Common Ground Center Challenges Men to Be Better

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Common Ground Center Responds to Shifting Notions of Masculinity

Snowshoeing is a popular at Common Ground Center.

Outdated societal pressures and expectations are making it harder for men to be better: better for their families, better for their communities and better for themselves.

Since 1994, Common Ground Center, a non-profit retreat center in Starksboro, VT, has focused on strengthening families. The Center recently launched a new program that focuses on an important element that is often overlooked when people think about strong families: healthy men. Men’s Winter Adventure Weekend, to be held this March 2-4, creates a space for men to spend time reflecting on their evolving roles within their families & broader communities.

The challenge that men face in the new millennium is to define themselves within an ever changing set of male expectations. It’s almost impossible to define what it means to be a “real” man these days. Gone are the days of the lone ranger, and as much as Steve McQueen remains iconic, there are some holes being punched through those images of ‘manly’ independence and self reliance. These days the definition of a “real” man can include fathers that make time for their families; gay men who refuse to stay in the closet; men who are man enough to reject the stereotypes that they’ve inherited.

Some societal changes and expectations are creating confusion, while others are opening doors around the world for men to make new contributions to the world around them. Take for example the growing number of stay-at-home dads in the North American economy: the number of stay-at-home dads has risen by about 26% in the past decade, according to the US Census data.

Gender-centered activism is another arena where more and more men are making inroads. One example is Man UP, a global campaign to activate youth to end violence against women and girls. Common Ground Center’s program coordinator, Connor Timmons, participated in the Man UP’s 2010 Young Leaders summit in South Africa and relishes the freedom provided by progressive notions of men’s roles. “The take away from South Africa for me was the commonality between struggles in all parts of the world,” says Timmons. “In all cases, outdated societal pressures and expectations are making it harder for men to be better: better for their families, better for their communities and better for themselves.”

Timmons has played a large role in launching the Men’s Winter Adventure Weekend at Common Ground Center. His goal for the program is to get men together to support each other and talk about the challenges and triumphs of a modern world. Optional guided conversations will cover everything from relationships to health, baseball and paternity leave. Men who prefer to bond over snowshoeing will have 700 acres of protected hiking trails to explore, while those who wish to spend the weekend in front of a crackling fire are welcome to do so.

Common Ground Center is a cooperatively run non-profit arts, education, and outdoor recreation and retreat center. We are dedicated to bringing together and strengthening diverse families and communities through unique program offerings and facility rentals. Our beautiful site demonstrates our commitment to environmental sustainability.

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Neily Jennings
Common Ground Center
(800)430-2667
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