Posting #2 from the UK

9 February 2011, 5:11 PM

I spent the morning into early afternoon in my room writing -- finishing a short article on interfaith dialogue for Dialogal, a fine periodical published by the UNESCO Centre of Catalonia in Barcelona, the group whose work we will honor at our Circles of Light dinner on 5 March; and doing triage on email, trying to respond as I could to provide what people need to keep moving forward while I’m traveling.

At 2:45 PM, I met Malcolm Stonestreet at Grosvenor Square where we had a 3 PM meeting at the Tony Blair Faiths Foundation. A plaque on the wall of the building housing the Foundation identifies it as the residence of John and Abigail Adams when Mr. Adams served as the first ambassador to England of the infant United States of America, which has recently won its war of independence against England. Mr. Adams returned from his posting here to become the second President of the USA. The plaque commended him for contributing significantly to creating positive relations between these two countries, which had so recently been at war. May we all be so ready to move beyond conflicts that divide us and build mutually respectful and beneficial relationships.

We had just begun our meeting with Ian Linden, Director of Policy, and Kate Losowsky, Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive, when a side door to the room opened and in walked Tony Blair, whose presence in the meeting hadn’t been expected. After some opening pleasantries, Malcolm and I had the opportunity to give him a hopefully compelling 10-minute overview of URI. Toward the end of this presentation, Mr. Blair indicated that he, too, recognized the importance of working in the grassroots, and asked his two staff members to explore how the Foundation and URI might work cooperatively. In addition, at least one member of the Foundation’s staff will attend the URI UK gathering tomorrow; and we made a mutual commitment to keep each other informed about our evolving work.

I made it back to my hotel room in time to be late for a productive Global Council meeting, following which I had the joy of sharing dinner with Patrick Hanjoul and Martin Gurevich, URI Europe leaders who have come here for the URI UK meeting tomorrow.

And now it’s time for bed.