Over the past week waves of the white “peace print” doves have washed over Western New York. As a matter of fact these doves are nearly impossible to get your hands on,
Today’s Buffalo Strong conversation about the new conversations coming about from the peace print doves continues. Mercedes Wilson is with Cindi McEachon, the executive director of Peace Prints WNY.
Peace Prints of WNY has been around since 1985, founded by Sister Karen Klimczak who also founded the doves and was the inspiration behind that. Cindi says we are a re-entry organization, and our goal is to not only work with all jurisdiction levels but to connect, all the different spaces, places, people and stakeholders to create long-term change. She says we know the criminal justice system is long overdue for change and we need to flip it on its head so as an organization we are devoted to that. She says the doves were actually launched at Sister Karen’s funeral in 2006 and the idea is, we are not only showing forgiveness and the change but we are creating space for peace and nonviolence. Mercedes says these signs are being ordered by the dozens especially after what happened on May 14th.
When asked what are you hearing, what are people ordering these doves, Cindi says these doves symbolize peace, they symbolize hope and that is great, that is wonderful and we are here to hand them out, however, what does it mean to you, what are you going to do with it when you grab that dove and you take it home with you with you and whether you put it I front of your house, window, place of business, your classroom, whatever it is and we have shipped them across the nation, what does it mean to you?” She says what are you going to do with the dove to push this much needed change.
Mercedes says we can have the conversation but we want it to lead to action. She says to Cindi, “all of my friends and a lot of people in the black community can say we get the question all the time, ‘how can I help, and in a situation like this there is a lot of frustration, emotions are high and we get the question frequently, how can I help, what can I do?” She wanted to know what Cindi would say.
Cindi says “I have had that conversation as well and quite frankly, embrace discomfort. Start there. Why are you feeling, how are you feeling, why are you uncomfortable, why are you asking this question, why aren’t you just looking at information or for information. She goes on to say if we don’t sit down and understand what is making us uncomfortable, why it’s making us uncomfortable and then what can we do to challenge that discomfort.”
Mercedes says it goes deeper than conversation and just conversation can lead to inaction. How do we go from conversation to action and what does that action look like?
Cindi says ever single one of us has the ability to influence over space around us. She says you have a sphere, you have folks around your, spaces around you that you can influence change but you need to be willing to do the work and says she isn’t talking about positing on social media, bolstering out some incredibly well written statement of how you condemn terrorism, but what are you going to do, what is the action that attached to it. She says it can be doing the research, reading a book, educate yourself, truly understand the history.
Cindi says, “we have been reaching out and having conversations with people all across the nation, honestly, about this idea of action, so what we have decided to do is take this drive and push it out to a whole other level; we have created the peace pledge. In order to reach out to us and get a dove, you need to commit to an action in your space that you are going to push forward and we are going to be that accountability mechanism to make sure it’s completed.” She says you have enough small or large actions happening simultaneous, whether it is here or across the nation, you will create change, so what can you do?”
For more information go to peaceprintswny.org