Herb Walters, our executive director, started the organization in 1981 with support from his wife Marnie, the Arthur Morgan School, Ernest Morgan, Celo Friends (Quaker) Meeting, and other residents of Celo Community and Yancey County, NC.
For thirty years Herb has helped comunity-based organizations develop successful Listening Projects that have successfully addressed issues of social and economic justice; ethnic, racial, religious and cultural conflict; community health and education; and sustainable economic development.
“I’ve continued doing this work all these years because Listening Projects have had such an impact on so many people and communities,” says Herb. “It is such an amazing process tolisten with an open mind and heart, and ask questions that help us get beyond fear and anger based beliefs; beyond labels like conservative and liberal. Deep listening takes us to a place where we are all human beings with the same basic need for understanding, mutual respect, fairness and compassion. In that way, deep listening is both a highly effective process for social change, and a spiritual practice.”
Community organizers from almost every state in the U.S, and eight other countries have been essential for numerous successful Community Listening Projects. We are blessed to have worked with so many incredible people. Most of these organizers and community leaders volunteer their time or work for very little. They rise to the call to give deeply of themselves for the benefit of their communities. They continually inspire us!
Our Listening Project staff and board of directors are a primary reason for our success. Currently Dixie Pomerat is on staff, keeping us moving forward with great help from our intern, Annalisa Littleton. Our board makes the wise decisions that keep our organization healthy.
Our Listening Project Resource Group is comprised of individuals who take ongoing responsibility for specific responsibilities that benefit our work. You too can be a part of this. Technology enables us to do long distance work together so if you are interested let us know.
Our Network of Listening Project Trainers is composed of experienced community organizers who have participated in at least one and successful Listening Project. In addition trainers must also attend a three day Training-for-Trainers.
This page would not be complete without recognition of the importance of all the thousands
"Since 1986 RSVP has offered Listening Projects in dozens of tension-torn communities as an alternative to conventional activist approaches - debates, protests, vigils, litigation, civil disobedience. Coming into volatile situations and confronting issues that might send seasoned mediators running for cover, they use compassionate listening - as a way to understand underlying problems, introduce new ideas, and to help communities develop their own positive solutions for change. This process not only uncovers and empowers many "bystanders" who have feared to speak out or have never been involved - it often brings opponents, even bitter adversaries, face to face in a nonviolent way, helping to build durable community bridges to reconciliation and peace."
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