Posted by Dr. Honora Norton
Over 200 people of varied backgrounds came together at the 3rd Annual Pursuing Peace Conference – all with a common goal of creating peace.  Each person, attending the virtual conference held on September 18, 2020, learned that peace is a powerful experience and can be, and is, life changing.
The attendees joined together to be inspired and learn from experts on how to promote peace, prevent and cure disease, provide clean water and sanitation, improve the health of mothers and children, support basic education and literacy, and provide economic and community development.
Past Rotary International District Governor and Sergeant at Arms at Arizona House of Representatives Chuck Fitzgerald served as host of the one-day event.  Invitations were sent to leaders from health care, academia, national and local government, public safety, faith-based organizations, business, and communities to discuss changes needed to create world peace.  2020-21 Rotary International District 5495 Governor Elizabeth Mahoney assisted as co-emcee of the Conference.  
The Conference’s six general sessions included Clarence Carter, Director, Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Brenda Cressey, Trustee, The Rotary Foundation; Dr. Sanjeev Khagram, General Director and Dean, ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management; John Viscount, writer, filmmaker & Storyteller and co-founder of Peace Now; Jorge Meruvia, General Coordinator of “National Encounters-A Stronger Mexico: Pillars of Positive Peace,” and Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni; and, Lisa Jernigan, Co-Founder Amplify Peace – Listen-Learn-Live.  
Mr. Fitzgerald stated during his welcome statement: Every act of service is an act of peace and that peacemaking is both a responsibility and an opportunity for each of us. The theme of the 2020 Pursuing Peace Conference was to explore how organizations can become better platforms for peace.  The prior year’s conference themes addressed peace literacy and social justice as a prerequisite to peace. 
Ms. Cressey shared Rotary International’s commitment to peace and the generosity of Rotarians around the world. She provided an overview a several global grants that have impacted the valley.  In support of Ms. Cressey’s promotion of Rotary International Global grants, Gary Whiting of Sun Lakes Rotary states:  Rotary International is a global organization and has a Rotary Foundation, it affords Rotarians (around 1.2M) and Rotary Clubs (around 35K) around the world the opportunity of working together on local and international community projects using Rotary Global Grants.  It is through these grants that USA Rotary Clubs and International Rotary Clubs joined with DigDeep in supplying funds to provide inside running tap water for Navajo Nation homes:
  • 2018: Rotary Club of Gilbert, AZ…18 homes in Thoreau, New Mexico
  • 2019: Rotary Club of Sun Lakes, AZ…33 homes in Thoreau, New Mexico
  • 2020: Rotary Club of Four Peaks, AZ…80+ homes in Dilkon, Arizona with installations presently underway
  • 2021: Rotary Club of Sedona, AZ…80+ homes in Dilkon, Arizona being submitted for grant approval
At a cost of $4,500 per home, there is a sizable amount of money being collected from around the Rotary world to provide help toward this Navajo water issue.  Arizona Rotary District 5495 just provided a $25,000 Disaster Relief grant for emergency water supply due to COVID-19.
Mr. Carter stated there is a public safety net of an aggregation of more than 80 individual federal agencies and/or programs, each addressing a singular aspect of human need.  Our government, federal and states together, spending excess of $1.1 trillion annually on these programs that are disconnected and have no overarching objective. Per Mr. Carter, there is no better time than the present to rethink our societal effort to serve the economically, socially, and developmentally vulnerable in America.   
Per Dr Khagram, borders frequented by trade seldom need soldiers.  Dr. Khagram envisions The Thunderbird  Global Management School bringing peace to the world through commerce. He identified areas in which he believes the Thunderbird School can take the lead in educating students from around the world by: creating a world with sustainable and equitable prosperity through educating and influencing global leaders; championing better globalization;  addressing climate change's nature of the world; and, advancing the importance of entrepreneurship and The Fourth Industrial Revolution of advanced technologies and innovation.  
Attendees viewed “Admissions” the award-winning short film written by John Viscount.  The film, with a purpose to start a conversation that heals, tells a transformational tale about what it takes to finding lasting peace.  It is now part of the world-renown curriculum of The Stanford University Forgiveness Project. Admissions also helped launch where Mr. Viscount, as founder, is gathering one billion signatures to establish Peace Departments in governments worldwide.
Inspired by the success of Admissions, Mr. Viscount launched The Peace Entertainment Project, Inc. –, which is a non-profit that supports filmmakers, artists, authors, educators, and peacebuilders who create films and content that uplift and inspire, contribute to the global culture of peace, and “promote the kind in humankind.”
Jorge Meruvia, stated Positive Peace is defined as the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.  It is conceptual framework for defining peacefulness: providing metrics for measuring peace; and uncovering the relationships between business, peace and prosperity.  Positive Peace promotes a better understanding of the cultural, economic, and political factors that create peace.  The framework of Positive Peace provides a valuable tool for this time to analyze ways communities can develop to sustain peace or to recover from conflict; as well as, helps communities become more resilient and recover from shocks, such as the novel coronavirus outbreak. With Positive Peace, we can conceptualize peace as an interconnected system.  In support of Jorge’s Positive Peace efforts,  Sofia Brega and Coke Perales, both in their twenties, shared their experiences as Peace Activators.  
Co-Founder Ms. Jernigan stated Amplify Peace is a global movement that promotes the principles of peacemaking and she believes that peace and transformation begins within each of us first and then flows outward into our families, communities, and world.  Founded by women, Amplify Peace seeks to create a better story together and to amplify the voices of all women especially those who have been marginalized or silenced. The movement encourages new ways of thinking and seeing the world through local and global immersive encounters. Amplify Peace provides ongoing learning through community, training, and resources. 
As part of the conference closing ceremony, Mr. Fitzgerald awarded Rotary Club of Peoria’s 2020 Peacemaker of the Year Award to Pamela Morrison, Community Relationship Officer at Phoenix Rescue Mission
Conference supporters included: Mediators Beyond Borders International, Rotary International District 5495, Metrocenter Chick-fil-A, the City of Peoria Arizona, The Rotary Club of Peoria, Avenue 25 Advertising & Design, Institute for Economics & Peace, Amplify Peace, Thunderbird School of Global Management/ASU, The Rotary Foundation, Administration for Children & Families.
Arizona and the Valley was well represented with participants from Rotary Clubs, civic staffs of Cities of Avondale, Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Surprise and Tucson, as well as, staffs of Maricopa County, Department of Economic Security, Salt River Project and non-profit, faith-based and human services organizations located in Arizona, California and DC.  
For more information about this peace effort contact Chuck Fitzgerald: 623-229-7674/chuck@pursuingpeace.orgfor information to support Navajo Water projects through Rotary International contact Jim Bissonett: 480-299-4441/ .