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Growing a Culture of Peace in Eugene (Oregon, U.S.)
an article by David Hazen

Reading through our newsletters for all the events of the last six months, I was impressed with how much had happened in such a short time as we grow a culture of peace in Eugene.

click on photo to enlarge

Eugene crime statistics report an overall downward trend and the crime rate in Eugene for 2013 is expected to be lower than in 2010.

Eugene City of Peace is beginning to attract Facebook friends from around the world as our unincorporated affinity group documents and promotes local pro-active peacebuilding. For example, in the area of Human Rights, Occupy Eugene is building small shelter huts, pressuring the city to permit homeless people to camp in public spaces and provide a designated site for a village. Occupy Medical is providing free health care.

The City Council approved a statement last November supporting the need for immigrants to be welcome, safe, and included in our community. Eugene has a Neighborhood of the Year recognized for their efforts to provide food when school is out.  Women’s equality was supported by One Billion Rising dance events, and a Community College symposium, Rise to End Gender Violence in April. Youth asked if Eugene is a “Human Rights City?” with story-telling, poetry and song. Ched Myers lectured on Healthcare and Ecojustice.

Dozens of moms spent their Mother's Day entertained by the Raging Grannies and marching against gun violence in the 14th annual Million Mom March. The March Against Monsanto in Eugene drew about 1,500 noisy people downtown on May 25 as  part of the global protest. There was a newspaper ad placed on Memorial Day calling for a lasting peace.

Sustainable development has been getting a boost from Emerald F.E.A.S.T., which crowd-sources small grants for local social entrepreneurs. In February, Woody Tasch came to speak on Slow Money: Investing As If Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered, followed by the Green Neighbors Faire "Creating A Green Community Culture,” a Community Supported Agriculture event, and "Bringing the Farm Downtown." As part of Earth Week, Mayor Kitty Piercy joined Bill McKibben in discussing "Our Climate, Our Future". Recently, there was a workshop on the proposed Local Food System Ordinance, which bans GMO crops, establishes the right to save seeds, and assigns rights to natural ecosystems. For a spiritual connection to the earth, Missa Gaia by Paul Winter was performed in April.

Local peace education leaped forward with the His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to a crowd of over 11,000 people in May in support of the establishment of the Palmo Peace Center. Then the Nobel Peace Park was inaugurated and Peace Educator of the Year, Clair Wiles, was recognized. Earlier, Arun Gandhi spoke about his grandfather in February. Peace Village has been developing curriculum to empower teens. The local newspaper has agreed to publish op-eds from youth. Conferences have been held on poverty, social justice, violence and child abuse. Sister Helen Prejean participated in a series of events about prisons, compassion and peace. The team planning the International Day of Peace has been at work since last November and expects to double or triple attendance at this year’s event.


Question(s) related to this article:

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?,

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Latest reader comment:

International Cities Choose Peace

J. Fred Arment

International Cities of Peace, an association of global cities of peace, is using the U.N. Culture of Peace tenets as the guideline for forming initiatives. To date, thirty-one cities are part of the association. Some are grassroots organizations, others have the firm commitment by resolution or proclamation from the city council.
International Cities of Peace include the following:
• Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A.
• Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A.
• Unity Village, Missouri, U.S.A
• Coventry, England
• Bradford, England
• Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
• Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo
• Mataki, Philippines
• Pathuthani, Thailand
• Fizi, Democratic Republic of Congo
• Lake County, California, U.S.A.
• Aba, Abia State, Nigeria
• Nagpur, India
• Reno, Nevada, U.S.A.
• Bujumbura, Burundi
• Mzuzu and Lilongwe, Malawi
• Tunis, Tunisia
• Tuolumne County, California, U.S.A.
• Bihac, Bosnia, Herzegovina
• Yaounde, Cameroon
• Freetown, Sierra Leone
• Nyala, Darfur, Sudan
• Bujumbura, Burundi
• Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
• Nakuru, Kenya
• Calgary, Alberta, Canada
• Kathmandu, Nepal
• Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
• Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, U.S.A.
• Warrake, Nigeria
• Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A.

To start an initiative, go to the association's website for resources and tools.

This report was posted on July 23, 2013.