I have been involved in planning this year’s Imagine Peacefest in Salt Lake City. Here is the article that appeared in today’s Deseret News:
Panelists discuss forming U.S. Department of Peace
Community members gathered at the downtown Salt Lake City Library on Saturday to discuss the establishment of a U.S. Department of Peace.
In conjunction with the U.N.-sanctioned International Day of Peace and the city’s second annual “Imagine Peacefest,” three university professors, a Hindu priest and a Moab Realtor debated the validity and timing of the proposal, currently being considered by Congress. They loosely defined what they believe the department’s role should be in domestic and international spheres.
“There is a great need for creative nonviolence,” said Bonnie Tyler, a University of Utah professor and member of Mormons for Equality and Social Justice. “We can’t just pull the troops out (of Iraq) ? it has to go beyond that.”
Panel members agreed that in order to establish lasting worldwide peace, the process should begin with the most basic building block of society ? public education.
“We need to be a peaceable culture,” said Michael Minch, a professor of peace and conflict studies at Utah Valley State College. “The ways peace is waged can be taught. None of this is a mystery ? it can be done and it should be done.”
The panel discussed the need for the proposed department to remain autonomous and nonpartisan. The group also considered how to establish relationships between existing domestic peace programs, such as gang-prevention groups. And the panel weighed in on the abolishment of nuclear weapons and the potential department’s role in international affairs.
The panel discussion was only a portion of the day’s activities. A tree was decorated with ornaments, symbolizing peace, created by local schoolchildren. Live music, face painting, films and a children’s choir also were featured at the daylong festival.
Deanna Taylor, one of the founders and organizers of the event, was thrilled at the amount of community support it received. Despite its infancy, she said, the yearly festival has received much community support and planning for next year’s activities is already under way.
“We want it to be a fun, family-oriented, artful event that expresses their ideas of a more peaceful world,” Taylor said.
When asked how international peace can be achieved, Taylor said the answer is found on an individual level.
“It starts with yourself ? first of all, you have to feel deep down inside yourself that peace is possible,” Taylor said. “It branches out from there.”
For information on next year’s “Imagine Peacefest,” e-mail: email@example.com. For additional information about the establishment of a U.S. Department of Peace, visit: www.thepeacealliance.org.