“Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said ‘we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force,’” Co-Founder of Soul Force Education, Jonathan Stoll said. “Soul Force in this way is a discovery of Truth. A truth rooted in our shared humanity and the interconnections between us, between earth, energy and each other.”
Soul Force Education is a local effort, co-founded by Director of Career Education at Oregon State University Jonathan Stoll, and Jason J. Dorsette, Ph.D. Candidate in the College of Education Language, Education Policy, and Equity Program at OSU and effective Jan. 2021, President of the NAACP Corvallis-Albany Branch. Soul Force Education provides training to organizations to help promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the work place, while also helping the organization focus on their mission and find the deeper meaning within their work. Stoll says “The goal really is to advance belonging and a culture in which all members of a staff can be their authentic selves. When done properly this extends to the experience of clients, customers and constituents, as well.”
The inspiration for Soul Force Education came in 2019, when Stoll and Dorsette combined efforts to gather support for funding a Corvallis Bias Response Initiative. According to the Soul Force Website, both Dorsette and Stoll “are committed to achieving Dr. King’s vision for a beloved community through soulful leadership that’s centered on the connections between people, the perseverance and amplitude of human resources and organizational change that’s centered by our commitment to helping organizations and people realize the essentialness of active engagement in equity, diversity and inclusion work.”
Soul Force Education is structured as an initiative of Focusing Initiatives International or FII. According to the FIL website “Focusing Initiatives International provides consultation, collaborative program development, and support for community efforts to apply the methods and wisdom of Focusing practices to the specific needs of their local situation.” They are also the fiscal supporter of Soul Force Education. About the partnership Stoll says, “We’ve aligned our organization with FFI for two primary reasons. One, the mission of SFE is directly in alignment with the FII mission to promotes social change by supporting people and communities to develop wellness, inner healing, and creative solutions to local problems. Additionally, FII’s 501(c)3 nonprofit status permits SFE to receive tax deductible donations to help subsidize the cost of our trainings and workshops for organizations, particularly smaller nonprofit based organizations that may lack the funding to initiate this work”
Stoll and Dorsette have both worked in higher education for over 20 years. Stoll also serves as a co-host of the Soul Force Ones Podcast which examines professionalism and workplaces in new and ground breaking ways, exploring the how careers, activism, spiritualism and Hip-Hop function within our communities. Dorsette has been in activism his whole life. He has a master’s in Public Administration and Policy and has worked in several government agencies as well. Of his experience he says “I come from a long family lineage of Civil Rights activists so my only choice was to actively engage in this good work. It is important for me to credit my upbringing and having so many amazing folx in my life (both past and present) from all walks of life that consistently challenge and support me. Folx that gives me grace when I stumble and positive affirmation when I need it the most.”
Dorsette hopes that Soul Force Education will help the city in numerous ways. “For me,” he says, “It’s all about helping the City of Corvallis build capacity and agency to take very serious issues of bias, hate and discrimination and to move forward in a way that calls people [into] the conversation versus excluding them from conversation.”
For more information about Soul Force Education or to schedule a consultation for your organization, you can visit their website.
Stoll is also Coordinating and moderating a MLK Soul Force Panel during OSU’s MLK Week, taking place on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 from 4-5:30 pm. Stoll says “The panel will feature panelists across different industries and will explore how their work is underscored by King’s commitment to ‘meeting physical force with soul force.’” For more information about MLK Week at Oregon State click here.
By Kyra Young