On October 15, 2017, The Zorgos Awards were served up to the community, along with a delicious banquet at Oakland’s beautiful Bellevue Club.
Each nominee was introduced with a stack of words that represent qualities that make up “Zorgos,” the superpower that prevents bullying per the book, The Bullying Antidote. As the words were put into a suitcase, the recipients received a certificate and a golden cape to honor their ordinary superpowers!
Invocation by Amos White: view “There Are No Bullies” & “Red Dawn”
Welcome by Kristen Caven: read “A Silly Word for a Serious Problem”
Henry Hitz presented LaQuisha Cowan, parent coordinator
Effective listening is a key ingredient of The Bullying Antidote, and parent organizer LaQuisha’s reputation as a good listener is well-earned. Her listening helps parents grow empathy, make better choices, build relationships with one another, and foster connections that reveal the wonderful truth of positivity: when we mutually support one another, we can overcome personal obstacles and difficulties and better help our children.
Sharon Fillion presented to Rebecka Langum, 4th Grade teacher
“Ms. Langum” is known for her enthusiasm and directness, and using humor and empathy to create calmer situations. She sees the best in everyone, and guides those around her to positivity…all of these qualities contribute to a growth mindset, which creates expanded possibility and solutions, interrupting and replacing negative bullying dynamics with the opposite: friendship, self-esteem, hope. She loves little Buddhas.
The award was accepted by everyday hero, Dave Caven.
Alice Wertz presented to Genice Jacobs, local and global activist, www.abolitionistmom.org.
Genice Jacobs Simenauer’s work protecting young girls has put the spotlight on an area that urgently calls for prevention. Bullying is a human rights issue, and slavery, the highest (lowest?) form of bullying, needs to be abolished. AGAIN! Her work bringing this issue to public consciousness through a 2014 billboard campaign, her work on policy at the city and state levels, and her work educating parents and teachers through her “Abolitionist Mom” website all support and demonstrate the concept of assertiveness — the “gutsy middle road” away from both bullying and victimhood and towards personal empowerment.
Bellevue Zumba Club says: NO!
All my ladies listen up / If that boy ain’t giving up / Lick your lips and swing your hips / Girl all you gotta say is… / My name is no / my sign is no / my number is no / You need to let it go! / I’m feeling untouchable…. — Meghan Trainor
Gary Yee presented to Ron Lytle, composer & lyricist www.ronlytle.com
Ron Lytle’s wonderful works of imagination for East Bay Children’s Theatre have made Grimm’s fairytales less grim, helping to heal a dark history of European childrearing. All of his works demonstrates character arcs towards virtue and happiness, and each show creates opportunities for positive, inter-generational community experiences. The arts as a renewable resource and a powerful primary prevention tool in teaching empathy. Thank you for helping us imagine more “Happily ever after!” These stories teach optimism and a growth mindset.
Clidell “Franceyez” Jackson III presented to Lamar Hancock, kingmaker
Lamar’s presence and work at Oakland Tech, relating to students and developing programs such as REAL HARD and the African American Male Achievement/Manhood Development program, has been part of an upshift in the story of black boyhood in Oakland. His day-to-day attention to positive change and respect has helped a generation of what might have been “lost” children identify their strengths, new perspectives, and greater powers in a world that defines them by and aligns them with heavy and often deadly bullying dynamics. We honor his spirit of capability in changing a downward spiral to an upward spiral.
Louise Hart presented to Jeanne Gibbs, Thought Leader
The 1987 publication of Jeanne’s book, TRIBES, and subsequent creation of the Tribes Learning Community program created a classroom revolution with Community Circles. When things are going “right” in Oakland Schools, it’s usually because there is some form of this practice, which creates connection, inclusion, and caring among students. The simplicity of circles is a tried and true way to promote social emotional learning, a fundamental ingredient in The Bullying Antidote! Mia Lang accepted for Jeanne Gibbs.
[UPDATE 11/1: Mia Lang delivered the award to Jeanne Gibbs, who had been displaced by the Santa Rosa fires.]
(Read: “A Zorgos Day Blessing” by Clidell Franceyez Jackson III)
Louise Hart presented “Putting Out Fires” circle
The “grand finale” put us all in mind of the terrible fires burning north of us. Louise talked us through her simple backrub technique for healthy touch, featuring snowflakes, raindrops, hail, thunder, lightning, hurricanes, tidal wave, and a calm after the storm.
Nominees who were not able to make the banquet, but who are honored and appreciate just the same, are
Lynette Gibson-McElhaney, city council member
Lynette Gibson McElhaney is a champion of evidence based, data-driven approaches to reduce violence such as Ceasefire and the new Department of Violence Prevention in Oakland. Children have a right to grow up without violence. Thank you Lynette, and the Oakland City Council for your foresight in moving Oakland from crisis mode to prevention mode.
Scott Johnson, journalist
Scott’s reporting on the widespread effects of trauma on Oakland’s children helped create awareness and empathy, leading to a greater understanding of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Scott’s ground-breaking journalism helped empower those working to create change and build resilience. Understanding the consequences of trauma helps to create a deeper understanding of bully prevention.
Walk On Pup, local business
A dog-walking upshifted the emotions of dogs from conflict to friendship in one Oakland neighborhood, approaching owners of aggressive behind-the-fence dogs so their pets could walk with the neighborhood pack. Their efforts were part of a renaissance, weaving a social structure where people would stop to say hello. The mood of the neighborhood changed from tense and fearful to open and relaxed. A key concept in bully prevention that, as mammals, our brains are wired for connection, and intentional positivity can replace the urge to fight for territory and self-preservation.
Steve Kerr, basketball coach
Steve’s leadership of The Warriors demonstrates democratic authority, the exemplary “middle road” between permissive and autocratic leadership. Being a public “upstander” has influenced other national sports leaders. Steve’s insistence his team “play with joy” counter-models the punitive autocracy that is often associated with sports coaching, and has allowed talent to thrive and happiness to infuse our city as we share the success of his team. Oakland has experienced great happiness due to the ripple-effect of his positive leadership.
Pete Docter, screenwriter
We can all see joy, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear so differently now, so much more compassionately, thanks to the Pixar film Inside Out! We thank Pete Docter and Meg LeFauve for bringing the conversation of emotional literacy into the mainstream in a huge new way. It addressed not only the importance of all of our emotions, good and bad, and how different people experience emotion differently, but showed what can happen when we suppress our feelings. When parents understand brain science, they are more likely to use curiosity as an effective parenting tool that creates empathy and closeness, and less likely to identify behavior as “bad,”falling into traps of blaming, shaming, and punishing. Thank you for this beloved work!
NOTE: Nominations are still coming in.
By the end of the night, the suitcase was full of words…just like how Oakland is full of solutions.
The date was chosen because of a mayoral proclamation for Oakland, but….
Thank you to “Team Zorgos!”
Thank you to our musicians, Sara Klotz de Aguilar and Daniel Finnamore.
And thank you to all of the members and staff of The Bellevue Club for such a memorable evening!
The Bellevue Club is a social club hosting a rejuvenation drive. We are all social creatures, hardwired for relationships! Please call for a tour if you would like to learn more about joining. 510-451-1000