Chase Iron Eyes, a Standing Rock Water Protector and “passionate advocate for Indigenous rights and spiritual dignity” is this year’s national Peacemaker Awardee, Peace House of Ashland has announced. He and four local Peacemaker Awardees will be honored at Peace House’s annual dinner on Friday, Nov. 2, in Ashland.
Iron Eyes will be recognized for resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline across Lakota lands with nonviolent resistance in the face of a “brutal challenge” from fossil fuel interests and in violation of an 1896 treaty, a Peace House statement said.
Iron Eyes was raised on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, got his degree in political science and Native American studies at University of North Dakota and law degree from University of Denver. He founded the media source Last Real Indians as a “spiritual brain trust” for the evolution of "Original National" thought, said Peace House.
Shaun Franks, one of four valley people to be honored by Ashland Peace House as a local Peacemakers for 2018, has a natural talent and energy for bringing people together around new sustainability visions — including solar arrays atop the Southern Oregon University student union, creation of The Farm at SOU, co-founding of Rogue Climate and now, after graduating in business and environmental studies, intake marketing at True South Solar and membership on the SOU Board of Trustees.
It’s a whopping resume for someone 32 years old and the father, with wife Erica, of sons Carter and Micah, both in elementary school, but his prime motivator for shrinking climate-thrashing carbon is getting solar arrays up.
Franks served on the board of Peace House while in college, writing a grant to help fund Uncle Foods Diner for Tuesday meals for the homeless.
While serving in student government, he discovered SOU was sending $150,000 a year in Renewable Energy Certificates to other places, so he led a student referendum that kept the money on campus as the SOU Green Fund.
The money put solar atop the student union and new dorms and was used for creation of the five-acre The Farm, raising produce for student meals and serving as a teaching tool. The Farm also got an apiary, small vineyard, bee sculpture and cob house — and has diverted over $500,000 to green projects, he says.
“I’m a champion of sustainability and, if it were up to me, it would all be spent on solar,” he notes. “It’s not that I’m super-smart, it’s that I’m willing to collaborate with lots of amazing folks here and help give them tools and opportunities … I helped open the door for a lot of students and professors who said, ‘that’s a good idea, but find me the money.’”
Hideko Tamura Snider of Medford, a survivor of the 1945 nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, will be honored as a Peacemaker for her teaching, authoring of her book, “One Sunny Day: a Child’s Memories of Hiroshima” and her leading of the Rogue Valley Peace Choir to Hiroshima for a performance and peace activities on the 60th anniversary of the attack.
Snider, a retired psychotherapist, has for 40 years spoken to professional organizations, university classes, and community groups across the country and in Japan, telling her story and encouraging people of all cultures to “examine the consequences of nuclear weapons and work toward peace and nuclear nonproliferation … as a living witness to the challenges of peace, to the terrifying consequences of the alternative, and to lessons we have learned from Hiroshima since the war,” said a Peace House statement.
Snider, in an interview, said that in her university studies to be a psychotherapist, she learned that any traumatic event can be “an unprecedented opportunity for learning. It was a tremendous insight for me, that when the impossible faces us, you can inspire yourself to live a quality life that day. The past is set in stone and everything may seem chaotic but the future is opportunity.”
The Rogue Climate organizing team will also be honored as Peacemakers. The Peace House website notes, “(Rogue Climate Director) Hannah Sohl ... has built a strong team of activists, changing the way school-age children and youth perceive the issues surrounding climate change today. We congratulate Hannah, the many volunteers at Rogue Climate and her staff, including Allie Rosenbluth, Maya Jarrad, Sarah Westover, Princess Franks, and Veronica Silva.”
Peace House will also honor the late Joanna Niemann, an artist who was immersed in teaching and practicing NVC (non-violent communication),” Peace House stated. She graduated with a degree in sociology and an emphasis in field biology from Colorado College in 2011. After graduation, she was awarded a Thomas J. Watson fellowship to study grassroots organizing and the relationships between human communities, rivers, and migratory fish around the world, traveling to Bangladesh, Canada, and Russia. She was a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School’s “Leadership, Organizing, and Action” program and co-founded Rogue Climate with the support of many other Oregonians in 2013.
The Peace House awards dinner is at the Historic Ashland Armory in Ashland, Friday, Nov. 2, with opening ceremony at 5, social hour at 5:30 and dinner and program at 6:30 p.m.
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Oct. 24: Story updated to clarify that Peace House is honoring Rogue Climate as a group, not Hannah Sohl and Rogue Climate.)