Empowering civic activism toward a culture of peace.

This piece originally ran in Alaska's Seward Phoenix newspaper. You can read the original on their website. Congratulations State Coordinator Lori Draper for getting this coverage!

Woman wages campaign for peace
September 17, 2009 at 12:41PM AKST

When Seward banker Lori Draper sat down to surf the Web two years ago, she had no idea that the next Web site she visited would change her life.

That’s what happened, though, when she inadvertently found herself on the Peace Alliance site. The organization, which promotes peace-building through personal, national and global interests, works toward the establishing of a U.S. Department of Peace.

"I read this and thought, 'Who would not want this?'" Draper said.

She grabbed friend Kim Reierson and headed down to Washington, D.C., to the Peace Alliance National Conference.

The experience was so inspiring that she became the state coordinator and district team leader of the only Alaska Peace Alliance branch. She also organized the Seward People for Peace earlier this year. The group, which meets the second Monday of each month, lobbies legislators to pass laws dispelling violence and promoting peace.

Members are currently concentrating on two bills: HR808, which would create a U.S. Department of Peace; and HR1064, the Youth Promise Act, which would provide community resources to youth who show violent or bullying tendencies.

“The biggest dream is to get this legislation passed,” Draper said. “Instead of always having to go to war and following the violent strategy, we can find nonviolent strategies that work.”

The Peace Alliance was Draper’s first taste of a political action agenda.

“When you go in to see the legislators and say you’re talking about peace, you can almost see them roll their eyes,” she said. “Once they see you aren’t going away, that you’re going to be there every year, they take you more seriously.”

Draper soon became frustrated at how long it takes to foster political change.

“I say to myself, ‘This may not even happen in my lifetime,’ but I have to keep going,” she said.

She hopes to spread optimism with the showing of the award-winning documentary “Soldiers of Peace” on Monday, which is also International Day of Peace.

“I so often see hopelessness,” she said. “People say, ‘Oh, how can we make a dent in this? The violence is so big and beyond me.’ But by watching this movie they’ll see that small actions can make big differences.”

Cinthia Ritchie can be reached at 907-348-2428 or 800-770-9830, ext. 428.

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