Quarterly eNews Spring 2021
Welcome to our Quarterly eNews with updates from The Peace Alliance!
- 2nd and 4th Saturday Hope Story Circles 9:00am PT / 12 noon ET and all times between and beyond
- Second Tuesday, National Action Call, 6:00pm PT / 9:00pm ET
- Third Wednesday, Department of Peacebuilding call, 5:00pm PT / 8:00pm ET
Check the Calendar of Events on the website for connection information for everything!
Message from our Managing Director
Dear Peace Partners,
We find ourselves in a season of shift. Change is inevitable, and can be unsettling for many; it is important to remember that often, some of the biggest feelings of chaos come just before the most impactful times of change. Staying the course, breathing deeply, and taking the next right step in front of you is a strategy that will keep you moving through these extraordinary times.
At the Peace Alliance, we are feeling the changing times as equal amounts of heart-break and hope. Heart-break because so many are processing the deepest level of grief at the loss of loved ones, either through illness or extreme violence. Hope because the level of resonance with the realities of violence and the urgency to make real and lasting change is increasing, especially in those who have felt protected from this violence by privilege and have the power to make the changes so desperately needed. I invite you to recommit to this partnership by supporting the Peace Alliance with a monthly donation to sustain and grow the programs we are building and amplifying.
If you find yourself asking what you can do, let us guide you to find the opportunities that resonate with you. While all of us are dedicated to this work, we find ourselves challenged to expand programs like Practicing Peace in Schools, Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation, and Hope Story Circles without sustainable support. You can help with this, and we invite you to partner with us by Clicking Here.
As an organization, the Peace Alliance is in the process of our own personal inventory of focus to ensure that we are putting our efforts where they will effect the most change. We wish to continue to be a resource where you can come to learn about who is doing the most impactful peacebuilding and how you can get involved to support those efforts. I hope you will clasp virtual hands with me and walk with me into this time of change. It will take all of us to create the peace we want to see and feel in our world. Join me, won’t you?
In Partnership for Peace,
Season for Nonviolence – Onward!
From Martin Luther King’s nonviolent principle of “seeking to win the friendship and understanding of the opponent” to the Dalai Lama’s statement that he considers nonviolence to be “compassion in action”, we focused on lessons of nonviolence during the Season for Nonviolence 2021 (SNV) (from Jan. 30 – April 21).
During this time, we also advocated for a cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding (DoP/ HR 1111) and we honored these proponents of nonviolence:
- Advocacy. The DoP Act was introduced on 2/18/21 by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) with timely transformation provisions to address the root causes of violence and root conditions of peace, including a call for a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Commission and education in peacebuilding practices and social justice movements for in our schools and our communities. The DoP Campaign contributed many updates and language suggestions to DoP 2021. During SNV, a team of approximately 25 DoP Campaign volunteers made hundreds of contacts with potential DoP cosponsors. Other supporters sent messages. During SNV, DoP Campaign volunteers helped bring on 18 (and counting) cosponsors, including many former cosponsors and some new ones.
- Education & Honoring. Throughout SNV we honored the lives, examples and teaching of nonviolence practitioners, including: Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day, the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, Dolores Huerta, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Congresswoman Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Nelson Mandela and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “The future depends on what you do today.” As we move to our Mother’s Day and summer advocacy, please Ask Your Congressperson to Cosponsor Dept. of Peacebuilding (HR 1111).
For more information, see Department of Peacebuilding and Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2021.
On behalf of the National Department of Peacebuilding Campaign
National Field Updates and Coordinator Dan Kahn Transitions Position to Kathy Kidd
First, an update on our National Calls: Find Podcast recordings of monthly calls here.
Find our current legislative slate here.
In January, we connected with Jo Berry – the founder of “Building Bridges for Peace.” 16 years after Jo’s father was killed by an IRA bomb, she met with the man responsible – Pat Magee. Their hundreds of conversations since then are at the core of an international movement for healing and understanding.
In February, we connected with September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, through Nancy Meyer, whose younger brother lost his wife on one of those planes on that fateful day. Nancy has transmuted some of the damage done to her family, and created waves for new ways of being with each other. She has raised her voice and borne witness from New York to Hiroshima to the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba where suspects implicated in the 9/11 attacks are still awaiting some form of justice.
Our talk explored how this powerful witnessing organization is at work transmuting their sorrows into the world we wish for!!
In March, we hosted a panel of educators – exploring the particular challenges and opportunities facing our teachers.
- Linda Ryden is the creator of the Peace of Mind curriculum series – combining social-emotional learning, conflict resolution, and social justice education for elementary and middle school students.
- Kelli Love is a global leader in the Mindfulness in Education field – a trainer, mentor, and filmmaker promoting yoga and mindfulness in schools.
- And, E.J. Anderson is the Executive Director of On Track Greenville (SC), at the United Way of Greenville – bringing his distinguished experience as an educator embracing mindfulness into efforts at addressing poverty and ensuring student success.
Our presenter for this panel is our Council Lead for Peacebuilding in Schools – Jelena Popovic – a highly accomplished educator and trainer in her own right.
This month, in April, we were joined by Board Chair Terry Mason, and our new National Field Coordinator, Kathy Kidd! Kathy is a true champion of compassion in action – bringing her empathy skills, organizing prowess, and social justice and healing passions back into our leadership team. I will be passing the torch to her over the next month, and this call aims to invite a shared exploration of the future visions for our monthly time together.
It has been a great privilege to organize and host these monthly call during the past eight years,. The torch was passed to me by Matthew Albracht, who has kept the Peace Alliance flame alight since its inception. I had always been comforted and inspired by the space he created in his hosting, and I tried to emulate and learn from his example. Since I discovered The Peace Alliance in 2005, thanks to Heart, Jeffrey, Tom, Teri, Pranarose, Lynn, and Harris, I have been drawn to deeper and closer connection with the core of it. Something special about TPA, I believe, was and is the prevailing ethos of walking our talk – along with our emphasis on practical, effective solutions. We ask ourselves, how can I best contribute to building the more peaceful world I envision? What are the tools “out there” that are proven effective, and might fuel sweeping policy changes? And how can I be my best self in advocating for the proliferation of these powerful tools?
The solidarity, support, and inspiration of this community has been immeasurable to me – because practical hope is one of my most fundamental needs – and because sharing practical hope is one of my greatest joys. We can grieve together when needed, and find comfort and strength in dark places, and then rediscover the millions of people – from professional mediators to facilitators to teachers to parents to children… living and working in ways that do justify our faith, and nourish our commitment.
Kathy Kidd has been a superhero in support of this organization, and I truly could not be leaving this position in better hands. When I was a State Coordinator, Kathy was the National Field Director – bottom-lining support for our regional conferences, our national conference, and our day-to-day needs for strategy and empathy. The mention of her name, I know, brings sweet smiles and warming hearts to all of the dozens of state coordinators of that period who cherished her care and contribution. I know I am in good company in being thrilled and comforted by her return!
The Peace Alliance has allowed me to grow and learn in ways that I cherish, and I look forward to what our next steps may hold for us all. I will not be disappearing entirely from this landscape, but I am looking forward to some significant shifting of my activities. I do plan to remain actively supportive of the Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Working Group, and hope to otherwise collaborate in ways we are just beginning to dream up.
With Love, Solidarity, and Many, Many Thanks – for Trusting me with this Role, and Sharing in this Journey,
Dan Kahn, Former National Field Coordinator
We cannot thank Dan The Man Kahn enough for his heartfelt service to building Peace!
Please help us celebrate Dan Kahn for his long-term dedication to the Peace Alliance. He has been a part of the Peace Alliance very nearly since its inception, holding various roles of importance throughout his tenure. He began as a District Coordinator in Florida, and then a State Coordinator. He soon took on the volunteer role of National Field Coordinator, and when The Peace Alliance held an office in Washington DC, he moved to DC from Florida for the opportunity to be a full-time Staff member holding that role.
Dan grew and supported our network beautifully over the years, and brought us into the model of Action Teams, growing our National Monthly Calls to include monthly actions with our guest speakers. He has always been available to any inquiry from individuals interested in learning more about the Peace Alliance. He has continued his role in Restorative Justice in Florida, and has invested in his own training in empathy to better serve our community. His ability to lead our National Monthly Calls with such empathy, gentle direction and enthusiasm, has been a gift and will be missed. We look forward to what the future holds in how he will continue to be a part of the Peace Alliance, as we are counting on his promise to not leave us — we would not be the same without Dan in our midst, in whatever new form that takes.
The Peace Alliance is thrilled to welcome Kathy Kidd back to the daily workings of The Peace Alliance as the National Field Coordinator. Kathy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker living in Houston, Texas. She has had multiple careers including managing a campaign for a U.S House of Representatives candidate, and is currently working as a trauma-informed therapist. She began working with The Peace Alliance in late 2002 when world-wide protests began to prevent the war in Iraq. She searched for peace organizations to volunteer with, and found our campaign to establish a US Department of Peace, now known as the Department of Peacebuilding. She was blown away by its all-encompassing reach and started volunteering for the Peace Alliance, accepting a staff position at the time until 2009.
After being inspired by the numerous volunteers and social workers that fueled the U.S. Department of Peace Campaign, Kathy returned to school and obtained a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She became a social worker to deepen her commitment to social justice and racial equity. She is grateful for the life-changing impact of the years she spent with The Peace Alliance previously, and now feels it’s time to give back to the organization that gave her so much – by serving as the National Field Coordinator for a second time! We appreciate your joining us in welcoming her back in her old/new role.
Leveraging Languaging to Humanize The Justice System
As a neophyte, then industrious student and eventually a facilitator of Non Violent Communication (NVC) trainings, I have recognized the importance of choosing words carefully. Any types of labeling/stereotyping is best to be avoided. In my early days of social work, my population of choice was termed “emotionally-disturbed adolescents” now referred to as “high risk youth”. Back then, I was barely out of my teens and found that label to be an unduly harsh assessment of young people in the throes of navigating their turbulent teen years.
As I began teaching NVC in the county jail and Restorative Justice in a prison in Colorado, I referred to the “inmate population” as our “students” or our “men and women in green” and even as our “sisters and brothers inside” – subtly sensing that I did not have the politically or personally correct words to refer to incarcerated individuals. I connected with my students by using first names and it appeared to be a relief as they mentioned appreciation in being treated as “equal human beings”.
Reading The Marshall Project’s new Language Project series of articles by former and current incarcerated people re-engaged my background thoughts on languaging in the criminal justice system into the new light of clarity.
“Words like “inmate,” “prisoner,” “convict,” “felon” and “offender” are like brands. They reduce human beings to their crimes and cages…I believe in calling people by their names. If I’m associating someone with prison, I use “incarcerated person” or “person in prison.” If someone is in jail, I call them “detained person” or “person in jail,” but “incarcerated person” can work here, too…I understand these phrases can be repetitive and clunky for writers. But we have a responsibility to develop ways to describe people that don’t automatically stigmatize them...Stigmas tend to use even the kindest among us as their unwitting weapons.” — Lawrence Bartley
In reading “Words matter: a call for humanizing and respectful language to describe people who experience incarceration”, I resonated with the conclusion that “the use of respectful and appropriate language is a cornerstone of reducing harm and suffering when working with people involved in the criminal justice system; the use of stigmatizing and dehumanizing language must therefore come to an end.
“People experiencing incarceration are family and community members, friends, students, teachers, or co-workers. Indeed, as stated by UNAIDS in 1996 at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, ‘Prisoners are the community. They come from the community, they return to it. Protection of prisoners is protection of our communities.”
Awareness of words/language choices brings power – and responsibility. We can change our reference words to help and not hurt others in unfortunate and unequal positions. Do No Harm.
By Patty LaTaille
Humanizing The Justice System Lead
We Are Ohana
The Hawai’ian concept of Ohana means many things … family, connection, compassion, support, love, treating the land with respect, preparing for the generations ahead.
We are Ohana was the theme of the 14th annual CA+ Department of Peacebuilding (DoP) Sages visioning retreat on March 13-14, 2021. In the Hawai’ian tradition, we talked story about ourselves as a family of peacebuilders within the larger human and earth family and how to actualize Ohana. The 16-hour Zoom gathering was also a virtual trip to Hawai’i.
On 3/13/21, we talked about:
- our nuclear families/ friends;
- our broader human family;
- our animal relatives;
- our plant relatives; and
- our earth connection.
On 3/14/21, we discussed:
- community building; and
- personal growth.
Advocacy included Department of Peacebuilding (DoP), Peace Alliance Blueprint for Peace, lobbying, and Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. Community building included the faith community, listening to our children, broadening our circles, radical love and the beloved community. Personal growth touched upon staying in the sphere of no fear, forgiveness and finding hope and joy.
We interspersed discussions with DoP kinetics, Qigong, slides from the past, poems, songs, the Global Minute of Silence, peace jokes, quotes, sitar music, guided meditations, a peace prayer, dance and decorating our individual Hawai’ian flowers to add to our Ohana bouquet. And, of course, there was some ukulele music!
We gathered as Sages-in-Training to share our insights and wisdom because of an idea by Thich Naht Hahn who said that the destiny of a nation is too great to leave to politicians. He proposed that the people of the U.S. form a Council of Sages who listen deeply to people who feel they are victims of discrimination, exploitation and social injustice. The Council was to be made up of non-political people who have lived closely with suffering and understand suffering and should also have experience in the practice of reconciliation and peacemaking.
On behalf of the CA Department of Peacebuilding Campaign
The Peace Alliance empowers civic action toward a culture of peace.
Who We Are:
We are an alliance of organizers and advocates taking the work of
peacebuilding from the margins of society into the
center of national discourse and policy priorities.
We champion a comprehensive, collaborative approach
to peace and peacebuilding.