Train with IIRON and Exit the Matrix
by Anne LaForti
Have you seen the Matrix?
You know that scene where Neo must choose between the red pill and the blue pill and once he decides, he can never go back to seeing the world as it “was”? That’s sort of what IIRON Leadership Training is.
Although it is called IIRON Leadership Training, I would call it more of a boot camp. It is a week-long, intensive leadership training program that enables future leaders to open their eyes to the injustice in their lives and their communities, and to help them decide if they are ready to take a stand for what they believe in; and if they are not ready, give them the tools (metaphorically) to move past their obstacles.
But who is really prepared to change the world? Perhaps the person who has years of experience? Well, they, too had to have had a 1st step toward their own legacy. For me, IIRON Leadership Training truly was a life-changing event.
Two weeks before training, I had gotten laid off and was happy to be able to spend more time and effort involved in The Gan Project, a non-profit I helped found in Feb of 2010. An urban agricultural program in West Rogers Park, Chicago, The Gan Project was originally created to bring agricultural, regenerative, and self-sufficiency education to the Jewish community of Chicagoland. We soon found that we needed to do more than just educate the community; we needed to ORGANIZE the community. Food issues were too big just to be “taught,” they needed to be moved, changed, engaged.
While in training I was able to analyze my role in the organization as well as the community through a lens that showed I had the power to make real change in my community. So many times in life I had been outraged, saddened and dismayed about things that were happening in the world, around me, and to me. I had always been told that although it was good to be aware of these “unfortunate” forces, there was nothing that could be done to change them.
In IIRON Leadership Training, I found out that was wrong. I found out that I DO have the power to change my life, my community, and the world. I would HIGHLY suggest this training to anyone who wants to take a step into community organizing but doesn’t know where to begin, and to anyone already involved in community organizing who wants to be inspired and is ready to be the powerful person who can make a change.
After IIRON Leadership Training, I have a very different life. I work part time at a job I love. The other part of my week is spent working for The Gan Project, as a Co-Chair for the “Chase, Give it Back” campaign with Northside P.O.W.E.R. or with my wonderful husband.
Although I do miss my friends at my old job, I wouldn’t change my new life for the world. I love being local, active, and engaged. I love knowing that I CAN make a difference in my community… and that I AM making a difference.