conversation, community, & comics with gusto by john stephens
Community Projects
2006•01•04: Free the Captives
2005•07•06: Community Peace Workshop: Summer 2005
2005•06•03: Summer 2005 Community Projects
2005•02•15: Conflict Transformation Workshops at NVCC Woodbridge
2005•01•18: Beyond Civil Rights

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Free the Captives

My work here at BEARDEDBABY.NET has been on an extended hyatus for various reasons. The most prominent being that my friend and mentor Tom Fox was among four peace workers taken hostage in Iraq on November 26, 2005, and I have been absorbed in the effort to support their release.

What began as an emergency response has become a daily vigil as we monitor all reports and post prominent related dispatches. Please visit our peace captive action page to find out how you can take action to support freedom for the captives in Iraq.

posted by john | January 4, 2006 12:06 AM[ COMMENTS 1 ]

Community Peace Workshop: Summer 2005

Advancing Peace
in your community

Based on 300 years of Quaker peace work in prisons, schools, and situations of violent tension, Help Increase the Peace Project is a creative process for transforming conflict and building community. HIPP workshops focus on reflective personal dialogue combined with energetic, fun activities, in order to foster experiential skill development based on real-life situations.

Ideal for: Parents, teachers, students & student leaders, mentors, trainers, counselors, and all creative individuals who care about their community; ages 13 - 113 welcome

Folks who come to our Basic training will be eligible to join our Advanced workshop in the Fall. We are trying to raise up more facilitators to share this training with others in our community, but Basic is for everyone, not just people who want to be trainers.

Each attender is asked to contribute $25 to defray the cost of food and supplies. Please contact me if cost is an issue, and we can work something out. All of the facilitators are volunteers.

If you live in Northern Virginia, feel free to Print & Post our flyer on some bulletin boards in your community! Download PDF

Join us for our Summer workshop:
Thursday, July 21 6pm-8:30pm
Friday, July 22 9:30am-5pm
Saturday, July 23 9:30am-5pm
Lunch & Snacks included

Location :
Woodlawn Friends Meeting
8990 Woodlawn Road
Fort Belvior, Virginia 22060

Registration Closed July 15.

Please contact John Stephens if you have any questions: hipp (at) beardedbaby (dot) net

posted by john | July 6, 2005 02:47 AM[ COMMENTS 0 ]

Summer 2005 Community Projects

This schedule is still being refined, but we are planning our summer HIPP workshop for the week ending 07•23.

On 08•07, I will be leaving for Quaker House, a GI counseling center near Fort Bragg where I will be interning for about two weeks.

posted by john | June 3, 2005 12:30 PM[ COMMENTS 0 ]

Conflict Transformation Workshops at NVCC Woodbridge

HIPP: Sign up by eMail to reserve your seat.Transformaing Conflict & Building Community at NVCC Woodbridge | Resources

  • Wednesday, March 16 12P-2:30P
  • Monday, March 21 12P-2:30P
  • Friday, April 1 3P-5:30P

NVCC Woodbridge: Room 409
15200 Neabsco Mills Road
Woodbridge, Virginia 22191

Help Increase the Peace and the Alternatives to Violence Project comprise an interactive program for bringing new light to situations of tension. Through a combination of serious, focused reflection and energetic, fun activities, participants learn to identify and transform patterns of behavior that keep their communities in conflict.

This program is used in prisons and schools around the country to radically reduce violence by giving individuals a process for transforming conflict and inspiring them to lead.

Basic training provides all participants with practical skills for positive, nonviolent social change. Advanced training and Training for Facilitators prepare students to uplift their communities through creative dialogue & direct action.

Sign up by eMail to reserve your seat:

hipp (at) beardedbaby (dot) net

posted by john | February 15, 2005 02:06 PM[ COMMENTS 0 ]

Beyond Civil Rights
Beyond Civil Rights: Reflections on the Prophetic Vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On January 17, 2005 (that's 17th day of 1st month in plain speech), I was invited to speak at NVCC on the topic of Dr. King to commemorate the holiday. I had a lot of material, but it was difficult to decide what would be most meaningful for the audience. In the end, we settled on a collective listening format in order to reflect as a group on various readings from Dr. King's speeches and letters. There were about twenty-five students and faculty in attendance, and the messages that came out of the silence were quite moving.

Downloads: PDF Guidlines for Collective Listening | PDF MLK Day Readings

Overview: First we went over the concept of collective listening, and then eight participants volunteered to read from the selections. After each portion was read, we settled into meditatiive silence and participants responded from their own experience. One caution with collective listening is that some people get anxious if the silence is extended, especially if they are accustomed to taking charge of discussions and "getting things started." It is wise to address this in the beginning when you go over the guidelines.


It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham.

Nonviolent resistance does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but he realizes that noncooperation and boycotts are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness. [...]

It is evil we are seeking to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil. Those of us who struggle against racial injustice must come to see that the basic tension is not between races. [...]

Nonviolent resistance avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. In struggling for human dignity the oppressed people of the world must not allow themselves to become bitter or indulge in hate campaigns. To retaliate with hate and bitterness would do nothing but intensify the hate in the world. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can be done only by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.

Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us. Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: "Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?" "Peace and civil rights don't mix," they say. "Aren't you hurting the cause of your people?" they ask. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment, or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. [...]

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1954. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.

But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men-for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? [...]

Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest. Now there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing.

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing "clergy and laymen concerned" committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God. [...]

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

posted by john | January 18, 2005 02:43 PM[ COMMENTS 0 ]

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