Groups will unite for ’11 Days of Peace’

Submitted by Carbondale Times on

A first-time coalition of local community and government organizations will pool their resources next month for 11 days of events commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, and they hope their effort leads to similar collaborations in the future.

The series of events, dubbed “11 Days for Peace,” begins with a community observance of those terrorist attacks Sept. 11 at the Varsity Center for the Arts. Events in the following days will be presented by the Carbondale Interfaith Council, the Carbondale Human Relations Commission, the Women’s Center, the SIU College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, the Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois and many others.

Carolyn Snyder, who heads up public relations at the Varsity Center for the Arts, said the organization began planning a Sept. 11 commemoration about two months ago but that as time passed by, it became evident that the Varsity’s planned event was just one of many Sept. 11-related events being planned.

“As we’ve gone along, various things have come to our attention that would fit into either our actual commemoration and ceremony or displays in our lobby for people to look at,” Snyder said.

As a result, “11 Days for Peace” is shaping up to be a first-of-its-kind collaboration among the city’s many community- and peace-oriented groups, says Peter Lemish of SIU’s Global Media Research Center.

“The idea of a partnership between the city and the community organizations is really an important part of this,” Lemish said. “We’re doing it together, each of us contributing. Looking to the future, I don’t envision this as something that’s a one-time event. This is an important beginning point.”

While some of the planned events focus directly on the legacy of Sept. 11, others are set to concentrate on more complicated issues arising from the attacks, including nonviolent communication and peaceful problem-solving. Snyder said she hopes to even include local firefighters who traveled to New York in the aftermath of the attacks.

For some groups, the timing is perfect for such a broad initiative. Marleen Shepherd, president of the Carbondale Interfaith Council, said her organization is pleased to undertake such a collaboration as it celebrates its 40th year. She also noted how some recent events, including controversy over a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., demonstrate that the lessons of Sept. 11 have not totally been learned.

“Those tensions seem to have exacerbated since 9/11,” Shepherd said. “That’s something we want to address as a community and be a voice in the nation that’s addressing these issues.”

Hugh Muldoon, who has taken the lead in organizing events, said the planned commemorations bring together the various strengths of different community groups.

“There are a number of groups in town that have developed a more peaceful, compassionate, less-violent community,” Muldoon said. “We contacted these people and said, ‘What would you like to do?’”

Muldoon said the results of all the planning should be memorable.

“We think it will be something that will make a difference,” he said.

A complete list of events for ’11 Days of Peace’ will appear in the Times in the coming weeks.