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Peace Center honors ‘Builders of Community Peace’
More than 160 local supporters of peace and justice on April 11 enjoyed a fine meal at Ramada Inn in Topeka, listened to words of wit and wisdom from a farmer from nearby Here, then watched as Topeka Center for Peace and Justice presented its first ever Builders of Community Peace Awards to five area individuals and groups.
Williams Jennings Bryan Oleander, of Here, Kansas, read several poems by Kansas poet William Stafford, then shared several peace- and justice-related stories about life in Here. Oleander, who bears a remarkable resemblance to the less well known Washburn University Professor of Literature Tom Averill, told a story about an acquaintance of his named Peoples, who responded to events around him with retributive violence, only to reap the bitter harvest.
Peace Center board member Dennis Dobson then presented awards to individuals and groups who have a long record of distinguishing themselves by their work in bringing about peace and justice. The winners were:
Individual/Family/Youth: Ken Cott. Ken, who traveled from Mexico to receive the award, has worked 22 years with various coalitions to help the city of Los Talpetates, El Salvador. In doing so, he has impacted hundreds of lives in both Topeka and El Salvador. Ken’s work has provided critical needs, including education, safe water, and health care in this war-torn country.
Organizations: Shawnee County League of Women Voters. The League, which grew out of the women’s suffrage movement, has a long history of non-partisan education of voters and voters’ rights, as well as advocacy on issues affecting the common good. The group helps shed light on issues of statewide, national and international scope.
Media/Journalists: Kansas Health Institute’s News Service, an independent news source for stories about people, events and issues that affect health policy. KHI’s nonpartisan viewpoint is of great importance because the Kansas Legislature makes so many decisions affecting health and health care in Kansas.
To see more pictures of the peace party, vist our Facebook page.
Faith Communities: VIDA Ministries. Under the leadership of Executive Director Consti Garay, VIDA provides hope and services to Topeka’s Hispanic Community, strengthening community, facilitating integration and creating enduring relationships.
Education – Institution/Individual: Chris Hamilton. As a political science professor at Washburn University for more than 16 years, Chris has designed and taught courses that nurture peace and justice, such as Studies in Hate Groups, and Religion and Politics. He has helped students find work in Topeka in these areas, including internships with the Peace Center.
In a surprise move , Executive Director Jim McCollough then presented a “Lifetime Achievement Award” to Betty Nelson. Betty, a long-time member of the Peace Center’s board, has been an active advocate for peace and justice in Topeka for decades. Betty was once arrested for her protest against the passage of the White Train, which used to carry nuclear armaments through Topeka on its way to the West Coast.
Board member names state rep Chucklehead of Year
Peace Center board member Duane Johnson, acting on his own and taking advantage of his unparalleled access to the Peace Center Web site, on Friday named Kansas State Representative Dennis Hedke, R-Wichita, as the winner of the first ever Kansas Chucklehead of the Year Award.
Hedke, acting on his own and taking advantage of his role as chairman of the House Energy and Environment Committee, earlier this this year introduced House Bill #2366, which would prohibit the use of funds “either directly or indirectly, to promote, support, mandate, require, order, incentivize, advocate, plan for, participate in, or implement sustainable development” in the state of Kansas.
The bill goes on to define sustainability as “a mode of human development in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come ….” The thought apparently alarms Hedke, a geophysicist who does contract work for 30 regional oil and gas companies.
Hedke said he introduced the bill on behalf of constituents who are concerned about sustainability; he declined to say who they are or what their concerns are.
When asked by the Topeka Capital-Journal whether he saw his introduction of the bill as a conflict of interest, the distinguished chucklehead replied, “I can’t see why. It really never crossed my mind.”
When asked whether he thought Hedke may have been financially incentivized to introduce the bill by one or more of the oil companies he contracts with, Johnson replied, “The thought really never crossed my mind.”
The bill died in committee.
Big turnout for “Whose Dream Is IT?” event
More than 300 people gathered at Grace Cathedral on Monday, Jan. 21 to take part in Topeka’s 20th annual “Whose Dream Is It”? event celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr. See our News/Events page for additional coverage of the celebration.