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Phase 1: Interactive Training (2-3 Weeks)

There are two components of our intensive training phase:

Personal Transformation

Global Grassroots does not believe in the concept of "empowerment" because we see people as already inately powerful. We help vulnerable women uncover the power within themselves. In mapping out their gifts, assets, and capabilities, they deepen their sense of agency and autonomy, and identify ways to make their own unique contributions to the common good.

We believe leaders must invest as much in inner transformation as in outer solutions to avoid the pitfalls of power that can derail positive change, including burn-out, corruption, etc. Phase 1 of training focuses on mindfulness, meditation, breathwork, movement, ethical leadership, self-expression, and personal growth work. We help participants expand their self-awareness, develop tools for transforming oppression and suffering, cultivate compassion, and develop the capacity to initiate change responsibly.

See our tools for the Consciousness Practitioner including sample workshops and personal transformation practices.


Social Transformation

We help participants identify priority social issues and their core causes, then facilitate creative problem-solving. In teams, the women enter an intensive venture design process. They construct mission and vision statements, an operational plan, organizational design, budget, creative resourcing strategies, evaluation metrics, strategic partnerships, a code of conduct, and a communications strategy - all the skills needed to create a viable social enterprise.

See our tools for Change Agents and Teachers including sample workshops, tools, and a curriculum overview.



Mind-Body Trauma Healing

Within our Academy for Conscious Change is a breath-based, mind-body approach for trauma healing that we have used with earthquake survivors in Haiti, genocide and violence survivors in Rwanda, and post-conflict survivors in northern Uganda. The program, called Breath~Body~Mind (BBM), involves a form of yogic breathwork called Coherent Breathing (coined by Stephen Elliot), studied and refined by Dr. Richard Brown, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, Professor of Psychiatry at New York Medical College, and integrates Qigong movements (as taught by Master Robert Peng) and guided meditation to help restore balance to the nervous system. By combining modern scientific knowledge with holistic healing methods from many cultures, BBM rapidly relieves stress, anxiety, sleep problems, and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These techniques have been used with Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina survivors, 9/11 first responders, combat veterans, and rape victims in Sudan.


breathing in haiti

Gretchen Steidle leads Haiti earthquake survivors in mind-body trauma healing practices at a Petion-Ville tent camp. Photo credit: Bradley Rae


The experience of terror during a traumatic event is closely linked to one's sense of helplessness. Efforts to recover one's sense of power, connection, and self-sufficiency can enhance treatment of psychological trauma caused by extreme fear, long-term abuse, torture, and violence. For example, in her book Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman states about the healing process of rape victims, "...we do know that women who recover most successfully are those who discover some meaning in their experience that transcends the limits of personal tragedy. Most commonly, women find this meaning by joining with others in social action."

First, Global Grassroots' Academy for Conscious Change provides training in a range of mind-body techniques with scientifically demonstrated impact in addressing symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Mind-body techniques, such as meditation, Qigong, yoga, mindfulness, and breathwork allow for a direct physiological benefit that the survivor can feel immediately. When practiced over time, these techniques have the ability to support autonomic nervous system self-regulation, one of the core physiological functions that is disrupted by trauma. Mind-body techniques are easy to teach and learn by laypeople across religions, cultures, and languages, do not require a long-term therapeutic relationship, are accessible to communities for little cost, can be made available immediately post-disaster where the existing mental health infrastructure has been destroyed, and can continue to be practiced individually, on a grassroots level in families, and in other community groups.

Second, Global Grassroots provides opportunities for women to form teams, which can also serve as support groups for survivors with similar experiences who have not had the opportunity to connect and discuss their circumstances. Since participants are gathering to create and run their own non-profit, they avoid the stigma associated with traditional support groups.

Third, Global Grassroots' training includes issue diagnosis work and creative problem-solving skills, including a process for uncovering one's personal power, assets, and gifts that can be leveraged to create social change. This helps women reclaim their sense of agency, desire for self-improvement, and value to others.

Finally, Global Grassroots provides a pathway for understanding suffering and designing a civil society organization that will advance one's own solution from a place of deeper consciousness. With seed funding and high-engagement support from Global Grassroots, teams launch their own non-profit organizations and create social change. This process provides new change leaders with the opportunity to combat the failures of society, advocate change within and by existing institutions, create new programs to serve others in need, and advance transformation. We believe this multi-pronged approach of personal and social transformation offers an optimal and holistic means of trauma healing and post-conflict or post-disaster reconstruction.


Global Grassroots  |  1950 Lafayette Road, Suite 200, Box 1  |  Portsmouth, NH 03801 USA  |  Tel (+1) 603.643.0400  |  info@globalgrassroots.org  |  Contact Us
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