At the 2017 Summer Peacebuilding Institute Community Day, Najeeha Khan talks with Miguel Amaguaña. The one-day event will again be hosted by Eastern Mennonite University on Feb. 2, 2018. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

‘Practical Tools for Hard Problems’ at third annual peacebuilding Community Day

Eastern Mennonite University will host its third annual Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) Community Day Friday, Feb. 2.

Titled “Practical Tools for Hard Problems in Our Communities,” the day’s workshops will offer practical tools and build skills for peacebuilding, conflict transformation in the workplace, and facilitation and community organizing. The day will also include a morning plenary speaker, opportunities for networking, and a lunch presentation by regional community leaders.

The event is also designed to give participants a preview of the community atmosphere and courses offered at SPI, a program of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP). SPI’s five sessions in May and June focus on a variety of topics including trauma awareness, restorative justice, leadership, program management and responding to violent extremism.

More than 200 people from approximately 40 countries attend SPI each year. While the early years of SPI were geared more towards international participants, in recent years the program has also attracted local participants and responded to local situations.

“We want to support the efforts of local individuals in a variety of positions and occupations who are already engaged in addressing the hard topics in our communities,” said Christi Hoover Seidel, director of admissions for CJP. “We see SPI Community Day as an opportunity for support, expansion, and connection for those who are committed to peacebuilding, even if they don’t self-identify as ‘peacebuilders.’ Our goal is to offer practical tools to help sustain their work.”

The 72 participants in last year’s Community Day represented a wide range of professional interests: offender reentry, youth empowerment, adult career education, mediation, climate activism and filmmaking. More than half were from Harrisonburg, with the remainder from Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Workshops and presenters this year include:

  • Transformative Leadership for Organizational Development, with Elizabeth Girvan, executive director of Skyline Literacy and David Brubaker, professor of organizational leadership, EMU;
  • How to be a Conflict Competent Leader, with Gloria Rhodes, professor of applied social sciences, EMU;
  • Peace Education Prelude, with Ed Brantmeier, professor of education, JMU;
  • Organizing Your Community for Change, with Timothy Seidel, professor of applied social sciences, EMU;
  • Building Resilience in Body, Mind and Spirit, with Katie Mansfield, director of the Strategies for Trauma Awareness & Resilience program, EMU;
  • Mapping the Justice Needs of Your Community, with Carl Stauffer, professor and co-director of the Zehr Institute of Restorative Justice; and
  • The Relational Importance of One-on-One Meetings, with Johonna Turner, professor of Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding, EMU.

Registration cost is $50 ($25 for students), and includes two workshops, a catered lunch, plus a $50 application fee waiver for SPI 2018.

Learn more about SPI Community Day here.