Washington, DC has long been regarded as a place where people gather to talk about matters pertaining to peace. In government assemblies as well as in countless embassies, think tanks, classrooms, and policy forums, conversations about peace and its requirements proceed on a daily basis. Typically, however, these conversations seek to engage distant rather than proximate events and dynamics, leaving unaddressed a vital and pressing question: What is being done to advance the peace of our own community – peace on our city streets and in the manifold neighbourhoods of our diverse metropolitan area?
This website has been designed to address the question of local peace in the Washington, DC region, by highlighting a wide range of vibrant but seldom celebrated activities, and by creating a platform for dialogue about ways in which peace practices and ideas can become more effectively localized, in Washington and beyond. It emerges from a collaborative project among students and professors associated with American University’s International Peace and Conflict Resolution program, and seeks to advance localizing peace as a dynamic paradigm for bridging gaps between generic theories and practices of peacemaking and the specific realities and resources of communities such as our own.
Localizing peace means making peace a real, living, and holistic reality in particular geographic places and cultural spaces. To localize peace, we cease to think of peace merely as a diplomatic and political construct, or as a simple absence of armed conflict, and begin to imagine peace in all its historical and experiential resonances within the lives of people and communities. We encounter peace in its actual, street-level meaning for people bound together in shared daily conversations and community ties. We tap also into the peace stories and meanings that have been produced across generations, inspired by multiple wisdom traditions as well as by historic struggles for social justice. We take inventory of multifarious efforts by individuals, NGOs, and community associations to contribute to public safety, collective well-being, equity, and sustainable, and seek to appreciate and enhance the “local exceptionalisms” that enhance our own distinctive approaches to building a community of peace. While celebrating the local and grounding peace in our shared and overlapping aspirations, we simultaneously reflect on the place of our distinctive experiences within a larger global “mosaic of peaces” – a mosaic which provides context for our immediate efforts, and which we hope to enhance and beautify through the quality of our own unique contributions.
The localizing peace website seeks to advance this vision by raising awareness of diverse peace activities and initiatives in the Washington, DC region, and by providing a platform for new conversations and activities. We believe strongly in the need to underscore the value of our local peace initiatives, and in the importance of acknowledging the remarkable range of constructive community actions that contribute to peace when we define this term holistically. We are also convinced that there is much unrealized potential for fruitful conversation and collaboration among our region’s peace workers and organizations, and that there is a need to bridge gaps between university and community in ways that advance education and community service.