Building Cultures of Peace Via Community Peace Wheels: The Los Angeles/Southern California Experience

By Groff, Linda | Social Alternatives, October 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Building Cultures of Peace Via Community Peace Wheels: The Los Angeles/Southern California Experience


Groff, Linda, Social Alternatives


Introduction

Promoting cultures of peace around the world involves a range of peace-building practices such as developing visions and goals for a peaceful society and the world, with nonviolence as the means used in bringing about needed associated socio-political change. An approach that has been developed to integrate community activities in the goal of creating cultures of peace is 'peace convergence processes' where the peace wheel is at its heart. Peace wheels are not widely known within the peace studies community, yet they are an effective tool for involving different sectors of the community in the peace-building process. This commentary provides examples of peace wheels, and discusses a Peace Convergence Process involving a peace wheel that took place in a Los Angeles, California, community in 2012 to illustrate how peace wheels can contribute to the peace-building process at the community level.

Some Examples of Community Peace Wheels

The diagrammatic form of a peace wheel is a circle with a central hub that is divided into different sectors. What is placed in the hub and the sectors varies according to circumstances. This section will discuss three different peace wheel examples to illustrate their variety, referring to those devised by Avon Mattison, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Leland Stewart.

Avon Mattison is President and Co-Founder of the group Pathways to Peace. In 1983, this group worked with the previous UN Assistant Secretary General, Robert Muller, to develop the Culture of Peace Initiative, including an annual International Day of Peace on 21 September of each year. Avon first developed a version of a community peace wheel with eight 'sectors', where she saw each sector as reflecting an aspect of the community necessary to create the 'pathways to peace'. Her eight sectors are science and technology, religious/spiritual teaching, environment, culture, government/law, education, economics/business and health/relationships.

Another example of a peace wheel is that devised by Barbara Hubbard. Barbara Marx Hubbard is a very well known futurist and co-founder of The Foundation for Conscious Evolution, who also proposed the creation of a Peace Room in the White House as a counter to the War Room. She is also well known for doing Syn-Cons (or Synergistic Convergences), beginning in the 1980s, with alternate peace wheels being created at different times. Just one version is shown here as an example (see Diagram 1). Different goals can be placed at the centre of the hub depending on what the engaged persons would like to put there, and the sectors can be re-developed in relation to their chosen goal.

In her peace wheel, the notions of Co-Creation 'Worldview' and Whole Systems Design' are at the centre of the hub, surrounded by the following twelve sectors: justice, health, spirituality, infrastructure, environment, media, governance, social relations, arts, economics, science and education.

Barbara Hubbard's Syn-Con Process brought together people from all twelve sectors of her wheel. People from each sector could propose ideas and projects that would benefit the community. The Syn-Con would take place for several days and a newsletter announced ideas from each sector. To help the implementation of the ideas proposed, project idea proposers for each sector could note both 'needs' (what it needs from other sectors to implement its ideas and projects), as well as 'resources' (what it could provide to help other sectors/areas meet their needs for a project they were proposing). Another aspect of the SynCons is that as they progress, the boundaries between different sectors begin to merge through brainstorming occurring in ever-larger groups, leading to proposed projects on increasingly larger cooperating group levels.

More recently, Barbara has worked to create an online version of her Syn-Cons. In this format, people who are not physically present with each other could still experience brainstorming ideas with others, firstly within, and then across different sectors. …

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