I considered a number of topics about which to write this week in this space; there are probably scores of stories to be told or initiatives to explore. My intentions in sharing stories and perspectives here has been to raise awareness about the circumstances in a place quite different from the U.S., to tell stories that might touch readers’ sensitivities about how we all relate to one another and to encourage reflections about how each of us occupies a role in such a drama. Normally, I have little difficulty in choosing a subject, other than covering as broad an array of insights and perspectives as I can. This week, though, is different. I’ve decided to indulge in the promotion of, well, Winds of Peace Foundation.
I’m frequently asked about what the Foundation is all about, what it’s trying to accomplish in its work in Nicaragua, and how we expect this small organization to make a mark in a world with so much need. Of course, my response can be no more than to describe the partnering, grantmaking, microlending, and education enhancement activities that are the focus of our efforts. I’m sure that my summary responses to such inquiries may suggest an agenda of limited consequence, given the enormity of need in a place like Nicaragua. The work we do may sound like it’s too limited in geographic scope while at the same time too broad in its attempt to create any kind of transformation. And those feelings may be warranted from one point of view: we are a small entity. But in addition to realizing that needs always outstrip solutions, we also know that tall trees grow from small seeds.
Thus, with a sense of resolute intent, Winds of Peace will sponsor the 24th Nobel Peace Prize Forum, to be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota from March 8-10, 2013. The event will feature speakers and activities designed to cultivate thinking and activism toward peacebuilding throughout the world. It will feature previous Nobel Peace Laureates, activists who are innovating in the fields of social, political and economic life, writers who have committed themselves to the cause of peacemaking, and everyday individuals who simply yearn for a more just and peaceful world but do not know where to find it. Winds of Peace will co-sponsor the three-day event for the sixth time in the Forum’s 24-year history, making the Foundation one of the most consistent sponsorship supporters in the Forum’s history.
The gathering of peace-interested citizens is not an enormous affair: last year it drew 4,500 people to the wide variety of sessions. It will not draw the attention of major media sources, it will not attract major political figures from this country, and likely it will not even be able to tout the presence of major corporate CEOs. But what it will represent is “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens,” precisely what anthropologist Margaret Meade had in mind when she spoke of the only power that has ever changed the world.
Peace. That’s what Winds of Peace is about. It’s in our name and our genetics. Working directly with the poor and disenfranchised of Nicaragua is the Foundation’s primary venue for such a pretentious outcome; it has made us resolute in fighting the long odds against success. But in like fashion, supporting the efforts of a small Nobel Peace Prize Forum community – focused on the components and dynamics of a more just, compassionate and peaceful world – has not been a bad investment. Actually, we like the odds….