Radical Love sounds like something everyone can get behind, but to an outsider from One Tree Center the phrase might be confusing. As someone new to the One Tree Center community I recently found myself asking, “What is Radical Love?” After seeing it in action I can tell you, it is a powerful teaching methodology that inspires children and adults to act with empathy.
One Tree Center and its offshoot programs (Roots & Fruits Preschool, the Seeds Institute, and the Community Branches Project) are connected by the 11 principles of Radical Love. Each program supports the success of the others. Roots & Fruits teaches toddlers to be Peace Leaders and starts them on a noble path of social and emotional development. The Seeds Institute empowers parents, teachers, and community members to confront systems of oppression and utilize community assets to foster positive change. The Community Branches Project brings art, theater, and other creative programs to after-school programs and summer camps so that there is no age limit to learning the Radical Love mindset. Knowing how these programs function still doesn’t answer the question of what is Radical Love though.
Radical Love is seeing preschool students agree that any girl can pretend to be Elsa regardless of her skin color. It’s hearing a parent share how a Seeds Institute community dialogue inspires her to start a group at her school to make sure tolerance overpowers divisiveness. Radical Love is meeting a high school student who identifies himself as a Peace Leader because that’s who he learned to be a decade ago at Roots & Fruits.
I’m from the West Coast, which has a reputation for being aggressively accepting. Comin from that mindset I am still blown away by the overwhelming compassion and passionate advocacy of One Tree Center and its commitment to Radical Love. Through an authentic place of love and forgiveness, One Tree Center brings people together to promote social change.
Ethan Palm is a currently serving an AmeriCorps year of service as One Tree Center’s Program Development VISTA. He’s from away, but is making Maine home. He’s adopted “rad” heavily into his vocabulary.