Among us there are Kendal residents; Oberlin citizens; Oberlin College faculty and students; and religious and secular organizations that passionately “think globally and work locally for peace and justice for all people” year after year. They are members of Community Peace Builders (CPB), who do not simply acknowledge the injustices that take place in the world, but strive to leave a better legacy through their involvement.
It seems a fitting time to recognize this organization and share some of the good works done to bring about change.
For many years, a group of people concerned about peace and justice met at Oberlin’s Peace Community Church , under the guidance of the Reverends Mary and Steve Hammond. These occasions were known as the Peace Potlucks, since interested people gathered for a potluck dinner and then afterwards shared information about peace and justice issues, and how these issues could be addressed.
Kendal residents, Nancy and Don Hultquist have long been involved in peace and justice issues going back to the Vietnam era, as war protesters at the University of Michigan. Before moving to Kendal, they were centrally involved with an organization in Ann Arbor that organized events promoting peace and justice. A conversation among the Hultquists, the Hammonds and Reverend David Hill of First Church was the precursor to establishing Community Peace Builders.
At the January 2004 Peace Potluck meeting , individuals from the greater community, Peace Community Church, First Church, Christ Episcopal Church and Oberlin Friends Meeting agreed that peace and justice groups in local organizations could communicate, coordinate and cooperate best with the formation of Community Peace Builders. Either alone or in cooperation with other organizations, CPB has initiated, organized, promoted and/or found financing for a wide range of events that support peace and justice issues. Don Hultquist served as Program Coordinator of the organization for the first five years. Kendal resident, Al Carroll, is the current coordinator.
Articles, that appear monthly in the OberlinNews Tribune’s Views from Oberlin column, are meant to educate and provoke thought. These articles often, but not exclusively, written by Kendal residents include topics such as nuclear weapons, diplomacy rather than war, government transparency, safe and sustainable energy and hunger.
Two examples of the impact of the Community Peace Builders work follow:
- In 2006, Don Hultquist initiated a project involving Oberlin College students, which became a research program for Congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur. Kendal resident, Robert Taylor oversaw the project for two years. The request for substantiated research came from the congresswoman after CPB expressed grave concern over the practice of the U.S. Military and its collaborators of inflicting torture on prisoners. The students were charged with finding hard-to-collect non-classified information on the U.S. Military to substantiate the abuse. The findings titled “Preventing Torture: The Oberlin Initiative” were presented to Congresswoman Kaptur, at which time she was impressed enough to ask the group to continue working with her. This important work has been instrumental in involved students in the governance of our country.
- During the same year, Kendal resident, Al Carroll initiated a Peace and Conflict Concentration at Oberlin College. This began at Peace Community Church, where Al Carroll and an Oberlin College student shared their interest in peace education. Together they developed a course titled, “We’d Rather Teach Peace.” The seed for a Peace and Conflict Studies program was planted. The program was introduced at Oberlin’s Langston Middle School, where Al, Don and several other Kendal and community residents taught the classes in nonviolence solutions to conflict. However, it became difficult to continue as a result of all the mandated testing. The focus was then moved to Oberlin College. “We’d Rather Teach Peace” was introduced as an EXCO course, which is one offered to students and the greater community during the January term. The creation of the Peace and Conflict Concentration program, as part of the academic program at Oberlin College, included years of the dedicated involvement of students, community members and faculty. At the suggestion of Al Carroll, the Oberlin College class of ’58 endowed a fund of nearly $60,000 for Peace and Conflict Studies. The fund provides grants for student travel and projects, speakers and course development.
Community Peace Builders and The Peace and Conflict Concentration continue to work for peace and justice, with the hope for a better world for generations to come.