Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DoPeace Ning Overview

Check out this SlideShare presentation about the new DoPeace site:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Celebrating A Future Secretary of Peace

(Thanks to Wendy Greene for sending this in.)

This article was printed in the Sonoma Index-Tribune. It's a look at how the vision of the Department of Peace inspires and fuels life's greatest dreams. What a beautiful world we have with dreams--and actions--like this.

Here's the link to the original article, which is excerpted below.

Schorr, Jasperse top SVHS grads
Graduation tonight

Lauren Schorr and Leland Jasperse have grown up together, attending the Sonoma Charter School before entering Sonoma Valley High School, participating in the same after-school activities and hanging out with the same friends.

Today, the pair will stand together one last time when they address their class, parents and teachers as the valedictorian and salutatorian of the class of 2009. Schorr, 17, was named valedictorian during last Wednesday's Senior Awards Ceremony at the school. As with all valedictorians at the high school, she will be giving a speech that looks at the future.

"I finally know what I want to say," Schorr said. She plans to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., where she will major in government with a focus on international relations, a far cry from where she thought she'd take her education.
"I was into biology and zoology," she said. "And I really wanted to stay in California."
But everything changed for Schorr last year when a librarian at the Sonoma Valley Regional Library told her about the Student Peace Alliance, an organization that campaigns to support H.R. 808, a bill seeking to establish a national Department of Peace. Schorr was so enamored of the program that before long she became the city organizer for the group.
"(The experience with the Peace Alliance) completely turned around my plan," Schorr said. "Now, I would love to one day become the Secretary of Peace when the department is created."
Read the rest of the article online.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

"Soldiers of Peace" - CSN&Y

In keeping with the theme of the past few posts, I offer lyrics from the Crosby, Still, Nash & Young song:

Soldiers of peace are not fighting a war
Are not looking for enemies behind every door
Are not looking for people to kill or to maim.
Soldiers of peace are just changing the game.

Men who were fighting for all of our lives
Are now fighting for children, for homes and for wives,
Fighting for the memory of all who fell before,
But the soldiers of peace just can't kill any more.

So come all you warriors who live for the fight,
Come listen to somebody, someone who might
Have been there before you and they have the right,
They've been dying to tell you the score.
The old warriors don't want you to hurt any more.

Soldiers of peace can still hear the cries
When the people were screaming and losing their lives,
When bodies were broken and spirits were torn
The soldiers of peace do not want you to mourn.

So come all you warriors who live for the fight,
Come listen to somebody, someone who might
Have been there before you and they have the right,
They've been dying to tell you the score.
The old warriors don't want you to hurt any more.

Soldiers of peace are not fighting a war.
No more! No more! No more! No more!

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Needed: Peace Heroes

(by Mary Jane LaVigne | June 11, 2009 )

"Never a shot fired in anger." That's what my father tells me. We’re visiting Fort Snelling in the Model T Ford after Saturday errands. We have many times, but this is the first time I’ve been inside the Round Tower.

Dad boosts me up on the rifle slit so I can peer out. They’re rebuilding the fort. The slit gives me a sight line down the reconstructed wall toward the Mississippi River. I play at taking aim at the invading marauders, all Hollywood and heroic. My father laughs at me. The limestone smells cool. The walls are impossibly thick. If a wall could make you safe, surely these would do the trick.

“If you were a sentry in the old days,” says Dad. “You would have done a whole lot of nothing. Not much happened here.” Never a shot fired in anger. No good battles, this whole beautiful fort, a waste. I am eight years old and a history fan, a war buff. War is synonymous with history to me. Peace is boring and probably indicates a lack of gumption.

That was back in 1968. The events of the day were happening fast but far away; Martin Luther King dead in March, then Robert Kennedy in June. NBC News had nightly pictures of the world gone array. In my family lexicon, hippies, peaceniks and troublemakers were members of the same tribe.

Their “peace rallies” often turned violent. Their “demonstrations” I learned, were not the helpful kind, not at all like the what you’d find in the 4 H building at the State Fair. On our way home from church one Sunday, my Dad spied a peace sign painted on a bed-sheet flapping from the windows of Kirk Hall at Macalester College. “Stay away from Mac,” he warned.

Smack in the center of nothing-ever-happens here land, Minnesota history seemed built on boring. Now, forty years later, Fort Snelling’s battle-less-ness intrigues me. Take a family, a fort, a suburb or city, a congregation or campaign; any patch of peace is pretty sweet. Experience has taught me a lesson; good things seldom happen as the result of doing nothing. Yet, it hard to tell stories about bad things that didn’t occur.

The movie "Soldiers of Peace" does just that. The award winning film, from Australia based One Tree Films documents what it calls an astonishingly little-known fact, that the number of wars across the world is in fact dropping. Narrated by Michael Douglas, it features a list of luminaries including Desmond Tutu.

But on screen, it's the ordinary people who shine the brightest; the Muslim and Christian leaders in a small Nigerian city who sign their own peace pact, an IRA terrorist who makes amends to a young woman whose father was his victim, Iraq Veterans Against War in the U.S.

Memorial Day, Flag Day the new "Greatest Generation" exhibit at the Minnesota History Center, don't give me more veterans of war, I want some peace ancestors. Come to the movie Soldiers of Peace and find some of your own.

Twin Cities Premiere this Monday, June 15th at 7:30 at The Heights Theater. 3951 Central Avenue, NE, Columbia Heights. Tickets at Bibelot or contact Marcy Ryan 612-239-9032
Tickets also at the door. The event is a fundraiser for the Department of Peace Campaign.

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Act Now to Reduce Youth Violence

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Line Between "Free Speech" and "Irresponsible Speech"

Michael Rowe posted a fantastic entry on Huffington Post today - Death at the Holocaust Museum and the Degradation of the American Dialogue - that reflects on some of the hate-based violence of the past few days. A snippet:
There is no Environmental Protection Agency to measure hate pollution in national dialogue, and no mechanism in place to warn us when the poisonous rage spewed into the national consciousness by shock-jocks, poisonous television pundits, megachurch leaders, and oh-so-subtle politicians, has reached dangerously toxic levels.
Although he wanders off a couple of times into the cesspool he's trying to drain, it's a great voicing of the concerns many of us who are working towards a more peaceful society have about the state of civil discourse. Many of the comments are worth reading, as well.

But what can be done about it? How do we regulate irresponsible speech? Is it like pornography? We know it when we hear it? What are the implications for democracy if we try to control it?

Shit! Why can't people just behave!?!?

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Twin Cities Premier: "Soldiers of Peace"

Monday, June 15, 7:30 p.m
Heights Theater

The Department of Peace campaign in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District is excited to be hosting this fundraiser with Friends for a Nonviolent World (

About the film: Through the course of this documentary, we meet some amazing people and see what they are accomplishing around the world in the way of peace and reconciliation, sometimes in dangerous situations. We see that peace is in fact breaking out, regardless of the images of war we are bombarded with every day in the news. We look at how peace activists use the internet to reach millions of people, which was unheard of even 10 years ago.

We tell stories of peace through grass roots activists around the world: unsung heroes who are working towards peace and have amazing stories that we could capture on camera. These people are rarely heard of in the news and its these characters that the audience will identify with. Their stories are entwined with our “peace experts” and notable individuals, who explain the key messages of the film and the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.

Tickets: $15 before June 8, $25 day of event

For tickets and information call Marcy Ryan, team leader for the Fifth Congressional District, 612.239.9032.

To read more about the campaign to create a U.S. Department of Peace, visit the Peace Alliance site.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sarasota, Florida, Supports a U.S. Department of Peace

(Sarasota, FL- June 1, 2009)

On a 3-2 vote, the Sarasota City Commission approved resolution 09R-2099 to support legislation to create a U.S. Department of Peace (H.R. 808) at their June 1 meeting. By passing this resolution, Sarasota (pop. 53,000) joins a long list of other cities around the country - including Detroit, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago and Los Angeles - that are supporting this visionary legislation and asking their elected representatives to make it law. Overall, cities that have endorsed the Department of Peace legislation represent over 14 million citizens!

Before the vote, local activists Augie Schmitz (co-founder of the SW Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice) and Alex Coe (from the Alliance for Peace) voiced their support for H.R. 808 and informed the Commission about other peacebuilding activities going on locally. Ms. Coe had attended the Peace Alliance conference in D.C. in March, and had returned to Sarasota determined to better understand the local nonviolence organizations and look for ways to get existing organizations working together for maximum impact. Mr. Schmitz told the Commission about an upcoming forum designed to engage the community in defining programs that will help improve the lives of citizens by reducing violence, including programs to provide conflict resolution skills for children.

Mayor Richard Clapp spoke of the resolution as a statement of intent to Sarasota citizens and to the Congressional delegation that the City of Sarasota values efforts to reduce violence and make the community a model of peaceful existence. Commissioner Suzanne Atwell also spoke in favor of the resolution, adding that it was important for Sarasota to get behind the movement and recognize the symbolism of this type of legislation. Commissioner Fredd Atkins also supported the resolution. (You can send a note to these Commissioners thanking them for supporting the legislation by clicking on their names above.)

The two dissenting votes came from Commissioners Kirschner and Turner, largely along the lines of not wanting to tell Washington what to do. However, both Commissioners spoke in support of the local efforts to promote peace and nonviolence.

For a replay of the recorded Commission meeting, click on this link - To review just the part of the meeting that deals with the Department fo Peace resolution, fast-forward to the 1:16 (1 hour, 16 minute) mark. The discussion concludes at the 1:30 mark. You can also find a copy of the resolution by searching for "09R-2099" and clicking on the backup material link.

For more on the Department of Peace legislation and the nationwide grassroots campaign, visit The Peace Alliance web site. The Peace Alliance also has tips and tools for working with your own city government on a resolution in support of H.R. 808.

Get active! Make Peace! Make History!

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rep. Donna Edwards Supports a Department of Peace

Washington, DC - June 4, 2009

Today, Congresswoman Donna Edwards from Maryland's 4th district became the 71st cosponsor of H.R. 808 - the Department of Peace act. Rep. Edwards joins Congressman Elijah Cummings (from District 7, a long time supporter of the Department of Peace bill) as the second cosponsor of the legislation from the great State of Maryland, which has eight congressional representatives.

Rep. Edwards won her seat in the 111th Congress by first defeating former Representative Albert Wynn in the primary elections of November 2008. Ms. Edwards ran on a very progressive platform, claiming that Mr. Wynn was not progressive enough for the people of the district. Mr. Wynn had been a previous supporter of H.R. 808 in the 110th Congress, so it's great to see that Congresswoman Edwards is continuing the tradition of support for violence reduction on behalf of the people of her district.

On a related note, Rep. Edwards is also a cosponsor of H.R. 1064 - the Youth PROMISE act to reduce youth violence. Rep. Edwards, who signed on as a cosponsor on May 12th, joins Reps. John Sarbanes (MD-04) and Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02) and Elijah Cummings (all signed on when the bill was introduced on 2/13/09) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-08), who signed on May 18. With a total of 129 cosponsors and bipartisan support, the Youth PROMISE act is well on it's way to becoming law and improving the lives of at-risk youth.

Please join me in thanking Congresswoman Edwards - 202-225-8699 - for her leadership in support of the Department of Peace and Youth PROMISE legislation.

Also, if you live in the district of any of these Maryland Representatives, please contact them and let them know that you want there support for:

Rep. Frank Kratovil (MD-01) - Please support H.R. 808 (as did your predecessor) and H.R. 1064.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02) - Thanks for supprting H.R. 1064, now please also support H.R. 808

Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-03) - Thanks for supprting H.R. 1064, now please also support H.R. 808

Rep. Steny Hoyer (MD-05) - Please support H.R. 808 and H.R. 1064

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD-06) - Please support H.R. 808 and H.R. 1064

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-08) - Thanks for supprting H.R. 1064, now please also support H.R. 808

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Friday, June 5, 2009

What is Real National Security?

(Posted by Wendy Greene on
"Security is not Defense; Defense does not equal security."
The concept was far from new to me. What was different was who was saying it.

Lt. Col. Shannon Beebe, former Senior Africa Analyst in the Office of the U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, is considered one of the nation's leading thinkers on the concept of human security. He spoke as part of a panel discussion at the April 2009 Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum held at John's Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C.

"Security is not kinetics-based, state-focused, tank, plane, gun, defense budget-centric types of issues," he continued. "It is not about kinetics; it is about conditions—conditions that create creeping vulnerabilities that we do not see as threats."

Beebe's words were the exclamation point on the panel's discussion about shifting our international security strategies toward a more balanced "3D" approach using diplomacy, development and defense.

Moderated by Eastern Mennonite University's Lisa Schirch, director of the 3D Security Initiative, the panel also included Reuben Brigety, II, director of the Sustainable Security Program at the Center for American Progress; and Barak Salmoni, full political scientist at the RAND Corporation.

Reminding us his remarks were not an official Department of Defense presentation but a compilation of his own personal reflections, Beebe added, "I would contend that today's strategic security narrative fails at identifying and understanding the challenges of the 21st Century."

Those challenges, Beebe explained, include a "multi-polar" world that is inherently more unstable than the old "bipolar" structure of USA vs. USSR; economic globalization that remains uneven (the ramifications of which, he noted, we still don't fully understand); and the instantaneous nature of technology that allows a Somali-born cab driver in New York to know more about enemy movements in his home country than the CIA knows.

As I listened, I wished I could teleport into the room Republican strategist Sheri Jacobus, a regular on the cable news talking head circuit who diminished, demeaned and discounted the idea of a Department of Peace during an interview segment I shared with her and an equally ill-informed Democratic pundit on CNN Headline News's Jane Velez-Mitchell show. The Department of Peace is based on addressing the issues Beebe laid out and would facilitate much of what he said was needed.

"We have a Department of Peace," she’d said. "It's called the Pentagon."

I wondered if her mind would open to the same issues I was articulating when she heard them from Lt. Col. Beebe.

"Folks, we have to understand, this has untethered our traditional 20th Century security system," he continued, "This is not about the Department of Defense; this is about more of a collective effort, about asking the first order question: What is security for the 21st Century?"

Affirming remarks made by Brigety, who focused on the need to restructure government bureaucracy, not just throw more money into the same dysfunctional system, Beebe noted, "Our bureaucracies have become so calcified, so ossified, so set in 20th Century types of ways…that we're failing to see to see what I call 'creeping vulnerabilities'--these things we do not see as threats."

Beebe brought those vulnerabilities home, challenging us to consider the last time the United States was threatened by a mosquito, dirty water, or someone living on less than a dollar a day as we are now.

"These are not going to be won at the point of a gun," he said. "These are not going to be won with $2 billion fighters. These are not going to be won with multi-trillion dollar military-industrial complexes building new weapon systems. This is also not going to be done by the Department of Defense alone."

He shared results of a study conducted at the request of the Army Chief of Staff in which they asked Africans to describe the greatest threats to stability in Africa. The top four answers were the need for reform in the security sector (military, police, and judicial systems), climate change, poverty and health.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you today that we don't have a tank or a plane that will counter that," Beebe emphasized.

Preventing the need for military action is, no surprise, Beebe's priority. As he reminded us, it's the one who must fight the war who wants most to avoid it. He challenged everyone to have the courage to ask tough questions:

"Is it possibly the case that we are creating more terrorists than we can possibly kill?" he said. "Is it possibly the case that we are allowing these conditions--these creeping vulnerabilities--to grow unnoticed along these strategic seams until they are a kinetic-type of threat [requiring military action]?"

So if this uniformed, Iraq war veteran, active duty Army officer gets it, many of his peers get it, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gets it, and the President gets it, what's the problem?

The problem is Congress and the American people don't get it.

Asked how we might structure the workload in this new "3D" paradigm, Brigety responded that this seemingly daunting challenge is actually the easy part.

"The harder problem is convincing the American public there is more to security so they'll get Congress to do something," he explained. "Until we change that, we won't get these [non-defense] efforts resourced."

No one need look past the outcry at plans to cut the F-22 fighter to understand just how true his statement was.

In the face of our own ignorance, obstinance and partisan fear-mongering, how are we to move beyond the outdated systems, structures and beliefs that block us from understanding that human security--not just for Americans, but for everyone--is the only thing that will truly keep us safe?

Beebe offered one possibility: we must get beyond our mistrust of one another--military and civilian, contractor and bureaucrat, activist and politician, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat--and create the language that can bridge our seeming differences.

"We have to shift our thinking for the 21st Century," Beebe said.

Watch the video of the speaker's remarks online.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Youth PROMISE Update - 31 New Cosponsors in May!

The community is having a huge impact! The concerted effort to lobby Representatives in the House since the Youth PROMISE act (H.R. 1064) was first introduced has lead to some very encouraging results. In the month of May alone, 31 new co-sponsors have signed on, bringing the total number of cosponsors to 115, representing 26% of the 435 delegates in the House! The following list shows the new cosponsors who have signed on in May. If any of these visionary supporters represents your district, please send them a note or call them to say "Thanks" for standing up to reduce violence. If your Representative has not yet signed on, send them a note through asking them to do so.

Representative State/District
Rep Pastor, Ed AZ-4
Rep Sherman, Brad CA-27
Rep Berman, Howard L. CA-28
Rep Richardson, Laura CA-37
Rep Davis, Susan A. CA-53
Rep Miller, George CA-7
Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. CT-3
Rep Meek, Kendrick B. FL-17
Rep Wexler, Robert FL-19
Rep Hare, Phil IL-17
Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. IL-4
Rep Souder, Mark E. IN-3
Rep Capuano, Michael E. MA-8
Rep Edwards, Donna F. MD-4
Rep Van Hollen, Chris MD-8
Rep Thompson, Bennie G. MS-2
Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. NC-3
Rep Sires, Albio NJ-13
Rep Bishop, Timothy H. NY-1
Rep Towns, Edolphus NY-10
Rep Israel, Steve NY-2
Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh NY-28
Rep Driehaus, Steve OH-1
Rep Fudge, Marcia L. OH-11
Rep Schwartz, Allyson Y. PA-13
Rep Doyle, Michael F. PA-14
Rep Langevin, James R. RI-2
Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. TX-23
Rep Nye, Glenn C., III VA-2
Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. VA-5
Rep Boucher, Rick VA-9

Late update: As this post was going to press, we found out that an additional 4 new cosponsors have signed on to H.R. 1064, bringing the total to 119 cosponsors. Again, if any of these people is your Representative, please send them some love.

Representative State/District
Rep Waxman, Henry A. CA-30
Rep Platts, Todd Russell PA-19
Rep Wittman, Robert J. VA-1
Rep Wolf, Frank R. VA-10

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