Ep. 003:  Lindsay Cornelio

Self Photo Graduation .JPG

Show Notes

background and introduction

  • Lindsay recently completed a Master’s Degree (MS) in Global Affairs with a specialty in Peacebuilding at New York University. She conducted original research on Peacebuilding and positive psychology. She previously taught English in Argentina and Chile. She is focused on Human Rights and Community Building in Bushwick Brooklyn.
  • Lindsay is a consultant to the UN Women Peace and Security Initiative.
  • She has a Bachelor’s Degree (BA) in Psychology from the University of Vermont.
  • She takes a relationship-based approach to understanding the world and global affairs and applies her background in psychology to her current career path of peacebuilding in terms of counseling, coaching, mediation and group facilitation.

Define Peacebuilding

  • Improving interpersonal, group or structural relationships in order to resolve problems.
  • Building new relationships from fractured ones.
  • Understanding that the way people relate to each other is always at the core of problems or issues, whether they are economic, political or cultural.

Sparking an interest in Peacebuilding

  • Burlington VT, where she attended college, is an area of refugee resettlement.
  • International travel and teaching ESL led to an interest in international development.
  • She entered the Global Affairs masters and then concentrated in Peacemaking and Peacebuilding.

Training in Peacebuilding - Early influences

  • Lindsay’s family focused on compassion, thinking of others, prioritizing listening.
  • Acknowledging what was happening in the world.
  • Susan calls this an ‘eco-centric’ upbringing, as characterized by Otto Scharmer of MIT: with a focus on presence and intervention and widening the circle of concern and being relational in the context of international development and international relations.
  • Intersecting and connecting with globally minded people.
  • Solo travel to Ecuador at the age of 18.

Studying Peacemaking and Peacebuilding at New York University (NYU)

  • The Peacemaking and Peacebuilding program at NYU is led by Thomas Hill, whose passion for peacebuilding is inspirational.
  • The Global Studies program at NYU includes development, human rights, international relations and peacebuilding.
  • Solving and resolving issues of conflict, political violence and development by focusing on the way people perceive each other and behave toward one another.
  • Conflict assessment should be holistic, you must connect it to basic human interaction.
  • The Master’s program as just the beginning of the process of opening the doors to new learning.

Lindsay’s peacebuilding work in Bushwick, Brooklyn

  • Lindsay feels a deep connection with the community of Bushwick, Brooklyn, an area which has struggled with issues of gentrification.
    • There has been development and lower crime rates and development, but there has also been displacement.
    • Historically, the neighborhood has been lower-income and Spanish speaking.
    • Lindsay’s goal was to take an in depth look at the peace and conflict dynamics surrounding gentrification within the community, including interactions around the subjects of race, age, gender and socio-economic status.
  • Lindsay included a systemic assessment, including interviews, observations and research.
    • Lindsay used Robert Ricigliano’s systemic conflict assessment and peacebuilding planning guidelines, as detailed in his book, Making Peace Last. This approach first maps an entire social system and including political, cultural and economic structures; this approach studies attitudes and transactions, meaning the way key people relate and interact and the way the rest of the population behaves toward one another, how people and structures converge.
    • Lindsay noted that Ricigliano’s approach is designed for a sustained long-term study, which Lindsay abridges.
  • Following the assessment, Lindsay designed an intervention (or project).
    • Susan notes that the use of the word intervention is problematic because it is important to be humble about trying to create a shift or change.
  • Lindsay designed her project using Intentional Change Theory (ICT), as developed by Richard Boyatzis at Case Western Reserve University.
  • Lindsay also discusses her use of Appreciative Inquiry, as defined in the writing of David L. Cooperrider and Diana Whitney, also at Case Western Reserve University.
    • These two theories, in their basic form, state that human beings connect with each other more greatly in terms of positive emotion rather than negative emotion.
    • ICT refers to the increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system during positive interaction. The parasympathetic nervous system is linked to learning, receptivity and creativity.
    • People are likely to mimic and respond with like emotion.
    • In spaces where there is protracted conflict, there is greater activation of the sympathetic nervous system response: stress, fear, fight or flight.
    • Lindsay wanted to create a space to invoke the parasympathetic response to see how people would react.
  • Lindsay created an event, Celebra Bushwick, in conjunction with a separate dialogue session,
    • She deliberately built spaces, through planned activities and format, designed to create positive emotions, in particular, feelings of active appreciation of the community.
    • At the event 22 different community based organizations set up tables at Hope Gardens, with assistance from the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services.
    • There were performances, speakers, food, story tellers.
    • In the outreach and the planning, Lindsay found that face to face interaction was the most effective tool.
    • The intention was to have interactions and exchanges across cultural lines, but to also feel celebration and appreciation for the community instead of feeling depressed about the loss of control and the changes happening within the community.
      • Susan talks about how when there are diminishing resources, different identity groups often get pitted against one another. Lindsay did the opposite, she brought groups of different identities to work together.
      • Lindsay agrees, and adds that you have to be deliberate about creating the right conditions, not just put people in the same room.
  • Because this was academic, the work had to be coded and measured,
    • There were tangible impacts and results:
      • Relationships were built that transcended identity lines.
      • Organizations were inspired to be more inclusive.
    • The dialogue session was held the day after the event,
      • It seemed that people were able to express negative thoughts with a space that remained safe and constructive, in part because of the positive design and proximity to the earlier event.
  • Susan talks about liberating structures, about containers and spaces where conditions lead to people to intersect and to build relationships in life-affirming ways.
  • A secondary dialogue, held a few months later, did not have the same level of participation.
  • Lessons learned
    • How to incentivize people to participate in events?
    • How to increase diversity?
    • The peacebuilding jargon can be confusing, rather than productive
    • Can the product be simply discussion? How much needs to get done?
    • How can one support things that are already happening?
    • The importance of honesty and transparency.
    • Spend more time assessing and planning how to make the project bigger and more diverse.
    • Create a structure that is more sustainable.
  • The Money Question: how can you support yourself in the peacekeeping field.
    • Everything was done as a volunteer.
    • In order to repeat the project, one would have to think about grants.
    • She is looking for a job.
      • It will have the component of bringing stakeholders together and building relationships
      • Local or International?
  • Direct social interaction, how does one make a living doing grassroots work?
  • Susan say you should create the job and then get it funded, because it is very valuable.

The vision question: what is exciting to you about peacebuilding as you move forward?

  • Peacebuilding is the process of bringing people together. The process is as important as the outcome, it is a process-oriented approach.
  • The peacebuilding field is pretty new.
  • Johan Galtung started it in the 70s. The word entered the UN vocabulary in the 90s and the UN Peacebuilding Commission was created in 2000.
  • There is a recognition that human interaction is evolving and the nature of conflict is evolving.
  • There is a recognition at the international policy level that we need people that specialize in something besides military and security answers to violence.
  • The military response doesn’t necessarily work for networks of violent actors.
  • We need people to do broader mapping, to look at economic, social and cultural factors that incentivize violence.
  • That is what peacebuilders are, they look at the whole picture and ask how can we re-work relationships and systems to improve physical security and the quality of relationships.
  • We falsely think about the dichotomy of peace and war, as though war is active and peace is a state of inactivity. But what peace really means (Ricigliano) is healthy levels of human development, constant growth, collaboration and exchange. This is what leads to innovation and this in turn leads to better more profitable structures and increased resources. Peace is a cycle of sharing, exchange, development and learning. Where war reinforces differences and division and really inhibits creativity and social growth. That is my vision of peace.