Peace House aims to strengthen community

Thank you for publishing the recent report by John Darling on the struggling status of Peace House (see July 31 article "Peace House struggling").

It may reassure some readers to learn that Uncle Food's Diner, our weekly meal program (at 4:30 p.m. every Tuesday at Wesley Hall behind the First Methodist Church) is on solid financial footing, at least for the remainder of 2009, thanks to recent contributions from Soroptimists, Trinity Episcopal Church and the United Congregational Church, among other groups and individuals that supplement federal funding from FEMA.

Also, it may interest prospective contributors to know that programs we hope to continue and expand include those aimed at building and strengthening community, such as:

1) Our support to Transition Town, the Ashland Food Project, the Peace Wall art project to be erected in front of the library, Food Angels, Memory Care Center and Peace Village.

2) School programs — working in schools with Veterans for Peace to provide recruitment-age youths with information about the realities of war and alternatives to military service for job training and college education funding; working to revitalize a Not-In-Our-Town, Not-In-Our-Schools program (to counter recent surges in racism and hate crimes); and supporting student interns.

4) Creating opportunities for community dialogue so that disagreements over issues such as the Middle East conflict or local politics or local ballot measures can serve to strengthen bonds among community members rather than further divide the community.

5) Skills-based communication training in areas such as non-violent communication, compassionate listening and difficult conversations.

6) Co-maintaining (with the South Mountain Friends Meeting) a facility close to Southern Oregon University and within walking distance from downtown for speaking engagements, awareness-raising events, movies and workshops related to peace, social justice and communication skills development.

7) Networking with other groups to help bring speakers to town (and advertise them) on a variety of subjects including sustainable practices, sweatshop-free procurement initiatives, election reform, etc., and broadcasting announcements via the Peace House e-News.

8) Public awareness events and exhibits such as Iraq Body Count, Eyes Wide Open, Tax Dollars Spent On War and commemorating the invasion of Iraq and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for example.

For 30 years, Peace House has provided a non-profit umbrella and critical resources for Rogue Valley residents in their quest for peace both in their community and globally.

Peace House commits to providing vital tools to help deepen relationships between neighbors, in our town and beyond. Learning to face conflicts together can serve to broaden our understanding and acceptance of each other rather than divide families, communities and nations.

We invite further comments from readers to help the board determine community needs. Please e-mail us at, write to Peace House, P.O. Box 524, Ashland, OR 97520, or call 482-9625.

Thanks again for your interest in Peace House and for informing readers of our situation so they might have accurate information on which to base decisions to hopefully support our efforts.

Pam Vavra has served on the board of Peace House for four years and as volunteer executive director for the past two years. She is also active with the League of Women Voters and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She has lived in Ashland for seven years.

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