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Our Four-Step Cycle: Listen, Research, Action, Follow Up
PEACE has an annual, four-step process:
Listen - We set aside 2-3 months a year to strengthen relationships within our member congregations, to intentionally discuss community problems and a vision for a just county, and to strengthen a formal Justice Network among people of faith. Through this process, common areas of concern emerge and leaders then vote to determine a few major priorities to focus on for the immediate future.
Research - We spend 5-6 months researching to understand the problem and identify viable solutions that will resolve pieces of the problem long-term.
Act - In the spring, we will organize thousands of supporters to gather, hear testimonies as to how these issues affect people’s lives, and negotiate solutions with appropriate authorities.
Follow Up - After commitments are made at the Nehemiah Assembly, PEACE leaders follow up with public officials until there is a favorable resolution to the problem.
The organization will have some flexibility to commit long-term to certain improvements or monitoring as needed, but this basic process is repeated every year.
Before anything else, listening to the community is fundamental to the way we work.
PEACE congregations will take around three months in the early fall of every year to deliberately understand the concerns of the county through a series of individual meetings, or what we call house meetings.
We endeavor to include a diverse and growing number of voices and ensure meaningful conversations in our annual Listening Process. Small group leaders invite people they know to a house meeting with the intention of building stronger relationships with one another, identify personal experiences with community problems, and strengthen the justice ministry network. The leaders are trained to ask probing questions and to understand the meaning of responses through discussion.
All of the stories are collected and categorized into major themes. The Listening Process will conclude with a Community Problems Assembly where broad internal leadership will vote to select the priorities the organization will address.
Investigating the problem without presumptions and seeking practical solutions that work to address the root cause are the guiding principles of our "Research Process."
Following our Listening Process, each winter/early spring, PEACE forms Research Committees led by congregational leaders and clergy. Research Committees are trained to first understand and define the problem to be addressed before investigating solutions. We analyze data, conduct interviews with subject matter experts, and follow-up on the stories told during the Listening Process.
Once the specific problem area is defined, PEACE leaders research potential solutions by looking at best practices in other counties, consider cutting edge proposals from experts, and use common sense. We ultimately determine a specific proposal to be presented and negotiated among relevant officials at the Nehemiah Action Assembly. Research will dictate the nature of our public proposals for improvements. Other criteria leaders will use to determine specific solutions include: viability for improvement, unity among congregations, and impact on the identified problem. Long-term commitments to certain areas of concern may be elected among our membership.
PEACE is currently researching issues related to reducing youth arrests and access to mental health and primary health care.
Action & Follow Up
Each year, PEACE organizes a large body of supporters to an event known as the Nehemiah Action. Testimonies are given at this event to share how the problem is impacting people's lives. Researched solutions are also presented and respectful negotiations take place publicly with relevant officials.
The event is based on the Biblical example found in Nehemiah 5 where Nehemiah called together a "great assembly" to publicly address a matter of justice in the city of Jerusalem. The Nehemiah Action is a public demonstration of broad support for well-researched improvements. With the power of numbers, officials are asked to consider making swift changes to broken systems. After an action is committed, PEACE leaders ensure that changes are implemented and come back year after year until it is resolved.