Learn About Our Mission

The Learning Tree is an association of neighbors that specializes in Asset Based Community Development, learning and education that improves the quality of lives of people, communities, schools and businesses.

Many years ago, Uncle Buck decided to plant a tree to celebrate the life of his soon-to-be-born daughter, Sharon. A sapling planted in the front lawn of an apartment in the projects of South Bend might seem irrelevant. Many probably walked by and never even noticed it was there.  Yet, as years past, the irrelevant sapling grew into a tree that became a sanctuary in the midst of what outsiders would call “nothing.” Neighborhood kids would gather around the tree with Uncle Buck to listen to stories that helped them see themselves and their surroundings in a new way. The stories celebrated life and its abundance. The irrelevant switch became a tree where life was shared. It became, a Learning Tree.

That is what we’re about. We help gather people and listen to each other. We listen and share life stories. We dare to see the abundance of gifts and talents in “irrelevant” places where there appears to be “nothing.”

Using the teachings of what is called Asset-based Community Development, we identify and invest in the individuals, organizations and communities to see, invest in and celebrate the abundance in neighborhoods.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

1. You Must See We
It is important to see one another as whole people.  Often times we see each other as transactional.   We are to discover the gifts of one another as friends, to do that you must have conversation. Notice, Notice.

 2. Learning Is Key
We learn the way, is the way we live. How we practice is how we act. We must be tactical in the way we learn and take journeys together. Take trips. We must fail to gain our freedom, we must document what we learn.

3. Must Break Rules
It is insanity to do things that aren’t working.  Bury rules that stifle creativity.  Grieve for things in our structure that stop us from growing, celebrating the relationships that come out of the things we buried! Reflect together about our trauma and healing!

4. Love Is What We Strive For!
Often time we see hate in our structure.  How do we see love in the lives of the people we serve?  Honor it? Build on it? And ask people to give what they love? It goes back to you must see me!

5. This Is Personal
We must find the threads in people lives! Stop asking and seeing peoples’ vocation, instead ask what fuels them and who supports and believes in them.  Who loves them and who they love tells you a lot!

 6.  Develop a Gift Economy!
Getting people to share their gift is important, it is why we discover them!

 7. Follow the Story As Well As the Investment
We often check boxes to prove what we are doing works or does not work, but often times we miss the important details because we miss qualitative information.   Storytelling (art, poetry and other art are great data collectors) is important because it reveals threads that build capacity.

We are here to remember community not build it.

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