July 2016            Newsletter of Initiatives of Change
Issue No. 38

There are moments when words miserably fail to express our emotions. When we observe or experience something that shakes us at a deeper level than we typically allow ourselves to go. It is not a comfortable place. Often it's a sobering and frightening place where the real and imagined protective barriers behind which we hide from real or imagined threats, are compromised or penetrated. Sometimes, what follows is an invading flow of disorienting and disturbing questions that might challenge our preconceptions about truth, security, justice, our neighbors - ourselves.

The choice we make about what to do with such a moment is important. For some, the confusion or the anxiety caused by unexpected exposure causes a frantic effort to rebuild our shields - to deflect or recast our thoughts and feelings in ways that help us re-insulate. Rather than listening to ourselves and these opportunities to more creatively and authentically redress imbalances in and around us, we might become defensive, reactive and closed to others. The irony is that this "protective" posture actually harms us, as it prevents us from living freely in connection with others who might help challenge or draw out elements of ourselves that we otherwise would ignore or lock within -- missed opportunities to contribute, to innovate, to listen, to fail and to grow as individuals and communities. 

While we commonly miss or reject such moments on a daily basis, recent events in the United States are impossible to ignore any longer. Over the din of shooting, shouting, grievances, accusations, analysis, fear and loss, a pervading search for answers as to why such things continue to happen and how might enduring conditions be created that would extinguish such vulnerability and violence in our communities. Talking is helpful and listening perhaps even more critical. Prayer is paramount. And within all of that, the need for a cohesive and practical plan that addresses all levels of conflict within our US society - the personal, the relational, the cultural and the structural. We believe this holistic approach is the path to the destination Dr. King envisioned when he said "that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience."

Our team at Initiatives of Change USA perceives this moment as a pivotal opportunity for those of us seeking to create spaces where trust can be nurtured and solidified. To maximize this opportunity, we must be perceived as a trusted and accountable institutional presence within communities - reflecting not only humility and patience but also rigorous, self-evaluation. We deeply appreciate your continued support as we work to fashion IofC into a change agency worthy of the urgent needs amidst us. 

Jake Hershman
Executive Director
Keeping a global perspective
While there is much to pre-occupy us at home and news that is overwhelming from elsewhere in the world, in this issue we bring you news from the conferences at Caux, the Initiatives of Change center in Switzerland that has been called the "headquarters of hope for the world." An important focus of the conferences this summer is the global issue of migration, refugees and displaced persons. 

Read also about Peace Circles in Washington, DC, and the acts of courage needed to combat extremism.
Caux: 70 years of trustbuilding
Leadership based on personal change
Rob Corcoran
The Initiatives of Change conference center in Caux, Switzerland, celebrating 70 years of trustbuilding, opened the summer with a special forum on migration. Policy makers, activists, migrants, refugees and concerned citizens joined a conversation on an issue that is rocking governments and communities everywhere. The mayor of Montreux thanked the Caux Foundation for its "commitment to build trust across borders and cultures." Singer-songwriter Naom Vazana, who plays piano and trombone at the same time, performed songs from her new album named appropriately "Love Migration." 
At the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (CDLS), Ambassador William Swing, an American serving as director general of the International Organization for Migration, urged attendees to change the migration narrative - which has become "toxic" - from a focus on "identity to shared values." With one in seven people globally in migratory status, this is "the mega-trend of our century." He reminded his audience that migration is "the world's oldest poverty reduction strategy." 

Jennifer Helgeson from Maryland, a research economist at the Applied Economics Office at the National Office of Standards and Technology, presented a book she co-edited Land Restoration: Reclaiming a Landscape for a Sustainable Future. As well as discussing policy issues it includes practical examples from several parts of the world. 

Luc Gnacadia from Benin, former executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and the initiator of CDLS, highlighted three new lenses that the dialogues have given to the topic of land restoration. First, the crucial role of leadership based on personal change that can be a valuable asset for profitable investment to enhance stability locally and globally. Second, the importance of trustbuilding in situational analysis and decision-making within land restoration. Gnacadja also noted that land users and farmers often do not invest in sustainable land management because they are unable to capture its side socio-economic benefits. Accountability and benefit sharing through just governance make land restoration achievable. 

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, the vice chair of the UN Global Compact, and Lawrence Cockcroft, co-founder of Transparency International, discussed the question of financial regulation and corruption at the opening of a conference on Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy. "No sector of society can fix things on their own, but alliances need trust," said Moody-Stuart. In Cockcroft's view, real progress on corruption will come from "a political groundswell within countries." 
Naomie Lucas from the United States, spoke of her grandfather who was a sharecropper. "His home only had an outhouse but it had a prayer room." He was the first African American to buy a car for cash in North Carolina. Naomi is now the founder and CEO of Southern Wicked Beverages, a highly successful start-up in North Carolina. She cited four moral principles of business from a Harvard study: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion. "Is there a difference," she asked, "between corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility?" When she started her company, the first check she wrote was a tithe to her church. Read more
Caux Scholars 25th Anniversary
What inspired the Caux Scholars Program? 
Susan Corcoran
As we celebrated 70 years of trustbuilding at the Caux conference center we thought of the thousands of people who have come through its doors and have carried the spirit of Caux out to a world in need.

In the 1950s three young men arrived in Caux. They were part of the Costa Rican delegation to the International Labor Organization in Geneva. Their visit to Caux deeply impacted their lives. In the following years all three would serve as president of their country. During this time Costa Rica became a peaceful, stable democracy and is often described as the Switzerland of Latin America.
It was the story of these three young Costa Rican leaders that inspired some of us in the late 1980s to begin to envision the Caux Scholars Program. It was a moment when universities globally were beginning to offer courses in peace studies and conflict transformation. It was obvious that with its track record of peacemaking and trustbuilding, Caux and Initiatives of Change had something important to add to this academic inquiry. Could a generation of leaders be equipped and inspired to become the peacebuilders the world needs?

In 1991 we launched the first Caux Scholars Program. An early academic director was James Laue, a pioneer in the field of conflict resolution as a distinct academic discipline. Laue was active in the Civil Rights movement and served on the Dept. of Justice Community Relations Service. He was the first professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University in Washington, DC, and was instrumental in establish the US Institute of Peace.

Each year, for twenty-five years, twenty students have been selected from around the world for this four-week course during the Initiatives of Change global summer conferences. The Caux Scholars Program teaches students to analyze conflicts, to understand the factors that create and sustain conflicts, and provide practical understanding of approaches to resolving conflicts - conflict prevention, negotiation and transitional justice. In between classes the scholars attend conference sessions and interact with the delegates who are grappling with real issues in a complex world. Read more
Creators of Peace 
Being present for one another
Kathy Aquilina
Who is speaking out? Who is stepping up? Who will be a voice for peace in a world of conflict and hatred?
Ten women met on the weekend of June 18-19 in a Peace Circle at Trinity Washington University to reflect upon what peace meant to them. Trinity students, staff, and faculty from all three branches of the Abrahamic faiths-Jewish, Muslim and Christian-met with other women in the city to tell their personal stories, share their faith, and address their circles of concern about peace. Trinity's campus minister, Dr. Lynn Myrick, and Kathy Aquilina, national facilitator of Creators of Peace, thought that Trinity Washington University would be a good choice for an interfaith Peace Circle; after all, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who founded Trinity have a history of standing up for the marginalized and underserved. One of their own, Sister Dorothy Stang, stood up for the land rights of the indigenous people of the Amazon, and was struck down in 2005. The Sisters' advocacy of diversity, inclusiveness, and reaching out across racial, ethnic, and religious lines achieved full expression at the Peace Circle retreat.

What concerns were brought to the circle in this journey towards peace?

In the midst of our violent society, fostering good mental health was a concern of a student of psychology, as part of a major concern that suicide is so rampant in the US. A religious of the Sacred Heart who has worked in Haiti added, "We in the States have a sense of hopelessness. The poor in Haiti can have more hope than many of us, because their goals are concrete." They know what they need.

The facilitator, Sue Snyder, a business leadership trainer, led the small group ably, inserting comments and stories for each one to reflect upon, such as "More often than not we can trace a dysfunction back to a fear." One person voiced a concern that division in our country comes from "myopic vision, when we are only concerned about one's own tribe, one's own vision."

While isolation is an enemy to inner peace, so is a torrent of bad news. Ms. Snyder suggested that one might adopt the approach of Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest and theologian who suggested that creating personal contact might be the way to stay both connected and responsive. When terrible news would erupt, he would write to someone in that area of conflict. Snyder took his advice and wrote at a crucial moment to a friend who, as a moderate, was pushed by both sides in his stand for human rights. Her message did get through, and he responded that it lifted his thoughts to a higher level. "Your message helped me withstand the pressures," he told her. Writing a friend was a simple thing to do, which produced a profound result that she has never forgotten.

Snyder also encouraged the group to prepare their hearts not only to speak, but to listen to one another. "Quiet your mind; be present to each other. This will open things up," she encouraged.
Read more
Extraordinary acts of courage
Dr. Barry Hart 
is a member of the International Council of Initiatives of Change and for fourteen years was the academic director of the Caux Scholars program. Barry teaches in the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

I became a member of the Initiatives of Change (IofC) International Council a year and a half ago, working with colleagues to provide direction and support to the global IofC movement. During our February 2016 meeting in Nigeria, graciously and expertly hosted by IofC Nigeria, we developed three strategic priorities for 2016-2018: (1) Addressing the root causes of extremism of all kinds; (2) Promoting initiatives of just governance; (3) Developing ethical leadership in business and economic life. These priorities emerged out of a consultative process with a range of global stakeholders from IofC regional groups and national bodies. (2016-2018 IofC Strategic Priorities)

Strategic Priorities 2 and 3 build on existing IofC work over many years, but Strategic Priority 1, which the International Council sees as a key overarching priority, was both new and somewhat controversial for different people across the network. It was felt that term "extremism" conveys negativity. Positive psychologists know that negativity can stimulate the fear center of our brain, causing stress-producing hormones that flood our system. The result is that our normal brain function is interrupted, as is our ability to reason. In other words we "freeze up" (or flee or fight back), all normal responses to this fear and confusion.

It is my belief as a peacebuilder who works with issues of fear, anger and trauma, that we need to become more fully aware of our reaction to the word "extremism" and process more deeply our response to acts of extremists - those acts that violate the dignity and sacred physical and emotional life of individuals and groups of people. It is of great importance that we start with ourselves by confronting our fear, anger and confusion, and then begin to analyze extremism and extremists in context. Such a constructive approach will help us understand and begin to confront extremism in all its negative and destructive political, social, cultural and religious forms.

It is important to note that it is usually "violence" in its many forms that distinguishes negative extremism from what some have termed "good extremism," which I prefer to call extraordinary acts of courage (small and large) carried out nonviolently. When such courage is discovered deep within us, and/or we are motivated by the love and compelling words and acts of others, we are no longer caught in the fear part of our brain. We move to the brain's frontal lobe, which is activated along with the motor cortex, causing us to act in encouraging and supportive ways towards others. When this occurs, we can begin to challenge systems that oppress, delegitimize and abuse our common humanity and freedoms. 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. 
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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.
CTF alumni essay
Andrew Trotter 
journalist, editor and graduate of the 2016 Community Trustbuillding Fellowship.

Defensive walls or constructive bridges
What ID do you carry? I am not asking about government identification but about "identity"--which has become an urgent topic in Europe and the United States, as people respond to divisive and often violent events that seem motivated or framed by race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.

Analysts have used the concept of identity to explain Britain's "Brexit" vote and the rise of Donald Trump, as people respectively vote for "being British" or to "make America great again." Identity is certainly a factor--among other factors--in violent encounters between police and black Americans in the U.S., and in attacks attributed to Muslim extremists in Europe.

Against such a backdrop, nerves are on edge about how people identify themselves and what narratives and judgments they and others attach to identities. 
2015 International IofC Annual Report
The annual report of 
Initiatives of Change International is now available online. 
Discover what is happening in some of the more than 40 countries where IofC is active. 
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

by Rob Corcoran
Trustbuilding Book Launch
  Read Rob Corcoran's latest blog

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 Hope & inspiration
Check out our books and media catalog
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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