On Sunday Sept. 25 from 12 to 4 p.m., local nonprofit the Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire will host the first annual Savannah Day of Peace at Daffin Park. The event will follow the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21, which is declared by the United Nations General Assembly. These observances are devoted to promoting peace, non-violence and equality among all people.
Locally, the Savannah Day of Peace is an intentional peacebuilding event designed to help bridge gaps and unite the community. The event arose from a need recognized by the Mediation Center team members, a need that became particularly prominent during the onset of the pandemic.
“During that time, we learned a lot and we also saw that our community is more in need than ever for conflict resolution skills,” said Jill Cheeks, executive director of the Mediation Center.
They also wanted to find a way to elevate community members who were already doing the work of peacebuilding, and so the Mediation Center team decided to put forth this event. The Savannah Day of Peace is an opportunity to “bring community members together to co-create peace,” said Cheeks.
The event will feature a peace parade through Daffin Park, courageous conversation circles where community members can gather and engage in important dialogue, a wellness area with mental health resources, and an arts creation station by Loop It Up Savannah and Starlandia for youth. There will also be a DJ, live performances, vendors and food trucks. Additionally, the city council will unveil the new Peace Proclamation during the event. And local community members who have been leaders in peacebuilding will be recognized as well.
“A peacebuilder represents a person in our community who has been advocating, who encourages, and who brings about peace. Peacebuilders in Savannah come from all walks of life and all ages. We’re fortunate to have students, elected officials, and faith leaders as peacebuilders in our community,” Cheeks explained.
Many community leaders, businesses and organizations have come together to make the Savannah Day of Peace possible. Sponsors include Gulfstream, Resilient Georgia, Ad Specialty and several others. Savannah Marketing Group, Habitat for Humanity Coastal Empire and The Salvation Army have donated time, services and items to support the event as well. With such widespread community support, the Savannah Day of Peace is an important step in countering violence by promoting peace, conflict prevention and resolution, and unity.
“It’s important to promote peace in our community because if we’re talking about the behaviors that we want to see, we have to role model and use that language. . . One of the most simple ways that we can counter violence is by promoting peace,” she explained.
Cheeks encourages everyone to attend the event and help build and spread peace throughout the community:
“We want people to come out to the Savannah Day of Peace to connect with other community members, listen to good music and see that Savannah shows up for peace. That’s the most important thing, to connect with the community for positive change, and to be the change that we want to see.”
The Savannah Day of Peace is just the first of many peacebuilding events that the Mediation Center will present throughout the community.
“We will be providing a peacebuilding event on the 11th of every month. There will be times when we’re partnering with other organizations to hold those. They’ll always be at a different location . . . in a different neighborhood each month. The Mediation Center is working with the community to co-create these spaces,” said Cheeks.
She and her team at the Mediation Center will collaborate with leaders in local neighborhoods to see how they can best engage, support and uplift community members. She envisions that every event will be uniquely tailored to the needs of each particular neighborhood, empowering them with the skills and resources they need to promote peace and resolve conflict.
“We need more mediators and facilitators in all of the neighborhoods. We need people who live there. . . We need to be able to do this innately and have these conversations in our neighborhoods about what needs to happen. We need to organize locally so that the community can come together to resolve interpersonal conflict,” she continued.
The Mediation Center works to help community members navigate and resolve conflict through mediation services and education. The Savannah Day of Peace and the events that will follow provide more touchpoints to promote peace in our community. To learn more about the Mediation Center and the Savannah Day of Peace, visit mediationsavannah.com/savdayofpeace/.