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Friday, July 2, 2010

Kiwanis Club Applauds Children's Visions of Peace

Kiwanis's Fred L. Towne "gets it." What an inspiration he is!

This past week Eugene Magazine interviewed me for a short article in the upcoming September issue. What was going to be a 30-minute conversation stretched to two delightful hours. I enjoyed sharing the quilt backdrop for the children's visions-of-peace-postcard project and the background of its inception. Michael Krummel was a great listener and asked those clarifying, straight-forward questions that redirect. He began with a disclaimer: It was best to have no preconceptions of what should be written in this short piece.

Heck, I didn't care at all. I was simply pleased to be talking to him because he eventually "got it." What will be said will be said, I reasoned. What will be understood will be understood, I hoped.

That's pretty much the way I've approached all of the 47 visits with the quilt this year. I've been the messenger of the messages. Clearly, Michael came to understand the focus of this grassroots peace effort and why I was "traveling the world" with the quilt lip syncing (voicing) children's dreams of a happier world. He celebrated with me the planting of peace seeds for diversity,respect, and action. The Oprah Show is not the ultimate ending target. Tipping point peace is.

Last Thursday another wonderful group of men and women listened intently for 25 minutes during their luncheon meeting on Thursday at the Eagles in Eugene. As usual, I shared the quilt and the 1,000,000 Postcards-to-Oprah project. Of course, I invited folks to create their own visions of peace and handed out those blank addressed postcards for their use. Once again, I connected my journey's roots to my integrated peace curriculum beginning with the research of heroes few people know a lot about, those 24 U.S. Nobel Peace Prize winners. Finally, I remembered to talk about the beauty of individual visions of peace and the celebration of the variety of ways we can all make a difference peacefully.

I delighted in the group's understanding nods when I explained how the Nobel Peace Laureates were quite diverse in their ways of peacemaking which subsequently inspired the middle schoolers to consider themselves and their own actions in their immediate worlds and beyond. Could they do the same? Yes.

My greatest happiness that day was meeting Fred L. Towne after the talk. He immediately asked when the August Eugene Celebration Parade would be, where to meet, and the time. He mentioned that he did have some trouble walking, but perhaps he could get his grandson from Portland to join in too. (Near the end of the talk, I had invited folks to walk together on August 28 to celebrate "building peace." Our entry would highlight the inspiration of children's visions of peace and the 24 U.S. Nobel Peace Laureates they researched. The Nobel Peace Laureate Project with its slowly developing monument in Alton Baker Park would get some exposure in the process.)

Fred was quite clear that he really wanted to help in some way. He just didn't know what he could do as an almost 93-year-old, but he did have a computer, he offered. I paused to think. Meanwhile, he forthrightly decided that he would begin by definitely e-mailing everyone he knew about this event and its importance.

I honestly believe that kids and elders "get it" first. They are our teachers from both sides of life's spectrum. Thank you, Fred. I'll see you at the parade.

Now I'm off to Russia.

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