What is the 'Gandhi-King Convergence'? The idea came because we were discussing how attendees at conferences usually spend most of their time sitting in workshops and talks, which, while inspiring and informative in themselves, often don't give people a chance to connect with each other, to share our stories, and to learn from each other's successes, mistakes, and challenges. Isn't this what a conference should be for? We want to give you all a chance to hear from each other, to connect with each other, to build that network of interconnectedness that is the basis for the movement for the 21st century. The group of individuals that will come together at the conference has never come together before and will never come together again in exactly the same way ever again, but remarkable things can come out of chance meetings. The 'working groups' are an experiment in fostering discussion and building community among those drawn to the Gandhi-King Conference, and this ning community is intended to be a place where people who connect at the conference can continue the discussion throughout the year.

Some seeds for general discussion:
We were all brought here together by the inspiring ideas and wisdom of Gandhi and King (and many others!), but they weren't just philosophers, they were community organizers.
How can nonviolence get back to its practical roots?
What is the bridge between the nonviolent idea and action?
How do you embody nonviolence in your work?
How do you stay nonviolent at the personal and organizational level?
How do you measure 'success', quantitatively and qualitatively?
What are the limitations of and alternatives to the corporate model for sustainable social change work?
What has been your greatest insight that has changed the way you work, that you would like to share with others?
How can universities contribute to the movement?

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One of the challenges that I see is developing a movement across the barriers of distance, media black out, time, and finances. We tend to be scattered in our efforts and I would like to discuss methods to reach out to people who agree with peace, justice, and freedom with the responsibility that it demands. There are millions of us who want all those things, but the choir is a little thin and we spend a lot of time singing to each other.

Now we are at a crisis of involvement. The "peace community" is split by the political situation where we think we have won a victory because of the changes in Congress and the White House. But too much reliance on expecting politicians to tend to our concerns without our strong influence has brought us to the present state of frustration and malaise. In these cases it seems that we circle the wagons facing each other and remain closed to growing with our natural allies, the majority of people who, in polls, don't want war and occupation, want universal health care, and economic justice

How do we bring our millions of allies into a viable movement that can influence our politicians, many of whom seem absolutely enthralled by the deep pockets of corporations?

Can we move our governments toward meaningful peace talks that include real balance of representatives from all people involved? Equal representation of men and women at the table would be a start.

Peace talks must begin in Afghanistan.

The banks must give back the people`s money and property that they have scammed.

Living wages are necessary to build a real democracy that allows the entire population to live and interact intelligently.

Universal health care is possible and essential for a healthy and productive civilization.

Education must be prioritized above war and military profit.

That's a start. I have some ideas on this, but the time challenge rears its reality and I am leaving here for the conference in a little over an hour. See you there. love, Eliz
It has been almost one year since we all "converged" in Memphis for an experiment in self-organizing to discuss and share our perspectives in nonviolence and social justice. The online world offers unprecedented opportunities for exchange of ideas and communicating messages, but as Van Jones has said, we also need to rediscover the "ancient technology" of sitting in circles, connecting in person at the human level and sharing our stories. Based on this insight, we arranged at last year's Gandhi-King Conference to take time out each day from the presentations, workshops, and plenary speakers to gather as a group and for discussion and connection. Throughout the weekend we used a self-organizing model, guided by our facilitator, Jean, to discover what topics we shared the most passion about, to form groups around those topics, develop visions for the future of our world and discuss ideas for action. Beginning on Friday evening, we brainstormed topics. Each person (there were about sixty of us) wrote on a small slip of paper an issue or topic that we felt moved to discuss, and then taped the slip of paper to the white board. The facilitators then moved the slips of paper around, placing similar topics closer together, until it gradually emerged that the sixty topics could be understood as belonging to five common themes:

Sustaining the Beloved Community: Explore our personal understanding of the "Beloved Community," share examples, and engender faith and sustainable Love for all, including the Earth.

Co-Creating Peace: To raise consciousness of NV to make war and violence obsolete.

Education for Nonviolence: Share ideas for changing policies and practices of educating for NV K-16.

Healing, Transformation, and Ending Oppression: Listening to each other's stories of experiences of oppression and
liberation to inform and take action for healing and justice.

Raising the Voice of the Community (tweet!)
: Involving young people in peaceful issues using high tech (twittering).

Throughout the weekend, the groups converged each day. With the help of a "talking stick" to help ensure that all voices were able to be heard, individuals shared their experiences and perspectives with one another. Finally, as an extension of that in-person space (but certainly no where near a substitute for it) we created this online space for continued connection and discussion. It is much different to connect online than it is to come together in person. We saw some amazing moments in last year's discussions—moments that cannot be replicated by the kind of interactions we have online. Hopefully, though, this 'space' will be of use in bridging the geographical distances between us in between conferences and allowing our hearts and minds to connect throughout the year. We invite you to have a look at the forum topics that have been made based on last years groups and share your thoughts about working towards a nonviolent world of peace and justice!


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