Navigating Difference

10: BRIE LOSKOTA | We Decided to be Builders

The immediate years after 9/11 were profoundly challenging for American Muslims, who struggled to find their voice while being targeted for suspicion by law enforcement, media and the public alike. Meanwhile, their community institutions were in their foundational stages and largely unconnected. That pressure cooker environment is part of what sparked a groundbreaking and transformative program to support the emerging leaders of the American Muslim community — the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI).

As Executive Director of the USC Center for Religion & Civic Culture, BRIE LOSKOTA‘s work and research focus on how religions change and make change in the world.  She is also co-founder and senior advisor to AMCLI and a trainer-facilitator with the United States Institute of Peace’s Generation Change program, where she has trained young leaders from across the Middle East, Africa, South America and Southeast Asia in leadership capacity and conflict management while also fostering a vibrant network among them.

Brie also works with local, state and federal government agencies to ensure more effective partnership with faith communities on issues including public health, mental health and disasters.

In this episode, Edina and Brie talk about the origins of AMCLI, Brie’s roots in Southern California, what she’s learned from more than a decade of training emerging leaders around the world, what it means to be a good ally, and how to leverage difference for new possibilities.

Links to Brie’s work and projects mentioned in this episode:

4: REV. GARY MASON | Amnesia is the Enemy of Reconciliation

For the latest episode, Edina speaks with a peacemaker who became one of the key “persuaders” in the Northern Ireland conflict, leveraging his faith and relationships to bring armed fighters to the table with politicians, where they were ultimately able to create the historic Belfast Agreement that officially ended the conflict.

Rev. Mason and the Queen of England.

Since getting ordained in his early 30s, REV. GARY MASON was stationed in a Belfast Methodist church which butted up against a “peace wall” put there by the government to keep the peace between Protestants and Catholics.

In their conversation, Gary shares moving stories about his choice to act on his faith by engaging all sides of the conflict sincerely and with compassion, both during the conflict and from two decades of active peace building and community healing he’s pioneered since it stopped.

They explore his path to becoming a “persuader” and the complex questions about life after conflict he’s faced:

  • Once the violence stops and all parties have committed to peace, how can survivors be supported in healing?
  • Why is it worse to forget than to remember the trauma of the conflict? What are they supposed to do with their memories?
  • Can former enemies and their offspring transform their understanding
    of each other and move forward together?
  • How do the lessons of Northern Ireland apply to our current
    American “Troubles”?

Rev. Mason at the Belfast Mission.

More about Gary & his decades of trailblazing work in community transformation:

3: AZIZA HASAN | Choosing Curiosity Over Assumptions

Host Edina Lekovic talks to one of her original co-conspirators in community transformation, about their powerful “meeting the moment” experience over the past decade.

AZIZA HASAN is Executive Director and co-founder of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, which has been transforming L.A.’s Muslim and Jewish communities through the power of relationships among broad political and religious spectrum of Muslims, Jews, and their institutions. It reaches hundreds of thousands of people each year with its fellowships, public programs and digital presence.

She served on President Obama’s Faith Based & Neighborhood Advisory Council and was named one of 50 non-profit leaders “quietly changing the world” by the Chronicle of Philanthropy

In this conversation, Aziza explains why choosing curiosity over assumptions is the most powerful choice we can make during conflict.

Plus, Aziza shares why feels she was born into the work of inter-religious community building through conflict transformation and we reflect on our decade of bringing people together for difficult conversations and relational resilience.

More about Aziza & NewGround:

Other links mentioned in the show: