I've made a slight change to the newsletter timing so you will now receive it at the beginning of the month. Therefore, October and November and joining forces for this one! October brings many of us Halloween, or Samhain. I know a few Jedi for which this is their favorite holiday. November brings us Americans Thanksgiving as well. Enjoy the fun and festivities!
Many of our members are settled into their semesters and realizing it is a challenge to balance Jedi training with traditional education. We've all been there. If all you do is stop in after you read this newsletter and post in your training journal, summarizing what you are doing in your life, that is beneficial. Every opportunity to reflect on your life and look at where you can make improvements is part of training, even when you aren't taking classes with us. So stop by, say hello, and remind yourself that life is more than your offline studies.
In this month's newsletter we'll keep the focus primarily on offline training. First, the next generation of the Jedi Resource Center, called the Gathered Force Community, which we ask everyone to join. Then, an interview with Angelus by Boom Darklighter in our update from the Chicago Jedi. This begins a series of interviews with members of the IJRS community. And finally, the picture above is a panorama I took at a place called Buddha Point at Shambhala Mountain Center where I met Lars, a fellow Colorado Jedi, and we gave an informal talk on Jedi Realism. It was a great weekend!
For a quick announcement from the online realm, Jedi Studies 101 has been recently updated for increased clarity and understanding. We also have multiple students in various stages of the Novice Trials, with a few more preparing to take their trials in the coming months. I expect to announce a few new Adept students this year!
Gathered Force Community
Up until a few years ago, the Jedi Resource Center is where you would go to find other Jedi in your area, regardless of their home order. As that dwindled for various reasons, nothing has taken its place, until now. The Gathered Force Community is now launched. It's goal is to bring Jedi together offline. This includes being a central location for gathering information, a place to find other Jedi in your area, and even a neutral site for Knightings.
In order for this community to meet it's mission of bringing together Jedi offline, people need to join. Then, either create a group for your area (I recommend starting at the state or country level) to start finding others, or find one in your area. Since the site is new, there aren't many groups. Note, starting a group does not mean you are in charge, so don't feel you are too new to start a group. As you find others you can find out what skills and knowledge each other has.
Master Angelus Kalen (Gabriel Calderon) has been involved with the Jedi community for well over a decade. He began his online training in 2002 with what was then the JEDI Academy (now the Institute for Jedi Realist Studies), working his way up from student to teacher, eventually becoming the Principal. However, he took a step back in order to focus on his offline involvements. He is still a senior instructor at IJRS.
Angelus also became involved with the Jedi Resource Center (now the Gathered Force Community), which organized offline Gatherings. He attended his first Gathering in 2005 and knew this was the direction he wanted to go. With the encouragement of the organizers, Angelus started an offline chapter, Chicago Jedi, in 2006. As the founder and Master of the very busy and active real-world Chicago Order, Angelus provides direction and leadership. He oversees the Council and makes sure the Chapter operates effectively.
I sat down with Master Angelus last week.
1) What's your favorite part of being the Master of the Chicago Jedi Order?
It's definitely bringing people together to share their thoughts and experiences - whether at leadership meetings, member events, or conventions and demos. It's always fun to come across others who love Star Wars, especially those you might not normally encounter. I like that our group is so varied. We have teachers, doctors, writers, martial artists, students, lawyers. Where else would you come across such diversity.
2) What's your least favorite part of being the Master of the Chicago Jedi Order?
It would have to be all the work that happens behind the scenes. With so many projects it's hard to keep track of who is supposed to do what and by when. It does take up time in addition to regular events. However, all this needs to get done so that the events go as smoothly as possible. Thankfully, I have a great council to help me out.
3) Tell us something about the new Padawan training program. What makes it unique?
I'm excited by the Padawan training program. It had been a slow start with just one Master, one Apprentice. With the influx of new members we've had to review and formalize the process more. We have a comprehenisve curriculum to work on all aspects of training - mind, body, and spirit. I can see the time where we are promoting Knights every year at a Gathering.
4) How has the Jedi Realist movement changed in the last ten years?
The Jedi Realist Movement has gone more offline. I remember doing my training at an online academy exclusively. Then someone had the idea to meet offline and share knowledge at Gatherings. Those gatherings have inspired the growth of Chapters. Now, I see those chapters communicating with each other and organizing into a stronger community.
5) What do you want the rest of the Jedi community to know about Chicago Jedi?
Chicago Jedi isn't just in Chicago. We have members throughout the US forming chapters of their own. We have open lines of communication with others across the globe. One of our missions is to build the community. Anyone interested in connecting with us is encouraged to do so.
6) How do you maintain your mundane life alongside your life as a professional Jedi and teacher/mentor?
I balance the two very carefully. At this point, both sides have blended well and support each other. My teaching profession has given me lots of insight and experience in the area of education which I used in developing our training program. The Jedi has exposed me to different people that have enriched my life and helped me to look at situation from various angles. I'm grateful to have a family that is supportive of everything I do.
7) What advice would you give to Jedi who want to start their own offline Jedi chapter?
My biggest piece of advice is to go ahead and do it. Each group has its own way of operating, its own focus. There will be a lot of trial and error, believe me. Eventually you get it to run - by itself, hopefully. Throughout the process you will have time for fine tuning, sometimes even changing direction. Remember, it is a process. It's also helpful to link up with others doing the work - whether it's people to help run the chapter, speak to colleagues, or find mentors. You aren't in this alone.
If you are interested in becoming a member or friend of Chicago Jedi, please check our Facebook page (Chicago Jedi), our MeetUp site (meetup.com/chicagojedi) or our home page (chicagojedi.com)