TRACK TWO: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy has evolved with the times. Beginning as the Esalen Soviet-American Exchange Program in 1980, it sponsored dozens of programs that promoted warming relations between Soviet and American citizens that led to the end of the Cold War. We have participated in one of the most successful good works of modern times. In 2004, we broadened our work and changed our name to include other countries in our projects to promote international understanding.
The assets we’ve developed since 1980 serve us well today. The trust and good will we now enjoy with citizen diplomats in many fields, which were developed during the Cold war, facilitate our present work not only in Russia but in other countries in conflict.
TRACK TWO had its beginnings as the Esalen Soviet-American Exchange Program in 1980, during a threatening turn of the Cold War. Our work is now framed as the Russian-American Partnership Project (ERAPP). This project has recently sponsored an exchange of young artists from the Pacific coasts of Russia and the USA - www.esalen-pacifica-artprize.org - and a very prescient conference in Paris on the possibility of a new Cold War. In 2015 we convened the central core ERAPP group to plan how best to help the two countries move back toward a saner and more amicable relationship. Because TRACK TWO/Esalen were instrumental in bringing Boris Yeltsin to the United States for the first time, and, as a step in the right direction, we plan to honor the friendship between our two countries when Yeltsin was president.
Following meetings in Russia in the fall of 2016 a conference is now planned for the fall of 2017 at the Yeltsin Center and Museum, the first Russian presidential library in its history. In view of the increasingly worsening relations between the United States and Russia and mindful of the undercurrents in the government circles of both nations, our proposed conference will look back over the most difficult years in the relationship between the USSR and the USA, and the events that moved things to a better understanding. A highlight of those events was Boris Yeltsin's trip to America in 1989 hosted by Esalen Institute. Accomplishments for this project as well as those of other TRACK TWO/Esalen collaborations can be viewed on this website and www.esalen/ctr.org.
INTERNATIONAL ABRAHAMIC NETWORK (IAN)
Led since 2007 by Dulce Murphy and Joseph Montville under the banner of the International Abrahamic Network, (IAN) - formerly the Abrahamic Family, we have united and built common cause among hundreds of Abrahamic leaders from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. This work has touched over 250 theology schools, seminaries, and graduate schools in the United States and Canada and extends into the Middle East.
We have also created a website: http://abrahamicfamilyreunion.org and a newsletter that has become the hub of much Abrahamic activity. It features bimonthly up-to-date news on Abrahamic reconciliation. In April 2016, the International Abrahamic Network (IAN) core group met at Esalen Institute to strengthen established relationships and to introduce influential organizations and individuals into our network. The conference theme was How Can Citizen Diplomacy Fill the Gaps During a Time of Failed Leadership. Participants included experts from Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Israel and the United States who presented their recent citizen diplomacy efforts that included film, broadcast, social media and people to people efforts in the Abrahamic community world-wide.
Our Chinese-American Potential conferences at Esalen aim to improve relations between China and the US through citizen diplomacy. In 2016, the eighth year of this TRACK TWO/Esalen/CTR collaboration, we traveled to Hong Kong. The purpose of our trip was threefold: first, to experience and learn about the latest developments in China; second, to maintain relationships with those who have come to Esalen from China; third, to recruit new people for future meetings of TRACK TWO/Esalen/CTR. Not unlike the trip a small group of people from Esalen took to the USSR in 1980, this journey to Hong Kong will eventually help improve the relations between our two countries.