DiscoverThe Peacebuilding Podcast : From Conflict To Common Ground
The Peacebuilding Podcast : From Conflict To Common Ground
Claim Ownership

The Peacebuilding Podcast : From Conflict To Common Ground

Author: Susan Coleman & Stephen Gray

Subscribed: 44Played: 236


Join Global Consultant Susan Coleman, Host of the Peacebuilding Podcast- and today’s most innovative, courageous and inspired practitioners as we explore strategies to intervene in complex systems to build consensus and common ground across divides of worldview, culture and difference.
43 Episodes
One of the things I love most about doing this podcast is I get to spend time with, and really "tune in" to some amazing people.Thomas Hubl is one of them.Thomas is a contemporary spiritual teacher – sometimes referred to as a modern mystic.His teaching combines somatic awareness, advanced meditation and transformational practices that address both individual and collective trauma.I was introduced to him through my friend and colleague Amy Fox and affiliation with Mobius Executive Leadership.  He was working with a group of us organizational consulting types bringing the wisdom traditions to the world of work.  I also participated in the online course he created with celebrated negotiation expert William Ury – Mediate and Mediate. Thomas’ presence is incredibly light, smart, and deep and always seems to elicit in me an inner smile. He’s never afraid to tackle the difficult stuff and does it by listening, as he says, with “eyes all over his body”.  It’s a whole body listening practice I have adopted from him.In the short time I have known him, I have seen his visibility grow rapidly around the globe.He is a master with:Building communityManaging projection and his own authority in groupsSomaticsEpigenetics and the specifc topic of this podcast, Healing Collective TraumaAs my listeners know, I started this podcast because there is a “process crisis” in the world – we use too much win-lose, debate-based processes to deal with our differences, and the media just loves it. Win-lose processes are certainly better than use-of-force but, because they are win-lose, they can lead to use-of-force quickly -- as we can see from looking around the globe. They are not relational, they are patriarchal in origin and they dumb down us humans in terms of how incredibly capable we are of managing complexity and building common ground with each other given the right container and good facilitation.I wanted to interview Thomas because of the large group processes he has designed -- for up to 1000 people at a time -- to heal collective trauma.This kind of work truly excites me.As Thomas says “we have all been born into a collectively traumatized field and collective trauma needs collective healing.”While I have never personally experienced one of Thomas large group processes, I can tell how amazing they are because of how many large group process I have led and participated in.  He started this work about 15 years ago under the banner of what he calls the Pocket Project and has brought together thousands of Germans and Israelis to acknowledge, face and heal the cultural shadow left by the Holocaust. He has then gone on to do processes in other parts of the world addressing the various “scars” of humanity that exist everywhere.The other day, I was talking to a very close friend who is now about 50, grew up in Germany and lives in the United States. I know her struggles well, her desire to break out and manifest what I call a culture-shifting entrepreneurial enterprise. Without knowing I was working on the post production of this episode with Thomas, she started sharing with me her heightened awareness that the only way she was going to move forward was to unfreeze the past – that there is an “absent”, “nowhere” feel to her and her entire generation of Germans, and how much she suspects now that WWII was a direct result of all the undigested trauma of WW1.  I felt the same kind of absence in Beirut when I was there a few decades back, and a similar awareness in myself about how I have had to unfreeze and feel the sexual trauma from my past in order to heal it and stop it from recycling to the next generation.To quote Thomas in this episode... "The past doesn’t just disappear. The past needs to be digested". "Many of the conflicts we see in the world are actually wounds that break open again, that show up again in different forms” because they have not been processed or digested.So Thomas' processes are about exactly that – digesting and processing those scars around the globe we humans have created so they do not need to recycle themselves. It’s like a chimney cleaning he says. The more you do it the cleaner it gets, the less reactivity people experience, the more they are able to come fully into the present no longer triggered by unseen ghosts in their beings.This resonates with my gestalt training and specifically the "paradoxical theory of change" – that the only way to “change” is to integrate fully the “what is” -- to embrace the shadow and the alienated parts of the self or system.And, Thomas recommends, to do this kind of work in community, with solid facilitation, and presence. Throughout the interview, we touched on patriarchy as a collective trauma, the thousands of years patriarchal structures have been in place, their connection to war, the woman’s holocaust in Europe where millions were burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft, the challenges for women to release our codependent conditioning and step fully into our leadership and power. “Yes”, Thomas agrees, “#metoo was a trauma eruption”. I am left with a desire to create a large group process with him to address it as I believe it is the core trauma of all the other "traumas of domination.So please give a listen, share widely if you can, write a comment on our blog here and learn more about Thomas here.  P.S. For great content on Women, Negotiation and Power,  join our list here or follow us on Facebook at for our latest updates.P.P.S. Listen as Susan talks about the motivation behind starting this podcast.Important References / LinksWilliam Ury - Fox - Executive Leadership - and Mediate -
Some of the more interesting assignments I have had in recent years have been with the United Nations peacekeeping missions -- four times in S Sudan and once a few months ago in the Central African Republic. It’s hard not to notice that peacekeeping missions are often set up in countries that are plagued with what some call “the resource curse” – oil that brings with it conflict and often, in spite of its value, huge income disparities and violence.But those of us who have worked with lots of conflict situations, also notice the phenomenon of "the lotus flower blooming out of the muck", or "diamonds being formed under great pressure".In this episode, I am honored to bring you one of those diamonds, Riya Yuyada, a 28 year old bright and sassy woman who has known nothing but war and conflict in her native S. Sudan. Riya Yuyada fled S. Sudan as a baby and grew up in an IDP (internally displaced person) camp in nearby Uganda. In spite of the challenges of growing up in a refugee camp and then later living in the midst of a very “cold peace” in S Sudan with regular outbreaks of civil war, she has grown herself into an impressive young woman and built an organization called Crown the Woman.Crown The Woman (CREW) is a “women founded and led nonprofit, non-governmental, non-political, humanitarian and national grassroots organization that aims at empowering girls and women to ensure they harness their potential and contribute to nation building economically, socially and politically. Established and registered in 2016 by concerned young South Sudanese women who realized the need to promote meaningful gender equality and equity as well as the need to recognize, appreciate, strengthen and empower women. CREW strives for realization and respect of women’s rights, enhancement of women’s security and the prioritization and provision of women’s basic needs. CREW has a special focus on investing in young women and children as the means of securing the future of South Sudan’s women in nation building and development.Two themes that stand out to me from this episode.The first is what I have concluded from doing this podcast for the last few years -- that the most impactful peacebuilding initiative we can undertake on this planet is to empower women – in our family, organizational and planetary systems. In the case of S Sudan and many countries like it that have been plagued by civil war, it means women equipping themselves to be part of the peace process – go Riya!! -- and men welcoming them in to sit alongside them at the negotiating table. For more on this, please go back to Ep 31 and my interview with Dr. Scilla Elworthy, A Business Plan for Peace. Peace agreements last longer by a lot when women are involved in the process.The second theme is interdependence. From the affluent and island continent of the United States from where I write, it’s easy to think of S Sudan as a far off land. But, of course, as the famous environmentalist John Muir said, “when you pick up anything in the universe, you will find that it is connected to everything else". While I’m grateful for the oil that has heated my house and runs my car,  I’m also aware of its cost in the form of global conflict and its impact on the lives of people like Riya.  It’s felt good to move off of fossil fuels to solar and wind as much as I can. An important step not just create a cleaner world but a more peaceful one.P.S. We are hard at work creating great on-line and live content on Women, Negotiation and Power,  join our list here or follow us on Facebook at for our latest updates.P.P.S. Listen as Susan talks about the motivation behind starting this podcast.
Probably a deep reason I went into the field of conflict resolution long ago is that growing up as a girl in the heart of an affluent, male-dominated, Wall Street kind of culture meant that I had to reconcile deep love for the members of my family -- especially my powerful Dad -- and my resistance toward many of their views and behaviors.  In my fierce college days, I framed things as, my Dad was a “capitalist” whose clients supported the coup in Chile (they did), and  I --  deeply influenced by the raging American war in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, my new awareness of the hundreds of times the U.S. had intervened militarily into Latin America, and women’s studies -- declared myself a “radical socialist feminist”.Now after many years of growing, ripening and getting tossed around by the currents of our human existence -- seeing the contradictions in lots of things and people -- I am less interested in polarities and much more interested in finding common ground, deeper dialogue, genuine contact between people, in spite of difference.So, I would say now that perhaps I am part “capitalist” – a lover of innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity, part “socialist”, a firm believer in taking care of people’s basic needs and our planet, and the rest of me, well just rogue goddess -- wanting to move beyond what my next guest calls models of domination to those of true partnership.Riane Eisler is well into her later years and is still generating unsurpassed insight and contribution into how we can live well together on this planet. I interviewed her first in Episode 28 (please give a listen), and said then and repeat now that she is one of the brightest lights and most innovative social thinkers out there.What I have always liked the most is that she transcends the polarities of right v. left, capitalist v. socialist, religious v. secular, north v. south, -- “it’s useless”, she says, “because there have been repressive violent regimes in every one of these categories.”Instead, her frame is models of partnership v. domination and a special emphasis on how gender shows up in both.In my 20’s, when I first read her book, The Chalice and the Blade, it was such eureka moment that was then reinforced by Harvard social anthropologist William Ury in his book, Getting to Peace to learn that humans have not always been in a state of war and violence -- that, in fact, the vast majority of human existence on earth is characterized much more by what Riane calls models of partnership v. domination, or what Ury articulated as  2,500,000 years of possible coexistence to 10,000 years of coercion.So many smart people that I talk to believe humans have always been violent, and that there has always been war. But, there’s a lot of evidence that this is just not true. And there is also plenty of evidence that during those times, men and women lived together as equals and that, in many societies, the Divine was often a revered goddess, and maybe even a super sexy one.What Riane so clearly adds to this discussion is that all domination systems, whether they are left or right, are always characterized by rigid gender stereotypes.“It's not coincidental”, she says, “that whether it was Hitler in Germany, or ISIS in the Middle East today, secular Western, religious Eastern, or the rightist fundamentalist alliance in the US, that a top priority is always getting back to this quote, ‘traditional family’. It's a code isn't it?” she says, “for authoritarian, rigidly male dominated, and highly punitive family.”  Impetus for this current episode is Riane’s new book, Nurturing our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape our Brains, Lives and Future which she has written with Douglas Fry. It’s a delight to get to know Doug through this episode. I knew of his work as an anthropologist, documenting earlier partnership societies and the gender balance within them.Doug has a very special voice and perspective and I found his calm demeanor made me feel better and more hopeful about the world.A couple of ideas they share that I especially like. . .That gender is a key component to domination systems and is connected to the ranking of any human being over other groups whether it’s about  race, religion, sexual orientation. . . In other words, you get rid of gender ranking and you get rid of a lot of “isms”,That as the status of women rises, men no longer find it such a threat to their status, masculinity or role to also embrace caring values like universal health care, generous paid parental leave and have the freedom to be more fully themselves . .That in the partnership societies that Riane and Doug explore in the book:there are the narrowest gender gapsthere is an investment in people starting from early childhoodthere’s no homelessnessno violence (although certainly people lose is from time to time)military budgets are just a few percentages of government spending (compared to $.57 on the dollar in the US)they are always in the highest ranks of the global competitiveness indicesAND, perhaps the most important of all, people are the happiest!!Go figure.Hope you get a chance to listen to Riane and Doug. Tell us what you think below and please follow us on Podbean.
I like to think of myself as fairly courageous. In fact, one of my mottos (adopted from Barbara Stanny (Huson — an earlier guest on the show) is to “do something scary every day”. So, I readily take work assignments in war zones in Afghanistan, South Sudan and most recently the Central African Republic; I go backcountry skiing on glaciers in remote parts of Alaska; I try to be courageous with my own inner evolution — to keep growing as a human; to be honest with myself and others, speak truth to power and to keep doing what I can to create a more peaceful and sustainable planet.But whatever courage I may have doesn't hold a candle to my current podcast guest, Saba Ismail, who grew up in Northwestern Pakistan, the most dangerous place on earth to be a woman. Saba and her sister, Gululai, and the well-known Malala, who comes from the same region (and was shot in the head simply for advocating for girls’ education), are speaking up in the face of many forces that would like to silence them and which would terrify me if I was confronted with the same. I'm glad I can give a platform on this podcast to young women like Saba, who now is 32.Here are a few excerpts from her bio:"Saba Ismail is a feminist, peace activist and is working for the empowerment of young women. At the age of 15, with other young women fellows, she co-founded “Aware Girls”, a young women-led organization working for empowering young women by strengthening their leadership. . . The young women of Aware Girls engage in Countering Violent Extremism (or CVE) programs in which young people are persuaded to not join militant groups and instead create open spaces for dialogue, and promote nonviolence and pluralism in the community.She was one of the first to convince the diplomatic community of the importance of including youth in building a more peaceful world.Foreign Policy Magazine acknowledged her bravery and activism by recognizing her as one of 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013 and she has been acknowledged in the “30 under 30 Campaign by the “National Endowment for Democracy” for her long struggle for democracy, peace and women’s rights."Here are some of my favorite "frames” of the episode:She couldn't even talk -- First of all, a few months back when I first reached out to Saba, she didn't even feel she could talk to me because her sister was in hiding from the Pakistani military and things were just too dangerous to bring any more attention to the situation.The Critical Role of Fathers -- Saba grew up in jihad, the influences were everywhere and as a young person she believed them. But when her father, a human rights activist, realized what she was bringing home from school, he intervened to make sure that all of his kids, especially his girls, were given information and education to counter the indoctrination. The critical role fathers play in the empowerment of their daughters is well-documented and I have experienced it personally:when I was working with two factions of Kurds in northern Iraq and i suggested it might be good to have some women among the representatives, it was a father who insisted that his daughter join us even though her mother and grandmother were dead set against it;when I had the privilege of working with the senior women leaders in the Afghan government, many of them shared with me that they would never be where they are without their father's support;in Saba’s story, a father who really paved the way for her sister Gululai and her to make a real difference to their community and world; and finally, in my own life, my father who loved me a lot but was ambivalent about my professional success -- how much effort it has taken me to transcend his messages.Advocating nonviolence in Madrassas -- Saba and Aware Girls going into the madrassas to convince young people that the Koran doesn’t support violence and jihad;Pakistani Military -- the Pakistani military seem so hell bent on oppressing young women like Saba and her sister rather than recognizing them as the global peacebuilders that they are. I mean really!! What the heck!!What Saba calls the #Metoo Movement of Pakistan -- the delegations of women, many illiterate, that traveled to the northwest of Pakistan in spite of great difficulty, to show solidarity with other women that were being harassed and defiled;U.S. Supporting Military Solutions, not Aware Girls -- that my country so often supports authoritarian regimes like what currently exists in Pakistan rather than the development of young women and men like Saba. How our ‘war on terror”, rather than making the world safer, has led to way too many kids like Saba growing up in cultures of extremism, jihad and violence. Shame on us.I hope you enjoy the episode.Please share this episode to anyone you think it might interest, write a review wherever you get your podcasts -- they really help!!, and please stay tuned to our monthly releases of The Peacebuilding Podcast.
I've been looking for somebody who could talk credibly about money. Of course, this podcast isn’t really about that. This podcast is about focusing on processes and ideas that build common ground and complex systems. However, I’ve always believed that one of the things you need to look at is money.I'm so excited to have found Stephanie Savell and The Cost of War project. There are three women who are doing an amazing job documenting what has been spent by the United States and to some extent, other countries, on what they call the post 9/11 wars.Stephanie Savell is an anthropologist of militarism, security and political culture and has studied these topics in the United States and in Brazil. She co-directs Brown University’s Cost of War project. She was one of the younger members and I thought it was appropriate that one of the younger members of The Cost of War project speak because it sounds like we are really mortgaging our children’s future in the United States with the amount that is being spent on the military.Let’s hear Stephanie talk about this more as she has done a lot of research and talks credibly and clearly about what exactly is going on.
A main focus of this podcast is to explore the best process interventions that build common ground and consensus in diverse and often polarized groups. But the reality is -- unless you are a process person like me – eg. a facilitator, coach, mediator – you probably don’t pay attention to process. Process is a little bit like plumbing: if it’s working, you don’t notice it, but if it’s not, watch out!! I started this podcast because I know that HOW we come together to resolve our differences has everything to do with whether we will be successful. If you create the right “container” with the right ingredients -- including meeting conditions, stakeholders, design – I am confident that you can make significant progress in bridging divides that seem unbridgeable. So, that’s why, when Convergence and Rob Fersh came to my attention I got interested. A divide that currently seems intractable to many people, especially those living in the United States, is the one between the Democrats (the left) and Republicans (the right) in the US Government. Most Americans these days are pretty frustrated, and even despairing, at the tone in Washington, the level of polarization, the acrimony. Rob founded Convergence in 2009 “to promote consensus solutions to issues of domestic and international importance”. Convergence has “mediated” or done creative problem solving around public policy issues where opposing sides agree on a goal but disagree, sometimes intensely about how to get there. The organization creates “containers” that allow opposing sides to build relationships and think together more clearly about creative ways forward. To date, it has worked on initiatives around health care, education, incarceration and is exploring other hot topics in the public policy arena such as gun safety and climate change. Rob came to Convergence after serving as the U.S. country director for Search for Common Ground, an international conflict resolution organization, where he directed national policy consensus projects and health care coverage for the uninsured and U.S. Muslim relations. He is also a very seasoned Washingtonian after many years of public service prior to Search for Common Ground. What I think will stand out to you, as it has to me, is the commitment that Rob brings to creating a safe and neutral environment for opposing sides to come together and think constructively about ways forward. When you create a good climate, people stop the demonization, trust builds, and it’s even possible to create solid and lasting relationships though people may still disagree on a number of issues. In Rob's own words “ at a minimum, at a time when people don’t talk to each other well, the people that we get to come to our tables --who are very diverse politically and otherwise -- have an amazing experience of seeing and understanding people -- and at a minimum we are lowering temperatures of the most important people – and at the best end we are having a real impact on the issues we care about. So, I invite you to tune in and hear Rob’s stories. Get inspired. It will give you hope that we can find common ground in the belly of the beast.
When I travel outside of the US I often think that American citizens have no idea what a “war zone” we are actually living in. Guns are rampant every where. Military hardware comes back from global combat for use by our police departments further escalating violence. Since 2001, the US has spent $32M PER HOUR on war with each taxpayer paying a total of $24,000. US military spending far exceeds every other country on earth including China which comes in a distant second. Those of us in the conflict resolution field know all too well that when you create an adversarial climate, you get identity group polarization. Sure enough, racial tensions in the US are at an epic high and, while “the feminine” is rising, girls and the feminine are under harsh attack with man in our White House who brags of assaulting women and a Supreme Court majority that does not protect women by law from domestic violence. We in the US typically think of ourselves as the envy of the world to which certainly there is some truth. But we are numb to what it costs us — on every level — to dominate the planet.So when I heard Melanie speak at the AfP annual conference about the Hands Across the Hills initiative which applies the same peacebuilding approaches used in the most deadly conflicts around the world to conflict in the US I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. Melanie is one of those souls who exudes both integrity, kindness, high professionalism and intelligence. She is currently the Managing Director at Humanity United (HU) overseeing the peacebuilding and conflict transformation portfolio which develops, refines and implements strategies to build peace and counter violent conflict. She has helped design and facilitate public peace processes in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, the Caucuses and much more. Because she is one of the most seasoned and respected practitioners in the peacebuilding field, I wanted to hear her definition of peacebuilding, how it has emerged as a field, and what she sees as the trends. “Peacebuilding” emerged in around 1990 and was first articulated by Boutros Boutros-Ghali from the United Nations. Melanie describes the various streams coming together (at least in the US) to form the peacebuilding river: the Vietnam anti-war movement, the anti-nuclear movement, the environmental movement which required large scale consensus processes to resolve disputes around land, and the Alternative Dispute Resolution movement giving rise to mediation and other collaborative processes as an alternative to the adversarial American legal system. All of these movements, she says, inspired people to act for themselves and realize that building peace wasn't just the role of the government but could and should belong to citizens as well. She continues on with an excellent definition of peacebuilding which you can hear on the track.She sees many exciting trends in peacebuilding — what we are learning about the connection between neuroscience and peacemaking, and how peacebuilding is becoming more systemically integrated into our institutions. Cool to know that many of the large peacebuilding organizations have come together to improve the “branding” of peacebuilding — to make peace enticing, and counter the news culture of “if it bleeds it leads”.The most discouraging trend to her is that, among practitioners, the US is now generally seen as a “peacebuilding problem”. All of the criteria that are red flags for a peacebuilding initiative are present in this country — the level of gun violence, the tensions, the polarization, the number of deaths from violent conflict. In the Hands Across the Hills initiative, peacebuilder Paula Green is creating dialogue between people from a very conservative area from Eastern Kentucky and a very liberal area from Western Massachusetts. Please see show notes for more information.Leave us your thoughts at We love hearing from you.
When Priya Parker published her recent book, the Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, Susan and her colleagues commiserated that we hadn't written it ourselves. The book is excellent, highly recommended and we are greatful to Priya for having written it with such great artistry. How we meet and how we gather is critical not only to the quality of our lives and connections, but to our ability to build a more innovative and peaceful world. It is the HOW that is the main focus of the Peacebuilding Podcast -- what are the best tools, techniques, processes that can build common ground in complex systems.Priya Parker is a facilitator and strategic advisor. She helps activists, elected officials, corporate executives, educators, philanthropists create transformative gatherings. She works with teams and leaders across technology business, the arts, fashion and politics to clarify their vision for a future and build meaningful purpose driven communities.She began her career and has been deeply impacted by the field of conflict resolution where she has worked on race relations on American college campuses and on peace processes in the Arab world, Southern Africa and India.Some highlights and main ideas from the episode:The first is just simply who Priya is and where she comes from, the perfect person for the job that she has. “Priya” “Parker” -- Priya is from her mom who is a South Asian Indian, and Parker, from her dad, a white Anglo-Saxon American. Her Mom, as she describes it, is a vegetarian, very liberal, comes from families that worships cows; Her father, very conservative, from an evangelical Christian background, and from a family (of cattle ranchers) that slaughters cows. Her parents divorced when Priya was 9. She spent her childhood going back and forth between these two very different worlds while thoroughly immersed in each. It was a rich learning laboratory for somebody who ultimately has become a professional gatherer and facilitator of diverse groups.We began the conversation talking about language. The word “peacebuilding” makes Priya cringe a bit because "there can be no peace without justice". Susan explains that there is strong evidence that we no longer need armed conflict, that it’s a huge waste or our precious planetary resources, and that HOW we bring people together and, in the words of Bill Ury, make the room and world safe for conflict is key. Priya agrees and quotes a friend: “if we had more conflict in the world, we would have less violence.”Susan’s favorite ideas from the interview are the linked ideas of the power of modern ritual to help groups connect across difference and creating temporary, alternative realities in gatherings to, in a sense, make them safe for conflict.Pulling from shamanic traditions, Priya describes how she creates rituals, processes and experiences that actually help people experience alternative worlds where people can deal with the “danger” of conflict and difference. She shares an example how she created a unique and fun process with an architecture firm to help them shift out of their polarization and “stuckness”.In the course of interviews for her book, Priya realized that the most powerful rituals come from more monocultural groups. But, many of these don’t work anymore -- both for people coming from those cultural groups and for communities or gatherings that are multicultural. So how, she asks, do we intentionally, purposefully, create a sense of ritual, maybe perhaps even a sense of the sacred, that will ultimately be the magic that allows people to connect, make contact, transform and move into a different state? How do we reinvent modern ritual to match the needs of our communities in an explicit way that allows us to connect with each other when we are not the same?Please give a listen to this episode. It is chock full of insights for any gathering, conflictual or not, that you may find yourself at the middle of hosting.
In this episode, Susan turns to the topic of money and its connection to women’s empowerment and building a more peaceful planet. If you really want to understand what's going on in a complex system, follow the money. As earlier guests on the show have pointed out, our war system is hugely profitable to some (and very costly to all other people and life) – approximately $2 trillion dollars a year. We also have a virtual global epidemic of women’s codependency on men – by one seasoned expert’s estimation -- about 90%, and money is very much at the heart of this. Women stepping into their power is key to building peace and, as money is the currency of power, women getting smart about money goes hand in glove. That's where Barbara Huson comes in, not because she professes to be an expert on military expenditures or global peace but rather is the leading authority on women, wealth and power. Barbara is a bestselling author. She's written books like "Prince Charming isn't coming” "Secrets of Six Figure Women", "Sacred Success” and has been featured on many popular shows. Her own story is compelling: “I grew up relying on my father (the “R” of H&R Block), then my husband, to manage my money. But early in my marriage, I found out my husband was a compulsive gambler. And here’s the insane part — I continued to let him manage the money because that’s how scared and intimidated I was by money. It wasn’t until a devastating financial crisis became a personal wake-up call. I got tax bills for over $1m for illegal deals my ex got us in. He’d left the country, I didn’t have $1m, and my father wouldn’t lend me the money. I had three daughters — one just a baby, and I was not going to raise them on the street. That’s when I knew I had to get smart. And I did.” Some episode highlights: “Its not the money that’s going to give us power. I don’t believe that money gives you power. Money has no power. It’s the process of who we have to become to be good stewards of our money. We have to become a powerful woman, and a powerful woman, is someone who knows who she is, who knows what she wants and expresses that in the world unapologetically.” Women are still so deeply codependent from so many centuries of conditioning. As a result, we will undermine ourselves in all kinds of ways such as care-taking dysfunctional men or putting ourselves in harms way, because of our deep belief that our survival simply depends on it. Throughout the episode, Susan and Barbara both share personal stories of how they fell into this trap and pulled themselves out of it. A second is, Barbara confirms what Susan has been hearing in different venues, that -- at least in the United States --70% of all wealth will be transferred to women in the 21st century. Women are earning more money and inheriting more, but not necessarily commanding this resource with confidence and power but rather often handing that job over to men. Finally, according to Barbara, when it comes to money, women are motivated by different things than men around money. They will yawn and glaze over when it’s just about money for money’s sake but get more fired up when they begin to see the power of helping their families and communities. That’s why her target audience is women who want to create wealth because they are purpose driven and know, as Mother Teresa said, that it takes a check book to change the world. Given that, Susan takes the leap that if women get much smarter about their own money, we might also start paying attention and saying NO, like Leymah Gbowee did around war in Liberia, to the trillions of global annual military spending that is not addressing any of our very urgent planetary problems today. Please listen to this delightful person who is so generous and simply great fun to just spend time with. Whatever gender, you will gain a lot of insight.
What’s the connection between what happens between people in their intimate relationships and what’s happening on the global stage? In this conversation with Susan, Terry Real makes those connections – clearly, powerfully and with huge insight.Terry is a nationally recognized family therapist, author and teacher in the United States. He's particularly known for his groundbreaking work on men and male psychology as well as his work on gender and couples. He's been in private practice for over 25 years and has appeared often as a relationship expert on popular shows in the United States like Good Morning America, ABC News, media venues such as Oprah 2020, The Today Show, CNN, The New York Times. A statement that Susan most associates with Terry is “to walk into intimacy, men and women must walk out of patriarchy.” And his unorthodox approach to couples’ therapy, which is essentially mediation at the intimate level, is “ whenever I have a woman who's in trouble in a couple, my first move is to empower the woman, and whenever I have a man in trouble in the couple, my first move is to empower the woman.” “Women's voices”, he believes, “are the voices that will be the wedge into patriarchy. Men will catch up, but women will lead the charge.” This is a powerful metaphor for why Susan believes that empowering women, and getting gender right on the planet, is the most impactful peacebuilding initiative we can undertake. When Susan asks Terry to make the links between the intimate and the global, he says “it is dead easy, it's about the basic mistake of patriarchy which is also known as dominion. The essential mistake of patriarchy is that as a man -- and patriarchy is masculinity writ large -- you are to be in control, you are above nature, you are Lord and Master, whether you are above the nature of your child, above the nature of your own vulnerabilities or nature as embodied by your wife or mother nature.”He also goes on to say that masculinity is basically at war with itself between the old model, the patriarchal model, and the new model, what he calls an ecological model, emerging especially among millennial men. He says that “the shift from a dominion model to a collaborative model, or the shift from a patriarchal model to a democratic model, is that you move out of the hubris, the pride, the delusion that you are above nature, and standing above the system, whatever that system is: your marriage your family your planet. You're not standing above this system, you're in it; you are a subcomponent part of it and you have to move inside the system effectively with the humility and clear perception of where you are in it.”Powerfully he says, "the delusion of dominance is lethal. . . Let me say that again because I conclude many of my talks this way: we will move beyond patriarchy or we will die. It's that simple." And addressing women, Terry says "Women are up to their eyeballs with co-dependency whether it's mothers tearfully and pridefully sending their sons off to war or women voting for Trump in the United States and places like that". He says that “whenever he has a woman who fears that speaking truth to power will have repercussions. . . I will never dismiss or pathologize these concerns because guess what, there are consequences. . . but ultimately you should do it anyway . . .because life is better when we speak up. . . when you have congruence inside your skin.”
Join us in conversation with Catherine Barnes. I (Steve) first met Catherine at a dialog and facilitation retreat in rural Myanmar. I was struck by the degree of presence that she bought to her work, mentoring and accompanying an emerging generation of positive change makers in that fascinating yet troubled country. Catherine is a rare breed of scholar practitioner. Her work is deeply grounded in decades of field work across thirty countries, while her research and writing covering topics of facilitation, dialog, activism, and social justice blends a high level of insight with accessibility. She is faculty member of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University and freelance peace researcher and practitioner, particularly as concerns dialog and facilitation techniques across conflict divides.Her comments in this episode are so relevant to our times. She describes our “addiction to coercion”, whereby we – internationally and domestically – try to compel others to accept our goals and points of view rather than expending our efforts and resources on collaborative activity for the greater good. She relates this to the increasing polarisation that we are experiencing domestically and internationally, and how we have in the past, and can in the future, find ways back through dialog and collaborative action. Catherine demystifies peace processes that are designed and implemented to end civil wars, drawing on examples from Tajikistan, Sierra Leone, Bosnia and elsewhere, and tracing the path from elite lead peace agreements to more the more inclusive peace processes of modern times. This conversation takes place against a backdrop of the increasing complexity of local and global forces that shape civil war conflicts, which renews calls that peace needs to be grown organically from within an affected society, not implanted in the form of blueprints from outsiders.Take a listen, and check out the show notes for a detailed summary and Catherine’s bio:
Join us in conversation with Graeme Simpson, US Director of the non-profit Interpeace, and lead author of the United Nation’s flagship Progress Report on Youth, Peace, and Security. The highly participatory process of producing this work has been as important as some of its findings. Hundreds of youth across dozens of countries were involved in developing recommendations that underscore, among many other things, how young people are creative sources of peace, confronting their stereotype as primary perpetrators of violence. The young people that Graeme engages with question the efforts of peacebuilding institutions to “bring youth to the table”, highlighting a marginalisation and mistrust of governments and global institutions that has huge and troubling implications, yet at the same time inspires us with alternative, creative forms of organising and peacebuilding in a modern world. Graeme’s work shines a light on a glaring disconnect between the “integrated lived experience of people caught up in violent conflict”, and our national and global policies and organisations, which divide peace and conflict up into illusionary stages and distinct themes that are intimately connected on the ground. As with Graeme’s earlier work founding and leading South Africa’s Centre for Violence and Reconciliation, our approaches to supporting people and societies need to be better integrated and less siloed according to outsider priorities, and better at “listening down” to affected communities so we can “talk up” to donors and policy makers. We end by touching upon gender, where Graeme challenges the stereotype of the girl as a victim and the boy with the gun.Graeme is an articulate and passionate speaker whose policy work is deeply grounded in the lived experience of people experiencing conflict and forging peace. You can review a detailed version of the show notes with full links and a copy of his biography here:
In this episode, Susan speaks with Scilla Elworthy Ph D. three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Oxford Research Group, which she founded in 1982 to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics. She founded Peace Direct in 2002 to fund, promote and learn from local peace-builders in conflict areas. Dr. Elworthy has been an adviser to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson in setting up “The Elders”, an independent body of global leaders working for peace, and her TED talk on nonviolence has been viewed 1,400,000 times. Her latest book, The Business Plan for Peace is a clear and very readable how-to to create a world beyond war. Scilla also co-founded Rising Women, Rising World in 2013 and Femme Q in 2016 to establish the qualities of feminine intelligence that are so needed by both women and men to build a safer world. For Susan, this guest, more clearly than anyone, links to her passion of connecting gender and peace. Susan asks Scilla to speak to “women worldwide” about why it’s time to step into our leadership on the issue of war and peace. “We have research-based evidence that indicates that preventing war is not difficult” Scilla tells us. “We know what we can do and we know what we shouldn’t be doing in order to get war to stop--we just haven’t done it. The first thing we need to stop doing is spending $1,686 billion annually on militarization. $30 billion would eliminate starvation worldwide and $10 billion would bring clean water to every child on the planet. Many people haven’t noticed how enormous this spending really is and how much it is costing society.” Scilla describes how, in the last 20 years or so grassroots peacebuilding organizations worldwide working within their local communities have grown from 350 to 1600! She tells the story of a woman named Gulalai Ismail who lives in Northwest Pakistan –perhaps the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman, and the same place from whence came Malala. Through her conflict prevention efforts, Gulalai has been able to dissuade hundreds of suicide bombers from their mission. In the interview, Scilla observes that the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council are also the biggest arms sellers in the world. This is an irony that we all need to be more aware of. Susan and Scilla talk about the amazing example of Leymah Gbowee and her Nobel award winning work to end the civil war in Liberia. Dr. Elworthy has gotten to know many grassroots organizations globally who are working to prevent war in their regions and has found that the organizations that are woman-run are having a greater impact. Dr. Elsworthy provides an example of a violent episode where a crowd was about to lynch someone. A trained woman would enter the mob and raise her hand, palm forward and shout, “Stop this. Go home. Your mother would be ashamed of you.” There would be complete silence and the crowd would disband. Dr. Elworthy does not use the word “patriarchy” much because she believes that both men and women are capable of embodying what she calls “masculine intelligence” and “feminine intelligence.” The reality of the history of the last 3000 years is that most, if not all, major decisions have been made using masculine intelligence and what we are left with is a series of wars. Scilla talks about her early childhood and the seeds that were planted in her to become a peacebuilder, as well as the inner critic she has had to face to do her best work. She advises that, when you combine what breaks your heart with what you’re skilled at, you will be most effective and ultimately full of hope and joy instead of anguish and anxiety. Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa is the most joyful person she has ever met and he has experienced some of the most brutal things in the world. Please listen to this amazing episode. You will not be disappointed.
The United Nations is a polarising institution. Some people look to the UN as a trusted expert and moral voice concerning issues related to the environment, development and poverty alleviation, human health, and peace and security. Others see United Nations agencies, funds, and programs as highly bureaucratic, ineffective, and outdated. The United Nations might have weaknesses, but when it comes to the complex challenges of peacebuilding in some of the world's toughest contexts, can we imagine a viable alternative if the United Nations were not to play a leading role? And what is the nature of that role? How does it relate to the work of other stakeholders in conflict settings, and what is life like for the diverse mix of international peacebuilders who choose to make far-flung countries their home in the pursuit of peace?Joe Washington recently retired from the post of Chief Training Officer for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. His more than ten years of experience of working throughout the United Nations peacekeeping missions in Sudan and South Sudan spanned these countries' historic peace process and partitioning into two separate states, and the subsequent violence that engulfed South Sudan in the years after independence. Prior to this Joe served for more than two decades as an adjunct or visiting professor, researcher, lecturer, or director of programs for various academic institutions in Europe and the United States in the fields of conflict resolution and human rights.Joe's personal warmth and acute sense for the human, relational dimensions of effective peacebuilding are matched by deep insight on the strengths and weaknesses of the United Nations. This episode will be of particular interest to people who are interested in this organisation or the broader challenges of peacebuilding working in a difficult context like South Sudan. For those that have experienced either, Joe's words might be therapeutic! Some highlights include:•Joe's recollection of what motivated him to pursue an international career, and the role models and educational pathways that led him to a United Nations career;•The need as a peacebuilder for reflective practice, whereby you try to realise that you see the world with different eyes and may have different priorities than your counterparts. Joe reminds us of the need for peacebuilders to have high cross-cultural sensitivity, especially when local counterparts have basic needs and livelihoods concerns that international peacebuilders don't;•The separation between local and international stakeholders in peacebuilding settings is again discussed in relation to the relative wealth of international people in poor countries, which can drive up local prices and reinforce divisions between insiders and outsiders that makes fostering local ownership difficult;•Joe dissects United Nations infamous bureaucratic challenges, and argues that instead of finger pointing at other parts of the UN system, staff should focus on their circle of influence, and work more collaboratively in order to expand that circle;•The reality of 'camp life' is laid bare, as Joe paints a picture of daily life living in shipping containers in a United Nations compound, and describes the lifestyle in remote areas in the midst of conflict;•In response to Susan's question on the value of the United Nations as opposed to other actors that could potentially use the same resources more effectively, Joe suggests - with good reason - that the peacekeeping mission might have prevented a genocide in this country in the last few years. A fascinating man and life story - take a listen.
Gender, “We Q” and the Urgent Need for Collaborative Intelligence In Organizations with Professor Peter HawkinsIt’s my contention, that, in spite of what’s been happening between the United States and North Korea, Syria, and that the Doomsday Clock is at 2 minutes to midnight, arriving at a world without armed conflict is possible in our life times. This is not just my hunch but based on some serious work by some serious people many of whom have been or will be interviewed on this podcast (John Horgan, “The End of War”, Episode 10, William Ury (“Getting to Yes” and “Getting to Peace”), Dr. Riane Eisler, “The Chalice and the Blade” (Episode 28), and Nobel Nominee, Scilla Elworthy, “The Business Plan for Peace” (upcoming guest).It’s also my contention that the single greatest key to a more harmonious world is “getting gender right” in family systems and in organizations, the two building blocks of our world. In this current episode of The Peacebuilding Podcast: Bridging the Divide, it’s my great pleasure to explore the connection between organizational culture and a more peaceful world with Professor of Leadership, Peter Hawkins from the Henley Business School in the UK. Peter has been working with companies for decades on leadership culture and change initiatives. He is a leading expert in what he calls Systemic Team Coaching which I was lucky enough to receive training from him in. I think of his models as kind of the infrastructure for building collaboration in systems, very much like the extensive education I received from John Carter and the Gestalt Organizations and Systems Design Program.I was drawn to interviewing Peter not just because of his stellar professional credentials but because of the human being and man that he is. I appreciate how he gets senior executives from the very largest companies to invoke all of the stakeholders of their decisions including their collective grandchildren and “more than human world”. As he likes to say, he gets people thinking "forward, back, outside, in".Peter is brilliant and deep, and I think you will find it well worth your time to listen to him. Here are some highlights of the episode.-Peter will address with great sophistication my question about whether there is a relationship between getting gender and diversity right inside organizations and creating a more harmonious world;-He will address the idea that the era of heroic leadership is dead and gone, and that we face an urgent need to develop collective leadership and collaborative intelligence;-He will talk about what men and women can do together as leaders in our places of work that we couldn't do apart, and why this kind of leadership is so critically important for our organizations today;-He will speak directly to men in organizations, whether they are leadership or rank and file, and provide valuable guidance about how to think and proceed in the #MeToo era.-He will address the need for companies to rethink their career design models, which he says are designed for twentieth century white men, not twenty-first century human beings;-He will address a question that has always nagged at me, about how companies can get gender right and still stay competitive -- in other words, not feel like they're doing the right thing, only to fall behind in a hyper-competitive world;-And lastly, he will talk poignantly about the impact of absentee fathers, either because of wars or work and offer some profound words of wisdom to guide us as we go forward into this complex and exciting future together.I know you will enjoy this deeply intelligent and thoughtful man talk about issues that are so critical for our time.
In these darker days (we are fast approaching the winter solstice in the US), and with the darkness created by the Harvey Weinstein's of the world, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un putting us on the brink of nuclear war, fires raging in Los Angeles, and the Middle East being set on fire by the Trump's decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, I bring you one of the brightest lights and clearest thinkers about a path forward.Dr. Riane Eisler is President of the Center for Partnership Studies and internationally known as a systems scientist, attorney working for the human rights of women and children, and author of groundbreaking books such as The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future, now in 26 foreign editions, and The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics. She has been hugely influential around the world and, if you haven’t already heard her name, you will now as she is frequently quoted by some of the most interesting thought leaders. In this episode, Dr. Eisler will focus the relationship between gender and issues of war and peace – a topic about which I am most passionate. When I read the Chalice and the Blade in the 80’s my eyes were opened! She elegantly divided the history of the planet into models of domination and models of partnership – and observed (like Bill Ury in his book Getting to Peace) that models of domination are more recent in our history and for the vast majority of human time on earth we have been living in partnership.Dr. Eisler clearly connects the dots of societies that have male-dominated family structures and those that support militarism and violence as a method of influence. She points out that the “regressives” in the USA (and around the world) get the connection between the family and national/international policy and have systematically pressured women back to their more traditional, subservient roles. She wants “progressives” to connect these dots as well and provide leadership for a new economic system where all things "feminine" -- child care, the environment, etc. are clearly reflected in our economic metrics of what contributes to our collective well-being.Children get a profound imprinting when they are raised in patriarchal or dominator families, where they learn that some humans are more valuable than others and that violence and strong-man rule is an acceptable method of influence. This translates to support for a domination system that not only supports a planet in conflict but polarizes groups by gender, race, tribe, religion, etc. As Dr. Eisler points out -- "it doesn't have to be this way."Please listen to this episode. We need people to more fully understand the brilliance that Dr. Eisler has to share with us and this path forward.
In this episode, Susan interviews Charles Crawford, who was the British Ambassador for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1996-1998, Serbia and Montenegro from 2001-2003, and Poland 2003-2007. Crawford previously served as a British Diplomat to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, South Africa, and Russia. Susan got to know Charles when they were working together conducting a leadership development program for senior women in the Afghan government. Crawford led the component on speech writing – a topic he knows a good deal about. (See Speeches for Leaders, his website and other info in the shownotes.) He is a great storyteller with an amazing assortment of anecdotes from a rich and interesting life. In this episode, Crawford talks about his early days as an ambassador in war-torn Bosnia. With colorful detail, he tells the tale of being part of the ambassadorial group attempting to bring conflicting parties together across ethnic lines. He describes his early days arriving in Bosnia and seeing the absolute destruction of war. He observes that the places massacres occurred in the Bosnian war were the very same as where they happened in World War I, II and maybe earlier -- perhaps “pay back” for sins inflicted on grandparents. He describes the large industry that pops up during peace negotiations – foreign nationals pouring in, eating too much, getting paid too much in comparison with the local population, an assortment of issues arising including things like prostitution. He provides perspective such as – the internet did not exist when he went to Bosnia and reflects on the potential uses the internet can provide now in peacebuilding efforts. He talks about the dilemma of having to engage the worst leaders if you want a deal – something that will suit the extreme ends of a conflict and might not serve the moderate middle. Most noticeably, in contrast to the many processes explored on this podcast, he describes the typical but top-down approach of building peace in Bosnia and the very real influence of the American president at the time, Bill Clinton, who needed an international policy success with ordinary people having little or no say whatsoever in this peace process. Charles was also in South Africa during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process held there. He talks about the difference between a justice and reconciliation lens with the latter not applied here. He posits that it's reconciliation that is needed if you want a real break from the past and this did not happen in Bosnia. Please enjoy this episode. Charles Crawford is an amazingly bright and interesting teller of a complicated and relevant tale for those interested in creating a more peaceful world.
This episode is a recording of the speech Susan delivered in Shanghai on May 14, 2017 to 1000 women at the International Elite Women's Forum -- a women's leadership and empowerment gathering. The speech was delivered in English (with direct translation into Chinese which has been cut out here for easier listening.) For a full transcript of the speech along please go to and for the presenter slides that go with the speech, go to our Facebook page.
Exciting News! We have a new feel, rythym and sound to The Peacebuilding Podcast. Please check it out in this episode.In this next podcast conversation, Susan talks with Dean Foster whose name is synonymous with building intercultural competency. Dean has worked in almost 100 countries, has been a speaker at major business schools in the United States including Harvard and Columbia, is the host on CNN of the nationwide “Doing Business in…” series and is also a frequent guest commentator on culture, global work and social issues for global media networks. What is culture? Who am I culturally speaking? Those are questions that are almost always salient to any conflict resolution or peacebuiliding process. Groups get easily polarized around identity and culture when conflict is handled in an adversarial way. And many of the biggest conflicts on the planet today have a strong component of cultural misunderstanding. As the world get’s increasingly more-crowded, it’s important that all of us build both our ability to deal with difference in constructive ways and also our understanding of how we differ culturally speaking. Susan likes to say “culture is to a group what personality is to an individual. It’s a group’s personality, the unique way that a group has devised to deal with our common human challenge of staying alive on the planet.”Susan caught up with Dean somewhere between a trip to Prague and New York. Early on in the interview, Dean says: “When faced with something we don’t understand or that we find mystifying, we always have a choice. We can decide to approach it as an opportunity for growth and learning. . . or we can approach it fearfully -- as something dangerous”.Dean talks about his early “cross-cultural education” growing up in Brooklyn, New York and reflects on the shift of globalisation over the last twenty-five, thirty years. The conventional wisdom in the multinational world when Coleman and Foster got started in their professional work was that we have a global multi-national culture now that transcends any invidual culture. Dean says that while there is some truth to this, it is far from accurate. He sees in millennials a greater acceptance that cultural differences exist, but not necessarily a real increase in understanding about what those differences are. Foster talks about some projects he did, supporting an American multi-national working with a Russian team, about China, and about multi-cultural teams where so much business is done these days. Please enjoy the episode and send any feedback to More information about Dean Foster and his work can be found at
In the current political climate in the United States, there is a heightened interest in bringing people who don’t agree together for dialogue. One of the first to do this work was the Public Conversations Project (PCP)* out of Boston over the hugely contentious issue of abortion.In the 1980’s and early 90’s, the abortion conflict got to such a feverish pitch -- allegations of “baby killers”, “woman haters” -- and resulted in the murders of two women outside an abortion clinic. In response, Laura Chasin, the founder of PCP, became the co-facilitator of a multi-year, clandestine dialogue between Boston area “pro-life” and “pro-choice” leaders, aka “The Leaders Dialogue”. In the years that followed, Laura and others applied this method, which combines aspects of family therapy, neuroscience and mediation, to a wide variety of communities and issues including same-sex marriage, immigration, gun rights, gender issues, peacebuilding, and many others.Over the last 22 years, Bob Stains has helped build the PCP. He is a pioneer of the modern dialogue movement, a seasoned facilitator of challenging conversations about identity, religion and values and has trained over 20,000 professionals in the PCP dialogue approach known as “Reflective Structured Dialogue”.In this episode, Bob describes the process in detail with some examples of an application in the setting of a polarized church congregation, as well as the “Family Dinner Project” and some other initiatives.Bob shares that a “seed planted in him” to do this work was being raised by a single father which marked him as different; His teachers treated him differently, friends were not allowed to come over to his house because there was no woman present. His father did everything, the ironing the dishes which left Bob often feeling ostracized. The experience shaped his ideas about what it means to be a man and not conform to stereotypesBob always engaged in difference but did so more “by the seat of his pants” until he encountered the PCP. In his first PCP dialogue, an exchange with someone with polar opposite views on abortion left him amazingly uplifted and connected even though they deeply disagreed. Bob tells the story of a church congregation that was deciding whether or not to be welcoming to openly LGBTQ people. Many people had left the congregation because of the issue but came back for the dialogue process. As a result, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to be openly accepting of LGBTQ people. The people who left re-joined because, as Bob says, they felt heard.Bob explains, some conflicts can’t be resolved but you can have good conversations if you create the right “container.” He has come to realize that what’s most important is the relationship and how people come together, not whether the issue is resolved, especially in highly contentious issues where people are not likely to ultimately see eye to eye.As evidence of the profound nature of the PCP work, the members of the Leaders Dialogue continue to speak in pro-life, pro-choice pairs to tell people the value of talking across the divide. Interestingly, all of them will say that their perspectives not only did not change as a result of the dialogue, but rather were enhanced. But they will also say that they have grown to deeply respect each other through the process and have developed love for each other that has kept them together. Please tune in and get some great insights into some of the best practices to bridge the divide.*PCP is now known as Essential Partners.
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store