William M. Timpson, Robert Meroney, Lloyd Thomas, Jeptha Bernstein, and Del Benson Fort Collins Rotary Club

Lindsey Pointer, 2017 Rotary Global Grant Scholarship Recipient

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to promote the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties.


Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach with a long history of writing regular columns.

It was the summer of 1996 when 35-year-old Alice (not her real name) was referred to me for psychological evaluation. Alice had not spoken a single word since 1986. One of the recommendations I made was that she check out a yoga class that was a part of a nearby comprehensive wellness center. I volunteered to go with her the first time. We watched from the sidelines of the room as participants engaged in their exercises. Music by Daniel Kobialka (Greensleeves Fantasy – 1995) was quietly playing in the background. After a few moments, Alice turned to me and spoke for the first time in ten years, “That music is enough to break your heart.”

The benefits of music have been known for centuries. Harp music was played in the ancient Greek “Healing Centers.” Plato wrote, “I would teach children music, physics and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” More recently, Barbara Crowe, past president of the National Association for Music Therapy, wrote, “Music therapy can make the difference between withdrawal and awareness, between isolation and interaction, between chronic pain and comfort — between demoralization and dignity.” The Acting Director of the Rusk Institute, Mathew Lee, has said, “Music therapy has been an invaluable tool with many of our rehabilitation patients. There is no question that the relationship of music and medicine will blossom because of the advent of previously unavailable techniques that can now show the effects of music.”

One of those “effects” Dr. Lee refers to is the idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior of war veterans. “The 20th century profession [of engaging in music therapy] formally began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients’ notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals. It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum.” Even today, music therapy is regularly used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Here are some other quotations about the singular benefits to be derived from the art of music: In his book, Awakenings, Dr. Oliver Sacks reports that “patients with neurological disorders who cannot talk or move are often able to sing, and sometimes even dance, to music. … music therapy also can help ease the trauma of grieving, lessen depression and provide an outlet for people who are otherwise withdrawn. …I regard music therapy as a tool of great power in many neurological disorders – Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – because of its unique capacity to organize or reorganize cerebral function when it has been damaged.”

Finally, Dr. Clive Robbins of the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Clinic writes, “Almost all children respond to music. Music is an open-sesame, and if you can use it carefully and appropriately, you can reach into that child’s potential for development.”  Incidentally, the Nordoff-Robbins Clinic “uses music therapy to help 100 handicapped children learn and to relate and communicate with others.”

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) was formed in 1998 as a merger between the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) and the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT). AMTA united the music therapy profession for the first time since 1971. In 2001, the New York City Music Therapy Relief Project was initiated in response to 9/11.  Further relief efforts and projects followed with the 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricane Relief Initiative, the 2007 Music Therapy Military Family Grant, the 2009 collaboration with To the Fallen Records and their foundation, and the continuation of the Returning Soldiers Grant. AMTA moved into a new era in 2010 with the publication of its first online magazine, imagine, dedicated to early childhood music therapy. The Library of Congress featured Music Therapy with presentations by Connie Tomaino, Jayne Standley, Anne Parker, Alicia Clair, and Deforia Lane. The United  Nations cited AMTA’s Disaster Relief Work and expanded the Music Compendium.  AMTA proudly established a partnership with the Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Foundation. Music  therapy clinicians were a part of the Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day sponsored by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

All of the above information makes me wonder: Can the playing of music (as well as listening to it) play a significant role in the healing and reconciliation of post-war adversaries?; should our peace building activities always include music as an effective foundation for creating peaceful relationships between all people?

Gandhi suggested “you must become the change you want to see in the world,” should all peace-makers incorporate music in their daily lives? 



Jeptha Bernstein is the Executive Director and Founder of Off the Hook Arts.

Bruce Adolphe is the Artistic Director (See Together they plan programs throughout the year. While Jeptha lives in Fort Collins, Bruce schedules time to be in Fort Collins.

April 1  Our mission at Off the Hook Arts is to provide free and low-cost music performance education for students in our community while cultivating a love of the performing arts through public concerts featuring collaborations among the arts, sciences, and humanities. Whether it’s about neuroscience, human rights, nightmares, or dinosaurs, Bruce Adolphe’s music “excites the ear and the mind.” In his work as composer, author, lecturer, and performer, he seeks to connect disparate ideas and disciplines, and to build community by exploring diverse manifestations of human creativity.  

April 2


The following excerpts from Adolphe’s book What to Listen for in the World  (Limelight Editions/Hal Leonard) are like small poems and while they are not exactly about peace-building, they are reflections or meditations on aspects of music that directly relate to its power to bring people together and by reaching the essence being human:

# 45

Empires collapse, wars and politics are forgotten or romanticized, families are divided and lost, history is revised,

but music—ephemeral though it seems—endures. For music is thought and can be remembered.

Dictators may burn manuscripts, ban performances, and destroy recordings— but as long as someone remembers, music endures.


Empires collapse, wars and politics are forgotten or romanticized, families are divided and lost, history is revised,

but music—ephemeral though it seems—endures. For music is thought and can be remembered.

Dictators may burn manuscripts, ban performances, and destroy recordings— but as long as someone remembers, music endures.

Grief needs music. When one feels grief, there is nothing to say. At these times, even kind words sting; past and future hurt.

Music can slip by all words, dissolve past and future into the moment, release illusions, and reach the reality of the heart.


Before all language and after, in each of us are the basic truths, eternally mysterious and utterly common, from which: music.



Ralph Smith is a retired micro-biologist from Colorado State University and someone who has re-established himself as a superb nature photographer.

Photography has long been considered a form of documentation. Think of weddings, graduations, ceremonies as worthy of committing to a form of visual remembrance. Photography has also documented most of the epic events of the past two centuries, such as world wars, Twin Towers, famines, and human and animal suffering.

However, photography has been and art form, from epic landscapes to wildly creative modern creations. For me, photography is an outlet for my artistic self. True, as a former scientist, I am wedded to photography that is literal and exact, in that I want my photos to be a genuine representation of what I observed, rather than an abstract version of the scent.

Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 10.32.44 AM

My favorite subject is the night sky. In large part, photographing the heavens, especially with an interesting foreground, like an old house, barn or barren tree, makes a stunning photo.

However, and perhaps more importantly, it reminds me of the wonderful experience of being in a place where one can observe the stars and planets free of interference from lights and traffic. There’s a peacefulness that comes from being alone on the plains or mountains in the presence of the vastness of the universe.


Del Benson, Ph.D. is a Professor and wildlife specialist for Extension at Colorado State University. His work is with wildlife and recreation enterprises on private land, conservation education, hunter attitudes and behavior, public input to resource management decision making and campus environmental management.

Sounds from birds in Spring paint the early morning and evening air with mating melodies, eerie winnowing of feathers in flight, and the percussive rat-a-tat-tats that mark mating territories. The high-pitched bugle of elk announces that Fall mating season has begun, and winter weather is near. Humans travel to hear the sounds and to see aspen leaves turn from shades of green into yellow or even pinkish-red colors if sugar April 3contents is high in the leaves.

Tiny dancing is seen with many birds during mating times with elaborate displays from foreign Birds of Paradise and Red-capped Manakins. North Americans can see with the strutting and gobbling of turkeys and sounds, displays, and dances of grouse.

Males of the animal kingdom generally communicate about their presence and interests to mate with sounds, movements, and scents. Animal behaviors warn others of the species that territories are occupied, and intruders should seek other places to breed, nest, and promote their species.

When the visible, subtle and lyrical clues in nature are not heeded by animals, then conflicts can lead to real battles with beaks, teeth, and claws that inflict harm and death.  Success from using peaceful interactions is ecologically and socially superior to having conflicts.

Animal music, dance, and scents help humans to connect with nature better also by reflecting about places and times of life or year; and, humans can use similar methods of performance to promote their civil behaviors.

Human songs, dance, and scents are universal languages that help people to be more comfortable when interacting with other humans and they are useful for building civil interactions. Granted, some modes of music, moments and scents are selectively attractive to the critics, but interesting performances are more valuable to building civility than are conflicts, violence, and wars.

Using song and dance as positive methods for peace creates beautiful messages and forms, but they also can be agents of anger, conflict, and war when directed toward negative outcomes.

Performance Lines for Peace

Songs are patriotic and anti-war.  Songs engender protest and initiate strife.

Songs can guide us toward peace and civility. Songs can tell us how to lead our life.

 Dance generates positive emotions and love. Dance stomps messages of conflict and hate.

Dance shows positive spirit and ushers in hope. Dance forwards movements before it is too late. 

Performance in nature helps to delay. Performance for people should be for good and not bad.  Performance is a way to positively say.  Performance makes us happy and delays us from sad.



Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University.

Mark Twain was outraged that the United States was entering the international struggle for markets by invading the Philippines in the name of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’ and ‘humanitarianism’.  From 1901, soon after his return from Europe, until his death in 1910, Twain was vice-president of the American Anti-Imperialist League, which opposed the annexation of the Philippines by the United States and had “tens of thousands of members”. He wrote many political pamphlets for the organization. The Incident in the Philippines, posthumously published in 1924, was in response to the Moro Crater Massacre, in which six hundred Moros were killed. Many of his neglected and previously uncollected writings on anti- imperialism appeared for the first time in book form in April 41992.1

Mark Twain rewrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic (Brought Down to Date) as a parody of American imperialism in the wake of the Philippine-American War. It is written in the same tune and cadence as the original Battle Hymn of the Republic. The song remained unpublished in Twain’s lifetime and did not appear in print until 1958. 1,2,3

Battle Hymn of the Republic (Brought Down to Date) By Mark Twain (1900)

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;

He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger’s wealth is stored; He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored; His lust is marching on.

Woe and death can turn a profit. Warfare needs a wealthy prophet!

Woe and death through war, don’t stop it! It’s war that makes men rich!

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps; I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps— His night is marching on.

Woe and death can make for profit. Buy a bomb and then go drop it!

War’s a racket,4 but don’t stop it! It’s war that makes men rich!

I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:

“As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal; Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel; Lo, Greed is marching on!”

Our priority is profit. Nobel prizes fail to stop it!

War’s foundation? We’ve co-op’d it! It’s war that makes men rich!

We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat; Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat; O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!

Our god is marching on!

In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch, With a longing in his bosom—and for others’ goods an itch.

As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich— Our god is marching on.

Woe and death can turn a profit. Warfare needs a wealthy prophet!

Woe and death through war, don’t stop it! It’s war that makes men rich!

Twain’s anti-imperialist beliefs were also mirrored in a short pacifist story title The War Prayer, which makes the point that humanism and Christianity’s preaching of love are incompatible with the conduct of war. It was refused for publication, and Twain commented that “none but the dead are permitted to tell the truth.”  It remained unpublished until 1923. 5, 6

Both The Battle Hymn of the Republic parody and The War Prayer were unpublished during Twain’s lifetime largely due to pressure from his family, who feared the materials would be considered unpatriotic and sacrilegious. Twain agreed about public reaction, and due to difficult financial problems at the end of his life, he had a family to support and did not want to be seen as a “lunatic or fanatic.

1 Twain, Mark, Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays 1891-1910. Louis J. Budd, ed. New York, Library of America, 1992, p 1006.

2 Music, text and background by Gary Bachlund at

3 The Chad Mitchell Trio recorded a version of Twain’s revised song in 1968. also a separate version in 2012 at

4 War is a Racket. Is also a 1935 short book, by General Smedley D. Butler, a retired US Marine Corps Major General. At the time he was the most decorated war hero of the US. See Peacebuilders Newsletter Number 1.




William M. Timpson, Ph.D. is a professor at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club.

Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 10.40.33 AM

I had the opportunity to visit Hope Fountain Elementary, talk to an English teacher there and several classes of students. They were shy at first but older students eventually were willing to ask a few questions. One, in particular, wanted to know what advice American students would give them.

“Study hard,” I offered, “but trust yourself to think in new ways because you, your family and friends, your community, your country and the world will need all the creative help you can offer to get us out of our unsustainable practices. We will need all your help to build a sustainable peace here and elsewhere, to change our destructive attitudes and practices toward the environment and to find new models of business and financing that do not exploit others or the natural resources upon which we rely.”

“And it will involve complex challenges,” I added. “Take those bicycle taxis outside. Those young men could—should—be in school like you. Without an education, their future will be very limited. Yes, their families may need that small extra income but maybe there are other ways to accomplish both, earning some money and learning relevant skills.”

In his book, Life After Violence (Zed Books, 2009), Peter Uvin is quite clear n his research that most Burundians see the role of education as critical for the future since a life of subsistence farming is so very limited, especially as the population grows and available land shrinks.

In this class at Hope Fountain Elementary, I mentioned the idea that has surfaced in the U.S. referred to as the “Green New Deal,” that shift in thinking that would invest public monies in sustainable projects like the benefits of solar and wind power for renewable energy. I told these young people that their school studies will prepare them for what exists today but that we will need to tap their collective creative potentials for what we will need in the future.

In my 2019 book, Learning Life’s Lessons (Peace Knowledge Press), for example, I write about the New Deal legislation that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law in 1935 that included the Social Security Act. Having taken the helm of the country in 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression, the Social Security Act (SSA) followed the popularity of other “New Deal” programs such as the Works Progress Administration which, for example, put artists to work on public commissions and the Civilian Conservation Corps which funded trail building in America’s parks.

These programs used public funds to put Americans back to work and inspire an economic recovery in the face of determined resistance to federal intervention by the previous Hoover Administration. Although it was initially created to combat unemployment, Social Security now functions primarily as a safety net for retirees and the disabled. The Social Security system has remained relatively unchanged since 1935.

In the 1930s, the U.S Supreme Court was lagging behind the populist wave that had propelled FDR into the White House. Reflecting a conservatism that had characterized Herbert Hoover’s presidency, the court had struck down many pieces of Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation. The President was himself inspired to do something radically different. He attempted to pack the court. On February 5, 1937, he sent a special message to Congress proposing legislation  granting him new powers to add additional judges to all federal courts whenever there were sitting judges age 70 or older who refused to retire. The practical effect of this proposal was  that the President would get to appoint six new Justices to the Supreme Court (and 44 judges to lower federal courts), thus instantly tipping the political balance on the Court dramatically in his favor. The debate on this proposal lasted over six months. Eventually the seven-member court was able to defeat the court-packing by rushing pieces of New Deal legislation through and ensuring that the court’s majority would uphold it.

In our 2016 book, 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability, I make reference to the new and creative thinking that Nelson Mandela brought to his presidency in South Africa. For example, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Bishop Desmond Tutu (1997) describes in his own book, No Future Without Forgiveness, what helped to inspire the emergence of South Africa from the horrors of its brutal system of white minority rule: “The first democratically elected government of South Africa was a government of National Unity made up of members of political parties that were engaged in a life-and-death struggle. The man who headed it had been incarcerated for twenty-seven years as a dangerous terrorist. If it could happen there, surely it can happen in other places. Perhaps God chose such an unlikely place deliberately to show the world that it can be done anywhere” (p. 280).

Accepting the world the way it is may block us from seeing other and better ways forward. We can use role-plays with people to surface polarized positions, but then emphasize listening, empathy, and negotiation to find common, creative and sustainable ways to move forward. I challenged these students at Burundi’s Hope Fountain Elementary to believe that there were new and better ideas out there yet to be discovered. “Study and trust in your creative selves,” I repeated.



Lindsey Pointer, PhD in Restorative Justice at Victoria University of Wellington, is a past recipient of the Rotary Global Grant Scholarship. She works as a restorative justice facilitator, trainer and researcher.

Restorative justice practitioners place a great deal of emphasis on being strengths-based. This means identifying and supporting an individual’s assets: the positive passions, skills, interests, and connections that make him/her unique.

Taking the time to identify these strengths with participants has many benefits. It helps to combat feelings of stigmatizing shame by showing that you see the individual as a full person, not just through the lens of the one harmful event you are discussing. It also helps participants to see and appreciate their own strengths, which has a great impact on their perception of self and often positively impacts their future behavior. Knowing participant’s strengths and interests also allows for asset-based agreement ideas to emerge. How can responsible parties use their strengths to repair harm and make things right?

Often, participant strengths include creative talents such as art, writing, music, or performance. This can result in some outstanding contract items as responsible parties draw on those strengths to repair harm.

One teenage responsible party worked towards his aspiration to become a rap artist while repairing the harm from his offense. He created a 4-verse rap that encouraged others to stay out of trouble. Here’s the first verse:

When you get involved with beer, some may begin to cheer. Now dear. Under the influence you will feel fear, but you’ve gotta have the mind gear, when it comes near.

But things might begin to look sincere, put it all away with smear and dance to this snare.

Instead, let it get through to you like a spear, and shape of a sphere, but you control your own life so put it in clutch and steer.

You become sad and stare, pouring tears. But once it is all clear, it seems like that is the time everything good to you disappears.

You can struggle getting a career, can’t even be a cashier, and a lot of kids get in

trouble with the law each year.

We’ve got to form a frontier, to be at the level of premier.


Another young responsible party wrote a children’s book on chinchilla care to repair the harm from an animal abuse case. The last paragraph said:

Now you know how to care for your little fluffy ball. If you have any questions, just give your vet a call. Please love your chinny and they will love you.

These sweet gentle animals need a mommy or daddy and that can be you!

A young adult was referred for spray painting a public building with politically charged messages. One of his contract items was to express what he was trying to express through graffiti in his slam poetry. He recorded a video of himself performing his slam poem and posted it online.

A young mother struggling with guilt chose to explore her artistic talents as a way of repairing harm to herself and expressing her love for her child.

April 5

These artistic contract items allow responsible parties to reflect on the experience, repair harm, and also grow their own strengths and talents.

Are you looking for ways to practice encouraging greater creativity in ideas for repairing harm? Check out the game Out of the Box at



See the RI website: If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog and join the conversation! If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit You can find some of our past issues at the Rotary District 5440website: Future issues may explore the following: MAY– (Timpson) Interconnections between peacebuilding and climate change (sustainability); JUNE National elections and their influence on war and peace; JULY—(Thomas) Human diversity and leadership skills for peacebuilding.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s