Greetings! It has been a while, but here is another News with recent adventures on the part of members and colleagues.
George Trippe, Perth
Every June we ask registered members of Pace e Bene Australia to make a voluntary membership donation of $20 (or more if you wish) to our General Fund to support the running costs of PeBA. These costs include insurance, website maintenance, financial audit, Victoria Consumer Affairs annual fee and general office expenses.
As you have seen in this and other editions of the newsletter, there are lots of exciting nonviolent and peacebuilding activities taking place around the country involving our members. Your support for these important initiatives is greatly appreciated.
Did you know that PeBA also has a Peace Fund specifically for supporting programs that promote peace and nonviolence in communities all around Australia? Donations to the Peace Fund are tax deductible, so you may like to make a donation before the end of the financial year.
Donations can be made by direct deposit or cheque or money order.
Membership donations to the General Fund:
Direct deposit: Account name: Pace e Bene Australia
Tax deductible donations to the Peace Fund:
Direct deposit: Account name: Pace e Bene Australia Peace Fund
Cheque or money order posted to the Treasurer, Dale Hess:
Pace e Bene Australia Inc.
c/o 5/63 Roslyn St
BRIGHTON VIC 3186
When making your donation, please email the Treasurer, Dale Hess, so he can send you a receipt: email@example.com
Thank you for your continued support.
For the National Committee
Janet Hubner, Recording Secretary
From the evening of Friday the 31st of March to the afternoon of the 2nd of April Pace e Bene Australia (PeBA) and Love Makes a Way (LMAW) members and friends got together at Amberley in the Melbourne’s Lower Plenty for the PeBA and LMAW National Gathering. The weekend saw people from all over Australia and even from as far afield as Kenya come together to share stories, discuss what it means to live non violently and to look at past, current and future projects.
The free-flowing and self-organising nature of the weekend meant that people came and went from the Gathering as they needed and were able to, as a result each session had different participants (“Whoever comes are the right people!”). The self-organising aspect of the weekend needed a bit of a kick-start, with Brendan McKeague generously holding the space for the group and facilitating as needed. Joining us was Sarah Mabanja from Kenya who was visiting as part of a Grail exchange arrived at Amberley very early Saturday morning (about 2 am) having just gotten off a long-haul flight from Africa. Sarah’s presence and thoughtful sharing about her own experiences in peace and non violence work was inspiring and we hope that this can create some links with Sarah’s networks in Kenya.
Many ideas and themes were discussed including supporting people to follow their own ideas and passions when it comes to running PeBA programs as well as looking at the nature and some examples of nonviolent direct action. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends and to meet some new ones. It was also wonderful to have a family in residence, with long time PeBA members Kate Appleyard and Wayne Palmer bringing their young daughter Evie to the Gathering.
A highlight was participating in Joanna Macy’s Elm Dance together, as a way to physically express the hopes and sorrows that often comes with this kind of work. Personally I really appreciated the opportunity for quiet time and reflection in the beautiful and peaceful surrounds of Amberley as part of my own self-care (another topic that came up over the weekend) as well as the chance to introduce my husband Mark to some of the work of PeBA and LMAW. Overall I found it to be a thought provoking time for me to reflect on my own nonviolent path with the safety and inspiration that comes from being in such a supportive group.
Thank you to all those who were involved in the National Gathering planning committee, including Brendan McKeague, Gill Burrows, Francis Voon, Moira Darling and myself (apologies if there any names I have left off). And especially big thank you’s to Henrike Brussard who gave lifts and organised a lot of the food and supplies, Moira Darling who organised the registrations and was key to the planning of the Gathering and Dale Hess who not only helped to get Sarah a visa so she could join us at extremely short notice, but also for all the work that he put into liaising with staff at Amberley about the Gathering.
Lauren Lockwood-Porter, Melbourne
The NILP began on the Sunday evening after the National Gathering. 17 participants from a variety of cultural backgrounds and faith traditions shared the week together with the staff. We were delighted to welcome Sarah Mabanja from Kenya, whose visa was issued just in time for her to join us at both the National Gathering and the NILP. Sarah is in our country spending time with the Grail Community. Three leaders from the Anglican Sudanese community in Western Australia also joined us and added to our cultural and faith diversities.
The facilitation team again included Brendan McKeague, Ann Morgan, George Trippe, Simon Reeves and Dale Hess. Four interns, Francis Voon, Janet Hubner, Lauren Porter, and Henrike Brussard worked closely all week with the staff. Their varied tasks included supporting admin and practical matters and taking a share of the presentations. The work of the interns added greatly to the richness of our content.
Our four morning themes were: Community from outer to inner; Engaging the mysterious Other, Characteristics of a Nonviolent Spirituality and Tools to help us. The afternoon sessions led by Brendan complemented the mornings with interactive experiences that explored the socio-political dimensions of nonviolent leadership.
In February of this year, both Brendan and I were in South Africa. During this time we shared in two Pace e Bene events. On Friday evening and Saturday morning, 24th and 25th, while staying at the Christian Brothers Retreat Centre in Stellenbosch, we met at the home of Wilhelm and Sharon Verwoerd with a small group of people to share stories and discuss what we helps us sustain nonviolent living. This was our Pace e Bene follow up to the NILP offered there in 2015. The conversation was very inspiring and a deep privilege. It is such a pleasure to meet with people of such quiet perseverance and commitment.
Our final stop was Johannesburg where we were hosted by Judy Connors and Lindi Tshabalala. We met at a Dominican convent with 14 people representing three agencies involved in peace work, Phaphama Initiatives, Sediberg and Seriti Institute. Brendan facilitated an Open Space experience to help them consider their directions forward. Their question was, “How do we create the conditions under which peace is possible…in ourselves, in our work and in our communities?”
Again, we were so privileged to work with people of steadfast commitment to the new and emerging South Africa. The people with whom we shared have inspired us deeply. It was such a privileged time to engage them and to learn of their lives and work.
Brendan has been working in partnership with World Vision WA and the Perth Anglican South Sudanese community to develop and deliver a local Peacebuilding Program. Our intention is to create a group of local leaders who will learn about nonviolent peacebuilding and then carry what they learn out into their communities.
We have just completed Phase 1, a series of three Saturday workshops (9am-3pm) on Nonviolent Peacebuilding with 12 leaders from the South Sudanese Anglican community. It was delightful to have a mixture of men and women, younger and older, clergy and lay in the group – a very passionate and powerful collective energy for peace.
We covered the familiar Pace e Bene themes of Gathering (our internal resources: ancestors, inspiritors, places and intentions), Culture (myth of redemptive violence and scapegoating), Spirituality (for sustaining nonviolent living) and Skills (five steps, circle work, restorative practices and forgiveness). The group then created two major projects around introducing peace building to their communities. These will be undertaken over the next 6 months (Phase 2) during which we will have three (three hour) community of practice meetings, concluding with Phase 3 in November, a final day of review, reflection and planning for next steps.
(Contact Brendan if you’d like more details: firstname.lastname@example.org Brendan has also developed a handout describing Centring Meditations, including Body Prayer: Receptivity and Gratitude; Two Hands of Nonviolence; Five Finger Turnaround and Circuit Breaking Technique. If you would like a copy, email Brendan and he will send it along.)
Michael Wood and Brendan have met with Philip Goldsworthy, the ASCWA Director of Mission to explore possibilities of working together on the development and trialling of a secondary school Religious Studies unit on the theme of Jesus, Nonviolence and Peacebuilding. Our primary intention is to have a couple of pilot programs operating in Anglican high schools in the first half of next year. We will invite a couple of other ‘user-friendly’ local schools from other denominations to join us for the trial. We may also be able to include a couple of other schools from interstate in the pilot, depending on time and resources, so that we can begin to spread the news of our ‘prototype’ at an early stage.
We are currently submitting a grant application to the Australian Research Theology Foundation Inc (ARTFinc www.artfinc.org.au), under the auspices of Pace e Bene Australia, so that we can receive some funding to pay for the work we undertake – research, curriculum development, teacher co-learning, community of practice meetings, pilot review, evaluation, report writing, development of next steps and sharing the results of this prototype around the country.
I have shared a BIG IDEA with many of you – about the intention to have Nonviolence/Peacebuilding included in every faith-based school curriculum in the country! It is heartening to hear that we already have potential interest from others… Anglicans in SA and Qld, the Catholic Education Office in South Australia via PeB member Michael Vial – and from the newly forming Australian Catholic Nonviolence Initiative with which Gill and I have recently engaged.
Please help us to spread the word about this exciting initiative as we seek to integrate research, theology and nonviolence (spirituality and practice) with education, and let’s keep ‘dreaming the future into being…’
Brendan McKeague, Perth
The award was in recognition of my ongoing work with local at-risk young people through Fusion. Fusion Mornington Peninsula is a Christian Youth and Community Organisation that has been providing housing, youth programs and community support since the 1960s. The Fusion Newsletter contains the following statement announcing Stephanie’s award.
“Congratulations to our Fundraising and Resource Manager Steph Byrne, the 2017 Young Citizen of the Year for the Mornington Peninsula. In her acceptance speech, Steph reflected on the importance of her upbringing in defining the woman she is today. As one of the volunteers who lives alongside young people in our supported accommodation service, Steph shared her dreams for our community and her vision for young people to be supported and challenged in such a way that in 5 years time, it is them receiving this award!”
Recently I posted the most unusual letter I have ever written. In it I explained to Mr Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, that I would be stickering the Banks Automated Teller Machines and encouraging others to do the same. I supplied my name and address and invited him to prosecute me. The Bank or police are yet to contact me. In the time since I have visited five Commonwealth Bank Branches with other concerned citizens, including Commonwealth Bank customers, given managers and staff a copy of the letter, explained my intention to encourage customers to switch banks and to link the Commonwealth Bank brand with dangerous climate change. In these past few weeks it has become an everyday form of nonviolent resistance.
As I ride my bike to work I keep an eye out for ATMs to sticker. The stickers, a copy of which is displayed below, are a small part in a much larger campaign to stop Adani, Australia’s largest coal mine, a hole big enough to swallow all of Sydney. The mine, if it goes ahead, will detonate a planet wrecking carbon bomb, destroying any chance of keeping global warming under two degrees.
Through these simple stickers I intend to create a nonviolent dilemma for the Bank: either they take me to court and risk further brand damage, or they rule out investment in fossil fuels. Until the bank steps away from funding the destruction of our beautiful home I will be persisting. People are now stickering in Qld, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. I hope it will spread to the Northern Territory and Western Australia as well.
This is personal for me. As well as being desperately concerned for my children’s future, my organisation’s office in Vanuatu was destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Pam, the worst tropical storm in history in a country that the United Nations says is most at risk to natural disasters. TC Pam made nearly all my staff homeless. If you are also angry about the way financial institutions are funding fossil fuel extraction, concerned about corporate polluting of the planet and searching for nonviolent responses to our climate crises, then perhaps you might consider joining me? There are lots of ATMs.
Stickering is an easy and empowering thing to do in the face of corporate and political dithering. Email me for a copy of the stickers.
Jason MacLeod, Brisbane: email@example.com.
(Note: A copy of Jason’s letter to Commonwealth bank is available from Jason or me, George, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I am Sarah Nalyanya (mabanja) from Kenya. I am a teacher by profession and a public Relations and communications Student. Three months ago, I attended a Nonviolent Interfaith Leadership Programme (NILP)that was conducted by Pace e Bene in Australia Melbourne. This was my first time to attend to such a programme and all I can say is that it was a very transformative kind of workshop. The integration of different ages, religion, gender, interfaith communities and races explained the good reason for having the workshop. The approach of open space technology allowed a rich exchange of ideas that gave me a clear picture of our different communities. It was an opportunity to understand the connection between my deep spiritual self and the position of my community. The workshop created a safe atmosphere for sharing experiences and stories of our lives which I found so enriching. It feels good when you have people from other races and community listen to you as well as listening to other people’s story.
It was interesting to discover that peaceful transformation of a broken society begins from within and one self. The engagement of self-realisation, acceptance and motivation was all I went through to understand my own small world I was living in. I learned how powerful “Dialogue” can be used to settle situations that seemed difficult. How observation and listening would lead to better understanding of other people and how accepting forgiveness brings a new beginning in human life. I believe the experience I went through will lead me to transform other community members who have always thought that peace is not easy to get.
Our colleague, Yusuf Sheikh Omar has published an interesting article about Muslim men from the Horn of Africa settling in Australia. It is entitled: “Putting your feet in gloves designed for hands: Horn of Africa Muslim men perspectives in emotional wellbeing and access to mental health services in Australia. The link is here.
How will you mark this day?
There is much to give us hope.
Blessings and Peace, George