Our Village is in the Background. Foundations of a Thousand-Year-Old Watchtower are in the Foreground.
Photo by Nacho Guerrero- Ciudad Chihuahua. Used with Permission.
Welcome to Our Website!
My interests focus on helping my readers understand the antecedents (root causes) of what has divided humanity into tribes for millennia.
If we cannot understand the root causes, we cannot effect a cure or solution for the conflicts that develop from them. I believe (with provisional certainty) that our divisions are caused by that which is inherent in our shared humanity. In that sense, we each bear responsibility for our individual and collective (group) roles in the divide.
Only as individuals can we build stronger foundations for our lives. These stronger foundations enable us to other less, rank less, and generally acknowledge our own challenges instead of focusing on others. Systems, institutions, and organizations are nothing more than the expression of their respective human leaders. They cannot be the primary focus if we expect and desire change. Institutional reforms rarely effect change.
If you would like to read more, especially about our consulting services in public schools or public speaking, please journey with me on this website. I encourage you to build a solid foundation for your own life, a grounding that will enable you to focus on your own growth and change. Thanks, Phil
We are so glad you are here!
The Focus of the Rio Vista Group is to Help our Clients and Friends Understand:
The Demands of US Public Education, especially when dealing with stakeholders, single stories, resource management, forces for and against, and ideological controversies.
The Dangers in general of Deleting, Denying, and Distorting the historical record to fit one's own narrative. Focusing on research into the history of Mexico and Mexican-American relations.
The Disease of Onlying, Othering, and Ostracizing. The Damage wrought
by walking down the path from Doctrine to Dogma to Duty to Destruction, or from Uncertainty to Certainty to Absolute Certainty. Each path is a precursor to Ranking, Dehumanizing, Generalizing, and Normalizing the other.
Phil Stover is a veteran (that means old) speaker, writer, and storyteller. He has taught, entertained, and challenged folks from Nairobi to New York and beyond using a unique blend of insight, inspiration, instruction, humor, and story. He has spoken to groups as small as five and as large as five thousand.
Drawing from his lifelong experience, Phil has traveled from Anchorage to Apalachicola, Chicago to Chula Vista, and Salem to Sarasota to consult with and speak to leadership about the unique challenges of managing public schools. Phil has served in senior leadership (including CFO, deputy superintendent, and superintendent) and consulted with over one hundred public school districts. He twice served as an associate professor and administrator in different institutions of higher education.
Perchance Phil may now be one of the oldest graduate student in the known world because after completing his undergraduate work in history (1971) and master’s degrees in psychology (1975) and parent education (1986), he is currently finishing up his Ph.D. in Mexican history at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. His graduate work specifically in parent education gives him greater insight into the concerns and needs of parent stakeholders, whether their concerns are special education, English language learning, or current ideological conflicts. Phil is the author of six books (see the Books page where you can find links to his books on Amazon) and numerous articles in academic and popular publications. He has spoken in forty states and nine countries. Phil lives in northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico, and flies in and out of El Paso, Texas to meet his client’s needs.
Phil is ready and willing to assist your organization with management issues and priorities, conflicts, or to serve as a keynote speaker to your group or district leadership. Click on the YouTube video on this page to hear a speech he gave as deputy superintendent to the San Diego Unified School District leadership. Phil is especially interested in helping districts work through the complex issues of stakeholder relations (especially with parents), critical race theory, and issues from across the complex ideological continuum (conservative to progressive) of public education. His approach is unique in that his priority is in helping folks deal with differences and disagreements without regard to the correctness or truth of any one position. In complex organizations, the conflicts are what need to be resolved, not the determination of who is right or wrong, which only sets up greater distancing mechanisms.
Phil is also a frequent guest lecturer in the United States and Mexico on the history of religion and conflict in Mexico and in Mexican-American (US) relations, especially those of the borderlands in revolutionary and post-revolutionary times.
Please send him a message via our contact page. He will call or write you back to talk about what you or your district, school, organization, or historical group might want regarding assistance, presentation, or consulting. Phil is eager and ready to share his “Phil-osophy” of everything from tribalism to truth, religion to race, resource management, and stakeholder relations in these challenging times.
Would you please check out Phil’s ten tenets in the next section? They will help you better understand what you will find on this website and in Phil’s writings and presentations. Please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, or use the contact page form. Thanks so much.
The Rio Vista Group LLC
The Rio Vista Group, LLC was founded by Phil to represent his consulting, teaching, writing, and speaking outreach. Based in Deming, NM and Mata Ortiz, CH, Phil travels regularly in the United States and Mexico, or speaks via Zoom to work with organizations (mostly universities, public schools, and historical societies). Rio Vista Press publishes all of Phil's books on Amazon and through Ingram. In this way they reach the general reading community as well as libraries, book stores, colleges and universities. Phil's first book Religion and Revolution in Mexico's North won a national Writer's Digest award for nonfiction. IEHM.org or the Instituto de Estudios de Historia Mexicana is a means to advocate for and sponsoring a greater knowledge and understanding of Mexican history, especially in the revolutionary and post-revolutionary years.
The Ten Core Tenets of the Rio Vista Group LLC
1. I must be able to see beyond my own lived experiences to understand and receive yours. Certainty is not a virtue. More often than not, it is a stumbling block to greater insights and new learnings.
2. I don’t want to be focused on the need to achieve more things, but on the desire to achieve better things; not to climb the ladder for myself, but to hold the ladder for others; not to create taller buildings, but stronger foundations.
3. I must strive to spend more time introspecting and less time otherspecting. Nothing is gained when I have blind spots about my own biases and prejudices, especially when I have a 20/20 vision of seeing those of others.
4. Life’s experiences have painted a different portrait for each person. Understanding the palette, paint, and paper of the other’s life and how each has impacted and framed their views, perspectives, beliefs, and identity is vital to understanding and diminishing human conflict.
5. Whenever I believe I or my group is the only one, I immediately relegate all others to be “less than.” Whether that is my intent is irrelevant. Onlyism hurts . . . Otherism lessens.
6. Some claim superior intelligence and learning. Others are certain they have better values and faith. In reality, all the intelligence, knowledge, values, and confidence are worth nothing more than a mess of pottage unless we each confess our own shortcomings with humility.
7. The trees most grounded are those with the deepest roots in the richest soil through which they draw sustenance, sufficiency, sustainability, and support. Each tree stands or falls alone in the largest forest, depending on how well it is grounded. So it is with every individual in the human forest.
8. Ranking, othering, normalizing, generalizing, and dehumanizing are the antecedents of human conflict (the disease). They have existed in all times and places since the dawn of humanity. Tribalism, racism, creedalism, ageism, sexism, and a host of other isms are the symptoms of the disease. We have focused and failed for too long because we focus on the symptoms, not the five underlying conditions that each of us help create.
9. Harvey Milk once said, “To demand only your view is wrong!” Mocking, making fun of, or denigrating someone with whom you disagree doesn’t make you righter, smarter, or better. Nor does it make them “wronger.” It only demonstrates your intolerance of true diversity - that of thought, speech, and belief.
10. “Preoccupation with correct thinking . . . reduces the life of faith to sentry duty, a 24/7 task of pacing the ramparts and scanning the horizon to fend off incorrect thinking, in ourselves and others, too engrossed to come inside the halls and enjoy the banquet.” – Peter Enns: The Sin of Certainty.
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