The Many Faces of Nonviolence - Paula Green

By Nimesh Wijewardane & Rand Engel 

Paula Green, a renowned peace activist, educator, and psychotherapist, passed away on February 21. She was the Founding Director of the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, a nonprofit which facilitates post-conflict resolution, with active programs in more than 30 countries across South and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Paula was the Professor Emerita and founder of the CONTACT Program for Peacebuilding at the School for International Training in Vermont. The CONTACT program invited participants from opposing sides of war- Israelis and Palestinians, Indians and Pakistanis, Hutus and Tutsis- and trained them in the tools of peacebuilding. Paula served on the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the steering committee of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. She was a prolific writer, authoring a Training Manual for peacebuilders and several books, chapters, and articles. Paula gained international recognition for her peacebuilding work, receiving the Dalai Lama’s “Unsung Heroes of Compassion” award. Learn more about her incredible life and the many lives she touched on the Karuna Center website and Buddhistdoor Global's remembrance

Paula meeting Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town in 2009, Credit: karunacenter.org

"The roots of our wars can be understood through the examination of greed, hatred and delusion. It’s all about desire, about self. . . Until we change ourselves, and the unjust social structures in which we’ve embedded ourselves, we’re not going to have peace.” ~ Paula Green, Barre Buddhist Center, Spring 2002

Paula receiving the Unsung Heroes of Compassion award from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2009, Credit: karunacenter.org 

NVI supporter and volunteer Rand Engel shared this beautiful remembrance of Paula:

We’ve lost another lion of peace in a time of loss. Such is the passing of Paula Green.

I was truly fortunate to meet Paula at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) around 1985. I was a staff member, Paula a member of the Board of Directors. It was there too, during that time, that Paula met Jim Perkins, another IMS staff member, an anti-war activist and nuclear resister, and gardener with a heart big enough for the world, who became her husband and life partner.

Paula was a professor at the School for International Training and co-director of the Conflict Transformation Across Cultures (CONTACT) program in Vermont, and founder of the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding. She was bridge-builder, a nonviolence trainer and activist who worked in conflict zones around the world.

I’ve slept many nights in Paula and Jim’s home, eaten their fresh vegetables from the garden and home baked bread, talked long hours. She was always open and welcoming, always encouraging – and pushing for – engagement for a better world. After all, she was relentless in seeing the possibility for peace and justice and embraced the responsibility to pursue it.

Of the many missions that Paula undertook around the world, I was fortunate to meet her in a few places over the years: a group she led to meet ethnic minorities in Burmese border jungle lands, 1990 – and then organizing a conference in Washington DC on Burma, which included meeting then a young student activist who made a lot of that conference happen, Michael Beer, now director of Nonviolence International; sitting in on her workshops with Palestinian and Israeli youth in Jerusalem, working with mixed ethnicity peace activists, and traveling through the West Bank in 1996; in Kosovo 2006. She brought experience and strategy, intelligence and vision, warmth and passion, and no-nonsense directness to teaching, facilitating and inspiring.

In recent years, traveling less around the world, she turned attention to being part of Hands Across the Hills an initiative that brought together people from western Massachusetts and eastern Kentucky, often separated by more than miles, in our fractured country, to meet deeply with each other.  She was passionate about this realm of reaching out.

Paula was and is a great soul. She will be missed. 

Rand Engel & Paula Green (center) at the Burma border, 1990 

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