Ninth Annual Peace Week
October 19-27, 2024

Peace Action News: A blog for promoting peace in our community.

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We All Can Do Something

In the Oscar-winning film ”Navalny”, the director asks activist Alexei Navalny, “Alexei, if you are arrested and thrown in prison, or the unthinkable happens and you are killed, what message do you leave behind for the Russian people?”

Alexei answers in Russian, “We don’t realize how strong we actually are.  The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.”  He stops and stares intently into the camera, “So don’t be inactive.”

On Saturday. February 17, Navalny’s family confirmed that the inevitable had happened.  The 47-year-old had died the day before.  The place of death . . . the infamous “Polar Wolf” penal colony founded in 1961 as part of Josef Stalin’s Gulag network.   Located north of the Arctic Circle, Polar Wolf is known as one of Russia’s northernmost and harshest prisons.  With temperatures plummeting to -20O C inmates describe being punished by being made to stand outside without coats.  Those who fail to stand still are doused with cold water. The cause of Navalny’s death is unknown.

Navalny’s day-to-day life was a lonely one.  All he could see outside his window was a fence and a bleak midground bathed in the perpetual twilight of an Arctic winter.  He was allowed one stroll a day in his “walking yard, a concrete enclosure, topped with metal bars, 11 steps long and 3 steps wide”. Navalny was repeatedly being punished for various offenses, including his attitude and acerbic sense of humor.  He posted the falling quip, “It has not been colder than -32o C yet.  Nothing quite invigorates you like a walk in Yamal at 6:30 in the morning.”

Approximately ten days after his death, the name of this incredible man is already disappearing from the headlines.  Soon he will be yesterday’s news but I can’t help thinking about what he said about evil triumphs when good people do nothing.  And above all his admonishment to be active, to be relevant, to do something.  Though few of us can be Alexei Navalny all of us can do something.

Brandywine Arts Festival

 

Shifts of Peace Week Delaware Volunteers handed out stickers, postcards, book lists and copies of The Peace Book to the crowds attending the Brandywine Arts Festival. No one got by Pat without a personal invitation to check out our website and register for an event.

Spotlight on

Disclosure Watch Party and Panel Discussion – Woodlawn Library

Date: 10/8   Time: 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Why Attend this Event?

Because they are our neighbors

  • One in 33 American teens (approximately one in each classroom) identifies as transgender
  • .5% of all U.S. adults, some 1.3 million people, have a different gender identity than the sex they were assigned at birth.

Because what we see from the media informs or even misinforms our understanding of the world

  • Media plays an incredible role in how we perceive the world, especially others.
  • The most common ways trans and cisgender people learn about trans and nonbinary people is through the media
  • The media often portrays transgender people in a harmful or dehumanizing way. These portrayals stigmatize transgender people.
  • A recent report in a peer-reviewed academic journal, LGBT Health, revealed that damaging media coverage of trans and gender nonconforming people was correlated with clinical systems of PTSD in transgender people, anxiety, and depression.

Why Attend This Event – To Learn More, to Discuss, to Act

Celebrate International Literacy Day

Literacy Lights the Path to Peace

Since 1967, International Literacy Day Celebrations have taken place annually to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights. Unesco.org/en/days/literacy.

Literacy allows us to

  • Think Critically and Creatively
  • Fully participate in society
  • Better Understand the World

The facts are, however, that 20% of the adults in Delaware are at or below Literacy Level 1, and nearly half of all third-graders in Delaware cannot read at grade level.  In 17 low-income zip codes in Wilmington, Dover, and western and central Sussex County, that rate increases to 63 percent. Many of Delaware’s children live in book deserts.

Fact – Adult literacy is family literacy.  Children’s literacy rates, educational attainment, and employment opportunities are correlated to the literacy level of their parents (especially the mother).  This contributes to an intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Access to Literacy and Library Services

In Delaware, our libraries are a cornerstone for literacy and learning across the lifespan.  In addition to offering books and e-books for all levels of readers, the libraries also offer access to technology, educational resources, and enrichment programs.  Our Libraries also serve as informational hubs that connect visitors to other services.  Partnering with organizations like Read Aloud Delaware, Delaware Literacy, and Adult Basic Education (ABE)  to break the intergenerational cycle.

This week on our blog, we are highlighting the efforts of Delaware libraries to support children and families through multiple pathways to literacy and equity.

Learn More at: https://libraries.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/123/2022/08/Final-literacy-report-8.8.pdf

 

 

Birds, Bees, We All Benefit – Plant Powerhouse Natives

Saving Nature One Lawn at a Time

This year, the number of community events appearing on Peace Week Delaware’s event calendar on the state of our environment, the loss of natural areas and biodiversity, and the importance of native plants to a healthy ecosystem caught my attention. It prompted exploration of what one person can do to save Mother Nature one native plant at a time.

What’s a Native and Why are they Important to the Environment?  The National Arboretum officially defines a native as a plant that:

“Occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem or habitat without direct or indirect human intervention.” .  . .We consider the flora present at the time Europeans arrived in North America as the species native to the Eastern United States.”

While accurate, this definition doesn’t touch on the critical role natives play in sustaining life. Besides converting carbon dioxide into breathable air, native plants have a superpower.  They capture energy from the sun and turn it into a food smorgasbord that all of  Earth’s creatures enjoy. Natives are the engine of the world’s food web.

Who are the most important diners at this smorgasbord? Not us. The title goes to insects, the little things that run the world. A mutual dependency developing over millions of years exists between native plants and insects.  But insects are picky eaters.  90% of the insects that eat plants can only develop and produce on their specific native plant partner. This insect and native plant partnership is the biological foundation of life on Earth.  Science shows us the disappearance of a single native plant species can trigger the extinction of all connected animal species, and that is what is happening.  Biodiversity in our ecosystems is in decline.

How did this happen? In the US, we have tilled, grazed, paved over, and subdivided our native habitats.  We have converted areas rich with diversity into sterile patches of lawn.

Native plants have been replaced either intentionally or accidentally by exotic nonnative species or invasive plants that outcompete their native counterparts.    Invasive species have directly contributed to the decline of 42% of the threatened and endangered species in the United States

 What can we do?  Douglas Tallamy, a professor and chair for entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware and author of several groundbreaking books on nature, says we can do a lot.

As Tallamy details in his New York Times bestseller Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard, homeowners should turn their yards into conservation corridors, replacing turf grass with native plants.  His motto is “Regenerate Biodiversity, Plant Native, We Can Do This One Person at a Time, No Experience necessary.”  He is enlisting ordinary citizens, like you and I, to help him convert half of the United States 40 million acres of turf into ecologically productive habitats. This would be the equivalent of creating a Home Grown National Park, the size of 10 Yellowstone Parks.  The plots wouldn’t have to be contiguous or large. He says, “Moths and birds can fly, and you’re helping them just by reducing the distance they travel for food”.You can go to his new Homegrown National Park website to learn more and add your own efforts to an interactive map. more than 5,000 people already have.

One Homeowners Story – Reclaiming Nature  Recently, I visited the home of April and Tom Schmitt, who live on a 2.4-acre property in Landenberg, PA. I wanted to see how one couple turn their lawn into a “conservation corridor,”  a la Doug Tallamy’s vision.I immediately sensed that this property was special, a place good for the soul and the planet. I know April as a fellow member of the Wilmington Trail Club who has a deep interest in and appreciation of nature.

Despite the mid-afternoon sun of a hot, muggy August day, I felt protected. I immediately appreciated the 2-3 degree drop in temperature courtesy of the canopy of trees growing on her property. It felt exactly like what Doug Tallamy would describe as a “Homegrown National Park”(Doug Tallamy on the Homegrown National Plant Initiative).

April told me that through judicious pruning, removal of invasives, and some sweat equity, she opened up the overgrown area beneath her white pine trees that formed a perfect border separating her property from her neighbor’s more conventional turf lawn. Over time, she added some native plants and a few non-native (but not invasive) plants, and her once sterile property is alive with the buzz of insects and the flash of native songbirds. In the spring, native plants appeared spontaneously as if Nature renewed itself.

As we toured her 2.4-acre property, she also described her multiyear assault against the invasive multiflora rose planted by the previous owner.

Removing this invasive plant promoted the growth of native plants, and a whole new ecosystem appeared. Wild ginger, Jacob’s ladder, and Virginia Creeper now form an understory to Red Buds, Sumac, and Spice Bush.

Gradually, her traditional turf lawn is being replaced by islands of beautiful ferns and native shrubs that will provide shade and bird habitats for the future.

I felt I could reproduce this approach in my own smaller yard.  As Doug Tallamy wrote, these ideas of replanting and reimaging our landscape using native plants can be done anywhere: our own backyard, a rooftop, or even a window box—any square foot not covered by concrete.  T

The Plan? Clear out the invasives, plant natives, and reduce the size of your lawn.

Each returned patch becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for wildlife, humans, and other plants;

We can restore nature as April and Tom have done in the little piece of the earth. Will you join us?

 

Signed

Andre  & Cris

Peace Week Featured Event

🌱 Volunteers Needed! 🌿

Do you have a passion for wildflowers, songbirds, or butterflies?  Are you interested in preserving a local green space as a place where you and your children can enjoy nature?  Check out this featured Peace Week event at https://www.peaceweekdelaware.org/events/help-native-plants-thrive-in-talley-day-park/.  Volunteers are needed for a morning of environmental action and community service removing invasive natives at Talley Day Park.

Why is This Important? Invasive plant species are threatening the health and beauty of Talley Park’s natural habitat. These non-native plants outcompete native species, disrupting the delicate ecosystem and causing harm to local wildlife. By volunteering your time and effort, you’ll be contributing to the restoration of the park’s natural biodiversity and ensuring its beauty for generations to come.

What to Expect:

  • Guidance: Experts will provide guidance on identifying invasive plants and proper removal techniques.
  • Teamwork: Work alongside like-minded volunteers who share your passion for conservation.
  • Supplies: Tools and equipment will be provided, but feel free to bring your own gloves and gardening tools if you prefer.

How to Participate: Participating is easy! Just show up at Talley Park on the designated date and time. No prior experience is required—just a willingness to get your hands dirty and make a positive impact.

We’d love to hear if you might be interested in this event.  Tell us in the comment section below.

Event Details

  • Date: 10/14/2023
  • Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Location: Talley Day Park (meetup at the Talley Dog Park)
  • https://www.peaceweekdelaware.org/events/help-native-plants-thrive-in-talley-day-park/

The Peace Book by Todd Parr

Peace Week Delaware has been distributing copies of The Peace Book to children who come visit our Open Streets exhibit. The book has wonderful illustrations which support its important message.  We share the text here for kids of all ages:

Peace is making new friends
Peace is keeping the water blue for all the fish
Peace is listening to different kinds of music
Peace is saying you’re sorry when you hurt someone
Peace is helping your neighbor
Peace is reading all different kids of books
Peace is thinking about someone you love
Peace is giving shoes to someone who needs them
Peace is planting a tree
Peace is sharing a meal
Peace is wearing different clothes
Peace is watching it snow
Peace is keeping the streets clean
Peace is offering a hug to a friend
Peace is everyone having a home
Peace is growing a garden
Peace is taking a nap
Peace is learning another language
Peace is having enough pizza in the world for everyone
Peace is keeping someone warm
Peace is new babies being born
Peace is being free
Peace is traveling to different places
Peace is wishing on a ster
Peace is being different, feeling good about yourself, and helping others. The world is a better place because of YOU!
Love,
Todd

Sincere thank you the Kiwanis club of Wilmington for their generous contribution of $1,017 to buy 300 copies for distribution to the younger members of our community.

Three Collaboration Workshops to Plan Peace Week Delaware 2023

COLLABORATION – a primary objective of Peace Week Delaware when it began in 2016. The founders believed that the good work toward building peace in Delaware could be strengthened by bringing together organizations and ideas in a concentrated week to focus on peace.

You can join in this effort. Bring your ideas to one of the collaboration workshops listed below. Meet others who have the same passion for peace that you do. Consider ways to work together. Learn from others who have experience in organizing events. Add your “half-baked” ideas to those of others and together create a “loaf” that can nurture all of us. 

  • Thursday, May 11, 2023, 6-8 pm at New Ark United Church of Christ, 300 E. Main St., Newark DE
  • Saturday, May 13, 2023, 10 am -12 noon at Georgetown Public Library, 123 W. Pine St., Georgetown DE
  • Saturday, May 20, 2023, 10 am -12 noon at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 1301 N. Broom St., Wilmington, DE

There will be:  FOOD      CONVERSATION       INFORMATION    BRAINSTORMIING   TECH SUPPORT     CONNECTIONS

JOIN US: Let us know what workshop you will attend: info@peaceweekdelaware.org