Peace Is a Journey, Not a Destination

On a balmy and breezy Saturday in early September, the fragrance of peace filled the air. The scent of patchouli and music of meditation greeted more than 200 residents as they entered Cooper Park located in the historic Maple Park neighborhood on Chicago’s far South Side. They journeyed to this urban ashram for a “Passport 2 Peace.”

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Through a series of strategic, community engagement conversations, Maple Park residents acknowledged that community safety was their number one quality of life concern. Out of these conversations, a local design team was created composed of residents, the Maple Park Neighborhood Association, Chicago Police 5th District CAPS, the Chicago Park District and area communities of faith, and it was out of this team that a “Passport 2 Peace” was born. Significant collaborative input from the Goldin Institute’s Chicago Peace Fellows and the Chicago Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) Collaborative’s Neighborhood Interns helped shaped the event. The Maple Park Passport 2 Peace Neighborhood Summit is one of 3 such events in different locations on the South Side.

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The concept behind the Passport 2 Peace is that peace is an “inside job” that begins within each of us. The Passport 2 Peace is an inward journey to promote the place of peace that resides in every person and an outward journey to build community. Massage therapy, mediation, yoga and tai chi demonstrations and reflexology stations staffed by certified experts provided the tickets on the journey to inner peace. One participant remarked, “It was amazing to see children doing tai chi.”

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As participants moved from station to station, Peace Ambassadors clad in sky blue t-shirts applied stickers to individuals’ passports and served as hosts for each activity. The children played on the playground and did face painting while the adults explored their inner peace. After sharing a community meal to promote community peace and facilitate relationship building, more than 50 people participated in three Inter-generational Peace Circles led by Nehemiah Trinity Rising, a grassroots consultancy specializing in restorative practices leadership training.

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On the Sunday prior to the Passport 2 Peace, a Peace Makers’ Sabbath Celebration was held at Maple Park United Methodist Church. The event organizers were invited to come and pray for peace. The Peace Makers’ Sabbath encouraged participants to pray, preach and act for peace. Passport 2 Peace was the action step.

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