'Peace Now' banners pop up

Driving through Ashland, banners saying "Our Faith Says, Peace Now" can be seen attached to buildings and businesses. The words "Peace Now" dominate the banners and the movement. The banners come from the Interfaith Peace Now Alliance, a group of individuals from different faiths that wanted to do something.

"We want people to wake up and notice them," said Ellen Craine, a member of the United Church of Christ and the Interfaith Peace Alliance. She and others formed a peace action committee.

They decided to join together with other faith communities around the area.

"There are five or six different faith communities," Craine said. The Interfaith Peace Now Alliance meets once a month.

In commemorating the fourth anniversary of the United States entry into war with Iraq the group decided to put the Peace Now posters up. The idea stemmed from a simple question.

"We asked ourselves what can we do?" Craine said.

What began as a simple idea that was a reflection of their faith soon became something more. On May 7, the group met at the Peace House to kick off a campaign to encourage the city council to adopt a resolution in support of the Department of Peace.

The Department of Peace was proposed in July 2001 by Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Several similar proposals had been made throughout history dating as early as 1792 by Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush. Kucinich proposed the Department of Peace again in 2003, in September 2005 with Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota, and re-introduced the legislation for its creation in February of 2007.

The Department of Peace would be a cabinet level department of the executive branch of the U.S. government. It would work internationally and domestically taking a proactive approach in the development of policies that promote conflict prevention.

Currently only Lincoln City on the Oregon coast has passed resolution through their city council endorsing the Department of Peace in the state. The bill has been co-sponsored by congressional representatives Peter DeFazio and David Wu from districts 4 and 1.

The Interfaith Peace Now Alliance wants Ashland to adopt a similar support. The group wanted to make their call for peace something people couldn't ignore.

"We wanted people to wake up and notice them," Craine said of the banners. "It'd be great to see banners all over the country. We want to make our opposition to the war very visible."

The group meets Thursday at the Peace House on 543 S. Mountain Ave. The meeting includes a "Beyond War" presentation with information about the Department of Peace legislation, and will have opportunities for brainstorming the group's next step in promoting legislation.

For more information on the Department of Peace, visit . The Peace House can be reached at 482-9625 or at .

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