The Group

​The group included six staff members from a non-profit in Chicago.


The latter part of the discussion was definitely the most interesting. Once the discussion became a debate, or questioning, of what it means to be optimistic and where optimism comes from, the talk really took off. From there, we moved into talking about what keeps us going in the work we do. Overall, I think we raised a lot of great questions that came out of the poem.


The discussion was a little slow getting started. Part of the problem was wordy questions that were not very clear. Also, I asked them a little too quickly. Next time, I'll put more effort into preparing succinct questions that are not so ambiguous. I'll also work on accepting silence as something that is not threatening, but time people need to think about what they've been asked to answer.

Opening Activity

​The opening activity was to think of a time in your life when your optimism was challenged. That is, think of a moment when you tried to bring about a change or an outcome that you thought would better your community, school, workplace, family, etc., but your optimistic vision was openly challenged, misunderstood, or even ignored. After thinking on this prompt, we shared with a partner for around 10 minutes and elaborated on our experiences.

Discussion Questions

​Think of how the speaker's optimism comforts him and how he comforts his optimism. How are these acts similar? How are they different?

What is adult about this poem? What does it mean to be an adult? How does one become an adult?

In your own work or belief, what does it mean to be optimistic?

What attaches us to optimism or idealism? Is it something we create on our own, or is it like a shadow as the speaker suggests?

Closing Activity

​Turn to your partner from the beginning of the discussion. Think of the speaker's relationship with his optimism. Do you see any similarities in your own experiences? Any differences? Do any particular images resonate with you?

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