Listening is the oldest and perhaps most powerful tool of healing…Our listening creates sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person.
Rachel Naomi Remen
There are now four JUST Listening volunteer projects, and more in the planning stages. Read about them here.
The Kensington Listeners
Since 2008, volunteer trained JUST Listeners provide willing ears to anyone wanting to be heard in the area of Kensington Avenue and Hagert Streets in the distressed Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington. Listeners are available (and often prescribed) for patients at the House of Grace Catholic Worker Free Clinic and St Francis Inn.
JUST Listening empowers people simply by providing a space in which they can speak and be heard without judgment, condition, or ego. Most of us can count on one hand the number of times we have been deeply listened to; people living lives of vast social exclusion may never have experienced the embrace of a listener at all.
Ideas, insights, analysis, new perspectives and solutions often arise from the generative space created by listening. Suddenly we can hear ourSelves and the Inner Wisdom we hold. To read more about the experience of the Kensington Listeners, read:
and blog entry, Leaning into Love
The Prison Project
In January 2017, 50 men participated in an all-day JUST Listening Training at Graterford State Correctional Institution about an hour outside of Philadelphia. Thirty of those individuals are undergoing a Mentoring and Peer Supervision period of training, and will become Certified Listeners in July. It is anticipated that some of those Listeners will then be trained as trainers, and the program will be repeated again in January 2018.
The project was developed at the request of the Lifers, Inc. organization at the prison following a JUST Listening training there. In order to address the specific needs and realities of Listening in a maximum security prison, the entire curriculum and ongoing training process is being customized collaboratively with a focus group of men at Graterford as well as with monthly feedback from those engaged in the process.
A Listening library is being slowly assembled in the prison library to provide relevant resources to support the men in this exciting and transformative work.
Check back to this website for periodic updates.
We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit. e.e.cummings
Thea’s Listening Circle
Once a month, two veteran Listeners, Lisa Feix and Donna Duffey, facilitate a Listening Circle at the Thea Bowman Womens Center in Philadelphia. The circle provides a safe and nurturing space for this community of marginalized women to share their stories and acquire effective communication skills as they do.
JUST Listening Evansville
Several years ago, JUST Listening Evansville animator and facilitator Maryann Joyce and Sharon Browning met at a conference. In the ensuing years, Maryann, a spiritual mentor and faith formation leader, pursued her dream of a Listening project in Evansville, Indiana. Her efforts lead to a successful listening workshop lead by Sharon for twenty five people in November 2016, and so, JUST Listening, Evansville was officially launched. Under Maryann´s inspired and enthusiastic leadership, JUST Listening, Evansville has a core group of six volunteers listening at two locations.
The first site is the Jack Henry Gates Memorial Laundromat, a free laundromat that sits in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. Here, Listeners come in the spirit of equality and mutuality. Bringing their own laundry to wash, they engage in compassionate conversation with others who come to do laundry.
“The laundromat usually serve 50 people a day – so it can be a noisy, busy place, but I have been surprised and grateful at the depth of conversation and care expressed by all parties present”, Maryann reports. “We have spoken to Veterans, mothers, elderly and ill neighbors, and young people facing eviction.”
The Evansville group began listening at a second location in February – in the food pantry of Patchwork Central, an inner city ministry where many suffering from mental illness stop in for coffee, a safe space to hang out, and now, a Listening ear.
Maryann looks forward to training more people in Evansville to become compassionate listeners wherever they live, work and play. For more information, contact Maryann Joyce at firstname.lastname@example.org