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"You have written this book at a time of sharp polarization, characterized by deep divides,” said Tim Kaine the former governor of Virginia at the launch of Rob Corcoran’s book, Trustbuilding: an honest conversation on race, reconciliation, and responsibility on March 15.
“Hope in the Cities focuses on the ‘still small voice’, not loud and flashy approaches, or neon signs,” said Kaine who chairs the Democratic National Committee. “Listening is a lost art in this world. Hope in the Cities is creating a space where people can talk. It is incredibly important work….That listening thing is needed more than ever, and not just in racial issues.”
More than 100 community leaders, including representatives of local and state government, business, and non-profit organizations, attended the event at the Library of Virginia. Trustbuilding tells how Richmond, a city starkly divided by a history of slavery and racism, has modeled approaches to facilitating honest and inclusive dialogue, acknowledging unhealed history, and engaging diverse partnerships.
“Trust is the social capital on which our democratic institutions depend,” Corcoran said. “Today we have a huge trust deficit in America. How do we build that bridge of trust? This is the core of my book. Because the most-needed reforms in our communities require levels of political courage and trust-based collaboration that can only be achieved by individuals who have the vision, integrity, and persistence to call out the best in others and sustain deep and long-term efforts.”
Corcoran traced Richmond’s work of reconciliation starting with the first public call to address “the toxic issue of race” in 1993 when 75 leaders of Metropolitan Richmond sponsored a national conference, “Healing the Heart of America.” He noted some of the significant projects and initiatives that had resulted from personal changes experienced by thousands of people in dialogues, walks on Richmond Slave Trail, or public forums. “These individuals, many of them trained by Hope in the Cities, are embedded in the community. You find them in non-profit organizations, on our school board, in the General Assembly, in business, and in faith communities.”
An ensemble from One Voice Chorus, Richmond’s first interracial chorus, now involving numerous congregations, opened the program. Glen McCune, its director, recalled that Hope in the Cities had been in partnership with One Voice since its inception.
“What are the ‘unspeakables’ that still need honest conversation in Richmond?” asked Corcoran. “Who must be part of these conversations? Honest conversation means that we ask: What is it that you need to hear from me in order to begin to build trust? And asking ourselves: Is there something that I or my group is doing that is perpetuating the problem?
"Asking these questions will be uncomfortable. But we should take heart from the fact that we have already accomplished things that once seemed impossible to contemplate. We can say to America that it is possible for trust to be built in the most unlikely places."
People stayed long after the event to talk and have their books signed.
Who we are: Initiatives of Change (IofC) is a world-wide movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own.
Purpose: We work to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves, in the areas of trustbuilding, ethical leadership and sustainable living.
Omnia Marzouk, President, IofC International
'Nothing lasting can be built without a desire by people to live differently and exemplify the changes they want to see in society.'