I’m willing to bet that one of the last words that comes to mind when you think about the past week, month, year (or two) is… Peace.
There are the many, many Covid-caused calamities; skyrocking gun violence; the tragedies in Afghanistan, Haiti, New Orleans…; countless reminders far and near of the realities of living (or trying to) in an ever-intensifying climate crisis.
Which is why Peace Day Philly organizer Lisa Parker believes the programming for this year’s Peace Week might be one of the most important to date. The goal is to give people hope and positivity for what citizens and community leaders are doing now to create a more peaceful world and city—and providing tools and skills to reduce violence in the future.
“Peace Week is about hearing new perspectives and learning skills to make a better tomorrow,” says Parker. “We need that right now.”
“For each program, we try to think about what are the perspectives that we’re trying to invite people into, what are the skills that someone could get from a program such as this that they’d be able to use in their real life to create more peace,” Parker says. “Peace Week is about hearing new perspectives and learning skills to make a better tomorrow. We need that right now.”
Parker, a Philly native, found out about the International Day of Peace—established by the United Nations in 1981 and celebrated annually on September 21—back in 2009. Things snowballed from there: In the following years, she founded the nonprofit Peace Day Philly and grew a team to help schedule free, week-long programming — movie screenings, speakers, workshops and more — known as Peace Week, leading up to the annual day of celebration.
“Peace Day isn’t all about the one day,” Parker says. “It’s a jumping off point. It’s the beginning of using those new skills and perspectives in the name of peace.”
These skills include conflict resolution, active listening and community building—learned in workshops on how to have a civil conversation; documentary screenings about changemakers helping alleviate the opioid crisis; park clean-ups, and more.
This year, there are 15 planned events. (Participants can browse and register in advance—asap!—here.) All but two are virtual, allowing people from all over the country to attend, with most events capped off at 100 participants. But the goal of the event remains the same: To empower people to work together to build a more peaceful and just world.
In an interactive program called “Finding Peace and Wellness in a Covid World: Women of color, Immigrants’ rights, and work safety”, with iBelong and the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, participants can learn about issues regarding safety in the workplace, immigrants’ rights, and the intersection of racism and misogyny. (September 16, 5:00-6:30pm, virtual.)
“There’s a lot of good going on in the world and we hope that people can apply these lessons of peace in their own ways in their homes, neighborhood, or workplace,” says Parker.
In “Achieving Peace in Your Community: Conflict Resolution Techniques and Services,” you can learn about services provided by CORA Good Shepherd Mediation, the city’s only community mediation center. Speakers from the include Nyamal Tutdeal, Camila Pretel, and Sue Wasserkrug. (September 17, 12:00-1:00pm, virtual.)
There’s also a series of live musical performances and experiential arts activities in Point Breeze, hosted by the arts and education organization BuildaBridge International. Performers and artists will be announced closer to the event. (September 21, 3:00-6:00pm, 2056 Ellsworth St.)
“Peace Week is an opportunity to be more conscious about peace and to hopefully reach out to others and start that dialogue about how you can make change within your own community,” Parker says. “There’s a lot of good going on in the world and we hope that people can apply these lessons of peace in their own ways in their homes, neighborhood, or workplace.”
September 14—21, various dates and times, free.Peace Day Philly 2019