Although the United Nations’ International Day of Peace has a worldwide goal in mind, Peace Day Philly is bringing the efforts to a local level on Sept. 21.
In hopes of moving toward a “culture of peace,” the U.N. adopted a day of ceasefire and non-violence in November 1981. Then, because of its growing popularity, a second resolution was made by the Peace One Day founder, Jeremy Gilder, to establish Sept. 21 as a specific day to celebrate peace annually.
This International Day of Peace — or Peace Day — is observed worldwide in a myriad of countries, states and now Philadelphia. Peace Day Philly is remarkable in itself not only because of its volunteer initiative in Philadelphia neighborhoods, but also because of its involvement with college students, organizations, musicians and even Mayor Michael Nutter.
“An individual can really make a difference,” Peace Day Philly coordinator Lisa Parker said. “People need to be active in all levels — personal, local and global.”
This idea of activism relates to the U.N.’s theme of a “sustainable people, and a sustainable future” for Peace Day this year. At Love Park on Sept. 21, people of diverse backgrounds will gather to uplift this motto.
More than four dozen Philadelphia sponsors will help usher in Peace Day Philly for its second year at Love Park.
Being sustainable conveys that people should always keep accordance with one another no matter what, nonetheless, sustaining harmony.
According to the U.N., world peace is a goal that can eventually be attainable.
“People talk themselves out of the process of world peace because they feel like it is something too big to accomplish,” Parker said. “We need to focus on the small ‘P’ first in order to work toward the big ‘P.’”
The big “P” that Parker refers to is the U.N.’s dream of global peace. Moreover, she said that everyone needs to cooperate at the personal and local level before they progress toward it on a worldwide scale.
Peace Day Philly supports this idea because of its involvement with the local community. According to Parker, about 50 or more organizations are sponsoring Philly Peace Day for free. A notable one is Drexel University’s Office of International Programs, which did a cupcake war for peace to show the impact of violence in society last year.
“This is the second year that Drexel has been doing Peace Day Philly,” Kate Pagano, an employee in Drexel’s Office of International Programs, said. “We are trying to get as much local publicity for this event, especially among the collegiate communities.”
Like Pagano, Parker believes that the youth are an essential part for Peace Day Philly.
“We’re hoping that next year we’ll have a youth committee,” Parker said. “The youth can mobilize quickly, way more than adults.”
Although Peace Day Philly dreams of this committee, it is still making efforts to connect with young people and college students through social media. Ultimately, this is somewhat responsible for how Peace Day Philly, and its staple image of a large white dove hovering in front of the city, has developed locally.
“Social media is wonderful,” Parker said. “Our Facebook page has over 200 members so far and we just set up a Twitter account. We want everybody to tweet. If we could get four or five really connected people to spread the word to everybody, we could really double our members.”
Parker emphasized the importance of having connections with people that can bring a diverse mixture of events to Peace Day Philly, and ultimately cater to a “mixed audience.”
“We’re really encouraging people to come to the public health event and conversational panel discussions,” Pagano said about an activity that Drexel is running. “We’re really excited about that.”
In addition to the Peace and Public Health Program, there are activities relating to the topics of music, non-violence and sports that will be taking place throughout the day. Like the conversational panels that Pagano discussed, many of the events try to bond people together by sharing their ideas peacefully.
“Because of the amount of people, we are trying to incorporate different forms of peace…for different people,” Parker said. “Music [for example] is such a connector. People who would never get connected with each other in other situations can be jamming a concert together, just listening. Sports, too — you have to be respectful.”
Whether it’s an African immigrant soccer game or the Intercultural Journey’s Peace Day Philly concert, this event has something to offer to anyone who wants to commit to a life of peace and non-violence. Peace Day should not just be one day of peace, “but people should practice it in their everyday lives [too],” Pagano said.
Sienna Vance can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.