Upcoming Events

The Xenia Institute will host its 9th Annual Sam Matthews Social Justice Award Banquet on Thursday, March 6, 2014. This special event and its award honor the memory ofNorman resident Sam Matthews, while also recognizing significant and continuing work to help advance social justice. Mr. Matthews holds the distinction of being the first realtor in Norman to sell a home to an African American couple in the 1960's. His action significantly magnified civil rights and is celebrated each year by honoring other members of our community who continue to embrace social justice and serve others in a meaningful way.

This year's recipients of the award are Steve and Barbara Owens. Steve and Barbara have actively dedicated themselves to serving the development and enhancement of the Thunderbird Clubhouse in Norman. Thunderbird Clubhouse is a place where people who have mental illness can come and rebuild their lives through pre-vocational training, paid employment, housing opportunities, and purposeful social/recreational experiences.

The vigorous work of Steve and Barbara Owens has helped ensure that Thunderbird Clubhouse is a vibrant community of men and women who are provided a path to recovery from mental illness. Their devotedness has helped the Clubhouse to be a place of hope and caring; a place for people to come and be part of something larger than themselves as they engage in relationships; and a place where people can embrace and celebrate the strength they can gain from each other. Through their commitment, Steve and Barbara have been keystones in creating a new future for adults recovering from mental illness through the positive power of meaningful work, community, choice, and hope.

Past recipients of the Sam Matthews Social Justice Award are Sam Matthews, Joe Ted Miller, Lester Reed, Kay Holladay, Jim Agar, George and Barbara Henderson, Kathy Heiple, and Dewey and Kathryn Selmon.

The Thursday, March 6, banquet will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of First Christian Church, 220 S. Webster, in Norman. Tickets are $30 each, with tables seating 8 available for $210. With limited space, early ticket purchases are strongly encouraged. To purchase tickets, payment can be made by check payable to The Xenia Institute, mailed to The Xenia Institute, c/o First Christian Church, 220 S. Webster, Norman, Oklahoma 73069. For additional information, you can contact Bob Thomas via bob.thomas.xenia@gmail.com.

 

The Xenia Institute is a 501-c-3 organization in Norman, Oklahoma, dedicated to facilitating transformation and significantly enhancing possibilities through meaningful dialogue.

Norman, Okla. - As part of a new citywide anti-bullying awareness effort, nationally recognized motivational speaker Wes Moore will be featured at a community-wide event in Norman at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 3, at the Nancy O'Brian Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Norman North High School. Admission will be free.

Wes Moore was invited to address Norman citizens by a group of city and community leaders who have been working to launch an anti-bullying effort in the community. The group has been meeting for a year and includes Norman Police Chief Keith Humphrey, Norman schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano and others who wished to tackle bullying as the broad community, workplace and school issue that it is.

"It seems like every time we turn on the news or pick up a newspaper, there is a tragic story about someone who has been bullied and either harms themself or others as a response to the bullying," said Bob Thomas, executive director of The Xenia Institute. "Bullying happens on a daily basis in schools, businesses and neighborhoods in communities around the country. It is a common thread that runs through communities and we decided we wanted to actively take a stand to better understand and address that challenge in Norman."

In 2012, the group established a community forum in hopes of more clearly identifying the community's perceptions of bullying. A community listening session was conducted last fall with more than 100 people participating.
"We gained valuable insight from the listening session," Humphrey said. "It enlightened us to the fact that bullying is much more than a school issue; it is a community issue."
A common theme discovered from the listening session was that bullying involves more than just a victim and perpetrator; it also typically involves silent bystanders whose non-actions enable the bully. Another identified concern was social media allowing bullies powerful anonymity. Ethnic, cultural, and religious differences are frequent targets of bullies, as are individuals with special needs. Unfortunately, because of the very nature of bullying, many victims do not reach out for help, fearing retribution, rejection or for others to provide a meaningful response.
"Building on our meetings and last year's community forum, we believe this event with Wes Moore will have a very positive impact, jump-starting Norman to move forward as a community that is 'Above Bullying' that wishes to address the multi-layered challenges it presents to all of us," said Siano.
Moore is a popular and nationally renowned speaker and is the author of the New York Times bestselling book The Other Wes Moore. Following his studies as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, he served as a paratrooper and Captain in the United States Army, with a tour of duty with the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan. He subsequently served as a White House Fellow, working as a special assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"We are absolutely thrilled that Wes is joining us for the evening of December 3," Humphrey said. "He is not only a youth advocate, but an individual who has a clear understanding of the challenges we all face with bullying and its impact throughout our communities."
In addition to hearing from Wes Moore, the Dec. 3 event will provide a panel of community leaders to respond to questions about bullying, and the evening will be geared to both students and adults of all ages. Event sponsors are the City of Norman, Journey Church, Norman Regional Hospital, and Norman Public Schools. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

October 3rd, 2013 by

The Xenia Institute is continuing its leadership role in the development of a community project to help Norman take a clear stand against bullying and to implement a landscape in our community that helps us better understand and address bullying behavior. The definition of bullying with which we are continuing to work is as follows:

Bullying is repeated, intentional aggressive behavior. It involves an imbalance of power used to inflict emotional distress and/or physical harm.

In our work, the focus remains on community-wide activities that can distinguish Norman as a place that actively identifies and addresses the roots, the nature, and the consequences of bullying in schools, in workplaces, and throughout a community. As we enhance our community-wide understanding of bullying, we can then more effectively educate, unite and engage to make a difference.

We are currently working on details for a community-wide event tentatively planned for early December. As efforts to secure a nationally recognized speaker are finalized, we anticipate making a formal announcement soon. This community-wide event is being planned as a dynamic gathering with a speaker, a panel, and audience participation. Far beyond that, however, it is being structured as a launching point for further and ongoing community forums and projects that can make an immeasurable difference in peoples' lives.

Noted sports columnist Berry Tramel will be the keynote speaker at the Sam Matthews Social Justice Award Banquet in Norman on March 7. The event will honor Dewey and Kathryn Selmon, this year's recipients of the prestigious award.

Berry Tramel is a sports columnist with The Oklahoman, serving his 35th year in Oklahoma journalism. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel entered the newspaper business at the age of 17. He worked 13 years at the Norman Transcript, leaving in 1991 as sports editor. During his 21 years at The Oklahoman, Tramel has been a beat writer, sports editor and columnist. He and his wife, Tricia, reside in Norman. Their daughter and son-in-law, Haley and J. J. Argyle, and their three granddaughters, Riley, Sadie and Tinley, also reside in Norman. Tramel, a 1979 graduate of Norman High School, is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.

The Sam Matthews Social Justice Award Banquet is sponsored by The Xenia Institute, a not-for-profit organization in Norman working to foster safe environments that enhance understanding, encourage meaningful dialogue and effect thoughtful action to effect change.

The banquet will take place Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of First Christian Church, 220 S. Webster, Norman. Tickets are $30 each; tables for eight guests can be purchased for $210. Space is limited and ticket purchases are strongly encouraged at this time.

For further information or to purchase tickets, please contact Bob Thomas, Executive Director of The Xenia Institute at 405-321-8682 or via email at bob.thomas.xenia@gmail.com.

The Xenia Institute will host its 8th Annual Sam Matthews Social Justice Award Banquet on Thursday, March 7, 2013. This special event and its award honor the memory of Norman resident Sam Matthews, while also recognizing significant and continuing work to help advance social justice. Mr. Matthews holds the distinction of being the first realtor in Norman to sell a home to an African American couple in the 1960's. His action significantly magnified civil rights and is celebrated each year by honoring other members of our community who continue to embrace social justice and serve others in a meaningful way.

This year's recipients of the award are Kathryn and Dewey Selmon. The Selmons have actively served multiple philanthropic endeavors including, but certainly not limited to, the initial development of Food for Friends in Norman and their spirited support of "Rainbow Town" — a Liberian village offering education, opportunities and hope to orphaned children suffering the harsh price of war.

Past recipients of the Sam Matthews Social Justice Award are Sam Matthews, Joe Ted Miller, Lester Reed, Kay Holladay, Jim Agar, George and Barbara Henderson and Kathy Heiple.

The banquet will take place Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of First Christian Church, 220 S. Webster, in Norman. Tickets are $30 each, with tables seating 8 available for $210. With limited space, early ticket purchases are strongly encouraged.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Bob Thomas, Executive Director of The Xenia Institute, at 405-321-8682 or via email at bob.thomas.xenia@gmail.com.

November 15th, 2012 by

As The Xenia Institute expands its involvement with community service and other projects, there are times that we need staffing assistance. As an example, when we were called on by the City of Norman to help facilitate dialogue during a series of community meetings on high density development in our community, we called on individuals with an expertise in dialogue skills to help facilitate breakout discussions. The first individuals we reached out to contact for that activity were the alumni of our Dialogue Fellows program.

Unfortunately, we learned that our contact information for those individuals is quite out of date as we received a number of bounce-back e-mails and letters.

Accordingly, we are putting out this call for those who have been through our Dialogue Fellows program to provide us with their current contact information (e-mail, mailing address, telephone). This will help facilitate the involvement of the Institute and its Fellows in the next phases of that development process - applying our skills to help address the needs of our community.

We look forward to hearing from you and to working together to expand our outreach, our services and the rewards of meaningful dialogue to generate new possibilities!

Please follow up with bob.thomas.xenia@gmail.com

Thank you!

 

November 7th, 2012 by

In The Xenia Institute's ongoing work on a multi-prong approach to address bullying in our community, the Institute helped to facilitate a summit of a group of Norman stakeholders on Thursday, November 1, at Norman North High School. The purpose of the meeting was to allow those individuals representing a wide range of groups throughout the community to engage in a dialogue about bullying in our schools, community and workplaces.

Through that facilitated dialogue, the participants explored strategies for a sustainable, community-wide effort to take a clear stand against bullying in Norman. It was noted that bullying is not a problem that is relevant only to our schools and children. It occurs frequently and regularly in many ways, both subtle and overt and, as a result, seriously impacts both children and adults in a myriad of settings.

For the group's dialogue, the following definition of bullying was used as a reference point:

"Bullying is repeated, intentional aggressive behavior. It involves an imbalance of power used to inflict emotional distress and/or physical harm."

The ensuing dialogue then asked participants to discuss two questions:

1. How does bullying manifest itself in schools, communities and in the workplace?

2. What can we, acting as a community together, do to address the causes and consequences of bullying behavior?

While conducting this summit in October was significant, with it being National Bullying Prevention Month, that activity is only the beginning of ongoing projects to clearly establish Norman as a no bullying zone.

As feedback from the initial dialogue session is compiled, participants in that summit will continue to engage in a process of planning a community-wide event to take place this coming Spring. As details become available for that event, they will be posted on this Website.

If you have any comments you would like to add to this process or would like to receive additional information on the Bullying Project, contact Bob Thomas, Executive Director of The Xenia Institute.

September 14th, 2012 by

The Xenia Institute is taking a leadership role in the development of a community forum to address the ever-present challenges of bullying in our society. In its work on the subject, the Institute has noted that bullying, often referenced as a school issue, is present in all settings and among all ages. While sometimes physical, it also takes on other forms that inflict severe emotional harm.

The Xenia Institute is proud to be working in conjunction with the Norman Public Schools, Norman Police Department and a number of other community leaders in the development of this program.

September 14th, 2012 by

Through the course of the summer, The Xenia Institute has assisted the City of Norman in its conduct of a public discussion series regarding city-wide high density regulations. Each session of the series has begun with a general orientation and introduction to specific high density issues including location and compatibility; mixed use and height regulations; parking, traffic and infrastructure; and design criteria. The Institute has staffed dialogue opportunities for breakout groups throughout the series to help foster safe environments for discourse to facilitate meaning full actions and thoughtful collaboration.

The valuable and constructive feedback from these meetings will be used by the City to help guide updates of policies. The Xenia Institute will remain available to the City to assist with this and other projects.

Updates are available at www.ci.norman.ok.us, the City’s Facebook site and the City’s Twitter account.

The Xenia Institute is actively participating with the Oklahoma Partnership for Successful Reentry, helping to network, educate and be a voice for Oklahoma’s reentry service providers.

The Oklahoma Partnership for Successful Reentry, Inc. is a statewide coalition of organizations working in the field of reentry, which is helping ex-felons reintegrate into society, especially after prison, but also including those reentering from jail, probation, or moving from out-of-state. OPSR partner organizations include a broad spectrum of faith-based, community-based, tribal, local,state, and federal organizations and agencies with a common goal: to remove the barriers to reentry in our State. The benefits derived not only provide opportunities to individuals to define a new life, but also enrich communities.

The Xenia Institute has played a lead in the establishment of the Cleveland County Reentry Coalition, which now meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month in Norman. The intial work of the coalition is to develop a Reentry Resource Directory.

For further information on this project, please contact Bob Thomas, Executive Director of the Xenia Institute or go to www.OKReentry.org