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Americans Who Tell the Truth :: Betty Burkes

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Robert Shetterly's portrait of Betty Burkes
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“How do we redefine ourselves to be motivated to connect and share rather than shop and consume, replenish rather than extract? How does this transformation happen? …

At the heart of this transformation is not technology but relationships, tens of millions of people working toward restoration and social justice.”
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Betty Burkes
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12 of 100
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Peace Educator, Activist (1942— )

Betty Burkes has come to understand the world around her through relationships, through community. She believes Peace is relational and that we can get there through the hard inner and outer work of honest dialogue and self-reflection.

Learning, listening, and teaching have always been at the heart of her long career. Growing up in working class Ohio, Betty experienced respect and support at home but racism out in the world. After college, Betty joined the Peace Corps, teaching in Ethiopia. After studying Early Childhood Education and teaching in Berkeley, California, she lived in England for many years where she studied art, dance and taught at the American School in London. In 1986, she returned to the US and opened Montessori Paradise, and Summer Center on Cape Cod. Through both programs, Betty explored the world with pre-school children, developing their respect for nature, relational skills, and self-responsibility, as well as arts, crafts and music.

In the 1980's Betty joined Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and served on the national board and as its U.S. Section President. In an interview about WILPF for Enviro Close-Up, Burkes discussed the "culture of power" in the US, where we are often taught that our way is THE way. She suggests investigating our own U.S. history of violence and deception as a way to understand the attitudes and values that live in us and shape relationships that are reflected in our national policies. She believes that educating ourselves, opening our hearts to the realities of those whose lives and views are different from our own, and joining our individual efforts with others are viable strategies for effecting change.

From 2002-2005, Burkes worked for the Hague Appeal for Peace, an organization whose goal is abolishing war and establishing peace as a human right in collaboration with the U.N. Department of Disarmament Affairs. She served as Peace Education Program Coordinator on a project in Albania, Cambodia, Niger and Peru. With in-country partners, she helped design Peace Education curricula for national school systems and programs for promoting community building and conflict resolution skills locally.

Wherever she is located, she has worked locally for global change, for racial and community justice on Cape Cod, for the environment with earth circles and with the Cambridge Peace Commission supporting sister relationships with Palestine and El Salvador, creating community peace circles and promoting peace-building.

Currently, Betty coordinates programs for “Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools". Rethink is a program that arose in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It supports and engages Middle School youth to both envision and contribute to the rethinking of New Orleans Schools. Developing transformational leadership, critical thinking skills and community among young people with opportunities to speak to those in power is the Rethink vision.

Betty Burkes believes in a “beloved community,” where all life is valued and relational living and awareness is at the heart of human interactions. She believes that transforming the structures of power is possible through nonviolence with education that promotes inquiry and investigation, patience and love. She believes it and strives to achieve it in her life and work.

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See the full set of Robert Shetterly's portraits at www.americanswhotellthetruth.org.

Tools for Teaching: see the acompanying curriculum materials with suggestions on how to use the portraits and biographies of these American truth-tellers in your classroom.
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BUY THE BOOK AND GREETING CARDS FROM THE YES! STORE:
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Americans Who Tell the Truth ::

Robert Shetterly's series highlights Americans past and present whose dignity, courage, and honesty have shaped this country.

This beautiful coffee-table book is an eloquent collection of portraits and stirring words of these brave citizens from all walks of life.
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Card Sets ::

A special YES! selection of Greeting Cards from the series in sets of 8 (with envelopes).

Sets feature high quality prints of the portraits, complete with quotes and biographies.

Posters also available from the artist.
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