July 2017          Newsletter of Initiatives of Change           Issue No. 43


Initiatives of Change USA is excited to announce the start of the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) enterprise launched nationally by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation on June 28. Richmond, VA, is one of 14 communities across the United States selected by WKKF to implement this initiative. A three-year funding agreement was signed in mid-June, and we at IofC are honored that both WKKF and the Richmond community have entrusted us to shepherd TRHT in Richmond.
TRHT is premised on the idea that national and community-based transformation to heal America's democracy must be undergirded both by a change in the prevailing historical narrative that promotes the false notion of human hierarchy and by an authentic process of healing wounds from the past and building mutually respectful relationships across racial and other social and economic lines. 
Partners from all sectors must work together to create an atmosphere conducive to difficult conversations, healing, and transformation. IofC will convene these partners around identified areas of mutual interest across community institutions - a model that will promote the integrated leveraging of resources and assets in our community work.
During these first months of this initial TRHT effort we will be working with our community partners to build out strategies for each of the three "pillars" of TRHT (Narrative Change, Racial Healing and Relationship Building, and Transformation), and developing an evaluation plan.
We expect activities in Richmond to pick up this fall once we have a team in place. We will be in touch with our IofC/Hope in the Cities friends and alumni with specific requests for prayer, service on advisory boards or committees, volunteers to help staff events, and financial contributions that can help us continue to honor IofC/HIC's core values, traditions, and programs well into the future. 
This opportunity will thrust IofC and the work of racial reconciliation pioneered by Hope in the Cities onto the national scene at a moment when the need for trustbuilding nationally is obvious. 
Jake Hershman
Executive Director
Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation
It is time to make history
Sarah Workman
Richmond is a city that symbolizes America's history of racial oppression and current inequity.  In the mid-nineteenth  century, it was the nation's largest interstate slave market; it was the capital of the Confederate States; and Virginia led a campaign of "Massive Resistance" following Brown v. Board of Education.  Just 20 years ago, Richmond was a city "starkly divided along racial lines" and "congenitally resistant to change of any kind," in the words of Senator Tim Kaine, who served as the city's mayor from 1998-2001.
Initiatives of Change USA (IofC), with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), is embarking on a multi-year effort to lift Richmond from systems and structures that reflect the centuries-old notion of human hierarchy and create a place where everyone's humanity is respected regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or country of origin. Richmond is one of 14 communities across the United States selected by WKKF to implement this initiative, known as  Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation  (TRHT). This 3-year 1.7 million project is intended to catalyze a community-wide process. A coalition of partners is growing that includes universities, museums, non-profits, corporations and faith communities.
This model of community change will be manifested in the following program areas:
  • Narrative Change - With its TRHT partners, IofC will continue to challenge patterns and systems that perpetuate incomplete or skewed versions of the US racial history. Activities in this program area will focus on educating and building awareness about the manner in which history and the legacy of racial history is taught, communicated and informs the manner in which our communities are constructed.
  • Racial healing and Relationship building - Work in this area will be based on a core belief in the power of our individual and communal stories, and the need to have requisite skills and behavior to effectively receive and share such stories with another, to dialogue, and to understand. IofC will support racial healing and relationship building by organizing a targeted program of facilitated healing experiences for the sharing of personal stories, community rituals, and relationship/trust-building activities.
  • Transformation - In tandem with narrative change and relationship building efforts, an equal investment must be made to address the policy and structural changes that remain as barriers to opportunity and equity in our communities. As our truth-telling and relationship-building program methodology posits that each person must take responsibility for being a part of creating inclusive communities, it naturally produces a coalition of influencers across all sectors. IofC will convene these influencers to help challenge institutionalized systems that perpetuate separation (i.e., segregation and concentrated poverty; law (civil, criminal, & public policy); and economy (structural inequality and barriers to opportunity).
This work is generational and cannot be achieved overnight. Our focus during this initial 3-year program period will be to develop an evidence base for racial equity that resonates across sectors; to engage communities that have traditionally not participated in racial equity conversations to-date (including but not limited to faith communities, the counties that surround Richmond, and immigrant populations); and to foster relationships within and across communities that lead to productive partnerships for tackling some of Richmond's most intractable challenges. 
As we continue to build partnerships and develop strategies, we have launched a new TRHT Richmond website to keep Richmond partners and the wider community informed about the program's goals and activities. Please visit early and often, and get in touch with anyone on the IofC team with questions!
Read more on the new TRHT website  
Community Trustbuilding Fellowship
Empowered to make a difference
Rob Corcoran 
After five intensive modules, the newly graduated Fellows of the 2017 Community Trustbuilding Fellowship are taking their learning into their daily life and work. "This experience gave me courage to step into a new role," says Elaine Summerfield, the new acting executive director of Richmond Opportunities Inc. which provides holistic support to all of Richmond's public housing residents. As the city works across sectors to reduce poverty, ROI will be responsible for the coordination of services among nonprofits and government agencies, efficient allocation of resources and evaluation of short-term and long-term goals. Elaine, who was a pivotal leader at The Community Foundation for a decade, says of CTF, "I did not realize how much I would change personally...with what I have learned and the support of the cohort, I feel like I'm cracked open and ready for a new challenge."

Summerfield's comments are echoed by many of the participants. Marlou Pieper, a former corporate executive assistant from West Des Moines, Iowa, who now focuses on racial healing, says: "For people to come together their hearts have to be changed and transformed by knowing the hearts of others. Only in this way can we do the work of reconciliation. I will continue this journey and trust I'll be led to the right places. I am not the same person I was in 2016."

With a diverse class drawn from six US states as well as one participant from Rwanda, there were sometimes difficult and painful conversations. But in the words of one Fellow, "The container was strong enough to keep us all here." Albert Walker, the healthy community liaison with Bon Secours Health System, told his classmates, "Thanks for allowing me to be vulnerable, confront, absorb and work out my stuff." Walker and his colleagues at Bon Secours work with Richmond's underserved neighborhoods with the vision that building healthier communities requires a "systemic, ecological, multi-sector approach that acknowledges all of the social determinants of health such as housing, education, employment, public safety and social justice."

The faculty team is headed by Matthew Freeman of TMI Consulting, specialists in designing and implementing diversity and inclusion strategies for business, government, and community organizations. The program co-leader is Jeanné Isler who supports social justice nonprofit organizations with the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) in Washington, DC. She was a Caux Scholar in 2006.

Matthew, who himself graduated from CTF in 2005, knows first-hand the life-changing effect of the program: "As a graduate of the Fellowship over a decade ago the impact of the class, for me, was because of the immersion into a rather diverse group of people from many walks of life, different backgrounds, different races, genders, and ages - all of whom share the goal of building bridges of trust across the world's divides.

"On many days, it felt like the similarities ended there as we wrestled together with honest conversations about difficult topics. In the end, despite our many differences, strong bonds were formed that, for me, have lasted over a decade."  Read more

 Watch Love Work
"Love is the key to the problems of the world." D r. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Alison Wetter (CTF 2015) from Memphis, Tennessee, is part of a team that has launched a project called Watch Love Work to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in their city in 1968. They are releasing a video story of love from Memphis every week this year. They ask us to watch, love, work. "Watch the films, allow them to open your heart, share them with others, and add your own stories of love. Then, let's watch love work. Let's see what happens when we overwhelm the world in memory of Dr. King." You can watch the films and sign up to receive a weekly email of them on their website.
Alison Wetter (back row, second from left) and her team

It all began when Alison attended the 2013 Healing History Conference in Caux, Switzerland, at the invitation of IofC USA board chair Alex Wise, who had recently moved to Memphis and encouraged a cohort of people from his new city to attend. Alison credits the opening remarks by Dr. Gail Christopher of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation about the power of love and story and the necessity of moving people through their hearts with preparing her heart for the planting of the seed of Watch Love Work.

It was in a session based on the city of Richmond and its efforts to heal its history that she was "moved to do something" to help heal her hometown in connection with the approaching 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King.

For the next few years, Alison educated and prepared herself for the task, offering herself to help and trying to stay open to what exactly it was she was to do. As part of that preparation, she made several trips to Richmond to observe the work of Hope in the Cities. She attended the Metropolitan Richmond Day forum and took part on a walk on the historic Slave Trail.

Alison was so impressed by what was going on in Richmond that she signed up for the Community Trustbuilding Fellowship (CTF) class of 2015. During that five-month class, she was inspired by the power of personal transformation as well as the power of film.

On a weekend retreat while she was back home in Memphis, Alison first watched the documentary I Am and later heard its creator, Tom Shadyac, speak about the power of sharing stories and opening hearts. When she started attending Tom's classes at the University of Memphis and learned about the hero's journey and using brokenness as strength, the idea of Watch Love Work began to take a more specific form.

Alison returned to Richmond to help with the Healing History conference in the spring of 2015, where she heard faculty from Eastern Mennonite University who introduced her to the Summer Peacebuilding Institute. That summer Alison attended EMU's summer institute class on using film for social change. Read more
Trustbuilding workshop in Sweden
Inspired by Hope in the Cities
Rob Corcoran and Anjum Ali conducted a three-day workshop for a diverse group of community leaders in Stockholm, Sweden, on trustbuilding in a diverse world. The training focused on connecting personal and social change; understanding the power of history, identity and trauma; surfacing key community issues and learning skills for designing and facilitating dialogues. Per H Samutvecklare, a social entrepreneur and facilitator is one of the organizing team. He sends this report:

In 2014, inspired by Hope in the Cities, we started the program "Hope in Järva," a suburb of Stockholm where there is a large immigrant population. Our focus has been to look at the root causes of the tension in this region where 26 young people have been killed this year in shootings on the open street. The unemployment rate among Sweden's foreign-born population is 22.2 percent compared to 4.1 percent among Swedish-born citizens. We found that there are interethnic tensions, intergenerational conflicts and a very low trust between the citizens and the state. We have been making progress on all three fronts, both by supporting community dialogues, trainings and sharing relevant tools with people in the community. 

The workshop drew a diverse group of 32 key residents, including police officers, business people, an official from the municipal district administration, a pastor, the vice-principal of a Muslim adult education school, Rotary entrepreneurs, and first and second generation immigrants. Colleagues also came from Denmark and Norway.

The American experiences were very well received by all the participants. The bridge of trust between IofC US and IofC Sweden made a crucial impact on the image of IofC in Stockholm. The biggest effect has been on our team building. With the guidance of Rob and Anjum we now have a common place to start our work with common methodology and principles. Key issues that emerged for future dialogues and forums include identity and nationality; diversity and employment; trust between public servants and citizens; and interreligious and secular issues.
We now have a diverse group of people to build a team of collaborators in our effort in Järva. We notice that we are not just a program, but a growing network of friends from different cultures and countries who have a common passion for building trust and peace. We feel more confident in hosting conversations that are at the heart of the divides in the community. During a recent workshop on forgiveness in the Muslim adult education school we were able to create a safe space for people to talk about violence, aggression and trauma in the different countries of origin. Read more  
A model of compassion and care
Anjum Ali is a member of the board of directors of Initiatives of Change USA. She has a graduate degree in Islamic Studies focusing on women and children's rights in Islamic Law and has served as an educator of Islam for over 15 years in the Richmond area and as a public speaker and diversity/inclusivity trainer at international forums. She was born in the USA but has lived and traveled abroad in South Asia, the Middle East and Europe. She and her family live in Richmond, Virginia. She reflects on a trustbuilding workshop she recently facilitated with Rob Corcoran in Sweden.

Relationships can set a tone and feelings that remain embedded in our psyches our whole lives. If they are positive, then all the more reason to relish and cherish them. Amazingly, my first encounter with Sweden was actually during my earliest years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, when a Swedish doctor and his family moved into a villa just across from ours. My father and he were colleagues and expats together in the same hospital and his daughter befriended me and my sister. Growing up, Sweden, to me, was synonymous with love and care because of that wonderful childhood friendship nurtured in the hospital oasis amidst the hot desert sands of Arabia.

I am delighted to say that my journey with Rob to partner with IofC Sweden in further establishing Hope in Järva, confirmed all of those positive emotions while creating more encouraging experiences. IofC Sweden and their stakeholders' enthusiasm to effect change within Sweden at this tumultuous time in our global community was heartwarming and inspiring. It was a real honor to be able to share the experience of IofC USA's work on reconciliation and trustbuilding with those on the front lines of community work in Swedish cities. Although the environment and historical context in the USA are significantly different, we found that sharing the story of our work and our strategic trustbuilding efforts around systemic and communal racism has the potential to influence another nation with more recent dilemmas around racial, ethnic and cultural tensions.

Rob and I conducted a three-day workshop to deliver some of the tools that Hope in the Cities has used to facilitate dialogue, empathetic learning, and development to effect change at the personal and community level. Having seen the ravages of centuries old social inequity, discrimination and domestic terrorism based on racism in the USA, we were eager that our Swedish friends avail themselves of the opportunity to stymie the growing fear and reactionary behavior at the local and state level in Sweden. Factors such as "who" is at the table, "what" methods are employed to do the critical bridge building work, and the more complex aspects of delving into the "why" of social inequities, trauma and crime, are all aspects that IofC Sweden, USA and its partners are currently exploring. Read more
We hope you enjoyed this issue of Trustbuilders. Please share this newsletter with your friends and forward it to those you know who 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!   

With this issue of Trustbuilders I am stepping down as Communications Director for IofC USA. This has been my role for the past six years and it is something I have loved doing. Keeping the communications and links going for our far-flung national network is vitally important. How we tell the story is what makes this work compelling and helps others engage. When we hear from all of you about what you are doing to build trust it encourages us and strengthens our endeavors. I thank all those who have submitted stories and commentaries over the years. It has been exciting to watch the alumni of both the Caux Scholars Program and the Community Trustbuilding Fellowship find their voices and carry these ideas out into the world.

We have held this issue of Trustbuilders later than usual to be able to announce Richmond's participation in the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation initiative and our partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This is an exciting moment for Initiatives of Change and will propel our work of racial reconciliation onto the national scene. Karen Elliott Greisdorf, a talented storyteller, is helping to design a communications strategy to launch this phase and by the fall there will be a new Communications Director on board to implement her plan. In the meantime follow us on Facebook and the website. The newsletter may take a different shape but we will keep in close communication with all of you. Please continue to send ideas and stories you want to share.

My engagement with this work has taken many forms over the last 37 years in Richmond and before that in other parts of the world. I have witnessed the birth of an idea, the growth of a team and the practical application that has brought very real change to Richmond. While I am "retiring" from my current responsibilities and as a day-to-day team member here in the office I remain fully committed to this important work. I look forward to discovering other ways to engage and I hope to get out around the country more.

Thank you to my Editorial Team - Grant Rissler, Andrew Trotter, Karen Greisdorf, Randy Ruffin and Rob Corcoran - who have given ideas, written articles, taken photographs, proofread and helped shape each issue of Trustbuilders. 

With thanks, 
Susan Corcoran
Worldwide Premiere
The Man Who Built Peace
The Frank Buchman Story
The documentary film, The Man Who Built Peace - The Frank Buchman Story had its worldwide premiere on Sunday, June 4, 2017 at the Illuminate Film Festival in Sedona, Arizona, to positive reviews and a sold out house. On hand were director Imad Karam, co-producer Kelly Burks, and Jay Stinnett who is among those interviewed in the film.
Imad Karam responds to questions from the audience
The film tells of the life and peacemaking legacy of Frank Buchman, the founder of Initiatives of Change. The screening was followed by a lively discussion, with many of the audience giving their personal emails and requesting more digital information about the work of Initiatives of Change and how honest conversations might be initiated in their communities.

One member of the audience commented: "I so enjoyed the film - a tour de force - and I learned so much. The film and the people at the screening - made it clearer than ever - that we must continue to listen to each other, breathe, and balance. It is a good thing to have in this turbulent time."

The film was one of nine world premieres that included works on the lives of spiritual teachers such as the Dalai Llama, and Thich Nat Hahn. Read more
2017 Caux Forum
It is not too late to visit Caux this summer!
June 30, 2017
Official Opening
June 29-July 2, 2017
Ethical Leadership in Business
July 4-9, 2017 
Just Governance for Human Security
July 11-15, 2017
Caux Dialogue on Land and Security
July 17-21, 2017
Addressing Europe's Unfinished Business
July 23-26, 2017
Towards an inclusive peace
July 29-August 4, 2017
Children as Actors for Transforming Society

2016 Caux Report
The 2016 Caux Report is now published online. Hard copies will be available from our office.
Trustbuilding now in paperback
by Rob Corcoran
  Trustbuilding Book Launch
  Read Rob Corcoran's latest blog

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