illustration: Plant Seeds by Josh McPhee
Remember that what seems like even the smallest of acts can be monumental in some person's life and can help change attitudes and emotions, and lead to a "good" that we might not be easily understood at the moment. Here are some small and big actions to consider:
Learn more about the Split the Rock Festival. It is possible to launch a similiar gathering and celebration in your own local area--anywhere in the world. Learn more about past festivals, starting in 2008 and the upcoming 2012 festival by going to the Split Rock site: http://www.splitthisrock.org/index.html. Split the Rock also features poems of provocation and witness each week written by registered participants of the past festivals (2008 and 2010).
Veterans for Peace in Juneau, Alaska have sponsored an essay contest, May 2011. Students were asked to write about an "anti-war" song that moved them, the message they understood from the songwriter, how it affected their personal views about war, and the role music plays in building a movement for peace. Winners received a scholarship to help defry their educational expenses. Learn more about the details of the contest at: http://vfpjuneauscholarship2011.blogspot.com/ and read the essays of the co-winners: Megan Behnke ("The Sun is Burning"), and McLean Cannon ("Handsome Johnny") and honorable mention winner, Laurel Stark ("We Want Peace"). While visiting the website see other work of this local Veteran for Peace group.
- Zoe's Bat Mitzvah. Giving voice to both Israeli and Palestinian youth, Zoe Meadow, a 12-year-old Boston-area artist, in Spring 2010 was preparing for a her Bat Mitzvah right-of-passage Jewish ceremony. Her Bat Mitzvah dream was to create a calendar with art work from Palestinian and Israeli teenagers. Zoe ( ZMMeadow@gmail.com ) had been inspired in 2009 by viewing in her Sunday School the 2001 Oscar-nominated movie, PROMISES --
She searched for Palestinian and Israeli youth paintings or drawings to symbolize "something that is important to them in their daily life." Zoe asked each to write a paragraph or two that could accompany the printed art, explaining the artist's purpose in creating the image." Her larger purpose was to sell the calendars and donate all net proceeds to three relationship-building organizations. Zoe's 2011 dream calendar (and other products) is online:
- Youth and Nobel Peace Laureates working together to change the world. The mission of the PeaceJam Foundation is to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody.
- Learn about Veteran-Civilian Dialogues and the work in which they are embarking. See how you can participate. Contact: http://www.intersectionsinternational.org/programs/consequences-conflict/veteran-civilian-dialogue.
- Join in the work of TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors). They conduct National Military Survivor Seminars and host regional Good Grief Camps. They also maintain a hotline and offer tragedy assistance 24/7.
- September 21, 2010 is International Peace Day. Go to the Peace One Day USA Education Resource that is operated by Scholastic Publishing Company and underwritten by Ben and Jerry's There are activities to do, free resources and films. Go to: http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3751750.
- Participate in a Soldier's Heart retreat. Retreats provide veterans, family members and all who care an opportunity to learn practical ways of intergrating healing strategies into relationships. Contact: http://soldiersheart.net/events.shtml.
- Sponsor a Pennies for Peace campaign in your area and join in the mission that Greg Mortenson began with building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Join the Pennies for Peace campaign at: http://www.gregmortenson.com/how-to-help/pennies-for-peace.
- In 1992, an American Palestinians and Jewish dialogue began in San Francisco. Similiar dialogues are happening across the United States, between all kinds of groups. Visit: http://traubman.igc.org/dg-prog.htm to find out about the success of shared meals and conversations. The Traubmans also have documented lessons learned so mistakes can be avoided when starting such dialogues.
- Work with Women for Women Internation to help a woman transform from victim of war to survivor to active citizen. Learn more at: http://www.womenforwomen.org/searchlp1/.
- Find out about the movement to have a U.S. Department of Peace. Visit the Peace Alliance website. Lend your voice, contact your congress and senate representatives and sign a petition.
- Send peace card messages to friends, colleagues and neighbors. You don’t need a reason to do this.
- Welcome home a veteran. Contact a local veteran’s organization to make contact with veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Have a veteran to dinner.
- Become an ambassador for Save the Children by joining their Make a Difference Team. They are looking for 500 new team leaders to increase their commitment to working with children in war torn areas of the world. Learn more at: http://www.savethechildren.org/get-involved/make-a-difference/?WT.mc_id=0609_gi_makeDifference.
- Tell a story about someone in your family, you know or know of who who has experienced war. Post your story on our Playback Project. Telling stories can create peace. Stories pull us out of our skin, connect us, open our hearts to compassion and to building wisdom.
- Start a practice peace campaign at your work, school or church. Create “Practicing Peace” signs. Share what you are doing with others in an open forum, a blog or bulletin.
- Protect and help refugees who now live in your community. Contact an organization that works on behalf of refugees and volunteer your time and if possible, financial assistance.
- Work with a local organization, such as Voices, that is dedicated to compassionate service.
- Create a peace park or garden in your neighborhood. Add a Peace Pole to your garden.
- Design a community peace mural. Involve as many people as possible. Plan a community dedication.
- Sponsor a peace day at your job site, church or school. Think about all the things that could be done in this day. Poems, readings, art exhibits, group discussions, etc. The possibilities are endless. As with all of the other peace ideas this one takes a great deal of thought, planning and organizing others in order for the event to be successful.
- Sponsor a series of peace events. Select books or videos that have peace as a theme. Read, view and discuss themes together. Explore new possibilities.
- Show one of the Films to Help Us Rethink War found in our annotated Filmography. Follow the discussion and activity guidelines offered.
- Say “thank you” with a smile to someone who performs a service for you.
- Join the Roots of Peace's work to unearth dangerous landmires in war-torn countries and empower local communities scarred by these inhumane weapons. To date over thirty million pennies have been raised. Visit rootsofpeace.org to learn more.
- Help promote Peace Studies. Several universities have Peace Studies programs. Support the on-going effectiveness of a program by contributing to it or providing a full or partial scholarship for one of its students.
- White poppies are a symbol of peace. In some countries of the world they are worn along with red poppies to acknowledge Amistice, Remembrance Day, Anzac Day or to commemorate Hiroshima Day. Start a White Poppy day in your community to support a peaceful cause.