The Dignity Project

Guiding the Way

Promoting awareness and understanding of dignity

through education, communication and spirit.

As we witness change that renders

a feeling of helplessness, we can

at the same time call forth ways of

living and serving that are based in

the good of all and a palpable

sense of the unlimited capacity of

the human spirit.

CALL TO ACTION

 

Times of crises call for human dignity as a

transformative function that can give a new

foundation to our collective life. By connecting people to their deepest source of

ethics and caring, dignity will play a pivotal

role in promoting the inner transformations

needed to ward off collapse and despair.

 

Dignity gives rise to compassion, which is

informed by a sense of conscience that sees

suffering as an opportunity to enter

situations of crisis not afraid to engage.

Compassion considers others as not

essentially different from us. Each has a

calling, a task that enables better

community.

ICRC nurse comforts a child at a large refugee

encampment in Somalia. The child also comforted the

nurse who had been up all night in the surgery ward

helping wounded refugees who were shot by bandits

attempting to steal food. Kismayo Somalia 1990
©Paul Grabhorn

APPROACH

 

For dignity to guide us through situations of

crisis, the scope of dignity must itself be

extended and deepened, drawing out fresh

implications and applications pertaining to

our way of knowing ourselves and to our

relationship with others and the land.

 

Seeing how all living beings are bound

together, showing intricate symbiotic

relationships, we respect all forms of life.

Seeing how living beings are engaged in a

continuous exchange of material within their

surroundings, we begin to regard the

environment as sacred - as the sphere in

which life unfolds, and valuable for its

intelligence and beauty. It calls us to

consider the long-term effects our actions

have on others and on the biosphere.

 

Dignity shifts us from separation and self-centered actions to feelings of connectedness, consideration and compassion for all life. This is groundwork for a transformative process within individuals and communities.

TOP: In Guatemala a shaman begins a peace and reconciliation ceremony by blowing a conch shell atop a

pyramid at a sacred site in Huehuetanango, Guatemala 1997. MIDDLE: Blue Planet ©NASA BOTTOM LEFT: A man holds bean seeds being distributed by the ICRC to vulnerable people in Cibitoke, Burundi. BOTTOM RIGHT:
At a large refugee encampment in the Congo a Rwandan boy offers a flower to the photographer. North of Bukavu, DRC 1995 All other photographs ©Paul Grabhorn

 

 

CHARGE

 

Now is the time to restore the vision of

communities supporting the well-being of

its citizens. The basis of a society that fosters dignity is one that expresses respect for children, the land, and the sacred. When these three are seen as the promise of quality existence, other aspects of society can grow and blossom.

To live in dignity is to stand up for the rights of all members of society; to stand up for the rights of the disadvantaged, for those too young to speak, for those who can speak but are not listened to until age is no longer a qualification of wisdom; to stand up for the aged who have been cast out, and include them in the integrity of the human society.

TOP: Jabu Khanyile, a South African musician, comforts a child at an ICRC surgical hospital in Northern Kenya on the border with South Sudan. Lokichokio, Kenya 1996

MIDDLE: In Angola, a village waits patiently for the trucks from an ICRC convoy of food relief to be unloaded. Huambo, Angola 1995.

BOTTOM: Jabu Khanyile stands at the “Door of No Return” that led to slave ships. Millions of slaves are said to have stepped through this door to the Americas.  Gori Island, Senegal 1997. Photographs ©Paul Grabhorn

TOP: Hawk and the moon. ©Shutterstock

MIDDLE: Two climbers hike a snowy slope on Mount Blanc in Switzerland. BOTTOM: A valley in northern New Mexico - the big sky of “Land of Enchantment”. All other Photographs ©Paul Grabhorn

 

COMMUNICATIONS CAMPAIGN

 

Dignity Project is a communication campaign

aimed at the general public. The goal is to

promote awareness and understanding of

dignity through creative expression that

captures the attention of those who are at the

threshold of change.

 

Productions offer new ways of looking at

humanity living in harmony with the

earth that include respect for children, the

land and the sacred. Rich visual and

multimedia information and experiences

engage participants in reflection,

communication, and dialogue.

 

The campaign fluidly adapts its structure,

teams, and processes, to meet the changing

needs of multiple parallel projects. Each

project is leveraged with capital, ideas, and

people until they take on momentum of their

own and generate revenue. The Dignity

Project functions as a small-scale incubator for

a variety of highly-tuned teams working on

projects that unfold aspects of dignity as they

pertain to the environment and humanity.

ABOUT US: The Dignity of Children

An ABC television network special

 

Film: About Us: The Dignity of Children

Executive Producers: Fred Berner, Debra Reynolds, Jeffrey Jacobs

 

The Children’s Dignity Project film is a wake-up call to the nation. It is designed to alter forever how we view children. Aired on ABC this two-hour prime-time special explores the nature and experience of childhood by probing issues crucial to us all—family, community, moral values, spirituality, and self expression. About Us, moderated by Oprah Winfrey, is a tapestry of dramatic film, realistic documentary images, and animation, creating a mood that engages the heart, mind and imagination. It conveys the wondrous and precarious journey of childhood and reacquaints the viewer with this delicate and formative time. The film is designed to present the true voice of children—the voice that questions, that speaks their fears, joys and hopes.

 

Produced by Fred Berner Films, New York. Fred Berner has

produced both Hollywood and independent films, including

Vanya on 42nd Street (directed by Louis Malle); The Ballad of

Little Jo; Lakota Woman; Pollock; Hidden in America; The

Great White Hype; Law and Order.

 

About Us: The Dignity of Children was made possible by a

generous commitment from Capital Cities/ABC, giving it the

promotion and visibility necessary to reach the largest possible

audience. The film received an Emmy nomination and

the prestigious President's Award, in recognition of its

excellence.

 

TOP: Boys play in freshwater being released from a tanker truck that got stuck in wet sand in Burundi, 1995.

UPPER MIDDLE: Children play in a refugee encampment on the western border of Azerbaidjan with Ngorno Karabak. LOWER MIDDLE: A boy plays with a rocket propelled grenade that has the detonator removed. Baidoa, Somalia 1992.  BOTTOM: A student looks out through a broken window in her school. Guatemala. Photographs ©Paul Grabhorn

 

EDUCATION CAMPAIGN

 

THE DIGNITY OF CHILDREN

 

One of the fundamental concerns of our time

is the status of our children. History makes

evident the confusion about the nature of the

child and shows the child to be of an exploited

class. The nightmare continues for today's

children as isolation, escape, frustration, and

maltreatment cycle through the generations.

Until we come to a broader understanding of

the crisis, no amount of social, economic or

philosophical change will be sufficient to

afford children the protection from harm they

require to achieve their full potential and

become productive, rather than destructive or

burdensome members of society.

 

The Dignity Project identifies the fundamental

changes now occurring which make this an

age of anxiety and violence: loss of values,

loss of relationship to nature, the movement

from community-based to individualistic

society, and unreasonable and unhealthy

demands on the nuclear family.

 

We have failed to "see" the child. The solution

calls for us to know the child and his absolute

right to dignity. It calls for an environment that

is safe and inviting to children, which will

unleash their potential for unique expression.

 

The Education Campaign promotes the recognition of the universal needs of children and fosters the development of dignity through training and education for youth and child advocates.

 

Designed for symposia, study and training programs, and community outreach, the campaign provides a variety of opportunities for exploration and discovery of self and one's relationship to others and the earth.

 

 

PROGRAM PHILOSOPHY

 

It is through our desire to know ourselves and

our excitement about who we are that we will

move beyond the crisis of confusion, violence

and separation. As we value ourselves, we

begin to recognize the value of another human

life.

 

COMPONENTS OF DIGNITY

 

To instate dignity is to help a person achieve a

sense of accomplishment.

 

It is to nurture his sense of belonging to the

human family and to the earth.

 

It is to teach him that he has the right to have

personal boundaries and that he has a voice in

what takes place in the world and in his own

life.

 

It is to foster the spirit of generosity, that he

may become a contributing member of the

community.

 

 

TOP: An ICRC delegate admires the new dress of a girl in a rural village outside Huambo Angola. MIDDLE: A refugee girl outside the train that has become her home in Nazran Ingushetia close to the border with Chechnya. BOTTOM: Sister carries brother while they wait for rice to be distributed in rural Cambodia. Photographs ©Paul Grabhorn

YOUTH & ADVOCATES PROGRAMS

 

Our response as a nation to the fragmentation

of our society has been autonomy: to become

self-determining and independent. The Dignity

Project believes that the pendulum needs to

swing toward the renewal of connections, for

life arises out of the innate unity of body, mind,

spirit, community, and world.

 

The Youth and Advocates Programs deepen

one's ability to be in service to others. Modules

are based in three areas of self-discovery:

 

• Creativity and Intuition

• Communication

• Experiencing Nature as a Teacher

TOP: Sunlight washes a valley in the foothills of the Caucusus mountains in Georgia. MIDDLE: Girls in a cherry tree in Washington DC. BOTTOM: Geese swim in the evening light at Great Meadows wildlife sanctuary in Concord Massachusetts. Photographs ©Paul Grabhorn

 

 

 

©Dana Gluckstein

"Our most important

mission as a human

society is to look

deeply to the source

of living together in

mutual respect.”

Debra Reynolds

 

Debra Reynolds is an educator and consultant whose

life work has been the therapeutic applications of

creativity. For eighteen years she conducted residential

retreats on creativity and intuition, founding Four Winds

Institute in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Years of research resulted in the development of The Dignity Project, a unique program for child advocates with an emphasis on self awareness.

 

Contributions and projects include:

  • Moderator of the 1997 Peace Summit on Children’s Rights in Vienna, Austria.
  • Board of Counselors of the CIVITAS Initiative, providing scholarships and interdisciplinary education in child abuse at Chicago Loyola Law School, Baylor College of Medicine, and University of Michigan School of Social Work.
  • Executive producer of the award-winning ABC network special, About Us: The Dignity of Children, with video sales in three languages.
  • Author of The Dignity of Children, identifying the universal needs of children.

 

Debra is a consultant on an individual basis and in the

fields of medicine, science, business, and finance,

providing insight and perspective for planning and

development; identifying the layers and patterns within

personal and professional relationships and endeavors;

augmenting objective points of view; providing

necessary components for understanding, moving

forward, or changing direction; offering consideration of

sequence, variables, context, and imperatives, desire,

and vision.

 

Clients include:

Stanford Research Institute, MIT, The Institute of Noetic

Sciences, World Business Academy, Naturaceutical

Dispensing, Farm from a Box, The Capital Group,

national and international corporations and government

officials.

Paul Grabhorn

 

Paul Grabhorn is a photographer and communications

producer. He has served three White House

administrations, producing communication materials for

their environmental and sustainable development

initiatives. He participated in International Committee

of the Red Cross missions (ICRC) photographing

in Somalia, Bosnia, Angola, South Sudan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Chechnya, and many other countries.

 

Grabhorn is author of Seeking Light: Portraits of

Humanitarian Action in War, a profoundly moving

collection of unforgettable photographs from conflict

zones around the world. Taken during his travels with ICRC,

these images document the humanitarian work in war-torn

countries that is a testament to human compassion and

community. He tells an essential story of hope in the face

of violence and deplorable conditions, dignity in the midst

of degradation, and light in the darkness of war and suffering.

 

 

http://www.seekinglightbook.org/

DIGNITY

Our true state of being that stands for relationship with all forms of life as loving and honorable.

Contact Information

The Dignity Project

369 Montezuma Avenue #257

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

 

Email Debra Reynolds at:

debra@dignityproject.org

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