New Essential Partners’ Dialogue Guide on Race in America

NCDD sponsor organization, Essential Partners, recently released their new comprehensive dialogue guide titled, Race in America. This guide is designed to support community conversations on race; including instructions, a facilitator guide, and several case studies on racial dialogues happening in the U.S. You can learn more about the guide in the post below and download the guide for free via EP’s site here.


Race in America: A Dialogue Guide

Informed by decades of experience, Race in America: A Dialogue Guide will provide a roadmap for you to lead courageous, constructive conversations about race in your community.

Essential Partners has collaborated with grassroots groups, activists, schools, faith institutions, and communities across the United States to make new conversations about race possible. Recent projects include:

  • Dialogues between police and Black community members in Raleigh, NC
  • Community dialogues about faith, race, and ethnicity in Columbia, MD
  • Dialogues among BIPOC educators about the dual strains of COVID and BLM
  • A set of student-led race dialogues at a secondary school in Cary, NC

This guide contains everything you need to hold three dialogues: one for an all-white group, one for an inter-racial group, and one for a group composed of participants who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (BIPOC).

The Guide contains an introduction to EP’s theory and approach, step-by-step instructions to design and lead a dialogue, a complete facilitator script, as well as tips for those new to this kind of facilitation.

Find the original version of this on Essential Partners’ site at: www.whatisessential.org/race-in-america-a-dialogue-guide.

Student Support with Dialogue in Time of National Crisis

Students spend most of their days in school. Naturally, when national events occur, this extends the teachers regular duties to the role of  “first responders”. This publication from Essential Partners was adapted for the classroom from their Reflective Structured Dialogue, and is offered as a tool for teachers to create a space of self- reflection, deep listening and open sharing in the classroom.  The prompts and guidelines to consider, proactively invite the students to process crisis in a healthy way.

Read about the structure and prompts offered below or find the original post here.


Holding Space in a Moment of Crisis

Along with their parents, teachers are often the “first responders” for students when a major national crisis takes place. It can be difficult or impossible to have a normal class in the wake of a traumatic or disruptive event.

Creating a space of self-reflection, deep listening, and open sharing in the classroom can proactively invite students to process and discuss crises in healthy ways. What could be a moment of trauma and division can become, instead, an opportunity for connection, empowerment, and mutual support.

Adapted for the classroom from EP’s Reflective Structured Dialogue approach, the tools below can be used to create a dialogic space in your classroom after a disruptive event.

Be transparent. Name the event, outline the process.

Whether it’s an event in the national news or a challenging paragraph in a text you are reading together, transparently name the disruption that you know the class is feeling. This offers permission for students to

acknowledge and begin to process their emotions. It may also relieve tension about whether you’ll pretend that nothing is amiss.

Depending on the circumstance, you might also acknowledge your own emotional response too, even if you don’t go into details about what those emotions are.

Many people dive into work or school to avoid the difficult feelings that a crisis can raise. Being transparent and naming the disruption hits the pause button on business-as-usual. It signals that this is going to be a different kind of space, at least for now.

You can further the work of creating a new kind of space by letting the class know the process of this structured, reflective exercise. You can use this time to preview what the students will be asked to do. This could be a general outline or include some specific examples. The purpose here is to provide some clarity, certainty, and security.

Give direction and time for reflection.

Reflection without purpose and direction can veer into a blank staring and long silences. An anchor for reflection provides focus.

Below are two sets of anchors that you can use to guide the students’ reflections. The first is a set of questions that can be used as either journal prompts or as the questions for a timed and structured go-around:

  • How have you been impacted by what happened? What feels most at stake? What would you like others to understand about what matters most to you about this event?
  • Where do you feel stuck or what dilemma does this moment bring up for you? What does this dilemma tell you about what you think is important or a value that you hold?

The second anchor is more abstract. Display a set of images for the students to look at (printed out or shared in a digital folder). Ask the students to respond to one of these question prompts:

  • Find an image that reflects how you are feeling right now after what happened.
  • Find an image that represents an alternative vision you have for what could be possible.

Reflection is also a process that can take time. Some students will have something to share immediately, but others might need a few minutes to collect their thoughts and explore their own feelings. Be sure to provide quiet time for individual reflection and for students to make notes before inviting them to share.

Structure the group sharing.

If you have time for the students to share some of their reflections, a structure can maintain the space you have worked to create. It underscores that this isn’t a usual class, and limits the dynamics of debate and argument. Some recommended structures are:

  • Allowing students are able to pass if they don’t feel ready or comfortable sharing
  • Making sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to share/speak (especially if you plan to have a less structured conversation afterwards)
  • Pausing briefly to let the group hear and process what someone has said before moving on to the next speaker
  • Letting students know the order they will be invited to share (especially online) by announcing a rolling “batting order”—first Jim, then Cassie, then Alejandra—which encourages students to be prepared to speak when it’s their turn

Set aside time to close in an intentional way.

As we encourage students to develop social-emotional skills, we also teach them how to bring closure to these difficult moments in order to re-enter day-to-day activities.

It can be tempting to follow the flow of a discussion at the expense of watching the clock—only to have the bell ring and class abruptly end. That can be disorienting for students, and hard for them to transition. Allow time at the end of your class or exercise for a closing activity. This should invite students to process and synthesize what they’ve heard from others and discovered about themselves. Here are several examples of closing prompts:

  • Thinking about what’s been said here today, what is one hope you have for us as a nation going into this new year
  • Write down on a post-it note (to post on the wall of the room) one theme from what you’ve heard shared here today that you want the community to remember.
  • Share one thing that you’ve heard shared here today that you want to take with you into this week.
  • Reflecting on everything you’ve thought about, shared about and heard today, what is one word or phrase that describes what you want to remember moving forward.

Creating a dialogic space for students to reflect and share lets them reconnect with their internal strengths and resources in crisis moments—skills that will serve them throughout their lives. It helps them make meaning from difficult and disruptive events. And it encourages reflection on the way students want to engage with the world around them.

As always, we are here to support you. If you need more help holding difficult classroom discussions, please reach out.

You can find the original version on The Essential Partners’ site at www.whatisessential.org/holding-space-moment-crisis

 

Participatory Budget Celebrates a Decade of Impact

ICYMI NCDDer, the Participatory Budget Project, recently celebrated over a decade of service and earlier this year, Shari Davis, assumed the role as their new executive director! The release of their 2019 Impact Report is now available and provides a full view of their initiatives. Highlights of their incredible journey, in addition to processes and projects underway this current year, can be found in the article below or in the original post here.


Our Impact: Real Money, Real Power

2019 marked a monumental year for PBP. Our organization turned 10 years old, helped launch or continue over 170 PB processes, and successfully transitioned our leadership to a national Black-led organization committed to equity.

As we grow our work to reimagine democracy and dismantle oppressive systems, we know the road ahead will not be easy. It will require us to evaluate and re-evaluate how we show up in our work to advance equity across the country. It will require us to reach out and ask for the support, input, and creativity we need. And it will require us to challenge ourselves and each other to imagine beyond what we have seen before – and reach for what is possible.

Participatory budgeting (PB) in North America is in a vastly different place than it was just one decade ago. To acknowledge the movement around PB and key issues like climate resilience and equity, we built new tools to better address these challenges.

In the last year alone, we’ve…

  • Launched PBcan.org, an interactive website to help imagine how PB can address concerns including affordable housing, transportation, climate resilience, and equity.
  • Disseminated new digital PB tools to 150 policymakers, community leaders, and funders involved in developing our Democracy Beyond Elections policy platform that centers equity and real community power.
  • Expanded or launched 173 PB processes that allocated over $55 million to community-driven solutions in North America.
  • Empowered young leaders across the country to shape their reality by launching PB in schools in over a dozen cities and towns, including partnering with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to engage students at two Brooklyn high school campuses in deciding how to spend over $1 million and new policies to make their schools safer and more supportive. That’s 10x more funding than in any other school’s PB process!
  • Transitioned our organizational leadership. In April 2020, Shari Davis stepped into a transformative leadership role as our Executive Director. We have undertaken an intentional transition process as an organization to make sure the newest chapter of PBP is resilient, visionary, and ready for what this moment demands.

As we plan for the next iteration of our work, building community control over public budgets has never felt more urgent. A global pandemic coupled with a nationwide movement demanding justice for Black lives has shed a new light on a real reality: our most impacted communities are under-resourced and overpoliced. People across the country are leaning into conversations and demands in ways that will have lasting implications for decades to come.

This moment marks a turning point for our country and PBP to recommit to who and what we stand for. We commit to demanding real community power over the budgets, policies, and decisions that impact their lives.

Reimagining what’s possible is one important step to moving to real community control – and it won’t be easy. It will require all of us and we’d like to invite you to play a role by making a donation to our work.

We thank our hardworking staff, board members, donors, and supporters like you who have consistently shown up for us over the years.

You can find the original version of this article on the PBP site at www.participatorybudgeting.org/annual-report-2019/.

Interview with Joan Blades of Living Room Conversations

This story about Living Room Conversations, a longstanding NCDD friend and member organization, articulates the vision and relevance of gathering with others to practice communication in spite of differences. In 2010, Joan Blades in collaboration with friends from different political identities, created Living Room Conversations when they noticed the increasing difficulties in communicating with people across political divides. Living Room Conversations provides an important practice space where people can meet and discuss issues that matter greatly to communities across America.  These online gatherings allow, respect, and celebrate the diversity of viewpoints which are as varied as topics and participation.

The entire interview can be read below and you can find the original posting on the Gratefulness site here.


Grateful Changemakers: Living Room Conversations

Living Room Conversations envisions a world where people who have fundamental differences of opinion and backgrounds learn to work together with respect and even joy. The non-profit’s open-source conversation model — developed by dialogue experts — provides an accessible structure for engaging in meaningful, civil conversation — anywhere in the world, even virtually — with those who may have different viewpoints. Anyone is welcome to use Living Room Conversation’s free resources, which can be adapted to address the needs of any community working to bridge divides. Co-founder Joan Blades (who also co-founded moveon.org) shares more about how Living Room Conversations build relationships that support collaborative problem-solving and generate compassion.

What sparked the creation of Living Room Conversations?

In 2004, I wanted to understand why conservative people saw things so differently than I did. This required intentional effort to spend time with people that have very different views. I made friends and learned a lot, but by 2010 it was actually harder to have a good conversation about the climate with a conservative than it was in 2005. This inspired me to work with dialogue experts to design a simple and small conversation format that is massively reproducible, and so I co-founded Living Room Conversations with a conservative and independent friend.

How does Living Room Conversations fill a need for our society?

We have teased ourselves apart so that we primarily spend time with and talk to like-minded people. This is making it easier and easier to demonize good people who have different beliefs than we do. Living Room Conversations invite us to reach out and get to know people who have different views than we do. The conversations allow us to deepen our own understanding as well as deepen relationships with friends and family. They improve our listening and connection skills. We have over 100 conversation guides based upon the current interests and needs of our users. The upcoming presidential election has inspired conversations about how we want to contribute to the political conversation.

A few years ago I began to describe this work as domestic peacebuilding. Terrible things can happen when we demonize people. Everybody I know from across the political spectrum wants good things for their community, their family, and the world. This is an important starting place. To address the big challenges we face, we need everyone’s best ideas and the capacity to work together.

What do you think inspires people to participate in Living Room Conversations?

Sometimes the motivation is an invitation to join a friend. Sometimes it is curiosity about a particular topic. Or the opportunity to get to know new people. Faith communities, libraries, and other groups offer Living Room Conversations to their members to deepen ties and also invite in missing voices. We have over 100 conversation guides on different topics, and the reasons for participating are as numerous as our many guides! As polarization has escalated in the U.S., more and more people no longer want to talk to “those people,” while there are others who are recognizing the deep dysfunction of dismissing entire segments of our population. And now with the coronavirus, there are people looking for meaningful connections at a time when they are feeling cut off from their normal social connections.

How does Living Room Conversations bring gratitude to life?

I’m grateful for the wonderful people I meet and the friends that join me. I’m grateful for increased understanding and sometimes increased confusion because I better understand the complexity of a challenge. I think everyone gets something different out of the conversations, but my experience may be a good sense of how this practice enriches our lives.

How does Living Room Conversations help cultivate qualities like awareness, appreciation, and compassion?

Living Room Conversations are a listening practice. Listening fully to others is generous and fulfilling. Awareness, appreciation, and compassion flow naturally out of the human connection that is nurtured.  Conversations about forgiveness, hope, status and privilege, finding meaning, and many others offer space for self-reflection and more intentional living.

What are some of the common barriers, obstacles, and fears that arise for participants? How are they navigated?

Many people feel like they don’t have the time for a 90-minute or hour conversation. I think one of the reasons our model has been embraced in faith communities is that this practice speaks to our desire to be the best version of ourselves, which is what I think we seek in faith communities. Also some people are anxious about conversation with people who hold different views. It is easy to choose a conversation topic that is reflective, such as Forgiveness, rather than one that is focused on a controversial topic, such as Guns and Responsibility.

What has been the impact of the project thus far?

We have some sense of the impact but not nearly as much as we would like because our model is open-source, and we often don’t hear about outcomes. Fortunately there has been some research that has revealed evidence of immediate and longer-term impacts:

  1. Immediate – improved mindset, listening skills
  2. Immediate – learned something new every time
  3. Longer-term – application of tools to other parts of life
  4. Longer-term – interest in systemic change spurred by mutual understanding and “humanizing the other”

How does Living Room Conversations plan to grow/move forward?

We are working to support individuals and communities around the country in their use of Living Room Conversations. Also, we have wonderful partners. We know that the conversations have been used around the world, but our focus is the U.S. because this is where we have maximum cultural competence, which is key for this kind of work. These conversation guides are free to all that want to use them, and no fancy event or skilled facilitator is typically needed. We hope that massive numbers of people will choose to have Living Room Conversations and help create the kind of community we all want to live in.

In this particular time of transformation, Living Room Conversations have adjusted course to adapt to new needs — to help our in-person communities transition to video and enable people who are feeling isolated to connect in meaningful conversations. Our Minnesota leaders were having conversations about Covid-19, and now they are using our Race in the Time of Corona and Police and Community Relations conversations guides as well as writing new conversation guides to meet the needs in their community. These conversation guides are available for communities anywhere.

I dream of this work creating culture change — a world in which respect and dignity for all people is the norm. And even though we have not yet achieved this big vision, each conversation is beautiful and enlightening on its own. I am incredibly grateful to be able to work on this!

If you could share one message about gratefulness with the world, what would it be?

This world is amazingly beautiful. And the people I meet want good things for their communities and future generations. This gives me hope that we can do what we need to do if we can discover each other. I am grateful for this. If you too dream of a world in which respect and dignity for all people is the norm, please help us share this practice in whatever way you see it may serve this purpose.

You can find the original version of this interview on the Gratefulness site at gratefulness.org/grateful-news/grateful-changemakers-living-room-conversations/.

EvDem Joins Virtual Conference on Jail Reform and Equity

This story is shared by Everyday Democracy an NCDD member organization, who participated in a nationwide virtual conference on the criminal justice system. The conference was hosted by The Safety and Justice Challenge and gave way for in-depth exploration at educational, networking, and dialogic solutions to the criminal system, and specifically jail reform. EvDem has been providing community engagement technical assistance to the Safety and Justice Challenge since 2018 and was honored to moderate an exchange session at the virtual convening.  In the session, EvDem shared the progress achieved in two jurisdictions where their dialogue to change approach is being implemented.

Read more about the overview of the convening and watch EvDem’s session in our post below, you can also find the original posting on the EvDem site here.


Equity in Criminal Justice and Strengthening Community Trust Through Dialogue to Action

The Safety and Justice Challenge supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has been working with leaders across the country to tackle one of the greatest drivers of over-incarceration in America – the misuse and overuse of jails.  Since January 2018, Everyday Democracy has been providing community engagement technical assistance to the Safety and Justice Challenge network and has helped specific jurisdictions adopt and implement racial equity-driven community engagement practices.

Everyday Democracy has focused its efforts in five geographical areas: Cook County, IL; Charleston, SC; Palm Beach County FL; Pima County AZ; and Spokane WA.

A Nationwide “VIRTUAL” Networking Conference Brings Social Justice Advocates Together for Next Steps in Meaningful and Sustainable Change in Justice System Inequities.  From May 19 – May 21, social justice advocates from coast to coast gathered “virtually” for a three-day deep dive education and networking convening designed to bring people together to share challenges, talk about the roles in the system in the COVID-19 environment, build collective capacity and inspire and motivate those who are tirelessly doing what is needed for equitable changes in jail reform and the criminal justice system.

The days were filled with a wide range of plenary sessions, workshops, networking opportunities and the collection of a plethora of resources that can be accessed on an ongoing basis.  Everyday Democracy moderated an exchange session that provided an overview of the progress made in two communities, Cook County, IL and Charleston, SC using its dialogue to change approach and the resulting action forums that are driving change in those jurisdictions. Everyday Democracy Co-moderators Carolyne Abdullah, Senior Director, and Gwendolyn Whiting, Director of Training and Leadership Development facilitated the exchange where each site could share their dialogue to change and community engagement experiences and outcomes.

From the greater Chicago community in Cook County, community engagement coordinator, Kim Davis-Ambrose spoke of their challenges and successes. She explained how the dialogues allowed those voices of the community who have not been heard on this critical issue to be heard in an “up close and personal” way and how issues of trust between the community and system actors improved over the course of the 5-week dialogue project.  She shared that the dialogues were not a fix, but the transparency they offered resulted in authentic partnerships between those in government, the community and with system-impacted individuals with lived experience. Going forward, those who participated in the dialogues aim to continue to work on issues of systemic racism, white privilege and unjust bias, and they will work toward creating more opportunities for the community to stay involved and to address the mental health issues, concerns and challenges faced by those most impacted.

Kristy Pierce Danford who led the efforts in Charleston County, SC stressed the importance that their objective was to go beyond speaking engagements and that the Dialogue to Change process allowed for that.  They aimed to raise awareness of the inequities in their criminal justice systems by using a step-by-step implementation approach.  They held big events which led into facilitator training and roundtable dialogues – then community surveys to community actions forums.  The continuum of activities and feedback received from representatives throughout their community informed their 3-year strategic plan.

Many of the other sessions at the virtual networking conference were eye opening and informative.  Some of the many topics included: The Role of People with Lived Experience in Efforts to Reduce Jail Populations; System Responses to COVID-19; Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities; A Toolkit on the Use of Person First Language When Discussing Directly Impacted People; Access to Counsel at First Appearance; Reducing Court Continuances and Performance Data.

As the Convening sessions were nearing completion, Gwendolyn Whiting noted that inequities, particularly for black and brown people was the thread throughout.   Racial equity is at the core of the reform needed, and she challenges everyone to work toward eliminating the structural racism that stands in the way of a truly equitable and fair system for all, and especially those who are most impacted.

Keith Smalls participated in the Everyday Democracy workshop and is participating in the Charleston Dialogue to Change efforts.  Keith said that is all about building community trust.  After having served 19 years in the Dept. of Corrections, he stated that the punishment outweighed the rehabilitation.  But he is grateful for the opportunity to mend broken fences in this dialogue process. “Being part of the conversation, enabled me to apologize to the community and build a bridge back.  It also created the opportunity for me to come back as a concerned citizen.”

It is rewarding for all when there are opportunities for people, institutions, and government to work together for the common good.  Outcomes in both Cook County and Charleston, as well as in other jurisdictions active in the Safety & Justice Challenge are showing that when we authentically engage with each other through productive dialogues and work together, we can see changes in policy and system reforms are starting to make a difference.  The technical support for these jurisdictions were by Gwen Wright in Cook County and Gwen along with Alex Cartagena in Charleston, both who are network consultants for Everyday Democracy.

While there is much more to do, the needle is moving in the right direction. In the closing plenary session of this nationwide Convening, participants were encouraged to remember the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  All are encouraged to reimagine, reconstruct, recalibrate, and re-envision a criminal justice system the whole community can benefit from.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the Everyday Democracy site at www.everyday-democracy.org/news/equity-criminal-justice-and-strengthening-community-trust-through-dialogue-action.

EP Student Facilitator Joins Anti-Racism Education Project

The following story is shared by our friends at Essential Partners, an NCDD sponsor member, who recently announced one of their student alumni has joined the international initiative, the Anti-Racism Education (A.R.E.) Project. 17-year-old Clay Thornton from North Carolina, who previously participated in Essential Partner’s program and is taking his facilitation skills into the important work of race dialogues. We are so excited to hear the youth are involved and powerful in this conversation. We encourage you to read more in the post below and find the original on the EP’s site here.


Impact Snapshot: Essential Partners-Trained Student Joins The Anti-Racism Education Project

The Los Angeles Times today reports on a new international initiative, the Anti-Racism Education (A.R.E.) Project. A.R.E. is a platform to connect interested young people with “existing educational resources, a supportive community, and opportunities to engage with Black scholars, activists, and artists who are willing to teach about the Black experience,” according to their website.

Since its launch at the end of May, the project has gained more than 400 members and 100 organizers in 17 countries and counting.

One of those organizers is Clay Thornton, 17 years old from North Carolina. Thorton participated in Essential Partners’ collaboration with his school, Cary Academy, one of many secondary schools where EP has trained students, faculty, and parents to engage constructively in tough conversations, both in and outside the classroom.

Thornton is now bringing his EP facilitation skills to the Anti-Racism Education Project, leading online dialogues among members from across the globe, ages 14 to 21.

He says that young people have the power to spearhead tough conversations about race.

“Young people are willing to reach out to their families and their friends who are older and have conversations with them about these topics,” Thornton told the LA Times. “People are going to go to the family dinner table and talk about what they’ve learned” through the A.R.E. Project.

He notes that these dialogues “are not about debating or proving one viewpoint is correct.” Rather, the purpose of these discussions will be “to understand the materials they’ve consumed for the month.”

Read the rest of the story online. If you’re interested in gaining the skills to design and lead dialogues about race in your own context, contact us today for a free consultation.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the Essential Partners’ site at www.whatisessential.org/impact-snapshot-ep-trained-student-joins-anti-racism-education-project.

Recording Available for Cultivating Community Capacity!

On April 24th, NCDD hosted a special event from NCDD sponsoring member Susan Stuart Clark of Common Knowledge, titled Cultivating Community Capacity with Four “Deep Wisdom” Practices. The event, attended by more than 60 participants, was the start of a series of activities and collection of resources at sense-us.org, a new pro bono project for Common Knowledge and allies in the arts, healing and community transformation.

Susan shared with us the four practices identified by cross-cultural pioneer Angeles Arrien, which we can use to help deepen our individual and collective capacity for discovering the deeper wisdom in and between us.  Susan outlines the interpretation of these four practices and their importance to us and our work designing and facilitate community engagement during and after this pandemic in this wonderful piece

Drawn from ancient and indigenous wisdom, these practices invite us to bring our whole selves – heart, body and mind –  to our work as cultivators of community, dialogue stewards and/or peace builders. During this time of physical isolation, let’s embrace the ways we can bring closeness to one another through sharing our truest selves with each other. Let’s see how we can expand our capacity to understand the patterns and structures that brought us to this current moment and choose more inclusive and collaborative ways to co-create our future.

The event was purposefully held on Arbor Day to acknowledge how trees can teach us a lot about nurturing individual and collective resilience.  After an overview of the four practices, break out groups compared their experiences and what is inspiring their work. Participants had the opportunity to connect more deeply with one another, sharing how the practices resonate for them, as well as how they relate to their work in and with communities.The full group reflection served as a wonderful stepping off point for future discussions.

Julie Gieseke created a wonderful visual map during the event which can be viewed below. The full session can be watched at this link, and the chat transcript can be found here. If you’d like to contribute resources and participate in future discussions, visit www.sense-us.org.

 

Summer Peacebuilding Institute Scholarship Deadline: 1/31

Our friends at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) sent out a reminder yesterday via their newsletter that SPI 2020 scholarship deadlines are quickly approaching on January 31st! This phenomenal program offered by NCDD member org, the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, is an opportunity to learn from leaders in the D&D field about conflict transformation, restorative justice, and more. Courses can be taken to improve your skills or for academic credit (and they now offer an M.A. in Restorative Justice program).  Read more in the post below and on the Summer Peacebuilding Institute site here.


Summer Peacebuilding Institute – Dedicated Scholarship deadline January 31, 2020

To build a more peaceful and just world, we need to work effectively at community and local/regional levels in every country, starting with our own. SPI 2020 training courses offer the skills you need personally and professionally to make this happen.  Join us for an exciting time of shared learning across national boundaries. All courses are offered for training or academic credit.

This year we are offering a wide variety of courses on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Trauma awareness
  • Leadership
  • Social media and violent extremism
  • Transforming harmful community spaces through collaboration
  • Racial healing and challenging systemic racism
  • Restorative justice
  • Circle processes
  • Building personal and organizational resilience
  • Designing facilitated processes
  • Using media and the arts for peacebuilding and security

Click here for more information on all courses at SPI 2020, instructor bioscosts, and information about our annual Community Day event on February 14, 2020, that creates a one-day, SPI in miniature.

Scholarships and Fellowship Opportunities
We know that personal and organizational budgets are sometimes stretched tight and many of you may have difficulty fully financing your time at SPI. We have several scholarships and a fellowship to help those with need. Many of our scholarships do not have a deadline, but the deadline for our dedicated scholarships and our fellowship is January 31, 2020. Scroll down or click here for more information on scholarship and fellowship possibilities.

Still not sure if you should attend the Summer Peacebuilding Institute? 

Click here to watch a short video of SPI participants, faculty, and staff talking about “the magic of SPI.

Click here to apply online for SPI 2020 (Note, you must complete the application before you can apply for a scholarship).

Scholarships and Fellowships

Several varieties of scholarships and a fellowship are available to help individuals and organizations with tight budgets. Apply early as our scholarship pool is limited.  See information below for requirements for individual scholarships or click here for information about all scholarships and fellowships.

The deadline for the dedicated scholarships and the Winston Fellowship is January 31, 2020 (Please note that there is no deadline for the matching or partial scholarships or the organization mini grant.  These are given out until the funds are exhausted).  

Dedicated Scholarships
SPI receives some donations with defined parameters for distribution. The qualifications for each scholarship differ, as does what is covered. Click here for information on all dedicated scholarships. The deadline for applying is January 31, 2020.

Winston Fellowship
All-inclusive fellowship covering international airfare, lodging, and participation in three training courses. Intended to train individuals new to the fields of peacebuilding, justice, or trauma work. Requires a post-SPI internship with an organization in your local community. Click here for more information. The deadline for applying is January 31, 2020.

Matching Scholarships
Covers fees for an additional session of SPI if participants are able to pay for at least one session and any transportation costs. Offered on a rolling basis as long as funds are available. Click here for information.

Partial Scholarships
Up to $500 toward training fees if participants are able to pay all other fees for at least one session. Offered on a rolling basis as long as funds are available. Click here for information.

Organization Mini-Grant
Discount of 1/3 of the training fees for organizations that send three or more people to SPI. E-mail the SPI office by clicking here for information.

Email spi@emu.edu for more information on these scholarships.

You can find the information on the Summer Peacebuilding Institute website at www.emu.edu/cjp/spi/.

NICD Co-Produces New Docuseries Called Divided We Fall

NCDD member organization, The National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) has been working on a new television docuseries called, Divided We Fall, co-produced with New Voices Strategies to explore the wide realm of experiences of what it means to be American and how to bridge the divides that prevent it. In a series of tweets from NICD, they shared…

“For the past ten months NICD has been working in partnership with New Voice Strategies to produce and launch a new documentary series called Divided We Fall TV. This series is designed to disrupt the dominant national narrative that we are so divided we can’t listen to or learn from one another. We have filmed two casts to test this idea and you can see some of the results for yourself. We’re interested in your feedback about this exciting project and we’d love your help to spread the word.

Please “Like” and “Follow” this series on Facebook.

We encourage you to learn more and watch the trailer (voiced by Dan Rather) in the post below, as well as, check out the Divided We Fall website here.


More About Divided We Fall

Divided We Fall is a television docu-series created to match the challenges Americans are now experiencing in our political and public discourse. We were inspired to prove on camera: despite profound divisions, Americans are hungry to connect and bridge the divides. Americans want to talk with and listen to each other. Americans want the core of our democratic experiment– “We the People” to succeed.

Over 48 hours on set, twelve individuals faced a series of topics and exercises regarding what it means to be an American, the challenges facing our country, and their ideas for achieving a “more perfect union.” The participants include an equal number of men and women and equal number that strongly approve and disapprove of President Trump.

Understanding and Engaging in Challenging Conversations

While challenging conversations can be hard, they are not impossible, and many in this field have been working to better understand conflict and how to actually have challenging conversations. The article written by Yasmeen Wafai, called “Why Difficult Conversations Can Actually Be a Good Thing” offers several groups working to understand this phenomenon and mentions the work of NCDD member organization National Issues Forums Institute and The Difficult Conversations Lab founded by Peter Coleman. Below you can read the NIFI’s blog post with excerpts of the article (which can be found here) and we encourage you to read the original article here.


Read the Article in “YES! Magazine” – “Why Difficult Conversations Can Actually Be a Good Thing” by Yasmeen Wafai

A July 10, 2019 article in YES! Magazine, by Yasmeen Wafai, describes several examples of methods to help people talk productively about difficult public issues, including The Difficult Conversations Lab founded by Peter Coleman, and the National Issues Forums.

The following are excerpts from the article:

The Difficult Conversations Lab was founded in the early 2000s by Peter Coleman, a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University. He said the lab was created to study deeply rooted, complicated, and hard-to-solve conflicts. He wanted to understand why conflicts in families, communities, and in the international arena get stuck in a destructive pattern…

Contrary to expectation, these conversations do not always go sour and are sometimes constructive, Coleman said. It is not that participants are solving the issues themselves, but they are creating the space to learn something about themselves, the issue, and other viewpoints…

However, Coleman cautions that discussing deeply polarizing issues can backfire. Instead, he suggests finding a group or organization like the National Issues Forums, which are designed to bring people together in a safe space to have wide-ranging, moderated discussions….

Click here to read the full article.

You can find this announcement on the National Issues Forums Institute blog at www.nifi.org/en/read-article-yes-magazine-why-difficult-conversations-can-actually-be-good-thing-yasmeen-wafai.