborating, and creating new opportunities for action. Students are no longer distracted and tuned out. They are engaged and focused. Their level of comprehension has markedly improved.

Up until now students exposed to the traditional Conductive Education methodology could be expected to be alert and excited, but not have much to be excited about. They were missing a context to be intrigued about. They were ripe and ready to take on the world, but without the context of how the world actually works. With the introduction of the revised education and training regime of the “All Together Now” program, students are now participants in their own life. They are no longer spectators.

As an example, there is one little girl in Denise’s school that was extremely distracted prior to the introduction of the modified program. She would have a big beautiful smile for everyone; she appeared to be a happy, sweet, warm child. However, there was no way to discern what she actually knew or what she preferred. Now, after being exposed to the modified learning techniques of “All Together Now,” this child uses her eyes to point out icons that are used to express her answers to questions. She can communicate non-verbally by reaching out for items. She can change her facial expressions to give yes or no responses to questions. She uses her voice by making sounds to give more substance to her answers.

Other students are similarly more alert and responsive and eager to show what they know. As Denise said, “They now look directly into my eyes while they express themselves non-verbally, and they use their bodies to express their excitement—this was not something these students did before.”

The future that is being created is that “Standing Tall Inc.” and other similar private special needs schools will successfully cause the modification of the public school’s special needs students’ curriculum practices, policies, and staff development, thereby bringing an empowering context to how all students are educated.

Through Denise’s experience with her game, and with her training and development in the Team Management and Leadership Program, she was able to transform the conversations she had “inherited” about special education. She found that by creating multiple outcomes in single conversations, and causing conversations between others that created new and exciting opportunities, she could begin creating a different and more rewarding experience for not only her special education students in her school, but for educators and students in the New York City public school system.

“I was able to give up my resistance and fear of failure, and in so doing, get the opportunity to celebrate the success of my students. What’s more, the power I now feel is reflective in all areas of my life. If life is given by the quality of my relationships, then I now consider my life extraordinary.

Her experience of leading Feel the Connection has also shifted from having a project outside of herself, to being the clearing for the possibility that the organization fulfills. She now experiences herself as powerful and able to take on being accountable with ease. “It has shifted from being a game to being myself.”

by Larry Smith