Institute for Sustainable Peace

Institute for Sustainable Peace

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Name: Randy Butler
Email: rbutler@sustainablepeace.org
Phone: (713) 240-5949

Mission Statement:

Our mission is to bring together diverse groups to generate dialogue in order to bridge differences and collaborate to tackle challenges in their communities.

Brief History:

Founded in January, 2007, The Institute for Sustainable Peace grew out of founder Randall Butler’s experiences helping build peace and reconcile communities in the former Yugoslavia. A longtime attorney-mediator in Houston, Butler served as a teacher/facilitator for Renewing Our Minds Leadership Development and Peace Gathering (ROM) in Croatia starting in 2002. ROM gathers young leaders from all countries, ethnicities, and religions in southeast Europe and works with them to break the cycle of violence in this volatile region.

Butler’s ROM experience and conversations with top experts in conflict resolution led him to recognize that despite much academic discussion and study of peace building, there were few action-oriented, on-the-ground efforts to put principles into practice within communities in conflict.

Supported by a circle of Senior Fellows – leaders in the academic, government, business, and nonprofit worlds – Butler launched the Institute for Sustainable Peace in 2007 to provide a practical path to peace. The Institute combines a solid foundation in the theories of peace building with skill-building, coaching, and transformational learning for community change agents.

Transformational Leadership Workshops

Beginning in 2007 the Institute has conducted an annual leadership development workshop for Sudanese refugees and leaders from northern and southern Sudan as well as American young people. One outcome of the first workshop was the reconciliation of the Sudanese participants. Another outcome was their determination to begin building a diverse network of leaders from among the Diaspora. Participation increased at the subsequent workshops held from 2008 through 2011, creating an ever-expanding network of leaders in the Diaspora committed to peace building among the Diaspora and in Sudan and South Sudan.

Beginning in 2012, the leadership training approach transformed from a one-time, retreat format to regional weekend workshops and a series of video training modules delivered over a longer time period but in smaller segments.

Interfaith Dialogues

The Jewish-Muslim dialogues, in partnership with Interfaith Ministries, started in 2007. The dialogues began with just one group of Jews and Muslims earnest desire to listen to one another and develop a more compassionate understanding of one another’s faith. Since its conception, the dialogues have grown to include two groups of Houston-area Jews and Muslims… and now Christians. Members meet regularly to discover common values, build bridges of understanding, address tough issues including terrorism and Middle East conflict, to foster initiatives to deepen the understanding among their communities, and to propose solutions to some of the intractable problems.

Candidate Café Dialogues

In October 2010 and again in September 2012 the ISP, in partnership with ACRHouston and the American Leadership Forum-Houston, conducted Candidate Café Dialogues. Citizens enjoyed the opportunity to communicate, ask questions, and raise concerns with the 17 congressional, Texas state senate and house, and Harris County commissioner candidates.

Connected Communities

The Institute for Sustainable Peace was engaged by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University to design and facilitate the Connecting Communities Project in late 2011 and early 2012. The project brought together 51 diverse, local community leaders from four major demographic groups (Anglo, Latino, African-American and Asian) to address how to assure that Houston makes a successful transition to an inclusive, equitable, united multi-ethnic society in the coming decades.

Since the completion in June 2013 of the final report of the first phase of the Connecting Communities Initiative (CC), many other individuals and organizations have begun to join the ever-enlarging conversations about what it will take to build a truly successful multiethnic society in the greater Houston region.  ISP will facilitate the expanding conversations, collaborations, and communications vital to the next phase of, what we are now calling, the Connected Communities Initiative.  Efforts are already under way to gather leaders and organizations already active in Houston to explore increasing their collective impact in the areas of leadership development, building bridges of understanding among the many ethnic groups, and economic and community development.