THE 30TH NEW MEXICO MEN’S WELLNESS

FALL CONFERENCE

WITH THE THEME OF

“FRIENDSHIP: MEN IN COMMUNITY”

 OCTOBER 23-26, 2014

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The 30th New Mexico Men’s Wellness Conference was held October 23-26, 2014 at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.  Over the four days the theme of “Friendship – Men in Community” was explored in depth from many perspectives.  Almost a quarter of the men participating were new to a Men’s Wellness event with over 100 in attendance.  Quite a few men invited friends from many-year relationships, some who had known each other for over 60 years!  In addition, many men left the Conference with newly found friends, ready to take what they learned into the world and build new friendships there.

This year for the first time, this page, which was the “registration” and information page for the Conference has been turned into a page about the Conference to be shared with the participants and anyone who happens upon it on this web site.  For participants, it is a spot to reflect on the weekend and perhaps share their reflections on it in the comments section at the end.  For others we hope that you will learn something about the annual New Mexico Men’s Wellness Conference is about and what we do as an organization to help men grow in healthy community with other men, and to take that community into the world of their everyday lives.

Sunset-at-GR

Sunset at Ghost Ranch

 

Leadership and Planning for the Fall Conference

The NMMW Conference is unique in that it does not draw upon outside “experts” to provide information that we “need” to know, but relies on a planning process involving a large number of men from the community who contribute their ideas, energy, creativity and talents to craft a home-grown program around the theme of the conference.  Thirty years ago Victor LaCerva started New Mexico Men’s Wellness and initiated John-Gerversthe first Conference with a focus on men and their health. Our mission continues  “to nurture wellness in body, mind and spirit through the sharing of experiences across generations and cultures in safe, collaborative settings”.  Our strength is the participatory nature of Men’s Wellness.  This year’s leader John Gervers with co-leader and successor Charlie Lamson started the planning process in late July and continued with meetings every two weeks in Santa Fe and Albuquerque until just before the conference.  The heart of the Conference is this Planning Committee, open to all intended participants, who volunteer their time to develop the theme, create the sessions, and lead various elements of the Conference.  This year more than 30 men participated in the planning process developing the three days of themed “blocks” around the overall topic of Friendship with the block leaders drawn from the participants who planned the conference.

Eclipse at Ghost RanchAn Auspicious Opening

The conference opened on Thursday, October 31.  During the registration time, there was a partial eclipse of the Sun that felt like a significant transition leading into the weekend.  Joseph Woods captured the photo at left with a solar filter on his small telescope that shows a couple of sunspots that are about as large as the planet Jupiter (Click on the image to see it full size).  A great start to the 30th Fall Conference!

 The Buddha was asked, “Is good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship a part of the holy life?”

The Buddha answered, “No, good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship are not ‘a part of the holy life’, they are the entire holy life”.

 

The Conference Organization and “Blocks”**:

Thursday Evening: Welcome, Opening Ceremony, Introduction to the theme of “Friendship”, Breakout of small groups and first meeting, “Assessing our Friendships,” followed by Closing Circle.

Early Friday Morning: Optional exercises including Meditation, Qi Gong and Yoga.

ConversationFriday Morning: Announcements, Warm-Up Exercise.  Block topic on “Isolation and Other Barriers to Friendship” to explore how we inhibit the initiation and development of friendships.

Friday Afternoon: Block topic on “Conflict Resolution.”  Skit: Friends in conflict Cassius and Brutus from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”; Exercise to explore unresolved conflicts in our relationships with other men.
Late afternoon optional activities including Art Project, Poetry Circle, Jam Sessions (Electric indoors, Ukelele outdoors), Hiking.

Friday Evening: Choice of Activities including: Passing of the Sword Ceremony, Outdoor Fire Circle and Drumming Circle, Sweat Lodge (Hot), and Movies with the theme of Friendship.

Early Saturday Morning: Grief Circle to honor and remember those lost to us

Saturday Morning: Announcements.  Early Block on “Nurturing Old Friendships”; Later block on “Creating New Friendships”

Saturday Afternoon: Block on the topic of “Creating Friendships with Women.”
Late afternoon optional activities including Art Project, Sweat Lodge (Mild), Yoga, Hiking, etc.  NMMW Annual Meeting just before dinner.

Saturday Evening: Elders and Sages Ceremonies, followed by “Saturday Night Live” — performances, music, skits, drumming and silliness.

Early Sunday Morning: Optional exercises including Meditation, Qi Gong and Yoga.

Passing-LeadershipSunday Morning: Announcements, Passing of NMMW Small Group Drum and Compassionate Hands, followed by Large Talking Circle with reactions about the weekend from all who wish to share.  Final small group meeting with take-aways and commitments.  Walk to Canyon for Closing Ceremony and Passing of the Leadership.

** “Blocks” vary in structure, but generally introduce the topic in the large circle of men then break into dyads or small groups to explore the topic in more depth, sometimes returning to the large group at the conclusion of the block.  Blocks vary in length but are typically 90 minutes to 2 hours in length.

A song about friendship, Through Your Eyes was written by David Kuenzli specifically for this conference and was distributed to all conference attendees.  It is linked here for playing or downloading.  It may be freely played and shared but please give David credit if you do share it.

30 Years of NMMW Conference Leaders

While not all of the former Conference leaders could attend, there was a large contingent of former leaders of the NMMW conferences represented at this 30th Conference.  In the photo below from left to right are John Gervers, Mike Pedroncelli, Kurt Faust, Shel Goldman, Michael Wilkinson, Lawrence Cook, Charles Fisher, Phil Davis, Michael Kaufman, Barry Cooney, David Johnson, David Kuenzli, and Victor LaCerva.  Also attending (but not in the photo) were Mark Bennett and Barry McIntosh.  (Click on the photo to see it full size)

Past-Leaders

Scholarships

The costs of the Conference are as low as we can get from Ghost Ranch, and by far the bulk of the fees go toward meals, lodging and use of the facilities.  We want men of all financial circumstances to be able to participate in the Conference if they wish to do so.  For this reason we encourage men who want to participate but need some assistance to connect with the conference leaders for assistance.  We also encourage men who can contribute to the scholarship fund to do so, to support those men who need it.  NMMW is a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational corporation, and all donations to the scholarship fund or to other activities of the organization are deductible as charitable contributions.  There is a page on this web site that will accept online donations with our gratitude: http://www.nmmw.org/about/donate/

For your feedback or to get more information:

Call-to-closingThis page is open for comments.  Please see the comments section at the end of the page.  Some men who participated in the conference have already submitted comments to webmaster Jim Connolly (jrc347@gmail.com) who has incorporated them into the comments.  Comments may be submitted by anyone who has registered for access on this website and blog.  Click on this link and you will be taken in a new “tab” or window to a page that will help you to register for the site so that you may post comments or other materials that you would like to contribute to the NMMW community via this website and blog.  We encourage registration so that this site can benefit from your input, but if you would like to just have your comment about this page posted you can send it via Email to Jim Connolly via his Email address and he will get it posted for you.  You must include your actual name and contact information with your Email, but it does NOT need to be included in your comment; just clarify that when you send your Email.

If you have any feedback or suggestions for this year’s leader (John) or for the leader of next year’s (31st) Conference (Charlie) please contact them:

For more Online Information about NMMW:

 

Saving-a-seat

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(Most of the photos on this page are from Uwe Schroeter with one from Joseph Woods.)