Non-Violence Education in Hendersonville, NC

I spent a good chunk of time today talking with Julie Gordon, a member of the Board of Trustees of the United Religions Initiative of Henderson County (URIHC), Hendersonville, NC.

I wanted to present to the CSRA Peace Alliance the Henderson County, NC model of peace education. URIHC established The Academy for Peace several years ago. It is now collaboratively sponsored by three organizations:  URI, The Department of Peace and Nonviolence, and Beyond War. The Academy for Peace is not housed in an actual building. Instead they seek to move out into the community and use local churches, and other public facilities like the local library.  The Academy for Peace publishes a calendar of courses and events for the coming year. It offers activities like dialogues, picnics, and workshops, such as the course on “Beyond War” which meets one day a week for 5-6 weeks, for 2-3 hours per session. There are no grades or fees. A contributions “jar for goodwill offerings” is available at each session, and there is no accreditation.  The 2010 calendar shows the course offerings.

Ms. Gordon’s most enthusiastic recommendation were for Marshall Rosenberg’s book on “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” and the Colman McCarthy 8-lesson course The Class of Non-Violence. She facilitated this course in 2010. I asked her if the facilitator needed special training or qualifications. She said that, to her knowledge, none was required. Colman McCarthy is so passionate about teaching non-violence that he offers his materials on the web at no charge. It helps to have someone experienced in training, teaching and facilitating, and the facilitator must be willing to take on some extra work. She said that she tried to tie the readings’ lessons to current, local events, and this required preparation. A manual is also available on McCarthy’s website for $13 that offers a lot of exercises to accompany the extensive reading material in his course binder.

There is also a 16-week course with more materials. These can be downloaded, and they can be purchased as a paperback book.

Other resources Ms. Gordon identified for courses:

She also invited us to join their group in Hendersonville, NC for the December 4 Christmas Parade down Main Street (starts around 10AM)  Last year, the Department of Peace and Nonviolence float won 1st prize for best use of theme. The group also commemorates the Sept 21 International Day of Peace each year. There is an Interfaith Service for Peace on December 28, 7-8:30 pm.