#BlackLivesMatter: How are you taking care of your heart?

10849845_10154846206675417_3477375531988878082_n (2)After the non-indictment verdict in Ferguson, a national campaign for human rights called Standing on the Side of Love sent out this tweet, “How are you taking care of your heart today?” Of all of the commentary that has come out after Ferguson, and especially after the verdict, this one simple question caused me to pause. And after weeks of protests and the non-indictment in the Eric Garner case, again this bubbles up for me, “how are you taking care of your heart today?” And now, after watching and personally participating in peaceful (and sometimes non-peaceful) marches, protests, die-ins and dialogues…this has become my mantra: “How are you taking care of your heart?

Because the fact of the matter is, none of these incidents is isolated – none of them is a one-time occurrence. They are part of an intertwined, interwoven system of discrimination and injustice – a system so ingrained in who we all are, that we have trouble even recognizing that it exists, much less telling others about it and having hope of ever untangling it. And if you are in a position of being someone who was brought up understanding the discrimination by living it every day, or if you have been working as long as you can remember to transform the system and are confronted with yet another example of the immensity of the work to still to be done, or wherever you are coming from in your life experience – these recent experiences are painful. And unnerving. And make us angry. So, how are you taking care of your heart?

Board members, trustees, and staff at the National Peace Academy have taken a range of personal responses – writing, marching, educating, organizing. And as an institution, we are reflecting on the events, reading the terrific, insightful commentary that has emerged, and contemplating the way we, as an educational peacebuilding institution, can best serve.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, NPA will continue to provide resources and tools (from partners and from YOU) illuminating the possibilities for exploring and acting on this issue through a peacebuilding lens and for creating the transformation that we have all been working towards. These resources include holistic, long-term tools for transformation like restorative justice, trauma healing, and truth commissions – tools that we have seen create lasting change in communities around the world — and that can be set in place NOW to begin changing the systems that exist in our own country.

In the meantime, we encourage you to pay attention to your heart. To whatever feelings are bubbling up inside of you since these events began unfolding and likely since before then. And to take care of yourself. While we protest and work together to transform the system, let’s pay attention to how we will continue this work for the long-haul, for it is an on-going process. Let’s consider how we interact with everyone we are dealing with, whether on the street, in a classroom, or in a contentious dialogue. Let’s listen to the hearts of everyone involved so that we create lasting change. And let’s protect our own hearts so that we can continue this work.

How are you taking care of your heart today?  



Kristin Famula, President

Join NPA for a dialogue with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Goodall_Event_imageThe Jane Goodall Center for Environmental Studies at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) in Danbury, CT, is hosting a lecture by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., on “Our Environmental Destiny”.  As part of the National Peace Academy’s on-going partnerships with universities and colleges nationally, we are thrilled to be a sponsor of this event.

Please join us on Tuesday, September 30, 2014, at the Ives Concert Hall, White Hall, WCSU Midtown campus at 7 p.m. followed by a VIP reception at 8:30 p.m.

When ordering your tickets, kindly let them know you heard about this event through the National Peace Academy. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you there.

Register for this event here!

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.‘s reputation as a resolute defend­er of the environment stems from a litany of successful legal actions. Kennedy was named one of Time maga­zine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his success in helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River. The group’s achievement helped spawn more than 160 Waterkeeper organizations across the globe.

Kennedy serves as president of Waterkeeper Alliance, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson River­keeper. He is a partner on the CleanTech investment team of Silicon Valley’s VantagePoint Capital Ventures, and is the environmental adviser to Napo Pharmaceuti­cals and co-host of the radio show “Ring of Fire”. He is also a professor of environmental law at Pace University School of Law and serves as co-director of the school’s Environmental Litigation Clinic. Earlier in his career, he served as assistant district attorney in New York City.

Kennedy was also featured in the acclaimed environ­mental documentary “The Last Mountain”, the Sundance 2011 official selection. The film examines the struggle to save Coal River Mountain in Coal River Valley, West Virginia-the last mountain in the area untouched by the mining practice of mountain top removal.

Among his published books are the New York Times best-seller “Crimes Against Nature” (2004); “The Riv­erkeepers” (1997); and “Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr: A Biography” (1977). His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Ange­les Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Nation, Outside magazine, the Village Voice and many other publications. Kennedy’s award-winning articles have been included in anthologies of America’s best crime writing, best political writing and best science writing.

NPA at a Crossroads

August 2014

Dear NPA founders, supporters, partners and friends,

Throughout the United States and the world we are experiencing many transitions. The National Peace Academy has not been immune to these transitions, and we would like to share with you, our longtime supporters, a shift we are making and some potential new directions for NPA.

As you know, the essence of NPA is stated in our founding document as follows:

The National Peace Academy supports, advances, and nurtures cultures of peace by preparing the next generation of peacebuilders who will bring their unique background to communities and the corporate, nonprofit, and government workplace. Through our learning programs we support the development of the full spectrum of the peacebuilder – inner and outer, personal and professional; and facilitate the development of peace systems – local to global.  

Thus, since its founding five years ago, NPA has strived to offer programming and experiences that will build peace in the United States. We have created a strong foundation with a clear mission, values, and principles that build on a long history of leaders and organizations seeking to establish peace as a priority at a national level in this country. And our programs have spawned many ripples around the world.

One other task of this phase of the NPA has been to build an institution that embodies and sustains this essence statement. Our struggle has been to attain financial sustainability and, despite many loyal and regular contributors, we continue to find it difficult to maintain an independent organization with adequate staffing. In light of these struggles, in June, the staff at NPA, for the first time since our founding, became volunteers – continuing to support the day-to-day activities of NPA without compensation.

We are, therefore, at a crossroads. While we are clear on the purpose (essence) of NPA, we are exploring what functions NPA will play in this next phase. The NPA Board of Directors and trustees (including former staff) will be meeting in a retreat September 11-13 to discern what we believe are NPA’s priority functions going forward. As the functions become clearer, we can then determine the proper form or structure NPA will take in this next phase. We invite your support, ideas, and suggestions as we face this pivotal juncture.

The NPA board, trustees, advisors, and staff are exploring various possibilities for carrying on the vision of the National Peace Academy. In terms of form, we see as one option creating a partnership, either with a university or other national nonprofit organization, as a real possibility for carrying out NPA’s functions in a more sustainable way.

We are ever thankful to the NPA community for the faith given to us, from the early days of our inception more than five years ago, to lead and develop the NPA through its programs and daily operations.

As we explore the many possibilities and opportunities for NPA, we look forward to continuing to steward global cultures of peace. NPA is bigger than all of us and is a legacy that we can all carry forward.

With love and gratitude,

All of us at NPA

Our Next Steps
  • NPA continues to offer programs based on our 4 new initiatives, coordinated by our volunteer staff. This includes our women’s leadership programming, our national dialogue initiatives (including an upcoming partnership with The Jane Goodall Center for Environmental Studies at WCSU in Danbury, CT, hosting a lecture by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.)
  • We are in conversation with several academic and non-profit institutions – exploring the potential options for continuing the legacy in some form of partnership with one or more of them.
  • We continue to have conversations with possible funders who are excited about NPAs offerings and success.
  • In September, NPA staff, board, and trustees will be meeting for our annual retreat and will discuss the various possibilities and next steps. If you have any thoughts or insights that you would like to recommend we consider, please send them in to info@nationalpeaceacademy.us. We’d love to hear from you!