Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How the Small "Zones Of Peace" Project Began

I had a vision twelve years ago after I lost my eyesight. The vision came to me as a result of meeting a remarkable man, Murat Yagan, and the message he carried with him that shaped what has, now, become New Horizons Small "Small" Zones of Peace Project.

(Visit the web site of "old" New Horizons for a press release on this story. And, visit Anastasia, The Storyteller to find further background history articles on the story of how that vision became the Small "Zones Of Peace" Project.)

Briefly, the story is that prior to my going blind I had been a psychotherapist specializing in doing therapeutic community work to treat relationship and personality addictions. If I could ever regain my ability to work again, after having lost my eyesight, I vowed I would take the therapeutic community model I had developed, as a therapist, and apply it to creating small “zones of peace” within healthy, mainstream populations.

My area of focus would be colleges and universities, intentional communities and neighborhoods. Making "violence obsolete" would be the goal beginning on the most accessibl small group level such as campus dorms.

I don't presently recall which steps preceded which actions, chronologically, of what would become this project as it is today. However, I do know that meeting Murat Yagan and being guided by him shaped that vision into the elegant model that it is.

How can you beat the inspiring teachings of an ancient community-oriented culture whose stories still endure and are more relevant than ever, after 26,000 years?

And, a teacher such as Murat who in 2002 received Abkhazia's highest cultural award, the medal of Honour and Glory?)

When I began to work again in 2003 (it took me until 2006 to be able to fully return to work), my first target project was at Shepherd College (now Shepherd University) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

That project was an initiative that focused attention on campus-wide "subtle violence" among students. It particularly addressed multi-cultural problems that were plaguing Shepherd at the time. It was not, however, until 2006 that the small “zones of peace” vision actually began to take hold.

An unexpected situation arose at that time. My role as the local president of a national Jewish women’s organization placed me in the center of a local Jewish/Muslim controversy. With the support of my volunteer team that was already developing at that time, we worked behind the scenes to reconcile the conflict.

Today, that same volunteer team is growing. We have to date successfully contributed to other local issues of polarization. We have also conducted conflict resolution and anger management training for the UNESCO Center For Peace model United Nations camp for the past few years.

Now, I am back to work and back to writing, my real love – and -- we are looking forward to expanding our elegant community development and conversations model into regional and national activities.

From the mountain where it is raining today

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