If you’ve been meaning to give peace a chance, this is your weekend.
Saturday is “Peace Day Philly,” a grassroots initiative designed to promote participation in the United Nations International Day of Peace. This year’s theme is education.
A worldwide event observed each Sept. 21, Peace Day Philly features more than 50 events throughout the city and suburbs to mark a day of ceasefire and non-violence that organizers note is observed by more than 100 million people worldwide.
“Peace Day Philly is a great opportunity for citizens, organizations and communities to come together in the spirit of unity and to build a more peaceful city,” said Mayor Michael Nutter, an early supporter of the initiative.
The centerpiece of Peace Day Philly will be Saturday’s ceremony at Independence Mall where participants will engage in a “global” moment of silence at noon, observed in all time zones across the globe. Then, a Unity Walk/March for Peace will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
According to coordinator Lisa Parker, Peace Day Philly originated in 2011 when members of the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia and the Alliance for a Sustainable Future talked about creating a local version of the International Day of Peace.
A native of the Germantown/Mt. Airy area and current resident of Devon, Parker said that her organization aims to “create peace locally” and the event features several programs to teach peace-building skills.
“It’s growing,” she said. “More people are plugging in in ways that are more meaningful.”
The Philadelphia Police Department is also committing itself to the business of peace with districts citywide offering a variety of events.
In the Northwest, each of the four districts will be out in force, starting today.
Officers from the Fifth District will host child fingerprinting, bike-safety training and a gunlock giveaway at the Kendrick Recreation Center (5822 Ridge Ave. in Roxborough) from 3 to 5 p.m.
In the 14th District, Police Clergy will host a Prayer for Peace at the Awbury Recreation Center (Ardleigh and Haines streets, Germantown) from 2 to 6 p.m. complete with resource tables, games and food.
The 39th District will also host informational tables, music and snacks at district headquarters (2201 W. Hunting Park Ave.) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
On Saturday, the 35th District will bring peace to Broad Street with a neighborhood block party scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the district headquarters (Broad and Champlost streets).
This will actually be the second time this year police officers are promoting peace.
In May, the Philadelphia Police Department held its first annual Philly Police Day for Peace.
Held throughout the city, PPD community relations officers organized various events to affirm the bond between police and the neighborhoods they serve.
PPD spokesman Lt. John Stanford told NewsWorks that the department is in “full support” of Peace Day.
“We encourage people to come together in an effort to build lasting relationships within the communities that can work with police in providing safety and promoting peace all year long,” he said.
Sonia Sanchez involvement
Peace Day Philly will formally kick off Friday afternoon at South Philadelphia’s Hawthorne Park.
Special guests will include Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez and various musical groups. The Mural Arts Porch Light Program will be on hand to engage children in wellness-arts activities. Police officers from the 3rd District will share community resources.
Bookending Saturday’s ceremony in Center City will be an invitation to participate in Peace Day by submitting up to 10 photos capturing personal interpretations of peace. The photographs can be used as a tool to highlight community, capture compassion, explore social issues and invite action.
Photographs taken on Saturday can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Selected images will be shown during a discussion on the power of images at Drexel University in October.
Northwest Philly events
In the Northwest, four events are being held over the weekend:
On Saturday, GriotWorks is partnering with Peace Day Philly for a day of neighborhood-based tales, with storytellers and youth poets will share tales rooted in African oral traditions with the goal of bring hope and peace to each community. This free event takes place at East Germantown’s Lonnie Young Recreation Center (1100 E. Chelten Ave.) at noon.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church (2800 W. Cheltenham Ave.) will host a “Memorial for the Lost,” recognizing the estimated 300 people lost to gun violence in Philadelphia last year.
On Sunday at 3 p.m., The Keystone State Boychoir and Philadelphia Sinfonia will make their first appearance together at this concert of music inspiring the spirit of peace. The event will take place at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown (35 W. Chelten Ave.)
Lastly, Chris Satullo, WHYY’s vice president of News and Civic Dialogue, will facilitate an interfaith conversation entitled “Gun Violence and Theology” at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill (8855 Germantown Ave.) The event will occur on Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m.
Parker is expecting to attract thousands of people from across the region to participate.
“It’s just the beginning,” she said. “The global push is for everyone around the world to know about it.”
For more information, visit peacedayphilly.org.
Correction: Peace Day Philly’s day-of-the-week information has been updated since the original version of this story was posted.