Communities Without Boundaries International

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Communities Without Boundaries International (CWBI) is an international non-governmental tax exempt organization carrying out peacebuilding and sustainable development projects in the US and around the globe, and founded on the philosophy and principles of nonviolence as espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas K. Gandhi. Their mission is to foster peace through development and the empowerment of communities using the philosophy and principles of nonviolent social change. Its missions are carried out through research, education, and technical assistance in underprivileged, conflict, and post-trauma/conflict communities around the globe.[1]

Their work can be found in Africa,[2] the Balkans, Turkey,[3] Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia,[4] and North America. CWBI enters communities to break down social boundaries by creating peaceful bridges. The programs are intended to relieve suffering, increase security, and help people take charge of their lives and their communities.

The techniques employed for accomplishing their work are utilized in community building and community development programs. Constructing local, regional, and international partnerships builds on greater communities for implementing peaceful non-violent social change. Their partnerships are integral for developing and implementing several initiatives: From Chaos to Community and Youth Without Boundaries. The success of these initiatives led CWBI to speak at the 50th Anniversary March on Washington.

History[edit]

Martin Luther King, Jr. called for a coalition of organizations to bring on new strategies for overcoming barriers enforced by distressed and disadvantaged communities. After his assassination, organizations emerged with new outlooks on breaking barriers, but many were not considering the power nonviolent social change philosophy could bring to underprivileged and disadvantaged parts of the world.

CWBI's emergence came from two previous organizations looking to grasp the same message from Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1990 Coretta Scott King established the Center for Community Development to fill the void of her late husband's vision. Seven years later this initiative was launched nationally as the National Institute for Community Empowerment (NICE) by Johnny J. Mack. Their flagship project was the American Cities Project, targeting neighborhoods in major city urban centers across the United States. The goal of the project was community restoration and revitalizing communities through nonviolent social development.

In 2007, NICE was re-articulated and Realizing The Dream (RTD) was born in collaboration with Martin Luther King III. RTD was designed to look at the problems and opportunities of the 21st century in freedom, justice, and equality. Simultaneously the organization works towards eliminating poverty, racism and violent conflict in the United States and throughout the World. RTD was eventually subsumed into the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in 2010.

In the fall of 2011, CWBI was founded by Johnny Mack, who held responsibility for the launch of both NICE and RTD. He was joined by Dr. Maneshka Eliatamby. CWBI was established to continue the legacy of NICE/RTD. Lessons and strategies were adopted from these campaigns and pursued.

Initiatives[edit]

CWBI implements its programs with a theory of change seeking to empower individuals and communities. Community development and community building are at the forefront of this change. Through research, education, training, and technical assistance services, CWBI creates sustainable changes and positive approaches. All of their work is developed with the philosophy and methodologies of nonviolence.

CWBI has implemented several initiatives all geared to new strategies for approaching community development and community building through nonviolence. These initiatives include From Chaos to Community: An International Initiative, which encompasses their Bridges, Preventing Chaos, and Global Communities Network programs, and Youth Without Boundaries.

From Chaos to Community: An International Initiative[edit]

CWBI works with a network of local partners for engaging conflict and post-conflict communities in peacebuilding. Through interventions targeting communities with research and education From Chaos to Communities accomplishes two things. The first is promoting additional change, tolerance, and mutual respect among disparate identity, cultural, ethnic and religious groups. Secondly it enhances the quality of life for target communities establishing a framework for carrying out sustainable development projects. The goal of this initiative is to redress poverty, building community and fostering peace by engaging targeted communities where youth, clergy, and business leaders work together through community building and community development strategies. The Bridges, Preventing Chaos, and Global Communities Network all fall within this initiative.

Previous From Chaos to Community work has been conducted in Bosnia/Herzegovina, India, Kenya, Nepal,[5] Sri Lanka, and the United States.

Preventing Chaos[edit]

This initiative is the violence prevention arm of CWBI. Viewing violence as a strategy employed by groups for positive social change in their community, CWBI bring together elements from philosophical orientation, policies, programs and projects that foster the elimination or mitigation of the elements producing violent responses. CWBI fashions programs for the challenges and opportunities each specific community may be facing. This initiative promotes individuals and groups to take charge of the peace, security, and safety of their communities.

Global Communities Network[edit]

The Global Communities Network is CWBI's partnership with communities within the United States and around the world utilized for carrying out its objectives. They are the principal sponsors and/or collaborators in building and sustaining their community empowerment theory of change. They represent the framework for CWBI to achieve its work in community development and community building. This network comprises civil society networks, nonprofits, foundations, and universities, all promoting nonviolence in tangible ways.

The same network is responsible for helping CWBI place interns and YWB members. CWBI's partnership with these organizations is to effect mutually reinforcing capacity among its membership. Access to the network provides organizational development, leadership development, and resource development training and technical assistance.

Youth Without Boundaries (YWB)[edit]

This initiative brings together youth (ages 18–35) from around the world to travel and experience other cultures, lifestyles, and challenges their peers around the world face.[6] CWBI promotes the role of youth in the world, YWB is therefore designed to put youth at the center of program development in their own countries, where they serve, collaborate, and engage in dialogue with their own communities. Young leadership is important in the future for building peace at global, regional, or local levels through means of nonviolence, civic responsibility, and intercultural collaboration. Selected participants of YWB develop leadership skills consistent with nonviolent philosophy while expanding their vision of the world's realities and possibilities.

YWB has members participating in Afghanistan, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, United States, and Zimbabwe.

National Action to Realize the Dream[edit]

In 2013,[7] CWBI joined an alliance of other organizations advocating in issues from labor, civil rights and human rights, education, media, and housing, to march on Washington since Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic 1963 March on Washington. The event was to bring the American peoples attention to a variety of issues in the United States. These include worker's rights, immigration, LGBT equality, and women's rights.

CWBI's Johnny Mack, Maneshka Eliatamby, and members of their YWB initiative spoke in front of the Lincoln Memorial, 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr. gave his legendary 'I Have a Dream' speech. Calling on over 20,000 individuals present, Mack and Eliatamby asked to not forget Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of freedom, justice, and equality.[8] Emphasizing the importance of youth, they launched a new challenge to raise the consciousness of the world for quality education, jobs, and peaceful communities.

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