Tag Archives: Peace

Peace Treats

A week and a half ago I hosted an event at the Lansing City Market. It was called Peace of Lansing and it coordinated with an international day of peace and ceasefire by Peace One Day’s creator Jeremy Gilley. When I first decided to put this day of celebration into motion I had created a list of objectives; garden surplus, mayor speaking, river boat rides, reading circles, teacher school supply donations, used book fair, police meet & greet, flash mobs and singing. Not all of these objectives were met. However, a couple went over quite well and I would surely consider them successful. One of these was our teacher school supply collection. Not only did we receive huge donations of pencils, pens, paper, glue, markers and hand sanitizer, we also received an amazing basket full of school supplies and goodies from the vendors at the Lansing City Market. Now my job, post peace event, was to figure out a good and fair way of distributing these treasures. I tried calling the Lansing School District to get an email sent out, but never got a call back. My next thought was to use my most fast and accessible means; Facebook. I posted the photo of the basket and asked my 619 friends to send me names of people who they thought would be interested in the basket and who worked at any of the Lansing Schools. I received 13 names. I hope that when we have our Peace of Lansing event in 2013 I will come up with a much better way of raffling off our donations, but for now this was the best I could do. At this point I had been able to combine all the donated school supplies into 6 additional boxes. I had seven boxes/baskets to give away. So I wrote all the names onto individual sheets of paper and put them into a bag. I didn’t want this to end up being me pulling names out of a hat, so I decided to bring in someone from the community; another #lovelansing person. I had a meeting planned in Old Town at 11:30 a.m. so I planned to bring the donations to Old Town and hunt down someone I know who would be willing to draw names out. After my meeting, I quickly scanned the streets for someone I knew; no one. Then I thought, I could walk to Artie’s Filling Station, someone perfect would be there. And I was right! Although there wasn’t anyone there enjoying a specialty coffee, the owner was there. John Miller saw me walking up and opened his window with a smile. Yes, the recently awarded 10 over the Next 10 recipient would be perfect for the job!
I immediately explained what I would need him to do and he was more than eager to assist. Within minutes he had pulled out 7 names, one at a time. I labeled each slip with its winning box number and gave John a small detail about each person. A couple were names I didn’t know; friends of a friend. One was a well deserving community member from Village Summit. Marcus Brown was also my son’s math teacher while he attended Riddle Middle Magnet a few years ago. A few were friends of mine from high school and I was really happy to see their names. Finally the large Lansing City Market basket went to a good friend of mine who recently experienced an emotionally draining death in the family. Despite some thinking the drawing was rigged (her words, not mine) I was entirely happy with the outcome.
I drove to a non-sauntered road and walked my way to Lansing STEM Academy on the south side. In the office I told the secretaries what I was doing and who I needed. The first one I didn’t know; Brett Stallworth, but I was happy to explain why he had won, how he had won and what he had won. He seemed a little confused but over all very appreciative of the gesture. Then it was time for my friend. “They’re still pasting” I was told. “She’ll be here in a minute”. Soon, I saw a single file row of children pass by the window. They silently stood shoulder to shoulder waiting for the next command. The door opened and in walked almost 20 little people. They eagerly listened as Jody explained that I was Miss Ariniko and that I had brought an award for her and all of them.
They ooed and awwwed over the flavored popcorn and pretzels, but even were more excited about the notebooks, cheering with fist pumps into the air. They thanked me and hugged me. They smiled and laughed. They were happy because their teacher was happy. I hugged Jody and was off to make this magic happen all over again at four more locations. What a great day!

*Thank you again to those that donated so that we can make these moments happen. It does make a difference.

Call for Peace

There’s a call that too many get. It’s the call that changes your world forever. My call came in at 11:36pm July 18, 1989. It was my grandma on the other end of the line. I could hear her tear hoarse voice softly speak into my ear; “Walter was killed in a car accident”. My 17 year old brother was dead. Even at 19 I knew my world would never be the same.

Today I stood among a crowd filled with moms, sisters, brothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, grandparents and friends who either received that life changing call or had to make that call. Their call, like mine, told them that someone they loved had been taken from them too early; ripped from their lives forever. Unlike my loss, theirs was from an act of violence committed by another person. Whatever reasoning or lack thereof, that had led to its commencing, this one singular act of violence doesn’t stop there. It ripples out over and through those affected, sometimes in tidal waves and sometimes in slow rhythmic pulses, but always there; forever. Today’s walk was designed to rally people behind the idea of peace. People present spoke of respecting each other. They spoke of education. They spoke about loving each other. They professed that it’s the civil group’s actions that carry the most weight; working with law enforcement and speaking up when something seems amiss. Mostly they spoke of the aching hole left in their hearts. Yet I also witnessed a strength in these people who seemed stronger than humanly possible. I saw two moms each holding the other as if letting go would result in falling over. They appear fragile and one, in fact, when faced with speaking of her daughter’s murder buries her face into her friend’s shoulder. This only strengthens the words flowing out of the other mother’s mouth whose son was murdered as well. She confidently speaks for both families.

I saw John Edmond, the father of Amaia Edmond stand beside the humble man whose body now holds the liver of his deceased daughter; both so thankful that the little girl blessed so many people in her short time on earth.

I heard the new police captain, Daryl Green speak of his loss of a close uncle, a brother really, he tells us, after he was shot in New York. Later I witnessed him wiping away tears while listening to the tragedies experienced by others present. I listened as Council woman Jody Washington, she herself a victim of violence, name the 20 people in her ward that were homicide victims in the last four years.

I heard the angelic, solo voice of a young girl sing The Star Spangled Banner for all those gathered in the parking lot of Resurrection Church.

This crowd of over 100 turned out on a cold Saturday afternoon because they felt strongly that something should be done about the violence in the Lansing community. They represent a wave, that slow and steady wave that will wash over the city with hope and peace.

Keep the Peace, Stop the Violence.