SUMMIT COUNTY – Thinking about the state of the world today is a common cause of disillusionment. Summit County resident Pauline Child, for example, didn’t know what to do next with information she’d learned from local and international news: Should she protest the decline of the boreal toads in Breckenridge or the war in Iraq?Looking for an outlet to express her discontent, her solution came from the counsel of Summit’s Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church pastor Rich Mayfield, who introduced her to an organization devoted to peace. The nonprofit, which his daughter Molly Mayfield Barbee works for, promotes global peace by creating a dialogue between women’s groups in the United States and groups outside the U.S. through the internet. PEACEXPEACE (pronounced peace by peace) began in 2002 when a circle of women met to address the questions, “What is peace, and how can women be empowered to create it.” Mayfield Barbee, who works as member support and volunteer coordinator for the nonprofit, said the young organization currently has 33,000 members registered with the global network. The first step to joining is to form a circle, and Child brought the idea to her existing women’s group last year. Becoming a PEACEXPEACE circle focused them as a vehicle for change committed to world peace. The 15 women of the local group include nurses, school teachers, yoga instructors, business owners, artists and massage therapists, among others. The group of mostly mothers range in age from 25-65 and meet on a monthly basis. The group has been matched with a circle from Meru, Kenya, and the two circles correspond by e-mail a few times a month.Mayfield Barbee said the most important results of these dialogues are the relationships formed. Through learning about each other, a change in world view takes place on both sides and the human connection becomes clear.Child said the correspondence has been slow so far. She’s eager to learn more about the Kenya group, called Widows with a Mission, including why they are widows. Mayfield Barbee said it is common for the dialogue to be slower from non-U.S. circles.
Mayfield Barbee described a sister circle in Baghdad. “Every few days they lose power for 36 hours. Then it’s not just a matter of access, but also emotional stability – getting back on track with things that matter in life.”Another aspect of the PEACEXPEACE mission is in promoting the empowerment of women as leaders and decision-makers alongside men. It centers around archetypal feminine values of consensus building, inviting silence and relationship building. “We’re not trying to exclude men from the dialogue, but to bring other values (to the table),” Mayfield Barbee said.”That’s what PEACEXPEACE is trying to do – develop these circles of women across cultures and religions and nationalities to simply (communicate) and find commonality. Issues are beginning to get resolved, in ways that maybe are different than we’ve been used to in the past,” Rich Mayfield said.Currently, Child said she and the other members of the circle are working to find peace within the group and to learn how to create peaceful conversations. They have planned to train with local mediator Joseph Lambrecht, who recently returned from a mediation conference in Palestine.He said he will teach the women some mediation skills including broaching topics that are difficult to discuss and improving listening skills.A main objective of Lambrecht’s instruction is to differentiate between interests and positions. “We often deal in the world of positions – arguments around and about our positional statement as opposed to the interest each of us has behind these position statements,” he said.Lambrecht said he jumped at the invitation to support the Summit County PEACE-
XPEACE organization.”They’re just neighbors, associates, some friends that come together – with not everybody known to everybody in the group. It’s gutsy as hell to come together like that,” he said.The local circle’s next meeting will be Monday at 5 p.m. at the Lord of the Mountains Church in Dillon. Interested people can also visit peacexpeace.org.
Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13622, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado
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