Perhaps the winter weather in some parts of the country-especially our capital-has caused people to slow down from their frantic routines and to take some time for personal reflection.
In 1939, Frank Buchman, founder of Initiatives of Change, said this movement stands for "a prejudice-free level of living . . . a common denominator of immediate constructive action for everyone, above party, race, class, point of view or personal advantage." What a needed message for America today!
Trust is the bedrock on which constructive action becomes possible, so the publication of a new book on this theme by Rob Corcoran is significant. It tells the stories of ordinary people who dedicated their lives to creating extraordinary bridges of trust.
In this issue you will also read about important educational initiatives in Oregon; a training for descendants of slaves and slave owners in Jackson, MS; and other examples of IofC's impact and that of its partners in the lives of people and communities.
Remember, you can share this newsletter with your friends!
A Map for the Future
University of Virginia Press publishes Rob Corcoran's Trustbuilding
Hope in the Cities has provided a map for the future," says former Virginia governor Tim Kaine in his foreword to Trustbuilding: an honest conversation on race, reconciliation, and responsibility
, by Rob Corcoran, which is published this month by University of Virginia Press.
Kaine, who is chairman of the Democratic National Committee, writes that Hope in the Cities, which Corcoran helped to launch, has "moved what looked like an immovable barricade" in Richmond, a city starkly divided along racial lines and "congenitally resistant to change of any kind." Governor Kaine will speak at the national book launching event at the Library of Virginia in Richmond on March 15 at 5:30 p.m.
Trustbuilding offers the first comprehensive review of three decades of work by countless individuals who have taken extraordinary steps of reconciliation in a city that was once a major slave trading center, the capital of the Confederacy, and where state leaders urged Massive Resistance to integration.
Martha McCoy, executive director of Everyday Democracy, a leading national organization promoting community dialogue, calls it "a visionary, compelling account of healing and change."
According to former Assistant Secretary of State Harold Saunders, Trustbuilding is a "soberly inspiring book about citizens who have struggled to find respectful and productive ways of relating through dialogue across the racial, social, and economic differences that dangerously divide us."
The publishing of Trustbuilding signals the start of a series of forums and workshops in cities across the U.S. this year. Certainly its theme is relevant to America's social and political climate. A hallmark of the Richmond process is its success in reaching across political and cultural boundaries.
Corcoran claims that building trust is essential for building healthy communities. "The most-needed reforms . . . require levels of political courage and trust-based collaboration that can only be achieved by individuals who have the vision, integrity, and persistence to call out the best in others and sustain deep and long-term efforts."
Corcoran believes Richmond's story matters, "because societies everywhere are confronted with the need for reconciliation between communities traumatized by histories of racial, ethnic, or religious division as well as economic disparity." Trustbuilding "provides a practical framework of action for concerned citizens everywhere who are anxious to heal divisions and to build healthy, welcoming communities."
Trustbuilding will be launched at 5:30PM on March 15, 2010 at the Library of Virgnia with author Rob Corcoran and special guest Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Don't miss it!
For more information, to order your copy of Trustbuilding and to contact Rob Corcoran about speaking and workshop engagements, click here!
Table Talk in Jackson
By Karen Elliott Greisdorf
In 1963, Martin Luther King called for a day when "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood." Inspired by that vision and the need for connection and healing in their own lives, such descendents first collaborated in 2006 with Eastern Mennonite University to establish Coming To The Table (CTTT) based in EMU's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.
A recent CTTT national training event was held in Jackson, MS, at the end of January drawing together participants from 14 different states around the country. Under the leadership of CTTT Director Amy Potter Czajkowski, an alumna of IofC's Caux Scholars Program, the five-day training focused on the power of storytelling and how storytelling can be used as an essential resource for creating a movement for healing.
"We don't agree with some people's attitudes that 'it happened a long time ago; it is not relevant,'" says Czajkowski. "We have to know where our social problems come from. We have to start talking about parts of our history that many people would rather forget, because it still has an impact on all of us."
Since its inception, CTTT has provided a safe space for conversation and communal learning for Americans yoked by the history of enslavement, whether through their ancestral lines or by the legacy and aftermath of the institution. CTTT's approach interweaves the following elements. . .
Read the complete story
Beyond the Oregon Trail
In December and January all eighth-grade teachers of social studies in Portland, Oregon, were required to participate in professional development sessions on Beyond the Oregon Trail, a curriculum developed initially as a result of work by Oregon Uniting, a Hope in the Cities/Initiatives of Change affiliate. The curriculum is designed to encourage honest and positive conversation about Oregon's multiracial history.
Carolyn Leonard, a member of the IofC board, is the compliance officer for Portland Public Schools and also served as director of multicultural and multiethnic education for the schools. She tells how IofC built the foundation that made the new curriculum possible.
It is great to see that what started as a conference on race in 1997 at Portland State University, sponsored by Hope in the Cities/Initiatives of Change, led to a small dedicated group trying to determine what they could do to make Oregon a better place. This led to the creation of Oregon Uniting, which later merged with another organization to become Uniting to Understand Racism.
Many people have been involved in making Beyond the Oregon Trail a reality. This story begins with Michael and Erica Henderson (both lifetime IofC workers) who lived in Portland for more than 20 years, supporting racial reconciliation by hosting numerous events and dialogues in their home.
The Henderson's work created a foundation on which the 1999 Day of Acknowledgment-when state leaders formally recognized Oregon's racial history-and the Beyond the Oregon Trail curriculum could be built. They were supported by other IofC workers from Richmond, VA, and Washington, D.C.
Nikki Toussaint Worthington, who lives in Portland, did much of the research for the Day of Acknowledgment, and as executive director of Oregon Uniting, she gave impetus to the work on multicultural curriculum development. Richard C. Baldwin, the lawyer who conceived the idea for the Day of Acknowledgment, is now a judge in Portland. He continues to work with Uniting to Understand Racism. . .
Read about others involved in this project!
More on Beyond the Oregon Trail:
During the professional development sessions, teachers learn:
· About the background and structure of the Beyond the Oregon Trail curriculum
· About oppression, racism, privilege, and power
· How to help students from various cultural backgrounds to engage in meaningful, respectful classroom conversations about the challenging subjects of race and racism
· How to help students build self-awareness, communication skills, and understanding about diverse perspectives
· How to teach the first three lessons of Beyond the Oregon Trail, which connect to the standards through the concept of Manifest Destiny, through the history of westward expansion, including the Donation Land Act of 1850, and through the Oregon State Constitution of 1859
· How to bring this sometimes avoided conversation about Oregon history into a context that is both realistic and positive
U.S. Perspective on the Parliament of World Religions
By Randy Ruffin
The fifth Parliament of the World's Religions, attended by over 6000 people from 200 countries, took place in Melbourne, Australia, the first week of December, 2009. Among the U.S. participants were Paul Wee, Adjunct Professor at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, in Washington, D.C., and Kay Lindahl, founder of the Listening Center in Long Beach, CA, which fosters the practice of sacred listening.
Lindahl gave a workshop on "The Sacred Art of Listening: Hearing from the Heart" at IofC's Creators of Peace (COP) conference, held in Sydney at the beginning of October. On her return to Australia in December, she picked up her connections with the COP network at the Parliament, where Creators of Peace offered a workshop on "Learning to forgive: healing our past, creating our future."
Dr. Wee, a Lutheran minister, has worked to resolve conflict in Guatemala, Eastern and Central Europe. As a program officer in the Religion and Peacemaking unit of the U.S. Institute of Peace in Nigeria, he worked closely with Imam Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye, of the Imam and Pastor film. In Melbourne, he showed the film in two separate sessions at the Parliament and, together with an Imam from Baltimore, facilitated discussions afterwards.
Speaking at a brown bag lunch in the IofC Washington office in January, Wee expressed . . .
|Straight Talk from a Friend led to Honest Reflection
Chris Breitenberg, from Virginia Beach, is a coordinator of Action for Life, an IofC youth training program based at Asia Plateau, India. He will join a team with IofC president Rajmohan Gandhi on his world tour, starting in South Africa in March.
"You talk a lot about Gandhi's message, 'be the change you want to see in the world', but what are you actually doing about it? How is that actually affecting your life?"
The words stopped me cold. It was last summer when a good friend put it to me straight. I talk a lot about this message-change starts with me-but it had been some time since I'd really sat down to think about it.
The next morning, I decided to take the challenge into my quiet time. Within seconds, a clear thought came to my mind.
You see, the world I want to see is one without walls. But as I thought about it, I realized that I had been building my own.
My family is full of opinionated people, none more so than my grandfather. As a boy, I learned much from his knowledge of news and politics. But as I got older, I started to form opinions very different from his. While this first led to some educational exchanges, the conversations eventually soured.
And so the wall was built. It seemed our relationship boiled down to who could win the argument or make the most incendiary remark. Eventually, I didn't care to see my grandfather anymore. I had grown bitter and resentful towards him.
So my friend's challenge yielded a result. A thought came clear to me: "Write and apologize for holding this grudge." It was a shocking thought. Why should I apologize? He was the one who started it all in the first place. I swore I wouldn't write the letter. But the thought stuck with me for months.
That's when another friend came along. He persisted in his encouragement that I write the letter. Finally, five months after the initial thought, I wrote briefly: "Grandfather, I've been holding a bad feeling in my heart towards you. I hope that you can forgive me and that we can rebuild our relationship."
His response came a month later. . .
Read the entire story
Hope you enjoyed this issue of Breakthroughs Online. Please share this newsletter with your friends and forward it to those you know have a passion for trustbuilding. Visit our website for more information.
Initiatives of Change is constantly producing materials and programs that help bridge divides in our communities. We need your help to continue building trust in the world. Did you know that 70% of our income comes from individuals just like you?
To successfully launch the 2010 series of workshops, forums, Hope in the Cities programing, the Caux Scholars Program and other outreaches to communities across the U.S., we need to raise $450,000.
Your contributions makes a huge difference!
March 15: Trustbuilding
book launch with Tim Kaine and Rob Corcoran at the Library of Virginia at 5:30PM.
Click here to read the latest Global Update!
Caux Scholars Program 2010!
The 2010 Caux Scholars Program will run from July 6 to August 10 at IofC's international conference center in Caux, Switzerland.
A brochure and an application
form, along with the 2009 report, are available at www.csp.iofc.org
, or from program director Kathy Aquilina at the Washington, DC, IofC office: 1625 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 601, Washington, DC 20036-2244.
There is a rolling admissions policy and the deadline for applications is March 15, 2010.