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January 2015            Newsletter of Initiatives of Change USA
Issue No. 31




We have a lot of momentum going into 2015. The Community Trustbuilding Fellowship will complete the final three modules graduating a class of 30 community leaders from 6 US cities. In the coming year we hope we can export the program to other cities.


The Caux scholars program has just wrapped up in India and applications are coming in for the summer program in Switzerland.


Our main focus is on the "Healing History: Memory, Legacy and Social Change" international conference in Richmond, VA, April 6-9, 2015.  So far we know of people coming from UK, Netherlands, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and Cambodia so this will be an important global conversation. Read more on the conference below.



Richmond forum series
Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism 

Imagine walking barefoot and in chains for over 1000 miles from Richmond, Virginia, to Natchez, Mississippi. This was the graphic picture painted by Edward Baptist of Cornell University at a Community Trustbuilding Forum on January 15.

The author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism read from documents that included the actual names of just one of the countless groups of people - more than one million in all - who endured the horrendous forced march to southern plantations.

Todd Culbertson, editor of the editorial pages of the Richmond Times-Dispatch which hosted the event, welcomed the audience of nearly 200 people. "Everyone wants reconciliation, but we can't have reconciliation without truth."

This month Virginia marks the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of L. Douglas Wilder as the nation's first elected black governor. Todd noted that Wilder's grandparents were slaves: "This is not ancient history."

"Slavery was not an anomaly," said Edward Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and a distinguished historian. It was in fact the "the engine" that drove the American economy. He called Baptist's book "quite simply the fullest and most powerful account we have of the evolution of slavery in the United States."

Before reaching the slave markets in Mississippi, traders would "fatten up" their captives for sale. Once on the plantations they were exposed to a process of "brutal learning and re-learning" to pick cotton at an ever faster rate. Baptist commented that he found it "hard to believe" that the constant focus in this country on increasing productivity (with little regard for the individual) "has nothing to do with this history of slavery."  Read more ...
Healing History 2015  Update
The conference program is taking shape and the invitation will go to the printers next week. A Richmond host committee has been formed and, with our community partners, they will welcome conference participants from around the country and overseas.

An innovative feature of the April conference will be breakout sessions led by issue-specific working groups. These working groups are already forming and are starting to communicate nationally and internationally around key public policy issues such as diversity in housing and education, community wealth building and creating inclusive economies.

Other groups are exploring the role of museums and public history sites for education and healing, issues of immigration and citizenship, the social determinants of health, and how to overcome implicit bias.

These groups will meet several times via Skype or email before the conference and will stay in communication after the conference ends. They will also collaborate to produce deliverables before the end of the summer 2015. These might include anything from a toolkit, to an educational video, a white paper, or a public community action.

The breakout sessions at the conference will be led by each working group. The goal is to share approaches and strategies; to highlight best practices and replicable community models; strengthen regional ties between practitioners and interested parties; and educate and advocate around relevant issues.

Caux Scholars Program in India
Moral courage to live differently

Patrick McNamara, PhD, executive vice-chair of the board of directors of Initiatives of Change USA, has just returned from serving on the faculty of the Caux Scholars Program at Asia Plateau, India. He is Visiting Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

I was a Caux Scholar in 1996 and it changed my life. Now coming full circle, I serve on the faculty of the new Caux Scholars Program at Asia Plateau and I watched it change others' lives.

There were 17 scholars from 13 countries in this new class who gathered from December 28, 2014 through January 16, 2015. This impressive group of scholars in their 20s and 30s came to the beautiful IofC conference center in Panchgani, India with a common hope to take new skills as peacebuilders back to their communities. They are leaving with more than just those skills. Many expressed a deeper spiritual direction and moral courage to live differently as models of peace in their families, organizations, communities and nations.

Some examples of the amazing Caux Scholars include: an Iraqi immigrant to Sweden who works to integrate Muslim youth into European societies, even more important after the recent Paris attacks and backlash we are seeing; a social entrepreneur who launched a "friendships across borders" program to link young people in India and Pakistan; a director of Seeds of Peace building bridges of reconciliation originally between Israelis and Palestinians and now expanding into divides between Hindus and Muslims; two young women from Afghanistan working on the rights of girls and women in that country; a Ugandan student leader who is working to bring conflicting communities together at her university; and an Egyptian woman who participated in the revolution there. Read more ...

More information on CSP in India 
Caux Scholars class of 2015 in Caux
Tomorrow's peacebuilders

It is that time of the year when the Caux Scholars Program (CSP) needs your help!  Please think of potential scholars for the 2015 summer program and encourage them to apply. We are looking for committed students and young professionals from all continents and diverse backgrounds who will become tomorrow's peacebuilders.

Dr. Carl Stauffer, the Caux Scholar academic director, wrote at year's-end: "No doubt there are many news headlines that give rise for concern: the extremist terror campaigns of ISIS/ISIL,  community, fighting in South Sudan, Ebola in West Africa, Russian-Ukrainian tensions, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and police killings of unarmed black males in the US. Many would want to despair. I remain hopeful. Why? Because I also know that peace is on the rise through the vital work of peacebuilders and their organizations across the Globe who are living into a new reality of how we as humans can co-exist and thrive together. The Caux Scholars Program is one of those programs that is transforming conflicts on many fronts. Of our 400+ alumni, a majority are giving their lives in the service of peace across many sectors of society."

Dr. Mohammad Abu-Nimer from American University will join Stauffer on the faculty. Dr. Abu-Nimer is an expert on conflict resolution and dialogue for peace. He has conducted research on conflict resolution and dialogue for peace among Palestinians and Jews in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; application of conflict resolution models in Muslim communities; interreligious conflict resolution training; interfaith dialogue, and evaluation of conflict resolution programs.

What do the scholars experience? This month-long summer program, held in Caux at the Initiatives of Change conference center in Switzerland, will start on June 26 and conclude on July 24. The focus this year is on themes of justice, conflict transformation and reconciliation. The program includes approximately 40 hours of academic and experiential classes, seven hours per week of "Service for Leadership" practical work, and a field trip to Geneva to visit the United Nations Headquarters. As part of their academic course the CSP class will participate in the Just Governance for Human Security conference, July 3-7, one in the series of Caux summer conferences.

A 2014 scholar from Lebanon wrote: "I entered CSP feeling angry, sad, and frustrated with the way world affairs functioned... CSP taught me the valuable lessons of self-reflection and self-nurturing of which we lose sight amid the daily pressures of working in this field... I came down the mountain a different person: happier, lighter, and much more flexible on conflict transformation methods."
Applications for the 2015 Caux Scholars Program in Switzerland are now being accepted. The deadline is February 27. Please share information about the program with your networks or contact us if you have any questions.

For more information and to apply 
Community Trustbuilding Fellowship
Creating a new narrative for communities

The second module of the Community Trustbuilding Fellowship took the group back through history and along the historic Richmond Slave Trail. This brought the class to a deeper level of difficult but honest dialogue.
This unique five-part program increases the capacity of community leaders to overcome divisions of  race, culture, economics and politics by creating a network of skilled facilitators, capable team builders and credible role models.

Dates for the 2015-2016 program  

October 16-18, 2015
   Catalysts of change: becoming an authentic leader
December 4-6, 2015
   Healing history: creating a new narrative for communities
January 22-24, 2016
   Creating a dialogue for change: getting to the underlying issues
February 19-21, 2016
   Dialogue delivery: practicing skills for honest conversation
March 18-20, 2016
   Strategies for engaging all sectors: building & sustaining teams

What will you gain? Tools to connect theory with practice; personal transformation with social change; understanding of the power of history and its legacy; skills to address critical issues of bias and inequity, and confidence to work creatively for reconciliation and justice.

Consider taking part. The application process will begin in early February.
I wondered how bad it could be

Mike McQuillan
, a founding member of the Hope in the Cities national network, coordinated the Crown Heights Coalition's healing work after the 1991 racial crisis in Brooklyn, NY. A former U.S. Senate aide and Peace Corps Volunteer, he teaches history at the Brooklyn School for Global Studies. Mike has recently been appointed to NYPD Commissioner Bratton's Training Advisory Board.
I wondered how bad it could be. I was on a plane to North Carolina for a race relations workshop in Rocky Mount in the aftermath of arson burnings of southern black churches. Yet despite knowing the lurid details of Jim Crow-era racist violence, and recalling because I teach high school history that forty-seven segregation laws in thirteen states were the "legal cover" for brute force against those who crossed the line, I wondered how bad it could be. It was 1996, I thought myself well-informed but was humbled to find I was still naive.

"Every morning before they head out the door to school I rehearse my two sons on what they will do if they are stopped by the police." A young African-American mother of fifth and sixth graders said this when the workshop began. How many times I had heard this up north! But to hear it there and then over three days discover how widespread was the problem and how deep the "black rage/white denial" pattern I had lived with in Brooklyn, New York, was heartbreaking.

I cried in the midst of my remarks at the closing plenary session, but not as the cathartic confession of long-held white racism that has seemed self-serving when I have observed it in others. My tears came from anguish that as a nation and therefore as individuals we are still stuck in a stalemate with racism.

It is now nineteen years on and how much has changed? The clichéd comments will come on King's birthday: "Celebrate the Dream." "We've come far but have far to go." It sickens me. Dreams are what happens in the night. We need by day to face cold hard realities, talk frankly while affirming each others' humanity, craft a long-term vision each side can cherish, then brainstorm till we together agree on goals, obstacles, and strategies for change.
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
The half has never been told
Healing History 2015 Update
Moral courage to live differently
Tomorrow's peacebuilders
Creating a new narrative for communities
I wondered how bad it could be
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Caux Conferences
Exploring the human factor in global change

June 26-July 1
Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy

July 3-8
Just Governance for Human Security

July 10-14
Caux Dialogue on Land and Security

July 16-19
Addressing Europe's Unfinished Business
International Peace-Builders' Forum

July 27-August 2
CATS - Children and Adults - Partners for Change?

August 4-9
Seeds of Inspiration

August 10-15
Impact Initiatives Challenge

 More information
Caux Artist Program
In 2015 the Caux Artists Program (CAP) will return to Caux with an expanded interdisciplinary summer course in vocal arts (classical, music theater and pop!) and the humanities.

The program runs July 9-23. Come challenge yourself to live and work as an artist with a world perspective!
Now accepting applications for 12 young performing artists from around the world!  Scholarship funds available. Apply early! Application deadline for scholarships is February 15. First come, first served!
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

Separation as violence 


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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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