I write to report to the membership of The Men’s Council on our accomplishments over the past year and to consider what the coming year might hold for us. The accomplishments fall into two categories: those that are routine for the continued viability of the organization and those that are extraordinary and build a path to future developments.
The Annual TMC Gathering of Men. In April we conducted our 21st Annual Gathering of Men. By all accounts and the evaluation feedback that we collected it was an extremely successful event. The planning and execution of the Gathering has in itself become a rewarding, unifying experience that is a model of how this kind of work can be through collaborative consensus in a volunteer group effort. For those who participate in planning the Annual Gathering the time spent in warm hearted communication touches our souls and strengthens our bond of brotherhood. The planning becomes an extension of the April event itself.
This year our time together was marked by the loss and memorializing of Gregory Blaine. He lost his battle with cancer shortly before and the Gathering allowed those of us who knew him to come together and grieve his physical passing and to honor his memory and the meaning of his presence in our midst over the years. The way he enriched all our souls will remain a part of the Gathering as long as we continue to conduct it.
Next year’s Gathering dates will be April 21-23. Put it on your calendar and plan now to attend.
Business of the TMC Board. This year marked the third year since the TMC Board reorganized following a workshop in 2013 at the Annual Gathering. It marked the third election of Board members under the new structure. We have been able to demonstrate that the organization can take care of its routine business and take progressive steps for development using a combination of periodic phone conferences and a face-to-face retreat which we have chosen to plan to coincide with the Gathering Planning Retreat at Larry’s home in Taylorsville. It is one more opportunity for those interested to build bonds with other men in meaningful ways. It is also an important opportunity to influence the direction that TMC’s work will take in the future. The current TMC Board membership is as follows:
- Jarod Brown (2018)
- Phil Cole (2017)
- Doug Jennette (2018, Vice President)
- Jimie McBee (2017)
- Evan Nash (2019)
- Jim Neill (2017, Secretary)
- Bron Skinner (2018, President)
- John Sullivan (2019, Treasurer)
- Glenn Wing (2019)
We invite those interested in what TMC will have to offer in the future to consider joining the TMC Board when positions open next year in early spring.
The TMC Web Pages. Just a year ago at the urgings of one of our members, Chris Baucomb, and an attendee at the 2014 Planning Retreat we decided to change the image that The Men’s Council presented in social media by moving the web pages to a WordPress based template. Chris had to move away but guided Jim Neill through the transition and Jim has become the TMC webmaster. He spent countless hours last summer building the structure and transferring content from the old Google-based site to our new look and feel. There are many features that the new site has that will make the future management of our public image and communications work better. Aside from a more attractive look immediately, one clear advantage became evident during the lead up to the Annual Gathering. We were able to conduct online registration for the first time ever for which the Registrar was extremely grateful. Aside from such practical matters, the aesthetics of the new site are a huge improvement over what we were able to accomplish before. We owe Jim Neill an enormous debt of gratitude. His leadership and diligence has paid off handsomely.
TMC Giving Back. At the TMC Board planning retreat in 2014 Larry Sorkin brought a proposal for starting a philanthropic endeavor as an integral part of what TMC has to offer the community of men and the world in general. He, Donald Tyson, Graham Gell and some other key individuals in the Charlotte area met and worked on the idea over the following year and brought a more concrete proposal to the 2015 Board retreat. Subsequently, pledges in the amount of more than $17,000 were made and collected. By June of this year we selected a name (TMC Giving Back), formed a Steering Committee, established a process for accepting, reviewing and approving grant requests to TMC Giving Back, approved and distributed the first grants in the amount of $10,000 to four different organizations. They include the following:
- Alternatives to Violence Project North Carolina – Raleigh, NC: $1,000
- Joshua Project: $2,500
- International Association of Applied Control Theory (IAACT), DASH program: $5,000
- Straight Talk: $1,500
We currently have a request from Jericho House that will be considered at the next Steering Committee meeting in the fall. For more information go to the Giving Back link on the TMC web site.
The Men’s Council has accomplished a great deal in the last three years. We can officially say that the hard work of reorganization has been accomplished. New opportunities lie ahead for fulfilling our prime directive: Men Helping Men Build Better Lives. There is still so much work to be done.
I had this thought when preparing this message. I was reflecting about the violence and mayhem that we are witnessing in almost daily reports of terrorism and killings involving law enforcement officers. In the ambiguous moments before we know anything about the identities of perpetrators of these heinous crimes does it ever happen that we envision the perpetrator as a female? I realized that the answer for me was a resounding, “No!” It tends to go without saying by now that in the large majority of cases it is angry, hurting, disturbed, isolated, disillusioned males who commit these acts. So I will conclude these remarks with this.
As long as men are perceived and, in fact are, the prime suspects in violent acts in the world, our work is not complete. We build better lives for ourselves and everyone around us by finding peaceful ways to get what we want through effective communication, collaboration and consensus. I continue to be proud of the fact that TMC serves as a model of how that can be realized in a world of where abuse and injustice are only too common place.
Blessing and peace,