- To listen: Click here for an audio version of this interview (mp3).
We interviewed Paula Green about Hands Across the Hills—a unique initiative formed across deep political divides by residents of Leverett, Massachusetts and Letcher County, Kentucky. Paula just recently accepted the first Melanie Greenberg United States Peacebuilding Award of Excellence on behalf of the group, at the national conference of the Alliance for Peacebuilding; you can read Paula's in-depth acceptance talk (PDF). At Karuna Center, Paula is our founder and Senior Peacebuilding Advisor—but Hands Across the Hills is an independent project.
This Earth Day, we again interviewed Tom Stokes, coordinator of the Pricing Carbon Initiative, about the process of bringing people together—across very different ideologies—in order to develop climate change solutions.
Pricing Carbon Initiative (PCI) is a broad network fostering dialogue and encouraging viable solutions that would put a price on carbon pollution in the U.S. We have partnered with PCI to hold national dialogues among stakeholders since 2011, when Karuna Center director Olivia Dreier helped plan and facilitate the Summit for Environmental Leaders that led to PCI’s formation. PCI currently organizes four Pricing Carbon Dialogues per year, with typically 60-70 people in the room, all of whom all working on their own different initiatives in different ways.
Over the past several years, PCI has successfully maintained a space for dialogue, where people from very different political perspectives have found common ground in their shared concern for our planet and our future.
“We’re trying to help people see that what keeps us together overshadows what separates us--at least when it comes to climate change."
by Laura Anderson, Karuna Center Development Coordinator
*Participant quotes are taken from memory and are paraphrased.
On May 10, we held an event in Longmeadow, Massachusetts with Critical Connections, as part of our jointly organized Muslims in America: Dialogues Across Divides series. It was a public dialogue called "American Heretics: the History of Religious Intolerance in America," with two experts adding substance to the discussion: Peter Gottschalk, a scholar of religion and religious intolerance at Wesleyan, and Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, a nationally recognized attorney and civil rights advocate who currently legally represents the hamlet of Islamberg, New York. We named the event after Gottschalk's book, American Heretics: Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and the History of Religious Intolerance.
Two days before our event, we became aware of negative comments appearing in response to a local newspaper article that advertised it online, and related our planned event to ongoing issues of hate speech against the local Muslim community. “I'm not going in support!! I'm going to protest!!” one person wrote in the comments section. “Muslims do not belong on USA soil. They all support terrorists!!” But despite the possibility of disruptions or threats, we decided to go ahead with the event—and what resulted was deeply meaningful.
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