Be a founder of a city of peace movement in your community.
By Fred Arment with Philip Hellmich and Carol Anne Robinson
Can you help your community take practical steps to create lasting prosperity, safety and quality of life; and, at the same time contribute to a global culture of peace?
The answer is yes!
There is great hope to be found in the exponential growth of personal and organizational peacebuilding initiatives around the world. Over ten million people in the United States alone are now meditating and scientists are proving the benefits of these ancient practices. There are hundreds of colleges and universities with peace and conflict resolution programs compared to only a handful in 1984. Community mediation, alternative dispute resolution and restorative justice are becoming common practice around the world, providing cost effective ways to resolve conflicts while strengthening relationships and communities.
This groundswell of peace/conflict resolution methods is giving rise to local infrastructures of peacebuilding. In Rio de Janeiro, there is a National Programme for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders; in Dayton, Ohio, an award-winning “Welcome Dayton” initiative for emigrants and a Human Rights Council; in Costa Rica, a Cabinet Minister of Peace; in Ashland, Oregon, a movement to establish a Culture of Peace Commission. One of the more famous is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission formed in South Africa after the devastation of apartheid.
Imagine your city or village finding unity and purpose around the principles of peacebuilding: celebrating diversity, valuing education for children, encouraging the arts, and managing society with compassion. It is not only possible, it is happening all over the globe!
To celebrate and accelerate the exponential growth of grassroots peacebuilding practices and infrastructures, International Cities of Peace is working with communities around the world. International Cities of Peace is an association of citizens and groups self-defining their communities as cities of peace by intention as well as high-impact grassroots activism. Nearly 100 cities of peace are already taking action toward building a culture of peace through peacebuilding efforts that run the gambit from art to wellness, education to the environment.
Key to this effort is having respect and striving for unity around the consensus values of peace: safety, prosperity, and quality of life.
In most cases, an individual began the process to create an International City of Peace then a small group formed and built energy around the initiative. In many cases the fledgling city of peace group approached civic leaders to form a partnership with government in order to institutionalize a culture of peace through proclamations and support. In fact, many Peace Ambassadors, trained by the Shift Network, have been integral in creating cities of peace around the globe.
Indeed, the vision that many have of creating national Departments of Peacebuilding -- especially with the work of The Peace Alliance and the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace -- are gaining momentum through the emerging local infrastructures of peacebuilding. In essence, these community institutions are the local, or small “d,” departments of peacebuilding. They are focused on sustainable development and compassionate policing, participatory processes and transparency, human rights and restorative justice, as well as shared resources and innovative governing.
The relationship between citizens and their government is, indeed, shifting. International Cities of Peace is helping by networking a global community that shares strategies and best practices, thus accelerating the growing trends and fostering grassroots infrastructures of peacebuilding. Imagine a future when cities of peace around the world are fostering a local/global culture of peace more powerful than the forces of division and violence. Imagine when peacebuilders can effectively impact global events. It’s coming quickly. The soil is tilled and the garden is seeded. Now you can be an important part of this extraordinary shift in the consciousness of communities. By establishing 1,000 International Cities of Peace by 2020, we will lay the foundation for Departments of Peace on local and national levels around the globe.
Together through collaborations such as the Shift Network, International Cities of Peace, The Peace Alliance, the National Peace Alliance, the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace, We the World/11 Days of Global Unity and others we can meet or exceed the goal of 1,000 cities of peace by 2020. Take the step today. The staff at International Cities of Peace will work with you through the process of forming a city of peace initiative in your community. Act local, connect global! Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
J. Fred Arment is the founder and executive director of International Cities of Peace. He is author of two novels and the academic work, "The Elements of Peace: How Nonviolence Works." This fall McFarland Academic Publishers will release his new book, "The Economics of Peace: Freedom, the Golden Rule, and Broadening Prosperity."
Philip M. Hellmich serves as the Director of Peace at the Shift Network. He has over 25 years of experience in peacebuilding including 14 years with Search for Common Ground. He also served for four years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone where he lived and worked in small remote bush villages. A published writer, Philip recently published God and Conflict: A Search for Peace in a Time of Crisis. He serves as adviser to The Global Peace Initiative of Women. A long-time meditation practitioner, Philip enjoys studying and teaching about the parallels between inner and outer peacebuilding.
Carol Anne Robinson, founder and CEO of CarolAnne Creations, is a financial and accounting professional with 30+ years of experience. Ms. Robinson is dedicated to integrating heart-centered practices and business solutions for socially conscious entrepreneurs and companies. She is a 2011 graduate of The Shift Network's Peace Ambassador Training and co-creator of the Many Faces ~ One Peace ~ All My Relations peace festival held in May 2013 in Dallas, TX. The next Dallas peace festival is scheduled for Spring 2015.
The Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive The Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.
This article appears in:
2014 Catalyst, Issue 11: International Cities of Peace - 1000 by 2020