Welcome to Association Building Community!
Since 1999, we have supported individuals and groups making thriving communities. We believe that communities become more sustainable when they practice the process arts (group process design and facilitation) in order to work well through conflict. We support those who practice the making of peace--conflict done well.
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Peace Practices - November 2014
With the arrival of Fall, we began reaching out to you regularly to celebrate your children's success and ask for ongoing involvement with Association Building Community (ABC) and Peace Practices (PxPx). This seems like a good time to write briefly about our work together so that I may make our planning transparent and ask for your input.
As long as there have been people, adults have opened their eyes in the morning and seen both the beauty and the dilemmas that each day promises. Our generation is not the first to feel a drive to work today to make tomorrow better--more likely to welcome our children than threaten them. In every age, in order to flourish, each child must learn to shape and use their own attention in order to deepen their experience beyond mere functional adequacy and find the kind of meaning in life that leads to both an authentic individuality and humane participation in civic life. Even so, for each generation born into our world of instant high-capacity communication this particular challenge is more problematic than ever before.
Attentional capacity development now happens in the context of relentless and ever-expanding media exposure: not only the ubiquity of delivery mechanisms, such as screen devices grafted on to every social and management function, but also psychological campaigns designed to capture individual interest and operationalize desire to serve consumption, and infonews businesses whose entire revenue stream depends on exposing individual eyes unremittingly to the vast scope of our shared dilemmas. It is increasingly hard to handle any single choice while being barraged with too many. This is especially true of children whose brain development is happening under the influence of audio-visual media designed to keep and control a user's attention. They have no defense until they are provided with the time and attention needed to develop useful strategies. How are they to defend themselves against overwhelm while trying to develop the capacity to do so? It seems almost a parallel process to studying a martial art in order to keep one's balance and make conscious tactical choices during physical conflict.
Adults too have never before had potentially conscious access to the immense and impersonal complexity of the systems humanity is creating. Beyond the tendency of screened images to overwhelm and control how we think and make choices, the energy we spend communicating is often consumed by those willing to reduce ideas to their most simplistic, attempting to clutch our precious attention under the false pretense that an idea that is faster to grasp is more useful in the metaphorical hand of decision-making. Constant grabs for our attention prevent rather than refine our understanding as we try to find some way to grapple with challenges much larger than an individual can fully comprehend, much less decide how to respond in a way that includes all relevant aspects of our shared problems.
It is the purpose of Martial Nonviolence and the work of Peace Practices to be a whole conflict system, helping you and your child bring your body and attention together under your own direction, especially while in conflict and under pressure, in order to make decisions and act in a way that works out well for everyone involved. This is in order to give us, and generations that follow, more tools to deal with issues that reach from the broad, almost mythic ("As long as there have been people...") to the specific and daily (we have sought "some way to grapple with challenges..."). If you'd like to hear more about the details of our work, please read on. If you'd like more information after reading this, please email [ administration at abcglobal dot net ] and we will be more than happy to respond.
Determined to address the challenges we face, members of ABC want increasing traction for our work for a more hopeful future. We want to be part of a growing group of people similarly devoted to understanding and changing the Big Picture by working together. We believe that the group that creates itself as though the process of co-creation were an art form has the potential to actually change the world for the better (please see: process arts). At ABC, we have found that purposeful association--attentiveness to the quality of our relationships--keeps us moving, together, in a relevant direction. Our daily association is building community. Roundtables prepare us to understand the stories on which our world is built because we want our projects to make a difference that anyone can recognize and see the value of promoting.
Peace Practices is just such a project. Peace is that daily reality in which the most vulnerable, especially children, are more likely to find welcome than threat. "Community" is another word for this experience, a felt sense that conflicts are normal and will be approached as a practice, an opportunity to transform fear into opportunity with the help of others who care about the future and practice a dedication to nonviolence that is martial in character and commitment. In community, every individual learns to expect access to all that they need and an opportunity to work through conflict toward what they want and dream about.
The children and adults of Pacific Rim International School joined us in May 2014 to work toward this vision. Parents have joined us in regular training with their children and begun to attend the special evening classes for adults. Teachers report that the children studying Peace Practices (almost 100% on both campuses) are using the language of Martial Nonviolence every day to resolve conflicts and successfully navigate the troubled and troubling waters of disagreement. Parents report their children bringing uplifting options home from school and applying at home strategies they didn't even know were available several months ago.
It is time to grow. As we prepare to reach out nationally and then internationally,
- Aikido professionals from around the world have consistently expressed their strong desire to learn Martial Nonviolence and create Peace Practices programs of their own. We will provide an instructor training in the first quarter of 2015 and welcome those who are able to join us in the East Bay.
- We will begin our first study of this work in the very near future and are searching for a Study Director.
- You are no doubt already aware that we are offering sturdy uniforms as a fundraiser. They are necessary to keep your child's clothing from being damaged as they learn to keep their bodies safe, and we hope you will help the program by buying them at the promotional price. We are also prepared to offer them at cost, if your family is in financial difficulty. Please visit our store today!
- We have secured a working agreement to establish our office in downtown Oakland.
- We have assistant instructors working with us now, and more waiting their turn to begin. It is on these excellent folks that the future of the work also depends, as they will make additional programs possible. It is time to give them an unqualified message of support as well.
Now it is time to fund the future. We are counting on you to vote for your children's success and the growth of our work together with your attention and money. Inaction is not neutral, but is a vote against a profoundly hopeful and practical path to peace that can reach around the world, building one community at a time. As you consider how you will spend your time and allocate your treasure this holiday season, please join your children and join us in actively practicing peace.
PLEASE RSVP and come to Peace Practices for adullts at PRINTS:
or Free Aiki Dojo class (please see our schedule at freeaiki.com).
Please cast your unambiguous vote for our success by creating a recurring donation!
An invitation to help shape our studyDear colleague,
A San Francisco Bay Area tax exempt (501c3) NGO, Association Building Community (ABC), received international funding in 2014 to launch a curriculum called Peace Practices(PxPx). Local sites have included schools in Oakland, Emeryville, and San Mateo, and we will expand to a national application in 2015-16 and an international application in 2016-17. Please see http://peacepractices.org.
We hope to tell the story of our work and demonstrate the benefits of framing the practice of peace as a martial art: an ongoing repetition of physical, verbal, and co-creative practices which allow the practitioner to keep the bodies involved in a given situation safe while refraining from violence and domination of others, even in the face of physical, verbal, and systemic violence. The method within the Peace Practices curriculum is called Martial Nonviolence and combines aikido with language patterns aligned with specific techniques. The practitioner learns to apply whole system strategies to group awareness and participatory leadership.
A study will accompany the project, beginning with a qualitative sample in the mode of depth psychology (a focus on the engagement of imagination to make meaning, understand roles, and co-create culture) to generate a narrative that will both grow the program and choose the appropriate questions for a quantitative study. ABC needs the help of an independent researcher to work with our staff and client sites to structure the study and guide it to completion. The work will begin as soon as the selection process is complete and we have a Study Director in place. If you would like to be a candidate, or know someone you would like to recommend, please contact our staff via (866) 236-0346 or administration at abcglobal dot net.
With gratitude for any suggestions you might offer,
Brandon Williamscraig Ph.D. 4th dan
CEO, Association Building Community
Join Us for Peace Practices and Community Building!
Welcome to the Fall!
We hope this can be a time for grounding, harvesting what has been in progress all through the Summer in order to nourish us in the months ahead. At ABC, we continue in our commitment to you, our community, to Peace Practices, to being centered in our bodies and focused as we build our work together. Will you please bring your best gifts and join us?
New Peace Practices Classes Specifically for You
We are having an inspiring and lovely time with the children, teaching the next generation about conflict done well, but did you know that it's available to you too? We are happy to see more and more parents join us in classes with the students and faculty, and would love to welcome you as well. In addition to Free Aiki Dojo and Golden Bears Aikido classes, we are also now offering Peace Practices for adults on PRINTS campuses. Please read below for details; we'd love to see you there!
You probably already know that Brandon Sensei offers adult classes through Golden Bears Aikido (on campus at UC Berkeley)
and Free Aiki Dojo (hosted by Aikido of Berkeley at 1514 University)
- Mondays 11:30am - 12:30pm
We will now offer classes at PRINTS.
- Tuesdays 6:30-7:30pm
- Wednesdays 7-8am
- Saturdays 10:30am-12pm
The next ones will be:
- Wednesday, October 29th from 5-6pm at the San Mateo campus
- Thursday, November 6th from 5:30-6:30pm at the Emeryville campusPlease give us feedback about these days and times (should the next classes be similarly scheduled?) and stay tuned for each month's new class times. Please also follow Peace Practices on Twitter and get reminders and updates on classes or subscribe/see our public Google calendar here.
ABC Community Building Circlesand Culturesmith Roundtable
In the late 1990s we began offering open, regularly scheduled, facilitated opportunities to join a circle and be heard by others committed to building community on purpose -- for its own sake. We know you've probably already seen the Facebook invitation, etc.(No? Please visit and "Like" us at https://www.facebook.com/abcglobal)but we thought we'd remind you thatWe are offering our Community Building Circle again!
Every second Sunday evening
starting Sunday, October 12th, 5 - 7 pm
followed by the Culturesmith Roundtable, 7 - 9 pm
What is Culturesmith?
Imagine an inquiry with a diverse group of casual and professional cultural critics and change-makers turning over ideas and action together, forming and reforming a therapy of the cultural imagination. Imagine studying and working on the cultures in which you take part every day, such that psychology, religion, martial, liberal, and performing arts, politics, in fact all mythologies (belief systems) are shaped in service to the richness of life and the potential depths of human understanding and planetary stewardship. Would you like an introduction to that imagined conversation, and even to take part in realizing its conclusions? Learn more about Culturesmith here. Facilitated by Brandon Williamscraig Ph.D and other scholars of myth, psychology, and culture.
If the roundtable isn't for you, please come to the Community Building Circle from 5-7 and consider the 7-9 slot to be open space in which to propose a different co-creative process with the input of others present.
What is Association Building Community?
We meet as a community to explore ways of working together to build a deeper sense of community and the process arts (the field of group process design and facilitation) in a structured way. Through rotating facilitation, we both work together (creating projects and performing tasks we agree to complete) and explore individual and group dynamics, discussing what comes up while consciously building community. Learn more about ABC here.
What are the Process Arts?
Processes can relate primarily to the individual (such as meditation), interpersonal dynamics (as refined, for example, by Nonviolent Communication), group processes (e.g. Open Space, World Cafe, and wiki), on up to very large scale systems, such as economic, legal and political structures (e.g. Threebles, Restorative Circles, or Citizen Deliberative Councils). Even more than a list of particular processes though, the process arts are about an awareness that however we are doing something, that is simply one particular way, and we can and often do experiment with doing it any number of other ways. Learn more here.
Request for Support from the Community
Hugo is looking for a new home that is quieter than where he currently lives in the Elmwood district in Berkeley where his upstairs neighbors are disturbing him:
The "Property I am looking for: Ideally i would love to live in a property with a garden and easy access to nature
Price: up to $3000 per month Date of move in: 21st to 31st October
Lease length: until 15th December Location: ideally within driving distance of the dojo (which is on University in Berkeley)
Property size: large 1 or 2 bedroom apartment / cottage / bungalow (about 700 sq ft or more in size)
About the property: Quiet and thoroughly insulated to keep out any noise from any surrounding neighbors … so I can study in peace! Equipped with a kitchen and enough storage space for my bike
About me: I am a responsible 39 year old graduate student from England studying here in the East Bay. Currently I am completing my studies in Health, Leadership and Entrepreneurship before I begin working next year. If you know of any home that fits the description and is being offered for rent, I would be very grateful if you could let me know. I can provide excellent references and evidence I can afford the rent."
Many kind thanks,
(Please email email@example.com to let us know of any options we may pass on to Hugo.)
Copyright © 2014 Association Building Community, All rights reserved.
Peace Practices In Progress
Take part in a dream come true that is getting ready to change the world!
Since beginning to perform in professional theater as a six-year-old Montessori child, Brandon WilliamsCraig has wanted to understand conflict through practice and performance. Aikido and liberal, psychological, and cultural studies gave him the engine to move this process forward and Association Building Community provided the context wherein his method, Martial Nonviolence, has found its expression in the Peace Practices curriculum.
Pacific Rim International School provided the visionary commitment to launch the entire Peace Practices process in the San Francisco Bay Area, which made possible the receipt of international funding and a future which includes both national and international expansion. The dream that one boy inherited from his family, from Montessori, from Paul Baker's ensemble at the Dallas Theater Center, and from his local community became a vision and opportunity. Rather than "peace" becoming passive or a recommendation for other people, Martial Nonviolence practices the language and presence of peace as though it were both a physical martial art and a way of thinking and communicating deeply, as a life practice, shared with each generation, elder and younger learning together in Community.
Martial Nonviolence teaches the body movements and techniques of aikido combined with language that aligns the inner quality of the strategy with the outer deployment of the technique.
For instance, it is possible to execute a technique with muscle, trying to overpower an enemy, and have it fail, and then learn to deploy it by blending with your partner, without forcing, and have it succeed. Getting out of the way of an "attack" can become encouraging your partner to continue their movement, paired with the phrase "tell me more..." (see the photo with the two girls). A listening quality helps to make this transition, so the most common technique in aikido is paired with the spoken words "I'm listening". In this way the child or adult learns deeply through repetition that they can be prepared for both physical and intangible forms of conflict. They also learn that their body and mind can remain balanced and focused, generating options that can work well for everybody, even when they are under serious inner and outer pressure. This addresses bullying, low self-esteem and, eventually, creates conflict facilitators who expect to engage individual, group, and systemic violence with peaceful proposals on their lips, in their hands, and in their hearts.
Martial Nonviolence Introduction+For ParentsParents, staff, faculty, and alumni are warmly invited to attend classes, and many do. They want to know what the children are learning, prepare themselves to be good partners in practicing peace, and judge for themselves if the curriculum is effective. They also will be asked to participate in our studies, and often become quite enthusiastic about tracking their child's and family's progress.
The children bring home what they practice during the day and carry back into the classroom the realities of their family life. Peace Practices are designed as Whole Community Learning because this reality of inter-dependence cannot be escaped and is both frustrating and the ideal fertile ground in which to cultivate the success of everyone involved.
What about practicing at home, on the playground, and other places outside of the dojo?
We make very clear that the physical part of the practice must happen in an environment specially prepared for the work. The following guidelines get consistent repetition:
- Basic practice is careful and slow for quite a while. Please don't play at fast aikido with your friends. Wait to train in the dojo.
- To practice, both people must agree, knowing what permission they are giving. If you don't ask first, or somebody doesn't know what they are saying, wait to practice.
- If there in no soft place on the floor, like mats or padded carpet, wait to practice falling down (ukemi) until you are in the dojo.
What about being attacked by other children?
If someone attempts to hit or grab you, please get out of the way and call an adult right away. Children test their power on each other all the time, with and without martial arts. Minor injuries are common and, in our experience, do not increase with the study of martial arts. We repeat frequently the phrase "aikido protects" and make clear that this includes even those who might seem threatening or aggressive.
What about the practices involved, like hitting and imagining attacks?
Children take to heart and carry with them between school and home what they learn and imagine. Some parents believe that their child might not have conceived of physical conflict until introduced to it in our classes. This is extremely unlikely and, even if it were to happen, is the best possible introduction to a problematic dilemma. The big shift we propose is from saying "Don't Hit!", which does little good in the long term, to making clear that the dojo is the place to learn what hitting is about, with teachers who are attentive and friends who have agreed to stop when asked, and how to make that kind of aggression at least less threatening and at best irrelevant.
Do I need to sign a waiver for my child every session?
Waivers need to be signed for ever particpant (adult and child alike) once to cover all of their future particaption in Peace Practices.
Please become a partner with us in actually building peace!
Thanks very much for your attention.
Community Gathering July 20th 2014
We've just launched our July 17th Newsletter
highlighting Peace Practices, inviting everyone to a gathering this Sunday (see below), and introducing Cheynne Barr!
We are celebrating the regeneration of Association Building Community with a series of gatherings. Will you join us?
We invite all who are interested in building community on purpose (RSVP below) to our first meet & greet followed by a facilitated circle in Berkeley this Sunday, July 20th, 4-8pm at 1708 Franklin street, Berkeley CA 94702 (a block away from North Berkeley Bart station and plenty of free street parking).
We know this is very short notice, and hope that you will stay tuned for our next gathering, if you are unable to make this one. We will be inside and outside on the grass (particularly if you are allergic to cats), with light tree cover. We hope to see you there!
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