It started as a whisper: One lone professor and a small group of mentees. A little table set up on a small college campus, where passersby received a handful of flyers on a celebratory day few had heard of.
My, how things have changed.
Get ready for a new kind of festival in Charleston, because September 20 launches Peace One Day. Charleston Peace One Day, that is. A local celebration that’s gained ground so rapidly that some 50 nonprofits, artists, businesses, athletes, church groups and others are clamoring to get on board.
It’s our own local version of the United Nation’s International Day of Peace, a 24-hour observance of global ceasefire and nonviolence. In 2008, it was a day when Afghanistan soldiers and Taliban militants reportedly put down their weapons. It was a time when temporary demilitarization made way for the delivery of 1.8 million much-needed vaccinations, and when villages otherwise ravaged by violent conflict received food and water from relief groups.
In Charleston, it’s a day when we can all put aside our differences and take a good, hard look at what peace and conflict resolution can do for the Lowcountry. True, our cities don’t experience damaging food shortages, and the last war that ransacked the area was the one that, thankfully, ended slavery. Yet too many of our residents are going hungry, and we see unfortunate incidents of violence and animosity all the time.
It was these reasons and many others that College of Charleston professor Reba Parker had in mind when she – together with that small table of students – started the movement to bring something new to Charleston. Within three years, her group has turned a passion for peace into a full-blown community organization. Their nonprofit is now working year-round to promote intercultural cooperation and non-violence, Lowcountry style.
And, of course, to plan the many events that together make up Charleston Peace One Day.
We’re talking about a two-month, peace-themed installment in Charleston’s WALK gallery. A day-long festival that’ll transform Brittlebank park into a lively collection of local bands and artists, a Kids Global Village with peace-building activities and a free-to-all soccer tournament where teams are built based on differences.
But don’t go expecting a series of solemn, sedate observances. This is, after all, a day to celebrate peace. It all wraps up with an after party at the Music Farm (8 p.m., $10 at the door). You’ll get a chance to watch live videos of peace building initiatives taking place throughout the world, and maybe catch a glimpse of long-time Peace One Day supporting celebs like Jude Law and Angelina Jolie.
So remember: Sunday, September 20. The start of a new Lowcountry legacy.
BePeaceful.org and PeaceOneDay.org