Our Approach

The answers are there…

We believe that those most affected by war and violence can and should be the ones to lead in the rebuilding of their lives and communities after conflict. Solutions to a community’s problems, even when that community has been devastated, exist within the community itself. 

…and we will discover them together.

Mobilizing local solutions isn’t outside experts swooping to tell people what to do (or worse, doing it for them). What is needed is a way for local wisdom, will, expertise and leadership to emerge and grow.

Those outside the local community have a critical role: to create space for the local resources, knowledge, and capacities to be mobilized and manifested.  And when local leaders and outside partners work together in ways that honor the wisdom, resources and capacities of both, the results are transformative⎯for all parties.  This is how we build peace: from the inside-out.

How can outside parties – including funders, international policymakers, humanitarians, and peacebuilders – work in ways which best support and enable local communities to lead in a sustained and strategic way? Living into this question has illuminated a process and values framework that gives shape to our approach.

To catalyze peace, from the inside-out, we value:

  • Developing leaders who can lead in their own community. We seek them out, invite them to act, and support their growth and development. We invite local leaders to take the same approach in their own communities, sending out ever-expanding ripples of leadership and good.
  • Long-term commitment. All good things take time. Taking time to lay a strong foundation in a community will make the work go faster in the long run and have more impact. 

  • Emergent design. Life is messy. We approach our work with clear purpose, yet continuously reflect upon our experiences and adapt our programs to changing circumstances.
  • Learning. We create structures and processes for reflecting on our work at every level of engagement. And we invest time and resources in processes to support individual and collective integration of learning into ongoing program design and development and the strengthening of practice.
  • Whole-hearted engagement. We bring our hearts, minds, hands and spirits openly and fully and invite others to do the same.
  • The assistance of others. We don’t expect individuals, communities or even ourselves to be self-sufficient. When we see a need, we request help, offer it,  and accept it with gratitude. And we savor the way this expands our family circle.
  • Communication.  A bridge goes both ways. We build bridges to foster open and honest communication at all levels from the individual, to the community, to the region, to the nation, to the world⎯and back again.
  • Relationships.  We recognize we aren’t working with faceless groups, organizations, governments … we’re working with people. So we work on listening to, connecting with, understanding, affirming, respecting and loving people. A lot.
  • We share our stories. We are grateful for the wisdom and insight of others, and we share our experiences in that spirit.  That’s how good grows.

What does this approach look like, as it gets lived out in the real world? Check out our In Practice page to find out.

We want to see and support more peacebuilding from the inside-out, wherever it can be found. Do you have stories from your own experience to share, that illuminate the potentials or the challenges of an inside-out approach? Do you want to apply an inside-out approach to your own work? Let us know.

Home page and current page banner image (c) Sara Terry for Catalyst for Peace