[WATCH] Building Peace in Difficult Times: Learning from Global Activists

In the past year, communities across the U.S. and Canada have seen an increase in incidents of hate and discrimination. In the U.S., a divisive election season has left myriad communities fractured and relationships broken. Today, many activists across our region are feeling overwhelmed by the realities of their new social and political climate.

However, we must remember that we do not exist in isolation. For years, many communities outside of North America have been involved in building cultures of peace, justice and healing in difficult contexts. We have much to learn from them.

That’s why, on April 5 we hosted a webinar with United Religions Initiative members from Venezuela, Nigeria and Spain entitled “Building Peace in Difficult Times: Learning from Global Activists”:

These seasoned interfaith activists shared personal stories about how they have successfully learned to operate in difficult political and social climates. They shared wisdom and insights from their experiences building peace in the midst of fierce political divisions, unethical governments, and a cultural shift towards xenophobia (including against Muslims, Jews and immigrants). These United Religions Initiative members also provided practical examples of how they remain grounded and avoid burnout.

Too often, we North Americans think of ourselves as teachers and educators of those in other countries. This is a chance for us to flip that script and position ourselves as learners and listeners to our brothers and sisters from Africa, Europe and South America. Watch the video for an informative and inspiring conversation.

Special thanks to the Charter for Compassion for supporting this webinar by lending us the use of their webinar-hosting account. 

Our Speakers:

Sergio Arévalo – Barcelona, Spain

Sergio works for the UNESCO Association for Interreligious Dialogue of Catalonia, a United Religions Initiative Cooperation Circle, as the coordinator of The Night of Religions of Barcelona, an annual event that highlights the city’s religious diversity; and of Bridge Builders of Barcelona, a forum for interreligious interactions among the youth. He holds a degree in philosophy from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a master’s degree in Interreligious, Ecumenical and Cultural Dialogue from the Ramon Llull University. He has been writing for Dialogal, the journal of interreligious dialogue, since 2010. 

Dr. Emmanuel Ande Ivorgba – Abuja, Nigeria 

Emmanuel is the West African Regional Coordinator for the United Religions Initiative and a visionary, scholar, researcher, social innovator, peacebuilder and author of several books. He is the recipient of the 2014 Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award for his service to humanity and his peacebuilding efforts in Nigeria. Emmanuel holds a PhD in Philosophy and Religion, specializing in Metaphysics and Comparative Religion. He also serves at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations – Education First Summer School, is the founder of the Creative Minds International Academy, a Nigeria-based model coeducational school empowering students with tools and opportunities for critical thinking and is the convener of the Annual International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue in Nigeria, which hosts over 350 participants from more than 10 countries annually.

Veronica Sartore – Barcelona, Spain

Veronica collaborates with the UNESCO Association for Interreligious Dialogue of Catalonia, a United Religions Initiative Cooperation Circle, as a member of the organizational team of The Night of Religions of Barcelona, an annual event aimed to highlight the city’s religious diversity; and as coordinator of the religious diversity group of Bridge Builders of Barcelona, a forum for interreligious interactions among young people. She holds a degree in philosophy from the University of Padova and a masters degree in Philosophy from the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. She been writing for Dialogal, the journal of interreligious dialogue, since 2012.

Shinji Marina Tirado – Caracas, Venezuela

Marina is a Zen Buddhist nun and Zen practitioner since 1990.  She is 
president of the Circulo De Cooperación para el Diálogo (Circle of Cooperation for Dialogue), a URI cooperation Circles in Venezuela whose purpose “is to develop intercultural dialogue to promote peace, mutual comprehension, forgiveness and reconciliation.” Marina also hosts a radio program, “Today Exactly Now” on RadioComunidad on Thursdays at 2 p.m. She is a graphic designer and independent producer by profession. 

Webinar: “Wisdom of Our Elders: Looking Back to Go Forward”

Watch the first webinar in the Sankofa Series, “Wisdom of Our Elders: Looking Back to Go Forward,” a conversation with three interfaith elders about the lessons they have learned in interfaith peacebuilding. They shared their wisdom and life experience, offered participants an opportunity to be inspired and recommit themselves to interfaith networking, bridging differences and making a difference in the world!

The Sankofa series is inspired by an African word and symbol from the Akan tribe in Ghana. The literal translation is “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.” The symbol for Sankofa is based on a mythical bird with feet firmly planted forward and its head turned backwards, implying that there must be movement and new learning as time passes. As this forward march proceeds, the knowledge of the past must never be forgotten.

The presiding elders in this webinar, hosted by URI’s Multiregion, were:

  • Joy Jinks, leader of the Social Artistry Alliance of South East United States Cooperation Circle, and author of Dynamic Aging: I Intend to Live Forever. So Far…So Good!
  • PK McCary, Think Peace International, Inc. CC and author of the Black Bible Chronicles
  • Bishop William E. Swing, Founder and President of URI and author of A Bishop’s Quest
  • Audri Scott Williams, leader of several Cooperation Circles, including Trail of Dreams World Peacewalkers and NOWTIME Radio. Audri will serve as the moderator.

[Video] Social Media: A Tool for Movement Building


We just hosted a webinar on the topic of social media as a tool for movement-building and it was a success! Joined by experts in the field, we shared best practices for grassroots peacebuilders to use social media to continue to grow their movement within and beyond their communities.

Check out the archived recording below. Don’t forget to scroll past the video to find a list of important resources on how to build a successful social media strategy that’s tailored to your organizational needs.

Sharing is caring – pass this information on to a fellow peacebuilder!


You can view this resource guide directly in Google Docs by clicking here.

Webinar: Social Media for Movement Building

social media for movement building


What’s the deal with social media?

Why is it important for your social justice work?

Tune in for a best practices webinar hosted by URI North America on how to use social media as a tool for building and sustaining social movements.

Over the course of 1 hour, we will hear from communications professionals with extensive experience in using digital tools to amplify the stories and work of interfaith grassroots peacebuilders involved in values-based social change work! You’ll walk away with the practical skills — and a toolkit for further learning — to implement what you’ve learned into your local work.

WHEN: November 1, 2016 at 10 am (PDT) (find your time zone here)
HOW: CLICK HERE to register.

If you are interested in attending but unable to do so because of a time conflict, please sign up and we will send you the recording, notes and resources after the call is over. To see what time the webinar will occur in your time zone, click here.


Our Speakers:


studio-session-402Michelle Reyf, Director of Groundswell

Michelle Reyf is a faith-centered online organizer, campaign coach, and trainer at Auburn Seminary. She is the Director of Groundswell, whose mission is to equip multifaith movements for justice with skills in digital storytelling and strategy. Michelle came to Auburn from the New Media team at J Street. She is an alum of Dartmouth College and the New Organizing Institute and is currently training to become a certified life and leadership coach at the Academy for Coaching Excellence. Michelle lives in Brooklyn, where she rides her bike, cooks kitchari, and practices in the Plum Village tradition.

Tim Brauhn Project Communications Officer, Shoulder to Shoulder CampaignTim Brauhn, Project Communications Officer, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign

Tim Brauhn is a Project Communications Officer at Shoulder to Shoulder, a national campaign of over thirty religious denominations and interfaith organizations, where he leads a special project to equip faith communities to push back against anti-Syrian/anti-refugee rhetoric. He was previously the Communications Manager at Islamic Networks Group. Tim received his MA in International Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver with a concentration in Religion and Politics in the Middle East and Central Asia. In addition to participating in other Interfaith Youth Core programs since 2005, Tim was an inaugural member of the Faiths Act Fellowship, an elite international program for interfaith leaders run by the Interfaith Youth Core and Tony Blair Faith Foundation. As part of a United States Department of State grant, he has presented a series of lectures in Italy focused on youth activism, social media, and social change.

_dsc8945final5x7Reed Price is a cause-focused communications consultant who works with clients to effectively tell their story using text, video, traditional and social media. He’s worked with the Charter for Compassion International (a Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative), Veterans for Peace Golden Rule Project, Bainbridge Island Volunteer Caregivers, and the Bainbridge Island Inclusion Squad, among others. Previously, he was a journalist and publisher with MSN.com, MSNBC.com, and the Associated Press.