United States

Seeds for Change

CRT is developing a new program: Seeds for Change.  We are bringing together girls and young women from Kenya, the United States, and Israel to share their stories and to support their development as resilient change-makers. The program begins with monthly SKYPE calls between the groups of girls from each region starting in May 2017 and culminating in a conference in Washington DC in the summer of 2018.  We envision the conference to be a time for the girls to solidify their relationships, learn about leadership skills, and create a strategic plan as to how to move forward in the future and build upon their new found relationships and skills.  We envision this program will be an effective vehicle for sustained growth and empowerment for all participants.

Click here to meet our participants.  Learn how you can support this effort by visiting our CRT Store page.

Community Conversations: “Let’s Talk”

The Last Thursday of the month
Jan 26, Feb 23, March 30, April 27, May 25, June 29, 2017
7:00 pm – Roberts Rec Center – In the ARTS room
1246 50th Ave N – St. Petersburg FL 33703

In collaboration with the Pachamama Alliance of Tampa Bay, we are sponsoring community discussions as an opportunity to listen deeply to one another in an effort to connect and inspire in a time of change.  We’ll be exploring topics regarding our roles as caretakers of the planet, human and animal rights, sustainability and any other meaningful topics that are of interest to the group.  Our hope is that through our conversations we will find right action relevant to our lives. These discussions will be facilitated by Anna Lewis, our program director

We’ll be exploring topics regarding our roles as caretakers of the planet, human and animal rights, sustainability and any other meaningful topics that are of interest to the group.  Our hope is that through our conversations we will find right action relevant to our lives. These discussions will be facilitated by Anna Lewis, program director for the Center for Religious Tolerance.  All are welcome to join.

Theatre as a Tool for Social Change

Since the election in November, we have marched for women, science, and the environment. We have written emails and called our legislators to save healthcare. We have protested discriminatory Executive Orders. We have made a commitment to build a sustainable movement by taking care of ourselves and each other. What’s next? How can we make sure that all this action leads to change?

Social activism is challenging. Information and energy are not enough; activists need effective tools to break through barriers to change. On May 2, CRT teamed with the PEACenter to sponsor a free public workshop at Sarasota’s Fogartyville Media and Arts Center. The workshop introduced “Theatre of the Oppressed” and improvisational theatre as social change techniques.

You may think of improv as comic relief from the stress of politics, but learning to do improvisational theatre can help prepare you for working as an activist. At the workshop, participants practiced staying in the moment. They learned how to get in touch with their own emotions and those of others. They learned to anticipate others’ needs and responses, and to read meaning in nonverbal behavior. They experienced firsthand what it feels like to be in a group where the most basic rule is to “make other group members look good.” These are skills that contribute directly to good group process and effective social change.

The second half of the workshop focused on Theatre of the Oppressed, a set of techniques created by Brazilian visionary Augusto Boal (1931-2009). Boal drew inspiration from Friere, Brecht, and Stanislavski. He recognized that in traditional theatre, audience members are passive spectators. They enjoy the show, but they are not necessarily moved to action. Theatre of the Oppressed is an arsenal of techniques and games that motivate people, restore authentic dialogue, and create space for participants to rehearse taking action. Theatre of the Oppressed includes:

  • Image theatre – where participants use their own and others’ bodies as “clay” to create human sculptures, uncovering essential truths, opinions, and observations about self and society.
  • Forum theatre – a problem-solving technique where audience and actors improvise alternative solutions to an unresolved scene of oppression.
  • Cop-in-the-head – explores “internalized oppression” – the internal voices, societal messages and fears that work to prevent individual freedom.
  • Rainbow of Desire – deconstructs a person’s experience of tension in a personal or professional relationship, moving from individual story to group experience and the “rainbow” of who we are.
  • Invisible theatre – issue-oriented scenes performed in public spaces to stimulate dialogue with the public, who do not know the scene has been staged.
  • Legislative theatre – uses the above techniques to collect opinions directly from the public. Participants translate successful interventions into suggestions for legislation and hand them to elected officials in the room.

ALLMEP Advocacy Day

Betsy Howard and Troy Montes will be attending an interactive learning experience in DC to understand how lobbying works on the Hill. Stay tuned… more to come.

Survival Skills for the Resistance: Taking Care of Ourselves and Others over the Long Haul

Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center,
525 Kumquat Court, Sarasota, FL 34236

Is Donald Trump’s latest Executive Order keeping you awake at night? Are you worried about the health of the planet, fearful for your friends and neighbors, angry about the loss of our democracy?  Do you want to keep up with the news, but find it impossible to watch? Do you have tips for building resilience you can share with others?  Whether you are a lifelong activist or participating in a protest for the first time, you need to know how to take care of yourself and others over the long haul.  Come share your experiences, learn from friends and colleagues, and help us build a strong and resilient activist community. Our discussion will be facilitated by Andy Blanch, director of the Center for Religious Tolerance.  All are welcome to join.

 Community Radio: “Let’s Talk About the Middle East”

“Let’s Talk About the Middle East” Podcasts were co-hosted by CRT’s Andy Blanch and Juliana Musheyev on WSLR 96.5, Sarasota’s community radio station. The show focused broadly on Middle Eastern politics, culture, religion, and history. with the aim to humanize the conflict in Israel and Palestine as well as other conflicts in the Middle East by interviewing people that have a stake in the issues.  You can find previous episodes of the show on the podcasts page of our website.


Women’s Interfaith Network

Women's Interfaith Network

The Women’s Interfaith Network invites women of all ages, abilities, beliefs, cultures, faiths and races to learn about and value our similarities and differences. We work to eradicate stereotypes and prejudice beginning in our own communities in order to promote our common humanity and build a peaceful world. The Women’s Interfaith Network (WIN) of Sarasota-Bradenton completed its fifth year of activities in December 2012. Currently, there are over 100 members representing a variety of religious orientations, including Judaism, several forms of Christianity, Islam, Wiccan, Humanism, and Metaphysical as well as indigenous and spiritual traditions. WIN’s mission is to work towards understanding and cooperation across religious, racial, ethnic, cultural and national boundaries.

Visit the website at womensinterfaithnetwork.org


Finding a Path to Peace Educational Series

path to peaceThe Center for Religious Tolerance has partnered with the Peace Education and Action Center and ANSWER Suncoast to host the “Finding a Path to Peace” educational series in Sarasota, Florida. The series is about the conflict in Israel and Palestine and incorporates expert speakers, interactive workshops and discussions, and documentary film screenings. 2016 is the second year that the CRT has co-sponsored this series.




Working with Local Youth

young peace makers

Through our Young Peacemakers initiative, the CRT has reached out to local youth in Sarasota County to help create the new generation of people working towards peace. In 2010 we partner with the United Religions Initiative to create a six-month study in Sarasota High School called, “Healing Racism”. We also pilot tested a program that provided training for teachers in Sarasota High School in how to create conflict-free classrooms and defuse potentially threatening situations. The initiative was funded by a small grant from Teaching Tolerance, an initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  CRT also provides internship opportunities in the United States and Israel for local high school and college students. Students get a chance to meet the peacemakers in person, organize interfaith events, and use their own skills and talents to help build a more peaceful future (Unfortunately, with rare exceptions we cannot fund travel or housing costs.)

Read Jason’s blog from his internship in Israel during the summer of 2010.

Religious Courage Award

This annual Religious Courage Award award will be given by CRT to an individual who has spoken or acted with courage to promote interfaith understanding, religious tolerance, diversity, and/or social justice. The goals of the award are 1) to keep alive the memory and spirit of Ms. Elisabeth Schilder and her students, and 2) to bring attention to individuals and groups who represent that spirit in action in today’s world. The award will be presented at World Peace Day, an annual event sponsored by the South West Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice.

The 2015 Elizabeth Schilder Religious Courage award was given to Pastor Carl vom Eigen of Tarpon Springs. A retired Presbyterian Minister, Pastor Carl is Treasurer of Peace4Tarpon; serves youth in the community as a tutor, mentor, and guardian ad litem; and has led interfaith discussions regarding sacred texts. By creating opportunities for citizens to speak out – particularly those who have been forgotten or subjected to social injustice – he demonstrates that the sum of seemingly ordinary acts can add up to an extraordinary life.

crt2014award3The 2014  awardees, Jacci Tutt and Arlene Pearlman, have been lifelong activists for  tolerance and social justice. They were instrumental in creating the Women’s  Interfaith Network of Sarasota-Bradenton, which has become a powerful force for change in our community.  Jacci Tutt joined the 1963 March on Washington, raised funds to bail out civil rights workers in the South, and volunteered in support of housing integration laws.  Arlene Pearlman was instrumental in changing laws in several states that required adoptive parents to have the same religion as the birth mother. She has also been active in Americans United for Separation of Church and State and is a  member of the Gulf Coast Affirming Interfaith Network.