Ashland residents to hold potluck, gather 'peace city' signatures

As they gather signatures for the city to join the list of International Cities for Peace, Ashlanders on Saturday evening will celebrate the annual International Day of Peace with a community potluck dinner.

The event starts at 6 p.m. at United Methodist Church at Laurel and North Main. It's free and open to the public, with an invitation to bring a covered dish for potluck.

The Ashland Peace Choir will sing, and there will be dancing and speeches delivering the message that conflicts should not be solved by war.

"The goal is that this century be far less bloody than the 20th century," said Herb Rothschild, president of Ashland Peace House. "It is possible because people of the world are getting closer together, thanks to social media online. We understand what's happening any place in the world.

"The closer we are, the less we demonize and hurt each other. We value each other as sisters and brothers. It's a most extraordinary force, and it's happening at the international and personal level, and it's maybe more important than what's happening politically."

Kathleen Gamer of the Southern Oregon University United Nations Club said with so many voices calling for more war in the Middle East, events such as Day of Peace are the best thing that can happen now.

"If Ashland becomes a City of Peace, it commits to follow the doctrine of the U.N., to have peace and understanding as our political culture and to negotiate instead of going to war immediately."

David Wick, director of Pathways to Peace, said the objective of the feast is for people to be aware of what peace means in our daily lives and culture.

"It's about moving beyond our current culture of war and violence, and to take that step locally," he said, "knowing that if many people are doing it, it can change the world."

At the Ashland Plaza, the public also is invited to attend one minute of silence at noon, a tradition observed around the world on Sept. 21.

The event was created by the U.N. 32 years ago. Ashland has observed it for years and is asking the City Council to pass a resolution declaring the city is an International City of Peace.

After that step, a group of individuals would form to "foster a culture of peace" by working on specific projects and reporting their progress, according to www.internationalcitiesofpeace.org.

The International Cities of Peace is a nonprofit organization that works with individuals, cities and other groups to encourage peace and to provide information on peace-related issues.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.


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