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Chicago, IL

Cities of Peace seeks to amplify the struggles of young people in Chicago and Phnom Penh as they organize to transform harm and create community healing. Using their own site-specific histories as a jumping off point, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Peace Institute of Cambodia will form Community Peace Councils which will interrogate the roots of structural and relational violence and practice transformative justice. They will produce a documentary film, develop exhibitions, and participate in an international exchange which will culminate in a Community Peacebuilding Summit in Chicago in the summer of 2015.


Questions and reflections, transformations, and manifestations by and for Cities of Peace. 


What's going on?

Maria De La Paz



My name is Erica Brooks and I am the program assistant for Cities of Peace and proud to present our first blog post! The first three meetings of Cities of Peace have been interesting and transformative experiences that I’m going to describe in a bit more detail later. I would like to extend congratulations to our peace fellows: Alina Nuth, Ashton Foston, Briana Johnson, Ethan Viets-VanLear. Imani Harris, Johnny Yoeun, Moses Williams, Pamela Quintana, Richard Wilson, and Susana Caizaguano. After a long decision process, these were the youth chosen to aid in building conversations and toolkits in the fight for peace here in Chicago, Cambodia, and around the world.

 Week One:

The first week was full of introductions, ice-breakers, and overview of what exactly is going on with this Cities of Peace transformative experience. When you’re part of such a dynamic group that has worked with groups like We Charge Genocide, Cambodia Association of Chicago, and Circles and Ciphers, it’s good to outline what agreements and guidelines are most important to a program as unique as Cities of Peace. The peace fellows thought about what they can bring from other groups and experiences to add to this program.

Week Two:

The second week our peace fellows were introduced to Free Spirit Media, who will be filming the Cities of Peace experience from beginning to end. The peace fellows kept a few questions in mind:

How do they depict complex and nuanced truth that includes multiple points of view?

How do they create content that is relevant and meaningful for multiple audiences including folks in other countries who might not have the same cultural points of reference as (peace fellows)?

How do they keep this project youth-focused and youth-driven?

The film created in collaboration with peace fellows and Free Spirit will be used to tell the story of what will happen over the next few months and what techniques peace fellows use to add to the conversation of peacebuilding in many different communities.

 Week Three:

Our most recent week brought conversation about the creation of the Cities of Peace program curriculum. All of the peace fellows were given the curriculum break down sheet:

Section 3 - Structural and interpersonal violence and peacebuilding at the turn of the century: Hull-House and Jane Addams

Section 4 - Structural & interpersonal violence and peacebuilding Cambodia

Section 5 - Structural & interpersonal violence and peacebuilding in Chicago today

Section 6 - Radical imagination: community healing at home and abroad

 Peace fellows actually chose which sections they wanted to part of during week two.This week they separated into each individual chose group and began to think critically about the section, what they hoped to teach the entire cohort of peace fellows about that section, and what creative project the want to do around that section. 

  • How did these sessions make you feel?

Theses session make me feel like the groups of peace fellows and all involved are one of the most thoughtful groups I have been around. Each person thinks critically about what values are important to us, how to treat and support each other, and how we want to share the work we are doing in the future. Getting to know the group each session has helped me open up and learn what I can do as an assistant to make everyone's experience smooth and sweet. 

  • What did these sessions encourage you to think about?

I am encouraged to think about how much work and critical thought working on this curriculum will take for everyone involves.  Working within the group that is thinking about the structural and interpersonal violence here in Chicago , I recall at least 100 different subjects our group can talk about, but we just don't have the time.  We have to narrow down what we hope to talk about exactly and how we can talk about it in four short weeks.  What are practical and simple ways to building peace? How can we build peace daily?

  • What did these sessions encourage you to do or think about doing? 

Currently I am working on being communicative and open with everyone during this process. 


Thanks For Reading,