May 2016            Newsletter of Initiatives of Change
Issue No. 37
In the midst of busy weeks our team is also experiencing big transitions. We welcomed the new executive director Jake Hershman, who has written some of his initial thoughts in this issue. 

More than fifty people gathered to celebrate Cricket White, who is retiring from full-time work. We will still call her in for special projects including work that she and Tee Turner are doing in Troup County, GA. She continues service on the Initiatives of Change International Council until the end of the year. So this is not good-bye. She has also written some reflections. 

Seeing another outstanding class graduate from the Community Trustbuilding Fellowship and celebrating 25 years of the Caux Scholars Program encourages us to find more dynamic ways to engage with the alumni who are an amazing global network of peacemakers and trustbuilders.
Facebook Icon  
Introducing Jake Hershman

Until I have the pleasure of meeting you in person this slightly impersonal, introductory note will have to suffice.

As you know, I recently joined the Initiatives of Change, USA (IofC) as its new Executive Director. It genuinely is an privilege to be entrusted with leading this organization in a way that will honor and accentuate its spiritual foundation while creatively responding to the needs of our communities here in the United States and beyond. 

After nearly two decades of living and working in conflict/post-conflict zones around the world, I have become convinced that enduring social change and "peace" will only be possible when it is pursued by ordinary citizens, communities and leaders who draw on transformative spiritual discernment and reserves for their efforts. Going forward, we intend for IofC to accompany those efforts with increased relevance and dynamism. 

For this organization to fully live up to its lofty name and mission here in the US and globally, we are working to instill an organizational process that constantly looks inwardly and outwardly. Are we stewarding our resources to the maximum by leveraging our network and executing convincing, impactful initiatives? How do we know whether our perspective and actions are appropriate for building trust and social cohesion? If determined to be impactful, how do we more strategically detail and share those experiences and approaches? These are some of the questions we've begun grappling with within the IofC team as we map out our collective next steps. 

At a pivotal moment within this country and internationally, we sense that our change agenda is appropriately ambitious. Of course, we'll need your support and presence to make it happen. I already have heard extraordinary stories about many of you and again, I'm looking forward to identifying ways that your partnership with IofC can be strengthened as we move forward. 

Caux Scholars 25th Anniversary
Peacebuilding for the 21st century
Randy Ruffin
Swiss Ambassador Martin Dahinden welcomed alumni, academic and program directors, faculty and supporters to a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Caux Scholars Program at his embassy on April 28. Referring to Switzerland's hosting of the Syria peace talks in Geneva, the Iran nuclear talks in Montreux and the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Ambassador underlined his country's commitment to global peacebuilding, from which followed support for the Caux Scholars Program. The embassy not only provided a meeting space, but also invited everyone to the residence on the grounds for a generous reception following the program.
Ambassador Dahinden talks with Jitka Hromek-Vaitla
and Ian Ralby
Liberian alum, Dr. Samuel Gbaydee Doe (CSP 1995), who has also been a member of the faculty many summers, was the featured speaker. He currently serves as Senior Policy Advisor and Team Leader of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery with the UN Development Program, based in New York. Arriving at Caux in 1995 straight from the terrible Civil War in Liberia, Sam spoke of the huge contrast that Caux offered - "an alternative to deprivation, to terror; another world where people are people again." His second principal takeaway was that Caux is a place where "the ordinary confounds the extraordinary" - where a person like Kofi Anan might be found washing dishes - the sort of occurrence that "shook my image of the world." And thirdly, Sam emphasized the impact of the stories that are told in meetings, over meals and on walks. "Each encounter changes something in me" he said, underlining "the courage of opening oneself to another's stories, even if that person is an enemy. Weaving them into a tapestry recreates our world."
Barbara Hintermann
Barbara Hintermann, who became Secretary General of the Caux Foundation just over a year ago after serving in numerous positions with the International Committee of the Red Cross, came from Switzerland for the occasion. Noting that Caux was celebrating its 70th anniversary, she spoke of IofC's commitment to training future leaders in peacebuilding and ethical business. Using the powerful tools of "inner reflection" and "storytelling", the Caux Foundation hopes to help build bridges of trust between the migrant and resident populations in Switzerland. It also plans to offer training in ethical leadership for the private sector and to continue hosting confidential dialogues between groups in conflict. Read more
Community Trustbuilding Fellowship
A gift beyond description
Rob Corcoran
"It has been life-changing," said Rubie Britt-Height, the director of community relations at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, as she graduated from the 2016 Community Trustbuilding Fellowship in April. Many of the twenty participants from Virginia, as well as four other states and Washington, DC, who completed the five residential weekend modules in Richmond starting last October, expressed similar feelings.
Meghan Resler
Meghan Resler, a macro social worker in Richmond, reflected, "When I came, my thoughts were transactional. I was focused on skills. I absolutely got those, but the experience was transformational. That is what has risen to the top."

The regular quiet times built into the program featured strongly in the personal assessments. "I realize how natural silence can be. You showed us something very powerful," said Jessica Anderson, who directs a program for freshman at Armstrong High School in one of Richmond's most underserved neighborhoods. "It's an honor to be in such a sacred space," said Cheryl Groce-Wright who leads the Neighborhood Resource Center in the city's east end. "This has been a gift beyond description. Most surprising is the quiet. I am impressed with myself and how I have found a way to make it a part of my daily life. It has become an important part of my personal mental care and my ability to be who I am."

During the final module, Hasan Zarif was called away to attend Governor Terry McAuliffe's signing of an executive order that returned voting rights to more than 200,000 returning citizens who had completed their prison sentences and probation periods. 
Hasan Zarif
Hasan had served 17 years of a life sentence when he was paroled in 1989. He subsequently became a prison chaplain and re-entry specialist. After his civil rights were restored by Governor Tim Kaine in 2009, Hasan worked for restoration of rights to other ex-felons. The day after the historic event at the state capitol, a picture in the Richmond Times-Dispatch showed him seated in the front row as the governor made his announcement. 

"Can you really have honest conversation with yourself and then with others?" asked Hasan as he reviewed his Fellowship experience. "I have already begun to use this in my job. We often let stuff fester inside us because we have not had honest conversation with ourselves. Don't expect from others more than what you would do yourself." Read more
Healing History
Countdown to an opening!
Susan Corcoran
"The African American museum movement began in people's living rooms," says Dr. John W. Franklin, Senior Manager of the Office of External Affairs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian. He was in Richmond for two days at the invitation of Hope in the Cities to address a variety of audiences at the Library of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Armstrong High School and eager young students at the Boys & Girls Club. September 24, 2016 will see the historic opening of the new museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC. President Obama will cut the ribbon to open the doors to the public and commence a week-long celebration. It has taken decades to realize this dream and is the culmination of the work of many communities who have begun to acknowledge and heal their own painful history. The museum will be a place where everyone can explore the story of America through the lens of the African American experience.  
While the specific stories of persecution and struggle, resiliency and triumph are presented in the museum's exhibitions, the building itself stands as a powerful testament to the centrality and relevance of African American culture and history. Clad in 3600 bronze mesh panels the building draws on African tradition and the African American presence that is a permanent part of the American landscape. Dr. Franklin talked of the remarkable support the museum has received. "The people who have given their grandmother's china are as invested as those who have given large sums of money." 

In setting the context for his presentation, Franklin pointed out that during the centennial of the Civil War in the 1960s there was no mention of slavery.
Dr. John W. Franklin
It was a story of the white and powerful. In the intervening 50 years African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, women and many from other countries have taken their place in our universities. This has opened the way for a whole new study of history and culture and a broader look at society. At one time there were only two national parks honoring African Americans. There were no stories of African Americans in museums or text books. There were no depictions in art. In many cases the collections existed but were never displayed or made accessible. "It is important for children to know their story and see themselves in history," Franklin said. Now there are more than 30 museums and in more recent times these have given rise to other museums about Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, and Arab Americans. 
Read more 
Unpacking the census: 5 years later
Move beyond what you currently know
Qesarah Spencer is a graduate of the Community Trustbuilding Fellowship. She was also one of the many trained community facilitators who took the "Unpacking the Census" presentation to more than 1000 people in the Richmond, VA, region as part of a public process to educate citizens about the facts of poverty in metropolitan Richmond and to mobilize community support for action. At the recent forum on "Unpacking the Census:5 years later" Quesarah challenged the audience to become engaged.  

I'm a Richmond native, born and raised on the Northside. As soon as I was able, I moved away for about ten years. Then I returned to pursue graduate education a little more than ten years ago. When I returned, I recalled growing up feeling like there was a secret people knew, but no one would talk about. My grandparents lived into their nineties. Neither would talk much about what it was like living here in Richmond. However, my engagement through Hope in the Cities and "Unpacking the Census" shed light on that hidden history. 

There is a familiar quote that admonishes us that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But simply remembering the past does not guarantee we won't be condemned. Nor does it ensure we won't repeat it.

We can reminisce about a half-hidden past with rose-colored glasses and become stagnant, gazing into days that were good for some at the expense of others. We can look back on a dreadful past with fear and trepidation, becoming paralyzed, unable to move beyond its tragedies. And we can dwell on an unjust past with anger and become polarized, unable to trust each other. 

There are many ways we can remember the past. So when we do recall our history, we must have proper perspective in order to clearly see our way into a better future. Our memories must connect honestly to our present-day reality. Otherwise, the solutions we try to implement to address our unequal systems will not truly address the root causes, 
but rather only serve to create greater inequity.  

That's why the "
Unpacking the Census" initiative is important. It provides a corrective to our perspective of history and the role that history has played in where we are today. If we learn from the lessons "Unpacking" can teach, we can use our collective power to reset our priorities, to address basic structural and systemic issues and move the metro Richmond region forward in ways that include ALL its citizens. Read more
We hope you enjoyed this issue of Trustbuilders. Please share this newsletter with your friends and forward it to those you know have a passion for trustbuilding. 
Thank you!

In this issue
Please consider a
gift to Initiatives of Change!

Sixty percent of our support comes from people just like you! No gift is too large or too small.

Donate button 

Become a sustaining donor with a monthly gift!  
Celebrating Cricket White
I couldn't have imagined where this journey would take me
I remember driving home one afternoon in 1995 and the question that filled my mind was, "What did I do? Is this the right move?"

I had just left my job in the Mayor's office and city hall to work with Hope in the Cities. Our 'office' was a dining room table where we worked together drafting a letter to several mayors. From this beginning the Call to Community was launched which formed the foundation of the work we would be engaged in for the next 20 years.

And now, just recently I was sitting in a room at a southern college with about 24 citizens from the area. I was encouraging them to share the ways in which their racial group had contributed to tension and division in the country. Through activities and conversa- tions they began to build the trust necessary to explore this difficult question. What a privilege to be a part of that kind of courage and honesty. What a responsibility to co-facilitate it. Read more
Join the 2017 CTF class!
Now is the time to apply!

The Community Trustbuilding Fellowship is a unique program that 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. 

The 2017 program will begin in January and run through May.
2016 Caux Conferences
Celebrating 70 years of Trustbuilding

June 29-July 3
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 19-23
Addressing Europe's Unfinished Business

July 19-23
International Peace-Builders' Forum

July 26-August 1
CATS - Children as Actors for Transforming Society

August 4-10
Creators of Peace
Living Peace: Celebrating 25 Years of Creators of Peace

August 12-17
Seeds of Inspiration

2015 Caux Report
More than 1400 people from all continents attended the eight International Caux Conferences in 2015. 

Plan on being there this year!
 Hope & inspiration
Check out our books and media catalog


by Rob Corcoran


Trustbuilding Book Launch
  Read Rob Corcoran's latest blog

Leading with love


Blogger logo 
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