Walter Cronkite on the Department of Peace idea
This interview with Walter Cronkite and Congressman Dennis Kucinich was filmed at the Department of Peace conference in September of 2006 in D.C. Mr. Cronkite was a strong supporter of the need for a federal institution focusing on peaceful conflict resolution. He will be missed.
HR808/U.S. Department of PEACE – News
A Click for PEACE goes a long way
by Ana Campos
Dear Friends of Peace:
President Obama has created a personal website asking the public “How can we strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness by making government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative?”
Someone submitted a Department of Peace idea. There are only 69 votes. I just received an email that the contest rules had changed and this brainstorming session won’t end until June 19th. I think whatever we can do to stay on President Obama and his staff’s radar will help the entire movement! Whether this idea has anything to do with open government, it’s still a chance to bring DOP information straight to the top.
With your help back in January, the “Department of Peace” idea was voted as one of the 10 top “Ideas for Change in America” and was given to President Obama’s transition team 4 days before the Inauguration. I think his staff was inspired by the old COMPLETED contest on Change.org because the new contest below, is identical. Very interesting! Would you be willing to take a minute or two and click the link below to vote?
WILL YOU VOTE HERE AND distribute this link?
ADVANCED WARNING – To vote you must click “Sounds Promising” – Type your email and select “NEW USER” and enter a PASSWORD. Then check your inbox for an email verification and click it. You will NEED to click AGAIN on “SOUNDS PROMISING” for your vote to register. It has to say “VOTE ACCEPTED” or it won’t register.
If the link above doesn’t work, please go to http://opengov.com and type Department of Peace in the search engine box located in the top righthand corner of the page. Click to search and scroll down to the bottom of page to find your choice.
READ more about the contest details here:
As always I thank you for your continued support!
South Florida State Coordinator
US Department of Peace Campaign
Phone: (954) 793-3279
Email: [email protected]
Message from Yoko Ono
Hi. This is yoko ono.
I fully support the idea of voting for a DEPARTMENT OF PEACE.
Every bit helps to make World Peace a reality.
Lots of love, yoko
By Ted Nunn, Change.org, April 27, 2009.
CLEVELAND, OH – After decades of discussion, years of planning, and months of coordination and collaboration among hundreds of local, national, and international experts and organizations focused on the inter-related issues of peace and non-violence, plans have been formalized to establish the United States’ first National Peace Academy.
The announcement was made following a three-day summit at Case Western Reserve University, attended by more than 170 scholars, academicians, business representatives, government officials, researchers, and community leaders from around the nation and from 10 other countries.
The participants represented a broad spectrum of experts and practitioners, ranging from community-based and faith-based conflict resolution organizations to international authorities on human rights and peace initiatives under the auspices of the United Nations. Areas of specialized interest and practice ranged from domestic violence and spousal abuse to more global humanitarian issues, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, genocides in Darfur and Rwanda, and violence-related famines and health crises in conflict-riddled regions throughout the world.
The goal of the National Peace Academy is to support and advance a sustainable culture of peace through research, education, and real-world application. The Academy will augment and work in collaboration with the efforts of myriad existing programs and institutions, including an estimated 400 programs at universities across the U.S., aimed at enculturating concepts such as peace, social justice, and professional ethics into community-based efforts, government policies, business practices, and international diplomatic initiatives.
Dr. Shannon E. French, Director of the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at CWRU, praised the organizers and participants for their commitment to…
“living the principles that they espouse, whether in their own organizations or communities or through their involvement in national and international efforts to address military conflicts, political oppression, and humanitarian crises.”
The National Peace Academy’s coordinating effort will continue to be centered at Case, and its organizers will work in collaboration with learning and research institutions and peacebuilding field workers across the U.S. and worldwide. The Academy hopes to be a clearinghouse and resource center; a training institute for educators, government agencies, and community groups; and, potentially, a full-blown academic program offering undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Dr. Dorothy (Dot) Maver, Co-Director of the academy and one of the principal organizers of last week’s summit, pointed out that the practical applications of the National Peace Academy’s mission go beyond non-violence and peace-building initiatives.
“They extend into the realms of global environmental stewardship, sustainable development, and human rights-based business practices. Conflict, political and cultural animosity, social injustice, and ethical malfeasance are often the central obstacles to the implementation of strategies that can make the planet more livable, the workforce more productive, and the population more secure, healthier, and more prosperous.”
Representatives of the sponsoring and participating organizations will be meeting over the next few weeks to establish a timetable for the next steps leading up to the official opening of the Academy.
Funding for the NPA is part of H.R. 808 – the Department of Peace act. Please write to your elected officials letting them know about this historical development and ask them to make funding for the DOP and the NPA a top national priority!
Ask VP Biden to Support the Department of Peace
Let’s do this!
Sign the pledge and then ask Vice President Joe Biden to support the Department of Peace.
In his days as a Senator, Joe Biden championed and supported legislation to reduce violence, including the Violence Against Women act and a bill to establish a U.S. Academy of Peace. He recently spoke out against the latest events of deadly violence in the U.S., including the tragedy in Binghamton, N.Y.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to deal with this senseless, senseless violence”
said Vice President Biden.
Let’s remind him of his past support of legislation to reduce violence and ask for his leadership in moving the Department of Peace idea forward.
ASK VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN TO SUPPORT A DEPARTMENT OF PEACE
PLEDGE TO TAKE ACTION –
CONTACT FORM FOR VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN –
South Florida State Coordinator
U.S. Department of Peace Campaign
Facebook and MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/DepartmentofPeaceFlorida
National Website: www.ThePeaceAlliance.org
Visit www.whitehouse.gov/ContactUs and send Vice President Biden a note to ask for support of H.R. 808 to create a Department of Peace.
Over 260 people have already done this on Change.org here.
Facebook group here.
The Modern Peace Movement: ‘Peace is Practical’ Conference Report
By Stephen Dohnberg, Digital Journal
An active movement is under way in the United States to establish a cabinet level ‘Department of Peace and Nonviolence’. A 3 day conference in Washington, D.C. revealed a lot about the modern peace movement and the new urgency that surrounds it.
Given the current major economic downturn, it’s impossible for one to imagine the U.S federal government engaging in establishing a new Cabinet portfolio of any type. Particularly one, that on the surface would seem to represent a nation experiencing time for reflection — something akin to the slight cut in military budgets aka ‘the Peace dividend’ after the alleged ‘end of the Cold War’.
However, since the Department of Peace was introduced in 2001 by Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a growing national and international movement has begun to understand the urgency of “waging peace”. In defining the idea of a cabinet level organization, modern peace activists have adopted a new perspective.
The legislative wording has evolved over the preceding eight years from the ‘Department of Peace’. Congressman Kucinich introduced HR808 in 2007 with over 60 co sponsors to create the ‘Dept of Peace and Nonviolence’.
The initiative is not the stereotype of the Sixties, but a sleek, evolved perspective and more defined activist movement that has adopted what FDR referred to as “the science of human relations”. Within the broadened understanding of relations in a scientific context, peace is not , to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “the absence of war”, rather the absence of peace is the presence of violence that has a very real impact on the economies of nations. It is a new perspective on understanding global violence — internal and external — that includes racism, poverty, unemployment, illness, crime, environmental disaster and domestic violence, as well as wars between nations.
On March 20-23, the second meeting of the Campaign to Establish a Cabinet Level Dept of Peace met at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Arlington VA. The location itself felt paradoxical – conference goers met in this location surrounded by the offices of some of the biggest organizations that exist solely to profit from war and unrest: KBR (Haliburton), Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and any number of offices of lobbyists that are situated a stone’s throw across the Potomac from the legislative core of the United States.
The national conference meets in off years, since the focus of the Peace Alliance is to engage in workshops, gather information,and to set their sights on their Congressional representatives. With Congressional elections happening in even numbered years, it gives the organization a chance to assess their new constituent representatives and lobby them in an organized, methodical, and unified fashion – rather than a scatter shot way, which is so often the downfall of activist movements. By taking advantage of citizen activism and political engagement, this method also allows them to gauge their impact with efficiency and economy. Over the years, the movement has gained respect for this approach.
2007’s Conference saw a star studded cast of supporters joining citizen activists. A list of prominent citizens, including Walter Cronkite, Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), Joaqin Pheonix, Yoko Ono, and Wille Nelson represent but a fraction of public figures who have promoted the movement. The 2009 conference, while still attended by close to 500 people, was more work intensive by comparison, as described by those I talked to.
While it is literally impossible to cover the full course of conference events (visit ThePeaceAlliance.Org for the sessions and workshops), a large number of the workshops were educational (and often moving) and featured phenomenal speakers well recognized within the movement, with many of these breaking into mainstream consciousness, thanks to their tireless advocacy and the occasional appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show.
Some of the speakers included the son of former Baskin-Robbins heir and founder of YES (Youth for Environmental Sanity) Ocean Robbins, whose father sought a different path for himself, or as Ocean said of his father, “he realized there was no need to discover a 32nd flavour…”. Azim Khamisa, a Sufi Muslim, whose own son Tariq was killed, a victim of a gang initiation rite. He now seeks leniency for his son’s killer as part of his own peace-building initiative through forgiveness, and Steve Killelea, founder of a modern trade metric known as GPI (Global Peace Index) and producer of the documentary ‘Soldiers of Peace’.
The laser-like focus of the organization was revealed in a Sunday afternoon session that almost all of the policy wonks agreed to have been the most useful, revealing that the campaign knows it needs to foster understanding of vast government structures to achieve the success it needs. Billed as ‘Peacebuilding in the Federal Government’, it clearly showed that the DoP organizers know what they need to understand about the minutiae of federal government
The expert panel, moderated by Wendy Greene, featured Margaret Kho, a designate for the the Community Relations Service (CRS) under the U.S. Dept of Justice, Lorelei Kelly, the National Security Program Director of the American Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation, and Lisa Schirch of 3D Security and Eastern Mennonite University.
In essence, they outlined organizations that already perform a function that overlaps with the stated goals of the proposed Dept of Peace and Non Violence, or mirror the same objectives, but are somewhat independent from federal government.
The Community Relations Service, as Irene Kho explained, is a federal body that deals with mediation, training, and technical assistance in areas such as protest organization and police-community relations. Established in 1964, the CRS was an outgrowth of the Civil Rights era, and initially dealt with ethnic issues as an agency of the Department of Justice. Post 9-11, CRS’ areas have expanded to include training for airport security staff and cultural sensitivity when dealing with Arab, Muslim, or Sikh travellers.
Their objective is to intervene before disputes escalate into violence. But with 10 regional offices, staff has faced such cutbacks that these regional offices throughout the U.S. now barely employs 65 people. The scope of these cuts leaves one to question the commitment and focus of the federal government and whether it is aware of the tools it already possesses. One only needs to look back at the immediate 18 years from the Rodney King riots, to Arab “roundups” in the fall of 2001 to question the commitment of resources and focus, and why such a potentially useful organization is so poorly utilized — under no fault of those staffing the agency.
Kelly pointed to other bodies, “intra government offices” that work as an “arm” for example, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and USAID. But at this stage, Kelly noted that core of the aims and exercising of such offices relies on what the perception of the U.S. is: Does the U.S. exist to aid the poor and hungry of the world and export justice and democracy, or do various government bodies exist to create, or force, favourable trade conditions in other countries, thus making it OK to have dictators friendly to the U.S. remain in place?
The USIP engages in, or funds relevant research projects on violent conflict, its causes, and ways to deal with conflict. Funded annually through Congress, the USIP has to tread a fine line and this can be a Catch 22 situation for any group. Obviously, criticism has to be very tempered and one presumes this is also mandated by the foreign policy that exists at the time.
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is another body that Kelly presented as an example. Similar to CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) the mandate of USAID is to“extend a helping hand to those people overseas struggling to make a better life, recover from a disaster or striving to live in a free and democratic country…”
It is an independent agency of the federal government, meaning that it is an executive branch agency of the government and exists outside of the federal executive departments. Similar agencies include the CIA, the United States Postal Service (USPS), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). USAID is involved with humanitarian and economic assistance programs in developing countries, and money is allocated by proxy organizations that research a number of criteria before a project is given funds.
But with many of these executive branch agencies, issues of alleged corruption and ideological influence over the years have become sore spots, .especially when multimillion dollar development and aid packages fall into the hands of corrupt regimes. In the past, the U.S. has looked the other way. Kelly noted that USAID needs to focus on “small scale civil projects” This approach would go a long way in assisting USAID’s work, and one presumes would strengthen USAID’s focus on the simple definition of “what America is”.
Shirch of 3D Security was equally eloquent in her assessment of the need for stability globally and pointed out that the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan would “shape policy for the next hundred plus years”. The need for new bodies is found in the question “what is the division of labour between peace and security?” Operationally, the U.S. still looks to the Army for conflict resolution and civic rebuilding in conflict areas. It’s a backward operational tactic that in modern times leans on an organization that is not equipped to engage in these operations. It’s also into this void that the private sector steps. It’s a linear, Cold War mentality.
With these being but a fraction of the organizations in place to deal with peace in a broader context, she noted that selling the idea of a Cabinet level department would be difficult. It would not necessarily be a Department of Peace as a solution, but would require a President with a focus and defined idea of what peace achieves. More money for existing structures, as well as, restored budgets, could do wonders.
The costs of maintaining domestic and international organizations focused on peace-building is a huge prospect, but with the limited time allotted for the panelists, a very concise question emerged. In essence: If we took the existing structures off the table, what could be put in place to deal with this very broad spectrum of issues, domestic and international?
The point being, a Department of Peace would be a massive step toward the “sharing of duties” with the military that even Robert Gates and General Petraeus have called for.
Advocates are moved by the practical simplicity of something that is a preventive measure. Decades of statistics that show, for example, that a few hundred dollars allocated for a student in a school board budget saves $85,000 annually, from the cost of maintaining a prison inmate.
One of the fascinating components of the Conference itself was that it organized conference goers by state. On the final day, after three days of information workshops, activists converged on the Capitol to meet with their Congressional and Senate representatives or their legislative assistants. I followed the New York delegation as they traversed the halls of the Cannon and Rayburn buildings and dropped packages off or met with Congressional aides who were receptive and respectful of the organization and effort that these citizens put into participating in the process. As a reporter, it was something to witness and a story in and of itself – participatory democracy as it should be. One’s built-in cynicism can be easily allayed by watching these activists from all walks, steel themselves to a task one imagines only for hardened, cigar chomping back slappers.
If there was any question as to the success of their work, on April 7 Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) signed on as the 66th cosponsor.
One could only imagine the stress put on the offices as the California delegation of almost 50 marched into the offices of everyone from Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But they did it.
Listening to the stories at the end of the Monday, and the excitement and surprise that many first timers to Washington corridors expressed, was fascinating. To think, one can walk into the office of someone who is elected and Constitutionally mandated to represent you! Like the ideas behind the Department of Peace, it all seems so simple, so…obvious?!
As Rep Kucinich noted on the closing evening, “peace is practical – this isn’t some airy fairy idea”. By“monetizing peace” a breakthrough has been established.
Although other attempts to establish a Department of Peace, including ones initiated by the Founding Fathers, have been put forward, a bill as comprehensive hasn’t emerged until now. With the efforts of DoP activists and 68 co-sponsors, Kucicnich noted that the over 40 million citizens are represented.
The idea of a Department of Peace also placed 2nd in the top 10 ideas of Change.Org’s massive national initiative to solicit citizens’ involvement on new ideas for the U.S. The top ideas have been presented to then President-elect Obama.
According to official stats, “Department of Peace grassroots activist groups exist in about 300 congressional districts in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam” That doesn’t include the international movement, including Canada. The Hamilton chapter has their AGM and conference on the weekend of April 17.
Nepal has it’s own Department of Peace, and in Costa Rica the idea is taken very seriously, with an MA in Peace Studies being offered at the Academy For Peace .
Co sponsor, Rep John Conyers, reminded activists that it took over 15 years for the Martin Luther King Day bill to finally pass legislation. “There’s way more of us that want to do the right thing”. If we have a Department of War, why can’t we have a Department of Peace?”
As Richard Nixon responded to a similar movement in 1969,
“I consider the Department of State to be a department of peace. I consider the Department of Defense to be a department of peace, and I can assure you that at the White House Level in the National Security Council that is where we coordinate all of our efforts towards peace. I think that putting one department over here as a department of peace would tend to indicate that the other departments were engaged in other activities that were not interested in peace.”
40 years of immediate history should make you consider.
Maine Department of Peace Activists visit Capitol Hill
by Tedd Nunn, Change.org
(Guest blog from Lynn Ellis, Maine DOP Campaign.)
On Monday, March 23 eight of us from Maine (including 4 students from University of Maine Farmington) visited our members of Congress on Capital Hill, joining others from across the country as part of the 2009 national conference for a Department of Peace. Sponsored by The Peace Alliance, 500 of us (40 states, 10 countries and 150 youth from middle, high schools and colleges of the Student Peace Alliance) joined together for the weekend of March 20-23 to hear from renowned speakers such as Challenge Day founders Yvonne & Rich Dutra-St.John, Riane Eisler, Ocean Robbins, Rita Marie Johnson of Costa Rica and many others. We heard from panelists working “on the frontlines of violence treatment and prevention” and were inspired by the courage and tenacity of these dedicated citizens.
One of the goals of the conference was to educate on the benefits and cost savings of prevention in domestic and global violence. We were also there to lobby for H.R. 808, legislation to create a cabinet level Department of Peace. Founder of the bill, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, joined us at the finale of the conference along with Congressman John Conyers and Congresswomen Eddie Bernice Johnson and Lynn Woolsey. Since the re-introduction of H.R. 808 on February 3rd, 66 co-sponsors have signed on, including Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. The photo above shows us meeting with her in the D.C. office where we offered our deep appreciation for her support of H.R. 808. When we asked Rep. Pingree why she signed on, she replied,
“I joined on as a co-sponsor for the Department of Peace legislation to understand and counter the idea that we only have armed services—the Pentagon – and to find out where these two [can] meet.”
We met with Senator Collins’ and Snowe’s staff and Congressman Michaud. We had a warm reception with the Senator’s offices and there was genuine interest in our campaign. Although no promises for sponsorship in the senate, dialogue is ongoing with Senator Snowe’s office. Congressman Michaud was less receptive, telling us the bill “wasn’t going anywhere” and asked us how it was different from current legislation to deal with violence issues. We explained the need for a specific department in our government as the crisis of violence continues to escalate. We stated that whatever is in place now is not working. We shared statistics including the fact that 16 youth between the ages of 10-24 are killed daily due to gang violence and that the cost of violence domestically exceeds $300 billion.
Research in the U.S. has shown that programs that teach conflict resolution and social skills can prevent youth violence. Such proven programs can be adapted to communities in the U.S. and abroad to reduce violence worldwide (Source: Institute of Medicine, Violence Prevention in low- and middle-income countries 2008).
We’ll be starting a lobbying campaign here in Maine’s District 2 asking Congressman Michaud to reconsider. Our goal is 500 calls between April 8-May 8. If you would like to be involved in that effort, see the contact information below.
The Department of Peace bill asks for $10 billion, with 85% being used to fund programs in the U.S. that work specifically on domestic violence prevention. Co-founder and Chair Emeritus of The Peace Alliance, Marianne Williamson says, “A Department of Peace would honor the entirety of a human – our emotional, psychological and spiritual issues as well as merely our material ones. And in doing so, it would address more deeply the entirety of our problems.” This campaign is more than just the passage of a bill – it is a movement toward creating a culture of peace.
For more information on the Maine Campaign for a Department of Peace, contact Lynn Ellis, State Coordinator at [email protected] and visit our websites at http://www.mainedop.org/ and http://www.thepeacealliance.org/
Letter to The United States House of Representatives
by Leslie A. “Cap” Dean, U.S. Senior Foreign Service, Minister-Counselor (retired), Scottsdale, AZMarch 19, 2009
The Honorable — —
United States House of Representatives
— — House Office Building
District of Columbia 20515
Dear Representative —:
Just a brief letter, if I may, to urge you to support legislation to establish a US cabinet-level Department of Peace and Non-Violence. Your support of legislation to help make this concept a reality will be extremely important.
As one who served in the US Air Force as an officer and then the US Foreign Service and Senior Foreign Service for a total of 32 years, I’m personally a very strong backer of a Department of Peace. I want to stress the fact that I’m not anti-military. The US Military plays an essential and critical role in our foreign policy, and must sometimes be the tool that the US Government utilizes. However, a Department of Peace could be instrumental in helping to assure that peaceful options are “on the table” for consideration when security and emergency situations arise overseas. Such non-violent options, of course, won’t always be possible – unfortunately, military options are sometimes the only courses of action that are workable. However, it’s critical that peaceful, non-violent options are always given consideration.
I’ve occasionally heard counter-arguments that a Department of Peace would be duplicative and expensive. Undoubtedly, there might be some duplication, but careful planning can help to minimize or eliminate many of the duplicative functions. In terms of the expense, I would argue that at a time when our Department of Defense expenditures are pushing $500 billion annually, that the comparative costs of setting up and running a Department of Peace and Non-Violence would be relatively miniscule. In fact, in the long run a Department of Peace would very possibly save billions of dollars – one overseas conflict mitigated or prevented could pay the costs of a Department of Peace for a decade. I would argue that when all aspects of a Department of Peace are considered and given the nature of the world today, impacted by globalization, competition for resources, terrorism, well-armed national military forces, the growing spread of nuclear capabilities, and many other factors, that we can’t afford to be without a Department of Peace.
I’ve served in many hostile environments during my time with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of State, the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) and the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH), a Phoenix-based NGO focusing on development in sub-Saharan Africa. I’ve spent 22 years living overseas and 12 additional years working from Washington, DC and Phoenix on development and post-conflict issues. I’ve lived and worked in places such as Laos, the eastern Congo, the Niger Delta in Nigeria, Liberia and South Africa. I served in Iraq in 2004 as the Regional Coordinator for Baghdad and the de facto Mayor of Baghdad, working for the Coalition Provisional Authority and Ambassador Bremer, and served in Iraq again in 2007 as the Deputy Coordinator for Economic Transition in Iraq and Senior Advisor on Capacity Development. Thus, I know first hand about conflict, mitigation of violence, the roles of the military and civilian organizations, and understand the huge possibilities of a U.S. cabinet-level Department of Peace. It is from that vantage point that I strongly urge your support to push for adoption of legislation necessary to make a Department of Peace and Non-Violence a reality.
Thank you in advance for your critical support of the US Department of Peace.
Leslie A. “Cap” Dean
U.S. Senior Foreign Service, Minister-Counselor (retired)
On behalf of the AZ Dept. of Peace Campaign
Terri Donovan Mansfield
Executive Director & Co-founder, AZ Dept. of Peace Campaign
*World Peace Begins in Our Hearts*
Report from Capitol Hill – Department of Peace Lobbyists from Maryland
by Ted Nunn, Change.org
On Monday, March 23, a band of intrepid citizen lobbyists from Maryland joined arms with activists from around the country and visited our elected officials to campaign for support of H.R. 808 – The Department of Peace act. We had meetings with 5 of our 8 Representatives and with Senator Ben Cardin.
The first meeting – led by newcomer activist Lisa Cosgrove (Silver Spring) – was at 9 a.m. with Ken Cummings, Legislative Aide for Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland District #8. (The Maryland DOP team had also met with Mr. Cummings two years ago to discuss the legislation for the 110th Congress.) Mr. Cummings listened politely but reiterated some of the standard objections to the legislation, including the cost of setting up a new bureacracy and the impression that existing government agencies are already supporting the many of the things outlined in H.R. 808. The logical response is to point out that whatever exists now isn’t working. So, we will need to work with Mr. Van Hollen’s office to educate them on how things need to be done differently in order to reduce violence in society. If Rep. Van Hollen isn’t going to cosponsor H.R. 808, what legislation will he put forward to help reduce violence?
The second meeting – led by State Coordinator Ted Nunn (Columbia) – was at 10 am with Racquel Gallman, Legislative Aide for Rep. Elijah Cummings (no relation), MD district #7. Ms. Gallman is on a one-year fellowship from the DOD, on loan to Congressman Cumming’s office in order to learn more about the Legislative branch. Rep. Cummings is already a cosponsor of H.R. 808, so our conversation with Ms. Gallman revolved more around understanding what the Congressman finds appealing about the bill (he supports any effort to empower peole to move in a positive direction, including violence reduction) and about how to market the bill to future cosponsors. She pointed out the need to make the vast array of violence statistics meaningful to the specific district – advice which helped in subsequent meetings.
The third meeting of the morning – led by District Team Leader Joyce Lang (Cheverly) – was at 11 am with Nate Tipton, Legislative Aide for Rep. Donna Edwards, newly representing MD district #4. (Rep. Edwards replaced Albert Wynn, who was a cosponsor of H.R. 808 in the 110th Congress.) The large group of visitors overwhelmed the freshman Congresswoman’s small office, so we had to meet in “the halls of Congress” (literally!). Mr. Tipton listened to the information offered on the sources of violence and about the proven programs that can be put in place to reduce violence. Then he commented on how impressed the Congresswoman is with the groundswell of support for H.R. 808 from the district, pointing out that this was the fourth meeting he had taken on this topic. He pointed out that domestic violence is an important issue for Rep. Edwards, and that she believes security can be increased through peace. He indicated that Rep. Edwards is likely to come on as a co-sponsor, and that it is mostly a matter of processing the paperwork. The District 4 team will be following up in the coming months to make sure nothing gets in the way of making this happen.
The fourth meeting – led by District Team Leader Susan Owen (Annapolis) – was at 12 noon with Roy Chrobocinski, Legislative Aide for Rep. John Sarbanes from MD district #3. The DOP team laid out “a strong case” in support of H.R. 808 and Mr. Chrobocinski indicated that he would discuss the legislation with Rep. Sarbanes. Mr. Chrobocinski commented that he had seen first-hand from his own high school experience in New Jersey how teaching conflict resolution skills can help reduce violence in schools. He also pointed out that Rep. Sarbanes is a supporter of the Public Service Academy idea, which may also imply support for the National Peace Academy, a component of H.R. 808. The district team will follow up with Mr. Sarbanes’ office after April 3rd, when the appropriations cycle is complete.
The fifth meeting of the day – led by activist Marsha Lehman (Union Bridge) – was at 1 pm with Annie Baker, Legislative Aide for Rep. Roscoe Bartlett from MD district #8. (Rep. Bartlett is the lone Republican in the Maryland Congressional delegation.) The DOP team focused on the economics of nonviolence, and used the story of WA state corrections success with reducing violence in prisons to demonstrate how H.R. 808 could benefit the citizens of district 6. The team also pointed out that Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (formerly from MD district #1, and a fellow Republican) supported H.R. 808 in the 110th Congress. Ms. Baker mentioned that Rep. Bartlett is looking into the Public Service Academy, and that she would discuss H.R. 808 with him.
The final meeting of the day – led by Joan Breitmann (Rockville) – was at 4:30 with Anh Nguyen, Legislative Aide (Foreign Relatiosn) for Senator Ben Cardin. Ms. Nguyen pointed out that Sen. Cardin is a strong supporter of peace and is involved with legislation to stop mass atrocities, such as the Darfur genocide. She shared her own background as a high school student in lower Montgomery county and some of the violence she experienced there. She also mentioned courses she took at UMCP in conflict resolution, so she understands the science behind H.R. 808. Ms. Nguyen pointed out that a new, separate department would be difficult to gain support for, but that the “special envoy” (“Peace Czar”?) approach might be more acceptable in the near term. She will meet with the Judiciary Aide in Senator Cardin’s office to see what the best approach might be for moving these ideas forward.
Overall, it was an incredible lobbying experience for new and seasoned citizen activists alike. Special thanks to the leaders mentioned above who helped organize the meetings and to Bob Cooke, David Cockrell, Ronnie Fellerath-Lowell, and Liz-from-Baltimore.
If you haven’t already done so, please send your Representative a note asking them to support H.R. 808 and the Department of Peace idea. Whether from Maryland or elsewhere, chances are there was a DOP team from your district on the Hill last Monday, and your Reps. need to know you support the idea, too!
Support the DEPARTMENT OF PEACE legislation, now introduced in US House of Representatives
by Ted Nunn, Change.org, 16 Feb 2009
HR 808 – legislation to establish a U.S. Department of Peace – was reintroduced into the U.S. House of Representatives on February 3, 2009, by Congressman Dennis Kucinich (OH-10) with 62 Congressional cosponsors. Two additional cosponsors signed on after introduction, bringing the total number of supporters to 65.
This bill has some small but exciting changes from the previous version. For example, it calls for $10 billion dollars to fund the Department, with 85 percent of funds designated to reduce and prevent violence here in the United States.
Now is one of our strongest opportunities to raise awareness and gain support for the bill.
Please contact your Member of Congress today.
If your Representative is already a cosponsor, please thank him or her and encourage them to contact other members of Congress and enroll their support. If your Representative is not yet a cosponsor, please encourage him or her to sign on to this vital piece of legislation.
A list of current cosponsors is available on The Peace Alliance website.
Lastly, please make plans now to attend the 2009 Department of Peace Conference in D.C. on March 20-23.
You will learn all you need to know about HR 808 and grassroots lobbying.
On March 23, we will all be visiting our Representatives and Senators on Capital Hill and encouraging them to champion the Department of Peace legislation. I hope to see you there!
Imagine all the people living life in peace
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
If you can imagine a world of peace
If you can imagine the possibility
Then it can be true.
Establish a Department of Peace
by Kathy Kidd, Department of Peace Blog at Change.org, 4 Feb 2009
Being in partnership with Change.org and experiencing the depth of their passion for providing a voice for everyone, will go down in the history of our grassroots movement as one of our highlights. Gratitude to everyone at Change.org for the forum they have provided for all of us and for the many connections this forum has allowed and will continue to provide. Gratitude not only for the platform this provides for the movement for a cabinet-level Department of Peace, but also for the many other issues that are finding their voice and their supporters. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed.
What do we mean when we speak about a Department of Peace and what is the Peace Alliance and the Student Peace Alliance? The Peace Alliance and Student Peace Alliance are a nonpartisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to empower civic activism for a culture of peace. We currently are fulfilling our mission by supporting the legislation (HR 808) for a cabinet-level Department of Peace. We are very excited to be having our National Conference in Washington D.C. March 20-23, 2009 during this new session of Congress. If you were one of the people who voted for the Department of Peace, your voice is needed now! Come to Washington D.C. for our National Conference. We want 1000 people on Capitol Hill on Monday March 23 to walk the halls of Congress and have our voices heard. Find out more at www.thepeacealliance.org orwww.studentpeacealliance.org
A little more about the bill—HR 808, legislation for a cabinet-level Department of Peace will augment our current problem-solving options, providing practical, nonviolent solutions to the problems of domestic and international conflict. From the growing rate of domestic incarceration, school bullying, gang violence, domestic violence and interpersonal violence to increasing problems of international conflicts—the epidemic of violence is one of the more serious problems in the United States. Consider just a few sobering statistics:
- A World Heath Organization report estimated the cost of interpersonal violence in the U.S. at $300 billion per year—excluding war-related costs. The cost to victims was estimated at more than $500 billion per year.1
- U.S. youth homicide rates are more than 10 times that of other leading industrial nations.2
- Direct expenditures for corrections (e.g., prison) by local, state and federal governments between 1982 and 2004 increased 585 percent to $62 billion per year.3
- In 2006, worldwide terrorist incidents increased 25 percent to 14,000, and resulting deaths increased 40 percent to 20,000 persons.4
While significant efforts are being made at all levels of society to address these issues, nowhere in the highest echelons of our government is there a platform from which to launch a focused, strategic approach to reducing and preventing violence. We place little institutional heft behind efforts to address the root causes of violence, and instead react to its symptoms, placing more demands on our already over-burdened police and military.
Countless peacebuilders and peacebuilding programs exist throughout the United States and the world. Those skilled in reducing and preventing violence—from conflict resolution experts to nonviolent communicators—have proven their effectiveness at treating and preventing the root causes of violence. Yet they remain under-funded and under-utilized.
From child abuse to genocide, from the murder of one to the slaughter of thousands, it is increasingly senseless for our country to merely wait until violence has erupted before addressing the deeper well from which it springs. The time has come for a fresh approach—a national peacebuilding strategy coordinated, promoted and directed through a Department of Peace.
Domestically, the Department of Peace will develop policies and allocate resources to effectively reduce the levels of domestic, school and gang violence, child abuse, and various other forms of societal discord. Internationally, the Department will advise the President and Congress on the most sophisticated ideas and techniques regarding peace-creation and conflict resolution among nations.
The problem of violence is a many layered one, and its solution will be, as well. While no one action–governmental or otherwise–will provide a single solution to such an entrenched and deeply rooted problem, we must treat the problem itself as an all-systems breakdown requiring an all-systems response.
The legislation will pass from bill to law under one condition: that a wave of citizen interest rise up from the American people and make itself heard in the halls of Congress. The Peace Alliance and Student Peace Alliance work together to educate and inspire thousands throughout the country with the knowledge, skill and enthusiasm to become powerful citizen activists in support of this effort. The Department of Peace campaign has citizen organizers working in over 240 Congressional Districts and supporters in all 50 states. Please visit our website to learn more and to find out how you can help at www.thepeacealliance.org or www.studentpeacealliance.org.
Appoint Secretary of Peace in Department of Peace and Non-Violence
Our planet, our media, our social interactions, our homes all suffer from the epidemic of inter-personal violence and warfare that plagues America. With the establishment of a Department of Peace and Non-Violence, with a respected Secretary of Peace in the President’s Cabinet, and a program to reduce violence in cities, nations, and even in our homes, we will all benefit from the growth of a culture of peace.
While this is a new layer of the Federal Government, it is a positive force for change, for handling the rage and violence that has cost our country billions in emergency rooms, police protection, broken homes and marriages. This is not an attempt to circumvent or replace the Department of Defense nor to co-opt the Department of State. This is a new entity, in the President’s Cabinet, a Department dedicated to training peace-keepers, educating our children, and suggesting non-violent alternatives to hostility, and war.
We are asking for a motive and a method to counteract violence, with positive potentials for resolution of conflict, by individuals trained to work with local, state and national approaches, building a United States that no longer glorifies warfare and deadly force, but brings to the table a sincere desire for peace, and a methodology to achieve it.
– Stephen Zendt (I am a Senior Citizen, work in Financial Services), Walnut Creek, CA
One of the Top 10 Ideas for Change in America.
This idea qualified for the 2nd round of voting and received 14,994 votes during that period.
H.R. 808: Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act
110th Congress: 2007-2008
Take The Vow
The Peace Alliance is a nonpartisan citizen action organization representing a growing constituency for peace. A 501(c)4 organization established in March 2004, our mission is to empower civic activism for a culture of peace. Our vision is a future in which the practical programs and principles of peace building are the bedrock of our personal, national and global interest and investment. Our goal is to take the field of peace building from the margins of the political and societal dialogue and bring it to its rightful place: Central to our policy making, investment and understanding. We achieve this primarily through a massive public education, outreach and citizen lobbying effort. Our current focus is the campaign for a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peace.
Peace is not a utopian ideal; it is an issue critical to our national and human security. Either we continue reactively addressing ever-increasing levels of violence and the consequent human and economic costs, or we take a fresh approach. This isn’t about the politics of left or right; it is about what is practical and effective. We must create the possibility for applied peace building to identify and resolve conflict before it erupts into violence. The science of peace building has significantly expanded over the past 30 years, creating previously unavailable tools for dismantling violence. Yet nowhere in the highest echelons of our government is there a platform from which to launch a focused, strategic approach to reducing and preventing violence.