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Reducing the risk of a US/Russia conflict through Citizen Diplomacy.

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    CCI GlobeDear Friends,

    For the past two years (actually the past 32 years), I’ve struggled to create ways to increase understanding and decrease misunderstanding between the two nuclear superpowers: the U.S. and Russia. Why?––to offset the odds of a global nuclear war. We thought our work at CCI was finished in the mid-2000s! But politically these two nations are back at it again in 2015: building new missile systems, posting them on the others’ borders, flying supersonic jets equipped with megatons of destruction every day––by false alarm, accident or intention, the entire world is going through an extremely dangerous era at present. And these facts are getting very little exposure in American mainstream media.

    What can we concerned and intelligent citizens do, if anything?

    CCI’s single most effective program over the years was SMMA (Soviets Meet Middle America!), a two-year, first-ever venture that brought many hundreds of Soviet citizens to 264 American cities where they were home hosted and participated in talks with Americans in Rotary Clubs, schools, universities, libraries, book clubs, businesses, churches, synagogues, TV stations, radio talk shows and newspaper offices. They even had evening discussion opportunities in homes. The Soviets slept in American bedrooms, ate breakfast over kitchen tables, discussed their countries, differences and similarities, in addition to local and international politics. Both shared their dreams and hopes for their futures and committed to work in their countries to dispel erroneous misconceptions and to build human bridges between them. And they did! Russians went home and became purveyors of positive stories and warm information about America.

    Today Russian and American SMMA participants still reminisce about what that exposure has meant to them throughout the past 28 years. Russians say they could never be propagandized about American people again. They may disagree with current government leaders in one or both countries, but they know American citizens have hearts of gold. Americans felt the same about their new Russian friends; they were so relieved to discuss issues and find that they held the same values and hopes. SMMA softened the political environment between the U.S. and the USSR in the late 1980s — and a similar program can do the same again today between these two countries.

    In the 1990s and 2000s those same Americans and Russians became the backbone of CCI’s rapidly developing business training programs. We relied on them to vet Russian candidates coming for extensive management training in American companies (and homes). We still have networks in both countries that will provide fresh new candidates for the new program. I discussed this possibility with gatherings of CCI’s Russian alumni on my recent trips––they are ready to publicize this program to their colleagues, young business and professional contacts––and their adult sons and daughters.

    SMMA needs to happen again––and it needs a new name!

    How about one of the following for a program name?

    American-Russian Meetups! (ARMU)––or Russian-American Meetups! (RAMU) – or Russians Meet Middle America (RMMA)

    The title is still debatable––we are looking for a better one. Maybe you have suggestions?

    Whatever the name, it will work in the following manner:

    • Four English-speaking Russian citizens from four different Russian cities will comprise one Team.
    • One team will be two men and two women (making it easy for overnight accommodations in homes)
    • They will be selected and vetted by CCI and will not be bureaucrats or party affiliated.
    • They will be entrepreneurs in the fields of private medicine, schools, construction, food products, services, etc.
    • They will all be educated, knowledgeable and average professional citizens of today’s Russia.
    • They will pay their own international transportation and spending money.
    • They will visit four cities for three days to have direct interactions with American counterparts.
    • The American team will provide pro bono housing, food and transport for the Russians for three days.
    • American host committees will put together numerous opportunities for presentations and discussions.
    • CCI will prepare colorful professional materials to assist with planning and program development.
    • CCI will fundraise to pay for internal USA airfare and insurance for ARMU Russians.
    • CCI will raise funds to hire staff to run this program. I can work free but young staff cannot.
    • CCI will be responsible for PR.

    One such group would make very little difference to the scope of challenges faced by today’s US-Russia standoff.

    But four such groups over many months for two years would create an avalanche of activity, media attention and PR across America! Coupled with the fact that some groups will go to Washington to meet with Congress members and think tanks, this effort could stimulate a vast amount of interactions, education and goodwill in a short amount of time.

    If four groups travel to four cities each month for two years and meet 100 people, they will reach 38,000 Americans.

    If they meet with or are heard by 250 Americans the total impact will be 96,000.

    If they meet or are heard by 500 Americans it will be 192,000 people.

    If the groups meet and are carried by any type of media and are heard by 1000 people, the total will be 384,000.

    Should even one group be carried on ABC, CNN, or NBC it will immediately jump to millions of listeners.

    The SMMA program in 1988/89 generated more than a thousand newspaper articles, radio interviews and TV news spots. With today’s technology and social media, it could go viral and create a windfall of education and goodwill!

    If you have read this far and are interested, please use our contact form and let me know the following:

    • Could you host or co-host a group of four Russians for three days in your city/town?
    • If not, do you know of anyone in your city you could recommend for this role?
    • Could you be a home host for two Russian citizens for three days?
    • Could you put together a local team of 4 to 10 Americans to help organize their three day stay?
    • Could you find sufficient transport to and from airports and meetings?
    • Would you be interested in taking the first experimental delegation?

    Please feel free to use our contact form if you have any questions.

    Thanks so much for helping this citizen-to-citizen initiative to leap into reality!

    Sharon Tennison
    President and Founder
    Center for Citizen Initiatives

     

    The post Make The World Safe!: A New CCI Program appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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  • 01/27/16--06:12: Welcome to Our New Website
  • website-imageWelcome to the Center for Citizen Initiatives' new website. This site will help support a series of new programs we have planned for 2016 and beyond. Those of you who have been previously involved with CCI know that after more than two decades of running major programs, in recent years we had become mostly inactive. That was OK: US-Russia relations were now relatively good, and Russia was clearly on its way to building a prosperous society. But then I watched as over the last few years US-Russia relations degenerated beyond anything anyone could have expected.

    In addition, sanctions on Russia were affecting thousands of those Russians we have known, worked with and loved over the past 30 years. I became increasingly agitated about the fact that we no longer appeared to have the means to make a difference.

    I asked myself, “How could our past CCI work be leveraged to make a difference in 2016?”  With no staff, no up-to-date public relations and limited personal funds, several unexpected miracle-like happenings began occurring. For instance ….

    A call came from a Bay Area web developer, Bob Spies of Flying Seal Systems, saying “Someone sent me one of your emails. I went to your website and see that it needs considerable help.” (It was actually near dead for years with little activity.)  He also said, "I propose that I revamp and upgrade your CCI website pro bono." I hastily made an appointment to learn more about this web developer and found Bob to be genuinely concerned and wanting to do something to make a difference in the world. Shortly after Bob began his work, he was joined by graphic designer Celena Pete of Green Typewriter Marketing & Design, who designed an updated CCI logo and assisted with website visual design, also pro bono.

    Then a retired Air Force officer, Theodore (Ted) McIntire, began emailing, sharing valuable ideas and saying he was interested in citizen diplomacy and “Human Security” (Google it). After many emails he suggested that he would be interested in working pro bono for CCI. Following a Human Security stint in Spain, he returned to the US, drove across the country and landed at my place on January 7th. We have since been transferring ideas and “how-to” back and forth at a furious pace regarding what CCI can do over the next year or two.

    At the end of 2015 CCI still had unspent funds for an orphanage program that was no longer in operation. Judith Watkins, the niece of our deceased donor of these funds, Nika Thayer, authorized the remaining funds to be used for CCI’s new work in 2016-2017. These funds will not be used for salaries. Both American and Russian participants will pay for their own travel and related costs.  Homestays in both countries will be part of these programs.

    So with Bob, Celena, Ted and Judith, we have a new website ready to launch in early February and are developing an array of programs for 2016-2017. The best of CCI’s 1980s, 1990s and 2000s program designs will be used again. Are they still relevant?  Absolutely!  We are working weekends and late into the night to make it all happen. Are we excited? YES! We are extremely grateful that some of our American and Russian CCI alums with whom we have spoken are ready to participate with us again in the coming months.

    Sharon & Lena MoscowIt seems the CCI magic is working again! We remember well when people (like you), resources, and support began materializing in the 1980s. So it was for two decades. The third decade was also great as we wound down our programs. Americans and Russians were in good relations with each other, and it seemed time to "declare victory and go home" in 2010.  My book, The Power of  Impossible Ideas; Ordinary Citizens’ Extraordinary Efforts to Avert International Crises, was researched, drafted, edited and finally published in 2012 and speaking tours followed. The book captures the phenomenal efforts made by American and Russian citizens that helped end the original Cold War.

    Now with a new Cold War upon us, we must again inject ourselves into the political currents, expose misinformation, supplant it with truth, and build public awareness and programs to focus on cooperative support rather than demonizing.

    As I write this, I'm off to Russia with Ted McIntire to introduce him to our Russian alumni across three regions. Stay tuned for my next Column after our return. In the meantime, please look around our website to learn more about CCI and our upcoming plans.

    Sharon
    President and Founder

    The post Welcome to Our New Website appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    CCI participated in the large Rotary Peace Conference held 15-16 January 2016 in Ontario, CA. Sharon Tennison spoke to a gathering of conference participants focused on Rotary Creating Peace Internationally.  

    [Continue Reading]

    The post CCI Participates in National Rotary Peace Conference appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    We first met high school student Dasha Nazarova in St. Petersburg when she volunteered to help with our delegation of citizen diplomats last June.  

    [Continue Reading]

    The post Dasha Nazarova – Russian Exchange Student appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    volgograd train 2015June 15- 30, 2016, I will lead a group of forward-thinking, informal citizen diplomats to Moscow, Krasnodar, St. Petersburg and the newly rejoined Crimea (Yalta, Simferopol, and Sevastopol). Our chief objective will be to get a realistic understanding of Russia today, from students at their universities to policy makers in their offices. We will engage in informal discussions with Russian businessmen and women, NGO organizers, physicians, educators, working journalists and families in their homes. Dividing up in groups of four Americans each day, we will have different experiences which will later develop into a composite picture of what collectively we have learned.

    This will be no ordinary trip. We will catch metros and taxis and forego tourist buses with tour guides. We will try to squeeze in a few cultural activities. I wouldn’t want you to miss the truly exceptional palaces and landmarks, like the Yalta palace where Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met to divide up the spoils of WWII. It is lovely beyond imagination. The place reeks of history! If you want more cultural activities, local professional guides can be arranged. And you can veer off by yourself from the planned meetings as you wish.

    This will be an economy trip, low on hotel costs, high on adventure. CCI will not add on a surcharge for the trip. It’s high season, but the current dollar/ruble rate will be beneficial to our pocketbooks. I project that the cost will be something around $2500 from JFK back to JFK. More on this after I discuss with GoToRussia’s booking agent.

    If you feel inspired to travel on a trip of this type, or have questions, please contact me, and I will send you an application. Also feel free to contact me if you have questions about the trip.

    Welcome to the new world of constructive, intentional Citizen Diplomacy. We made it work in the 1980's, and now it's time to make it work again!

    Sharon Tennison
    sharon@ccisf.org

    The post Join Fellow Citizen Diplomats on Our June Russia Trip appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    David Swanson's Blog

    In the early 1980s almost nobody from the United States traveled to the Soviet Union or vice versa. The Soviets wouldn't let anybody out, and good Americans were disinclined to visit the Evil Empire. But a woman in California named Sharon Tennison took the threat of nuclear war with the seriousness it deserved and still deserves. She got a group of friends together and asked the Russian consulate for permission to visit Russia, make friends, and learn.

    [Continue Reading]

    The post Lessons for Peace from Back in the USSR appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    Hi Friends,

    [caption id="attachment_798" align="alignright" width="400"]trip map (Click map to see larger version)[/caption]

    Within the week we leave for Russia during an extremely dangerous time. Some 31,000 armed NATO troops have stationed themselves in the Baltic countries and are doing unprecedented “war maneuvers” in preparation for a supposed Russian takeover of these three tiny states. Gigantic warships have been moved into position around Russia’s periphery, enormous amounts of military hardware stand ready for use. (BTW, there is not a shred of evidence that Russia has any intention to take a centimeter of the Baltic countries’ space.)

    To understand the seriousness of it all, listen to the June 8 podcast of The John Batchelor Show's interview with Professor Steve Cohen, America’s undisputed historian and expert on all aspects of US-USSR/Russia relations.

    Cohen and other U.S. experts in the field are deeply alarmed that this NATO show of force could be the prelude to World War III, by accident or by intention.

    VV Putin has made it clear that Russia will never start a war, that Russia’s military is purely defensive; but if missiles or boots land on Russian soil, Russia will "respond nuclear." This week he stated that if there is any war-making on Russian territory, the countries which have allowed NATO missile installations on their territories will be in the “crosshairs,” thus alerting these countries they will be the first to be destroyed. Further, Putin warned NATO that Russia’s targets will include North America.

    To my knowledge, none of this is being covered in American mainstream news, not on TV or in print media. By contrast, the news outlets of the rest of the world and across Russia are covering the threatening comments of our generals and the Pentagon on a daily basis. Hence we Americans are among the most poorly-informed people regarding these dangerous events.

    The world has never been closer to WWIII than this month. 

    Yet Americans aren't aware of this fact.

    With the Cuban missile crisis, Americans understood the horrendous possibility.

    With the 1980s scare, American citizens reacted quickly and Washington took note.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Regarding the June trip, who would want to go to Russia during this time?

    It’s interesting that an extremely courageous group of individuals have shown up for this very trip—by far the most intrepid group of travelers with whom CCI has worked to date. Several have left careers in CIA intelligence, the diplomatic corps and military positions to speak their “issues of conscience” about our national direction and recent wars. One, Ray McGovern, was the CIA daily briefer on Russia to the Oval Office for several US Presidents for over two decades. He and the other current travelers didn’t shrink into anonymity after leaving their posts, but rather have taken on “Speaking Truth to Power.” So this trip is quite a lineup of insightful and morally-driven Americans.

    First we go to Moscow, then to Crimea (visiting Simferopol, Yalta and Sevastopol), next to Krasnodar and last to St. Petersburg. I’ve set up meetings with officials, journalists, TV & print media, Rotarians, entrepreneurs of all sorts in each city, a young, “good” regional oligarch in Krasnodar, NGO leaders, youth groups and a variety of cultural/historical sites in each city. We won’t sleep much, which is typical of CCI trips.

    We plan to engage Russians to reduce stereotypes and build exchanges between ourselves and our cities, hoping to quickly rebuild human bridges at all levels. It worked in the 1980s, it can work again today––if we have enough time. In addition, we have other plans to speed the process upon return.

    We want to take you along with us on this trip! As frequently as possible, we'll be posting real-time updates, including narrative, photos, and video clips, to our website: ccisf.org. We'll also be sending emails to our email list, although less frequently than the website updates.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Dear CCI friends and supporters from across the country, use your creative minds to inform as many Americans as possible that we MUST not buy into the myths that Russia is an evil nation that must be subdued or destroyed. This is sheer "make-believe" coming from those in high places with archaic modes of thinking and those who are benefiting financially one way or another from creating an enemy again. Most haven’t set foot in Russia for years, if ever.

    As you know, I am in and out of multiple regions of Russia several times a year. I know Russia's history, its foibles, its efforts to join today’s fast-paced world just 25 years after rejecting Communism. Of course it is not where America or Europe is today; how could it be? But I can tell you that I’m amazed the Russians have come as far and as fast as they have. And I see nothing diabolical about today’s Russia or its leadership. It grieves me to see the foul and unjust criticisms that are leveled at all things Russian by Americans who never go there to see for themselves––and the money being made by authors who are armchair pontificators coming up with all manner of unproven theories about Russia.

    Much of America, including your friends, neighbors and business colleagues have bought into the continual media bombardment against Russia on TV and print media––while our survival depends on recognizing that Russia has become a fairly sophisticated country near equal to our own with which we could cooperate and co-exist on this small planet.

    What can you and I do to shift this mentality--even with some of our close associates? Start the “buzz.” Question the headlines with your compatriots, ask what they think. We MUST find the courage to educate, to question and to enlighten those around us––how else will change come about?  It won’t come from the top, this is for sure.

    In the past we believed the earlier propaganda that took us to wars. In the Vietnam War, 58,000 young American lives were snuffed out and 6,000,000 Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians left dead due to of one U.S. “false flag” operation that was carried out to justify the U.S. going into that war.  In 2003 most Americans believed Bush II about WMD's in Iraq and supported going to war leveling that country. There were no WMD's found there, but now millions of lives have been taken, further millions have been displaced, and we face the terrifying blowback that has evolved into ISIL, Al NUSRA and other terrorist offshoots born of that war.

    HOW LONG WILL WE CONTINUE BELIEVING WHATEVER THE NY TIMES HEADLINES TELL US?

    U.S. mainstream media always follow what the White House and Pentagon report. If we let the media lead us into a war with Russia, we risk the extinction of ourselves, our families and civilization on our planet.

    Please consider forwarding this email to your family, friends and colleagues.

    More to follow from our travel.  Follow us at ccisf.org.

    Sharon Tennison
    President and Founder, Center for Citizen Initiatives

    The post Latest Trip to Russia: During a Challenging Time appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    by Center for Citizen Initiatives delegation currently visiting Russia

    On June 16, the New York Times reported :

    “More than 50 State Department diplomats have signed an internal memo sharply critical of the Obama administration’s policy in Syria, urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad to stop its persistent violations of a cease-fire in the country’s five-year-old civil war.

    The memo, a draft of which was provided to The New York Times by a State Department official, says American policy has been “overwhelmed” by the unrelenting violence in Syria. It calls for “a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process.”

    We are a group of concerned U.S. citizens currently visiting Russia with the goal of increasing understanding and reducing international tension and conflict. We are appalled by this call for direct U.S. aggression against Syria, and believe it points to the urgent need for open public debate on U.S. foreign policy.

    We note the following:

    (1) The memo is inaccurate. There is no ‘cease-fire’ in Syria. The ‘cessation of hostilities’ which was agreed to has never included the major terrorist groups fighting to overthrow the government in Syria. This includes Nusra (Al Qaeda), ISIS and their fighting allies.

    (2) A U.S. attack on Syria would be an act of aggression in clear violation of the UN Charter. (Ref 1)

    (3) The supplying of weapons, funding and other support to armed groups fighting the Syrian government is also a violation of international law. (Ref 2)

    (4) A U.S. attack on Syria would lead to more bloodshed and risk potential military confrontation with Russia. With arsenals of nuclear weapons on both sides, the outcome could be catastrophic.

    (5) It is not the right of the USA or any other foreign country to determine who should lead the Syrian government. That decision should be made by the Syrian people. A worthy goal could be internationally supervised elections with all Syrians participating to decide their national government.

    (6) The memo reportedly says, “It is time that the United States, guided by our strategic interests and moral convictions, lead a global effort to put an end to this conflict once and for all.” Similar statements and promises have been made regarding Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. In all three cases, terrorism and sectarianism have multiplied, the conflicts still rage, and huge amounts of money and lives have been wasted.

    In light of the above, and the danger of escalating global conflict:

    • We urge State Department officials to seek non-military solutions in conformity with the U.N. Charter and international law.
    • We urge the U.S. Administration to stop funding and supplying weapons to armed ‘rebels’ in violation of international law and end the policy of forced “regime change”.
    • We call for an urgent nation-wide public debate on the U.S. policy of “regime change”.

    The Center for Citizens Initiative (CCI) delegation currently visiting Russia includes:

    Ann Wright, retired United States Army Colonel and U.S. State Department official. Ann received the U.S. State Department Award for Heroism in 1997 after helping evacuate several thousand persons during the Sierra Leone Civil War. She was one of three U.S. State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    Elizabeth Murray, retired Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) and the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

    Raymond McGovern, retired CIA analyst (1963 to 1990) who worked in the Washington, DC White House and prepared daily briefs for seven Presidents. In the 1980s Ray chaired the National Intelligence Estimates and the U.S. Presidents' Daily Briefs. Ray is the founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

    Kathy Kelly, peace activist, pacifist and author. She is a founding members of Voices in the Wilderness and is currently a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Kathy has traveled to Iraq 26 times, notably remaining in combat zones during the early days of the US-Iraq wars. Her recent work took her to Afghanistan and Gaza.

    David Hartsough, co-founder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce and the "World Beyond War.” David is a life-long peace activist, peace maker, and author “Waging Peace: Global Adventurers of a Lifelong Activist.”

    William H Warrick III, retired Family Physician and 25-year member of Veterans For Peace. Former US Army Security Agency Intelligence Analyst (1968 - 1971).

    Sharon Tennison, President and Founder of the Center for Citizen Initiatives. Sharon has 33 years of experience working in USSR/Russia (1983 to present).

    Robert Alberts, MBA, Accountant. Bob volunteers with Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

    Peter Bergel, Oregon PeaceWorks Board member and PeaceWorker news magazine editor.

    Karen Chester, optometrist by vocation and a peace activist volunteer for two decades. Karen’s greatest concern has been and is the plight of Central American peoples, supporting those who come to the U.S. fleeing violence and poverty.

    Jan Hartsough is an educator and community organizer. Jan worked for American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) for many years and currently works at the grassroots level to help African women gain access to safer water.

    Paul Hartsough, Ph.D., clinical psychologist. Paul focuses on conflict resolution and how we can survive as one global family in the nuclear age.

    Martha Hennessy, retired occupational therapist. Martha volunteers at the New York Catholic Worker.

    Bob Spies, website developer, technical support volunteer for CCI, and activist for a number of non-violent causes. Bob previously was a participant in Beyond War.

    Rick Sterling , retired aerospace engineer, Vice-Chair Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center, co-founder Syria Solidarity Movement, Board President Task Force on the Americas.

    Hakim Young is a Singaporean medical doctor who lives in Afghanistan part of the year. He is active with Afghan Peace volunteers and is deeply concerned about US-Russia relations.


    References:

    (1) UN Charter Preamble: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other matter inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”. The first purpose of the United Nations is “To maintain international peace and security, to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.”

    (2) On June 27, 1986 the International Court at the Hague issued its legal ruling in the case of Nicaragua vs. United States. The ruling was as follows:

    Decision of the International Court at the Hague

    Decides that the United States of America, by training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying the "contra" forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State.

    By “training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying” the military rebel groups waging war against the Damascus government, the US and “friends” are committing the same crime that the USA was responsible for committing against Nicaragua in the 1980’s.

    The post Call for a National Debate on U.S. “Regime Change” Policy appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    Yesterday our CCI group arrived back in the US from Russia. Twenty of us traveled to six Russian cities where we interacted with citizens from many levels of Russian society. It was an amazing experience.

    [caption id="attachment_922" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Our group meets with local government and NGO representatives in Simferopol, Crimea. Our group meets with local government and NGO representatives in Simferopol, Crimea.[/caption]

    We witnessed street life, businesses, NGO's, youth groups, private medical clinics, new housing developments surrounding the cities, and well-kept city parks. We met with city officials and traveled by metro and taxis. We met in homes with Russian people from many walks of life.

    Our American travelers were impressed with the diversity of Russians’ thinking, the level of the Russian economy (despite US-enforced economic sanctions), and the remarkable renovation of their cities which they have been able to accomplish since the year 2000. We spoke with large groups of Russians and hundreds of individual Russians during encounters throughout the days in each city. All the Russians we met impressed on us that they and the whole of Russia wants to be friends and partners with Americans and with America in general. Several asked if we could bring President Obama to meet with them––believing they could dispel him of the need for sanctions and military maneuvers on their borders.

    In 1983, after our very first trip to the USSR, I put out an invitation to any American who wished to travel to the USSR with us to see whether or not Americans would consider Soviets as an enemy people. People responded and signed up for trips to “see and learn for themselves”.  This began CCI’s first program––getting Americans to the USSR as citizen diplomats, then bringing information back home. This program greatly dispelled misinformation between both countries. The truth of it was that every American who traveled with CCI during that dangerous period realized that they “found no enemy” at home.

    Also during that period, Suzanne Massie, an author who knew Russia well, reached out to President Reagan and over a period of time had 20 breakfasts with him and Nancy. During these breakfasts, Suzanne dispelled Reagan of his fear of the USSR and Mikhail Gorbachev. Shortly thereafter Reagan and Gorbachev met at Reykjavik––and understanding between our two nations began to grow.

    I want to invite you to consider traveling with CCI  between September 2016 and June 2017––to visit Russian cities, schools, universities, NGOs, journalists, Russian people in their homes, and Russians in their work places. I want you to hear their concerns about living together on this small planet.

    An influx of American groups going to Russia today is PARAMOUNT.  We as citizens of the United States MUST be better informed. Our mainstream media doesn't give us the accurate information that we need. We must be part of a growing informed population of Americans who understand and take the responsibility to stand up for a future safe from wars. I speak here specifically about a nuclear war which could start by accident, false flag, or intention--including the military escalation which is going on in Poland and the Baltic countries as I write you.

    If you would like to consider joining us on an upcoming trip, please drop me a note using the contact form on the CCI website.

    Sharon

    The post We Just Arrived Back from Russia appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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  • 09/27/16--16:36: A Short Sabbatical
  • Dear Friends, Despite tense relations in the US-Russia arena, I’ve been quieter than usual in September and want to give you an update. As you know, for months I’ve routinely sent emails at ungodly hours. This due to a number of reasons: being glued to my computer, reading increasing numbers of news services and international […]

    The post A Short Sabbatical appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    CCI participated in the large Rotary Peace Conference held 15-16 January 2016 in Ontario, CA. Sharon Tennison spoke to a gathering of conference participants focused on Rotary Creating Peace Internationally.  

    [Continue Reading]

    The post CCI Participates in National Rotary Peace Conference appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    We first met high school student Dasha Nazarova in St. Petersburg when she volunteered to help with our delegation of citizen diplomats last June.  

    [Continue Reading]

    The post Dasha Nazarova – Russian Exchange Student appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    June 15- 30, 2016, I will lead a group of forward-thinking, informal citizen diplomats to Moscow, Krasnodar, St. Petersburg and the newly rejoined Crimea (Yalta, Simferopol, and Sevastopol). Our chief objective will be to get a realistic understanding of Russia today, from students at their universities to policy makers in their offices. We will engage […]

    The post Join Fellow Citizen Diplomats on Our June Russia Trip appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    David Swanson’s Blog In the early 1980s almost nobody from the United States traveled to the Soviet Union or vice versa. The Soviets wouldn’t let anybody out, and good Americans were disinclined to visit the Evil Empire. But a woman in California named Sharon Tennison took the threat of nuclear war with the seriousness it […]

    The post Lessons for Peace from Back in the USSR appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    Hi Friends, Within the week we leave for Russia during an extremely dangerous time. Some 31,000 armed NATO troops have stationed themselves in the Baltic countries and are doing unprecedented “war maneuvers” in preparation for a supposed Russian takeover of these three tiny states. Gigantic warships have been moved into position around Russia’s periphery, enormous […]

    The post Latest Trip to Russia: During a Challenging Time appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    by Center for Citizen Initiatives delegation currently visiting Russia On June 16, the New York Times reported : “More than 50 State Department diplomats have signed an internal memo sharply critical of the Obama administration’s policy in Syria, urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad to […]

    The post Call for a National Debate on U.S. “Regime Change” Policy appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    Yesterday our CCI group arrived back in the US from Russia. Twenty of us traveled to six Russian cities where we interacted with citizens from many levels of Russian society. It was an amazing experience. We witnessed street life, businesses, NGO’s, youth groups, private medical clinics, new housing developments surrounding the cities, and well-kept city […]

    The post We Just Arrived Back from Russia appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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  • 09/27/16--16:36: A Short Sabbatical
  • Dear Friends, Despite tense relations in the US-Russia arena, I’ve been quieter than usual in September and want to give you an update. As you know, for months I’ve routinely sent emails at ungodly hours. This due to a number of reasons: being glued to my computer, reading increasing numbers of news services and international […]

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    Dear Friends, For the whole of 2016, we have been actively deliberating how best to use CCI’s 33-year experience in the US-Russia field––since Russia is increasingly being declared America’s enemy #1––which we totally reject. We’ve concluded that our successful programs of the ’80s are precisely what is needed again in today’s baffling environment. For those […]

    The post You Can Make a Difference in 2017! appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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    Dear Friends and all who will receive this message, People everywhere, regardless of party affiliation, are thinking …. and saying, ” What can we do to alter the out-of-control course in which our nation and our world finds itself!” There is something we can do. It has been accomplished before–and we will implement it again. We […]

    The post Invitation to Make a Difference in 2017! appeared first on Center for Citizen Initiatives.


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