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Around the Table with Arun Gandhi – You Made It Possible

With a merger to celebrate, Advoz’s newly formed joint-event team knew it would be a big year. But when the dust settled on the record May 4th event, all were amazed by the turnout of 525 attendees, 128 auction donations and 43 generous sponsors to celebrate the merger of the Center for Community Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution Services.

With more than 150 guests experiencing Advoz for the first time, there was an opportunity for everyone to “add voice” on the theme, Peace: The Next Generation with “table-talk” conversations (below) whose results were texted message to the MCs and highlighted, adding voices to the evening dialogue.

 

Table Talk with the Coutts family

Sponsors, bidders and donors all contributed to the final tally, raising $72,681, with proceeds benefiting Advoz mediation and restorative justice programs this summer.

43 businesses, organizations and patrons contributed to more than half of the cost of the event. Please take a moment to thank them when you see them in our community!

 

Thank you PNC Bank, our Dinner Dialogue Sponsor and Community Sponsors Benjamin Roberts and Gibbel Kraybill and Hess

Thank you PNC Bank, our Dinner Dialogue Sponsor and Community Sponsors Benjamin Roberts and Gibbel Kraybill and Hess

Community Sponsors included Goods Disposal Service, Re-Uzit Shop of New Holland, Significa Benefit Services and Shumaker Plan-Design-Transform all made major contributions

Goods Disposal Service, Re-Uzit Shop of New Holland, Significa Benefit Services and Shumaker Plan-Design-Transform all made major contributions as Community Sponsors.

Thanks to Dale and Sadie High, HON Office Furniture, Landis Communities, Natural Awakenings, Shady Maple Smorgasbord and Sharp Shopper for your generous Restorative Sponsorship.

Thanks to Dale and Sadie High, HON Office Furniture, Landis Communities, Natural Awakenings, Shady Maple Smorgasbord and Sharp Shopper for your generous Restorative Sponsorship.

Advocate Sponsors included Barley Snyder, Bertz, Hess and Co. LLP, John W. Eby, Elizabethtown Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking, Eastern Mennonite University Lancaster, Ephrata National Bank, EVERENCE Federal Credit Union, The Hess Agency, Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness, Lancaster Life Employment Skills, Mennonite Central Committee, Moravian Manor, Ross Insurance Agency, Russel, Krafft and Gruber LLP, David and Heather Sperrry, Miles and Dawnell Yoder, and Zaepfel Law PC

Advocate Sponsors included Barley Snyder, Bertz, Hess and Co. LLP, John W. Eby, Elizabethtown Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking, Eastern Mennonite University Lancaster, Ephrata National Bank, EVERENCE Federal Credit Union, The Hess Agency, Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness, Lancaster Life Employment Skills, Mennonite Central Committee, Moravian Manor, Ross Insurance Agency, Russel, Krafft and Gruber LLP, David and Heather Sperrry, Miles and Dawnell Yoder, and Zaepfel Law PC. THANK YOU!

And a big thanks to Facilitator and Patron Sponsors: Allegra Marketing | Print | Mail, Ana Ayala and Oscar Barbosa, Chris and Tabea Steinbeisser-Fitz, Compass Real Estate LLC, Gift CPA, Edward and Twila Miller, Oregon Dairy, PA Council of Mediators, Mila Pilz and Hazem Salem, Taylor Brand Group, Travel Time, Trout Ebersole and Groft.

And a big thanks to Facilitator and Patron Sponsors: Allegra Marketing | Print | Mail, Ana Ayala and Oscar Barbosa, Chris and Tabea Steinbeisser-Fitz, Compass Real Estate LLC, Gift CPA, Edward and Twila Miller, Oregon Dairy, PA Council of Mediators, Mila Pilz and Hazem Salem, Taylor Brand Group, Travel Time, Trout Ebersole and Groft.

 

The evening would not have been possible without the generous work by these key volunteers and partners donating their time and talents:

Meek Daye, chair
Susan Eberly and Alegre Concierge Services

Ana Ayala
Shaun Balani
Robin Baldwin
Rob Bomberger
Steve Bortner
Corey Faus
Chris Fitz
Jennifer Gallagher
Claudia Himes
Steve Kownacki, video
Mila Pilz
Rod Shumaker, staging
Dawnell Yoder

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Arun Gandhi’s jokes in visit, ‘I think you have convinced me that i should move to Lancaster’

Richard Hertzler | Staff Photographer
Arun Gandhi, an Indian-American author, scholar and political activist and a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, speaks with Chris Fitz, executive director of Advoz, after his meeting with a panel of representatives from Lancaster outside the Lancaster Marriott.


Published May 5, 2017 in Lancaster Online. Copyright © 2017 LancasterOnline. All Rights Reserved.

May 5, 2017

After listening to a diverse group of Lancaster County residents describe their community at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square Friday morning, Arun Gandhi said it reminded him of the story his grandfather told of the blind men and the elephant.

In that story told by Mohandas Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi,  six visually impaired people felt various parts of the elephant. One who felt the legs said it was like a tree. Another who held the trunk said it was like a snake. Someone else who touched the body said it was like a wall.

To get a true picture of the animal, you need to put all of those pieces together. The same, he said, is true of a community.

Gandhi is a peace activist, author, journalist and agent of change. He founded the  M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Rochester, New York. He visited Lancaster at the invitation of Advoz, a nonprofit agency dedicated to transforming  conflict and building community through face-to-face dialogue programs. Thursday evening, he addressed 500 people at Spooky Nook Sports.

He spent Friday morning listening to 22 county residents from different backgrounds and walks of life describe their community.

What he heard was a belief that over the past 30-plus years, Lancaster has become more diverse, more accepting of outsiders, and better for it — as evidenced by the fact that Lancaster city is the No. 1 area for refugee settlement in the country on a per capita basis, according to the BBC.

Joe Moore, a member of the Lancaster Friends Meeting (Quakers), spoke of the racial, cultural and ethnic diversity in the city.

Deepa Balepur,  president of the Indian Organization of Lancaster County, said members of her community have easily integrated into life here.

Mukaram Syed, a business consultant and board member of the Islamic Community Center of Lancaster, said that from the outside, Lancaster looks like a closed community, but “it has a big heart. In seven years, I have seen Lancaster’s fabric change.”


“We will dissolve into your community like the sugar in the water. I think that’s a wonderful symbol of how we should all live in a community where we enhance each other and sweeten each other by our presence.”

~ Arun Gandhi


 

Richard Hertzler | Staff Photographer Dr. Arun Gandhi an Indian-American author, scholar and political activist and a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi is shown speaking to a panel of Lancaster representatives. To Gandhi’s left is Thomas Ryan, Lancasterhistory.org and at right is Leroy Hopkins, retired professor from Millersville University.

 

Mayor Rick Gray attributed people’s acceptance, in part, to the underlying influence of the peaceful and respectful Anabaptist community.

Others addressed the local work ethic and deep history of Lancaster — how the promise of religious freedom guaranteed by William Penn and the adherence to democratic principles have contributed to the  fabric of the community.

When asked his impression of what he had heard, Gandhi quipped, “I think you have convinced me that I should move to Lancaster.”

Noting the diverse perspectives  presented Friday, Gandhi referred not only to his grandfather’s story about the elephant but about Zoroastrians, who left Persia sometime between the 8th and 10th centuries and sought a home in India, which was then ruled by various kings. One king, Gandhi said, held up a full cup of water and told them that like the full cup, there was no room for them.

At that point, one of the Zoroastrian leaders took a spoon of sugar, stirred  it  into the water and said, “We will dissolve into your community like the sugar in the water.

“I think that’s a wonderful symbol of how we should all live in a community where we enhance each other and sweeten each other by our presence.”


Were you around the table with Dr. Gandhi? Complete the “talk back!”

If you had any doubts about the hope and resilience for adding voice in South Central Pennsylvania, I imagine they are now erased. The turnout, the participation, the generosity and the feedback in the last 24 hours from Around the Table is humbling now to receive. Thank you for being part of this special experience.

Add your voice one more time in this 3-minute survey on the event by clicking on this link: https://goo.gl/forms/b06xdAcNLHbotSB92.

We have reached 1,000 Advoz fans on Facebook! Click here and push us to a new level!

We are tallying up the fruits of your incredible generosity now, but before we have a final tally, I welcome you to post your own photos to social media and or enjoy a few here and on our Facebook page. Include #AroundtheTable2017 and #AddYourVoice and our username: @AdvozPA on both Twitter and Facebook.

Before he left, Arun Gandhi shared with some of us how our conversations are like a story of seven blind people describing an elephant. None of us can describe fully what the elephant is, but together, when we speak clearly and listen–we begin to see the big picture, the whole community. Thanks for adding your voice, for listening and for furthering Advoz’s work of transformative dialogue.

 


Arun Gandhi to recount boyhood lessons with grandfather

In what is shaping up to be a unique and interactive kickoff dinner event for Advoz, Dr. Arun Gandhi will literally speak “around the table” in an in-person interview  with Scott LaMar, WITF’s Radio Smart Talk host, who is also receiving the first Dignity in Dialogue Award on May 4, 5 pm, at Spooky Nook’s Olympic Hall.

Arun Gandhi grew up experiencing bullying and racism as a youth in South Africa, but learned about peacemaking and reconciliation during the two years he lived with his grandfather, Mohandas Gandhi. The elder Gandhi, a lawyer, pacifist and an activist, became the leader of the Indian independence movement.

Dr. Gandhi founded the M.K. Gandhi institute of Nonviolence in Rochester, NY, to help young people achieve a nonviolent, sustainable and just world. He has authored and edited several books on nonviolence, social justice and his grandparents’ legacy.

The event theme, Peace: The Next Generation asks, “How do we build a culture of peace in a divisive world, particularly for our youth and succeeding generations?” And the event will facilitate conversation on the theme around every table to add your voice. Find out more and register at:  AroundtheTable.org.

Register for Around the Table