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Peace conference to explore causes of conflict

April 1, 2002

By Jennifer Reeder
Special to the Herald

America may be at war, but some Durango residents think it should give peace a chance.

This week, the Peace and Justice Conference will be held in Durango with the goal of teaching and promoting peace through education, participation and action.

The conference will feature several days of workshops and discussions. Presenters range from author Jim Hightower to elementary school students reading essays about what peace and justice means to them. The event culminates with a candlelight march Saturday evening down Main Avenue.

Members of the community and Fort Lewis College’s sociology club have organized the event.

"We’re not trying to further the division of the people who are for the war and people who are against it," said Lisa Knoblauch, an organizer. "We’re trying to bring awareness to larger issues and look at what created these problems in the first place, and what people can do to prevent them through awareness and action."

Knoblauch, 23, and about 10 other community members concerned by the events of Sept. 11 held a peace "teach-in" last October to generate dialogue about current events. That day, about 250 people put their names on a list of citizens interested in being involved with future actions to promote peace.

But some have accused Knoblauch and her co-organizers of being unpatriotic for their stance.

"For me, it’s not about being patriotic or unpatriotic, it’s about fundamental human rights," Knoblauch said. "Whether it’s an American life, an Afghan life or an Iraqi life, a fundamental human right is to exist in a world of peace and justice."

Arthur Knox, a 25-year-old organizer, said opposing war doesn’t make someone unpatriotic.

"In times of war, the meaning of the word ‘patriotism’ gets narrowed. Patriotism simply becomes ‘nationalism,’" Knox said. "In truth, the word includes a great deal more than who or what our government chooses to fight in any given year."

Knoblauch said she is pleased that the event has attracted speakers from outside the area, such as representatives from the Denver-based Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace.

"One of our goals is trying to bring people, not just from Durango, but from the region to try to start a movement," Knoblauch said.

For more information, call 375-2662.

Schedule of Events

7 p.m. Film and discussion by Cornell West, Harvard professor of African American studies, "Progressive Politics in These Times: From Vision to Action." Fort Lewis College, Noble Hall 125. Free.

7 p.m. Jim Hightower speaks about U.S. foreign policy. FLC ballroom. $3 students, $8 general public, $5 advanced.

10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Workshop and discussion series featuring professors Tom Eckenrode and Mark Seis presenting "Crisis in Conflict in the Mideast 2002" and "Surveillance Blowback and Civil Liberties." FLC ballroom. Free.

10 a.m.-5:45 p.m. Local justice issues panel, puppet making, fourth- to eighth-grade essay readers, non-violent civil disobedience workshop and group drumming with Fara Toino. Mason Center on East Third Avenue and 12th Street. Free. At 5:45 p.m., candlelight march for the inclusion of human rights in U.S. foreign policy. Mason Center. Free.

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