East Hill Notes: Spread love in summer, not just Valentine’s Day

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On Aug. 15, 2017, Ithaca City School Superintendent (ICSD) Luvelle Brown guested on WHCU’s https://whcuradio.com “All Things Equal,” a weekly radio show produced by Cornell’s Office of Community Relations.

Brown is a native of Charlottesville, Virginia, and we talked about ugly events that had played out there a few days before, another in what seemed like an endless series of toxic events. Because we were talking with Brown, the importance of love in our daily lives was also in the conversation, of course.

Shortly thereafter, Community Relations pitched the concept of a “Leading With Love” walk to mark the start of the ICSD academic year, and if schedules hold, early Sept. 4, area residents of all ages will participate in the third such walk at Enfield Elementary School. Last year’s walk, from Stewart Park to Ithaca High School, included Tompkins County’s three higher-education presidents

Cornell staff and faculty have worked on a variety of topics about love at Cornell University over the years. Case in point: Last year’s “Science of Love” led by Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences showcased the newest thinking from across the disciplines about the relationship between humans and love. A couple examples can be found at as.cornell.edu/news/love-bonds and as.cornell.edu/news/love-songs

The bottom-line driver of the Leading With Love walks has been Brown, author of “Culture of Love: Cultivating a Positive and Transformational Organizational Culture.”

Shortly after being named the New York Superintendent of the Year in 2017, Brown was asked about creating a culture of love in schools and how to make that a reality in the Ithaca City School District.

His response, in part: “It’s embedded in our policies and curriculum, this approach to love. Our culture is trusting, patient, kind, unselfish, truthful, forgiving and dedicated. Take all of those things together, and it’s a very humble culture.

“When we’re making decisions, we run it through this sort of litmus test to determine if it’s going to be best for our culture and our young people. It’s not just talking about love as a slogan. It’s really embedded in the work that we do.”

The annual Leading With Love Walk is a simple, non-political event that celebrates education, young people and the power and potential of unified, loving communities. As always, everyone is welcome. Brown and Enfield elementary principal Keith Harrington are scheduled to offer brief remarks on the importance of compassion and inclusivity on Sept. 4.

“We will open our school year with conversations and emblematic examples of our loving culture,” Brown said, prior to today’s event. “This is not a political event. This is a chance to show people from near and far what Ithaca and Tompkins County value: inclusive, empowering and culturally responsive environments.”

Thank you, Dr. Brown, and to everyone who embraces compassion in a world that needs it, every hour, every day.

Gary Stewart is associate vice president of Cornell Community Relations. East Hill Notes are published the first and third Wednesdays of each month.

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