7. There’s a knock on the door…

In this seventh episode, Bill Goldberg, director of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI), speaks on the importance of grassroots and domestic peacebuilding, even in Eastern Mennonite University’s (EMU) own backyard and campus.

Goldberg jokes that he “married in” to the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) through his wife, former faculty member Lisa Schirch. His background was in international relations that often dealt with negotiations between world leaders. At CJP, though, he saw the value of grassroots-level peacebuilding.

“It actually was more important than the high level. That the high level negotiations would always fall apart if it wasn’t backed by lower level and by communities working together,” Goldberg says. He started taking classes at CJP, then picked up a few short-term contracts, like arranging transportation for SPI. He became the director in 2014.

Goldberg’s predecessors, Pat Martin and Sue Williams, taught him a lot.

“Pat had an open door policy that no matter what she was doing, no matter what time of day it was, if someone came to her office to talk, she would just drop everything and be with that person,” he says. “And with Sue, her analytical mind was just incredible,” whether it was arranging classes or “speaking truth to power.”

One major change Goldberg has witnessed in his time at CJP is a shift towards domestic work, rather than focusing on international conflicts. In his early days he recalls international students challenging the faculty and staff – “you have to fix your own problems as well as help us fix ours. And I think it took 10, 15 years for that realization to set in.”

This change has accelerated in the last few years, he says, due to fewer visas being approved – meaning domestic-born students are now in the majority at CJP – and a surge in white supremacist rhetoric across the U.S. and in Harrisonburg itself.

“It’s just become much easier to be open about racism and bigotry, and to actually be a racist and a bigot out in the open, and so we’re now seeing the need to combat that more,” says Goldberg.

While Goldberg sees this as a necessary and powerful shift, there are still ways he thinks EMU as a whole could improve: like hiring non-Christians as full-time faculty. Goldberg himself is Jewish, and while he understands the value of a Christian Mennonite university, the hiring policy “implies to others, only those who are Christian have the values to teach here.”


Guest

Profile image

Bill Goldberg

For more than fifteen years, Bill Goldberg has worked in various capacities for the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, including as Director of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute since 2014. He spent fall of 2017 co-leading a Middle East cross-cultural to Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt, with his wife, former CJP professor Lisa Schirch. Bill holds a Master’s degree in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University.


Transcript

Bill Goldberg:
A lot of what the International Relations field does is talks about high level negotiations and you know, work with leaders of countries and how that can bring about peace and while that’s one way, I started realizing when I was spending more time around CJP when Lisa was working here that, the grassroots methods that CJP used were…had a lot to do with peacebuilding as well. In fact, started realizing that it actually was more important than the high level, that the high level negotiations would always fall apart if it wasn’t backed by lower level and by communities working together.

[Theme music plays; fades into background]

patience kamau:
Hi everybody! Happy Wednesday to you and welcome back to Peacebuilder, a Conflict Transformation podcast by The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. My name is patience kamau and with us this seventh episode:

Bill Goldberg:
Bill Goldberg and I am currently the director of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at EMU, and also a 2001 graduate of the masters program.

patience kamau:
For more than 15 years, Bill Goldberg has worked in various capacities for The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, including as director of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute since 2014. He spent fall of 2017 co-leading a Middle East cross-cultural to Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt with his wife, former CJP professor Lisa Schirch. Bill holds a master’s degree in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite university.
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But before we begin, we do want to remind you our listeners who planned to join us in June, that with great sorrow in our hearts, we decided to cancel the CJP at 25 gathering. Circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the Coronavirus left us no choice. Instead, we have postponed exactly a year and hope that you will join us in June, 2021. Those of you who had already registered, we thank you and we will be in touch regarding your options, including receiving a full refund.

[Theme music crescendo and end]

patience kamau:
Hi Bill.

Bill Goldberg:
Hi.

patience kamau:
How are you today?

Bill Goldberg:
I’m doing well.

patience kamau:
Oh wow. You were among the first ones at the beginning –how many years had it been? I guess 2001, so…

Bill Goldberg:
I think it was three or four, well let’s say three or four years of graduates that I remember. I was here since ’98.

patience kamau:
As a student?

Bill Goldberg:
Kind of. Uh, I actually married into the program. My wife Lisa was a faculty member and I was doing movie work on movie sets around the country, and when we got married, we realized we needed a bit more of a life than that work provided. And since Lisa had a job here, uh, we decided that we were moving to Harrisonburg.

patience kamau:
So who is your spouse –full name?

Bill Goldberg:
Lisa Schirch. She used to be an EMU faculty member and now she does a lot of contract work.

patience kamau:
Talk more about how you ended up at EMU/CTP/CJP.

Bill Goldberg:
Sure. Well, so basically after moving to Harrisonburg I realized that my background in International Relations could be advanced more if I had a Conflict Transformation degree. A lot of what the International Relations field does is talks about high level negotiations and you know, work with leaders of countries and how that can bring about peace and while that’s one way, I started realizing when I was spending more time around CJP, when Lisa was working here, that the grassroots methods that CJP used were…had a lot to do with peacebuilding as well. In fact, started realizing that it actually was more important than the high level, that the high level negotiations would always fall apart if it wasn’t back by lower level and by communities working together. So I started realizing that I needed more training in this field. Um, and truthfully I just couldn’t find another job I liked in Harrisonburg. So I started taking a class or two, I was also a stay-at-home father for our daughter, and so I was on the slow track for a degree, not necessarily finish as fast as possible. So I did classes part-time and at the same time some short term projects came up, conferences and things that needed someone to do logistics, and Ruth Zimmerman, who was the co-director at the time, was interested in my help with that. So that kind of brought me in, in the late nineties, early two thousands to work here as well as be a student.

patience kamau:
How did that dovetail into SPI? The Summer Peacebuilding Institute?

Bill Goldberg:
Actually that’s one of the first places I worked. I was, I originally helped with transportation issues for the Summer Peacebuilding Institute and also did other short term contracted workshops that were happening around here. It just kind of eventually became all of my time working with the Summer Peacebuilding Institute, and you know, 13, 14 years later I became the director.

patience kamau:
When was that? Which year was that?

Bill Goldberg:
Uh, ooh, I think it was 2014 in July was when I became director.

patience kamau:
Who was the director before that?

Bill Goldberg:
That’s kind of quirky. Sue Williams was the director and when Sue left, my colleague, Valerie Helbert and I, who had been the assistant directors, kind of took over for a year or two as co-directors. And then Valerie left, uh, and moved to North Carolina and I wanted to be the director, so…

patience kamau:
…you became the director!

Bill Goldberg:
I became the director!

patience kamau:
How is it going so far? What are your thoughts on that?

Bill Goldberg:
I think it’s going well. I think that Sue being director, she had an amazing reputation and she was incredible when it came to short-term programming and analysis of things that fit together, and her being the director before me, and Pat Martin being the director before her, their skills, their experience were really helpful when I became director, having watched them work.

patience kamau:
Mm, in what ways?

Bill Goldberg:
Uhm, just with Pat, Pat had an open door policy that no matter what she was doing, no matter what time of day it was, if someone came to her office to talk, she would just drop everything and be with that person while they were talking and you know, whatever problems they had worked through it. And for a while we all shared the first floor of the Weaver House and it was a very big open space, and so people would come in and talk to Pat all the time while the rest of us were working, and it just kind of led to that sort of style where if someone comes into my office, I try my best to give them all of my attention. And with Sue, her analytical mind was just incredible the way she put things together, whether it was guest speakers in classes or whether it was the actual schedule of SPI as well as her ability to stand up to leadership and speak truth to power, when she saw things that weren’t going the way she hoped they would go. Um, and it was really empowering to watch her do this and watch her say like, this is what I believe and this is what we’re going to do.

patience kamau:
Mm-hm, and follow through on that…

Bill Goldberg:
…and follow through on it. So, and it really helped with my style. I, one of the things I started doing as soon as I became director was institute a policy of “just because we’ve always done it, is not an excuse to continue.” And so for years there were things we were doing at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute “because we had always done it that way,” and it got to the point where if someone asked me, “why are you doing this?” and I didn’t have an answer, it seemed obvious to me that it was time to look into changing it. Whether it was, “why are you having all seven day classes?” There are classes that would fit well into a week –and if the answer was “because we’ve always had seven day classes,” that wasn’t good enough.

patience kamau:
Then you would change it.

Bill Goldberg:
The we did some research and we changed it and we found that we would actually get more people if they didn’t have to be here for a week and a half; if they could come in on a Sunday, leave the next Saturday and get a week’s training. So that was just one change. Um, but I think it was important to… and I think that came both from Sue and also just from my degree at CJP that, you know, if something’s not working, continuing to do it does not make sense, and so we need to figure out what will work.

patience kamau:
[Chuckles] And putting into practice the conflict transformation procedures that we teach…

Bill Goldberg:
…right…

patience kamau:
…because that ruffles some feathers sometimes when you’re changing something.

Bill Goldberg:
It definitely does! But it’s also, you know, from the very beginning, the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and the Summer Peacebuilding Institute had a huge focus on international students and international problems almost to ignoring things that were happening in the U.S. Restorative Justice worked in the U.S. as well as internationally, but it, it seems like we weren’t looking into our own problems, whether it was in the U.S. or in the community of Harrisonburg. And I think that’s another thing that we as CJP have changed a lot in the last few years. Granted, part of it is because it’s much harder to get visas, so it’s much harder to get people here. But even from my early time here, we always had international students who were kind of challenging us and saying, you have to fix your own problems as well as help us fix ours, and I think it took 10 -15 years for that realization to sink in.

patience kamau:
Why do you think it took so long?

Bill Goldberg:
I think it’s two-fold. One international work appears sexier than domestic work. Several people who’ve been hired here to focus on more domestic work, started working internationally and started teaching internationally and traveling internationally. That looks good on the CV and you get, you’re not just stuck in Harrisonburg. I mean from my own perspective, I co-led a study abroad — EMU’s cross-cultural program to the middle East two years ago and it was really energizing, and it got me out of a bit of a rut, I had had after being director for two or three years and when I came back there were a whole lot of new initiatives I wanted to do, so I understand that, but at the same time there has to be an acknowledgement that we have problems in this country that we need to fix. I think the other is the ability to…the fear of failure and the ability to walk away from failure if it’s not in your backyard. If we go help…try to help a conflict in Zimbabwe, in India, in Croatia, and it doesn’t work, we don’t see our failure everyday. If we try to help a conflict in Harrisonburg and it doesn’t work, we drive by it every morning…

patience kamau:
…mm, and it’s a constant reminder…

Bill Goldberg:
…and it’s a constant reminder of that failure. And I’m not saying that peacebuilders are afraid of failure, I’m just saying that subconsciously it’s easier to work internationally and then to leave that situation, if something goes wrong than it is domestically. Probably have a lot of people challenged me on that.

patience kamau:
[Chuckles] Maybe, but you know, this is how conversations begin…you know, you voice…

Bill Goldberg:
I think we have changed that. I mean, and maybe it’s that there’s finally more of an acknowledgement of the problems in this country. It’s not that there wasn’t before, but it’s problems are getting worse or they’re appearing to get worse because they’re more in the open, and so I think…

patience kamau:
…do you think that’s because it’s happened in the last two and a half to three years or has that been a change that’s been coming?

Bill Goldberg:
I actually think that’s a change that’s been coming here, at least since the early two thousands.

patience kamau:
To CJP?

Bill Goldberg:
Yes, to CJP. Um, it’s gotten harder and harder to get visas since early two thousands, …

patience kamau:
Mm, after 9/11?

Bill Goldberg:
After 9/11, to bring people here, and so we’ve actually been forced financially to push into doing more domestically while at the same time, those of us who wanted to work domestically kind of felt more empowered to do so because of this financial push. So it worked together as much as the tragedy of 9/11 and the U.S.’ reaction to Muslims and people around the world was negative, it actually helped push CJP into doing more positive things domestically.

patience kamau:
Into trying to tackle problems within the country?

Bill Goldberg:
Yes. And in fact, the last two years, it has been the worst ever to get visas and there’s been a lot more uncovering of the negativity within the U.S. –the ripping off the bandaid, seeing what’s underneath the, you know, the, the scabs and seeing how bad it is around here because it’s just become much easier to be open about racism and bigotry and to actually be a racist and a bigot out in the open. And so we’re now seeing the need to combat that more to do more trainings, to get more people to understand where social injustice is and how we can remedy it.

patience kamau:
And also how we deal with…because there’s extremism really within the United States also, I think that’s risen in a very alarming state. Maybe it always was there, but now, like you said, it’s just out in the open.

Bill Goldberg:
I, yeah, that’s, that’s my feeling is that it always was there. There were always these groups, but the ability to publicly own racism has opened up in the last few years. Um, and so those people who could ignore it because it was just that, those crazy people over there with, you know, now see that those crazy people over there live two blocks from them and, and they’re actually spewing hate speech that kids all around are seeing and they spew it in such a, such a way that it doesn’t always even appear as hate speech and that it, and so, until the kids get hooked onto it, they don’t even know they’re being hooked.

patience kamau:
What do you mean it doesn’t appear as…

Bill Goldberg:
So just one example, there’s…near EMU there’s a, there are two white supremacists who live and who have a radio, an internet radio and TV station. And their goal is not to be overtly racist and bigoted. They’re not screaming racial epithets. What they do is they try and convince people that white people are beat down. So one example that they give, which from a logistical standpoint makes a huge amount of, I can see, of a sense, I can see why people would understand this, is “why can’t there be a White Student Union on college campuses? There can be a Black Student Union, there can be a Jewish Student Union, there can be a Muslim Student Union. Why can’t there be a White Student Union?” And this hooks people? I mean, the reason is because the rest of the campus that’s not part of these groups…

patience kamau:
…is the dominant culture.

Bill Goldberg:
Right. But I can understand how people get hooked on that one little thing, and then they start questioning like, why can’t there be this for white people? And it’s like they don’t see that they’re the dominant group and that they get all of those privileges already. They’re drawn into believing that they’re not doing as well and this has become easier to do.

patience kamau:
Mm. I mean, as you say that, it brings to mind a saying that I’m probably going to butcher right now, but that when you are accustomed to something being unequally favoring you, that actually correcting that feels like it’s attacking you, like it’s disfavoring you.

Bill Goldberg:
Right, right.

patience kamau:
You know, like when you’re trying to make everything equal for everyone, those who’ve always been accustomed to having more feel like it’s been taken from them.

Bill Goldberg:
Yeah. I remember reading some of this group’s literature that, you know, “we have Black history month in February, why can’t we have White history month?” And the realization is the other 11 months of the year are white history months –that’s what gets taught in schools, so why can’t we have that? Cause we already have that, you know, …

patience kamau:
…because it is the water we swim in.

Bill Goldberg:
Exactly that’s, that’s the correct phrase –It’s the water we swim in!

patience kamau:
Yeah, yeah.

[Transition music plays]

patience kamau:
So how has programming within SPI since you’ve been in it –and I like how you’ve said…so you’re the third, fourth or you co-directed?

Bill Goldberg:
Uh, so Gloria Rhodes was the first director and Pat Martin and Pat Spaulding were co-directors after her and then Pat Martin was a solo director. Pat Spaulding was, let’s just say forced to leave because she was…came out as a lesbian.

patience kamau:
Oh, that’s when EMU was going through the challenges…

Bill Goldberg:
Yes. That was before EMU’s policies changed. And after Pat was Sue and then Valerie and I and then myself. So that’s like fifth-ish generation of directors, I guess.

patience kamau:
Yeah. Yeah.
How, how has programming changed in, in that time, in your opinion, especially to address these changes that we’re talking about? Like looking more domestically, how would you say programs, programming has changed?

Bill Goldberg:
Well, so I’ll start with saying that almost all, if not all the faculty at the Summer Peacebbuilding Institute, as well as the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, are practitioners as well as academics. They have their Ph.D. or maybe some of them even have, only have their masters, but they have years of experience working in the field. When I was first here, and still some degree today, most of the experience that people had was international. They lived in another country for a time for you know, months, years. In fact, Lisa and I lived in Africa for a year in the early two thousands and I think that really helped her credibility.

patience kamau:
Which part of Africa?

Bill Goldberg:
We lived in Ghana for six months, in Kenya for six months –she was on a Fulbright fellowship and it had to be split between two countries, to kind of look at…teach and also look at the diversity of the different countries.

patience kamau:
Okay, West and East?

Bill Goldberg:
Yes. But anyway, so when I was here earlier, most of the classes were geared towards international people. A lot of the examples that were used in classes were case studies, usually from the instructors own cases of their work in other countries, and most of the students were international. I mean, it used to be probably 60 – 70% international back back in the days. Um, and there were domestic people here and they were kind of almost shoehorned in. To get some of the case studies to be about them, they had to make, they had to make requests, they had to ask like, you know, can we talk about how this is affecting the U.S. or, it was international and this is how the parallel works in the U.S. Whereas that’s almost switched completely –I mean, we’re now at 60 – 70% domestic because of problems with visas, problems with finances and at the same time acknowledging that…the need for domestic problems. In fact, last Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI), our two instructors for our restorative justice class were graduates from the early to mid-2000s who were here when we were mostly international, and they created the class based on what they had been taught. And it was after they got here that they realized that three-fourths of their class were domestic. They had issues…they wanted to talk about issues of racial justice and racial healing and social justice and how restorative justice works there. And to the credit of the instructors with the help of the students in the class, they completely revised their syllabus almost on a daily basis to, to change what had been international to make it more domestic. They also acknowledged that the course needed a much more domestic focus in the future, and had they known how many changes had occurred in the makeup of SPI, they would have planned differently.

patience kamau:
That’s really cool that they were actually revising the syllabus on the fly, pretty incredible.

Bill Goldberg:
And that happens a lot at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute because we never know what, we never know what mix of people we’re going to get. Um, a class could be three-quarters domestic, it could be three-quarters international, it could be people from 10 to 15 different countries, it could be people from two countries that do not get along. And so the syllabus that the faculty member may have prepared has what they hope to cover, but then you might get into the class and find that…

patience kamau:
…the need is different.

Bill Goldberg:
Right, exactly. It doesn’t, it doesn’t fit at all, and so you know, in order to serve the students who are in the class better, you make changes as much as you can, and it’s amazing to see the faculty is able to do that. Even during the school year, our faculty seems really good at, if not reading the mood of the class, hearing from those in the class who have concerns and making changes to include what they want in the class. I don’t see that done as much in other organizations, and you can’t do that as much, even in undergraduate or in large lecture. It’s only in these settings that you can.

patience kamau:
It is really challenging to do that. So that’s pretty impressive that it does happen.

Bill Goldberg:
It is. I’m always impressed with our faculty that they can teach, especially at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute and the STAR program, they teach people from age 20 to age 80 who may not even have their bachelor’s degree through not only has their Ph.D., but could teach the course themselves through no…from “no field experience” through “working for 30 or 40 years in the field” and they don’t teach to the lowest common denominator. They teach so that everybody in the class gets what they need…

patience kamau:
…mm-hm, can participate…

Bill Goldberg:
…as best as they can.

patience kamau:
Of course. Who were these two instructors that you alluded to who returned last year?

Bill Goldberg:
Um, it was, uh, Judah Oudshoorn and Michelle Jackett who were, who as I said, they’re both restorative justice practitioners in Canada, and I mean, and they had a great time teaching here, but they actually also acknowledged that the class in the future would need more diversity, and as much as they enjoyed teaching it, there needs to be more diversity than just a white male and a white female teaching the class. And so they said they’d love to come back, but not necessarily together to teach that and work on, you know, and of course with more diversity.

patience kamau:
Oh, so diversity within the instructors?

Bill Goldberg:
Yes. Or at least diversity within the instructor’s knowledge. In their class they had several people who were really interested in using restorative justice in school systems that were overwhelmingly African American and Hispanic, and that just wasn’t in their knowledge set. So they did as best they could, in fact, they used some of the women who had these questions to bring up case studies and then have the class analyze what they should do. But they realized that if this is the makeup of the course, it needs someone with at least a background in having dealt with these issues.

patience kamau:
Mm-hm, that makes sense. In your opinion, what is, uh, something unique that we can celebrate about CJP at this milestone at 25 years?

Bill Goldberg:
I think the most unique thing is that we have always worked with grassroots peacebuilding efforts and we continue to do so, starting at the community levels, building up momentum. That’s something that has caught on in the last 20, 25 years or so. But when I was an undergraduate in the late 1980s, like I said, international relations conversations focused on the leaders of the countries and peace from top-down and military use, you know, peace from top down and it didn’t last. And it took a long time I think, for the international community to kind of come around to that. There were always people doing grassroots peacebuilding, there were always people doing community peacebuilding –It took a long time for their work to get acknowledged as, as important, if not more important than the high level peacebuilding. So I think that’s something that has been very unique here, and it’s something that has turned off some students from coming here because they wanted the high level negotiation, but at the same time it’s brought in students from some of our colleague, collaborator, competitor, whatever you want to call it, organizations who would go there and realize they didn’t want the high level, they actually wanted the grassroots. And then even some of the faculty at these institutions would say, well, you should be at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, not here. So yeah, I think our continued use of grassroots community organizing sort of peacebuilding isn’t, it is very unique and something we should be celebrating.

patience kamau:
What are some of the outcomes of your time within CJP in your experience? Just as you reflect…

Bill Goldberg:
The people who’ve come through are the most positive outcomes. And I’m not just talking about people like Leymah Gbowee who won the Nobel Peace Prize or the former president of Somalia who was an SPI participant in the early two thousands. It’s all of the people who’ve started their own organization and are doing incredible peace work, incredible justice work in their home communities and are getting acknowledgement from those communities, not as much as they deserve. But, you know, it’s these small changes within communities that grow and grow and grow and eventually have, uh, you know, the outcome we hope of a more peaceful, less violent society.

[Transition music plays]

patience kamau:
Do you have any ideas about what CJP could be doing better?

Bill Goldberg:
Um, I think as we, I have two hopes as we move into the next 25 years. Uh, the first is actually to get the word out to people in the U.S. about who we are and what we do. As I said, we, we, most of our work has been international in the past, so that’s changed some, but we really don’t have a great way of marketing to all of the domestic groups that we should have. We’re just, we’re still breaking into that because we spent so many years working more domestically, working more internationally than domestically, and so I think we need to figure out how to get our message out of what we do, to a lot of these organizations that really could use the training, whether it’s leadership or trauma awareness or community organizing and development. I think we’re one of the better places that can do that –not just saying that cause I work here, but we don’t have as great a domestic-base as international. I mean there were places that I would travel all around the world and I would mention the Summer Peacebuilding Institute or the Center for Justice Peacebuilding and people knew of us. There are not nearly as many places in the U.S. that way.

patience kamau:
That recognize us like that…

Bill Goldberg:
When I’m at conferences that aren’t specifically in our field, or new ones, I always get people who do almost a double-take. When they look at the sign, they see the word peacebuilding and justice and they walk away and then they see something on our table –it’ll say racial healing, it’ll say community development, it’ll say trauma and they turn around and look, but just looking at our name, they would shrug and walk.

patience kamau:
We don’t have that brand recognition.

Bill Goldberg:
Exactly! So yes, growing brand recognition. And the other thing is that, I don’t think this is contentious, but others at EMU might, I think CJP needs to continue to push until we can break through the wall of hiring only Christian faculty. EMU as a university has a policy that 100% of full-time faculty must be Christian. I can hire adjuncts for the Summer Peacebuilding Institute, we can hire adjuncts at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding who are not. But we can’t hire non-Christians as full-time faculty and that…

patience kamau:
…so you can’t even be a full-time faculty member here?

Bill Goldberg:
Exactly! And in fact, you know the, the joke t-shirt I’ve wanted to make for years was that…would say “even Jesus couldn’t get a job teaching at EMU,” …

patience kamau:
[Chuckles] Oh dear, right, right…

Bill Goldberg:
…because unfortunately that’s the policy. And I get it we’re, we’re a Christian Mennonite university, I understand that. But by saying only those who are Christian can teach here, it implies to others, “only those that are Christian have the values to teach here,” and I find that frustrating, um, especially as a non-Christian. And we’ve lost several people who either taught for us once or just refuse to teach for us because they found out about that policy and they basically said, you know, “I, I’m busy and I don’t want to spend my energy working at an institution that has this policy.”

patience kamau:
Mm, cause it feels like pushing against the grain? There’s too much energy one’s spending in that way…

Bill Goldberg:
Right. Or even if there’s, you know, they’re just adjuncting one class, they don’t want to contribute to what they see as that policy. Now, I had several people who felt the same way about our LGBTQ policy and now that it’s changed, they’re willing to take another look at working here. Um, and I mean the problem is that EMU as a university pays lip service to diversity –all of the hiring applications that go out say we want a diverse faculty and staff, yet by diversity they mean people of color who are Christian and Christian sects other than Mennonites, they don’t mean diversity of religion necessarily, and I think that needs to change.

patience kamau:
Mm, have you had conversations about this elsewhere?

Bill Goldberg:
I have. I actually gave a talk several years ago at our faculty staff meeting and ended with that hope that…I showed our current hiring page, which has at the bottom, wanting more diverse staff and followed that with a slide that showed the current hiring policy, which says EMU respects all federal guidelines on hiring diverse people of, and it named races and creeds and it didn’t name religion and it didn’t at that time name, um, sexual orientation. And now at least it has sexual orientation, gender policies in it as a protected class here, but it still doesn’t have religion. And they would say, well, we’re a Christian university, we can’t do that. And I would say, well, you’re a Christian university, hiring people with similar values to you doesn’t mean they all have to be Christian.

patience kamau:
That’s right. That’s right.
How has your time within EMU and CJP has…is there a difference between you not being a Christian, working within CJP versus EMU, which is a larger umbrella?

Bill Goldberg:
I think so. Um, I will say I’m more of a cultural Jewish person than a religious Jewish person. Um, but there are times that I feel awkward, uh, especially in large gatherings when there’s prayers before the meeting starts that the meeting would be a success, which or whether they, you know, they sing hymns but they only refer to them by the number or something, and then everybody can recite them from memory. And that’s just not something I can do. I never felt that I have been persecuted for not being Christian, but then again, I’m not trying to teach full-time. So I, and I have felt CJP as much more open to people of all…to a much more diverse group of people teaching here, being here much greater understanding –I mean I’ve participated in, in Eid fasts and breaking, you know, fasts…

patience kamau:
Ah, that always happens during the summer –during the Summer Peacebuilding Institute…

Bill Goldberg:
…well, actually it changes because it, because of the, uh, lunar calendar. So at the moment it’s moving through SPI and then in another two years, I think it’ll be before the Summer Peacebuilding Institute starts. But when I got here, it was in December, which is weird. Um, you know, and I’ve actually held a Passover Seder for all EMU students in the past, so there’s an openness here –for all CJP students, sorry– there’s an openness here to learning more about that. Um, I’m not saying that EMU as a whole is closed to that, but at the same time, I don’t think there’s as inquisitive a nature about other religions, other groups that you’re not part of to learn more about them.

patience kamau:
Yeah, I, right now I’m thinking that there was, maybe it was just this past summer, there was…or was it two years ago? There was actually a gathering for, is it Iftar, the breaking of the fast for the day?

Bill Goldberg:
Yeah, I mean we’ve done that several times over the years.

patience kamau:
Yeah, during the summers…and I’m not aware that it happens during, in the wider EMU community, but maybe that’s because school isn’t on.

Bill Goldberg:
That’s true. But, well, no, I mean, I remember doing it with some graduate students from the Middle East who were incredible cooks and we did an Iftar and it was during the school year, so in the fall semester, so that was, I don’t know, 10, 15 years ago probably, but it was just, it was, there were CJP faculty, staff and students there. I don’t remember if it was open wider or it was just, they were only cooking for CJP, but I don’t remember very many, if any non-CJP people being there.

patience kamau:
And how have the Passovers gone when you’ve hosted them?

Bill Goldberg:
I only hosted one or two. It was good. It was, you know, it was a very inquisitive group who were…and I also did this, Lisa and I did this at a very conservative Christian university in Kenya –Daystar University — and that was actually much more interesting because the students there had never participated in any sort of Jewish rituals and they realized, you know, this Passover is Easter. So it was very interesting participating with them there and going through all the customs that happened, and the same thing happened at the Passover Seders here it was, it was well attended.

patience kamau:
I know you said you are more culturally Jewish than practicing, uh, do you do Shabbat regularly on Fridays?

Bill Goldberg:
No, not regularly. Um, very occasionally, but we do, I do a Passover dinner every year with, with a group of people in town who are all Jews married to Christians. And we did this because our kids were getting a good Christian education in Sunday schools at churches and they weren’t getting nearly as much of a Jewish education. So we decided to hold this yearly Passover Seder to teach them about that. We did Hanukkah sometimes and told the stories of that. And I’ve tried occasionally to bring in Jewish things here, like every…at Purim, I usually make pamen tash, which is the, the sweets for Purim, and in the past we’ve, I’ve actually had like a retelling of the Purim story to CJP while we ate these, these treats. So, we try, I mean, you know, CJP brings in, is willing to, to have people from all religions bring in their customs and, to explain more about them and have us all participate in them.

patience kamau:
Yeah, those are the cultural nights!

Bill Goldberg:
Yeah. This is how my, this is how my kids grew up. I mean, I think one of the reasons my kids are so open to other…people of other religions, people of other colors, people of other ethnicities, is because they spent their early years going to Summer Peacebuilding Institute potlucks and cultural nights where there’d be people from all over the world speaking different languages and different looks to them and that…they just became accustomed to it.

patience kamau:
Right, right –it was their normal…

Bill Goldberg:
…it was their normal.

patience kamau:
Oh, what a blessing.

Bill Goldberg:
I agree…

patience kamau:
That’s just wonderful.

[Transition music plays]

patience kamau:
Let’s see. So within your time here at CJP, what, is there anything that comes to mind that you are puzzling with or have been struggling to…

Bill Goldberg:
Well, at CJP, at EMU and in the wider world, I think what I have learned over the past 20 years is just because my opinion feels correct and even if it’s supported by many, many people around me, those in power can still stop any actions or changes that we feel are correct. Um, speaking truth to power is one thing, getting power to listen to that truth is a whole other thing. And it takes communities of people willing to stand up to get that to occur. And I’ve seen that happen here –I mean, just looking at the change to EMU’s LGBTQ policy. I give former president Loren Swartzendruber, you know, huge credit for, for bucking the trend, which was keep the status quo and having listening projects with students and faculty and staff and donors and parents of students and alumni and the entire EMU community, before making the decision that this policy needs to change because it’s overwhelmingly supported. But that took, you know, 10 years to get to that point.

patience kamau:
Probably even longer…

Bill Goldberg:
Maybe…

patience kamau:
…you alluded to Pat Spaulding.

Bill Goldberg:
That’s true. And before Pat, there were other people who, when, when EMU found out that they were gay, just basically said, “I want your resume on my desk by today at five”…

patience kamau:
…yeah, resignation…

Bill Goldberg:
…and nobody fought it because it’s still not necessarily a protected class in Virginia, so there really isn’t a way to fight it. The court of public opinion is really the only way to fight that –and yes, so it took several people being forced to leave…

patience kamau:
…unceremoniously fired…

Bill Goldberg:
…well, they were never fired. They were all forced to resign on their own, um, because that’s what people do around here, they don’t rock the boat. So, you know, they didn’t even really have legal recourse because they left themselves. But it took, yeah, 10 to 15 years of that happening, at least –of it being more and more public and there just being an, it basically the grassroots effort that CJP promotes, on that issue worked. It took a small group of people to continue to raise the social justice aspect of it larger and larger, and you know, there were still people on this campus, and there still are now, who are against that…”biblical teachings,” whatever they want to say. Um, but the majority supports it and that policy changed –that doesn’t happen all the time, that’s rare. Um, but you can get attacked, but like I said, for the most part, what I’m still puzzling through is how to make that happen when I know what I’m engaged in is correct and I cannot get people who have the power to see that.

patience kamau:
Mm, you are reminding me of a quote I think I read this morning by Beyonce Knowles. I think it said something about power is not just given to you, you have to take it. [Chuckles]

Bill Goldberg:
Right.

patience kamau:
So that’s just interesting that…

Bill Goldberg:
…and you can speak out and you get labeled as a troublemaker, but when 10 people speak out, they still might get labeled as troublemakers, but like they’ve also influenced a hundred more people to just question that. You can see that happening in this country right now with this impeachment that, you know, I used to think that, why aren’t we like why isn’t there just a vote on impeachment? Why don’t they just impeach him and get on with this? And you see more and more momentum growing for it as each new person comes out and says like, this is the experience and this is the reason why. I think it would have failed if it had been started bluntly several months ago.

patience kamau:
So that’s fascinating to me because what you are saying, what I hear you saying is that people do need to speak out, but also there are the people within power. I mean we are, we’re humans at every level, and so we react to that. People within power, if they feel attacked, will close up and will not engage. So there’s this in and out sort of process so that those who are speaking out…those who can energize, versus those who can work within and actually bring people within the power –who have the power– to actually want to work to make the change.

Bill Goldberg:
Right. I think it takes two types of people to speak out like that. It takes someone who doesn’t care about the reputation, who doesn’t mind that they are about to be slandered and shamed and shunned because the truth that they’re speaking is so important that it overrides that. And it also takes people who are either high up in power or high up in perceived power to back them, and you don’t always have both of those. Um, but it takes, but, but it, it definitely takes several people willing to, well we would call it political suicide, you know, or academic suicide or whatever, willing to put their, their job and their life on the line to push a policy that at that time is not only undesirable but seen by those in power as not a good idea. At least public…and the wagons gets circled and the person gets demonized, but, but then the next person speaks up and a little crack in the wagons appears. Maybe they’re not demonized as much and then several more people speak up and then it steam rolls into a policy change.

patience kamau:
You, uh, you gave credit to former president to Loren Swartzendruber –what do you think…what do you feel he did differently or how did he usher EMU in this direction? I mean, it took years, like you said. Um, and when he came, he stabilized the campus quite a bit cause it was…

Bill Goldberg:
…yeah…

patience kamau:
…there was that whole, CJP students unfurling that great rainbow flag…

Bill Goldberg:
…right, that happened, that happened right at the beginning and it kind of shook things up a little. If I, if I could go back in time, I’d probably still have them do it, but maybe a little later. Um, I, I mean, I think it was multi-fold one, he was towards the end of his presidency and I don’t, I don’t actually know what his personal opinions are on it. He was very good in supporting EMU without pushing his personal opinions –and maybe his personal opinions are social justice for LGBTQ and that’s why he pushed it, or maybe they’re not, and he just felt as a steward of EMU, he needed to follow what the will of EMU was. So I think being late enough in his term that he had political capital both in the Mennonite world as well as at EMU, to push this plus enough people counseling him to push it. And other schools and other churches and other institutions that were opening up. So, I mean, I give him credit for making the bold final step, but there’re untold number of people beneath him, before him, that did the legwork that you know, that spoke up, that were fired for being gay and you know…

patience kamau:
…or even supporting people who were gay…

Bill Goldberg:
…or right, or were fired for supporting people who were gay, right! So all of those people before him just push the momentum. But I give him credit because he had the courage to buck the Mennonite church to stand up against the Mennonite Church and the Mennonite Education Agency and say, “no, we’re going to do this.” He had the, you know, he had the courage to say, we’re going to get kicked out of the council for conservative churches…

patience kamau:
…CCCU…

Bill Goldberg:
…universities, yeah, CCCU, we’re going to get kicked out, but this is the right thing to do because this is what the university wants to do. So, you know, there were a lot of people that came before him, but there has to be a public face that either gets crucified or that gets lauded and you know, he got both for it.

patience kamau:
He got quite a beating for it too.

Bill Goldberg:
He did get quite a beating for it!

patience kamau:
Yes. Um, yeah. You, you mentioned CJP had, a role with the listening process that led to the change of the policy?

Bill Goldberg:
I don’t know if CJP specifically had a role, I know that there were a lot of different facilitators. I was in those sessions, but I was not part of the formation of those sessions, so I don’t actually know much about how they formed. I just, I know that there was a lot of push from CJP to start it.

patience kamau:
That was, that was a good change for the campus in general.

Bill Goldberg:
Definitely!

patience kamau:
So how have you experienced community within CJP and you know, the definition of community within EMU in general, but how do you define community and have, have you experienced it?

Bill Goldberg:
Um, I mean I define community as a group of people who don’t necessarily all have the same opinions, but a good or well-working community would be people who are willing to listen to those they disagree with and acknowledge that even if they disagree on issues, there are always issues, they agree with. Um, you know, I’ve been trying to figure out how to make Harrisonburg a better community in groups that I’m involved in trying to do that. And the realization is most people who live here love the area, whether it’s the mountains, whether it’s the fact that we have, you know, nice fall sunny days like today –they all love it. So even if they disagree on how to do some policy –more for schools, more for education, more tax breaks, whatever, they can all acknowledge that they love the area and that’s why they’re here and that’s a building block. So then we move on to the next issue –you know, you want kids to have better schools and education. Anyway, that’s how I define community as groups of people who don’t necessarily agree on all issues but are willing to listen to each other and work toward a resolution.

patience kamau:
How hve you felt that within CJP for yourself personally?

Bill Goldberg:
There are times that CJP has felt like a family, there are times that CJP has felt like a dysfunctional family and the community aspect has definitely changed over the last 20 years. When I was first here, it was much smaller — all of the faculty were much tighter; dinners at their houses back and forth. There was, you know, uh, there was a monthly potluck like we do now except all faculty, all staff, all students went to it every time it was, you know, unless you were traveling, you just went and that was just the norm and now that’s kind of dropped off quite a bit. Not nearly as many people go –it seems like the student group community is still functioning well as a community, but the staff and faculty don’t function nearly as much of a family community.

patience kamau:
Why do you think that is?

Bill Goldberg:
I don’t…I think it’s growth, I think it’s, it’s much less, much more, you know, there’s, there’s much more diversity of people than there used to be.

patience kamau:
You mean in thought? Diversity in what way?

Bill Goldberg:
Ah, I mean, CJP used to be basically a white Christian bunch, mostly male almost, you know, and that has changed a huge amount and I don’t think that’s the reason for breaking of diversity, I think it’s just the people with less in common. I mean, everybody here went to one of two or three churches –20 years ago and everybody went, um, you know, now there’s such a huge, there’s such a huge diversity both in the student population and the faculty population of people and people are just busier than they were, I think.

patience kamau:
So maybe we’re just trying to reconstitute, who knows? I mean, we’re different and so we’ll find a new rhythm that addresses the new constituency…

Bill Goldberg:
I would hope so, I mean, I don’t see this that, that is a bad thing. Community, community, you know, waxes and wanes.

patience kamau:
Of course. It reflects the people who are in it at the time. Yeah. That’s good.

[Transition music plays]

patience kamau:
What’s been the most pro…most challenging professional thing that you’ve done?

Bill Goldberg:
Ah, Okay. That actually goes back to the puzzling and wrestling. So I have had some incredibly difficult conversations with EMU administrators over actions they took that I felt were incorrect or just plain wrong and or actions I took that they felt were wrong. Um, many times I felt shut down by that and as if it was basically a “father knows best” sort of situation. This is, you know, they knew what was right and I should just let them continue to do it, and that’s not something I experienced much at CJP and that’s not something we teach –we teach to speak truth to power. So like I said before, when you speak truth to power, and power doesn’t listen then what? I will say that when these events occurred, for the most part, I felt overwhelming support from CJP leadership and CJP colleagues and that actually, really helped sometimes, really helped get things moving that were stuck. So it’s been challenging. The other challenge, and the other challenging thing actually has been the difficulty with getting visas. It’s been really challenging and frustrating to have so many people who want to be here, who want to study, who want to learn, just be told, no, they can’t by the U.S. government, you know, they have funding, they have the ability to get here, they really want to bring peacebuilding knowledge back to their countries and they just get stopped. And that’s incredibly frustrating because you can’t even speak truth to power to that you can’t…there’s no one speak to, it’s just such a giant, you know, mess…

patience kamau:
…bureaucracy. Yeah. Um, on your personal challenges within the campus, um, in your own reflections, is there anything you could have done differently?

Bill Goldberg:
Uh, there always is, I mean, I, I, I look back and think, you know, if I, if I had called that person and asked them to just, you know, take a walk with me and meet off campus, somewhere more neutral and, and we talked things out, would it have gone more smoothly and, and maybe, maybe not. Um, would it have worked better if I had held off until I got a larger coalition of people who agreed with me? Maybe, maybe not. But as I said before, sometimes it takes that person to be willing to be crucified or, or demonized –maybe I was supposed to be that person. Not a very pleasant role to be in. And I’ve never really been in it that strongly. Others I know have. But, you know, I, I’ve always been a support person here. I’ve always said that my role is not to be the peacebuilder out in the field, but to support that peacebuilder, to get their training, to do the logistics for them –so it’s difficult when I feel like I’m thrust into that role of, of like the person who has to push the change.

patience kamau:
Well, it’s a role that needs to be filled.

Bill Goldberg:
True, true.

patience kamau:
Um, I know that you spent a lot of time with some of the Fulbright Scholars here at the beginning, uh, when they started coming to CJP –can you talk a little bit about that, the friendships you formed through that and…

Bill Goldberg:
Sure. Um, for several years CJP was the State Department’s Conflict Resolution program for Fulbrights. We got Fulbrights from either the Middle East or from South Asia, rotating –we’d get some from the Middle East one year, then from South Asia the next, so they actually had some overlap as well. And I was the coordinator for that grant that, that brought them here. I handled the logistics, I made sure all of their school fees were paid and that their per diem for the month were here. I arrange trips for them. Um, I had my degree by that time, so I was kind of a unofficial advisor when they would want to ask questions, whether it was about classes or whether it was about community or Harrisonburg in general. So I got to be friends with quite a few of them. Friendships, I’ve still kept, in fact, one of the, one of our graduates who is a Palestinian-Israeli citizen is now a tour guide , and when we were in the Middle East two years ago, was the Palestinian person who did, uh, that side of our dual narrative. We had an Israeli and a Palestinian; so it was a lot of fun actually having this person that I had become good friends with when he was a student here actually be our tour leader, and have us learn from him in the way he learned from folks around here. Then yeah, I’ve kept in touch with quite a few of them and tried to have people back as teachers or guest speakers when they are around. I mean I would say not just the Fulbrights, but the most fun part of working here is sitting in my office and, there’s a knock on the door, and it’s someone from some other part of the country or some other part of the world who just happened to be on campus. I didn’t know they were coming, they just happen to show up, you know? They were in Washington for a conference and wanted to, wanted to come visit CJP and spending a half hour sitting and talking to that person that I may not have seen for five or ten years and just catching up with them. It’s a great way to, you know, break up the day when that happens. And it happens more than you would believe!

patience kamau:
Maybe…probably because we’re not so far from Washington D.C.

Bill Goldberg:
True. And because people really feel CJP becomes a family, becomes a community, so they want to come back, they want to be part of it again.

patience kamau:
Mm-hm, I’ve been struck by, so we’ve been doing –as part of the anniversary process– these blogs that a lot of our alumni from years past are writing about these things. And it’s just fascinating to sort of watch them talk about their time here in the late nineties or in the early two thousands and they speak a lot to what you’re talking to…

Bill Goldberg:
…and they can come back now and just take a class for training or something like that. And it’s like they’re home again.

patience kamau:
Right. It feels that way –that’s, that’s quite unique. Um, are there significant changes that you’ve seen in the peacebuilding field in your time working within CJP? Do you consider yourself a peacebuilder?

Bill Goldberg:
I do! I mean, I consider all of the learning I got here to be life lessons. I don’t go into the field, I don’t necessarily work, you know, with organizations helping them bring peace. Like I said, I feel like I support them all of the knowledge and learning and facilitation, negotiation and mediation, helps me on a daily basis work with other departments at EMU, um, helps me understand, you know, other organizations and whether or not they’re sending people to take our courses and whether or not we have issues with them and even helps me understand, you know, why visas get denied and how I can try and help people do a better job at presenting themselves and maybe get a visa. So yes, I consider myself in the peacebuilding way, I guess you’d say. As for the field itself, I think just the growth of it has just been amazing. I mean, when, when I was here 20 years ago, we were one of the few master’s programs that taught this sort of work. Um, Summer Peacebuilding Institute was one of the few institutes that did this. Now there’s at least seven or eight institutes that were started by people who’ve been here much less…

patience kamau:
…I think there are twelve…

Bill Goldberg:
Well, I was gonna say, and there’s plenty more. So the growth of it, but the problem is it’s also become an industry as any, as almost any field becomes over time.

patience kamau:
It’s been commodified?

Bill Goldberg:
It’s been commodified –there’s a cookie-cutter approach that certain organizations use. So you kind of have to, that’s what I meant earlier when I said we need to get the word out about who we are. You know, if you’re going to have a training in trauma, our STAR trauma training I think is incredible. It helps…

patience kamau:
“Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience.”

Bill Goldberg:
Right. But there’re other similar organizations out there that do training –some of them are amazing, some of them have a very cookie-cutter approach and they wouldn’t do what I talked about before of changing their approach just because the people in the room want something different. You know…

patience kamau:
…mm-hm, but we do that…

Bill Goldberg:
…but we do that. Um, so yeah, I mean that’s, the growth has been significant, but also the growth of positive and negative aspects of it.

patience kamau:
Mm-hm, well, what’s that term? Uh, peace industrial complex? [Chuckles]

Bill Goldberg:
Right, exactly!

patience kamau:
Anyway, we do what we can to counter that…

Bill Goldberg:
…we do…

patience kamau:
…as much as we can. Uh, are you working on anything yourself within, would you want to talk about what you’re working on, if anything?

Bill Goldberg:
Sure. For years we have tried to use the structure of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute to hold courses that weren’t just on peacebuilding: education counseling, seminary and religion courses –and it’s, we’ve always run into a block and basically the block has been financial. The, you know, the other programs don’t want to give up the money they’re making or really can’t afford to pay for our services to do this. So either they don’t do short term trainings or they do them themselves running kind of parallel and it takes up a lot more staff time than it would. More recently, the university as a whole has acknowledged that, and acknowledged that we need the ability to do professional development and academic training other than just the two semester format that’s standard at universities. We need to be able to do short term, we need to be able to do online, we need to do things that people who can’t just drop everything and come to class for a semester can, can handle. And so we’ve been working on how we can put that in place. What are the stumbling blocks both financially and structurally to doing that? How do we work together? Um…

patience kamau:
…basically, it sounds like we just need to be nimble, to respond to…

Bill Goldberg:
…pretty much…

patience kamau:
…how people are getting their education nowadays.

Bill Goldberg:
Right! We’ve also realized that we have, uh, we have the ability to do short-term workshops and conferences that are similar to the Summer Peacebuilding Institute, similar to the STAR program where you bring a group of people for a week and either you teach them something, or you bring a large group of people and they have workshops on a daily basis for a couple of days. In fact, we just did a conference last week on community criminal justice where we brought a hundred to 150 people a day for two days to EMU to sit in workshops and hear about different aspects of criminal justice and to work towards better criminal justice policies in the Shenandoah Valley. And so we also realize that’s a niche specialty that we have the conference space on campus to do that –whether it’s the whole thing with lodging and meals or whether it’s really just having people come, and them using our rooms to have these conferences. We have the ability to do that, and we have the ability to plan conferences off-campus too, so I’m part of a Professional Education Team that is working at getting the word out that we can design training specifically for you. We can design workshops and conferences specifically for your needs, we can do it here, we can do it at your organization, and trying to build that up.

patience kamau:
Yeah. Um, you also hosted a whole bunch of Brazilians last summer and it was something similar, but only these ones came from, from an international source. Can you say a little bit about that?

Bill Goldberg:
Sure! Over over the last several years, we’ve built up a really good relationship with people in Brazil. It started, I can’t even think of how many years ago with Howard Zehr, who’s a, who used to be a faculty member here and with Kay Pranis, who’s amazing at teaching about circle processes, uh, going to Brazil, presenting to different groups on restorative justice –and Brazil is really trying hard to change their entire justice system. This is the court system, the police system –there’s a big push from within to change this. And so starting several years ago, we had one or two or three people from Brazil who came and took classes at Summer Peacebuilding Institute, came and took our trauma classes through the star program, and that’s just kind of spiraled. And last year we got a request for, if we could handle 50 people who all wanted to take classes on trauma, and all wanted to take classes on victim-offender conferencing. And, it sounded a little overwhelming at first because this was happening during the Summer Peacebuilding Institute, sort of tangentially to it. But yeah, so we brought people here and split them into two groups, and one would take trauma-STAR and one would take victim-offender conferencing, and the next week they flipped. And this was Brazilian judges and lawyers and court clerks and staff and police officers…

patience kamau:
…mm, and prosecutors…

Bill Goldberg:
…prosecutors, right. Their stories about the work they’re doing in Brazil were incredible. The fact that the, the restorative justice police in Brazil have their own vehicle, that is, –and they brought a model to give to Howard Zehr cause they all idolize him– um, and that way when they go into communities, the communities know this isn’t the normal police force, that the communities are sometimes afraid of. These are the people who are here to facilitate and to help with community organizing and they get, they get a very different reaction than the regular police. Um, there were some challenges with this group –they, that we taught the courses in Portuguese because many of them spoke English, but some didn’t, and learning in English was difficult. So they brought translators with them, so it slowed the courses down some, but…

patience kamau:
…but you were able to accommodate them.

Bill Goldberg:
We were able to accommodate them, it was a wonderful time. Um, they fit into the Summer Peacebuilding Institute and were at all the lunches and the guest speakers, and they just brought, they brought an energy to the program that the program may not have had without them.

patience kamau:
Yeah. And this is, I mean it was an outgrowth from, uh, I believe that they say that they passed on the leadership because Isabel Lima had, uh, brought in a group in 2017 and then they were here for a week for an intensive course, restorative justice, and then from that, two more younger leaders emerged and she passed on the Baton. And um, can you talk about the two people that you worked with? Diego and his wife, Fe?

Bill Goldberg:
Diego, yes. Danielle was one of the other people that was instrumental…

patience kamau:
…Dani-e-lle, I guess she says her name “Dani-e-lle.” Yeah…

Bill Goldberg:
Yeah. Diego and Fernanda, both, both of them took on an incredible organizing job themselves to get the 50 people here. I mean, Diego was the off-campus organizer that I was working with and he arra…he helped them arrange airfare, made sure that they were all arriving at the airport close to a similar time. So that we could pick them all up, helped arrange their, you know, who was, who was going to stay with whom lodging wise. And so the two of them did this…so much work for it. And this year actually I think we’re offering them a free class as that…it was, I had a conversation with them about how much they did and they said, yeah, I wish you would have talked to you in advance. And I was like if you would have talked to me in advance, I would have given you free classes as “thanks” for all of this work. So yeah, it’s been wonderful to work with the two of them as well, and this year they’re coming back hopefully with a new group of 25 people who want to take a restorative justice course, and I’m not sure if they’ll take a second course or not. The original 50 actually from last year, I’ve been talking about coming back next year to take advanced courses an advanced STAR course, a more advanced course on restorative justice and criminal justice system, that they can take back to Brazil. So it’s definitely a relationship that’s grown over the years and that I think we’ll have for several years; and their restorative justice within their criminal justice system surpasses ours. It’s incredible to see like what they’re doing. I mean, they still have problems just like we do, but they’re training a lot of people, they’re using it in actual like, you know, in criminal cases.

patience kamau:
It’s pretty amazing to me because Fernanda herself, she’s a judge.

Bill Goldberg:
Right.

patience kamau:
So it’s, it’s interesting to me how…

Bill Goldberg:
…and Diego is a lawyer.

patience kamau:
Right. So, it’d be fascinating for me to actually see how she implements this within her court and how these things work out. It’s, and many of them, like you said, are judges and prosecutors and Supreme Court Justices.[Chuckles] It’s pretty amazing.

Bill Goldberg:
I couldn’t actually, I can’t actually see our legal system doing that. I mean, we have enough time trying to get, uh, the prosecutor from Harrisonburg to come to our events much less, you know, prosecutors and judges and lawyers, not just from Harrisonburg but from Virginia and federally. We’ve never been successful in doing that on a large scale. Every once in a while we get some people who are either retired judges or lawyers or, but it’s been rare.

patience kamau:
So maybe we can learn something from Brazil!

Bill Goldberg:
Hopefully.

patience kamau:
Yeah.

[Transition music plays]

patience kamau:
So what do you do outside of your work at CJP for fun that is life-giving to you? I know you have a full life.

Bill Goldberg:
Hm, well I will start off by saying that I’m a science fiction geek and so reading, watching movies, watching TV shows that are science fiction is one of the things that I use as a huge relaxer. I also love to hike and camp and bike, used to run, but, but I’m getting too old and my knees don’t want to handle that. But you know, as a family we’ve done lots of hiking trips, lots of biking trips. We actually biked 200 miles in five days when we were in Israel. Um, as…

patience kamau:
…you were leading a cross-cultural…

Bill Goldberg:
…we were leading a study abroad, cross-cultural in Israel and we, not the students, but just our family did this 200 mile bike trip from Jerusalem all the way down to the Southern tip of Israel. So we love doing that as a family. And so, you know, we, we try and get out in nature as much as we can. Um, another project that I hesitate to mention and hopefully by the time this is published, I’ve made progress on is that Lisa and I are, have started a business to build out Mercedes cargo vans into camper-vans and sell them in the hopes of having one ourselves. Because as much as we love hiking and camping, we’re getting to that point in life where camping on the ground is just not nearly as fun or restful. And traveling around the country is just not nearly as easy with two grown children. And so having a, not a, not a full-fledged camper, but a camper-van gives us the ability for the four of us to travel to sleep in a bit more comfort, deal when it’s pouring down rain, not having to like pack up a tent. So we’re, we’re kind of that, that’s, that’s our newest hobby/preoccupation is…we haven’t really started yet because we haven’t got the van that we won’t get that until December. But hopefully by the time this comes out I’ll have made more progress on it and have it completed. So yes, but that’s what we’re doing.

patience kamau:
What are you actually going to be doing to it?

Bill Goldberg:
Taking a completely empty shell and putting in insulation, and electrical and plumbing so it can have a shower and a sink and a composting toilet and fans and lights and power ports for plugs, um, and putting a kitchen and beds and extra chairs and windows.

patience kamau:
That’s very ambitious and very impressive!

Bill Goldberg:
It’s very ambitious. We’ll see, like I said, we’ll see when this comes out, how it, how, how impressive it is.

patience kamau:
We can all come take a tour of it…

Bill Goldberg:
…there we go…

patience kamau:
…in the summer…

Bill Goldberg:
…maybe…

patience kamau:
…maybe give us a ride around…

Bill Goldberg:
…if possible.

patience kamau:
That’s fantastic.

Bill Goldberg:
If anybody wants to buy one, we’re selling them! :)

patience kamau:
So you’re going to do one and then…

Bill Goldberg:
Well we kind of figured that, and this was a, this kind of grew out of the fact that if we’re looking to move cross country in a couple of years and we realized with five animals, it’s very difficult if not impossible to get across country easily. And we realized we should, if we’re going to do this, which should be in an RV, which are also very expensive to rent one way, and then we looked into them and they’re not expensive to buy if you buy like the cheap ones, which we didn’t want. And then we realized that we could build our own and if we’re going to spend the time and energy to learn how to build our own, why stop at one, once we built it, the second one gets easier and so, and apparently more affordable for our, to build our own because you know, we’ve bought and sold several of them.

patience kamau:
You said you have five animals, what are they?

Bill Goldberg:
We have three cats and two dogs. Um, I should say the other hobby I have is I’m a beekeeper and a wine maker, which go together well. Um, I’ve had bees for four or five years now and unfortunately most of them have died– most of the hives die either during the year or in the winter that, that community collapsed. That’s just prevalent and we think it’s probably from neonicotinoid poisons that farmers use.

patience kamau:
Yeah, you do live right out there with a lot of farmers…

Bill Goldberg:
We do! Um, but the last couple of…last year or two, we’ve actually had a couple of hives that made it. We’ve got a lot of honey and I use that honey to make Mead, which is a honey-based wine for those who don’t know. So.

patience kamau:
And you shared both with us…

Bill Goldberg:
…and I do share them here.

patience kamau:
Yes, yes. You are very generous that way.

Bill Goldberg:
Yup.

patience kamau:
All right. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about that we haven’t addressed?

Bill Goldberg:
Um, only to say that you know, it, I find it difficult to believe sometimes that I’ve been here for 20 years cause I’ve never expected to work at a religious institution, much less being Jewish and working at a Christian institution, but I have really enjoyed my time, especially at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute, growing from just working on transportation to eventually being the director was kind of a dream that I expressed years ago, half jokingly, half seriously. And now you know, I, now I am and I’ve been for the last four or five years, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here because 20 years is an awfully long time. But I still enjoy it and I still enjoy my colleagues and meeting new students and learning about them is still a lot of fun. It’s interesting that some of them are the same age my daughter was and when I started here, she had just been born…

patience kamau:
…that’s perspective, isn’t it?

Bill Goldberg:
That is definitely perspective! But yeah, I still really believe in the work that CJP and the Summer Peacebuilding Institute and STAR do.

patience kamau:
I have to say you’re among the most joyous people to work with.

Bill Goldberg:
Oh, thank you!

patience kamau:
I enjoy getting to know you more as we work together.

Bill Goldberg:
[Chuckles] I have my grumpy moments, but usually that can be taken care of by coffee.

patience kamau:
[Laughs] Well, you know, you’re authentic and that’s, that’s what’s refreshing about you and that’s what’s endearing about who you are.

Bill Goldberg:
Thank you.

patience kamau:
It’s a joy. Thank you so much for doing this Bill and…

Bill Goldberg:
…thank you patience for interviewing.

patience kamau:
Yes, indeed! Have a good one. :)

Bill Goldberg:
You too! :)

patience kamau:
Bye!

patience kamau:
Though our usual, in-person, Summer Peacebuilding Institute this year has also been canceled, we have a team –led by Bill Goldberg– working fervently to put together some online courses that might be of interest to you. If that’s the case, please check out emu.edu/SPI for more information. Who knows? These courses could be the way to break the monotonous pace of the #QuarantineLife in which we find ourselves. Once again: emu.edu/SPI.

[Outro music begins and fades into background]

patience kamau:
All the music you hear on this podcast has been composed by: the one and only Luke Mullet. Our audio mixing engineer extraordinaire is: Stephen Angello. Audio editing support was generously provided by: Michaela Mast. And I am the podcast executive producer, audio recording engineer, editor and host: patience kamau. As you are able, please remember to subscribe, rate and review this podcast so that other peacebuilders may find it. We’ll be back with a new episode in two weeks! Thank you so much for listening and join us again next time!

[Outro music swells and ends]

4 comments on “7. There’s a knock on the door…”

  1. Elena Huegel says:

    ¡GRACIAS! to Patience and Bill… I finished my master's degree by only taking SPI courses, definitely the slow but deep track… And I had the privilege of being picked up at the airport by Bill on one of those airport runs in the past! I listened to this podcast while hand sewing face masks. Times have changed so much in such a short time. While listening, Mercedes Sosa's song Cambia todo cambia kept running through my head… She was an Argentine folk singer song writer who had to leave Argentina during the dictatorship. The song speaks volumes:

    Everything Changes

    That which is superficial changes
    Also that which is profound
    the way of thinking changes
    Everything in this world changes

    The weather changes as the years go by
    The shepherd changes his flock
    and just as everything changes
    the fact that I change it's not in the least strange

    The finest diamond changes its brightness
    as it travels from hand to hand
    the bird changes its nest
    So does a lover change the way he feels

    The traveler changes his path
    even if this proves to be harmful
    and just as everything changes
    the fact that I change it's not in the least strange

    Changes, everything changes

    The sun changes its course
    to give way to the night
    The plant changes and gets dressed in green
    during spring

    The beast changes its fur
    the hair of an old person changes
    and just as everything changes
    the fact that I change it's not in the least strange

    But my love doesn't change
    no matter how far away I find myself
    neither the memory nor the pain
    of my country and my people

    What changed yesterday
    will have to change tomorrow
    Just as I change
    in this foreign land

    Changes, everything changes

    But my love doesn't change
    no matter how far away I find myself
    neither the memory nor the pain
    of my country and my people

    Changes, everything changes

    https://lyricstranslate.com

    1. kamaup says:

      thank you for that timely reminder elena!! indeed, it's been said that the only thing that is constant, is change! as always, thanks for listening!! <3

      1. Mari- says:

        Hi Patience,
        I was given your name as someone who produces podcasts and have enjoyed this one thoroughly.
        I was wondering if you do consults for budding podcasters?
        Let me know.

        Thank you!

        1. kamaup says:

          I am so glad you enjoy this podcast Mari! :) Sure, I'd be happy to help!

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