Ashland Culture of peace commission
background, Accomplishments, Future Direction
How can history be in our hands? As was said by the great anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
A small group of thoughtful and committed citizens came together in Ashland in 2012, with a focus to create an outstanding United Nations International Day of Peace on September 21, 2012. The following year, on Peace Day, they filled Westley Hall with 200 people celebrating a Feast For Peace and all in attendance agreed it was time to establish an ongoing, year-round Ashland Culture of Peace Commission.
David Wick and Irene Kai brought the seeds of a Culture of Peace from their years of work with Pathways To Peace, David since 1980. They were joined by Herb Rothschild, Eric Sirotkin, Patricia Sempowich, Kathleen Gamer and Elinor Berman in this quest. They explored, planned, and organized for two years while interacting with the Ashland City Council. 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.
The United Nations identifies a Culture of Peace as, “… a set of values, attitudes, traditions and modes of behavior and ways of life…” This is a broad anthropological sense of culture, and not a narrow popular sense such as music and art.
Our Mission is 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 will lead to systemic change.
We were ready! We found an office space in the center of downtown Ashland. The location has given ACPC increased visibility which has resulted in drop-in inquiries from pedestrian traffic and ease of use. Through these inquiries, ACPC has grown its membership.
Within its first three months, ACPC developed a structure designed around eight areas of peace: Religion, Law, Habitat, Education, Business, Culture, Science and Environment. To represent each of these areas, an Ashland citizen, known to have interest and background, was invited to become a Commissioner. Among the Commissioners are the Ashland Police Chief and The Ashland Tidings Editor.
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 Peacebuilding 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.
The Ashland Culture of Peace Commission is truly a local-global initiative and grew organically with the strength of years of experience behind it. An initial step was to define what a Culture of Peace is in Ashland, in 2015, and create a vision. That vision became a world that works for all. And the vision of the Culture of Peace emerged as 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.
With very skilled, inspired and dedicated volunteers, ACPC focused on engaging the community where conflict, disharmony and concern were emerging. Parallel attention was given to providing community education in some of the fundamentals of communication and community building.
Initial activities & achievements:
A calmer and safer downtown street environment.
ACPC Peace Ambassadors reached out to fellow Ashlanders to engage in dialogue whether they were long-term residents, local unhoused individuals, Oregon Shakespeare Festival visitors or those just passing through.Peace ambassadors expand the collective understanding of a culture of peace by inquiring into each person’s conception of a peace culture.Peace ambassadors listen to empower each person’s voice, so that all community members can be heard. Peace ambassadors hold listening circles and talking opportunities in public places inviting one-on-one and group discussions.This gave those who are homeless and young and old people a chance to be heard.
Both the Chief of Police, Tighe O’Meara, and Mayor John Stromberg said 2016 was much calmer in Ashland than the previous year
Skill building and training
Our goal is to provide foundational training for the community in terms of key skills that can help individuals and organizations create a culture of peace around them. These skills include compassionate listening, non-violent communication, an understanding of implicit bias, and asset-based community development.
Compassionate Listening training
Implicit Bias Training
Asset Based Community Development
Poverty Simulation with Goodwill Industries & Rogue Community College
Political Candidates Forum
To explore the connection of the electoral process and the Culture of Peace was the purpose of the forum. This forum was held in October, 2016 and moved beyond win-lose/polarization with an emphasis on grey areas that, over time, would contribute to peace and encourage vulnerability.There was an intention to restore competition to where it no longer opposes cooperation. Instead of trashing one’s contender, each candidate would state what they stand for and what they plan to do in a manner that’s embedded in the ethic of what’s best for community.
Women’s March Southern Oregon
Shelter Listening Project
Ashland School District Title IX Advisory Task Force
Consultation with the Mayor, bi-weekly – shelters, homeless and affordable housing, parking sleeping
Weekly Listening Circles with Monthly Theme
Daily Tidings newspaper articles bi-weekly, Fortune.com picks up on our article
Ashland Culture of Peace Commission 11 Days for Peace 9/11 – 9/21 the International Day of Peace
Join International Cities of Peace, inspire and guide Ashland City Council with proclamation
Independent Media Week at SOU (April 9 – 15) panel discussion potentially exploring the question, “What could (or should) the media do to cultivate a culture of peace in an era of Trump”?
Business focus: Joined Ashland Chamber of Commerce – engaging businesses
where we are today:
Building upon the Achievements of the last two years, ACPC’s current activities include:
City Council/Mayor “listening”, bi-weekly consultation
Tuesday Talking Circles/Wednesday Community Gatherings - Weekly
11 Days for Peace annually
International Day of Peace Event September 21st annually
Funding Team meets weekly
World Peace Flame in Ashland
Irene Kai, co-founder of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, discovered the World Peace Flame Monument in Snowdonia, Wales on September 11, 2015, while attending Banksy’s Dismaland art exhibit in the UK. Irene was given a candle lit by the World Peace Flame to bring back to Ashland. The candle was then lit at the inauguration of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC) on September 21st 2015, the International Day of Peace.
Irene was inspired by the significance of the symbol of Peace from the World Peace Flame Monument, an eternal flame that never dies as the desire for peace in each of our hearts shall never die.
The original idea of the World Peace Flame was inspired by the Olympic flame that travels around the world to connect all humanity – We Are One. The princess of the Netherlands flew seven flames from five continents by military jets to Wales and united them to form the World Peace Flame Monument. Irene was determined to install a Wales’ replica of the World Peace Flame Monument in Ashland to be a beacon of peace and hope in North America, together with eleven other World Peace Flame Monuments around the world. She contacted the World Peace Flame Foundation to ask for permission to install a monument in Ashland, the response was very positive.
This led to a two and a half year journey which will culminate in the lighting of the World Peace Flame on September 21, 2018, the International Day of Peace. This will be known on the local, state, national and international levels. This is the international inauguration and lighting ceremony of the World Peace Flame in The Thalden Pavilion, Sustainability Center, Southern Oregon University. The lighting of the World Peace Flame will be conducted by the Director of the World Peace Flame Foundation from The Hague, Netherlands. The World Peace Flame will be a perpetual beacon of hope, peace and resilience for Ashland, Oregon, the United States, and people internationally. This is a clear statement that Oregon upholds the rights and dignity of all people and that we value working together to find solutions that serve our needs today as well as those of future generations.
Join International Cities of Peace,
With our guidance, the Ashland City Council joined the International Cities of Peace on May 16, 2017, with a proclamation. On July 28, 2017 the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission conducted a public ceremony in front of the ACPC office celebrating this important event It was internet live streamed for the 164 member cities around the world.
“Dear Mayor Stromberg and Ashland City Council Members,
I am happy to bring your attention to the first international activity inspired by your May 16, 2017 proclamation joining International Cities of Peace. Ashland Police Chief Tighe O'Meara has been invited to communicate with Mr. Tebandeke Ali in Uganda about increasing safety in Ugandan cities. Chief O'Meara has agreed to do so and communication has begun.
Thank you for your vision and commitment to promoting a local-global Culture of Peace.
Ashland proclaimed as a City of Peace
On May 16, 2017 the Ashland Mayor and City Council also proclaimed Ashland as a City of Peace. As inspired by the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, this means it is a goal that the Ashland City government and community is working toward, while recognizing what is in place.
Winter Shelter Volunteer Training Program
Recruiting, training, incentivizing volunteers. The cold weather is upon us and the Ashland winter shelters will open for those without homes. But, only with sufficient volunteers to provide the necessary assistance to keep the shelters open. ACPC was awarded a grant from the Carpenter Foundation which provides for helping to find new volunteers, create volunteer training, and work with the community to offer incentives as a thank you to the volunteers. A Culture of Peace includes all people.
Compassionate Listening Practice Group
An outstanding opportunity to learn about and practice the vital skill of compassionate listening. Open and full listening to another person is an essential ability which helps foster a Culture of Peace.
Making Peace With Money Workshops
Money is currently a necessary challenge in our world used for good and ill. How do we work with money, what is our relationship with money in a Culture of Peace? This will be a subject of inquiry and exploration by ACPC in the future. What ACPC is providing right now is Making Peace With Money, a workshop presented by Kay Sandberg on Saturday, December 2, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm.
“Money is like water. It can be a conduit for commitment, a currency of love. Money moving in the direction of our highest commitments nourishes our world and us. What you appreciate appreciates.
Money carries our intention. If we use it with integrity, then it carries integrity forward. Know the flow—take responsibility for the way your money moves in the world.
Let your soul inform your money and your money express your soul.”
― Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life
"You Are the United Nations - Thursday Lunch N'Learn, Webinar 10 Sustainable Cities of the Future: A World at Peace"
Presented the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission on a podcast that is available to all United Nations employees and many thousands who are associated.
Uniting for Justice- ACPC highlighting our values of Inclusivity, Respect, Compassion and Accountability along with many other community organizations.
Bridging Differences Workshop- Learn To Talk To Anyone About Anything - This workshop will be taught by four outstanding professional instructors from the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission.
where we are going:
The Ashland Culture of Peace Commission is engaged in strategic planning based on our mission and where we have been.
Culture of Peace is based on UNESCO’s 8 Action Areas, UNESCO = United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization
8 Action Areas
Foster a culture of peace through education.
Promote sustainable economic and social development.
Promote respect for human rights.
Ensure equality between men and women.
Foster democratic participation.
Advance understanding, tolerance and solidarity.
Support participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge.
Promote international peace and security.
Social Justice Fair
ACPC will collaboratively organize a Social Justice Fair with Peace House at SOU on Sunday, February 11, 2018, 11:00 am - 3:00 pm. ACPC has been invited to serve as an organizing co-sponsor.
On the weekend of February 10 and 11, 2018 the Rogue Valley Peace Choir will host a convention of five regional Peace Choirs from Oregon and Northern California. This brings together some 200 singers from all around the region with the mission of singing for social-justice, peace, and responsible stewardship of our planet. The conference will consist of workshops for the singers on Saturday, and a free public concert presented by all five choirs at 3:00 pm on Sunday in the SOU Music Recital Hall. The Social Justice Fair will be February 11 11:00 am – 3:00 pm and organized by ACPC and Peace House.
The Mercy Conference
Mark Yaconelli, creator of The Hearth, has invited ACPC to co-sponsor and provide a workshop for The Mercy Conference, April 26 – 28, 2018.
The Mercy Conference with Anne Lamott will offer three days of public workshops, events, story gatherings, service opportunities, and discussion groups on the personal and public practice of compassion. The featured attraction of the conference will be a Friday evening talk and Saturday workshop with celebrated author Anne Lamott. The conference will include a variety of nonprofit agencies, service organizations, artists, healthcare providers, therapeutic professionals, faith-based communities, and spiritual practitioners all with particular expertise in the practice of compassion.
First Annual Run/Walk for Peace
Inspired by Patricia Sempowich of ACPC, a 5K Run/Walk for Peace will take place on April 21, 2018 as a community event and fundraiser for ACPC. The purpose will be to have fun, bring the community together, raise awareness about ACPC, and have a healthy fundraising experience.
World Peace Flame in Ashland
On July 31, 2003, the first World Peace Flame monument in the UK was installed in North Wales in the presence of international leaders, peacemakers and politicians.
After three years of dedicated work and following the vision of Irene Kai, the lighting ceremony of the Ashland World Peace Flame will take place on September 21st, 2018, the International Day of Peace. The very special location is Southern Oregon University, The Thalden Pavilion, Sustainability Center. A delegation from the World Peace Flame Foundation in The Hague, Netherlands will bring the handmade brass oil lamp and participate in the lighting ceremony. ACPC will also invite the Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, our Congressional leaders, State legislators and City officials to the ceremony.
“We would like to invite the people of the world to believe in this flame and to believe in humanity’s ability to be united by it. The light of the World Peace Flame is our point of unity. It burns everywhere, in every human heart, just waiting to be awakened. I believe the establishing of this World Peace Flame will be remembered as a great turning point in our history.”
- Dr. Mansukh Patel
For additional information please contact:
Ashland Culture of Peace Commission