Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream...
—Martin Luther King Jr.
A Compassionate Listening Journey:
Listening with the Heart in Alabama
October 10 - 18, 2022
With CL Facilitators Yael Petretti & Joel Berman
This was truly a life-changing journey. On the outside it was a journey to the South to confronta very painful history and on the inside it was a journey to become aware of my own biases and triggers. It allowed me to practice my Compassionate Listening skills through listening to difficult stories with a wonderful group of travelers whom I now call friends. My deep faith, that love is stronger than hate, was renewed through all the stories I heard. What a gift! I could not imagine taking this trip with any other group than the Compassionate Listening Project. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
—2020 Alabama Journey Participant
Our country suffers from deep racial tensions and increasing political polarization. We can do something about it. Using the peace-making philosophy and powerful tools of Compassionate Listening, we can build our skills of deep, empathic listening and speaking from our hearts even in difficult conversations; we can educate ourselves about the painful history of slavery and current realities of racial injustice in America; we can learn to engage in sincere self-reflection about our own biases, conscious and unconscious; we can learn to cause less harm, and we can bring the healing gift of Compassionate Listening.
Our three decades of experience throughout the world have proven that the practice of Compassionate Listening is a sure way to melt fearful hearts, enhance understanding, heal division, and turn former "enemies" into partners for peaceful coexistence.
Our “road map” will be the Five Core Practices of Compassionate Listening. 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 Self and Others
Developing the Fair Witness (Suspending judgment)
Respecting Self and Others
Listening with the Heart
Speaking from the Heart
The Journey includes Anti-Bias training by Will Osmun, Ph.D., focusing primarily on racism, and including other discriminatory “-isms,” as well. While the focus of this trip/training is on individual relationships and responsibilities, we acknowledge that systemic and institutional racism/oppression needs to be addressed at all levels of society.
We invite you to participate in this deeply transformative Journey of the heart, to listen, learn, engage in anti-bias work, and to build relationships.
Itinerary: Our Journey includes 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 and group reflection. We will also visit museums and major historical landmarks in the struggle for civil rights. Our itinerary includes:
October 10 - Monday – Opening Circle in Montgomery, 7:00 pm (hotel check-in anytime after 4:00)
October 11 - Tuesday
Legendary Tour of Montgomery – Childhood memories of the Civil Rights Struggle, by Ms. Wanda Battle
Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, site of Tuskegee University and home of the scientist George Washington Carver and the World War II's Tuskegee Airmen.
October 12- Wednesday
Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum (From Slavery to Mass Incarceration);
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
October 13 - Thursday
The First White House of the Confederacy
Tour and Listening session
October 14 - Friday
Listening session with a member of the Creek Nation
Arrive in Selma
Walk over the Pettus Bridge
October 15 - Saturday
Old Live Oak Cemetery – Confederate burial place
Brown Chapel, Listening sessions with Civil Rights foot soldier & survivor of 1965 Bloody Sunday
October 16 - Sunday
The Coffee Shoppe – Round table discussion with Selma citizens, including GOP members, business owners & head of the Selma Chamber of Commerce
Listening session with Birmingham native
October 17 - Monday
October 18 - Tuesday
Morning: Civil Rights Quadrant
16th St. Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Closing Circle ends at 5 pm (can be at airport by 5:30)
Is this Journey for you?
This will be an intimate group. 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, we request that you read our short book, Practicing the Art of Compassionate Listening.
We will have an orientation Zoom call before the trip to build relationships as a group. We will also provide a two-hour training with Will Osmun, Ph.D., on Implicit Bias before the trip, via Zoom.
During the Journey, we will have time to reflect on our experience and to deepen our understanding and practice of Compassionate Listening. The Journey is designed as an experiential training. We live our practice and trust in it deeply.
We will confirm the Journey as soon as we've reached our minimum number of participants, and at that time participants are welcome to purchase their airfare. Our opening circle will begin at 7:00 pm on October 10th in Montgomery (check-in begins at 4:00 pm). Our Journey ends in Birmingham at 5:00 pm on October 18th.
The Journey cost is $2,900. This price includes a double-occupancy room with a private bath and shower; breakfast every day; dinner on 3 days; ground transportation; trip leaders; guides; tips and gratuity for hotels and drivers; honoraria for speakers and hosts, anti-bias training and facilitated group debriefs. Single rooms are available for an additional $520.
Register with your $500 deposit or full payment. (Final payment is due by July 30th.)
Payment options include credit card and Paypal.
Please contact us at email@example.com for registration instructions if you prefer to pay by check.
Approximately 10% of the trip proceeds go to organizations engaged in civil and human rights.
If You Cancel:
Cancellations received by August 1st: full refund, less $200 administrative fee
Cancellation after August 1st: no refund unless trip refills to maximum. (If the trip fills to capacity and we are able to fill your spot, we will refund in full)
We recommend purchasing travel insurance that includes coverage for cancellation for any reason.
Please note that our trips are billed as a package and refunds cannot be provided for unused portions.
We take the Covid virus and our responsibility to keep our participants as safe and as healthy as possible very seriously. We will continue to monitor the public health situation as the trip approaches.
Must show proof of vaccination
Bring and use adequate hand sanitizer
Leading up to our Journey, avoid high risk situations such as indoor concerts, crowded restaurants, close contact with symptomatic people or outdoor events in which social distancing is not possible
"A life-changing journey that will deepen your appreciation and understanding of the complexity
of racial relations, of the construct of race, and of your own implicit racial biases; and, particularly,
of the depth and breadth of the damage inflicted by slavery and racism. It highlights the work
that still needs to be done concerning reparation, restitution, and reconciliation."
~ 2020 Participant
Read about our ground-breaking first Journey here.
Please contact Yael with any questions you have about this Journey.
Trip Preparation Page:
After we have received your trip registration and deposit, we will provide you with the passcode to access to our Trip Preparation Page.
The 2022 Journey will be co-led by Compassionate Listening facilitators Yael Petretti and Joel Berman. Will Osmun will provide pre-trip implicit bias training.
Yael’s connection to the civil rights struggle grew out of her participation in the 1968 Poor People’s March on Washington, her life-changing experience of helping build Resurrection City and tutoring children of color whose schools were being desegregated in southern Virginia. Certified as a CL facilitator in 2004, she led and co-led a number of CL delegations to Israel-Palestine where she lived for almost three decades. Yael co-authored “Making Peace with Faith: The Challenges of Religion and Peacebuilding” (Peace and Security in the 21st Century, 2018.) She lives in New England where she facilitates CL 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. In January 2020, she initiated and co-led the first domestic Compassionate Listening delegation, “Listening in the Heart of Alabama.” You can visit her website at listeningwiththeheart.org.
Concord, New Hampshire
Joel is a retired family physician who delivered primary care in the village of Penacook, NH from 1980 to 2006. He ended his medical career as Chief Medical Information Officer at Concord Hospital, overseeing the introduction of electronic provider order entry and participating in organization-wide improvements in medical quality and safety. During Joel's four Compassionate Listening Journeys to Israel and Palestine between 2015 and 2019, and his Journey to Alabama in January 2020, he recorded and transcribed more than 40 listening sessions that form the basis for public presentations designed to humanize the “other” and help local audiences recognize the common humanity and shared values of people across geo-political divides. He received CL certification training in 2016 and 2017 and has facilitated Compassionate Listening training sessions throughout New Hampshire.
Will Osmun, MM, MS, MA, Ph.D., Journey trainer
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 recent role at the Urban League of West Michigan, Will provided 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.