Envisioning Peace in Philadelphia

I enjoyed the great pleasure of spending last Saturday at the Moore College of Art and Design, engaged in day-long exercises intended to implement development of the emerging Envision Peace Museum in Philadelphia.

According to the mission statement: Envision Peace Museum fosters insight into the meanings and roots of peace while empowering people to overcome violence and injustice, in their lives and in the world.

In a mind-mapping session, seen above and at left, we brainstormed in an attempt to consider every facet of responsibility and opportunity where the institution should strive to participate.

I was thrilled to see both the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, two key institutions at the foundation of the Gun Crisis Reporting Project, emerge on the list of critical and relevant institutions before I had the chance to add them myself.

The meeting opened with comments from Executive Director Michael Gagne and his first takeaway was the importance of the museum’s relevance to Philadelphia, concentrating on local issues including peace education and violence reduction. Others foci included the need for measurable impact, the importance of partnerships and a phased development plan.

Philadelphia Deputy Mayor and lunch keynoter Alan Greenberger discussed our city of row homes as a place where people value community over privacy. Philadelphia poet laureate Sonia Sanches and Mural Arts Founder Jane Golden also participated, among dozens of local leaders from across disciplines.

Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with Michael Gagne and Communications Director Stephen Dotson, opening a discussion of possible GunCrisis collaborations as both institutions develop, and then leading me to this remarkable opportunity.

Gagne says that the museum will define peace not simply as the absence of direct conflict but also with attention to structural, cultural and ecological violence. On the purpose of housing a peace museum, he reminded us that social change never comes without participation.

– Jim MacMillan, for the #GunCrisis: Philadelphia Reporting Project

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