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What our group experienced in the Community Building Milwaukee workshop was nothing short of transformational healing.  We began as 40 individuals from diverse walks of life...police and correctional officers, politicians, neighborhood leaders, community builders, pastors and healers. The workshop’s safe environment and peer support gave us the courage to share personal experiences, often deeply painful, and life experiences that were the underpinnings for racial and role prejudices. Yes, there was conflict, but also respect as we grew in our acceptance of one another. From the raw honesty emerged empathy, dismantling walls, and bonding us in our mutual love for our Milwaukee community and the strong desire to work as one for its healing.  --Lois B.  


I feel strange, a good strange I don't know how to describe it but I'm still in the air. The workshop was great, and has had a big impact on the responses I give to people in discussions doing my daily routines now, I stop to think before I respond when answering them, and I listen close with paying attention, its like a cleansing of old negative or passive ways. I look at life in a different way and have a different outlook on life. I wish I had did this sooner. I met a couple of my community team members, and it seem to have affected them as well. I wish I had the chance to tape or record the memorable session. wish you well in your next community adventure, I might be able to be a part of another one.  --Ruth M. 


My Community Building experience has become one of the most memorable moments in my life. This opportunity created a chance for me to remove the mask that’s imprisoned me for many years. I’ve always been reluctant to expose my truth in fear of judgment by my peers. Having the opportunity to become transparent within a room of strangers helped me move past my fear of negative exposure. Some say I’m resilient, overcoming continuous trauma, I say I’m simply blessed. The trauma I’ve endured created psychological barriers that affected me socially and professionally. As a professional in Human Services, the ability to present my whole self to clients is vital. The only way I could truly do this was to address my internal issues. The art of building Community was the one experience, I attribute to my success. By helping me remove the walls and see who I could be, and who I am.  --Shyrida T.    


I read the book The Different Drummer by Scott C. Peck before I attended my first CB workshop. I knew a bit of what to expect. What got me at the beginning was the vision. People coming together with their hurts…that stuck with me. Then when going through chaos and emptying it became clear how poignant these stages are to achieve community. It was like psychotherapy, even deeper. The honesty and acceptance that followed made me feel this beautiful and loving bond with the participants. It helped me develop a deeper sense of acceptance. I did not imagine this!! Then the facilitator training took me to a deeper sense of acceptance and love for people. I felt so much hope for humanity. It was not easy though, the stages can be agonizing. But to arrive together in community after clearing a lot of the pain that each of us have been carrying with us is the ultimate gift. I’m looking forward to participate in as many workshops as I can either as a participant or facilitator. It doesn’t matter. I love to see the magic unfold. My sense of gratitude is deep towards all the people who made this possible.  --Milta Maestre-Rawlings  


Last May I was chosen to participate in a life-altering, three-day event.  It’s all part of a collaboration between a whole alphabet of nonprofit and government organizations, but the primary players are Wisconsin Community Services (WCS), the Community Building Institute (CBI) and Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF).  This partnership was formed to introduce a specific form of human interaction to the city of Milwaukee.  It is a training program that has had remarkable success uniting people and changing lives in populations ranging from Fortune 500 to Maximum Security.  But a program encompassing an entire city has never been attempted before.  So this is really cool and really different.  I have seen statistics that confirm that the insights and interpersonal skills gained in this community building process have had remarkable effects on what social service and criminal justice folks call “at risk” populations.  If you’re interested, I’d be happy to show them to you as well.  But the most compelling evidence for me is the three days I spent sitting in a circle with 43 strangers – men and women ages 27-77, black, white, and many points in between, each with his or her own agenda, biases, and personal baggage.  I’m not going to lie to you, it was extremely hard work – there were moments in day two when I really wondered just what the heck I’d gotten myself into.  But, in the end it only made me celebrate more joyfully.  These people, once fearful outsiders, had become friends.  I felt closer to some of them than to people I’ve known for years; and even if our paths never cross again, I will never forget them or stop caring about them.  --Rachel Olson