(The following is continued from the main article listed above.)
ASHLAND CULTURE OF PEACE COMMISSION
As a group of concerned citizens we have been engaged in a process that not only is intended to institute a Culture of Peace Commission in Ashland, but also has been meant to model it. We know we could go to the voters and get this approved, but as we told you in our packet we want to work with you and use our collective wisdom to come up with something that works for everyone.
In our individual meetings with you over the past month we have worked hard to resist charging forward, learning to apply the very principles inherent in the culture of peace to our own process. We’ve listened deeply and reflected individually and as a group, on your suggestions and your wise input gleaned from years of working within the City. It has convinced us that we all want the same thing.
Few disagree that we want to be embody a culture of peace. Adrienne Rich once said: “We all go to sleep dreaming of a common language.”
In many ways Ashland has key elements of a culture of peace:
Hundreds gathering each year for the International Day of Peace Feast for Peace;
Annual commemorations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that question aggression and strongly urge us to remember something greater;
Mediation school Programs that help children look at conflict differently; • Courses in Compassionate Listening, Restorative Justice Circles;
• Local programs produced like Immense Possibilities that help us to listen
and build a more connected community;
Since 1998 Ashland has been part of the Global Mayors for Peace 6,538 member cities in 160 countries & regions; http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/english/index.html
We are as Mayor Stromberg said in his State of the City address a city in the “quality of life business”...it’s in our” lifeblood. “ A community that institutionalizes a culture of peace becomes one that, in the Mayor’s words “attracts students and their
families regionally and nationally to this extraordinary and celebrated community.” We have listened to the important goals set out by the Mayor and all of you over the past months
A city that attracts young people
b) A city Council that in reality is working every day to build a peaceful culture;
c) The complications and limitations of the current commission process.
So we are more and more convinced from our discussions with you that we all want the same thing.
So what do we do?
We wish to hold off on a vote on any permanent Culture Peace Commission or in holding an election to implement it and follow some of your advice.
#1 - FORM AN INDEPENDENT ASHLAND CULTURE OF PEACE COMMISSION: This entity formulated outside of City Government would choose representatives from all sectors of the community – Like the Peace Wheel - Education Business Culture Science Environment Religion
It would hopefully have a Liaison from the City Council and I understand that Pam Marsh has been willing to serve in such a capacity.
#2 - SHOW ME - Establishing a track record - We propose that we spend a one year trial period to constitute and implement some of the visions of such a commission, but without the formal Commission structure of the City. This will allow us all to do live what Gandhi meant when he talked about an experiment in truth. It is still our belief that to move ahead as both an international urban leader as well as to be successful that it will need to be institutionalized as part of government.
But over a year’s time we can all then see what a State of the Culture of Peace in Ashland Report looks like – how it is inclusive, forward thinking, reflecting the key principles of peace-building: premised on being constructive, non-judgment and building understanding. We can still do many of the tasks laid out in our proposed ordinance:
Make recommendations of conflict resolution and enhanced community peacebuilding;
b) Co-sponsor and dedicate a month each year to be dedicated to peacebuilding within the community;
c) Collect information and research community peacebuilding models around the world and bring them the best to Ashland;
d) Collaborate with the city’s many organizations and individuals involved in peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
e) Provide tools and resources to city government when requested to assist in preventative conflict resolution or bringing diverse interests together outside the council system;
f) Counsel residents on effective ways to interact with City government that enhances listening, and opens constructive dialogue.
g) Publicize to the world the amazing creative culture of peace that exists and is expanding in Ashland, Oregon: This “extraordinary and celebrated community.”
But what we believe deeply and collectively from decades of working in the non- profit and peacebuilding sector is that THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN WITH:
#3 FORMAL SUPPORT OF THE CITY
These principles and practices need to be increasingly institutionalized – which means it needs official support from the City. Not just a theoretical proclamation but also a desire to come together and try something unique. But we have heard your warnings about the complications that can arise through the existing Commission structure - and the need for flexibility.
Therefore we have taken from some of your discussions that we can draft together a proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a one-year pilot project between the City and an independent citizen based “Culture of Peace Commission. ” This formality is essential to provide the authority and by in needed throughout all sectors of the City in this important pilot project.
We ask that you study such an approach, built with so much integration of your own ideas and
vision, and that at a designated meeting we introduce an approval of this one year Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission to be convened by CPI Ashland in consultation with you all.
In this way we all learn together and formulate a workable model for the future and for the world.
“If the future of humankind is not to be jeopardized by conflicting spheres of civilization and culture, We have no other alternative, but to shift the ray of our attention from that which separates us to that which unites us.” (Vaclav Havel)
It is with that spirit that we go forward.