Come Together and Unite with Your Community with the Savannah Day of Peace

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Photo from The Mediation Center Of The Coastal Empire

By Enocha Edenfield
For Do Savannah

Violence has been a hot topic in Savannah this year.

Now the Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire, Inc. is hoping the Savannah Day of Peace will give members of the community resources to resolve conflicts before it escalates.

“Savannah’s Day of Peace is based off the International Day of Peace which is always Sept. 21,” said Jill Cheeks, Executive Director of The Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire, Inc. “This year we have a peace proclamation going in front of City Council on Sept. 22 to talk about Savannah’s Day of Peace… It talks about everyone’s right for life, freedom, and the pursuit of peace.

Cheeks said the inspiration for the event was pulled from the Mediation Center’s clients.

“At the Mediation Center, we manage a lot of conflict and helping community members come together. We really just wanted to start talking about how we can counter conflict, and that’s through building peace.”

The Mediation Center plans to maintain the momentum and to create a larger movement by organizing monthly peacebuilding events at different locations across Chatham County.

The event is Sunday, Sept. 25, at Daffin Park. There will be activities designed to build a sense of community and help people express emotions without resorting to violence like yoga and an art station organized by Loop It Up Savannah and Starlandia Art Supply. There will also be living room areas where attendees can sit and connect with other community members.

The two big events for the Savannah Day of Peace are the peace parade, which will lead attendees on a walk around the park and end with everyone forming a peace sign and the presentation of the 2022 Peacebuilder Award.

Five people from the Savannah community have been nominated for their efforts to resolve conflict: Mayor Van Johnson, Reverend Da’Henri Thurmond, Lizann Roberts, Woodville Tompkins student Kennedy Riley, and Magic Marc Dunston.

“The thing is that they come from different sectors of the community,” said Cheeks. “We have an elected official in Mayor Van Johnson, and then we have a faith leader, Reverend Thurmond, and then there’s also Lizann Roberts, who is at Coastal Georgia Indicators Coalition, the Chatham Family Connection Collaborative. She’s amazing at bringing people together to work towards peace. Another person is Magic Mark Thompson, and he shows up for Savannah Police all the time and just helps talk people through things.”

Cheeks is especially excited that a teen was nominated this year as well. “I was able to call [Kennedy Riley’s] mom yesterday, and say, ‘hey, your daughter was nominated.’ She was over the moon. This girl is a senior at Woodville Tompkins, and she was trained as a peer mediator.”

While this is the first year for the Savannah Day of Peace, it won’t be the last peace event for the year. There will be monthly peace-building events around Chatham County that will engage neighbors, religious leaders, and law enforcement to create a peace-building mindset.

“Peacebuilding is an important activity that aims to resolve injustice in nonviolent ways and to transform the cultural and structural conditions that generate deadly or destructive conflict,” said Sherlisa Praylo.

The Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire’s Director of Restorative Practices and Community Outreach. “It revolves around developing constructive personal, group and political relationships across ethnic, religious, class, national and racial boundaries. The process includes violence prevention, conflict resolution, post-conflict reconciliation, and trauma healing.”

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