SouthNEXT Hosts Discussion on Community ‘Mindfulness’

The final event of SouthNEXT was a panel discussion called “Mindfulness in Our Community,” which took place in the McNulty Science Building at Seton Hall University on Sunday, November 11, to an intimate, mixed audience of Seton Hall students and local residents. The thought-provoking panel was moderated by David Harris, Vice Chair of the South Orange Maplewood Community Coalition on Race and included Professor of the Anthropology of Religion, Consciousness, Sexuality and Gender, Peter Savastano; Maplewood Deputy Mayor, Frank McGehee; and Seton Hall undergraduate student leaders, Monika J. Soto and Chris Duran who are part of the Concerned 44.

The session started with a meditation practice led by Professor Savastano to encourage the audience to ground and center themselves, so that they could be “present” during the event. The topic of mindfulness played a key role during the discussion as Soto and Duran shared how being mindful during the Concerned 44 campus protests enabled them to stay focused on their end goals. McGehee discussed listening as an important part of leadership, pulling examples from the local government-citizen perspective with respect to enabling the public’s voice to be hard and the process that follows. The history of Seton Hall’s reciprocal relationship with the larger community, both in Newark and SOMa were discussed, as well. After the Q&A, Soto’s closing remarks included a heartfelt thank you to those in the community who had supported them during the sit-in.

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