Empowering Our Youth with Kingian Nonviolence
Join us for the first Social Justice Happy Hour of 2018.
Thursday, January 18
143 Highland Street, Worcester, MA
Appetizers are on us. So come get inspired and network with other peace educators.
Background: Mr. Robert T. Jones is Associate Director of the Office of Multicultural Education and Director of the Multicultural Peer Education Program at the College of the Holy Cross. He was trained in Kingian nonviolence by noted civil rights activist Dr. Bernard Lafayette, and in 2002 became a senior trainer at the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies Summer Institute https://web.uri.edu/nonviolence/.
From 2008-2011, Mr. Jones worked with Dr. Lafayette in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria teaching 20,000 freedom fighters Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s strategies and methods of nonviolence. Lafayette and Associates continues to work with the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony (FEHN) in Nigeria to this day.
RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/773314839523035/
Don't Hate! Peer Mediate!
CNVS Education Coordinator Claire Schaeffer-Duffy speaks on the joys and challenges of running a high school peer mediation. Come learn how kids can play an important role in creating a culture of peace within their school. Discussion to follow. Lots of good resources available on how to start your own peer mediation program.
Thursday, November 30th
143 Highland Street, Worcester, MA 01609
Bring a friend. Appetizers are on us.
Background: Ms. Schaeffer-Duffy, Dan Margolis, and Matt Shorten are in year two of co-facilitating a peer mediation program at Claremont Academy. Using a sequential process, high school students help "battling" middle schoolers find a nonviolent resolution to their conflict. Claremont now has two cohorts of trained peer mediators. In addition to negotiating mediations, these mediators will soon be facilitating school advisories. Claremont's story, a tale of challenges as well as successes, represents one small effort to build a culture of peace within a school using its greatest resource - the students themselves.
RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1781323392160354/
CNVS Statement on U.S. Mass Shootings
As board members and staff at the Center for Nonviolent Solutions, we abhor the mass shootings that have now plagued our country for two decades.
We have a violence problem in the United States and it is exacerbated by guns.
Even a partial list of recent American mass shootings is staggering: Columbine High School, Amish School in Lancaster County, Knoxville UU Church, Charleston EAME Church, Aurora theater, Orlando nightclub, Sandy Hook School, Las Vegas concert and Sutherland Springs Church.
But while mass shooting grab the headlines, most gun violence occurs in our cities daily. And we have become immune to it. We are only shocked and moved to action when the violence escapes the cities and enters the suburbs and rural America. In Chicago, there were 58 gun deaths in only 28 days. That is the number of people killed in Las Vegas in October. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/06/us/las-vegas-gun-deaths.html
The correlation between gun ownership and violent deaths in the United States could not be clearer. We have many times more guns in private hands, and many times more gun deaths, than any other country.
According to a recent analysis by the New York Times (November 7, 2017), in 2013, gun violence from suicides, homicides and accidents resulted in nearly 32,888 deaths. That same year, Japan, with 1/3 of America’s population, had 13 gun deaths. An American is 300 times more likely than a Japanese person to die by gunshot.
The National Rifle Association, as its name implies, began as a hunters’ organization, but when hunting declined, and more and more Americans became city-dwelling non-hunters, the NRA changed its emphasis to convince home owners to buy handguns for self-defense. However, handguns make homes far less safe. With a gun in the home a family member is 22 times more likely to be shot than an intruder.
Our lawmakers have responded to pressures from the NRA and failed to make improvements in our gun laws. Our lawmakers will respond to public pressure when enough of us speak out. We can write letters and make phone calls to urge our congressmen and women and our senators to support building a culture of peace and more restrictions on gun ownership.
We can join and support organization and initiatives such as:
Assault Weapons Ban of 2017 recently introduced by Senator Diane Feinstein. https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2017/11/senators-introduce-assault-weapons-ban
Goods for Guns program in Worcester, and its National Gun Buyback Day on December 16 https://www.gunbuybacks.org
The Brady Campaign https://www.bradycampaign.org/
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America https://momsdemandaction.org/
Everytown for Gun Safety https://everytown.org/contact-us/
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence https://www.csgv.org/
Americans for Responsible Solutions https://giffords.org/
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence http://lawcenter.giffords.org/
Center for Nonviolent Solutions in promoting a culture of peace and finding alternatives to violence https://www.nonviolentsolutions.org/
Together we can promote a culture of peace and make our nation a less angry, less violent, more peaceful country.
Forgiveness as a Way to Peace in the Classroom?
Worcester public school teacher Brian Leonard speaks on his experiment with reconciliation and other peace practices in his classroom of middle school students.
Thursday, October 19
143 Highland Street, Worcester, MA 01609
Appetizers are on us. Bring and connect with other educators interested in peace education.
Background: Brian Leonard, an educator and peace activist, taught at Sullivan Middle School for three years. As a teacher, he observed that violence was “a daily reality” for many of his students. Many had traumatic histories and struggled with abuse, poverty, and neglect. Over the course of his teaching, Brian developed simple peace practices in his classroom that allowed him to build respectful relationships between himself and his students.
RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1993106050903611
School Committee Honors Claremont’s Peer Mediators
Six high school students from Claremont Academy received certificates of honor from Mayor Joseph Petty on September 7 during the Worcester School Committee meeting at the City Council. The students were recognized for learning and implementing the skills required for peer mediation to peacefully resolve conflicts in their school.
The Center for Nonviolent Solutions (CNVS) offers the Peer Mediation Training and Support as part of its capacity building to develop a culture of peace among school students. Claremont’s Principle Ricci W. Hall worked closely with the center to ensure that students gain real life skills that will assist them in their adulthood life.
Center Trains New Cohort of Peer Mediators
A new school year has begun, and with it new opportunities for resolving conflicts nonviolently. Students at Claremont Academy will be ready. In the final days of summer, eight rising sophomores attended the Center’s ten-hour training in peer mediation in anticipation of helping their fellow middle-schoolers find peaceful resolutions to their conflicts. Participants were taught the basic steps of the mediation process: How to welcome disputants and communicate the ground rules; how to actively listen to get both sides of the story; how to encourage disputants to brainstorm solutions and come up with one that is realistic.
Our tenth-graders were an active bunch, so this year’s training included quite a few games.
Here they are diving into a lively round of the cooperative game Hot Lava. And of course, there were lots of role plays.
One of the group’s most eager learners was a young girl well acquainted with middle-school fights. She had gone through many a mediation as disputant and knew its value. Having high schoolers, instead of adults, help you sort out a fight was more real, she believes. Mediation is where you can “show your true face.”
The sophomores are the second cohort of mediators trained by the Center. They will be joining the 2016 cohort in helping to build a culture of peace at Claremont Academy.
Center Conducts First Staff Training
On Tuesday, June 19, the Center completed a four-session training with staff at Straight Ahead Ministries, a faith-based organization that works with formerly incarcerated youth, some of whom are gang affiliated. This was our first staff training with an administrator, as well as street counselors participating.
The twelve-hour workshop, offered over four weeks, provided an introduction to skills in conflict transformation. Along with diagrams and theories about conflict, there were lots of role plays. (Straight Ahead folks are a dramatic bunch.) Each session began with a check-in, during which participants were invited to “bring their conflicts to the table.” Tensions in the workplace? Among the kids? These became the material for applying what we learned.
Michael Langa, who honed his peace-building skills mediating conflicts in Africa, was our lead trainer. He used stories and practical examples to convey complex information. One participant was so impressed with Michael’s insightful analyses, he said he wanted to keep Michael on “speed dial’ for help with his conflicts.
We loved working with Straight Ahead staff, a thoughtful group. Their dedication to youth in need was inspiring, and we look forward to future collaborations.
Social Justice Happy Hour
Our Social Justice Happy Hour, originally scheduled for Thursday May 25, has been re-scheduled for Thursday, June 1. Massachusetts State Senator Harriette L. Chandler will speak about her bill promoting instruction in civics in our public schools https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S215. The Center is eager to hear about this initiative. A culture of peace thrives best in a civic minded society. Come join us.
Promoting Civic Engagement in our Public Schools
Senator Harriette L. Chandler
Thursday, June 1: 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Sahara Restaurant, Highland St.
We Grow Into Courage: A dramatic reading of civil rights texts
Join the Center for Nonviolent solutions for We Grow Into Courage.
Wednesday, April 12, 5:30-7:00 pm
Saxe Room - Worcester Public Library
3 Salem Square, Worcester
The civil rights readings are excerpted from Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC
SNCC (pronounced “SNICK”) was founded in April 1960 by leaders of the sit-ins that began on Black colleges in the South. It was the only national civil rights organization led by young people. Mentored by the legendary Black organizer Ella Baker, SNCC activists became full-time organizers working with adult leaders to build local grassroots organizations in the Deep South. SNCC focused on voter registration and mounting a systemic challenge to the white supremacy that governed the country’s entrenched political, economic, and social structures.
—Judy Richardson, “The Way We Were: The SNCC Teenagers Who Changed America”
March has been a demanding and energizing time for the Center. It began with our Annual Meeting on March 8th. David McMahonand Colleen Hilferty, recipients of the our 2016 Community Peacemaker Award, spoke of their fine work at Dismas House and Dismas Farm on behalf of released prisoners. Straight Ahead Café provided the refreshments. Young musicians from Neighborhood Strings, a regular feature at our Annual Meeting, graced us with glorious music. The talent of those kids advances with each passing year.
The evening’s program also included a brief report on our spring programs, as well as a financial summary. The highlight of “Why is Peace Important,” a short radio clip created and produced by 16-year-old Therence Nthihinduka, a participant in Voices of Peace, our youth radio project. Look for Therence’s audio clip and many others on our Facebook page.
Twenty people turned out for our Social Justice Happy Hour March 23rd at the Sahara Restaurant on Highland Street. Dr. Laurie Ross of Clark University spoke on exciting peacebuilding initiatives in the city to reduce youth violence. A lively discussion followed and people lingered to network. The evening was our most successful SJHH to date.
Our next SJ Happy Hour is Thursday, April 27th with Asima Silva. Mark your calendar and join the growing community of peace educators.
As always, thanks for supporting us with your interest and donations. You keep us going.
Community Peacemaker Award
This year our award goes to David McMahon and Colleen Hilferty, co-directors of Dismas House a residential program for newly released prisoners.
Colleen had more than 20 years experience in the development of programs and services engaging low income and homeless populations. Colleen has been instrumental in the launch and success of Dismas permanent and scattered site housing, the Farm program and associated ventures, and the BAR None program bringing civil legal support to ex-offenders throughout the greater Worcester area. She has been serving as Co-Executive Director of Dismas House of Central Massachusetts since 2000.
David has been co-executive Director of Dismas since 1998. He has helped to build an infrastructure of support for homeless ex-offenders which has included the launch of Father Brooks House and the Dismas Family Farm, and partnerships around reentry with South Middlesex Opportunity Council and Community Healthlink to rapidly rehouse former offenders.
Please join us for the Center's Annual Meeting, March 8th from 5:30-7:00pm, Saxe Room at the Worcester Public Library. Our informal meeting will include an update on the Center's progress this year. We will share with you new programs that have been implemented and provide a short financial update. Youth from Neighborhood Strings will grace us with their music.
We are very pleased to present this year's Community Peacemaker Award to David McMahon and Colleen Hilferty, co-directors of Dismas House, a residential program for newly released prisoners. Their organization has made many successful contributions to the Worcester community, and we are happy to celebrate them and their good works.
Refreshments provided by Straight Up Catering. Free and open to the public. We look forward to seeing you there!
Women of Color in the Civil Rights Movement
Dr. Joyce McNickels
While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., may feature prominently in curriculum for Black History Month, few students are familiar with the extraordinary history of the women who fought for civil rights and expanded American democracy. Dr. McNickles will share a few stories about these nonviolent freedom fighters. Come get inspired. Come to network. Appetizers are on us.
Dr. Joyce McNickles, a social justice educator and consultant, has over 20 years of experience in developing and executing comprehensive cultural competency, racial justice, equity, and inclusion initiatives in academic, corporate, and non- profit settings. She is the 2016 recipient for the City of Worcester’s Eleanor Hawley Award for Human Rights.
Wednesday, February 15th - Social Justice Happy Hour
5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
143 Highland St, Worcester, MA 01609
International Exchange Essential for Mutual Understanding
Social Justice Happy Hour
Join us this semester for our Social Justice Happy Hours. These informal evenings provide an opportunity to get inspired and to network with teachers interested in peace and justice education. Appetizers are on us. So mark your calendars and join us. Now more than ever we need to build networks of compassion and peace.
Wednesday, February 15 – Women of Color in the Civil Rights Movement Dr. Joyce McNickles, social justice educator and consultant, shares stories of nonviolent heroines from the past that can inspire us for the work of the present.
Sahara Restaurant, 143 Highland St. Worcester, MA 01609
Thursday, March 23 – Creating a Youth Justice Institute in Worcester. Dr. Laurie Ross, Associate Professor of Community Development and Planning, talks about her long-held dream to create a justice institute for Worcester’s youth.
Sahara Restaurant, 143 Highland Street, Worcester, MA 01609
Thursday, April 27 – Encouraging Diversity in our Schools – a short presentation by Asima Silva, School Committee Member of the Wachusett Regional School District and Director of Outreach at EnjoinGood.org.
Thursday, May 25 – Our final get-together. Location TBA
Remembering our Nonviolent History
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
About fifty people attended the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration held Thursday, January 12 in Conference Room D of the headquarter for Advocates, a social service agency in Framingham, MA. The event marked Advocates third annual King remembrance. The two-hour program interspersed poetry and music between the reading of a chapter from King’s Stride Toward Freedom: the Montgomery Story chronicling his intellectual pilgrimage to nonviolence. I gave a short reflection on the nonviolent power that is always available to us, even in difficult times.
Advocates Diversity Advisory Council organized the event, as they do every year. People of varying hue and physical capabilities attended which is why this King commemorative is one of my favorites. The morning concluded with a collective reading of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. When the text was passed to the deaf among us, they signed their passage. It was beautiful to watch their flying fingers and animated faces. King's words are just as soaring when seen as when heard.
On Sunday, January 15, Center intern Devra Goldstein and I did a presentation on women in the civil rights struggle of the American South for a girls leadership program at Worcester’s YWCA. The Center is currently recruiting teen girls to do a public reading of civil rights texts featuring women.Devra and I showed a chapter from Steve York’s A Force More Powerful on the nonviolent campaign to integrate the Nashville lunch counters, then read excerpts from Gwendolyn Simmons' riveting essay about her evolution from sweet Memphis girl to gutsy field coordinator for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in rural Mississippi.
All over the country these past few days, pockets of Americans were reflecting on King's legacy and the application of nonviolence to the struggle for black civil rights. Thinking about that gives me a lot of heart. Immersing ourselves in this history empowers us for the work ahead.
Everyday Strategies for Building Peace in the New Year
On New Year's Eve, eight Worcester leaders reflected on strategies for building peace in 2017 at Community Voices of Peace, a First Night program held at the First Unitarian Church in Worcester. It was a wonderful way to begin the new year.
The evening's speakers included Mona Ives, an Islamic educator and member of the Worcester Islamic Center and Interfaith Committee. Here is an edited version of her remarks which you can hear in their entirety on our Facebook page.
#1 on my list of strategies is to BELIEVE in peace. Believe it is possible to achieve and that it is worth the effort, constancy, and dedication required. It is worth the inevitable setbacks and heartache that accompany the work.
Strategy #2 is to make peace-building your job title. Peace-building is not just for politicians, leaders, movers & shakers. It is for EVERYONE. Wake up each morning and attach the term “peace maker” to your title. “Peace Maker and Nurse” – “Peace Builder and Taxi Driver” “Peace Builder and Dentist” “Peace Builder and Full Time Parent”. Whatever your role in this world, start to rebuild your identity as someone who is dedicated to building peace in their everyday life. Make peace-making who you are.
Strategy #3 – Put peace on your calendar. Pencil in time for actively helping others. Find an organization – whether it be your place of worship, a charity organization, your workplace, or engagement in the political process – and commit to spending at least some of your time making the world a better place for others. Find a cause you care about and make time for it. I personally don’t know a single person who isn’t busy or has a full schedule. But the world will never change unless we make time for it.
Strategy #4 is outreach. Expand your circle of friends and acquaintances. Most often we make friends when we’re young and those friends make up the majority of our circle for our lifetimes. This doesn’t afford us the chance to meet someone of a different race, culture, religion, or lifestyle. If you look around the table and everyone at it looks the same, it’s time to broaden your horizons.
I know all too well what it’s like to have someone look at me with contempt just because of my religious attire or the color of my skin. I often wish I could talk to that person and ask them about their day, their family, their hobbies. Because I know that we are all MORE alike than we are different! There is much more we could do together if we are willing to break down the walls and barriers of suspicion, hatred, and intolerance.
Strategy #5 is to be brave! Recently there was a video circulating online showing a woman at a JCPenny hurling insults and racial slurs at a Latina woman in line with her. Perhaps the bigger tragedy [of that incident] was that no one said or did anything. No one said to this woman, « Excuse me ma’am, but you are out of line. » In that moment, no one expressed displeasure at what she had said and how she had made this Latina woman anxious. We all have a social responsibility as peace-builders to send a message that this is unacceptable. Doing this may require us to dig deep for a bravery that we do not have. But peace simply cannot be built in an environment of fear, distrust, and scapegoating. Strategy #5 is probably the most important.
Let's teach our kids all of the above. Let's raise our children to be the ones who stand up for the kid who gets picked on in school. Let's teach our kids that making blessing bags for the homeless is far more rewarding than leveling up in that video game. Let's reward them for kindness and generosity more than, perhaps, winning their little league game, and teach them about those who have less or live in different parts of the world. If we hope to pass the torch to the next generation, we have no other choice but to do this.
It goes without saying that we stand a better chance of success if we work together and look for common ground. I hope that events like this give us the opportunity to build the type of relationships needed to succeed.
So with that, I pray with all of my fellow citizens, Worcesterites, and people of faith that we make 2017 the year of building peace. Thank you.
The evening's other speakers were :
Laurie Ross, Associate Professor of Community Development and Planning, Clark University
Rev. Daniel Gregoire – Unitarian Universalist Society of Grafton and Upton
Rabbi Valerie Cohen, Temple Emanuel Sinai in Worcester
Melissa Myozen Blacker, Roshi and Abbot, Boundless Way Zen Center of Worcester
Frank Kartheiser, Lead Organizer of Worcester Interfaith since 1993
Michael True, Professor of English Emeritus, Assumption College, Founder and Board Member of CNVS
The First Unitarian Church of Worcester along with the Worcester Islamic, and CNVS sponsored Community Voices of Peace. Center co-chair Paul Ropp emceed.
Remembering Dr. Richard Seder
The Center for Nonviolent Solutions mourns the passing of longtime friend and supporter, Dr. Richard Seder, who was tireless in his work to build trust and harmony between Israelis and Palestinians. His obituary is available at this link, http://www.roneyfuneralhome.com/…/Seder-Richard/obituary.php
He and his wife Sue Cotter kindly have named the Center as a possible recipient of donations in his honor. Donations is his honor can be made at this link, https://nonviolentsolutions.nationbuilder.com/donate
Many thanks to everyone who responded so generously to our year-end appeal. We appreciate your gift and knowing of your interest in our mission to promote a culture of peace. With 2017 just around the corner, we anticipate the work to come - developing our youth radio program, hosting a public reading of civil rights documents with teens, and continuing to work with our talented peer mediators at Claremont.
Those of you who have yet to make a donation to the Center, it is not too late! We welcome your gift. We welcome the opportunity to connect with you, so please remember us before year's end.
You can start the New Year with songs and readings of peace. On New Year's Eve, Worcester's First Unitarian Church, in collaboration with the Islamic Center of Worcester, hosts Community Voices of Peace an interfaith program featuring messages of peace:
First Unitarian Church, 90 Main Street, Worcester, MA
First Night Button required.
Folk singer Jim Scott, renowned troubadour of peace, will be singing at the church at 5:00 p.m. Check out Jim's version "Whole Wide World" played at our November fundraiser. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPVdZljGbmU
Come enjoy and be encouraged for the work of making peace in the new year.
Happy Holidays to all!
Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, Eileen Lawter, and Kelley Eaton
Goods for Gun Program
Dr.Hirsh a supporter of the Center for Nonviolent Solutions had the annual Goods for Guns program on December 10th. Goods for Guns allows community members to bring in guns for gift cards. The event collected over 250 guns in hopes of decreasing gun violence and gun accidents in the community. CNVS gave Dr. Hirsh an award at our annual meeting a few years ago.
You can read more here: http://www.telegram.com/news/20161210/central-mass-gun-buyback-nets-260-weapons-in-single-day
Thank you Dr. Hirsh!
In this fractious political year violence has been all too evident in our inner cities, in our schools and even in our public discourse. In Worcester, our high schools have armed guards, and our district ranked among the top five in the state for school suspensions.
The good news is that donations from our supporters have enabled the Center for Nonviolent Solutions to continue effective work to reduce violence in the city of Worcester. This fall we hosted a training in peace education and hired new staff including a communications coordinator who has significantly increased our online presence. Plans are underway for Voices of Peace, a radio project with neighborhood youth highlighting efforts of peacemakers. Listen for them on WCUW!
The Center has been involved for three years at Claremont Academy, a grade 7-12 school in Worcester’s Main South. This fall we trained 18 Claremont high school students who will be conducting peer mediations this year for the middle school students.
In 2011-12 with a total enrollment of 370 Claremont had over 300 suspensions. Last year, with an enrollment of 540 there were 29 suspensions. That is a 90% reduction in the rates of suspension in one school.
Most of the credit for Claremont’s remarkable turnaround goes to Principal Ricci Hall and his dedicated staff who have also introduced such practices as mindfulness meditation and restorative justice circles which are changing the school culture. Principal Hall has said of our programs:
“Students began to see violence as a negative choice. They were profoundly impacted and engaged in deep thinking about nonviolence….. These students became ambassadors of this thinking in our school.”
The Center for Nonviolent Solutions is proud to be a part of such a striking success in an inner city Worcester school. In order to expand our work to other schools, we are in critical need of your support.
Our dedicated board of directors has pledged $5000 in matching funds for this end-of-year appeal. All your gifts up to $5000 will be doubled by our board.
Many thanks to those who have already responded so generously to our appeal. You encourage us. For those who have yet to give, there is still time. Help us make 2017 a year for building peace.
Social Justice Happy Hour on Resources for Teaching Peace
Come join us on Thursday, November 17: 5:30-7:00 p.m.
149 Highland Street, Worcester, MA 01609
Questions: firstname.lastname@example.org/ 774 641-1566
While violence dominates our media, the untold good news is that interest in nonviolent education is on the rise. Mindfulness practice. Restorative Circles. Using social media to promote nonviolence. Educators across the country are creatively incorporating these, and other skills, into their classrooms to create peaceful schools. A peaceful future. Join Center staff for an informal evening of resource sharing. We’ll tell you what we know. You tell us what you need. Come to network. Come to relax. Come to support one another in the crucial work of educating youth to become peace-builders.
Remembering Pete Seeger in Song
Folk singer Jim Scott will hold a Pete Seeger Songfest to benefit the Center for Nonviolent Solutions 7:00 PM Sunday November 6, in the sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church, 90 Main Street, Worcester, MA.
Composer/guitarist Jim Scott, who knew Pete well and collaborated on many projects with the folk legend, will lead the audience in songs for the causes Seeger championed and will remember his great contributions to peace and to our American heritage.
Scott brings a warmth, and authenticity that turns any size audience into an intimate gathering. His lyrical melodies, well-crafted words, guitar mastery and humorous surprises moved Pete Seeger to call him “Some kind of a magician.” A guitarist with the Paul Winter Consort and co-composer of their celebrated "Missa Gaia / Earth Mass," Scott is a prolific composer in his own right.
Scott, a lifelong Unitarian Universalist (UU)has also become a student of the movement for peace and justice in song, compiling and arranging the "Earth and Spirit Songbook," a collection of over 110 songs by many contemporary composers, including Pete Seeger. His much loved "Gather the Spirit" and other songs are in the UU hymnbooks. He was one of the creators of the Green Sanctuary program for churches to become more sustainable.
The Center for Nonviolent Solutions is a non-profit organization that provides education and resources to help people in the Worcester area to understand nonviolence and peacemaking as a way of life and to reject the use of violence in resolving conflict. The Center teaches middle school and high school students how to resolve conflicts peacefully through mutual respect, empathy cultivation, active listening and peer mediation. The Center also provides training in peacebuilding skills to teachers and youth workers, and provides instruction in the history of successful nonviolent movements in the modern world.
Suggested donation: $20 for adults. $10 for students.
Late September and early October were busy times at the Center. On September 26 and October 3, staff members met with Clark University Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) students working at Claremont Academy and gave brief presentations on peace education. On September 27 and October 4, we hosted an introductory training in peace education at 901 Pleasant Street, open to anyone in the Worcester community who teaches or works with young people.
At the community training, participants were introduced to the basics of peace education, including sequential processes for resolving conflicts nonviolently, mindfulness activities, and nonviolent histories.
At the first session, Rose Koerner, of Clark University, discussed mindfulness activities she did with children in fifth grade as a teacher/researcher at Worcester’s Goddard Elementary School. Claire Schaeffer-Duffy and Dan Margolis began the evening with a “cocktail party,” an exercise that encouraged community building among attendees and also helped build active listening skills. The evening ended with stories of youth peacebuilders, including those opposing the projected South Dakota pipeline.
At the second session, participants were given some “brass tacks” tools to use with their youth, including the Conflict Escalator and the CLEAR method of conflict resolution. Participants agreed that they wanted to continue meeting informally, to hear talks on strategies for peace- building with youth, share experiences, and enjoy each other’s company.
At the sessions for Clark MAT’s, Claire Schaeffer-Duffy presented a broad overview of peace education and restorative practices to five student teachers, as well as others in the Claremont community who expressed interest. The Center believes that peace education is a necessity for teachers, and hopes to see it included in college teacher training curricula. We saw the meeting with the MATs as a small first step in that direction.
For more information, or to learn more about tools and events for educators, please feel free to contact us.
Teaching the Fourth R: Right Relationships and the
Culture of Peace
An Introductory Training in Peace Education
September 27th and October 4th
This free two-part training by CNVS instructors introduces participants to ways of creating peace in their workplace, communities, or classrooms using nonviolent strategies and problem solving skills. Specifically geared for youth educators and youth workers.
Topics covered include:
- Centering activities and restorative circles
- Tools for conflict assessment and transformation
- Cooperative games
- Real-life stories of peace heroes and heroines to inspire youth
- Strategies for nonviolent management
Learn how you and your students can become agents for peace in the classroom and beyond. Additionally, you will have an opportunity to connect with like-minded educators.
An Autumn of Peacebuilding
The office is abuzz these days with the creative energy of our new staff. In late June, we bade a fond farewell to Jennifer Smead, our former director of finances and then interim executive director. In August, we hired Dan Margolis as our education program manager, Eileen Lawter as administrative assistant, and Kelley Eaton as communications coordinator. The Center also welcomed Eriberto Mora, a senior at Clark University as education intern for 2016-17. I relinquished my title as chair of the Board of Directors to serve as staff director. It is a joy to accompany this energetic team as they implement the important work of teaching skills for building a culture of peace.
On August 25 and 26, Dan and I assisted educator and mediator Karen Thomsen in training seventeen young people and two faculty for the Peer Mediation Program at Claremont Academy, an inner-city public school located in Worcester’s Main South neighborhood. What a remarkable group of youth! We are looking forward to supporting them throughout the school year as they mediate the conflicts of their middle school peers. The Peer Mediation Program is one of several efforts within Claremont’s “whole school" approach to creating a peaceable school.
Plans for our second annual fall training in nonviolence education are well underway. Teaching the Fourth R: Right Relationships and the Culture of Peace is scheduled for Tuesday, September 27 and Tuesday, October 4, 5:30-8:00 pm here at 901 Pleasant Street, Worcester. Geared for youth educators, this two-part workshop, will introduce participants to the basics of peace education and offer plenty of opportunity to network with like-minded souls. Details forthcoming. Mark your calendars and spread the word.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to our July appeal. Each contribution means more to us than a dollar value; it’s a vote of confidence in our mission. So onward! Let’s spend our autumn working to build a culture of peace in Worcester and beyond.
Help build a culture of peace in Worcester
“There is so much hate and so much violence in this country,” lamented a dear friend in the wake of the Orlando massacre. I understood his reaction. Perhaps you have felt similarly. And yet, I am unexpectedly optimistic despite these heart-breaking times
Last week, I stopped by Claremont High School, located in Worcester’s Main South, to meet the teens who signed up for our Peer Mediation (PM) Program. We successfully ran a PM Program at the school two years ago. In August, we will train these teens to mediate the conflicts of their middle school peers throughout the 2016-17 school year. I expected eight registrants. Twenty showed up. Were any familiar with Peer Mediation? I asked. Indeed, they were. A number of them had used Center-trained Peer Mediators to help resolve their fights when they were in middle school.
Fighters becoming peace-builders. This is how we build a culture of peace. One young person at a time.
But to do so takes money. To hire a part-time Education Program Manager for just one semester costs $10,000, a hefty sum for our limited pool of funds. Imagine what two peace educators working full-time could achieve! Imagine how many “fighting” middle schoolers could learn to become peace-building teens and how many aspiring peace educators could develop professionally in this pioneering field.
Your contribution will help build a culture of peace. $10,000 is our summer fundraising goal, one we’d like to reach by mid-July. With $10,000 we can expand the hours for our peace educator and expand our programming. Help us meet that goal. Together, we can build a culture of peace in Worcester and beyond!
President, Board of Directors
Cultivating Nonviolence event
On March 22nd, the Center held its annual meeting event, Cultivating Nonviolence: A Celebration of Peace Education in our Schools and Neighborhoods. Attendees enjoyed some beautiful music by Neighborhood Strings, a program of the Worcester Chamber Music Society that provides free music lessons to Main South youth.
Lisa Brennan, Program Director of Services for New Americans at Ascentria Care Alliance, gave a fascinating talk about her organization's work with refugees in the Worcester area. Center Board Chair Claire Schaeffer-Duffy then presented Ascentria Care Alliance with the Center's annual Community Peacemaker Award, given to an individual or organization making a difference in our community.
Following the program, Executive Director Jennifer Smead reported on the previous year's accomplishments and activities. Some highlights are found in the Center’s 2016 Annual Report. Board Treasurer Ruth Rowan presented the Center's financial outlook, and Claire Schaeffer-Duffy reviewed the list of Board officers for 2016, which were approved by those in attendance. The Center's list of Board members and officers can be found here.
Thank you to everyone who sponsored, attended, and supported our 5th Annual Way of Nonviolence event: An Evening with Dr. Paul Walker, Chemical and Nuclear Weapons Disarmament Expert and 2013 Right Livelihood Award Laureate