Archive for the ‘Peacemakers’ Category

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Alan Delery

Since my last post, I’ve been considering racial and gender equality from various perspectives, trying to decide how to frame peace through the lens of equality. I was surprised how simple yet how complicated a subject this could be. Today we will begin wading into the waters of the topic by simply reflecting on the fact that the teenagers, of Positive Impact’s last service learning project,  selected equality as a major category of peace.

This diverse group of students, consisting of a mix of black, white, Hispanic and Asian males and females,  concluded that race and gender equality were both important contributors of peace.

We’re not talking about the views of young people in 1865 when the Civil War ended or the Election day of 1920 when American women exercised their right to vote for the first time. We’re not even talking the opinions of my generation when the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1968. We’re talking about teenagers, in 2017  talking about racial and gender equality.

Just as those born in my generation have had to grapple with  their own experiences around race and gender equality, our children and their children will likely have their own stories of how they are impacted by  policies and practices of their time,  not to mention the impact of the past policies and practices on their life today.

What will their stories be and what is our part in their story?

It is important to listen to and share the stories of our family, friends, and neighbors if we want to positively impact the quality of lives throughout our communities.

One of my goals is to share my voice and help others to do the same in order to increase understanding and build bridges between communities of people. I believe our stories can and should build bridges rather than build walls between us. Much of today’s media including social media sites seem to be building and strengthening walls of division. Positive Impact Inc. hopes to tear those walls down.

You can participate by doing your own research and community building exercise and sharing it with me.

Identify a few people that you can talk to about racial and/or gender equality. Without looking the term up, discuss what equality means to you. Compare each of your definitions and note if they are similar to one another.

I’d like you to discuss the following questions:

  1. Do you believe you have been treated differently (positively or negatively)  than others because of your race or gender? If so, how? Was the treatment that you mentioned by that of your gender and/or race or that of another?
  2. Were these large scale or isolated incidents and are you aware if they have formed your own biases about other groups?
  3. Do you see generational differences in your views? If so, what are they?
  4. What changes, if any, can you agree on that can improve race and gender equality as you defined it?

I would like you to record your responses and at a minimum write back and let me know if you completed this exercise by the end of the month of September. Even better, I am asking you to share your responses with me at alan@positiveimpactnola.org by the end of the month.

I know this takes some effort but it takes intentional effort to move toward and maintain peace. Conversations around equality are worthwhile conversations.

Stay Peaceful

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Staypeaceful

During last semester’s service learning project, the students identified peace as the theme they wanted to target. Community members who attended the Peace Fest that the young people organized were introduced to the following 4 categories of peace: Freedom, Inner Peace, Nonviolence and Equality. While this year’s cohort of service learners may identify a totally different theme to target their efforts on, I want last year’s work to continue.

During upcoming months I will delve deeper into each category. I’m not sure where or how long this exploration will take me but I invite you to join me and provide your feedback, as I post on this important topic of peace. I pray that we each would be encouraged to seek peace in our world as we focus on the areas of Freedom, Inner Peace, Nonviolence and Equality.

Before I present my own ideas, I want you to mark each of these categories in your mind to prepare yourself for this journey. Invite others to join us as we use this time to have a positive impact on ourselves and our community.

If you have not already done so, enter your email address to follow Positive Impact and receive notifications of new post by email.

Stay Peaceful.

Peace Fest Group PicI’ll have more to say very soon but I didn’t want to wait any longer before acknowledging all of the young adults who acted on an idea to promote peace in their community. While we have more to follow-up with from the Algiers Peace Fest, I have to say that planning and implementing the event was one of the most pleasurable processes that I have been involved with. They truly are a peaceful bunch.

Thanks to each one of you for being you.

Lately, media coverage would have you believe that the youth of this city are on the wrong path. But then you encounter a group like the team of 12 students in Algiers, who recently decided they wanted to make “peace” the focus of their senior community service requirement, and you realize that hope is alive.

The Algiers Peace Fest, scheduled for Saturday, April 8, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at Brechtel Park, is the brain child of a group of students working with Positive Impact, a youth community service organization.

“We talked about what service learning means and different things we could focus on, but we all agreed that peace needed our attention,” said Kenneth Barnes, a local senior in Algiers.

The group of teens came up with the idea of bringing together community organizations as a sign of unity, and they have been meeting weekly at the Algiers Regional Library to plan the event. The fest will focus on different aspects of peace including inner peace, nonviolence, equality and freedom.

“We didn’t even realize when we picked that day that it fell during National Crime Victims Week,” said Shane Delery, a student participant. “I guess it was good timing because you can’t have a peaceful community or inner peace when you see so much crime in the city.”

The community is invited to come out and participate in the Peace Fest, which will include:

  • Peace through Knowledge: Tables and stations set up by various community groups exploring aspects of peace and nonviolence
  • Peace through Art: A community “peace art” project
  • Peace through Nature: A volunteer clean-up and planting of a “peace butterfly garden”
  • Peace through Community: Flag football game

The community will also be encouraged to explore aspects of inner peace by taking a walk down the park’s trail, which will have multiple self-guided “mindfulness” stations.

Businesses and community groups interested in participating or hosting a table should contact Alan Delery at 504-343-3432 or alan@positiveimpactnola.org.

NOTES:

Brechtel Park is located at 4401 Lennox Ave., New Orleans (Westbank/Algiers)

There is a vehicle entrance fee at the park: $1 for Orleans Parish brake tags; $2 for all other vehicles (for buses: $5 fee with Orleans brake tag/$10 for all others)

by Alan Delery

peace-sign

Several weeks ago, I began the service learning process, with a group of high school students, to develop a youth-led community service initiative. The first step was to brainstorm and plan a project around their interest. After exploring a wide range of themes, ranging from the environment to hunger and homelessness, Peace was identified as their top area of interest.  The following are their ideas around peace that we will use as a foundation for our planning and implementation. Today, I  am simply asking you to read and reflect on the meaning of peace,  in their own words.

  • Peace is calm and content without violence It’s being happy with what’s going on around you and within yourself.
  • To me, peace means solving conflicts without violence or wars or negative things. Peace is when you can come to an understanding with others and trust others.
  • Peace is everyone living together in non-violence despite differences.
  • My definition of peace is freedom living with no anxiety and I can do whatever I need to do without limits.
  • Calm, no drama, no fighting, just chilling!
  • Equality (Racial, gender). Less violence and lack of judgment.
  • When you’re calm and relaxed.
  • The absence of harm or stress.
  • Fair opportunity and treatment.
  • Everything the United States of America owes us, as well as a peaceful soul, mind, body, etc.

We will keep you updated on their next steps and reflections as they embark on a journey of civic engagement. Your skills and talents may also be called upon as they put their thoughts into action. 

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

Stay Peaceful

peaceBWI recently started teaching a conflict resolution course at a high school where I work. During my reflection on a recent class, four ideas emerged that I believe are central to a study on violence. These ideas are: Respect, Weakness, Power and Control.

When we were developing our group norms for the class, I asked each person to describe how they wanted to be treated in the class. Every one of them said respect or some variation of it. We went on to detail what respect looked like and it was clear that they were passionate about being respected.

What was interesting to me, about the value they placed on being respected, was their treatment of others in the class. While they maintained their value of respect, they mocked the weakness of others and some expressed that signs of weakness deserved to be taken advantage of. They said that if you don’t display strength or dominance it was OK to be controlled by others.

An attitude of power and control permeates our society and is rewarded. It is my desire to turn our conversations towards how we treat the weakest among us. Rather than just fighting for our rights, we should be fighting for the rights and compassionate treatment of others. In doing so we can raise individuals who care for rather than prey on one another. I believe that we can raise a caring society rather than a violent one. I believe in the capacity of our youth to reflect this compassion but we have to show it to them.

What are you doing to advocate for those who are mistreated because they are assessed to be weak? God says, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” As busy as you might be, please do not neglect your birth responsibility to be a peacemaker. Otherwise, you might not be called a child of God.

The world needs more Peacemakers. Are you one?

I am calling for individuals who are willing to take a coordinated step of faith to become change agents for peace. Write back to me to let me know that you care and you want to be that change agent. The first step is to say yes to the call.