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Published: Friday, 1/28/2005

Ex-BGSU official talks about values and change

In meeting young people around the world who work for change in their communities, Lorna Gonsalves has heard them criticize how values are used as a divisive tool.

"We've seen quite a bit of evidence right here in the United States," Ms. Gonsalves said yesterday during a taping of The Editors television program.

Those young leaders would like values education to focus on more than defining and talking about values - peace and justice, for instance.

Instead, they would like such education to explore how those in school learn to live out those values.

"How do we build on them and make change in our community based upon the values that we profess?" asked Ms. Gonsalves, a sociologist and a former associate provost at Bowling Green State University.

She is executive director of Human Values for Transformative Action, which she said was formed as a response.

The group's first major undertaking has been Community He(art)beats. Students are asked to reflect on major community issues and then connect with representatives from groups that are usually left out or left behind "and out of [those representatives'] concerns and wisdom, create visual images," Ms. Gonsalves said. "I think a chord was struck in the community."

Hundreds of people, some in academe, some in the community, have created visual images with the idea of "informing, inspiring, involving, and improving the Toledo community."

An exhibition by Community He(art)beats will be on display through March 10 at the Happy Badger on South Reynolds Road.

As an extension of that project, Ms. Gonsalves will travel to Chennai, on India's east coast.

Nearby villages were devastated by last month's tsunami, leaving young people orphaned or still searching for their families.

A small group of thoughtful, socially conscious youth from the Toledo area will be recruited to reflect on what happened and to discuss how aid is offered to countries affected by natural disaster or war and to move beyond collecting money for food, clothing, and shelter.

In India, a small group of young people will be asked what they would like those here to do for them.

"It's going to take quite a bit of effort to have them speak about what their needs are beyond some of the basic needs," Ms. Gonsalves said.

"That in itself we're hoping will get them started on a track which is more [singularly] focused on building leadership, what can we do in our communities."

Ms. Gonsalves was questioned by Marilou Johanek of The Blade editorial board.

The Editors will be broadcast at 8:30 tonight on WGTE-TV, Channel 30, and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.

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