Hopework imagines and puts into the world an approach to teaching and learning that values the nurturance of human growth and maturity as the development essential at every age and stage of life to free individuals to reach their highest potentials, lead meaningful lives, and contribute to building a more humane, just, and equitable society.
Hopework facilitators attend to holding a space that is safe enough for each teacher-learner to express from the head and the heart the stories of their unique and diverse experiences and perspectives in a space that is also quiet and respectful enough for each to hear the special gifts that may be found in other’s stories.
This living circle of individuals comes alive by each giving their life's stories and being fed by the stories of others. The circle connects them more powerfully to the reality of their present circumstances and helps them to see with fresh eyes new hopes and bolder actions for being themselves while working together to bring to life the highest hopes, dreams, and ideals they hold for the world.
Hopework activities past and present include occasional weekend-length retreats; monthly pot-luck suppers; a University of Minnesota month-long residential course called Philosophy Camp; and the Building Alliances Project, funded by the John P. and Eleanor R. Yackel Foundation, a series of conversations and retreats where southwest Minnesota residents reflect on challenges and opportunities in their region.
Hopework began as a series of weekend-length retreats planned and organized by a small group of volunteers who came to agree on a topic and the flow of activities for the weekend.
Living inside hope
"Codi, here's what I've decided: the very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right inside it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can't say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That's about it. Right now I'm living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.
"I can't tell you how good it feels. I wish you knew. I wish you'd stop beating yourself up for being selfish, and really be selfish, Codi. You're like a mother or something. I wish you knew how to squander yourself. "
From Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams (New York, HarperCollins, 1990),