In 1987 Janet Reno approached Dr. Roger Mills, inquiring whether he thought he could help solve some of the systemic problems at the Modello Federal Housing Project that had for years plagued her at her Florida State Attorney office.
Roger Mills accepted the challenge. Ms. Reno’s willingness to “think outside of the typical bureaucratic box,” her trust to authorize a radically new and “unproven” intervention, and her commitment of the financial resources necessary proved to be the elements necessary to make this experiment possible.
In one case, “a crack-addicted mother was prostituting her two teenage daughters to bring money in to the house to buy crack. She’d already sold all her furniture. Virtually nothing remained in the house. Her kids’ behavior had become erratic – missing school a lot.” Her nine kids were placed in foster homes. One year later, the mother was clean. She got her kids back, her kids returned to school and were doing well, she got married and began work as a hospital nurses’ aid.
The phenomenal personal and community transformations that occurred over a three-year period are beautifully recorded in Modello: A Story of Hope for the Inner City and Beyond: An Inside-Out Model of Prevention and Resiliency in Action, by Jack Pransky.
One week ago today, Janet Reno, former Attorney General of the United States, died. She is remembered as being the first woman to hold that position. She is remembered for her bluntness and independence. She is remembered with criticism for her handling of some high-profile controversies, including the deadly raid on a cult compound in Waco, TX, and the custody issues surrounding Elián González, a 6-year-old Cuban refugee.
What has been little noted as the nation mourns Reno’s passing is her pivotal role in initiating the very first community-based Three Principles program in Homestead, FL. This intervention model recognized core truths about humanity – each person is innately healthy and is to be respected, each person can access their innate wisdom at any moment, each person’s innate wisdom offers choices that when chosen will benefit their life and the lives of their family and the broader community.
Center for Sustainable Change (CSC) is the international nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated by Dr. Roger Mills in 2004. CSC directly resulted from Roger’s tireless work replicating the successes experienced in Homestead, FL, in many similar communities across the U.S. as well as sharing the Principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought with “people on the street” in communities around the world.
We, everyone engaged with CSC and its mission, remain grateful for Janet Reno’s support of Dr. Mills in Florida so many years ago. We are proud of the world-wide reach achieved from that initial project.
We express our sorrow at the passing of Janet Reno. She had a sense of trust in her innate wisdom, recognizing that traditional and researched responses had not worked, she was willing to trust a different approach, a new idea. It is our hope that administrators world-wide who are charged with improving the quality of life for their constituents will become willing to trust their own innate wisdom, to try something that might work over what has not worked. That would be a lasting legacy indeed.