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September 2014            Newsletter of Initiatives of Change USA
Issue No. 29




Do you struggle to answer the question, "What is Initiatives of Change?" or "What exactly does Initiatives of Change do?" Well, here is a new video that will answer some of those questions.


Trust Begins Here

This 12 minutes video by Karen Elliott Greisdorf highlights the history and global network of Initiatives of Change and explores the foundation of its trustbuilding work here in the United States.


 Share it with your friends and start a conversation!

This program brings news from the Caux Scholars Program and the reunion that was held in Caux in August. Exciting plans are developing to create a satellite Caux Scholars program in India. We'll keep you posted as this initiative grows.

As a nation the issue of race has once again come to the fore with the events in Ferguson, MO. Rob Corcoran's article on the theme of trustbuilding was carried as an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The launch of the Community Trustbuilding Fellowship increases the capacity of community leaders to overcome divisions of race, culture, economics and politics.
Caux Scholars 2014 & CSP reunion
Practical experience applied in action
By Jitka Hromek-Vaitla and Kathy Aquilina

Through role playing, teambuilding and conference organizing, the 2014 Caux Scholars combined traditional education with practical application. The 19 scholars from 16 countries brought great diversity to the program (see class bios). As well as skills learned in the academic classes and service requirements, they discovered more about other cultures, built relationships and found personal and professional inspiration.    
Jacob Sharpe (University of Tennessee), who works at the Nashville International Center for Empowerment where he assists immigrants in adapting to life in Tennessee, writes of his experience: "I arrived in Switzerland with absolutely no idea of what I was getting myself into, but I left with a greater depth of knowledge, a trove of experience, and a multitude of friends who will stay in touch for years to come. My fellow scholars provided a wealth of experience and knowledge. We will never forget the people whom we were lucky enough to meet.

"Our academic program provided me not only with a framework of peacebuilding skills, but practical experience to put into action. Through the use of stories, role play and lectures, Dr. Stauffer kept us both entertained and engaged. Many lessons brought out passionate responses from the class, and the debates that occurred helped to shape and improve our own beliefs. We were encouraged to defend our positions in a way that was judgment-free. Dr. Stauffer's moderation and skills as a mediator helped us calmly address problems and work together towards solutions ... 

We are wired to be in community
A Caux Scholar reunion drew 24 alumni from 11 different classes and 19 countries back to Caux. Sessions for them to get to know the 2014 cohort of scholars elicited an engaging buzz.

At a meeting over lunch the two groups talked about corruption, its effects and what can be done. The exchange about business and ethics evoked this evaluation from one of the alumni: "I enjoyed meeting old friends from the Caux Scholars Program that I had not seen for more than twenty years. With hindsight, one can see how the principles of IofC/MRA impacted alumni throughout their lives. The reunion was a reminder of the contribution CSP has made to who we have become. I have worked with large banks where excessive risk-taking caused the worst financial crisis since the depression, and witnessed firsthand the ethical failing of the industry... CSP gave me the ethical foundation and professional integrity to help me deal with the conflict of interest in auditing the firm that pays me." Read more ...  
International peacebuilders forum
Inner peace is vital for global harmony

This article written by Lamiya Adilgizi (CSP 2013) from Azerbaijan was first carried by Today's Zaman. We reprint an edited version:

How to apply the passion for building peace towards positive individual and global change was the question that topped the agenda of the International Peacebuilders Forum (IPF) held in Caux, Switzerland on August 10-12.

International peacebuilders at the forum agreed that cultivating inner peace is critical in efforts to create collective consciousness and spark international peace in our conflicted world.

The Swiss mountains were a backdrop for peace and reconciliation this summer by bringing together scores of diplomats, politicians, NGOs, foundations, international organizations, think tanks, experts, students, academics and individual peacebuilders at the IPF to discuss how to make the world a better place.

The IPF was hosted by CAUX-Initiatives of Change (CAUX-IofC) and the Institute for Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding (ICP) in cooperation with the Caux Scholars Program (CSP).

In plenary sessions, workshops and discussions over the three-day-long forum participants discussed: How does change occur? And how can we change structures of violence into structures of peace and harmony?

The field of peacebuilding right now is experiencing tension between those who say we should change the individual because institutions do not work, and those who believe that if we don't change policies, institutions and structures, change will not take place; that it is a waste of time to start on the individual level. Read more ...
Community Trustbuilding Fellowship
Leadership from the inside out

We are excited to announce that thirty outstanding community leaders from Richmond, VA; Memphis, TN; Dayton, OH; Austin, TX, and Washington, DC have been selected as the first class of the 2015 Community Trustbuilding Fellowship Program commencing on October 17, 2014.

The class will come together for one weekend each month for five months of intensive skills building and leadership formation delivered by Hope in the Cities. The diverse class includes a community organizer, an educator, the head of a foundation, the CEO of a hospital, an urban farmer and an environmental manager for a university. 

Cricket White, director of education and training, is heading a core faculty that includes Tee Turner, director of reconciliation programs for Hope in the Cities, Elnora Allen who has been a community facilitator in Richmond for more than 20 years and Matthew Freeman who, with this wife and partner, Tiffany Jana, designs and implements diversity and inclusion strategies for business, government and community organizations.
The faculty meet to prepare the modules
Held at the Richmond Hill retreat center in Richmond, VA, the program focuses on personal transformation and social change, the power of history and its legacy, the skills of dialogue and the ability to build diverse teams and partnerships. Cricket says, "The emphasis of this program is 'leadership from the inside out.'  Changing ourselves will change our communities."

Two guest faculty have confirmed their participation in support of specific modules. They are John W. Franklin, Director of Partnerships and International Programs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian and Hugh O'Doherty, from Northern Ireland, who teaches leadership at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and is a Senior Associate with Cambridge Leadership Associates.

Watch this space for updates and stories from some of the Fellows as they experience this journey together! Read more ...
John Taylor joins the team
Change is good!

John Taylor
was one of more than 150 people who applied for the job of Hope in the Cities program coordinator. He joined the team just two months ago and writes: 

As family members shared the Hope in the Cities program coordinator job description with me I sat in wonderment and awe as I first began learning about Initiatives of Change on their website: 
Sustained efforts over decades to create safe spaces for groups of individuals to build bridges and address deep, historical, racial, ethnic and economic divides. An acknowledgement of the painful legacy of historical realities that continue to deeply affect our society today. A commitment to trustbuilding through tough, honest and fearless dialogue - leaving no stone unturned - between committed and diverse peoples who through their work together move from trustbuilding to team building to address issues of economic inequity, implicit bias, structural racism and others within their surrounding communities. All of this built on a spiritual base of personal reflection, introspection and discipline.

This deeply resonated with me as I reflected on the years passed. In college I majored in American History where I deepened my awareness and understanding of the injustices remaining and their historical precedents. While on campus I was compelled to become a more active citizen and was one who led efforts to convince my college to divest funds that supported the South Africa apartheid regime.

In the years that followed I found myself working in religious organizations, education institutions, political campaigns, nonprofit organizations that all, in one manner or another, were focused on social change. I've worked in South America and in several regions in the US I started urban farm projects in Newark, NJ, to help address the severe lack of healthy affordable food options available to city residents. Most recently, I lived in an intentional community of Muslims, Christians and Jews committed to nonviolence and peacemaking. Read more ... 
Trust as social capital

This column by Rob Corcoran, national director of Initiatives of Change USA, appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, August 24, 2014.

In 1992, Los Angeles erupted in violence sparked by the acquittal of white police officers caught on video beating a black motorist, Rodney King. The following year, Richmond's leaders offered this metropolitan city as a venue for a national conversation on race, reconciliation and responsibility. "Healing the Heart of America" drew people from 50 US cities - including Los Angeles - to accompany Richmonders in "unmasking" our racial history.

It was a bold bid to bring a new perspective to the national dialogue by speaking forthrightly - but without blame - about the pain of the past and the present in order to create a new, shared narrative. Since then, thousands of area residents have engaged in dialogue, walked the Slave Trail, participated in community forums and built new, often unexpected partnerships. Richmond is a work in progress but it is at a different place.

In recent days, the need for trust, dialogue, honesty and accountability is cited frequently by residents of Ferguson, Mo., as they strive for justice and healing. Above all there is a need to overcome distrust that has built over generations.

Trust is the social capital that makes our cities work - or not. It is the essential foundation for building healthy communities. Trust requires change in attitudes as well as change in laws and policies. It requires authentic leadership, willingness to engage in difficult conversations, courage to face the wounds of history and persistence to build bridges across traditional divides of race, class and politics.

Ferguson can take heart from the Richmond experience. If a city so deeply divided by its history and - in the words of a former mayor and governor - "congenitally resistant to change of any kind" can have honest conversations, they should be possible anywhere. We are fortunate in the extensive network of community organizations and leaders at all levels who have intentionally built relationships and who have nurtured a vision of what Richmond can become. The job is far from done and daunting challenges remain. But, as the same leader quoted above noted, this citizen-led reconciliation initiative has "moved what looked like an immoveable barricade."  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
Practical experience applied in action
Inner peace is vital for global harmony
Leadership from the inside out
Change is good!
Trust as social capital
Building a healthier future for all
Rajmohan Gandhi to keynote VCU Forum
"Chocolate City" screening in DC
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Trustbuilding Forum
Building a healthier future for all

Dr. David Williams is the Norman Professor of Public Health and African American Studies at Harvard University.  His research has enhanced our understanding of the complex ways in which race, racism, socioeconomic status and stress affect physical and mental health.

At this forum Dr. Williams will address the social determinants of health and will engage with the Richmond health community.

When: Tuesday, October 7, 12:00-2:00pm 
Where: Richmond Times-Dispatch, 300 E. Franklin St, Richmond, VA 23219

Free and open to the public

India Chair at VCU
Rajmohan Gandhi
to keynote forum
Rajmohan Gandhi   Rajmohan Gandhi is historian, biographer and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. He will speak on:"Popular movements and the popular vote in India today"  

This event is presented by the
L. Douglas Wilder School of Government & Public Affairs.
: Monday, Sept. 22,  
Panel discussion: 5:30 pm Lecture: 7:00 pm

VCU Student Commons,
Commonwealth Ballrooms
907 Floyd Avenue, Second Floor
Richmond, VA 23219

Free and open to the public.

 DC Event
Community screening & conversation 


"Chocolate City "
Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Initiatives of Change will screen and host a discussion of this award-winning film by filmmaker and DC native Ellie Walton. This film explores the rapid gentrification of Washington, DC.
6:00 pm Reception
6:30-8:30 pm Screening & discussion

WeWork Wonder Bread Factory
641 S. Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

For more information and to register  
 Financial Review
Initiatives of Change USA Financial Review

 Read online
Print copies can be ordered
from our office 
IofC Annual Report
Initiatives of Change International

Read online
Print copies can be ordered
from our office 
A new film from South Africa
Beyond Forgiving
Beyond Forgiving trailer
This award winning film depicts the true story of two South Africans trying to move beyond their pain towards forgiveness and healing.  
2013 Healing History conference report

Print copies can be ordered from our office  
 Hope & inspiration
Check out the tools for change  in our books and media catalog


by Rob Corcoran



Read Rob Corcoran's latest blog

Why story matters 


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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.
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