Open discussion forums feature topic of peace


Danna Webster, KP News

A new organization was initiated Aug. 11 by Key Peninsula residents. The group, called Key Peacemakers, is dedicated to dialogue, debate, education and activism, with the focus on the subject of peace.

First meeting of the Key Peacemakers held in August had a good turnout. The steering committee (left to right, Betty McChord, Dory Myers, Martha Konicek) encouraged an open discussion on the topic of peace. Photo by Danna Webster

About 20 community members gathered for the first meeting of Key Peacemakers, conducted by the organization’s steering committee members Martha Konicek, Dory Myers and Betty McChord. Konicek opened the meeting by expressing her personal goal, which is “creating peace personally, environmentally, locally, and globally,” and asked for the audience to share their interests on the subject of peace. There was a common theme expressed with regard to war and the Middle East conflicts. People shared a need to go beyond their own living room to express their opinions and concerns about these matters.

Beyond that common focus, the group was asked about their individual issues and interests. After everyone had shared their interests, backgrounds, experiences and positions, a broad list of global, national and local issues was generated. The list included: the Cuban embargo, the war in Iraq, health care, immigration, electoral college, terrorism, the homeless, high school education, the United Nations, and peacemaker training.

As the dialogue became lively, some speakers were cautious about expressing their personal positions on issues, and a need for ground rules was recognized. It was agreed that finding a trainer in communication strategies should become a priority. The peacemaker goal especially supports the training idea. It is the group organizers’ intention to assure that the group has a way of sharing passions and concerns, of building concerns with each other, and of providing a forum for community exchange, according to Konicek.

“We were pleased,” Myers said after the meeting. “For one thing, without too much publicity and mostly by word of mouth, nearly 20 people attended —people we already knew and some people we never met before. And each person in the room expressed themselves, in a feeling and thinking way, as to their own concerns and interests.”

A movie and a rally were scheduled for the Peacemakers in September. After the suggestion for training, a meeting with a specialist in civic communication was added to the schedule. This strategy meeting will focus on “how to hold your own ground and still arrive at a peaceful solution,” according to Myers.

As the first meeting of the Key Peacemakers ended, conversations continued among participants strolling out of the library into the summer evening. It was reminiscent of historians’ accounts of Key Peninsula evenings about 100 years ago, when communities presented lecturers and debates on the topics of current events.