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Hope in the Cities' First Fellowship Program a Success

I received an email today from Rob Corcoran, National Director of Hope in the Cities, announcing HITC’s new Connecting Communities Fellowship Program, which graduated its first class this year. This five-part residential program grew out of HITC’s experience with racial reconciliation in Richmond and in their consultations with communities throughout the U.S. over the past ten years. The next class in Richmond begins in January 2005, and the application deadline is October 1. Click below to read the full announcement.

As a colleague in the work of community building, dialogue and racial reconciliation, I know you will be interested to hear about our new Connecting Communities Fellowship Program, which graduated its first class this year. This five-part residential program grew out of our experience in Richmond and in our consultations with communities throughout the US over the past ten years.

These experiences showed us how important it is for leaders of change efforts in diverse communities to develop strengths in three areas: 1) Values integration – the personal quality of inner life which sustains the work for change and which creates trust and unselfish teamwork; 2) Specific skills/methodologies – dialogue design and facilitation to engage polarized groups, the acknowledgment and healing of racial/ethnic history, and the building and maintaining of teams;

3) Strategic capacity – ability to connect diverse networks, discern underlying issues, and access resources. The Connecting Communities Fellowship Program (CCFP) offers training to meet these needs.

Our trainers include Dr. David Campt, former dialogue advisor to President Clinton’s Initiative on Race. The distinguished guest faculty includes Dr. Hugh O’Doherty, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard, Rev. Syngman Rhee, Korean-born former moderator of the Presbyterian Church USA, and Dr. Donald Shriver, President Emeritus Theological Seminary in New York. The program is enriched by international perspectives from people like Sushobha Barve, whose work in building bridges between Hindus and Muslims in India is described in her book Healing Streams.

The class of 2004 included grassroots organizers, clergy, educators and business executives. The executive director of Cincinnati’s Human Relations Commission attended at the request of his city manager. The ethics officer for a health care system commented that the focus on the inner life gave “a fire” that is missing from most other similar programs. The president of the region’s Islamic center found a team to help him design dialogues for Muslims and conservative Christians. Here are a few evaluations:

Hannibal Johnson, Tulsa, author of The Black Wall Street: “This approach demonstrates a model of true community reconciliation in an inclusive, validating way, without sacrificing moral clarity.”

Beth Kimbriel, community activist: “Sometimes I feel so alone in this work. Being here widens my community. Here is a source of wisdom, of energy and fellowship that was missing in my life.”

Tony Scott, trainer and community organizer: “It provided me with practical concepts and techniques that will assist me in navigating through the obstacles inherent in change efforts. It definitely called for introspection about the way that I act and react when dealing with different perspectives, cultures and races.”

Don Cowles, former Alcoa executive: “The experience was powerful and potentially life changing, One of the greatest challenges is building relationships with people who appear very different from oneself. I have begun to explore how ones identity is formed, protected, and sometimes born anew.”

A short introductory version of the program was offered in Los Angeles in May and another may be held in Minneapolis this fall. We invite you to review the attached materials (email Rob at Rob.Corcoran@hopeinthecities.org for these materials) and to visit our website at www.hopeinthecities.org, where you will find additional information. The next class in Richmond begins in January 2005, and the application deadline is October 1.

Sincerely,
Rob Corcoran, National Director

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher is the Founding Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). Sandy has an M.A. in International Management from SIT Graduate Institute, and also serves as a Research Deputy for the Kettering Foundation. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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