June interview with Ken Fearnley
The International Man
I admire a lot of men in MKP. Ken Fearnley is
one of them. Hes shown up brilliantly as our
Structure Chair for the past two years.
Ive watched him deftly handle the Project
Council meetings at Glen Ivy with clarity and
precision. He keeps us in between the ditches, as
we say here in North Carolina .
So here it is, before I bury the headline: Ken
Fearnley, Outside U.S. Man Becomes 1St Center
Council Chair! (He now sits on the Executive
Committee representing your Center Director and
It was fun to interview Ken because hes
one of the most precise men with language Ive
ever met. He said he learned the skills of
communication growing up on an isolated ranch in
Alberta , Canada .
My mission is to create a world where no
man stands alone by reaching out to men around me
and men around the world. Its a meaningful
mission for me because I didnt interact with
any other kids until I was six years old - when I
first went to school.
It was very traumatic bringing me into a
school-yard culture, not knowing the rules of the
playground, isolated, on the outside, and not part
of in group.
Fearnley has been around mens work since
1982. He was there in the beginning with Michael
Mead and Robert Bly, and other pioneers.
Back then, those drumming circles and
mens retreats were led by charismatic leaders
with strong personalities. We sat at their feet and
learned what it is to be a man.
In 1985, Fearnley started an annual mens
retreat of his own at a wilderness camp with around
30 men. Then, in the Spring of 2000, he attended an
The thing that really impressed me about
my weekend was the democratic leadership of the
staff. On previous retreats, there was one paid
magnificent leader telling other people how
its done. In MKP we learned more on our own.
What else impressed me was having the staff number
as large as the initiates.
The long term follow up after the
weekend also impressed Fearnley.
Other retreats I experienced were a one
shot thing we heard the wisdom, but had no
place to integrate it.
Trust me, Ken, we still have very charismatic
men in this organization, and they can take over a
meeting if theres not a good STRUCTURE CHAIR
to guide things along.
Oh, yes! he exclaimed. We are
still charismatic and its easy to put some of
these men on a pedestal
but our organization
isnt built around that idea. There are
powerful men in our Project with different skills
and abilities. The great men in MKP attract other
great men; we just have to make sure that the
structure allows for all men to be heard.
Where did Fearnley learn his skills in handling
a group of powerful men? Well, hes been in
local government since he was 25 years old
as a member of the city council. And, he was
re-elected twice! For nine years he was involved in
municipal politics in Canada .
I was immersed in Rules of Order,
Parliamentary Procedure, and getting legislation
passed. Governance is a huge aspect of my
Later, he went to work for a not-for-profit
company helping low-income Senior Citizens. He led
400 employees in a $20 million-dollar
what do you think about our new
Chairman George Daranyi and his Good to
Great ambitions with MKP?
The Hedghog Principle is about identifying
the key thing we do well as an organization.
Were going to have to prioritize ourselves.
One of the struggles I had for two years as a
Center Director was dealing with the myriad of
demands on my time. There was always somebody
asking for something. Learning how to prioritize my
time while putting up secure boundaries around what
the community wanted - helped me succeed.
Ken said that one of our main considerations in
the Project will be how we approach marketing
Boysen Hodgson made a phenomenal statement
at the Center Council meeting: If we
dont define ourselves in the market place,
others will do it for us. Other people are
defining us in the world because we have abdicated
that role. We need to get our story out in a good
way. Were already doing marketing whether we
like to call it that or not, because by big
definition - attracting people to our NWTA weekend
is marketing. So the question is: What are
the tools we choose to do the marketing; how do we
ramp it up? Do we go on big PR campaign, or
do we work with refining who we are and what we are
Fearnley said he hopes MKP will have our
hedgehog guiding principle in place by
next February so a program can be implemented to
carry our message to the world.
our Canadian friend has
also been previously involved in the International
Development of MKP.
How does it feel being the first Outside of U.S.
Center Council Chair?
Its not surprising that I would be
the first Outside of U.S. Center Chairman because
as a Canadian men in the U.S. tend to see me just
as themselves. And, Outside of U.S. men see me as
one of them. Traditionally, Canada has had a strong
diplomatic role in the world where people see us as
not really American, and Americans see us as not
really foreign. Its a unique opportunity to
bridge the gap between us and them.
One of things MKP has to come to grips
with is for Outside of U.S. to have more autonomy
with its own internal structure. Right now we have
a U.S. Corporation (MKP) with branch offices in
other parts of the world. What we need is a
world-wide corporation with the U.S. as one of the
offices. Now, that statement could scare a lot of
people, but theres something in it for the
U.S. as well. Theres a change in the energy
and focus where the U.S. can deal more exclusively
with its own issues.
So, it could happen where the U.S. simply has
one vote in a world-wide organization?
Yes. There needs to be a new entity called
MKP USA that is separate from MKP for the U.S. and
for the rest of the Outside of US Centers. Right
now, MKP is being overwhelmed by US-based issues
that are not necessarily relevant to the rest of
the world. We talk about MKP International. Legally
there is not an MKPI.
According to Fearnley, the Structure Committee
headed by David Kaar, will be looking at how to
develop this organizational structure to take us
into the future and across the planet.
So, Ken, tell me about how youre going to
help the Center Directors as their new
I see the job as Center Council Chair in
two parts. One is to the faithfully represent our
centers on MKPs Executive Committee. Im
speaking for 38 men who dont sit around the
ExCom table. I am THEIR representative for
THEIR needs on the ground in each Center. I have to
represent them competently. It is ExComs most
powerful constituency. I have to wear that mantle
with dignity and humility. I have to be willing to
say, okay, this is what the centers want and
need. Im here for the Center Director
who has a question; Im the man he can talk
with if hes struggling or having trouble; he
can bounces his issues off me.
And how do we balance that with serving the good
of the whole on ExCom?
Thats the second part. I need to be
on the inside with ExCom. I cant do that by
pounding on a table during a meeting. I have to be
a part of the team where Im listened to.
Its a dance to find the balance of holding
the integrity with the Centers and what some might
consider a good ol boys club at the
I believe you can do that, Ken.
I am confident in my ability to serve the
Centers and also allow our elected officers to make
decisions sometimes a difficult decision for
the Centers to understand.
This months theme is Who do you
Serve? What say you, Chairman Fearnley?
Let me say first that Im not a
church going man. I dont follow any organized
religion. I would say that what I serve is an idea
of the ability of us to make life better. I believe
that mankind is ultimately good, but I also believe
that fear stops men from being good. We need to
figure out a way for mens natural desire for
connection and service to move through the fear.
Thats my own personal struggle
isolation as a child, I have huge fears of
intimacy, contact with other men, trusting other
for me, moving through that fear is to
touch the natural goodness of man.
Do you think there are any archetypal realities
we share in common?
Well, it just so happens my wife is a
Your Humble Editor laughed out loud.
Christ is an archetypal figure for me that
represents the ultimate goodness of
everything, he said, quickly adding,
but this is not a matter of religion for me.
There are so many manifestations of a Christ
Figure representing the ultimate good in man
in other cultures and religions. Im not
talking specifically about a Christian belief
Youre one of the most CLEAR-thinking men
Ive ever met, I told him. Howd you
learn to do this?
Its a gift, he responded.
I was given a talent when I was born, and
also I chose to hone that gift through personal
How about a blessing for us?
My blessing to MKP would be for men to
look into your hearts and dont sweat the
small stuff. Weve got something fabulous here
- lets take it from good to great.
© 2008, Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
Tale is also a newspaper journalist, a poet
with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide,
and a novelist with his first book released this
month entitled Kill
The Story. Baer has been
a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and
currently edits The New Warrior Journal for
The ManKind Project www.mkp.org
He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife
Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.
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