Friday, November 11, 2011

Our Work Is Not Done Until Everyone Has Experienced Peace!

Dear Peacemaker,

Do you remember what first drew you to The Peace Center? I’m so grateful you decided to follow your inner compass, take a risk and attend one of our events. Maybe in the meantime you found a glimmer of peace, a new friend, a community of like minded people. Maybe you were one of the many we served who changed your life because of something you discovered at The Peace Center.

This is what our work is about. This is where the miracle happens. One person is drawn in, that person reaches out to another and invites them. That person makes a decision to show up, invest in themselves and discovers a wealth of inner and outer experiences of peace. Our work is not done until everyone has experienced peace first hand. We have our work cut out for us!

We’ve had a good year….world class teachers and presenters blessed our centers with their programs. Our membership went up slightly and our sphere of influence has expanded beyond our walls to include a growing online community. Many of our services are provided to participants regardless of ability to pay. These are benefits that are exclusive to our community, and perhaps we take these for granted.

Even with an all volunteer staff, we are stretched to cover our basic operating expenses.  If we are to keep our Center open, we must raise the necessary funds to pay for it and the value it brings to the community. We know that these economic times present struggles for many non-profit organizations. Despite these challenges we want even more to keep bringing our work to individuals and the community.  To be perfectly frank, $35,000 annually is required to pay the basics such as rent, utilities, phone, Internet and garbage.  Currently, we do not accrue sufficient funds from our membership fees, donations, classes, events, and other programs to cover these expenses.

There are many paths to success and here are some ways you can help:

·         Become a supporting member of The Peace Center. If you are a former member, renew your membership. Our supporting membership fee for 2012 is $50/year. All new members and renewing members will receive a premium gift as a token of our thanks.

·         Make a financial contribution that will help to sustain our future. Any contribution will help.

·         Join the Sustainer’s Circle. Support The Peace Center on a weekly or monthly basis – whether you are personally participating or not – to provide ongoing, reliable support for our Center. To join the Sustainer’s Circle, go to http://thepeacecenter.info/Support-Us.html and select your preferred level of ongoing support.

·         Invite someone new to attend an event or class with you. Invite someone to attend our Sunday morning program.

·         Volunteer your time to helping around the Center. Our Center manager, Steve Flowers would welcome you with open arms.

The Peace Center community begins and ends with you. You can express your commitment by sending a donation today, in any amount, so that we can continue to be fiscally viable and responsible. When you choose to step up to volunteer, or bring in someone new, you are adding to the community.

You are a gifted person and your time, talent and financial support are gifts to our community. We offer a space for you to share your gifts - won’t you share your gifts with us now?

Thank you for all you do to bring peace to your world.

Namaste,

Margo Ruark

Executive Director

P.S.  One hundred percent of your contribution is tax deductible and all of it will be used to fulfill the mission of The Peace Center. A receipt will be sent to you for tax purposes upon request.

PPS. Old School Donations - write a check and put it in the mail.

Make all checks payable to The Peace Center

Mail contributions to:

The Peace Center
P O Box 98,   Berwyn, IL 60402-0098

Monday, May 9, 2011

An Eighty Percent Failure Rate is Not Acceptable


Part 2 of a series on the Social Franchising of Peace Centers International, Inc.

When I was finishing my ministerial training in 2002, we were required to attend a week long intensive where the experts in our denomination walked us through the secrets of church management. Since we are a small denomination, candidating for open pulpits was a slim prospect for the flood of new ministers. What was presented to the class was the opportunity to start a church from scratch. This also was the growth strategy for the denomination…”church planting” as it is called in some circles. 

“For those of you starting new works, eighty percent of you will fail within five years,” the instructor told us. “That’s par with all new business start ups.” He went on to say, “this is a franchise without an operating manual.” I asked why there was no operating manual, which, “par with new franchise openings” would more than quadruple the odds of success.

He said, “Success or failure doesn’t lie in the presence or absence of an operating manual. It lies in consciousness. If you don’t have what it takes in consciousness for the ministry, you will pick the wrong location, you’ll pick the wrong Board, you will have the wrong ad message, people won’t find you no matter what you do.”

“Your job,” he continued, “Is to build consciousness. If you’re supposed to succeed, you’ll succeed. If you’re supposed to fail, you’ll fail. It is consciousness that prevails.”

On the one hand, what he was saying was true for an individual. On the other hand, what I heard him saying was that the denomination on the whole was OK with an 80% failure rate! I’m sure that simplified life in the Growth and Development Department…or frustrated the hell out of them. But writing off an 80% failure rate to individual consciousness was perhaps an attitude that paved the way for the cancellation of 67 PeaceCenters, who were enrolled but not supported to succeed or grow. It would stand to reason that we need to support growth if we expect to, well, grow.

I believe consciousness has changed since that time, at least mine has. It has changed up to a greater vision of what Peace Centers can be and do, and how they can operate as a mighty force of good in the world. There is an organizational consciousness of success that is as committed to the success of its affiliates as it is to the mission of peace itself!  Would you agree that THAT would make a difference?

Yes, I believe that consciousness is what creates growth and sustainable success, yet consciousness leaves evidence!  A consciousness of growth and sustainable success is evidenced by a standard operating procedures manual, for example, that has been tried and tested in the marketplace. I believe that consciousness allows us to choose and select best practices and collect them in one place for the benefit of all. I believe that those who desire to succeed and who are in need of practical support will, through their consciousness, connect with these proven solutions and THEN IMPLEMENT THEM. 

That day in 2002 was indeed a strange launch to a wonderful career, but it gave rise to many key decisions I made since then. I decided that I could be the first to go through the discomfort of trial and error, not begrudgingly, but consciously and deliberately, to take copious notes on what worked, what didn’t, and why. And I would gladly do the research, and “pay the tuition” in the school of the marketplace, in order to show others how to build consciousness for success of their centers in very specific ways. Why? Because when it comes to transforming lives and making a difference on the planet, an 80% failure rate is simply not acceptable.

You’ve built your consciousness and I know you will continue to do so. Yet, if despite your efforts, you are tired of endless trial and error in your calling to create more good in the world, there are several steps you can take now to demonstrate more success:

  • The easiest place to start is with a visit to our website www.peacecentersinternational.org where you can learn more about our social franchise, Peace Centers International, Inc.
  • You can join the conversation on Twitter! @PeaceCentersInt
  • You can write to us about your experiences trying to replicate your own nonprofit enterprise at margo@peacecentersinternational.org
  • You can join our Million and ONE campaign - donate just $1 to help peace grow FAST! Go here for more info: http://www.peacecentersinternational.org/Donate.html
  • You can become a social franchisee of Peace Centers International, Inc.
Begin by making an appointment to visit our “mother store” in Berwyn, IL and meet directly with me!
Margo Ruark, President
Peace Centers International, Inc.
6833 Stanley Avenue
Berwyn, IL 60402
Phone: 708-749-8888 (office) 773-339-4696 (cell)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Franchise The Peace Center?


How I Got the Idea for the Social Franchise Peace Centers International, Inc.

In 1993, I had the opportunity to visit Don Boroian of FranCorp in Olympia Fields, IL. He had visited the Entrepreneurship class I was attending at DePaul's Graduate School of Business a couple years before. He invited the class to explore the benefits of franchising their business concept and predicted that in 20 years, 75% of retailing would happen through franchising.

When I asked him about nonprofits he said he never heard of that before, and it hadn't been done before, because the point of a franchise was to maximize owner profits quickly through replication. Part of me said, "I'm going to be the first one."

In 1993, I was working in the wellness industry in a new company I started with a partner, of which I owned a 40% share. Don was offering a free seminar where you could learn more about franchising and share your business plan with him and the FranCorp team. They would evaluate your plan and let you know if franchising was right for you.

He talked about the operations manual as the secret to success of franchises...which was phenomenal at the time - a 90% success rate after five years, compared to 20% success rate for conventional start-ups. He said that the willingness to write an operations manual was the acid test for those who were going to make it and those who would be left in the dust.

I liked Don's comparison of entrepreneurs and musicians. "Very few people can sit down at a piano and play a masterpiece by ear. Most musicians require sheet music to play the masterpiece. Margo, you are the one who hears the music and plays it by ear. You will help others play the masterpiece by writing the sheet music for them, the operations manual."  I knew he was right. I knew there was "music" on the inside of me  wanted to express through a franchise, and there was a ton of sheet music to write. I just didn't know what at the time. And I needed my partner's support to write the sheet music.

I showed Don the business plan for our company and he told me it was "squeaky clean." Then he asked, "do you have a profitable prototype that is up and running, a mother store?" We were operating out of a shared office space in a loft and we had a virtual storefront before it was cool. In the 90's they called it a "corporate image program." The franchise model of that day wasn't going to work without a "brick and mortar" mother store, Don told me.

"Come back when you have a profitable prototype and mother store," he said. He gave me a copy of his book, The Franchise Advantage, which I read cover to cover. I went back and told my business partner about the days events and the advice I received. My partner believed I wasted the day at FranCorp. He wasn't going to participate or support the writing of any operations manual when there were sales to be made. I could understand, sort of. It's a choice every entrepreneur has to make. I believe it was the wrong choice as in two years our quarter of a million dollar company folded.

"Maybe not this wellness business, but I'm going to franchise something just for the thrill of it. Just for the joy of seeing it grow, just for the joy of hearing the music played. Something that only I can do." After nearly two decades, the music never left.

Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you have “music” in you, that if only others could hear it, the world might be a better place. I believe the time has come to rapidly replicate nonprofit solutions to the world’s greatest problems in the form of a social franchise.

 If you are interested in becoming part of this rapid replication of good in the world, there are several ways you can get involved now.
·         The easiest place to start is with a visit to our web page www.peacecentersinternational.org where you can learn more about our social franchise, Peace Centers International, Inc.
·         You can join the conversation on Twitter! @PeaceCentersInt
·         You can write to us about your experiences trying to replicate your own nonprofit enterprise at margo@peacecentersinternational.org
·         You can join our Million and ONE campaign - donate just $1 to help peace grow FAST! Go here for more info: http://www.peacecentersinternational.org/Donate.html

You can make an appointment to visit our “mother store” and meet directly with me!
Margo Ruark, President
Peace Centers International, Inc.
6833 Stanley Avenue
Berwyn, IL 60402
Email: margo@peacecentersinternational.org
Phone: 708-749-8888 (office) 773-339-4696 (cell)


© Margo Ruark, 2011.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Beloved Community - Thoughts for Global Oneness Day

Ernest Holmes once said, "No one yet knows what might happen if a group of a thousand persons, gathered together for mutual benefit, should unitedly agree and without dissent or argument, fully accept simply and directly, that there is a Healing presence in the midst of them. . . Let us form a united front, create a great pool of faith, and from the power generated through this collective thinking, broadcast the message to the whole world."

No one yet knows what might happen. Who’s dying to find out? Actually we all are. This "one thousand," that I am going to call The Beloved Community, is that community where we are living in agreement and fully accepting  the power of peace and love in our lives and that this power is the unifying factor that makes this community vital and alive and flourishing. I want it. I want it real bad….who else does?

In order for this vision of the Beloved Community to come to pass, we must embrace Unity as its fundamental principle. In order for us to proceed, we need to accept and embody the idea that everything that exists emanates from One Cosmic Source of energy and intelligence. The first principle fundamental to an understanding of life, including all human experience, is that the whole universe, of which man is a part, is spiritual in its essence. Stated in the simplest way, this means that a Cosmic energy and intelligence is the creative power of all that exists. This power must be an eternal, singular and unifying life principle underlying and interpenetrating all phenomenal manifestations, so that all that exists in our objective world-whether mineral, animal, or human-is in reality not only a creation of the One Principle, but in fact and truth must be a manifestation or incarnation of this Principle.

Those are the principles, what does that mean for me? You might be asking. My point is moving our application of these principles from "me" to "we," because it is when we move from me to WE that Beloved Community can come into existence. We can't have a community with just "me." 

In the September 2010 edition of Science of Mind Magazine is a fascinating article written by my favorite brain scientist, Andrew Newberg. He writes how that in his studies using brain scans when two people meet they instinctively try to mirror and match each other at the level of brain waves. Before we are even aware of it, we are uniting with other people. By the time we become aware of it and start formulating opinions about it, the connection is already made. It is only the ego that jumps in and makes its case for separation.

The words "Beloved Community" were coined in the early 1900’s and made immortal by Dr. Martin Luther King in a sermon he made in 1959 where he associated the Beloved Community with Agape love and said, “ this type of love can transfom opponents into friends. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.” He talked about his revolution in terms of a “revolution of values.” And this love “as the ultimate conquerer” of injustice, prejudice, and oppression of every kind.

In the last generation, we have seen more and more people rally to the idea of Beloved Community. Who are we here at the Peace Center today, but this new breed of spiritual revolutionary, equipped with timeless principle and modern science  who are in tune with the global collective consciousness of unity? And WE can make it happen! I invite you to join me in accepting this idea into consciousness so that it can flourish here, at the Peace Center right where we are. Who’s coming with me today????

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Thought Shapeshifting

Spiritual Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul's PotentialI’ve been reading Michael Beckwith’s book Spiritual Liberation and  he briefly speaks of shapeshifting in New Thought terms, which immediately caught my attention.  I wanted to share some of my reflections with you as well as a report of my recent experiences shapeshifting. I gave a half hour talk on this subject at The Peace Center on Sunday, September 20th. Here is an excerpt:

What Michael Beckwith is describing with the word 'shapeshift' and what I am describing today is not action based on superstition, werewolf or vampire legends, pushing our willful agenda, or manipulating people or conditions. It is the intention of the individual that makes the shape shifting experience something holy, something divine, and something that serves Spirit.


Now, the shapeshifting that is of interest to New Thought is the ability to shift raw energy from thought into concrete form. And energy is all around us, energy is never-ending, cannot be destroyed or eliminated, only shifted into forms.

Take a a glass of water for example. If given a glass of water, you cannot destroy it; it is impossible to destroy the water. If poured out, the water becomes part of whatever you pour it into or onto. If evaporated, it later becomes rain. If drank, it becomes part of the body then waste that is recycled into the Earth. In other words, like all other things, it cannot be destroyed. Nothing can be destroyed. All is ever-beginning, never-ending. All things merely shift shape. This very strongly suggests that energetic shape shifting is a natural state of existence.

The fundamental principle of New Thought shape shifting is the realization that everything is energy. Everything that is alive….and everything is alive at some level, the protons and neutrons spin around at lightning speeds. Everything is energy. We are energy. Only energy can impact energy. Therefore we can influence our relationship to the physical world through energy. We influence the physical world only because we believe we can. So having said that, we need three things to shape shift:

First, the acceptance that energy is the building block and sustainer of all that exists. Ernest Holmes, the founder of The Science of Mind, never called himself a shapeshifter, but we was very close personal friends with energy.  Second, is the conviction that an individual may energetically influence his or her inner and outer world. Third: marshaling energy through ones intent is the action necessary to shapeshift and bring about desired transformation.

Energetic shapeshifting is one of the world’s oldest forms of healing and transformation. Shapeshifting legends exist in most major civilizations of the world and in many sacred texts in the lives of the saints and prophets. Shapeshifting occurs in two forms: spiritual shapeshifting which transforms or reshapes the patterns of one’s consciousness; and physical shapeshifting which the shaman shifts his or her actual physical shape into the shape of another living creature, such as assuming the form of a jaguar or snake in order to perform deep spiritual work and come back to human form to share the wisdom they learned.

I’m not going to deny that shamans can shapeshift into a real animal and return to the human world at will. I wouldn’t doubt it for anyone here. That is the part that excites us and stirs the fantasy. However, it is the former that we can actually do today and accomplish much today while we fantasize about the latter.

Do you want to hear the rest? Get the audio file here: http://www.thepeacecenter.info/Video-and-Audio-Products.html

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Are You Enthusiastic?

Spiritual Principle teaches us that at our core we have everything we need. Yet many of us affirm, “I do not.” Even after we take prosperity courses and inner peace classes, we complain about our problems. And we go and find people who’d agree with it. We write on our Facebook pages, “I really have a problem.” And we magnify the problem rather than opening ourselves up for a solution.


Ernest Holmes would not listen to his student's complaining and would tell them, “It’s your problem, not mine.” "Here you’ve studied it all and you don’t even know what Principle is. Take the beginners class over again!”

School is in session now for most of our children. If you ever watch children on a playground, you see a beautiful thing with the noise, and hollering and running around at recess time. Isn’t that wonderful? I'd like to think that Jesus and Buddha and the great peacemakers throughout the ages had that enthusiasm. It makes you wonder as we get older, What happened to ours? There’s a little boy and a little girl in all of us. What happened to it? What happened to our enthusiasm?

We know what it will take to be successful in our movement. Yes, the leaders and the Boards have to be enthusiastic, but so do the members. We require an enthusiasm for a philosophy that can bring peace. Are you enthusiastic? You know when you are enthusiastic when you can't wait to get to work, to be with your family, to go out with your friends. Let's transfer that enthusiasm to our inner life of developing a more peaceful consciousness.

On that note, Andrew Harvey will also be visiting the Peace Center on September 23. He is author of The Hope and founder of Sacred Activism. Purchase his book here or at the event for signing.

Try something new this fall - show up, take a class, go within, and get excited about what you find!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Inspiration is Perishable

This is a continuation of a series of postings based on ideas from the book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (Random House, 2010)

"We all have ideas. Ideas are immortal. They last forever. What doesn't last forever is inspiration." (p.271)

We all want to be inspired and impassioned about something--we know it's power. So we wait for inspiration and passion to show up and transform our lives without any real effort on our part.  I compare waiting and watching for inspiration to waiting and watching for UFOs. Hey, it could happen....

There is a lesser known Chinese proverb that summarizes the need for us to get out of our comfort zone and move forward when we are apprehended by inspiration. It goes, "Man will stand for long time on hill with mouth open before roast duck flies in."

Can you imagine standing on the side of a hill feeling hungry for roast duck, and simply opening your mouth expecting one to land there? It is silly right - even childish. You know intuitively you'd be standing there an eternity before satisfying your hunger. Yet, many of us go through life just that way. We wait with our proverbial mouth open waiting for the right job, the right relationship, more money, more peace and harmony without really doing anything about it. We wait for others to satisfy our hunger.

We would all benefit by getting out of this eternal waiting mode, get out of the child's position and assume responsibility for making ourselves happy and fulfilled. If there is something we need to learn, learn it. If there is someplace we need to be, be there. If there is a decision to be made, make it. If there is a letter we need to write, write it. As we begin to respond to our own hunger, and take responsibility for satisfying it, wonderful things begin to happen. We find ourselved inspired!  We lighten up, we experience an interesting new freedom. People come out of the woodwork to help us. Only as you move away from that hillside hoping a roast duck will show up, do you experience that you don't have to do it all yourself and it is a magical thing.

What do you want to make real? When we start answering that, we open ourselves to living larger, as a true citizen of creation. As a Hyatt ad once went, "Having your dreams fulfilled can be more therapeutic than having them analyzed." Dreams come true by taking that first step in the general direction of their fulfillment.

They say inspiration is perishable because it has a short shelf life. It prefers to act now, not later and it won't wait for you. If it grabs you, grab it back and make some magic in your own life and in the lives of others.