If violence and war are failures of the imagination, then nonviolence and peacebuilding are triumphs of the imagination. – Embellishment of Quote from Unknown
Throughout the history of the United States, there have been efforts to make peace and peacebuilding a national priority and part of the structure of our nation.
Recognizing that the root causes of peace encompass peacebuilding at every level, in 2001 Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH) introduced legislation to create a cabinet-level Department of Peace(building) (DoP) to proactively encompass best practice policies and programs that promote national and international conflict prevention, nonviolent intervention, mediation, and peaceful resolution of conflict. DoP legislation has been introduced in every Congress since 2001, including by Rep. Kucinich in 2001-2011 and by Rep. Barbara Lee (CA) in 2013-present.
The Peace Alliance/ Department of Peacebuilding Campaign has promoted this legislation since the inception of this organization in 2004. The National Department of Peacebuilding Committee (DoP Committee) and campaign allies (DoP Campaign) have carried this work forward since 2011.
Peacebuilding is to make real our vision for peace. DoP legislation encompasses personal peace, community peacebuilding, humanizing the criminal justice system, teaching peace in schools and international peacebuilding. Despite a national climate of divisiveness, doubt and fear, the DoP Campaign continued in 2017 to work for a Department of Peacebuilding and a culture of compassion, inclusion, respect and peace at international, national, regional and local levels.
I. NATIONAL DoP CAMPAIGN
In 2017, the DoP Committee/ Campaign worked with Rep. Lee’s office to update/ revise the 2017 DoP legislation (HR 1111), made hundreds of contacts and visited numerous members of Congress seeking cosponsors, initiated actions throughout the year to promote the legislation, connected with other groups, supported other peace-related legislation and initiatives, secured more organizational endorsers, advanced city-related peacebuilding initiatives, and authored articles about DoP and related topics such as Restorative Practices.
A. Legislation & Initiatives
- Introduction of the DoP Act of 2017. Worked with the office of DOP Sponsor Rep. Barbara Lee to update the DoP Act of 2017 and to garner 27 original cosponsors.
- Contacts with members of Congress. Initiated hundreds of contacts with members of Congress – including local and DC office visits, phone calls, and emails – urging them to cosponsor DoP & other peace-related legislation.
- Submitted a “United Nations Solutions Proposal” to Establish Governmental Infrastructures (Departments and Ministries) to Support the Sustainable Development Goals and the Culture of Peace – Make Nonviolence a Global Priority.
- Advocated for the UN and all nations to adopt "The Global Resolution for Establishment of Infrastructures to Support the Culture of Peace" (www.PeaceNow.com)
- Secured CA Democratic Party (CDP) endorsement of DoP legislation and adoption of our “Resolution to Budget for Peacebuilding for People and the Climate,” and we submitted peacebuilding-related language for inclusion in the CDP 2018 Platform.
- Supported federal, state and local peacebuilding legislation such as creation of the Oakland Department of Violence Prevention, and legislation relating to gun safety and bail reform.
B. DoP Committee Taskforces
- DoP legislation. In addition to assisting with the DoP 2017 rewrite and seeking original cosponsors, oversaw and participate in actions throughout the year to gain DoP cosponsors, including Season for Nonviolence, Mother’s Day “Peace Wants a Piece of the Federal Budget Pie” visits to Congressional offices, organized DC Advocacy Days & AMPLIFY Our Voices action, Holidays 4 Peace messages to members of Congress.
- Organizational endorsers. Increased the list of DoP organizational and prominent individual endorsers, i.e. the Sierra Pacific (CA) Lutheran Synod, the Metta Center for Nonviolence. and others That growing list now includes 120+ endorsers.
- City Resolutions and Infrastructures. Formed a taskforce to investigate advancing peacebuilding within city governments and city endorsements of DoP legislation, which now includes 43 cities, counties and tribes.
- Operation Senate. Began exploring the idea of a Senate companion bill to HR 1111 and soliciting initial sponsor(s)/ cosponsors.
C. Details about DoP Campaign Major Actions
- DoP 2017 Bill Re-write & Launch. Worked with the office of HR 1111 Sponsor Barbara Lee (CA) on updates to the bill, securing 27 original cosponsors through hand delivered letters/ phone calls/ emails to the 33 returning cosponsors from the previous Congress.
- SNV. The Season for Nonviolence is the period between the deaths of Mahatmas Gandhi (January 30) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4). As part of the bill launch and SNV, we worked to enlist HR 1111 cosponsors. We initiated and followed up on approximately 315+ contacts with members of Congress, including contacts by approximately 17 individuals.
- Mother’s Day Pie Meetings. Coordinated national pie visits/ contacts with Congressional & Senate offices in at least CA, GA, IL, MA, ME & OH and attended visits.
- DC Advocacy Days. Organized and participated in DC Advocacy Days and companion local action to AMPLIFY Advocacy Days wherein we advocated for members of Congress to cosponsor DoP legislation to restrict the first use of nuclear weapons (HR 669/ S 200), the Ellie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (HR 3030/ S 1158) and bail reform bills (HR 1437/ S 1593). After our visits to 128+ members of Congress and Senators, there were 53 new cosponsors collectively for these bills. We also delivered heartfelt letters from San Diego students and community leaders urging members of Congress to cosponsor DoP legislation.
- Holidays4Peace. Sent holiday peace greetings & urged various members of Congress to cosponsor HR 1111, including members from CA, FL, MN, NY, OH.
D. Spreading the Word (Articles, Publications, Calls, Tabling, Workshops)
- Published numerous articles, letters to the editor. This Included articles relating to DoP legislation, Season for Nonviolence and Restorative Justice/ Restorative Practices published via Peace Alliance e-blasts, on Peace Alliance’s web site (Movers & Shakers and Issues/ Department of Peacebuilding), in the international PeaceNow.com electronic newsletter, UN NGO publication, and newspapers and/ or Congressional office publications in CA and NJ.
- Publicized DoP on several ChilliMost radio interviews on WVFG 107.5 FM in Uniontown, Alabama.
- Conducted numerous conference calls, including National DoP Committee calls, National DoP Campaign calls, and monthly CA statewide calls with guest speakers.
- Initiated a national Peace Alliance call featuring DoP Sponsor Rep. Barbara Lee (CA)., who discussed HR 1111, legislation to repeal authorization of the use of military force and more.
- Publicized DoP through tabling and workshops, including at the Sister Giant Conference in Washington DC, the Sixth National National Association of Community and Restorative Justice Conference in Oakland, Morehouse Medical School (GA), workshops/ film presentation in MA, peace fairs and rallies in NJ, and Congressional town hall meetings.
- Walked DoP in marches. Carried DoP banners, signs and literature in marches throughout the year, starting with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march in Atlanta and continuing on in marches from DC, Oakland, San Francisco and elsewhere -- women’s marches, climate marches, science marches and the Million Youth Peace March.
- Web site and Facebook posting & DoP literature including National DoP, GA DoP and National Peace Alliance. See www.tinyurl.com/nationalpeacebuilding.
- Partnered with groups such as San Diego Kids 4 Peace, ArtEsteem Oakland, Oakland’s Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center, Compassionate California, Pace Bene, World Beyond War in CA, IL, MA and elsewhere.
- Advocated for a DoP with state Democratic Parties, including with Democratic Parties in CA, MA, NJ and the NJ Democratic Party Progressive Caucus.
- Worked in leadership roles with organizations to advance a DoP and culture of peace, including leadership roles in the CA Democratic Party, CA National Organization of Women, IL Democratic Party races, County Democratic Committee in NJ, local and regional task forces and coalitions relating to violence prevention.
II. REGIONAL, STATE & INDIVIDUAL ACTIONS
During 2017, the Department of Peacebuilding Campaign participated in regional, state and individual actions throughout the country.
- 10 Statewide DoP Campaign Calls featuring guest speakers from the Job Corp, Metta Center for Nonviolence, Southern Poverty Law Center, Million Youth Peace March, Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center, the Oakland Department of Violence Prevention, former Richmond (CA) Mayor Gayle MacLaughlin on speaking truth to power, the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity/ Sanctuary Movement and caller dialogues on “Creative Nonviolence & Peacebuilding” and “Rising from Disaster & Making Compassion the New Normal.”
- 3 Statewide CA Democratic Party (CDP) conventions & meetings where we partnered in tabling with ArtEsteem of Oakland, Compassionate CA & Posts 4 Peace & Justice, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center in Oakland.
- CDP and peacebuilding accomplishments. 1) At CDP Convention in Sacramento in 5/17, CDP Resolutions Committee approved our peacebuilding resolution; 2) At CDP Executive Board meeting in Anaheim in 8/17, the CDP endorsed DoP Act of 2017 and adopted our “Resolution to Budget for Peacebuilding for People and the Climate”; 3) At the CDP Executive Board meeting in 11/17 in Millbrae, the CDP considered our submissions to the 2018 CDP Platform, where we submitted proposed language for the preamble and multiple planks. The final Platform will be adopted in 2/18.
- MLK Day. Participated in Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events in San Diego, with San Diego Kids for Peace, San Diego students and the San Diego Americans for a Department of Peace(building).
- Planning Retreat for CA DoP "Council of Sages (In Training)" leads. 14 leads and participants from Berkeley, El Cerrito, Mill Valley, Monterey, Oakland, Ojai, Petaluma, Santa Cruz, Walnut Creek and Windsor attended the annual retreat.
- SNV. Sonoma County Season for Nonviolence included an opening celebration with Dr. Michael Nagler/ Metta Center for Nonviolence and the closing focused on youth at the Santa Rosa Center for Spiritual Living.
- Mother’s Day Pie meetings – Participated in “pie meetings” in CA, including meetings/ deliveries with Rep. Susan Davis and with the staffs of Rep. Salud Carbajal, Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Jared Huffman, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Scot Peters, and Rep. Juan Vargas.
- Sierra Pacific Lutheran Synod Endorses DoP. Tabled and successfully advocated for Synod’s endorsement of a U.S. Department of Peacebuilding.
- Department of Violence Prevention (DVP). Advocated for successful adoption by the City of Oakland of a DVP.
- Sixth National Association of Community & Restorative Justice Conference. CA DoP group tabled and presented workshop on “Be the Movement: Empowering Community Peacebuilding, Teaching Peace in Schools and Humanizing the Justice System” at this conference in Oakland, CA, which was also attended by Peace Alliance members from CO and FL.
- Participated in International Day of Peace activities with San Diego students.
- Participated in DoP advocacy for cosponsors and the AMPLIFY action during DC Advocacy Days.
- Partnered with San Diego students and peacebuilding advocates to draft and deliver DoP support letters to members of Congress during DC Advocacy Days.
- Published Articles in Nevada County CDP newsletter and Sonoma newspapers and periodicals, online Peace Alliance web site, PeaceNow.com.
- Marched for DoP in women’s marches, climate marches, science marches throughout the state.
- Tabled at peace booth at the Nevada County Fair.
- Participated in empathy tents during rightwing demonstrations in San Francisco/ Berkeley area.
- MLK Day. GA volunteers marched with DoP banner and distributed literature during annual Martin Luther King, Jr. March in Atlanta.
- Democratic National Committee (DNC) Party Elections & Winter Meeting. Attended this event and met with Rep. Barbara Lee (CA) at her reception, where she reviewed the DoP legislation with then Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and suggested creating local government DoPs, starting with Atlanta.
- Community Health Event. Tabled at this Morehouse Medical School event in April 2017.
- Mother’s Day Pie meetings. Met in the Lithonia office of Rep. Hank Johnson, and took pies to the offices of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA-4) and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).
- Georgia DoP Facebook Page was created in 2011 and may be visited at www.facebook.com/groups/DoPGeorgia/.
C. Illinois & Midwest Region
- Mother’s Day Pie meetings. Participated in “pie meetings” in IL, including meetings/ deliveries with the offices Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D); OH advocates met with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) and Rep. Warren Davidson (R).
- DC Lobby Days. 2 IL attendees and others met with both Senators and several IL and Midwest representatives seeking DoP cosponsors, more peacebuilding, empathizing with the constant busy-ness of Congress, emphasizing importance and fiscal responsibility of working toward violence prevention.
- Connected with such groups as 2016 Chicago City Council Resolution Committee leaders, Chicago NVC Practice Group, Chicago Restorative Community, Pace Bene and World Beyond War.
- Participated in IL Democratic Party Congressional race and events.
D. Massachusetts & New England
- Season for Nonviolence. MA leaders contacted or met with legislators/ staffers, including offices of Rep. Katherine Clark (MA), Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA), Sen. Ed Markey (MA), and Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME).
- Mother’s Day Pie meeting. Participated in “pie meetings” in MA, including meetings/ deliveries with the offices Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (MA); ME advocate wrote to Sen. Angus King, Jr. (I) and received a detailed reply.
- Screening of Beyond the Wall. Sponsored screening of this film about the lives of two men after their release from prison. Event took place at First Parish in Concord, MA and included discussion with film’s producers/ directors.
- DC Advocacy Days AMPLIFY Action. Participated in DoP advocacy for DoP cosponsors, including calls to Rep. Katherine Clark (MA), Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY), Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (MA), Rep. John Larson (CT), Sen. Ed Markey (MA), Rep. Niki Tsongas (MA), Sen. Elisabeth Warren (MA).
- Holidays4Peace Action. Sent holiday greetings to multiple members of Congress and Senators.
- Advocacy for Women’s Empowerment (AWE). Participated in this response to MA Women’s March.
- Planning forward. Invited Rep. Jim McGovern (MA) to MA Department of Peace(building) Anniversary event in 2018.
E. New Jersey
- Sister Giant Conference in DC. Got permission from Peace Alliance Emeritus Chair Marianne Williamson (who hosted the Sister Giant conference following the historic Women's March) to distribute DoP postcards and display DoP poster there when no other informational materials were allowed in the large audience which was livestreamed and Marianne referenced to HR 1111 during her speaking.
- Article about DoP 2017 introduction. Wrote article about the 2017 reintroduction of HR 1111 entitled "Department of Peace Act of 2017" which appeared in UN NGO "Peace Through Unity" July international electronic newsletter as well as in the international PeaceNow.com electronic newsletter and on the Peace Alliance website.
- UN Solutions Proposal. Submitted a "UN Solutions Proposal" entitled "Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures of Peace (Departments and Ministries). This was integrated into the technical platform of the UN Global Non-Governmental Liaison Services (UN-NGLS) UN Global Innovation Exchange of possible solutions to accelerate innovations that would have positive global impact. The tagline was: Establish Governmental Infrastructures to Support the Sustainable Development Goals and the Culture of Peace - Make Nonviolence a Global Priority.
- NJ Democratic Party Leadership. Following the urging of former "original" DoP cosponsor Senator Bernie Sanders to his DNC 2017 delegates, Anne Creter became a County Democratic Committee person in her municipality to raise the issue of peacebuilding at the state and local levels to obtain respective HR 1111 city and state endorsements.
- Advocacy with NJ Dems Progressive Caucus. Advocated strongly within the Progressive Caucus of the NJ Democratic Committee that they follow the example of California Democratic Party and endorse H.R. 1111.
- March in Peace. Displayed DoP poster at Historic DC Women's March, Sacred Heart Church Camden NJ Peace Fair, Peace Day Philly Rittenhouse Park Rally, and NJ State Democratic Committee Newark Primary Campaign Rally.
III. LOOKING FORWARD
The DoP Campaign is carrying forward into 2018 its vision for peace and will continue the work of creating a Department of Peacebuilding and a culture of peace. Onward.
“A comprehensive utopia may be out of reach, but the effort to realise it shapes the world for the better all the same. The belief may not be true, but it is useful. Belief makes the world.” - Rebecca Solnit
National Department of Peacebuilding Lead
On Behalf of the National DoP Committee/ Campaign, including
Anne Creter (NJ), Karen Johnson (IL), Nancy Merritt (CA), Kendra Mon (CA)
Debra Poss (GA), Jerilyn Stapleton (CA) and many others in the DoP Campaign