Passport to Peace Draws Together 200 Neighbors
On Saturday, September 7, the Chicago Peace Fellows gathered in Cooper Park in the West Pullman community on the Far South Side to spread peace. Hosted by Pastor Robert Biekman, this event was the second of the Passport 2 Peace series, one of the Chicago Peace Fellows’ summer projects. Each event in the series is being held in a different community but all include peace building activities such as intergenerational peace circles, yoga, mediation and entertainment. The final event will be held Saturday, September 28.
The Cooper Park event was attended by over 200 community residents who participated in activities such as Tai Chi, reflexology and meditation. Each guest received a “passport” with the task of visiting booths and participating in the activities, which would earn them a stamp. One Peace Fellow, Robin Cline, came very close to visiting each activity, and many at the event went from station to station learning more about what peace feels like.
Fellow Gloria Smith, executive director of the Black Star Project, commented, “I loved every minute of it, including the tai chi exercises and the intergenerational peace circles. I also really enjoyed the camaraderie among the people in attendance.” Gloria was part of the planning team for the event, and worked closely with Robert to put the event together.
Robert noted that several years ago, the Cooper Park playground had been the location of a horrific incident in which two young men were shot. Because of that incident, the park was saddled with a reputation as a violent place and many neighborhood residents refused to utilize it. Robert envisioned hosting Passport 2 Peace in the park, therefore, to challenge that narrative and have people actively think about peace in that park.
“Passport 2 Peace exceeded our expectations!” Pastor Biekman reflected.