It's time to
celebrate! Come picnic with us Friday, August 22nd at Seward Park.
All volunteers, delegates, supporters and friends of GCJ are welcome
to our end-of-the-summer picnic! Join us for music,
singing, and dance lessons. Share stories with friends new and old, and learn
more from our Burundi 2009 "away team" who just returned from
Bujumbura, Burundi, with research, pictures, and stories.
instruments and sports equipment! We'll be right at the water's edge, so be ready to play
in and out of the water (we have covered shelter no matter what the
weather brings). We'll be learning traditional dances with Awal Alhassan, from Ghana.
Bring food and drink to share - especially with an
international flavor. We'll gather at Shelter #1 (near the play area
just south of the Environmental Education Center, near the lake) at
Seward Park from 5 to 9 pm on Friday, August 22nd.
Hope to see you there!
Global Citizen Journey
|Just in From Burundi!|
Project Director returns with news of Kazoza Kumukenyezi.
From Burundi 2009 Project Director Brock Blatter
Wow, what an experience. If you've
read any of the blog/journal that I wrote from the trip that I took
to Burundi with Bob and Wes in the first part of July, you know that
it was a very intense time. Burundi is such a needy place, and the
people are so kind, loving, and hard working. Prosper
Ndabishuriye, our inspiring Burundi host did such a
great job of supporting us while we were there - We were delighted
to meet his team: office staff Elizabeth and Mami, field staff
Onesfor and Dammas, driver Casmir, and Prosper's son Leduc who was
translator, guide, and friend.
We were surrounded by opportunities to
help the people of Burundi: the need is so great. We challenged ourselves to find a project
that was a good fit for GCJ, i.e. community based, empowerment driven, and at a scale our small grassroots organization can manage. We are deeply inspired and excited by what we found.
We're going to sponsor a group of women who
have formed themselves into a farming collective (leaders pictured below). The group is
called "Kazoza Kumukenyezi" which translates as "The woman's
future". These are strong women, mostly widows, who said, "We
want to take care of ourselves, we didn't want to go to the city
and beg." They are currently farming on little scraps and corners
of land that others are sparing them, but they need land, tools, and
seed to support their efforts. There are currently 104 women in the
group, and they hope to raise enough to help support not only the
nutritional needs of themselves and their families but also to be
able to sell a bit in the market. They plan to raise two crops in a
year, peanuts and rice. They have a leadership group of amazing
women who have put together this vision in a place of very scarce
We're working out the details of how
we're going to fund the support of Kazoza Kumukenyezi and expect
to get all the agreements worked out in the next week or two.
Join us! We have half of our US
delegation of 15 set. We'll be scheduling outreach programs in
the month of September to raise awareness of the project, complete
the delegation recruiting, and raise additional funds for the
project. We are especially hoping to recruit a delegate or two with
agricultural expertise to bring to the women's farming collective.
We're delighted that Prosper will join us at these events, as he'll
be here in the US for a six week visit beginning early in September.
Watch the website for upcoming dates.
The details for the 2009 trip are
starting to shape up: we'll soon have the itinerary posted. We're
proposing that we gather in Bujumbura Sunday, June 28, and leave
there Saturday, July 11. We still need to confirm a few things to
hold the exact timing and dates (like flight schedules!) but the
dates seem pretty promising give or take a day or two. We'll
publish the details as we work them out.
|GCJ Picnic at Seward Park
Come learn traditional dance with Awal Alhassan
Join us on August 22nd at Seward Park to celebrate by learning traditional Ghanaian dance with Awal Alhassan.
Awal is an incredible representation of traditional Dagomba
culture, being born and raised by a drumming and dancing family in Tamale,
Ghana. He has worked throughout Africa both independently and with some
of Ghana's most prestigious performance groups such as the Ghana Dance
Ensemble, the National Theatre of Ghana, and the Center for National Culture
Dance Troupe. Awal teaches ongoing classes, leads residencies, and
performs regularly with several local companies. He enjoys bringing his
exciting culture to both American and international audiences with his own high
energy dance group, Sohoyini. Awal currently lives in Seattle with his
wife Aubrey and his brand new bouncing baby boy, Tiyumba, who was born this
|Seattle Listens: Global Citizens in Action
Susan Partnow with Andrea Cohen
The Compassionate Listening Project, (GCJ's former
fiscal sponsor) engages in many ways of powerful global citizenship. Read
below for a story taking place at our own doorstep, involving GCJ Founder Susan
Partnow. The Compassionate Listening Project is offering training sessions from
Basic Intensive to Deepening Practice throughout the fall. To register or for
more information on upcoming workshops, click here.
On a clear night on the shores of Lake
Washington, a group of twenty people - half Chinese and half
"Westerners" - came together for the first of many events
designed to bring Chinese who are living in Seattle together with
Westerners and ultimately with Tibetans to listen to each other.
Seattle Listens grew out of Seeds of Compassion, a five-day Seattle
event early in April that brought over 150,000 to meet with the Dalai
Lama in a series of heart-opening programs that inspired us all.
Susan and Andrea, both certified
facilitators of Compassionate Listening, participated in Seeds -
offering workshops, co-hosting "reflection spaces" and helping to
plan the Interspiritual Day's activities. At one of the planning
meetings we met Spring Cheng, a woman born and raised in China who
had come to the U.S. for graduate school and never left. Over the
course of her twelve years in the US, Spring has followed a spiritual
path to become a healer, influenced by Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese
Taoism. Her spiritual quest has drawn her close to the Tibetan
communities, both inside China and in Seattle. When the
Chinese-Tibetan protests erupted all over the world in March, she
felt called to bring Chinese and Tibetans together for dialogue.
After hearing about our work in Compassionate Listening and Global
Citizen Journey, she asked if we could help bring her dream to
fruition. We found her vision compelling and were enthusiastic about
the opportunity to contribute and learn more.
The initial group of Westerners who
assembled soon realized that the complexity and sensitivity of the
situation called for 'slowing down to the speed of wisdom.' We
discovered that many members of the Chinese community are
experiencing tremendous pain, hurt feelings and even bitterness
towards the "Westerners" regarding the controversies
sparked by the Tibet event. Spring described the sense of
marginalization, demonization and humiliation many Chinese living in
the U.S. experience, exacerbated by recent media coverage about
tainted toys and food, human rights violations, and negative press
about the Olympics. We shared stories of citizen diplomacy and
global citizens in action, offering compassionate listening to all
sides of the issue, such as GCJ's work in the Niger Delta, where we
listened to villagers, Ijaw, Itsekiri, government representatives,
Chevron officials, militants, etc. We decided that before we could
ask the Chinese community to engage with Tibetans, they would need to
be heard by Westerners. We offered an evening of brief training in
compassionate listening to most of the Western listeners -and
several attended one of our Basic Intensive two-day trainings. We
explained the process to all listeners: asking them to actively hold
a safe, respectful space; allowing the more trained listeners to
offer some reflection; and follow that with a round of deep
appreciation. We agreed these first meetings, above all else, would
be about trust and relationship building. Spring and her husband Tao
invited people to attend, and ten courageous Chinese people accepted.
We began the evening with a simple ice
breaker: everyone marked a map of the world to show where they and/or
their grandparents were born. Then we each said one thing about this
as we introduced ourselves. Next, Spring opened the evening, sharing
deeply some of her personal story - powerfully setting the tone for
being vulnerable and trusting. Susan & Andrea then facilitated
the listening after explaining the process and getting everyone's
agreement to simple guidelines. We asked each of the Chinese
participants to respond to a few carefully crafted questions - one
at a time, using a talking object. Each person shared openly and
deeply. We learned about what people deeply cared about and about
their anger and frustration at the media's characterization of
China and the conflict. We discovered surprising areas of commonality
as well as respect for our differences.
In the words of Monica Wilson, one of
the Western listeners, "We had no expectations and offered only our
willingness to listen and our open hearts. And we found that it
was enough, and more than enough to elicit responses of piercing
honesty. We each found ourselves looking into the eyes of
another person who wanted only to find understanding, there were no
strangers to be met here, these were new friends! Most
astonishing of all, we found that we all shared a shatteringly
passionate desire to embody the change that must occur now to bring
our planet through this time of transformation. There was an
absolute recognition that this was a change that had to happen in the
hearts of every person, and not something that we could rely on
governments to undertake." Indeed, this was grassroots peacemaking
and citizen diplomacy in action. This was the living embodiment of
GCJ's purpose: 'Grassroots connections. Bridges of peace."
It felt like the exact antidote called for at this moment when the
planet seems to be preparing the next big polarization, of China
versus the West. I became aware of how poisoned I had become towards
China - how I had allowed the media to pull me in to demonizing the
We could not
have imagined the magic of the evening. We shared food, listened and
sang together - and felt enlivened by what seemed to be a seminal
opportunity to re-connect the disparate pieces of our human family.
The next session is being planned to include more dialogue and
exchange between the Chinese and Westerners. We are heartened to be
taking this journey on the road to Chinese-Tibetan dialogue - and to
see the seeds of the work we care so much about bear new fruit. As
Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing
that ever has."
|An excerpt of an article by Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute. For the entire article, follow this link.
Evolving into a Bigger Us with Nature
by Tom Atlee
One of the main trends in evolution is towards more inclusive whole systems -- the evolution of entities which "include and transcend" more primary entities.
One popular map of this hierarchy of inclusion goes as follows:
* Atoms include -- and are "more than" -- subatomic particles.
* Molecules include -- and are "more than" -- atoms.
* Cells include -- and are "more than" -- molecules.
* Complex animals and plants include -- and are "more than" --
* Societies include -- and are "more than" -- us individuals who
make them up.
In the last several hundred years, human societies and systems have developed and spread to global proportions. As we have collectively reached and encountered the limits of Earth and the demands of relationship in order to function, it is becoming increasingly obvious that there is no "Other" and no "Away". We are all interdependent kin, alive together here in this one planetary home.
We Are All. In This. Together.
Martin Luther King, Jr., declared forty years ago:
"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
And people around the world now celebrate Interdependence Day <http://
www.co-intelligence.org/interdependenceday.html> instead of Independence Day.
Evolutionary pressure is building to include more varieties of people, species, and living systems within our definition of "us".
I recently ran across two very intriguing news items I share with you below: First, Ecuador's Constitutional Assembly is proposing that natural communities and ecosystems have rights, thus initiating the first national legal system to include rights for both human and natural communities. Second, the Spanish Parliament voted last month to grant limited legal rights to our closest biological relatives, the great apes -- chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans, thus becoming the first nation to give legal rights to other species. Both of these pioneering initiatives go beyond laws governing animal abuse and species extinction, two earlier steps on the path.
|Ghana - Undeterred by Torrential Rain, WHH Students begin to grow their own food.
|June is the wet season in Axim, and since everyone walks to school, attendance is a challenge. In spite of the sometimes torrential rain, our Western Heritage Home (WHH) scholars are attending the nearest school, Manye Academy, daily. It's a short walk through the jungle, with a small stream to cross. The twenty children, ages 5 to 14, are residents in WHH's Children's Home. Ghana Together, (the spin-off organization formed by GCJ Ghana delegates) helps fund their support. We are thrilled to report that they are catching up academically, receiving after-school tutoring, and enjoying the many books and learning materials provided by friends and supporters of Ghana Together and GCJ.
WHH has cleared some land and started a "farm" (a large garden) to grow food for the Children's Home. After school or on Saturdays the children help with the farm and are learning to farm. Some of their biological elderly grandmothers and great-aunts and other townspeople volunteer their help and farming knowledge.
GCJ Delegate/Ghana Together Board Member Leif Pederson will be returning to Axim in September to begin serious work on the computer lab for WHH. Stay tuned for updates.
reviewed by Burundi Delegate Deborah Smick
Last issue we
started what we hope will be a new tradition with our newsletter:
sharing books and films among our community. This week, Burundi 2009
delegate Deborah Smick reviews the film War
Dance. We're collecting a list of titles for our Global
Citizen's Library, and we want your input! If you have a book, film,
or something else that you think the GCJ community would benefit from
experiencing, please email us with the
title and a short description, and we'll post it on our website. If you're feeling creative, send a
full review and we'll include you in a future newsletter.
"For anyone planning a trip to Africa in the near future, War
Dance is a must-see film. This award winning documentary is
available at Rain City Video in the new releases section and is
available at Netflix, including for instant viewing. A documentary
set in Uganda, it follows the lives of several school children living
in a government protected refugee camp in Northern Uganda as they
prepare for the National Music Competition in Kampala. These
children belong to a tribe in Northern Uganda that has been
persecuted for over 20 years by the L.R.A. (Lord's Resistance Army),
whose leader, ironically, is a member of the same tribe. They are
literally refugees in their own country. As they prepare for the
music and dance competition you learn of their individual stories
that have brought them to this situation (many were child warriors).
Although they have seen and experienced horrors we can barely imagine
the film portrays how important music and dance is as a vehicle for
spiritual uplifting and reconnecting. It is an amazing and wonderful
film that I highly recommend!" - reviewed by Burundi 2009
delegate Deborah Smick
|Join us in Burundi in Summer 2009.
|Find out more.
|Check out our website for
an updated list of events!
Picnic in the Park!
Join us this August 22nd from 5pm to 9pm for a picnic at Seward Park, Shelter #1.
GCJ delegates, volunteers, alumni and friends are all welcome to a day of Ghanaian dance lessons, music, international potluck, and fun. Mark it on your calendar!
|Do You Have A Story To Share?
|We're in the process of collecting delegate stories to add to our website, and to use in order to help future delegates prepare for a Journey. Are you a former delegate with a story to shore? Let us know!
|Bob, Brock and Wes sent us some photos from Burundi--join us at the picnic to see more now that they're back!
Bob hangs out with the neighborhood children.
Local children pose for the camera.
Carama residents on the site of their future home.
Laying the foundations of a home while children gather in front of a finished home.
Prosper stands in front of Citiboke water point.
Filling containers at a water point.
A collapsed house waiting to be rebuilt.
Updated photos from Ghana and Nigeria
Ghana - The finished Western Heritage Home Building
Ghana - Children in Axim play with finger puppets.
Nigeria - Students of the Giraffe Service Club International work outside the library