Breakthroughs Online
November 2011Issue No. 12


Trust - stonesWith this issue we welcome many new readers who have joined our subscription list as a result of The Trust Factor.   


You will find a report of The Trust Factor that appeared in IofC's Global Update and a reflection from Rebecca Davis, program coordinator, Peace and Conflict Resolution program at American University, one of the partner organizations.


Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa from Nigeria also brought a message of trustbuilding to Washington, DC, last month with their film An African Answer which was launched at the US Institute for Peace.    


This is the last issue of Breakthroughs for this year. We approach the year-end with gratitude for all the support Initiatives of Change has received and the opportunities we have been given to make a difference in 2011, locally, nationally and internationally.


We wish our readers a happy holiday season! 

Trust. Factor it in.
The Trust Factor While the Occupy Wall Street protests exposed deep divides in the USA, a group in Washington, DC, was building trust and dialogue. Mary Ella Keblusek reports in Global Update on The Trust Factor. These are excerpts from her story.

"A year ago when we began our planning, we couldn't have known how relevant this theme and location would be," says Rob Corcoran, national director of Initiatives of Change. "With the government in paralysis, financial systems closing down, and the global order in chaos, holding such an event in Washington, DC, created a sense of focus and urgency among the more than one hundred participants."

The Trust Factor was a series of panels, dialogues, workshops and other events held in October in venues throughout the city to explore the need for trust in politics, race, economics, and religion. The foundation for the week was laid from the beginning, with a spirit of partnership that brought together young leadership from more than 10 organizations with local, national, and global outreach.

A highlight of the week was the honoring of four renowned trustbuilders at a reception hosted by Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley, who used these words to describe a trustbuilder: "Our societies are ready for humans who lead in humility, listen to others, and exercise their conscience."

Azar Hussain, Dr. Douglas Johnston, Terry Flood, Dr. Gail Christopher (photo: Karen Elliott Greisdorf)
Azhar Hussain, Dr Douglas Johnston, Terry Flood, Dr Gail Christopher
Karen Elliott Greisdorf)
Awardees included Terry Flood, co-founder and executive director of Jubilee Jobs, for her work to build trust across economic divides in helping over 22,000 people in the DC area obtain jobs and self-sufficiency, and Dr Gail Christopher, vice president for programs at the WK Kellogg Foundation, for leading her organization to a commitment to address racial healing and inequities.

Awards were also given to two individuals with the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD): Dr Douglas Johnston, founder and president, and Azhar Hussain, senior vice president for preventive diplomacy. ICRD has helped the US foreign policy establishment and academia to focus on the importance of understanding and respecting the faith of those in other cultures in the context of diplomatic efforts.

Two events focused on the systemic problems in the financial system. Lester Myers, an attorney, CPA, Georgetown University professor and Caux Roundtable Fellow spoke of a vast failure in trust at almost every level: bank officers, borrowers, regulators, corporate executives, credit agencies, politicians, lawyers, CPAs, and the media. "'Each group pursued its own agenda, while remaining morally oblivious and even willfully blind to the impact of their actions on others." In a panel discussion on socially responsible investing led by the Calvert Foundation, we learned that individuals have more economic power than most realize. The panel encouraged careful consideration of whom we choose to bank and invest with, so that our money can support local needs, instead of anonymous global projects with little oversight or accountability.

A workshop, drawing on the methodology of Hope in the Cities, offered trustbuilding tools for racial healing and community change. It explored the challenge of creating an environment where difficult truths can be spoken, allowing healing and cooperation. Community organizer and trainer Dushaw Hocket summed up his participation: "Trust is fragile and is based on our ability to embrace and hold multiple and competing truths, allowing individuals to accept the facts, while maintaining hope for a more trusting future."

The final day addressed civic participation and responsibility in building trust in public life. Panelist Mee Moua of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, and a former state senator, encouraged participants to remember the humanity of elected officials. "We must create authentic relationships with our civic and elected leaders, instead of transactional relationships where we only contact them when we need something."'

The Trust Factor week was a success on many levels. It demonstrated the power of broad collaboration with partners and showed the importance of considering trust from many perspectives. It is clear this is only the beginning. The 'trust' conversation will continue in DC, and migrate in various forms to other locations. For more stories and two YouTube video interviews from The Trust Factor, check out

Read the complete story in Global Update here.
Watch a photo montage of the week on YouTube.
 Turning Enemies into Friends
Imam & Pastor at USIP
Dr David Smock, receives Dr Golwa, Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye at USIP
 (Photo: Kathy Aquilina)

"Your work in healing communities and encouraging reconciliation reminded those in attendance of the fundamental importance of organic, community-led processes," wrote Gay Rosenblum-Kumar, executive secretary of the Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action, following a showing of An African Answer at the UN Headquarters in NY.


An African Answer, a follow-up to the 2006 documentary The Imam and the Pastor, tells the story of how two former militia leaders from Nigeria applied their experience and methodology to promote reconciliation in Kenya after the communal killings early in 2008 following the disputed parliamentary elections. The protagonists of the film, Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye, supported by its director, Dr Alan Channer and the Kenyan production consultant, Joseph Karanja, engaged in a one-hour discussion with 40 UN staff.


The US Institute of Peace (USIP), which commissioned An African Answer, hosted the US launch of the film at an event chaired by Dr David Smock, senior vice president of the Institute's Center for Mediation and Conflict Resolution and facilitated by Maureen Fiedler of National Public Radio. The discussion focused on the choice of Burnt Forest, the location in Kenya where this peace intervention took place. Karanja explained, "When you heal Burnt Forest you heal the whole of Kenya." Included with the film is an 8-minute bonus feature Two Years Later. It shows how peace has taken hold and economic development has followed in Burnt Forest and the resulting national impact.


This was part of a week-long series of screenings and presentations arranged in partnership with Initiatives of Change for audiences in government institutions and universities in NY and Washington.


Film showing at American Univeristy
Film showing at American Univeristy (Photo Alan Channer)

Audiences at New York, American, and Eastern Mennonite Universities as well as the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University responded enthusiastically to the film. At American University, students in the School of International Service, many of whom expect to work in the field of conflict resolution, were eager to understand the methodology used by these two Nigerian peacemakers in their intervention work in Kenya. Several wanted to know why they were trusted by the Kenyans. It was clear that their personal experience, integrity and humility helped dispel fears in this situation. But their work was not without great risk and they entered it with no assured outcome.


An illustrated Resource Guide for Grass-roots Practitioners authored by Imam Ashafa and Pastor James and edited by Alan Channer accompanies the film. Also available is a further interview with the peacemakers on their methodology and a manual on using the film to facilitate dialogue and peacebuilding by Dr David Steele.


The fact that the film and accompanying materials so clearly outline the methodology has led to a number of discussions about its applicability in other intractable conflict situations. There is a pressing need to translate the film into Swahili and Hausa. There were UNDP requests to use it in Chad, as well as continuing the work in Nigeria and Kenya and the possibility of collaboration on an education initiative in the Middle East.  


Read further reports of their time in New York and Washington.  

Order form for the 2 DVDs

Telling the Whole Story in all its Complexity


John W. Franklin
John W. Franklin
(Photo: Karen Elliott Greisdorf)
"It's not enough to know our own history," says John W Franklin. "We must know each other's histories... We may learn things that will change our world view." Franklin, the director of partnerships and international programs at the Smithsonian's Museum of African American History and Culture, which is due to open in 2015, spoke to 350 people at the 15th annual Metropolitan Richmond Day. The Richmond Times-Dispatch headlined an op-ed  by Rob Corcoran: "Fifteen Years of Truth and Trustbuilding."

Franklin told the audience of non-profit, business, and government leaders that the new museum would be "a place of dialogue and healing."  Throughout his talk he emphasized the complexity and ambiguity of history.  His great-grandparents were brought to Oklahoma in the 1930s as slaves of the Chickasaws during the infamous Trail of Tears when thousands of Native Americans were removed from their homelands in the southeast.

In an
interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Franklin noted that Richmond's former slave-trade partner, Liverpool, UK, has a black community that dates to 1650 but is still treated like immigrants. At the time of the French Revolution, some 25,000 black people lived in France. The 1850 arrival of Chinese immigrants in Washington, DC, belies the attempt to frame that city's story strictly in black and white terms, he said. To understand US history, you have to understand the role of Native Americans, Asians, and Latinos, "not just in the past, but in the present."

Franklin told the breakfast forum that Americans are often taught that the first Africans arrived in North America at Jamestown in 1619, but Africans were present in Florida by the early 1500s.  And while about 500,000 Africans were brought to the United States, millions more went to the Caribbean and South America.  "This is a hemispheric issue. History needs to be discovered in Brazil, Puerto Rico, and even Canada."

He recalled when he first met people from Richmond's Hope in the Cities team in Liverpool in 2007 at the opening of the International Slavery Museum. Then he met them
again three years later at a national symposium in Tulsa, OK. The destruction of Tulsa's black  business community by white mobs in 1921 "was a history so horrific that it was only 89 years later that white and black began to discuss it publicly. I asked the organizers of the symposium why people from Richmond were there and they told me that 'we needed the best people in racial reconciliation and so we turned to Hope in the Cities.'"

Franklin said that he had walked Richmond's historic slave trail. "It is very courageous of an American city to reveal its past and to share it with visitors."  He said that nothing comparable existed in Washington, DC, although the whole capital area had once been plantations, and the White House and Capitol building were constructed with enslaved labor. "People don't know that slavery existed in New England until early in the nineteen century or that Rhode Island was a major slave trading base," he added.

Dr Edward Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and Dr Lauranett Lee, curator of African American History at the Virginia Historical Society, co-chaired the breakfast forum. The previous night the university hosted a reception in partnership with Hope in the Cities, the NAACP, and the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. 

Tools for Building Trust on a Daily Basis 

Rebecca Davis Rebecca Davis is the Program Coordinator,  International Peace & Conflict Resolution at the School of International Service at American University, one of the partner organizations for The Trust Factor 2011.

At a time when some of us may feel discouraged by political gridlock, ongoing economic hardship, and a range of social problems that can seem so much larger than any one of us, I was reminded this week of the potential for individuals to positively impact their communities.  Spending a week engaged with individuals and organizations partnering on The Trust Factor has expanded my hope for positive change, even in a town best known for its cynicism and stagnation.

For me, the beauty of the skills involved in building trust is the simplicity of actions we can take and the opportunity for every one of us to build trust in some way.  As I move forward from my participation in The Trust Factor, I am aware of four significant take-aways that I can infuse into my daily interactions.

First, each of us would do well to spend a few minutes at the end of each day reflecting on how our actions throughout the day built, broke, or repaired trust.  Dushaw Hockett, founder and director of SPACES (Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity), explained our daily interactions with others as constantly, though often sub-consciously, violating or repairing trust. In an effort to learn from these frequent experiences and to increase our trustbuilding actions, we could each engage in a self-reflective practice to increase our awareness of how our actions from the smallest to the largest serve a goal of building trust.

Second, if I could point to one theme I heard in each Trust Factor session I attended, it would be the importance of relationship building. We are all social beings, and we appreciate being in meaningful relationships with other human beings. These relationships have a greater social impact when they create a bridge to a group or an experience with which we are unfamiliar.  Building relationships with those who are different from ourselves whether in age, race, religion, social class or other aspects of identity, provides great opportunity for us to check our assumptions. We can work together to break down myths and stereotypes about "others" which can be easily entrenched when we do not have these personal relationships.

Third, part of the importance of relationship building is the opportunity to see firsthand the humanity of the "other." On the heels of the Trust Factor, President Obama's speech at the long-awaited dedication to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial offered an important illustration of the shared humanity of those who find themselves on different sides of contentious issues. "If [Dr King] were alive today, I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there.... He would want us to know we can argue fiercely about the proper size and role of government without questioning each other's love for this country.... He would call on us to assume the best in each other rather than the worst." We can each certainly participate in a cultural shift in Washington by assuming the best of intentions of those we encounter. We do not need to agree on all the issues to build trust in this way, and we open up a world of possibilities we could never discover without coming from this open-minded starting point.

Finally, I was struck by a particular challenge to the work of trustbuilding. "Every American has been given tacit permission to unleash their anxieties on those they believe to be the 'other,'"
former Minnesota state senator Mee Moua remarked, remarked. Certainly we have all witnessed such unleashing. It is the idea of "tacit permission" that provides the key to trustbuilding work. This permission only exists because we allow it. Just as each of us can make commitments to reflect on our own actions to build or violate trust, we can also examine our own opportunities to deny this permission. We must ask why these anxieties exist. Where are these fears coming from that unleash such ugliness toward our neighbors, colleagues, family members, acquaintances? Can we build new relationships-bridges-with those who are feeling threatened in some way?  Are we feeling threatened?   Can we take risks to create the space for relationship building where the trust deficit has done the greatest damage?  And when we are not able to build such bridges, what actions can we take to withdraw this tacit permission for treating people as "Others" rather than as fellow human beings?

I hope the significance of trust as a tool for social change will reach our country's leaders and decision-makers and that more examples of its large scale impact will be highlighted by the media in the near future.  But for now, I am hopeful because The Trust Factor has underscored the accessibility of building trust in ways that show how we can personally impact those we encounter each day.
Read the complete commentary here.
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Thank you!
In This Issue
Trust. Factor it in.
Turning Enemies into Friends
Telling the Whole Story in all its Complexity
Tools for Building Trust on a Daily Basis
Consider a Year-end Gift to IofC
As we approach this season of giving please consider a gift to IofC. Sixty percent of our support comes from people just like you! No gift is too large or too small.   

Trustbuilding Book Cover

Read about Trustbuilding workshops and presentations in Canada, UK and the Netherlands


Trustbuilding tools shared in Vancouver   


Trustbuilding conversations in six European cities 


Read further observations and reflections in author  

Rob Corcoran's blog,

A New Generation of Leaders
 Blogger logo 

The Imam & The Pastor 

"The African model for finding peace amid the continent's warring communities"  

The Times (London)  

AAA flyer image An African Answer 

The second film about

the work of these two  

African peacemakers. 

Order the 2 DVD Packaged set 
Global Update 11/11

The latest issue of
includes a report of
The Trust Factor

The 2011 Caux Report

is available on-line or  

from our office by request  

2011 Caux Report  

A separate report of the 

 Caux Forum on Human Security is also available.  

The 2010 IofC Annual Report is available online  2010 Annual Report

This report highlights several important ways in which IofC is carrying out its mission to inspire, equip, and engage individuals as trustbuilders.   

Download the report 

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