Strangers meeting more, creating a culture of connection

. . .in our Citizens' Century

04 February 2017



"We must love one another or die."

            ~ W.S. Auden (1907-1973)

"We are how we treat each other..."

            from Nothing More

            Sung by PS22 Children's Chorus


"The root of war is fear. . .

In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything."

            ~ Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

"There is no greater power than a community discovering what it cares about.

Ask What is possible? not Whats wrong?

            ~ Margaret Wheatley

               in Turning to One Another

"The role of civil society is to create a culture of connection."

            ~ Offuh James Offuh (2016, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa)


January 21, 2017 was a powerful burst of light from 459 cities around planet Earth.-- another big, visible step for humankind and our understanding of responsible, participatory existence together.


Pictures From Womens Marches on Every Continent

January 21, 2017.


The early 1990s marked part of the historic, less visible evolution when former U.S. Assistant. Secretary of State, Dr. Harold Saunders (1930-2016) assisted Beyond War and the Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation to bring together in the California redwoods women and men citizen-leaders from among Palestinians and Israelis, then Armenians and Azerbaijanis.

By 2006, humankind's Citizens' Century was identified by Hal and fastened in the literature:


POLITICS IS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS: A Blueprint for the Citizens' Century

Harold H. Saunders

Palgrave Macmillan Januray 2006, 300 pages



Politics is not just about power, but about relationships among people.

Harold H. Saunders, director of international affairs at the Kettering Foundation, focuses on politics as a process of continuous interaction engaging significant clusters of citizens in and out of government and the relationships they form to solve public problems in whole bodies politic across permeable borders, within or between countries.

Saunders is the architect of Sustained Dialogue, a public peace process designed to change relationships among those in deep-rooted human conflicts.

He served as US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs between 1978 and 1981.

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Community Strangers Meet to
Create a Culture of Connection
in California, USA
Mostly strangers to each other -- 115 very diverse women, men, and youth. ages 18-85 -- answered a call for CROSSING LINES IN SAN MATEO: Sharing stories, Creating community
From all races, many religions, diverse communities
they streamed into Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center for an inspiring, hands-on community workshop.

They dignified one another with respectful communication across all lines, beginning with their new quality of listening to one another to everyone.
From many arenas of life -- students, workers, shopkeepers, police, educators, clergy, more -- the participants grew closer and experienced that a stranger or "an enemy is one whose story we have not heard."

See PHOTOS, outcomes, and facilitation tools:


CROSSING LINES IN SAN MATEO: Sharing stories, Creating community

San Mateo, California, USA - 29 January 2017


= = 2 = =
Community Strangers Help Each Other
in Texas, USA
In Victoria, Texas, there are several churches, but just one synagogue, and one mosque at least, until the mosque mysteriously burned down on Saturday,
Now, in a sense, the synagogue has become a mosque: the Jews of Victoria handed the Muslims the key to the building, so they would a place to worship while rebuilding.

On Sunday, the Victoria community held an interfaith event in front of the mosque.
Through local donations and a GoFundMe page, they raised over $900,000 in the span of one day to rebuild the mosque.

Jewish community members walked into my home and gave me a key to the synagogue, said Shahid Hashmi, a surgeon and one of the founders of the mosque, built in 2000
This is sad for everyone in the community and as Jews we especially have to feel for the Muslim community," said Robert Loeb, the president of congregation Bnai Israel,
"When a calamity like this happens, we have to stand together."


Jews Hand Muslims Synagogue Keys When a Texas Mosque Burns Down

Forward -- 31 January 2017

= = 3 = =
Refusing to Be Strangers by
Welcoming Syrian Refugees
in New Jersey, USA
In Maplewood, N.J., Hayder Alqaysi, a refugee from Baghdad, unabashedly says that he wants American friends; social isolation is a challenge in the refugee community.
"I want to make more friend, because I don't have friend," he says.
"I need to know this culture. I want talk to them, like I talk to you."

Host Kate McCaffrey, a member of Montclair's Bnai Keshet synagogue,  turns around and makes some tea for Al Nabelsi, who will soon be heading back to her apartment, where her husband is babysitting their three children.
Before she leaves, in broken English and with help from a translator, Al Nabelsi strains to show her deep appreciation for McCaffrey.

"I'm speechless in here about her kindness," she says.
"She's the person who does not differentiate between different sects, different religions a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim.

She loves to help humans regardless of their religion."

Dinners for the Syrian Supper Club are booked through March.



Syria Supper Club: Reaching Out To Refugees, One Dinner At A Time

NPR WNYC New York -- January 27, 2017

= = 4 = =
1000s of Connected Jewish and Arab
Women Wage Peace
in the Holy Land

Prayer of the Mothers

15 November 2016

5-1/2 min musical documentary video

= = 5 = =
Connecting with the Enemy
in the Holy Land
Surveying the initiatives of more than five hundred groups across the past century, this timely book reveals how thousands of ordinary Israelis and Palestinians have worked together to end violence and forge connections between their peoples.
These visionary bridge-builders with open minds and outreached hands have endured despite condemnation by their own societies, repetitive failures of diplomacy, harsh inequalities, and endemic cycles of violence.

These Arabs and Jews, children and elders, garage mechanics and physicists, and lawyers and prisoners braved obsolete, one-sided narratives, protected the environment, demonstrated peacefully, mourned together, stood in solidarity, and advocated for justice and security.
This story of Palestinian and Israelis who have rejected violence and insisted on relationships challenges the mainstream narratives of terror and despair, somebodies and nobodies, monsters and heroes that help to perpetuate conflict.


Connecting with the Enemy

A Century of Palestinian-Israeli Joint Nonviolence

By Sheila H. Katz

Univ of Texas Press, November 2016, 307 pages -

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This message is on the Web at
Hundreds of other success stories are preserved at