We subscribe to the Four Commitments agreed upon by representatives of 200 religions at the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1993:
I commit myself to a culture of nonviolence and reverence for life;
I commit myself to a culture of solidarity and a just economic order;
I commit myself to a culture of tolerance and a life based on truthfulness;
I commit myself to a culture of equal rights and partnership between men and women.
Urban Visions, Inc. is in the business of transformation of organizations and people in the interpersonal and the ecological arenas. It aims to develop, use and replicate non-violent methods of interaction-verbal, physical, and ecological-for management, education and training. To do this Urban Visions, itself, models cooperative and effective management.
Transformation means increasing people's awareness of their interdependency with the world and their ability to live harmoniously. It implies principled openness, individual and corporate, and desire to increase the peace in society and environment rather than to wrest resources for individual gain. Transformation is growth.
Nonviolence means helping people in communities and natural environments to accept conflict as normal, to ensure that power is distributed in an organic, equitable way and to seek solutions that benefit all parties. Therefore, the Company works against human and ecological exploitation. Nevertheless, serving clients well requires the delegation of power and distinctions between people on the basis of tasks and abilities.
Urban Visions can replicate itself by forming or assisting other corporations, which must be in accord with its mission of non-violent action. Together with Urban Visions they comprise a 'commonwealth' of similarly engaged companies. In the beginning Urban Visions will provide corporate training, quality control, governance and support. But as the commonwealth matures Urban Visions intends to transfer these functions.
ABOUT The Bronx Peace Village and Dojo
What's a Peace Village?
The Bronx Peace Village develops peaceful and effective responses to conflict in our community. Iglesia la Resurrecci&oaccute;n (Methodist), Latino Pastoral Action Center, Peace Villages Intl. (Order of Peacemakers, Buddhist), other churches and Urban Visions (nonprofit) sponsor it. We train people in meditation and nonviolent action.
Meditation prepares the spirit for peaceful combat to make a better person and world. Nonviolence is the way to peace and justice. Alternatives to Violence Project, ('AVP*'), a core to peacemaking at our center, began in 1975 when prisoners in Green Haven Correctional Facility and Quakers created workshops that decreased prison violence. AVP, now international, brings peacemaking to communities and prisons.
I-Key Workshops extend AVP to physical peacemaking with movement and contact training in a 'dojo' (martial arts) setting. Meditation, AVP and I-Key help people resolve conflict peacefully and remove its sources. This is nonviolent action as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi have taught us.
Why a Peace Center?
When child kills child, glass shards fill gutters, weeds sprout in empty lots and open air markets sell drugs, we need heart, faith and energy to work at peace. Our Bronx streets are notorious, so when we work hard, well and wisely, people notice and ask what we're doing right. Some will help us struggle for liberation, healing, community and transformation.
We seek Transformation: the liberation of love. Love flows when faith becomes strong. Faith grows when we pay close attention to Life around us. We attend when we affirm ourselves and respect others. To transform ourselves and liberate our communities, we learn and practice respect.
What Peacemakers Learn:
Peacemakers use skillful physical and verbal nonviolence to survive and gain respect; mean streets aren't 'Pleasant Places.' Therefore, we train them to pay attention always to what's going on around and to be real. Most important, they learn how to meet even physical attack as an opportunity for transformation in which no one suffers needlessly. Peacemakers learn to organize the cooperative common struggle for power and justice.
A Peace Village prepares peacemakers to transform themselves and to liberate their communities with gentle, determined force. They learn to let Spirit flow through their breath into word and movement. They learn how to center themselves deeply, to accept an attack as a 'gift' and how to re-harmonize their attacker. Peacemakers experience Transforming Power and shape their words and actions as its channels; this power will support them as long as they practice these skills.
Peacemaking skills also benefit self, family and workplace: the world rewards cooperators. They help babies to play gently, children to find win-win solutions and youth to organize for their community's fair share. As adults Peacemakers continue the cycle of healing, liberation, community and transformation, of oneness within Being (by any Name their faith may use). Humanity's greatest prophets call on us to praise Being with our lives:
“There is no way to peace; Peace is the Way.” -- (A.J. Muste)
About BILL LEICHT
Coordinator & Facilitator-Trainer
Organizational & Course Development, I-Key Workshops, Community & Safety Programs
Bill Leicht's job is to bring I Key dispute resolution methods to new organizations. He developed these methods to provide nonviolent ways of responding physically as well as verbally to aggression. He wrote the I Key Facilitation Manual to integrate physical and verbal conflict resolution.
Bill's background is broad, covering science, art, business and conflict resolution. A New Yorker since 1963, Bill hails from Minnesota where as a young naturalist he developed skills now useful in Simeht's ecological projects. An SB (biopsychology) and AB (liberal arts) from the University of Chicago led to research in neurochemistry (1957 1966). Then with an MA in Fine Arts and Fine Arts Education (Teachers College, Columbia University, 1967) he began a sculpture and teaching career. In 1968 Audubon Artists' awarded him its national medal of honor for sculpture.
From 1968-1974, as an instructor first at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Dept. of Psychiatry), then at Hunter College (Art Dept.), Bill began street work in the South Bronx. He shared his art and communication skills and learned community organizing with United Bronx Parents (parent activists) and with the Ghetto Brothers (youth gang becoming community organization). His commitment to nonviolent social action begun in sixties civil rights work was growing.
Six years later art and community action merged when Bill set up Urban Visions of America, Inc. His company trained visually talented hardcore unemployed people for 12 weeks under CETA as graphic artists; 95% got and kept full time arts industry jobs. However, CETA funding ended in 1984 and he turned to ergonomic and computer consulting with his partner, Anne Carriere.
In 1983 Bill began aikido, a nonviolent, Japanese martial art. By 1985 he was synthesizing this art and the verbal nonviolence of Alternatives to Violence, Inc. ("AVP "). The result, "I Key Workshops," was a new approach to values education and conflict resolution that used body-centered learning to build conflict resolution skills. Those who have taken these workshops facilitators, parents, children, teachers, peace officers have found that their I Key experiences and skills help to transform their lives and work. By 1994 I-Key Workshops had become the unique core of Simeht Ltd's dispute resolution business.
As a staff developer in NYC public schools (conflict resolution, Educators for Social Responsibility, 1992-94) Bill helped schools change the way they manage and educate young people. This experience confirmed his vision that transformative physical education can help young people to acquire the values and skills to become responsible adults. Simeht's 1998 training of conflict resolution trainers for the School Safety Academy integrated safety and enforcement skills for safety officers in N.Y.C. public schools.
Some of Bill's recent projects: