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Global Citizen Journey: October-March 2010 Newsletter

Susan Partnow <> Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 5:42 PM
Global Citizen Journey

  March 2010
Dear Susan,

Founder Susan Partnow is just back from a visit to Liberia with Harriett Nettles and Alexendra Valin to lay the groundwork for our Liberia Peacebuilder Initiative.  Readers in the Puget Sound area can join us  next week, March 31st, for a update on the Initiative where you'll hear about their trip and learn about Liberia's unique history, culture and current situation along with GCJ's plans. 

You'll read some highlights from their trip along with photos below.

We are thrilled to have received a $10,000 matching grant from the Foundation for Global Community: we nee your donations to benefit!

Ground-breaking Trip to Liberia

In January/February, Susan Partnow (Founder & Executive Director) spent several weeks in Liberia, joined by Harriett Nettles (Liberia Project Director) and Alexandra Valin (volunteer).  They were welcomed by our Liberian partners, Population Caring Organization (PCO).  Their days in Monrovia were filled with meetings: they visited over 18 organizations, including The Carter Center, Justice & Peace Commission, Inter-Peace, Council of Churches, OSIWA, WANEP and MARWOPNET.  All of these NGOs were impressed with the LPI and found its design to be complementary to work they are doing, in terms of the intended skill training and the network building.  They are open and willing to partnering with us.  We also build relationships with potential advisors and board members, including an accountant.

 Susan with President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson

We were thrilled to have the chance to meet the President, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, as special invited guests of the National Traditional Chief.


We hosted a very successful mini-summit in Gbarnga (central Liberia), gathering a diverse group of 27 participants for 2.5 days.  The participants ranged from illiterate traditional leaders to skilled mediators and facilitators, including women, youth, locals, Muslims, Christians, and participants from Monrovia and Sapo in the South.  The training in Compassionate Listening was welcomed with open hearts and transcended all language barriers:  participants were deeply touched to listen with their hearts, not just the head. 

Compassionate Listening in GbarngaOur lively role plays of restorative justice circles validated the compatibility of these skills with traditional practices.  Dialogue around forgiveness and reconciliation was deep and inspiring, as the circle came to understand forgiveness is for oneself, not the 'Other.'   The group also stepped right up to the empowering practices of the Town Hall, engaging in a World Café dialogue and Open Space, where many topics were raised and explored.   All in all, the mini-summit gave great value to the participants and validated the design we are planning for the larger initiative.  Compassionate Listening in GbarngaWe were delighted to have participants from the Carter Center and Justice & Peace Commission, who have received extensive training in the past and who are building networks of community workers:  they confirmed that LPI will add to the work of peacebuilding in Liberia in valuable ways.


Compassionate Listening in GbarngaCheck out the captioned photos to learn more:


Susan's Ghana side trip provided a wonderful sequel to GCJ Ghana 2006:  "I was able to spend a weekend at Western Heritage Home and enjoyed the absolutely wonderful accommodations there.  The Home is beautiful, well kept, and filled with positive spirit.  The completed building is amazing -huge and lovely!  There are great classrooms and a nearing-completing computer lab.  The children are a shear delight:  it was very fun and rewarding to read to them and help them with homework. And many of our local GCJ delegates from 2006 showed up for a wonderful reunion/circle time:  Gifty (and her husband); Moustapha (and his wife); Dina; Patrick; Anna Esi and Annie; Bentil.  I also got to see James in Takarodi and Frank in Accra."

LPI Logo

Liberia's Challenge & Opportunity

Civil war has left the country deeply affected and devastated. Conflict easily erupts at fault lines such as weakened respect for elders, ethnic tensions and integration of refugees. There is a tremendous need for local leaders to experience and learn skills for inter-group trust, nonviolent conflict resolution, reconciliation and collaborative networking, which provide the foundations of democracy, development, and a sustainable peace.


The Peacebuilder Initiative

This initiative offers deep discussion and visioning among all constituents. A microcosm of the whole of Liberia, beyond Monrovia, is needed to build peace at the grassroots, not just official levels. This reflects President Sirleaf's call for "...real conversation, real debate... We need to talk openly and honestly all over the country about our history and our roots, about the evils of our past and the good in it too." We plan to create an expanding community based network of Peacebuilders across age, gender, ethnicity and social status differences. This builds capacity to manage tensions at the grassroots, taking a powerful step towards creating a healthy Liberian national identity, true democracy and sustainable peace.


How it works:  Peacebuilder teams of three local community leaders (elder, woman, and youth) from the major ethnic groups across all counties attend.


A series of five-day Summits -regional and national, comprised of:

· Compassionate Listening training

· Council Circles with women, youth and men where all voices are heard

· Nonviolent conflict resolution skills adapting traditional practices

· Restorative Justice Circles -- listening to each other's stories to move toward reconciliation

· Celebration and co-creation through music, art and dance

· Sharing meals and social time

· Inclusion of national leaders

· Large group dialogue and deliberative processes in a Town Hall


What happens beyond the Summits is key:  Peacebuilders bring the learnings home, supported by a Peacebuilder Manual of the processes and skills learned. The teams:

· Hold local workshops on Compassionate Listening and conflict resolution

· Facilitate dialogues after showing the DVD of Peacebuilders' stories and Summit highlights

· Organize Town Halls to address local issues

· Utilize text messaging system to give/receive support with the growing network of Peacebuilders and serve as an Early Warning/Response Network

· PCO staff monitor and support the teams, and co-facilitate local Town Halls


PCO gathers government and national leaders in Monrovia to discuss the

Peacebuilder Report and see the DVD.


Each new Summit brings a multiplying effect, resulting in over 144 Peacebuilders, 48 local workshops, 48 Town Halls and 4800 community participants.

We hope to begin in fall of 2010, once funding is secured.

Come to a special Seattle event:

Wednesday, March 31st, 7 to 9 pm
Hearthstone - 6720 E Green Lake Way North

Come hear the first hand report from Susan Partnow and Alexandra Valin, just returned from Liberia.  You'll see slides and learn about the history, current situation, cultural insights as well as the Liberia Peacebuilder Initiative.

We'll consider
  • The impact of the US role from Liberia's founding by ex-slaves to tactics during the cold war years
  • The challenges of building a national identity for Liberia, with over 16 ethnic groups
  • Ingredients for a genuine sustainable peace at the grassroots in a nation that has 80% under age 30 growing up during more than 15 years of civil war.
Compassionate Listening in Gbarnga
Please join us and invite your friends!

Join GCJ's Online Community!
We welcome you to sign up as a member of our online community, called a "Ning," located here. As a member, you will be able to customize your own member page with information about yourself. You will have the ability to upload photos and videos; join and create groups; and sign up for as well as post new events. You can also add to our ongoing discussions or start one of your own. It's simple to participate, but the impact can be profound. Your contribution can help shape the development of an upcoming delegation or provide the inspiration for a new one!

By facilitating conversation and connection, we hope that the relationships forged in our Ning will allow each of us, as well as Global Citizen Journey, to impact the world in more powerful and effective ways. As always, our mission is to answer the question: "How can we create a culture of peace and world stewardship?"

If you participated in a past GCJ journey, this is your opportunity to join the group with your fellow delegation members - a place where you can keep in touch, reflect on your experiences, share multimedia, and more, all in a dynamic online environment that outstrips the capabilities of email alone.  If you are interested in learning more about or volunteering in a current GCJ practice, the Ning is place for you!  All events and projects are posted for your perusal as they develop.

Above all, we want to emphasize that the Ning is what you, its members, make of it.  We at GCJ look forward to experiencing your unique contribution to our fledgling online community!

In This Issue
Report from first trip to Liberia
Liberia Peacebuilder Initiative
Special Event March 31st
Join GCJ's Online Community!
Quick Links

PLEASE DONATE  help us with a $10,000 matching grant!  Your contribution will be doubled
click here

NEXT ORIENTATION Tuesday, April 7, 2010

Begin at 5:45, end by 6:45 pm (followed by optional planning meeting)

Seattle/Fremont neighborhood - call  206.783.8561 to RSVP and get the address.

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!

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