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Ashland Culture of peace commission

A Brief History

David Wick and Irene Kai brought the seeds of a Culture of Peace from their years of work with Pathways To Peace in which David had been active since 1980. They were joined by Herb Rothschild, Eric Sirotkin, Patricia Sempowich, Kathleen Gamer and Elinor Berman to explore, plan and organize an association, work closely with the Ashland City Council. The process took two years. A City Council proclamation embracing and encouraging a Culture of Peace community was unanimously approved on March 15, 2015 and the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, a citizen's commission, was launched in a community celebration on September 21, 2015.

Within its first three months ACPC developed a structure designed around eight community areas of potential peace: Religion, Law, Habitat, Education, Business, Culture, Science and Environment. To represent each of these areas Ashland citizens known to have relevant interests and backgrounds were invited to become Commissioners. Among the Commissioners are the Ashland Chief of Police and The Ashland Daily Tidings Editor.

An initial step was to identify a vision that expressed a Culture of Peace in Ashland in 2015: a world that works for all. That vision of the Culture of Peace evolved to a community-wide movement dedicated to transforming our attitudes, behaviors, and institutions into ones that foster harmonious relationships with each other and the natural world.

Cities are the real societal structural level where the Culture of Peace rubber meets the road. The individual person is always the bottom line in peace and peace-building daily choices, but it is the city that has the reach, authority, responsibility and influence to set the positive tone and direction for so many people. This can be done by beginning to use the Culture of Peace as a compass for guidance and a lens to see and understand differently.

With very skilled, inspired and dedicated volunteers ACPC focused on engaging the community in areas where conflict, disharmony and concern were emerging. Simultaneously, attention was given to providing community education in some of the fundamentals of communication and community building.

On November 16, 2015 ACPC became a 501(c)(3) organization known as Culture of Peace Commissions dba Ashland Culture of Peace Commission. On May 16, 2017 we guided the Ashland City Council to join the Internation Cities of Peace and proclaim Ashland a City of Peace. A community celebration with a ribbon tying ceremony took place on July 28, 2017 with ACPC, The Ashland Chamber of Commerce and the City Council participating.

In September 2017, following our second successful "Eleven Days for Peace," we looked for a cohesive way to proceed. We found it in UN documents related to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, October 6, 1999 (A/RES/53/243). We are using the Eight Action Areas outlined in that resolution which is the result of years of work by expert multicultural, multinational contributors. Our Strategic Plan for 2018-2021 is our first attempt at implementing the Eight Action Areas in a deliberate, thoughtful way.

The Ashland Culture of Peace Commission is a local-global initiative. It grew organically with the strength of years of experience behind it. As we act locally and think globally we seek to challenge and shift our individual and community attitudes and beliefs from a Culture of War to a Culture of Peace. We believe this will lead to a shift in mindset and behaviors which lead to systemic change.ACPC peace-building leadership was also demonstrated with the installing of the World Peace Flame on the Southern Oregon University campus on September 21, 2018 and will be demonstrating further by organizing the Global Peace Conference in 2019.

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