Adults can learn about apartheid and the arms race, and children will be invited to write a rap song about peace at a conference this week at Cal State Northridge.
The Peace Expo--scheduled today through Saturday--will feature non-competitive games, a dance, films about the homeless and nuclear weapons, and discourses on subjects from wife beating to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Participants will be allowed to camp on the Sierra Quad lawn on campus during the event.
The object of the conference is to demonstrate how a more peaceful world can be built, said Carol S. Kelly, a child development professor at the university and director of the International Institute for Violence Prevention, which organized the event. The institute, formed in 1986, consists of 200 Cal State Northridge teachers, students and community members who are working to develop peace topics in the university’s curriculum, Kelly said.
“We didn’t want just another conference,” she said. “We can’t afford just to look at what we don’t want--we don’t want spousal abuse, child neglect, nuclear annihilation. We have to look at moving to what we do want.”
For instance, organizers said, participants will be asked to submit written reports on their visions for the future--a clean planet or a world without political borders, for instance. The reports are to be presented to the United Nations next year.
The $20,000 to run the expo, which organizers predict will draw 2,500 people during its three days, comes from donations, Kelly said. The events will be free and will be held at the Student Union.
For children, games are scheduled such as “hug tag": You’re “it” if you are tagged while not hugging somebody, and the hugging limit is four seconds per person, said Jack Foley, associate professor in leisure studies and recreation.
Even college students have a lot to learn about peace, said expo student coordinator Lisa Sherwood.
“People my age are so much into ‘What am I gonna do . . . ? How am I gonna make money?’ ” and don’t feel “connected to foreign policy and global decisions.”
Sherwood will be on a panel discussing student involvement in such movements as the French Revolution and U.S. civil rights.
Other panels will feature students from England and Argentina discussing the Falklands/Malvinas war. The university debate team will argue the pros and cons of gun control.
55 Community Groups
About 55 community groups will offer workshops or information booths, including the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Survivors of Physical and Emotional Abuse as Kids, the California Vegetarian Assn., Gray Panthers of the San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, the War Resisters League and the Sierra Club.
Keynote speakers include the Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr., a longtime peace activist; Stanley Sheinbaum, an organizer of the Americas Watch Committee of Southern California and one of five American Jews who met in December with Yasser Arafat, Palestine Liberation Organization chairman, and author Riane Eisler, who wrote “The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future,” a book about societies throughout history in which men and women have been equal partners.
Willing to Listen
There are no scheduled speakers who believe that a strong military is the route to peace, but people with that opinion are welcome at the expo, Kelly said. “We have to be open to listening to them. We’re trying hard to understand each other’s position.”
The expo will also feature workshops on date rape, domestic violence, gang violence, racism and the environment.
“We hope each person who comes--children, youths, adults--will leave not only with more information and resources, but leave feeling empowered to . . . do at least one thing to make a better world and make a difference,” Kelly said.