Monday, Jun. 17, 2019

Dept of Peacebuilding 2018 Accomplishments - NATIONAL (Part I)

By Nancy Merritt · March 03, 2019

The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.  - Steve Jobs

Peacebuilding is in our DNA.  It is the real story.  Despite a national climate of divisiveness, doubt and fear, the Department of Peacebuilding (DoP) Campaign continued in 2018 to work for a Department of Peacebuilding and a culture of compassion, inclusion, respect and peace at international, national, regional and local levels.

Peace advocacy is part of our heritage.  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) from 2013-present.  

The Peace Alliance/ Department of Peacebuilding Campaign has promoted this legislation since the inception of this organization in 2003.  The National Department of Peacebuilding Committee (DoP Committee) and campaign allies (DoP Campaign) have carried this work forward since 2011.

Peacebuilding means …

Peacebuilding means evaluating the root causes of violence and acting upon the root causes of peace.   For me peacebuilding is working together with all nations to protect both life and land and hold the earth in balance.  - Nancy Merritt, National DoP Campaign

For me, peacebuilding is laying the groundwork for a change in our culture that is reflected in people believing, thinking, speaking, and acting with regard and respect for all beings and the natural world. - Kendra Mon, National DoP Campaign

Peacebuilding is a commitment to and process of nonviolently promoting justice and peace via addressing the root causes of violence by using conflict resolution and other peace communication skills.  - Debra Poss, National DoP Campaign 

Building peace requires building justice.  - Pat Simon, National DoP Campaign


In 2018, the DoP Campaign worked with Rep. Barbara Lee’s (CA) office to gain cosponsors of the Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2017 (HR 1111) and to update the 2019 DoP legislation, which was introduced on 2/8/2019.  The DoP campaign made hundreds of contacts and visited numerous members of Congress, both in Washington, DC and in local Congressional Districts, seeking DoP cosponsors, initiated actions throughout the year to promote the legislation, connected with other groups, supported other peace-related legislation and initiatives, secured more organizational and noted individual endorsers, advanced city-related peacebuilding initiatives, and authored articles about DoP and related topics such structural violence and patriarchy.  

A.  Legislation & Initiatives

  • DoP Act of 2017.  In 2018, we worked to increase the number of DoP 2017 cosponsors from 27 original cosponsors in 2017 to 43 cosponsors by the time the 115th Congress adjourned in 2018.  
  • DoP Act of 2019.  We worked with DoP legislation sponsor Rep. Barbara Lee’s staff to revise and introduce the DoP Act of 2019.  During 2018 we laid the groundwork for garnering initial cosponsors of the 2019 legislation.
  • Contacts with members of Congress. We initiated hundreds of contacts with members of Congress – including local and DC office visits, phone calls, and emails and petition signatures– urging them to cosponsor DoP and other peace-related legislation.  In addition the San Diego DoP/ Southeast San Diego Kids For Peace wrote and collected letters in support of a DoP and the National DoP Committee delivered those letters to Capitol Hill in September 2018.  The letters were from 71 e3 Civic High students, Bishop George McKinney, City Council President Myrtle Cole, San Diego Board of Education member Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, e3 Civic High School CEO Helen Griffith, All In San Diego Founder Lan E. Jefferson, Grandmother and Peace Activist Cynthia Gilliam and Daniel Horton.
  • Successfully submitted peacebuilding language for inclusion in the 2018 CA Democratic Party (CDP) Platform, including peacebuilding language in the Platform preamble and 16 of 23 Platform planks (Preamble; Business and Economy; Children, Young Adults and Their Families; Criminal Justice; Culture and the Arts; Disabilities; Education; Energy and Environment; Immigration; Internet and Free Speech; National Security; Seniors; Sustainable Communities; Veterans and Military Families; Women; and World Peace and International Relations).
  • Successfully submitted to the CDP a “Resolution to Encourage State Legislators to Establish a California Peacebuilding and Violence Prevention Government Entity," which was submitted by the CA DoP Campaign with support from the CDP Arab American and Veterans caucuses. 
  • Supported peacebuilding-related legislation during actions throughout the year, including:  
    • CDP 2018 Convention - promonted Department of Peacebuilding (HR 1111); opposed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (S. 446); supported  HR 4240 & S. 2009 to expand the Brady background check law to cover commercial firearm sales, including at gun shows and over the internet;  
    • Mother’s Day 2018 “Piece of the Pie” Meetings - promoted Department of Peacebuilding (HR 1111), ; Assault Weapons Ban of 2018 (H.R. 5087), Assault Weapons Ban of 2017 (S. 2095), Establish a Select Committee on Gun Violence Prevention (H.R. 367)]; and 
    • DC Advocacy Days 2018 - promonted Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2017 (H.R.1111); legislation relating to Assault Weapons Ban (H.R. 5077, S. 2095); Condemning Violence Against Children Globally (H.R. 5087); Establishing the Select Committee on Gun Violence Prevention (H. Res. 367); No Money Bail Act of 2017 (H.R. 1437); Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 6545); Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriation Act (S. 1780); REUNITE Act (S. 3227); and Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 1917).

B.  DoP Committee Taskforces

  • DoP legislation.  In addition to seeking cosponsors of the DoP 2017 legislation, we  assisted with the DoP 2019 bill update and laid the groundwork for seeking original DoP 2019 cosponsors, oversaw and participated 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 Districtoffices, organized DC Advocacy Days and AMPLIFY Our Voices action, and Holidays 4 Peace messages to members of Congress.
  • Organizational endorsers.  We increased the list of DoP organization and prominent individual endorsers to approximately 150 endorsers.  Some new 2018 endorsers include A Community for Peace (Citrus Heights, CA), Compassionate California, Dolores Huerta, The Junkyard Dance Crew, Kids for Peace (Southeast San Diego, CA), New Jersey State Democratic Committee Progressive Caucus, Peace Poles for Schools, San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention, and Unity Center (San Diego, CA).
  • City Resolutions and Infrastructures.We continued to investigate advancing peacebuilding within city governments and city endorsements of DoP legislation, which now includes 43 cities, counties and tribes.  
  • Operation Senate.  We further explored advocating for a Senate companion bill to HR 1111 and soliciting initial sponsor(s)/ cosponsors, including discussions with several Senators during DC Advocacy Days 2018 [Senator Richard Durbin (IL), Senator Dianna Feinstein (CA), Senator Kamala Harris (CA), Senator Ed Markey (MA), Senator Lisa Murkowski (AL), and Senator Bernie Sanders (VT)].  

C.  Details about DoP Campaign Major Actions

  • Season for Nonviolence (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 SNV 2018, we worked to enlist HR 1111 cosponsors.  We initiated and followed up on contacts with approximately 45  Representatives and Senators.  Advocates from 18 states responded to our call for volunteers, including individuals from AL, AZ, CA, CT, DE, GA, IL, IN, MA, MO, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, TX, and VA.  In 2018, we organized by four regions (CA/ West, South, North/ Midwest, East Coast). The action included three national e-blasts, several organizing/update calls and publicizing SNV on TPA, DoP and CA calls and at the CA Democratic Party Convention.   Three members of Congress cosponsored during SNV -- Nanette Barragan (CA-44), Robin Kelly (IL-2) and Bennie Thompson (MS-2) -- bringing the total of cosponsors at the end of SNV to 40.
  • Mother’s Day “Peace Wants A Piece of the Federal Budget” Pie Meetings.  We coordinated national pie visits/ contacts with Congressional and Senate offices in at leastCA, CO, GA, IL, NM and SD and attended visits.  This included visits to the offices of at least 10 U.S. Representatives, 8 U.S. Senators, 2 CA Assembly members and 2 CA State Senators.  Meeting attendees included: San Diego middle and high school students, a grandmother and her granddaughter, a school board member, a pastor, community and peacebuilding activists; longtime Department of Peacebuilding advocates and compadres in Northern CA, including those who are clergy, nurses, paralegals, social workers, teachers, writers; sisters and sister-in-law in Colorado and Sisters in South Dakota; veteran and first-time ‘pie’ activists in Georgia; long-time IL peacebuilders, activists and friends; and a 96-year-old peace award nominee in New Mexico.
  • DC Advocacy Days.  We organized and participatedin DC Advocacy Daysand companion local actions to AMPLIFY Advocacy Days where we advocated for members of Congress to cosponsor DoP legislation and other peace-related legislation. After our visits to over 140 members of Congress and Senators, 64 cosponsors added their names to our recommended legislation.  We conducted 24 scheduled meetings, two of which included constituent participation via phone [Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)] and numerous unscheduled “drop-by” visits, some leading to meaningful conversations with key staff members.  We also delivered heartfelt letters from San Diego students and community leaders urging members of Congress to cosponsor DoP legislation.  We delivered written petitions signed by Californians urging co-sponsorship of  a DoP and online petitions were signed nationally.
  • Holidays4Peace. We sent holiday peace greetings and urged various members of Congress to cosponsor HR 1111.

D.  Spreading the Word (Articles, Publications, Calls, Tabling, Workshops)

  • Published numerous articles, letters to the editor. This Included articles related to DoP legislation, Season for Nonviolence, structural violence, CA DoP accomplishment in the CA Democratic Party published via Peace Alliance e-blasts, on the Peace Alliance web site (Movers & Shakers and Issues/ Department of Peacebuilding), in the international electronic newsletter, in the Sonoma County (CA) Peace Press and other venues.  
  • Conducted numerous conference calls, including National DoP Committee calls, National DoP Campaign calls, and monthly CA statewide calls with guest speakers.
  • Initiated national Peace Alliance calls on 1) ‘Taking a Difficult Look at Patriarchy” with Geri Kennedy, who spoke in lieu of Alan Johnson (Author of The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy), who passed away shortly before he was scheduled to speak on the call; and 2) “Kids for Peace” with Jill McManigal, Co-founder of Kids for Peace.
  • Publicized DoP through tabling and workshops, including at the World Beyond War Conference in Toronto, Canada, where we tabled, delivered a letter from Rep. Barbara Lee to attendees, and co-presented with the Canadian Peace Initiative a workshop entitled “Departments and Infrastructures for Peace”; participated in the National Nonviolence Convergence conference and silent march from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument to the White House on International Day of Peace in Washington, DC, presented a workshop in IL on “Misogyny in the 21stCentury,” and spread the word through meetings and events with many local groups.
  • 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, GA and continuing on in marches in DC, Oakland, San Francisco, the Santa Rosa Women’s March and elsewhere. 
  • Web site and Facebook posting & DoP literature including National DoP, GA DoP and National Peace Alliance.  See Department of Peacebuilding 

E.  Partnerships

  • Partnered with groups such as: 2/18 CDP ConventionSan Diego (Partners 4 Peace International in San Diego, San Diego Kids 4 Peace, San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention;  7/18 – NOW Conventionin San Jose (National Organization for Women); 7/18 CDP E-Boardin Oakland (Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth and Peace Pledge/ Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club
  • Advocated for a DoP with state Democratic Parties, including with Democratic Parties in CA, IL and NJ.
  • 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, and local and regional task forces and coalitions relating to violence prevention.  

 See also Dept. of Peacebuilding 2018 Accomplishments - Part II/ Regional.

Nancy Merritt, 
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), Pat Simon (MA),  Jerilyn Stapleton (CA) and many others in the campaign

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