A New Compassionate Listening Journey:
Listening with the Heart in Alabama
October 8 - 16, 2020
As racial tension and political polarization intensify around us, our first, ground-breaking Compassionate Listening Journey to the Deep South took place in January, 2020. This will be our second Alabama Journey and our purpose is three-fold: to build our skill of deep, empathic listening even in difficult conversations; to engage in our own self-reflection about our own biases, conscious and unconscious; and to engage the healing practice of Compassionate Listening.
We will come together as a group of peacemakers who seek to discover the implicit biases that inhibit us from seeing the full humanity of our fellow citizens. This journey will provide training and self-reflection within the context of historic sites and deep-listening sessions with community members. We feel that it is critical to understand our history and our relationship to that history as we deepen our understanding of the present situation and the role we can play in dismantling oppression. The training provided by the Urban League of West Michigan will focus on racism, but all aspects of 'othering' will be addressed throughout. While the locus of this trip/training is on individual relationships and responsibilities, we acknowledge that systemic and institutional racism/oppression needs to be addressed in our communities (some of our group members are already engaged in this work locally).
Our “road map” will be the Five Core Practices of Compassionate Listening. In our trainings and debriefing sessions, we will use these concepts to process and deepen our learning and our connections with the people we meet as well as with one another:
Cultivating compassion for ourselves and others
Developing the fair witness
Respecting self and others
Listening with the heart
Speaking from the heart
We invite you to join us by participating in this Journey to listen, learn, engage in anti-bias work, and to build relationships.
The 2020 Journey will be co-led by Compassionate Listening facilitators: Yael Petretti, Journey founder, Will Osmun and Susan Partnow. (See trip leader bios below)
We will begin and end our Journey in Atlanta, and will travel to Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham. Participants will encounter a diverse range of people - from civil rights icons to right-wing conservatives. The trip is carefully crafted and balanced so participants’ time is divided between listening sessions, Compassionate Listening training and group reflection. We will also visit museums and major historical in the struggle for civil rights, including the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum, "From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration", the National Memorial for Peace and Justice; the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial, the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, the 16th Street Baptist Church, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
Is this Journey for you?
The Journey is limited to 20 participants. We seek participants who have a genuine interest in the experience, hopes, dreams, and humanity of all the people we meet – across racial, class and political divides. If you have not had at least a 1-day Compassionate Listening introductory training, you will need to take one before the trip. We will offer an online intro training on Zoom so participants will not have to travel to take the training.
We will hold several meetings before our Journey on the Zoom platform for orientation, to connect and build relationships as a group, and to hold training in implicit bias. The group will meet on a regular basis throughout the trip to reflect on our experience and to deepen our understanding of bias-work and practice of Compassionate Listening. The Journey is designed as an experiential training. We live our practice and trust in it deeply
Participants arrange and purchase their own airfare. The group will meet at 5:00 pm on October 8th at a hotel close to the Atlanta airport. The Journey ends with breakfast the morning of October 16th.
The Journey cost is $2,075. Your $400 deposit is due at the time of registration and the final balance is due by August 15th.
Deposits and final payments can be completed by mailing checks payable to TCLP (The Compassionate Listening Project) to: Compassionate Listening Project , P.O. Box 17, Indianola, WA 98342 USA, or you can pay by credit card by visiting our event page.
Please note that credit card payments include a 3% processing fee.
Price includes a double-occupancy room with private bath and shower; breakfast every day; a light dinner most days; ground transportation; trip leaders; guides; tips and gratuity for hotels and drivers; honoraria for speakers and hosts, and Compassionate Listening training. Single rooms are available for an additional $480. If we are unable to provide a roommate, the single room supplement may apply, depending on hotel policies. Your early registration increases our chance of finding a good match for you. Lunches and some dinners will be on your own. Approximately 10% of the trip proceeds go to organizations engaged in civil and human rights.
Please contact Yael with any questions you have about this Journey. You can email her at
Click here to access the trip preparation page.
About our Journey leaders:
Before moving to Jerusalem in 1978, Yael earned a Bachelor's Degree in International Relations at the University of California Berkeley. She already had become passionately involved the struggle for civil rights during the 1968 Poor People’s March on Washington, helping build Resurrection City and tutoring children of color whose schools were just being desegregated in southern Virginia. Certified as a Compassionate Listening facilitator in 2004, she led and co-led a number of Compassionate Listening delegations to Israel-Palestine where she lived for 29 years. She currently lives in New England where she facilitates Compassionate Listening trainings and volunteers as an Alternatives to Violence facilitator in a men's high security prison. Witnessing the “new Jim Crow” there has brought her around full-circle to rejoin the struggle for racial/social justice here in the U.S.
Will Osmun, MM, MS, MA, Ph.D.
As a volunteer on a Crisis and Suicide Hotline, Will was trained in Empathic Listening. He has a BA in Communications and is certified in Compassionate Listening, Mediation, Immunity to Change and Motivational Interviewing. In his current role at the Urban League of West Michigan, Will provides trainings on Implicit Biases related to the ‘othering’ of historically marginalized groups. As a CL facilitator, Will understands the change process and lovingly encourages participants to lean into their discomfort as they develop new skills and deeper understanding of themselves and their ‘other’. See Will's website here.
Susan has catalyzed social transformation for 30+ years from Africa to Guatemala, Cuba to Japan, to counteract our human tendency towards “Othering.’ Co-founder of Conversation Cafes, Let’s Talk America, Global Citizen Journey and Seattle Restorative Justice, Susan especially enjoys transforming conflict using Restorative Circles, Open Space, World Café and Appreciative Inquiry, always steeped in compassionate listening. Author of Everyday Speaking for All Occasions and co-contributor to Practicing the Art of Compassionate Listening. Passionately committed to intercultural understanding, restorative justice, peacemaking and community building, Susan deeply believes we can and must 'listen our way to wholeness' to find our essential humanity through connection, wise co-creation, and dialogue. Susan has been an essential part of Compassionate Listening since soon after its inception as part of the Core Council that created the core practices, the first director of Advanced Training, and a former Board member. She currently serves as Network Weaver. See Susan’s website here.