Department of Peace Conference Held in Atlanta

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By Robert Soloway, Staff Writer, The Atlanta Progressive News

(APN) DECATUR – The US Department of Peace campaign continues to build momentum as over 100 participants gathered the weekend of September 15 through 17, 2006, for the first Conference of The Southeast Regional Alliance for Peace.

This group is dedicated to a campaign to establish a United States Department of Peace and Non-violence.

“The United States remains a global leader in so many areas. It is only fitting we lead the world in the pursuit of real peace, and it is only fitting people in the Atlanta area help lead the Southeast in the movement to create a U.S. Department of Peace,” Dr. Cheryl Tarr, the Executive Director of the Georgia Peace Alliance, said in a press release.

As reported previously in Atlanta Progressive News, there is currently a bill before both Houses of US Congress–HR 3760 and S 1756–to establish such a Cabinet-level Department, complete with a US Secretary of Peace.

The US House version has 75 total co-sponsors, one third of the number of members who would need to support the bill in order for it to pass.

The number of total co-sponsors presently is up from 64 noted by Atlanta Progressive News back in May 2006, after Atlanta City Council passed a resolution endorsing the idea of the US Department of Peace.

The new co-sponsors are US Reps. James Moran (D-VA), John Larson (D-CT), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Al Green (D-TX), Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), James Clyburn (D-SC), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), and David Wu (D-OR).

The only two current co-sponsors from Georgia are US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) and John Lewis (D-GA).

The US Senate bill, unfortunately, only has two current total co-sponsors, US Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN) and James Jeffords (I-VT) and they are both retiring this year. Jeffords is like to be replaced by US Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who already supports the bill.

This measure is designed to augment our current problem-solving modalities, providing practical, nonviolent solutions to the problems of domestic and international conflict.

The organization makes it perfectly clear they are not simply a group against war, or specifically the Iraqi situation, but rather to investigate and address violence in our society in all its forms.

Domestically, the US Department of Peace would develop policies and allocate resources to effectively reduce the levels of domestic and gang violence, child abuse, and various other forms of societal discord.

Internationally, the Department would advise the President and Congress on the most sophisticated ideas and techniques regarding peace-creation among nations.

It is possible the US may have never invaded Iraq had we had a US Department of Peace.

Even in such a conflict situation, a Department of Peace would enable us to better understand the various Moslem groups at play, and how best to create a new Iraq, peacefully.

The Conference met at various locations in Decatur.

It was hosted by the Georgia Peace Alliance Chapter, headed by Dr. Cheryl Tarr.

There are about 300 chapters, nationwide, and many countries around the world are working to establish their own variations of a Department of Peace.

Speakers to the conference included Lynn McMullen, National Campaign Manager from The Alliance for Peace; and Dot Maver, of The Peace Alliance Foundation.

They came to dispense information on how to develop a working relationship with your Congressperson; how to fulfill your role in government; how to fund-raise and to use money as a force for good; how to work with the media; and how to do outreach to expand the campaign in your community.

Cynthia Moe and Mark Feinknopf, from The Georgia Network for Nonviolent Communication, showed the 100 or more guests how to use principles of nonviolent communication (NVC) to try to get what you need out of a situation without setting up an adversarial relationship.

Other speakers included Reverend Paul Gonyea from the Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta, Lisa McLeod from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett, and Bert Skellie from the Atlanta Friends Service Committee. The Friends House hosted the Conference on Saturday.

The event began Friday night in Decatur Square with musical performances and a drumming session.

About the author:

Robert Soloway is a Staff Writer and the Opinions Editor for Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at robert@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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