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May 2014            Newsletter of Initiatives of Change USA
Issue No. 27




In this issue we bring you news from the Indzaba which proved to be a valuable time for community building and it also brought fresh momentum to the work of IofC USA.    

A group of participants at the Indzaba (Photo: Karen Elliott Greisdorf)

We are excited about the opportunities ahead and invite you to participate. There is information about all these possibilities in this issue and on the website. 

  • If you are in the greater DC area don't miss the special fundraising event for the Caux Scholars Program and the chance to meet some of the class of 2014.
  • There is still time to sign up for one of the conferences at Caux, Switzerland this summer. This could be the experience of a life-time!
  • A new film from South Africa Beyond Forgiving has been released and is an important conversation starter. Order copies from our office.  

And, stay tuned as plans develop for a further conference on Healing History, the theme explored at Caux last summer, that is being planned in Richmond, VA, in April 2015.     

Report from the 2014 Indzaba
What shape is your bridge in? 
By Susan Corcoran

"If you describe yourself as a bridgebuilder, what shape is your bridge in?" This question was posed by Chris Breitenberg, a US member of the international council of Initiatives of Change (IofC), at the start of the 2014 Indzaba. The theme of "bridging the gaps" ran throughout the weekend forum that brought together more than 70 people from diverse communities, different parts of the country and several generations, including whole families.
Photo: Rob Corcoran
The peaceful beauty of the Airlie Center in Virginia provided the space needed to "deepen roots, extend branches and nourish the community." For many of the Caux Scholar alumni present and others it was a "mini-Caux experience."

Alex Wise, chairman of the IofC board, welcomed everyone as "friends and fellow seekers, to this first ever IofC Indzaba. I suspect we share an expectation that something extraordinary will happen during this time, in this place. And it certainly will if we'll engage with one another and the program, as the musicians say...vivace, con brio...with Spirit." He emphasized IofC's "compelling" vision and its "timely" mission to inspire, equip and connect; and throughout the weekend, in small groups and large, people found the freedom to reflect, to dialogue and to share the gifts they brought to the table...

Closing the gaps
The next day the focus shifted to the glaring divisions in US society. Mike Wenger, senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, was actively involved with the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. Rhonda Fitzgerald, managing director of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, engages students in conversations about race. Together they discussed the current state of race relations in the US from the perspectives of different generations. Mike Wenger said the issue today is more "subtle." In the 60s it was easier to generate anger and passion. "Today much is hidden behind the prison bars and the school house door." He said, "We have achieved desegregation. We don't have integration. There is no meaningful communication and interaction."

Rhonda Fitzgerald and Mike Wenger
(photo: Karen Elliott Greisdorf)
Rhonda Fitzgerald talked about how powerless people feel to "structure a movement beyond blog posts and Twitter" as evidenced by the Trayvon Martin case. "We are shocked but do nothing." Rhonda, who facilitates dialogue groups with students, said she finds in them a mixture of ignorance and cynicism. Their parents have been silent and have taught them it is "rude" to talk about race. Mike Wenger added, "We have racism today without racists. It is often unconscious bias. It is important, if we are to build bridges, to call out the behavior but not label people as racist." As Rhonda noted, we need to give people an "on-ramp" to engage and "become comfortable talking about uncomfortable things."

Two young men came from Mexico as a follow-up to the "Encuentro of the Americas" held in Colombia in February. Juan Carlos Kaiten has extensive experience in business and social entrepreneurship, and Rodrigo Martinez Romero is head of research and development for the Oxford Leadership academy, a consulting firm. Using a conch shell, Juan Carlos sounded a call to the community. In the context of the politicized immigration debate in the US, a working group explored how the US and Mexico can be better neighbors. Participants considered some of the many gifts Mexico can share with the US, including culture, social innovation, family-life values, connection with the cosmos and celebration. US contributions included stable institutions, appreciation of diversity, innovation and human rights. The frank discussion opened the possibility of greater teamwork and ideas began to emerge for a joint training project at the University of Monterrey, Mexico.  Read more ...
Community Trustbuilding Fellowship
An integrated approach to community change 

Beginning this fall, Richmond will host a unique program to increase the capacity of communities to overcome divisions of race, culture, economics and politics. The Community Trustbuilding Fellowship creates a network of skilled facilitators, capable team builders and credible role models. 
What is it?
  • Twenty-five participants representing a wide diversity of age, background and experience.
  • Five residential weekend training modules based on the methodology of Hope in the Cities
  • Experiential and innovative learning methods and case studies that demonstrate strategies for partnership building.
  • A world class faculty of trainers, scholars and practitioners
Dates and topics: 
  1. October 17-19, 2014 - Catalysts of change: authentic leadership
  2. November 21-23, 2014 - Healing history: creating a new narrative for communities
  3. January 23-25, 2015 - Dialogue delivery: keys to honest conversation
  4. February 20-22, 2015 - Creating a dialogue: addressing the underlying issues
  5. March 20-22, 2015 - Building & sustaining teams: strategies for engaging all sectors 
On completion of the program graduates will be certified as Community Trustbuilding Fellows.

Venue: Richmond Hill retreat center, 2209 E. Grace Street, Richmond, VA 23223 
Cost: $2500 - (tuition, course materials and overnight accommodation) 
Scholarship help is available 


Caux Scholars 2014
Hear their stories. Launch their journey. Be inspired.

If you are in the DC area, you have the opportunity to meet members of the Caux Scholars class of 2014 just weeks before they head for the program in Switzerland. Please support their fundraising efforts and help their dreams become reality.

Today's Peacebuilders, Tomorrow's World Leaders 

 June 5, 6:30 - 9:00 pm  

McGuire Woods, 2001 K. Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20006
RSVP to by May 30

The honorary chairs of this event are Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton, District of Columbia; Daniel Hunn, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Switzerland, and Don King, Senior Partner McGuire Woods LLP. 

The 2014 class exhibits a high level of motivation to understand and find ways to resolve conflicts and to make a difference in the world. We are equipping these young leaders to be bridgebuilders in our troubled world, and we are creating a network that supports and encourages them in their future work.

But, the majority of the class are in need of financial support in order to make their hope of participating in CSP a reality. If you can't join us in DC please consider contributing to the program online



Experience CSP through the eyes of the scholars themselves in this  video by Karen Elliott Greisdorf! 

Peacebuilding and non-violence
Discovering different approaches to conflict
A workshop on "Approaches to Conflict" brought together a diverse
group of more than 50 people at Busboys and Poets, a popular gathering spot in Washington, DC. It was the first in a series of events on peacebuilding, community building and non-violence presented by Initiatives of Change USA and 9/11 Unity Walk. The series aims to foster personal reflections on the lives and principles of Mandela, King and Gandhi. The workshop was led by Dr. Carl Stauffer from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University and Academic Director of the Caux Scholars Program. Daniya Baisubanova (CSP2007) shares her impressions:

Held at Busboys and Poets, the aim of the workshop was to facilitate an exploration of different approaches to conflict, and to raise people's consciousness about their own response to conflict. Stauffer, a peacebuilder working in the field for 16 years, outlined the theory of conflict transformation, masterfully incorporating his own story.

Stauffer guided participants through the Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory to discover their individual approaches to conflict. The five conflict styles - directing, cooperating, avoiding, compromising, and harmonizing - are measured by the degree of focus on agenda and relationship. After participants explored their most common conflict styles, Stauffer asked them to discuss and share with others of the same style. Read more ...
The Crowning Experience in Daytona
Bridging the community divide

Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), African American educator, founder of Bethune Cookman University, founder of the National Council of Negro Women, and adviser to five US presidents, felt her encounter with Moral Re-Armament (now Initiatives of Change) in 1954 was so important that she wanted it to be recorded at her gravesite. As a result, in the small garden of the Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach where Bethune is memorialized, the only monument besides her gravestone is a stone bearing the words "Moral Re-Armament: To be a part of this great uniting force of our age is the crowning experience of my life."
Dr. Evelyn Bethune, granddaughter of Mary McLeod Bethune and organizer of the festival

The movie produced by Moral Re-Armament in 1960, The Crowning Experience, starring African American mezzo soprano Muriel Smith and loosely based on the life of Dr. Bethune, was shown on April 9, 2014, as part of a Mary McLeod Bethune Cultural Heritage Arts Festival in Daytona Beach. 

Margaret Smith, scholar-in-residence in American University's International Peace and Conflict Resolution program and possessor of the papers of Muriel Smith, introduced the film. 
Read more ...
In England, at least   

Ken Noble
is company secretary of Initiatives of Change in the UK. He was brought up in Manchester and gained a BSc in physics at Imperial College, London. Ken has worked with IofC in several countries and has served as editor of various IofC publications in London including 16 years as editor of For a Change magazine. He and his wife Maggie recently attended the 2014 Indzaba in Airlie, Virginia.

As an English person visiting the United States for the first time in 25 years, I am conscious that there is a lot of history between our two nations - some good and some not so good.

A sense of history is important. It defines to a large extent who we are today. When we forget our place in history, we can easily be unreal about ourselves.

I am not a historian - but I do take an interest in history. We have a lot of good history programs on TV in the UK. Although, it has to be said, our media and many of our writers sometimes wear rose-tinted spectacles when viewing our past. You often find out a lot more about our achievements than about the places where we did wrong.

When William Hague, our Foreign Secretary (equivalent to the US Secretary of State), condemned Vladimir Putin for the annexation of Crimea, I couldn't help reflecting that there were considerable parts of the world where Hague's words must have sounded hollow. Not that I feel that the Russian action was right.

During what the British call the Indian Mutiny, for example, troops loyal to Britain killed thousands of Indians in their own country for having the effrontery to resist British power. The immediate cause of their unhappiness was that Indian soldiers were ordered to bite off the paper cartridges for their rifles which were greased with animal fat, namely beef and pork. This was against the religious beliefs of Hindus and Muslims, respectively.

Similarly, in China when the Chinese authorities resisted British merchants importing opium, the British used overwhelming force to remove the restrictions.

We rightly celebrate the fact that William Wilberforce and others successfully passed legislation to end the trans-Atlantic slave-trade in the British Parliament. Yet we too often neglect to feel shame that our forebears grew rich on the trade for the preceding three or four centuries. Read more ...
We hope you enjoyed this issue of Breakthroughs. Please share this newsletter with your friends and forward it to those you know have a passion for trustbuilding.
Thank you!
In this issue
What shape is your bridge in?
An integrated approach to community change
Hear their stories. Launch their journey. Be inspired
Discovering different approaches to conflict
Bridging the community divide
In England, at least
A welcoming space for difference
Listening to our community
Beyond Forgiving
Skills applied in an international context
Caux: the door is open
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Reflections from the 2014 Indzaba
A welcoming space for difference 
by Rob Corcoran from his blog
Rob Corcoran cropped It takes courage to reveal your true convictions when you feel you may be alone in your beliefs among a large and vocal group. It is doubly hard in the polarized political climate of the US today where we so quickly form stereotypes around words like conservative and liberal. Read more ...
Listening to our community 
by Ismaila Ceesay (CSP 2011)
Ismaila Ceesay The anti-racism session highlighted the reality that this place that I call home still struggles with racial injustice. As a father to biracial boys, I find it disconcerting that the Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis cases are still possible in this day and age. I strongly feel that honesty is a must in addressing the concerns raised in these sessions. Read more ...
A new film from South Africa
Beyond Forgiving
Beyond Forgiving trailer
Watch this trailer from the award winning film that depicts the true story of two South Africans trying to move beyond their pain towards forgiveness and healing. 
This award winning film depicts the true story of two South Africans trying to move beyond their pain towards forgiveness and healing.  
Dialogue in Romania
Skills applied in an international context 

In the context of a divided society with a long standing history of prejudice and marginalization of the Roma (formerly referred to as Gypsy), the Initiatives of Change team in Baia Mare, Romania, organized a two-day dialogue between representatives of the Roma and non-Roma communities.
Diana Damsa
Diana Damsa, one of the organizers who interned with Hope in the Cities in 2012 writes, "Many of the things we've done were applying what I've learned over the years from Initiatives of Change, and not the least, what I've learned during my internship with HIC." Read more ...
Caux Conferences  2014
Caux: the door is open 

This short video by Karen Elliott Greisdorf introduces you to the Caux conference center. 

June 30-July 4 
Caux dialogue on land and security

July 5-10 
Trust and integrity in the global economy

July 12-17 
Just governance for human security

July 20-24 
Seeds of inspiration

July 26-August 1 
Children as actors for transforming society

August 3-8  
Living in a multicultural world

August 10-13  
International peace-builder's forum

More information available on the Caux website
2013 Caux Conference  Reports

Read online or order hard copies from the IofC office 
 Hope & inspiration
Check out the tools for change  in our books and media catalog


by Rob Corcoran


A new study guide and toolkit provides questions for reflection, conversation and action.  

AAA flyer image
The Imam & The Pastor  

 "The African model for finding peace amid the continent's warring communities"  The Times (London) 


An African Answer  

The second film about the work of these two African peacemakers. 

Initiatives of Change, USA
is part of a diverse global network with an 80-year track record of peacebuilding, conflict transformation and forging partnerships across divides of race, class, religion and politics.  
Our vision
We inspire a vision of community where a commitment to reconciliation and justice transcends competing identities and interests. 
Our mission
We equip leaders to build trust in diverse communities through a process of personal change, inclusive dialogue, healing historical conflict and teambuilding 
Our focus
We connect core values with personal and public action with a focus on racial reconciliation, economic inclusion and interfaith understanding.
For more information
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