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A Bow to Boston: A Model of Preemptive Peace

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“Today, Boston stood for peace and love, not bigotry and hate. We should work to bring people together, not apart.” Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, said on Twitter that he “couldn’t be more proud of” the city. “Peaceful, moral, resistant,” he tweeted. “That is our city and commonwealth.”

“We probably had 40,000 people out here, standing tall against hatred and bigotry in our city, and that’s a good feeling,” the Police Commissioner William B. Evans said, adding that though there were a few unconstructive rioters who showed up who wanted the hate groups to come for a fight “99.9 percent of the people were here for the right reason and that’s to fight bigotry and hate.”

At the risk of seeming parochial, indulge me in this bow to my city for how it preemptively stared down, out-prepared, and ultimately detoured from stepping foot in our city the highly orchestrated plans of a network of neo-Nazi/white-supremacist groups which paraded through and wreaked havoc on Charlottesville, just over a week ago.

Every city has its tribalism around sports teams and other icons which give it a sense of shared identity. The Red Sox may have lost to the Yankees on Saturday but in my book our city had already “won” an incredible victory earlier that day.

In philanthropy there is much talk about how to “scale” and replicate effective models of social change. While we wish we could stick with winning baseball games, the way Boston handled the threat of a neo-Nazi, white supremacist parade descending on our city toting guns, clubs, torches, and hate in their hearts is a model of preemptive peace for any next stops on their nationwide “tour.”  And maybe some lessons that can apply to other areas of life as well when we need to rise to our highest and best human selves to wisely and delicately protect something dear while safeguarding against an unknown threat…

I wasn’t able to attend the counter-protest in Boston as I was gathering kids from summer camp. Wow, a lot happened in just the one week they were gone that sounded like a scene from a bad movie as I was recounting it to them. When we got home we watched the non-drama unfold in Boston on the news. Yes there were a few ugly exchanges of counter-protesters with the police which they handled efficiently with the same no-drama approach they used with the protesters. Those “Blue Lives” went to great lengths to honor the precious ideal of freedom we hold dear as Americans that honors the right to hold different views while skillfully and bravely modeling for the world how to respond when this right crosses the line of fomenting violence—whatever “side” one is on.

This aerial photo says it all: To white supremacists and all hate-inflaming, violence-provoking ideologies, we will not allow you a foothold in our city or in our minds and hearts…

From the moment I saw that Boston was the next expected “stop” on the national “tour” of the groups that showed up at Charlottesville, I felt a mixed set of feelings that ranged from utter disgust and shock, wanting to run the other way and not give them the narcissistic, oppositional stage they seek, and a sense of maternal protectiveness toward the city that has been my home for almost 25 years. Up until just the day before the rally, there was still little information about what groups would be there to protest and what the counter-protest would entail. So many people were unsure of how and what to do to engage in a constructive way to stand for peace while still processing the parade of menacing hate that began in Charlottesville just a week before with an eerie parade of mostly young men carrying torches and wearing Nazi garb and ended with a car driving into a crowd of counter-protesters killing one and injuring dozens.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, the day of the “free speech” rally in Boston, I felt a pit in my stomach and found myself praying for our city and for all of the incredible people and partners of the Imago Dei Fund who I knew would be there—getting teary even writing this—bravely standing as people of peace in this highly polarized moment that we are living through where things that so many of us thought we had left in the dustbin of history are flaring up and are eerily creeping into the mainstream.

A lot has happened from Charlottesville to Boston and still there are other cities where the same web of creepy “alt right”/white supremacist/white nationalist groups are rallying their troops under the smokescreen of “free speech” or historical preservation to descend on a city carrying torches and spewing racist venom. It will be interesting to watch how each city will respond. Some will say that Boston over-reacted. Maybe we did. Who knows how much money we spent to prepare for Saturday to create an environment that made it unattractive for the same groups that descended on Charlottesville to step foot in our city and use us as a stage to attempt to mainstream their extremism. Who knows what would have happened if we had not prepared as we had. While it was not clear before the rally whether there was a direct connection between the organizers of the “free speech” event in Boston and the white-nationalist “Unite the Right” rally that took place in Charlottesville, Boston listened to its instincts and kicked into gear to preempt hate and terror from wreaking havoc as they have done so skillfully every marathon since the 2014 Boston Marathon terror attack.

Thanks to the leadership and skills of our mayor and police commissioner and so many civil society groups, as the police commissioner described, 99.9% of those in attendance came with peaceful intentions and no injuries or deaths happened. The city honored the First Amendment rights of both the protesters—who dwindled down to a mere fifty or so—and the counter-protesters Read More

Job Opening at IDF: Operating Partner

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The Imago Dei Fund is looking for someone to help us build out our team! Please pass along this job post to anyone in your network who you think might be a good fit. Read More

Spark Microgrants Launches New Film Short

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We’re excited to announce the launch of our new promotional film short! The film provides an inside look at Spark’s village-strengthening model, along with inspirational interviews from community members and Spark team members.

You’ll be one of the first to see this compelling insight into Spark’s work in East Africa – make sure to share on social media and reply to let us know your feedback! Read More

Consider a Donation to Help Nomi Network’s Flood Relief Efforts

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Dear Friend,

I hope that you are doing well!As many of you may have seen through social media channels, last week was a truly traumatic and heartbreaking week for Nomi Network’s programs in India.

What started as threats of a flood in 2-3 districts of Northern Bihar (where our offices are located), became a powerful monsoon that would impact 20 districts and leave  24 million people displaced across India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Our field staff has been working tirelessly to bring relief to the families in the midst of turbulent waters, while homes and bridges are collapsing and people are seeing their homes and all their worldly possessions disappear.

Today, we saw a video of a family from Bihar’s Araria District swept away in a river as they were trying to cross a damaged bridge. Please be warned that this video is graphic and not suitable for all audiences.


Bihar is the poorest state in India, poor infrastructure, and mafia driven. We have two offices – Araria and Kishganj, both areas that were heavily hit.






Our field office building is currently being used as a shelter for several of our women and their families that have been displaced. Our team has been walking miles through flooded road-ways to deliver food and clean water to those most affected. They have been providing help to the families affiliated with Nomi Network as well as others in surrounding villages.

We want to come alongside our staff, the women in our programs, and the villagers in this region – but we need your help! We need your help to provide these families with food, clean water, relief packages, shelter, and financial assistance. Will you make a donation towards our Disaster Relief Fund for Bihar? I will continue to keep you updated via social media as events unfold. https://www.nominetwork.org/indiafloodrelief

Thank you so much for your support and solidarity in this challenging time!

Warmest and Humbly,

Diana Mao

President & Co-Founder, Nomi Network

Free Download: “Leading with Spiritual Authority” by Jo Saxton

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Jo Saxton’s talk from SheLeads 2016 is this week’s featured resource, free from 8/7 to 8/13. This talk discusses what leadership means to women, from Jo Saxton who specializes in women’s leadership and helping other’s reach their potential.

Download Here!

You can access all of the SheLeads 2016 Recordings HERE.

About the Resource

Deborah led a nation with it. Miriam led worship with it. Mary had it, Eunice and Lois invested it into their family, Priscilla taught with it, Junia pioneered with it. Yet many of today’s women leaders though gifted and called are perplexed, even intimidated by the idea of it.

This session explores how leaders can live and lead with spiritual authority – because the church and her mission are lifeless without it.

BUILD Boston’s Regional Executive Director, Ayele Shakur, Selected as a 2017 Barr Fellow

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BUILD Boston’s Regional Executive Director, Ayele Shakur, has been selected to join the Barr Fellows Class of 2017 in recognition of her outstanding leadership while serving Boston communities.

The Barr Fellow program, established by the Barr Foundation in 2005, is dedicated to cultivating a diverse network of exceptional community leaders in Boston. As a 2017 Barr Fellow, Shakur joins an elite group of twelve exemplary leaders who will partake in a two-year skill-building program, which includes a three-month sabbatical and facilitated retreats. Fellow’s organizations also receive a $100,000 grant to be invested in their respective community projects. Read More

“Do all the good you can, whenever you can, wherever you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”
John Wesley