• Hands Across the Hills

New! Spring 2022 Training: Dialogue Across Divides

Learn the skills to bridge the identity, partisan and ideological divisions that dehumanize others and threaten our democracy. Hands Across the Hills has developed an intensive, three-day, in-person training program in dialogue facilitation and cultural organizing that will make it possible for people from communities across the country to work across seemingly-insurmountable divides.

  • When: April 22, 23, 24. Training will begin on Friday, April 22 at 9am and end on Sunday, April 24 at 4pm.

  • Where: Shutesbury, Massachusetts (Near Amherst)

  • Tuition: $750 per person. Limited scholarship support available.

How to Apply

Apply online at http://bit.ly/hath-dialogue-across-divides-application.

Application deadline extended to January 31.


Applicants will be notified by February 1. To secure your place in the training, 50% tuition deposit will be due February 15, with remainder due March 1. If you have questions, please email us at handsacrossthehills@gmail.com

After completing this highly interactive, professionally-led program, you will be able to:
  • Facilitate dialogues where everyone’s perspective counts, everyone’s worth is recognized, and everyone is challenged to learn and grow

  • Organize groups of participants for long-term collaboration across political and cultural barriers

  • Create skillful questions and prompts

  • Build strong one-to-one and group relationships

  • Manage and defuse intercultural and interpersonal tensions

  • Collaborate, learn, and cultivate common ground across identity and ideological divides

  • Integrate art, music, theater, and storytelling into dialogue and organizing work

  • Develop meaningful day-long or weekend-long agendas that include dialogue sessions and collaborative work, plus informal and social time

  • Launch a plan to organize and start a project in your own communities and organizations


What Makes This Training Unique?
  • Our leadership team focuses on building understanding, trust, and long-term collaboration across differences, tackling challenging and controversial issues in ways that make all of us and our communities stronger.

  • The weekend offers a full immersion in the Hands Across the Hills experience. It takes place in the region where Hands Across the Hills began, and it includes working and learning with members of Hands Across the Hills from Massachusetts and Kentucky.

  • We will learn by doing — participating in dialogues and other experiences together; reflecting on what we’ve done and learned; and drawing lessons from the experiences we’ve shared with colleagues during the three-day session.

  • You’ll return home with training materials that cover key weekend topics plus related tools and resources.

  • The training team and other Hands Across the Hills members will be available following the training program as coaches and mentors. Participants will be invited to take part in follow-up meetings and events to continue supporting and learning from their colleagues.

  • Participants will be joining a growing national movement to create an inclusive and caring society that includes hundreds of local and regional groups across the country.


More Program Details
  • Our trainings and meals will be held at Sirius Community in the woods of Shutesbury MA: https://siriuscommunity.org/

  • Transportation: Participants are responsible for transportation to and from Leverett/Shutesbury. Pick up from Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Hartford CT may be available with advance notice.

  • Lodging and food: A number of Hands Across the Hills members and friends have offered to host program participants at no charge. Additional lodging can be reserved at area motels and a few accommodations are available at our venue Sirius Community in Shutesbury; more information to follow. Tuition will include most meals as well as snacks. Note: Meals at our venue, Sirius Community, will be ample, healthy, and vegetarian.

  • Selection criteria for applicants will include demonstrated experience, clarity of goals and purpose, capacity to apply what you learn in your home community/organization, and diverse representation. We give priority to applicants who apply with partners, or are working as part of an organization or institution that supports their work doing dialogue across divides, as we have found this is most effectively accomplished in the company of others.

  • Covid 19: We are planning this event assuming Covid 19 will be sufficiently under control so that we can meet safely in person. All participants must be fully vaccinated. We will observe all federal, state and local protocols, and we will set group protocols together (e.g. masking) based on everyone’s comfort level.


Leadership Team

L to R: Paula Green, Ben Fink

  • Paula Green, principal co-instructor, is the founder of the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding and Professor Emerita at the School for International Training Graduate Institute. Paula has decades of global and local experience as a psychologist, peace educator, facilitator, and mentor in the field of intergroup relations and conflict transformation. She was named by the Dalai Lama as an “Unsung Hero of Compassion.” For more information, visit www.paulagreen.net.

  • Ben Fink, principal co-instructor, is the founding organizer of the national multiracial coalition Performing Our Future (performingourfuture.com) and the Letcher County Culture Hub network in the coalfields of East Kentucky (letcherculture.org). Ben has also helped build grassroots-led alliances through storytelling, organizing, music, and theater in Baltimore, Milwaukee, rural Alabama and Wisconsin, and the de-industrialized Naugatuck Valley of Connecticut.

  • The training will also include several other members of Hands Across the Hills from Kentucky and Massachusetts, with years of experience leading, organizing and participating in dialogue across divides.



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