Workshops & Trainings
The Veterans of Hope Project has conducted workshops — often at the invitation of local and national organizations — for teachers, organizers, religious leaders, students and others interested in the conjunctions of spirituality, history, healing and social change. Our workshops are especially designed to offer models of compassionate leadership development from the experience of nonviolent social justice movements and from the insights of the Veterans interviewed for the Project.
Prior to their deaths, Vincent and Rosemarie Harding led most of our retreats, workshops and trainings. Currently, Rachel Harding and Gloria Smith are joined by a rich community of older and younger activist-scholars who continue the tradition of teaching the history of social justice movement-building, and sharing from the extraordinary cultural and spiritual resources for struggle of people of color in the US.
A few of the workshops, trainings and presentations conducted by the Veterans of Hope Project are:
- Leadership training workshops for Americorps volunteers and staff in Denver, Colorado
- Curriculum development training for the Campbell School District of Oakland, California
- Curriculum development training for urban teachers, “Breaking out of the Civil Rights Box”, at Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
- Workshop on Healing and Activism at the diocese of Duque de Caixias, Baixada Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Workshop on Healing and Forgiveness in Religions of the African Diaspora for the Mennonite Health Assembly Annual Conference, Colorado Spring, Colorado
- Workshop on compassionate activism for Catholic Worker volunteers at the Catholic Worker House, Denver, Colorado
- Training workshops for administrators and teachers in the Freedom Schools Program of the Children’s Defense Fund, Clinton, Tennessee
- Workshop for all educators and activists participating in the “Education for Transformation” conference as part of “Bob Moses Day” activities at Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi
- Workshop in leadership development and social justice movement history for Algebra Project trainers, Chicago, Illinois
- Workshops in social justice movement history and curriculum development for teachers in the Cherry Hills School District, Denver, Colorado
Among our deepest concerns and commitments has been to provide opportunities for reflection and renewal for long-time activists for peace and justice. When Veterans visit us in Denver, we try to accommodate them with warm hospitality and comfortable surroundings. And at various times we have coordinated and/or facilitated intergenerational retreats that bring together people from various communities who are working for social justice. The retreats generally offer an opportunity for sustained collective conversation as well as meditation, bodywork, relaxation and recreation.
The retreats we have organized and/or led include:
- A series of “Spirit and Struggle” summer retreats for African American faith-based activists, held at various sites in the state of Colorado. (These particular retreats were conducted in the early 1990s, prior to the founding of the Veterans of Hope Project.)
- An intergenerational activists’ retreat that brought together a multi-cultural group of seasoned workers for compassionate social change and younger counterparts. This retreat was held at the Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan
- A multicultural retreat on Youth, Activism and Arts held at the Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan
- A Lenten retreat series for members of the Calvary Baptist Church, Denver, Colorado.
- Religious education retreat for the First Methodist Church of Arvada, Colorado.
- Positive Futures Network Retreat (senior facilitators) for peace activists following the events of September 11, 2001, held at the Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan
- Retreat on resources for personal and social transformation from the African American freedom movement held at the Pendle Hill Quaker Study Center, Wallingford, Pennsylvania.
- Gatherings at the Leaven Center in Michigan for activists looking to deepen the resources of spirit for their work.
Between 1998 and 2003 we co-sponsored several summer courses with the Iliff School of Theology. These classes were taught by Veterans whom we interviewed during their visits to Denver and were supplemented by public programs and lectures to larger audiences.
The courses we co-sponsored included the following:
- “Poetry as a Spiritual Practice” taught by Sonia Sanchez. This writing workshop focused on the practice of poetry as a form of spiritual development and cultivation. Drawing on examples from Pablo Neruda, Lucille Clifton, Mary Oliver and her own body of work, Prof. Sanchez encouraged students to explore poetry and poetic sensibility as points where spiritual faith, creative work and human compassion can meet.
- “New Religions in the New Americas” taught by Davíd Carrasco and Charles Long. Carrasco and Long are two of the country’s most respected and remarkable historians of religion. Carrasco, a professor of religion at Harvard, is a leading scholar on MesoAmerican religious traditions and Long, his mentor and professor emeritus of the University of California at Santa Barbara, is an authority on history of religions. Focusing especially in the experience of Latinos and people of African descent in the Americas, Long and Carrasco outlined the development of “religions of the oppressed” in the Western Hemisphere. They encouraged students to think broadly, deeply and critically about the role of religion, colonialism and resistance in the meaning of the modern world.