Hope in the Cities
Hope in the Cities (HIC) possesses a deep history of inter-racial trust, reflection, dialogue and action spanning 25 years. Founded in 1993 as a flagship program of Initiatives of Change USA, HIC has birthed a conceptual movement through honesty, empathy, intentional conversation, responsibility and truth-telling that is transforming how Richmond as a city and the United States as a country challenges white privilege, structural racism and embedded histories of inequality. Hope in the Cities creates communities in practice where deep listening, accountability and just histories transcend competing identities and interests.
To do this work persistently within Richmond - the former seat of the Confederacy and the second largest city in the country to profit from capitalist economies in domestic enslavement and trading - is bold to say the least. In the first half of the 19th century as many as 300,000 people were sold in the city’s auction houses and transported to plantations further south. By 1860, Virginia counted the largest enslaved population of any U.S. colony. Within 30 miles of Richmond, Union and Confederate armies fought 43 major battles and suffered almost 25% of the entire Civil War’s casualties. Consequently, Richmond is a city that continues to grapple with the legacies of its past.
Although Virginia’s capital is well known for narrow narratives of history that enabled massive resistance to integration, violently staunch conservatism and beloved confederate Monuments, Richmond has also been home to courageous change makers resilient in a resolve towards building paradigms of inclusive histories particularly of marginalized peoples, grassroots leadership, racial justice and inter-relational healing. In 1993, Hope in the Cities created intentional interventions in inter-racial facilitation and dialogue that have become models for individuals, communities and organizations across the world. The Unity Walk conference brought hundreds of global leaders to Richmond for a fuller walk and work through Virginia’s history, centering the contributions of First Nations and peoples of African descent to the state and country’s developments. This event marked Richmond as the first U.S. city to publicly and formally recognize its myopic racial history.
Over two decades of evidence-based work, HIC has built trusted collaborative relationships with a wide range of leaders including community-based activists and organizations, educational institutions, business and corporations, media journalists, nonprofits, civic groups, elected officials, expert practitioners and faith-based centers. Hope in the Cities is able to convene these varied partners who often work in silos, opposition and alienation or neglect of one another. HIC methodologies including workshops, capacity building interventions, facilitated dialogues, and experiential learnings have created innovative change processes across the U.S. including in Portland, Oregon; Selma, Alabama; Baltimore, Maryland; Hartford, Connecticut; Natchez, Mississippi; and Dayton, Ohio; and internationally in the U.K., Switzerland, Germany, Australia, South Africa, Brazil and India.
Communicating proven processes of change
The Hope in the Cities concept includes three vital steps:
Acts of acknowledgment and reconciliation. Hope in the Cities provides diverse tools and techniques to do the inner work of moving beyond personal limits of denial, guilt, shame, and blame in order to commit fully to self-evaluation, i.e. honesty, reflection and understanding one’s pain, trauma, loss and crisis. Relationship building with one’s self is the genesis of our connection to others and commitment to open understanding, conversation and trust building with others within and outside of our everyday communities.
Honest conversation. HIC’s innovative models can be applied to different kinds of communities to build and sustain dialogue beyond difficulties and divisions and lead to new, unexpected and lasting partnerships.
Personal responsibility. Each person constructs a new paradigm of self through the development of ongoing accountability and present awareness that can be plugged into a constellation of outer work. This builds sincere alignment with others to secure collective and constructive action.
We are at a Crossroads: A Call to Community
The Call to Community has been a foundational contract for the work of Hope in the Cities and the creation of methods in truth, racial healing and transformation over more than 20 years. With divisions of race, history, gender, politics and religion being amplified between individuals and communities every day in the U.S., it is clear that a Call to Community continues to be deeply resonant. This declaration of vision, commitment and restorative justice grew from the contributions of activists and advocates across the country who gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, DC in May 1996. The declaration has been endorsed by hundreds of community, nonprofit, faith-based and government leaders and organizations to build interconnected communities across the U.S. that are resilient, relentless and re-energized around historical truth-telling, racial and class equity, restorative justice and people-centered processes.
Read the full declaration here.