by Sue Ann Rybak
Lisa Parker, formerly of Mt. Airy, a co-founder of Peace Day Philly, hopes that the local initiative for the International Day of Peace, observed worldwide on Sept. 21, will inspire people to take action for peace.
“Peace Day is an opportunity to come together as a human family, to share compassion and our voices, and to increase our consciousness as well as our efforts around peace at personal, local and more global levels,” said Parker, who grew up in Germantown and now lives in Strafford.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Peace and this year’s theme, “Right of Peoples to Peace,” reaffirms the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
“Too often people think ‘Oh, we’ll never have world peace,’ so the idea of taking action for peace is dismissed, but when you talk about teaching people peace building skills and more positive approaches, you are talking about incremental incidents of peace,” said Parker, who learned about Peace Day in 2009 when a documentary about the day entitled “Peace One Day” aired on the BBC.
In 2011, Parker met with the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia, the Alliance for a Sustainable Future and other local organizations to create the Peace Day Philly initiative.
She said while many adults talk a lot about the need for peace, few people know how to help create a culture of peace.
Parker quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, who said,“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”
“On the local and interpersonal level, we all need to learn practices for peace building, such as conflict-resolution, mediation, personal peace techniques like mindfulness,” she said.
This year more than 30 Peace Day Philly events will take place in venues across the city from Sept. 15 to 21. Several events are happening in Northwest Philadelphia over the weekend.
From Sept. 17 to 19, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Good Shepherd Mediation Program, 5356 Chew Ave. in Germantown, will offer free 30-minute mediation sessions (or conflict coaching sessions if needed).
On Friday, Sept. 19, officers from the 5th Police District will host child fingerprinting, bike-safety training and a gun lock giveaways from 3 to 5 p.m. at Gorgas Park, 6500 Ridge Ave. in Roxborough.
On Saturday, Sept. 20, Culture Connection: Exploring Arab Heritage will be held at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, 100 Northwestern Ave., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Come and enjoy music and hands-on activities in traditional Arabic art. Tours highlighting the trees in the Arboretum’s collection that originate from Arab countries will be offered throughout the day. Sponsored by Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture and the Morris Arboretum. Half price coupons are available.
On Sunday, Sept. 21, the Second Annual Peace Day Concert presented by the Philadelphia Sinfonia and Keystone State Boychoir will be held from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, 35 West Chelten Ave. The concert will include selections by each group of fine young musicians as well as collaborative sessions. Free will offering suggested.
The main event for Peace Day Philly will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Independence Mall at the People’s Plaza, between 5th and 6th streets on Market Street. Activities include a free yoga session, peace mediation, reflections on peace and healing, a collaborative peace art activity, a Minute of Silence for Peace, declarations on the Right to Peace and a Participatory Drum Circle facilitated by the Philadelphia Area Community Drums for Change.
“Whether or not people can participate in the Independence Mall program, they can still connect with us and the world community by observing a minute of silence at noon wherever they are,” Parker said. “This is a worldwide activity in all time zones supported by many NGOs worldwide as well as the UN Secretary-General.”
She also encouraged people to unite by offering a simple #actforpeace on Sunday.
“Hopefully it will remind everyone that small acts of kindness matter and that we can be peace builders in our lives everyday,” Parker said.
For more information go to: www.peacedayphilly.org/what-can-you-do.