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
February 15 - 23, 2022
With Facilitators Yael Petretti and Joel Berman
An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state,
a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive.
― Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Our country continues to suffer 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 and Speaking, we can build our skill of deep, empathic listening even in difficult conversations; we can learn to engage in sincere self-reflection about our own biases, conscious and unconscious; and we can bring the healing gift of Compassionate Listening to our fellow Americans. Our three decades of experience in conflict zones throughout the world have proven that the practice of Compassionate Listening and Speaking is the surest way to melt fearful hearts, heal conflict, enhance understanding and turn former "enemies" into allies for peaceful coexistence. Join us for our Second Compassionate Listening delegation to Alabama, February 15-23, 2022.
Part of the delegation experience will be the online training provided by Will Osmun, Ph.D shortly before the trip. This training will focus primarily on racism but applies to 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 in our communities The training will consist of two two-hour, online sessions given shortly before the trip itself.
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
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.
This was truly a life-changing journey and I hope many more people will take it. For me, on the
outside it was a journey to the South to confront a very painful history and on the inside it was a
journey to become aware of my own biases and triggers. It also 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
We will begin our Journey in Montgomery, and travel to Africatown in Mobile, 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:
Feb. 15 - Tuesday – Opening Circle in Montgomery hotel, 7:00 pm
Feb. 16 - Wednesday
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.
Feb. 17 - Thursday
Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum (From Slavery to Mass Incarceration);
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
Feb. 18 - Friday
The First White House of the Confederacy
Tour and Listening session
Feb. 19 - Saturday
Listening session with a member of the Creek Nation
Continue to Mobile; Listening in Africatown, founded by the last enslaved Africans to be brought to this country in 1850
Feb. 20 - Sunday
Africatown – Visit the church and cemetery
Listening sessions with descendants
Travel to Selma
Walk over the Pettus Bridge
Feb. 21 - Monday
The Coffee Shoppe – Round table discussion with Selma citizens, including GOP members, business owners & head of the Selma Chamber of Commerce
Brown Chapel, Listening sessions with Civil Rights foot soldier & survivor of 1965 Bloody Sunday
Old Live Oak Cemetery – Confederate burial place
Feb. 22 - Tuesday
Listening session with Birmingham native
Feb. 23 - Wednesday
Morning: Civil Rights Quadrant
16th St. Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Closing Circle - Finish by 5 pm
Is this Journey for you?
The Journey is limited to 23 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 register for an Intro workshop before the trip. We encourage you to carefully consider that parts of this journey will be quite intense. We urge you to think about whether you can safely enter a zone of trauma such as the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (Lynching Memorial) in Montgomery.
You will be invited to at least one orientation call before the trip to connect and build relationships as a group. As stated above, we will provide two two-hour trainings 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.
Participants arrange and purchase their own airfare. Our opening circle will begin at 7:00 pm in our Montgomery hotel (check-in begins at 4:00 pm). Our Journey ends in Birmingham at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, Feb. 23rd (departing flights can be scheduled after 8:00 pm).
The Journey cost is $2,780. 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. In order to reserve your spot, payment in full must be received by January 1, 2022.
Payment options include credit card, PayPal, and check. Payments by check are eligible for a 3% discount.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
We take very seriously the reality of the Covid virus and our responsibility to keep our participants as safe and healthy as possible. All participants in this delegation will be fully vaccinated and the hotels we will use are abiding by all CDC-recommended precautions for their guests. Please click here for more information and for regular updates as our trip gets closer.
To mitigate your financial risk, we recommend travel insurance that includes a “Cancel for Any Reason” option. See Best Pandemic Travel Insurance Plans of August 2021. Under “Upgrades Available”, choose “Cancel For Any Reason”.
Note that this is not the same as “Covid-19 Cancellation”, which provides reimbursement if a trip is cancelled or interrupted due to a traveler contracting the virus, but will not reimburse if you cancel after December 15 of your own volition.
We will continue to monitor the public health situation as the trip approaches and update you accordingly. For the latest CDC guidance and recommendations, click here.
Please note that our trips are quoted as a package and refunds cannot be provided for unused portions.
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.
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.
Joel Berman, Journey co-leader
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.