by Liz Guadiana The Peace Learning Center was so excited to host its very first Latinx Circle: Community Conversations session on September 15th to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month (presented by Liz Guadiana and Iliana Enriquez). We wanted to engage the Latinx community in a dialogue around what was most important to them. Often, we have seen many parallels between American and Latinx counterparts regarding cultural, societal, and familial issues. With that in mind, we created a space for Latinx individuals to voice their concerns or stories pertaining to these very issues. Our opening circle brings us all in by introducing ourselves to each other by name along with any roles or affiliations to an organization. In recognition of the many Latinx cultures that encompass the identity, we showed a short video of Latinx people around the country. It gave us insight into an all-women Mexican mariachi band, the story of how traditional tamales made their way to Mississippi through a family-owned business, and the day-in-a-life of a grocery store owner/radio DJ in the heart of New York. This incited great discussion around what makes us, us. As soon as we started sharing our experiences, we could feel the ‘room’ soften because of how relatable they were to us. Affirming head nods, speaking from the heart, mixed in with some levity helped us all unburden ourselves in a way. Towards the end, we all felt like we had just
Meet Maria Wiley, MBA, CFE. I am the Senior Director for Audit, Risk Management, and Procurement for the Indianapolis Airport Authority where I have been working for over 20 years. One of my other duties is being the ADA Coordinator for the airport, where I was able to lead the project to construct 2 Sensory Rooms that are designed for those passengers and guests that have emotional challenges such as Autism, PTSD, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s. During the 2020 pandemic I kept myself busy by completing my MBA through Indiana Wesleyan University. What is it about PLC's work that appeals to you? I continue to be amazed by the impact that the PLC staff is making in our public school systems. The testimonials from parents, students, and teachers confirms the increasing need for the services PLC provides. What kind of work do you do with PLC? Currently, I am on the Engagement Committee and one of our goals for this year is to bring more awareness to PLC and build name and brand recognition. We have also been busy planning the year-long PLC 25th Anniversary celebration. Can you tell us a memorable experience or something you have learned during your time at PLC? After joining the Board, I engaged the PLC staff to provide some team-building sessions for my employees in Eagle Creek park. We all agreed that it heightened our social awareness, and it was a day filled with
Meet George Okantey I am the president and principal consultant at GOT Performance Solutions LLC., a credentialed talent development consulting practice that focuses on experiential learning, empowerment, and transformation. We help individuals, teams, and organizations identify, surface, and resolve perceived or imagined difficulties productively and respectfully. I am an Indiana University Public Affairs graduate and Association for Talent Development Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD). I retired from Purdue University Extension after twenty-one years of service to launch my consulting practice. My customer segments include small businesses, community development agencies, HBCU's, government and nonprofit agencies. I love to travel, explore, and discover. The last two years have not been that great for travel, so I have taken to walking, listening to audiobooks and favorite podcasts like Brene Brown's "Dare to Lead" and Sam Harris' "Making Sense." I am married and have two adult children and three grandchildren. What is it about PLC's work that appeals to you? I believe that life is worthwhile when there is friendship and harmony with everyone. These foundational human needs are interrupted by inequities, misunderstanding, disrespect, violence, hostility, and conflict. PLC focuses on teaching behavior constrain skills that help people relate and understand more, create psychological safety, and resolve disputes safely and respectfully. This work is challenging and appealing because of my life experience and as a true Libra dedicated to freedom, fairness, and justice. What kind of work do you do with PLC?
by Kristina Hulvershorn, Director of Restorative and Humane Learning A rabbit in my neighborhood lost one of her babies this spring. I’ll spare you the details, but I grew connected and began looking for her, wondering how she is coping. She carried on and I see her most evenings, continuing to do what she needs to do to survive. She’s not the only one. My gratitude abounds for all of those around me who keep pushing and keep trying, despite the pain and stress of the world, so I want to take a moment to appreciate those who continue carrying on, despite everything. Without a break or a pause, parents put on a brave face every day and try to give their children what they need, keeping their fear and pain like a secret. Teachers, who have the weight of the world on their shoulders with very little support. They are pulling from wells that may be dry but continue to show up for the children who need them. Even a pandemic couldn’t dampen the light of the activists who continue to speak up for Black Lives, against Line 3, and all of those who continue to stand up for love, compassion, and justice. Despite relentlessly difficult conditions, health care workers continue to show up for their patients. Artists who keep creating and keep the rest of us inspired, connected, and sometimes laughing. Janitors, scientists, writers, grocery store employees,
Meet Jessica Brand Indiana resident for more than 25 years. Married to Scott and have three children, Natalie, 22, Lilah, 20, and Earl, 15. I left the corporate world 12 years ago when our son was diagnosed with autism to be his full-time advocate. I now do some marketing, consulting, and event planning from my home office. I belong to several arts and education organizations where I can practice my passion for community service and outreach. What is it about PLC's work that appeals to you? I love PLC because of our commitment to teach kindness through peace, equity, and justice. There is nothing better than working alongside like-minded people all with this most important focus. What kind of work do you do with PLC? This is my second year serving on the board at PLC and I have enjoyed working with staff to see that the PLC mission can be brought to as many people as possible. Can you tell us a memorable experience or something you have learned during your time at PLC? When you may have lost confidence in humanity, know that there are some amazing people working diligently every day, with laser focus, to make this world a more peaceful and equitable place. Those folks are at PLC and I am grateful for each and every one.
by Mame Keita, Facilitator-Coordinator These past two years have been very telling. The pandemic has exacerbated thus revealed entrenched issues within our society. From health to housing, to education and police brutality to just cite a few, the problems are glaring, acute, and widespread. These inequities demand our immediate collective attention and effort. The time to embrace the challenge of working towards equity is now, when our minds are still fresh, our hearts still bleeding and our anger is still burning strong enough to demand change from our institutions. Our institutions, from public to private, large to small, national or local, confronted with our communal outrage, promised us change. Many of them created compelling equity statements and declared publicly their commitment to equity, but that is not enough. The right, consistent and widely different actions are what will make those ideals a reality. Our community also needs to hold the institutions accountable to those promises if we want to see their realization. The work required is not easy and faced with challenging realities, attitudes can be those of the status quo, or worse, of regress. The justifications can be endless, lack of time, lack of money, unclear path, or just too much trouble until the next crisis. If we fail to work tirelessly to make the changes required, we will soon find ourselves facing the same problem over and over again and wondering why. The road towards equity is
by Kyarie Shelton Hello, my name is Kyarie Shelton. I just recently graduated from Pike High School and will be attending Johns Hopkins University in the fall. For the past two or three years, I have participated in Social Justice Leadership Camp. In the Summer of 2019, I was a participant in the camp. This camp opened my eyes to issues that I was unaware of. As an African American female, I knew from my own experiences of racial and gender inequalities; however, through this camp, I learned about mental health disparities, the wealth gap, sexuality inequalities, and the injustices that other people of color face. This camp not only explores the inequality of marginalized groups of people on a surface/street level, but it dives into the institutions and ideologies that keep the marginalized groups oppressed. The structure of the camp is as unique as the wonderful woman running it. Although our days are scheduled, Clare allows the participants to speak freely, even if it deviates a bit from the topic at hand. Clare creates a safe haven for opinions to be heard, and more importantly, respected. Clare treats us all as family and makes sure to incorporate light-hearted days throughout the program to even out the intense discussions. During the Summer of 2020, I was invited back to be a facilitator, and I facilitated throughout the 2020-2021 school year. It was an amazing experience, touching the lives of
Emma Horton is one of our country’s first female Eagle Scout candidates. A senior at North Central High School in Indianapolis, she decided to focus her community service project at Peace Learning Center inside Eagle Creek Park because of its mission to help people learn how to be peacemakers. Completing a needs assessment of the facility, Emma chose to install new safety rails including a 70’ handrail along a stairway trail to the water behind the building. A newer stairway did not include a handrail down the steep descent to Eagle Creek Reservoir. Two other handrails leading from upper parking to the building were damaged and needed replaced. In addition, because of Covid and the need for more outdoor spaces, Emma chose to construct new picnic benches. Altogether Emma recruiting 30 volunteers to help with the project contributing over 166 hours of labor. “We are so thankful for all the work Emma and her team completed to help Peace Learning Center,” said Tim Nation. “ Not only did they address facility safety concerns, they also added outdoor place to serve young people this summer and beyond.” Here are some of the pictures:
Do you remember an experience as a summer camper? A place where you could build community, develop a sense of adventure, and have memories that inspire you the most, all of which you enjoyed outdoors? (Which we all certainly need more of these days!) For many, camp is a chance to grow, learn, and develop into a more confident version of yourself and we are thankful to continue our summer camps to do just that. At Peace Learning Center we are thankful to continue our Summer Camps to develop Peacebuilders, Social Justice Leaders, and Climate Activists. Our camps help children and youth of all ages develop skills to grow themselves as leaders through team building in interactive and creative experiential learning opportunities. This last year we were not able to offer our camps, so the need for campers to experience these opportunities is very important! A gift of $5 will allow one student to attend one day of our camps. For a gift of $200 an entire day of our camp is possible for a whole group! Lessons our youth learn include: Communities and Working Together Self-Esteem and Personal Power Stress and My Brain Communication and Listening Conflict Resolution Responsibility/ Choices and Consequences Restorative Practices Bullying Prevention and Empathy Acceptance and Inclusion Social Problem Solving Peer Pressure Persistence and Protective Factors Hope and Purpose be the change- How I can improve the world around me! Through your generous donations,
Meet Madeline Mason I am a Social Emotional Learning Coach and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion facilitator. Middle school is my specialty and my favorite! I am also a Ph.D. student in IUPUI's Urban Education Studies program. I spend most of my time with my husband and our 15-year-old pug Carl Jones. What is it about PLC's work that appeals to you? I love the intersection of academics, social emotional learning, and anti-racism in the work of PLC. I also love their strengths regarding Restorative Justice. What kind of work do you do with PLC? I have worked with PLC pretty much since Day 1 of my education career 11 years ago. From bringing restorative practices and implicit bias work to a handful of different schools I have worked to do peer mentoring work directly with my students. PLC is special to me because we have always been partners! I also volunteer co-facilitating implicit bias workshops and serve as a board member. Can you tell us a memorable experience or something you have learned during your time at PLC? I partnered with PLC back in 2017, and we led a very special class I was teaching called Student Voices through peer mentoring training. Not only was the day in itself amazing as we hiked, connected, and learned together, but watching my students then come back to our school (shout out to Harshman middle school in IPS!) and lead their peers