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Champions for peace

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Chase Iron Eyes, a Standing Rock Water Protector and “passionate advocate for indigenous rights and spiritual dignity,” is the recipient of year’s national Peacemaker award, Peace House of Ashland has announced.

He and four local Peacemaker awardees will be honored at Peace House’s annual dinner Friday, Nov. 2, in Ashland.

Iron Eyes will be recognized for resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline across Lakota lands with nonviolent resistance in the face of a “brutal challenge” from fossil fuel interests and in violation of an 1896 treaty, a Peace House statement said.

Iron Eyes was raised on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, got his degree in political science and Native American studies at University of North Dakota, and a law degree from University of Denver. He founded the media source Last Real Indians as a “spiritual brain trust” for the evolution of Original National thought, said Peace House.

Shaun Franks is being recognized for his talent and energy in bringing people together around new sustainability visions — including solar arrays atop the Southern Oregon University student union, creation of The Farm at SOU, co-founding of Rogue Climate, and now, after graduating in business and environmental studies, intake marketing at True South Solar and membership on the SOU Board of Trustees.

He and his wife, Erica, have two sons, Carter and Micah, both in elementary school. Franks served on the board of Peace House while in college, writing a grant to help fund Uncle Foods Diner for Tuesday meals for the homeless.

While serving in student government, he discovered SOU was sending $150,000 a year in renewable energy certificates to other places, so he led a student referendum that kept the money on campus as the SOU Green Fund.

The money put solar arrays atop the student union and new dorms and was used for creation of the five-acre The Farm, raising produce for student meals and serving as a teaching tool. The Farm also got an apiary, small vineyard, bee sculpture and cob house — and has diverted over $500,000 to green projects, he said.

“I’m a champion of sustainability and, if it were up to me, it would all be spent on solar,” he said. “It’s not that I’m super-smart, it’s that I’m willing to collaborate with lots of amazing folks here and help give them tools and opportunities I helped open the door for a lot of students and professors who said, ‘That’s a good idea, but find me the money.’”

Hideko Tamura Snider of Medford, a survivor of the 1945 nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, will be honored as a Peacemaker for her teaching, the writing of her book, “One Sunny Day: a Child’s Memories of Hiroshima” and her leading of the Rogue Valley Peace Choir to Hiroshima for a performance and peace activities on the 60th anniversary of the attack.

Snider, a retired psychotherapist, has for 40 years spoken to professional organizations, university classes and community groups across the country and in Japan, telling her story and encouraging people of all cultures to “examine the consequences of nuclear weapons and work toward peace and nuclear nonproliferation as a living witness to the challenges of peace, to the terrifying consequences of the alternative, and to lessons we have learned from Hiroshima since the war,” said a Peace House statement.

Snider, in an interview, said that in her studies to be a psychotherapist, she learned that any traumatic event can be “an unprecedented opportunity for learning. It was a tremendous insight for me, that when the impossible faces us, you can inspire yourself to live a quality life that day. The past is set in stone and everything may seem chaotic, but the future is opportunity.”

Hannah Sohl and her Rogue Climate also will be honored as Peacemakers. The Peace House website notes, “Overcoming her own depression about the impending implications of climate change, Hannah Sohl is an example of leadership and ingenuity and someone who has found a way to creatively work for climate change. She has built a strong team of activists, changing the way school-age children and youth perceive the issues surrounding climate change today.”

The fourth Peacemaker is the late Joanna Niemann, an artist who was immersed in teaching and practicing nonviolent communication, Peace House said. She graduated with a degree in sociology and an emphasis in field biology from Colorado College in 2011. After graduation, she was awarded a Thomas J. Watson fellowship to study grassroots organizing and the relationships between human communities, rivers and migratory fish around the world, traveling to Bangladesh, Canada and Russia. She was a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School’s “Leadership, Organizing and Action” program and co-founded Rogue Climate in 2013.

The Peace House awards dinner is at the Historic Ashland Armory Friday, Nov. 2, with the opening ceremony at 5 p.m., social hour at 5:30 and dinner and program at 6:30.

Tickets are $75 at peacehouse.net, or call 541-482-9625 or email info@peacehouse.net.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Joanna Niemann
The organizing team at Rogue Climate.{ } (Courtesy photo)