Project Peace Bench

The purpose of this project is to recognize and encourage peacemakers in the greater Tacoma area through the manufacture and installment of a “Peace Bench” — a TANGIBLE symbol of dialog and diplomacy, a place where people can meet, connect, and communicate with each other. The Peace Bench will be situated in a peaceful serene location alongside the shores of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington (the Waterwalk at Point Ruston), and it will be dedicated in honor of and in memory of internationally known peacemaker, mediator, negotiator, trainer, conflict resolution guide, and long-time Tacoma resident William F. Lincoln.

 

Bill Lincoln, 1940-2020

Bill Lincoln was the 2006 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize Laureate, and he had been a member of the GTPP Board of Directors from 2015 until his unexpected death in March of 2020. Bill knew that peace begins with talking; “Let’s have a chat” was one of his standard opening lines to bring people of diverse and divergent opinions together. As Nelson Mandela said, “The best weapon is to sit down and talk.” The Peace Bench pays tribute to Bill’s efforts to bring people together to talk and make peace, to find effective resolutions for conflict. Widely acclaimed as a practitioner of negotiation and mediation, Bill found himself in diverse, critical, and often highly volatile scenarios involving international, governmental, private, community, and environmental sectors.

Bill loved Tacoma and was extremely proud of the progress the city had made since he arrived in 1984. He enjoyed walks along Ruston Way, and eventually, along the new Waterwalk at Point Ruston. When guests visited, they were treated to a “Sunday Drive” with Bill, during which he inspected and espoused upon the many construction sites at the University of Washington and the Museum District, as well as Ruston Way all the way to and through Point Defiance.

Description of Project

The bench, a “cleat bench”, will be manufactured by the Port Townsend Foundry, which uses 35% recycled sand in the manufacture of a line of concrete cleat benches. (See photos of cleat benches below.) This bench style was chosen because of the symbolism of its slightly curved shape and narrow ends, drawing those who sit on it closer together and insinuating that they should sit in the middle.

Timeline

The installation and dedication of the bench will take place in the Spring of 2022.

THANK YOU! to Kiwanis Club of Tacoma and to Loren Cohen and the team at Point Ruston (McBride-Cohen Management Group) for their assistance and generosity with this project.

It is the hope of the GTPP that the Peace Bench will be identified as the place to come where one can find not only the inner peace that comes when one has a beautiful quiet place for meditation and reflection, but also the peace that comes when two people “Have a Chat” and work out a knotty problem together.


Marilyn Kimmerling – 2020/2021 GTPP Laureate

Marilyn Kimmerling, 2020 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize Laureate

Recognizing the importance of both global human rights and climate justice, the Board of Directors of the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize (GTPP) proudly announces the selection of Marilyn Kimmerling as the 2020 GTPP Laureate.

Ms. Kimmerling believes in and works for worker rights, minority rights, human rights and finding peaceful solutions to conflict.  Since climate change is already resulting in mass migrations and conflicts over land and resources, her work has grown to include climate justice.

Marilyn has been a community activist since the mid 1990’s. Two organizations where she had great impact were Jobs with Justice, where she served a term as Chair, and United for Peace of Pierce County where she was one of the major organizers.

Kimmerling is one of the founding members of the Tacoma chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as a member of 350 Tacoma and an active associate-member of Veterans for Peace. In 2017, she co-founded the current Tacoma branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, and she is currently active with the Save the Wetlands Behind TCC campaign.  She is the chief organizer and writer of material for the “Raging Grannies” and their myriad performances.  She is President of Radio Tacoma, having worked tirelessly on the successful FCC application for an FM license, and she has continued volunteering with them for six years.  [Radio Tacoma is a low-power FM public access radio station, developed to serve Tacoma with opportunities for progressive groups, union members, minority groups, and local talent that might otherwise not be heard.] 

Believing that the proposed Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) storage/ refinery presented a regiona environmental and health threat, and having exhausted other means of opposition (for example, attending and speaking at numerous public meetings), and motivated by compassion and conviction, Marilyn and five others engaged in acts of civil disobedience, knowing they risked arrest. The risk was outweighed, they believed, by the plant’s potential danger and the treaty violation involved in its construction. They were indeed arrested, tried by jury, and exonerated on all counts.

In today’s world, the need for community activists is never-ending, and Marilyn continues to show up to build local and global community that is humane, compassionate, and just.  On her own initiative for more than ten years, she held Soup Sundays in her home, an open house for all of Tacoma, to build community. 

“Marilyn Kimmerling is the epitome of a human being working on behalf of others, and she possesses the “knowhow and do now” energy. Furthermore, she exudes a spirit of warmth and inclusiveness which is an inspiration to others. She is most worthy of the 2020 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize.”

Nancy Farrell, who nominated Ms. Kimmerling

The Greater Tacoma Peace Prize, inspired by the Nobel Peace Prize, was founded in 2005 in order to honor local peacemakers and has been formally endorsed by the Pierce County Council and the Tacoma City Council. In Norway, partners of the GTPP include the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Norwegians Worldwide (the Norse Federation), the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialog, Bjørknes College, the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, the Nobel Peace Center, and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. Recipients of the Tacoma award are honored at a Laureate Recognition Banquet in the fall and are presented with a trip to Norway in December for the Nobel Peace Prize events.

Contact: Cort Ockfen, Communications
Greater Tacoma Peace Prize
cort@tacomapeaceprize.org


Federal Executive Institute: Remembering Bill Lincoln

By Colin Gwin, LDS 423

“Negotiating a peaceful transfer of power between the Sandinistas and the National Opposition Union in Nicaragua in early 1990 was not a sit-down job. Government records had been systematically destroyed, bribes payed, and laws broken. But change was in the air, and if two sides were at the table—no matter how acrimonious the relations—then both of them had something in common.

Negotiating a pause in the 1964 Rochester race riots, to allow firefighters in to try to save the neighborhoods, wasn’t really a sit-down job either. From Afghanistan to Wounded Knee, Bill Lincoln often found himself an interesting footnote to some of the world’s most significant conflicts, and he probably liked it that way: His first lesson to potential mediators was, “Don’t make it about you.”

Yet that is where Bill found himself—the center of attention, sitting comfortably in front of a class at FEI in 2016, working through his Strategic Negotiation lesson plan and offering tales of the negotiations that almost went bad—tales that made more than a few students look around in disbelief… “

Read the entire post on FEI’s website here: https://www.feiaa.org/page/020April20-08-remember



Willie C. Stewart, Sr.

2019 Laureate

Willie C. Stewart, Sr.

EDUCATOR WILLIE C. STEWART SELECTED AS 2019 TACOMA PEACE LAUREATE

The Greater Tacoma Peace Prize is proud to announce that Willie C. Stewart, Sr. has been selected as the 2019 Laureate. Mr. Stewart was selected for his long-term service and ongoing commitment to the community and Tacoma schools, particularly in the Lincoln District and the Hilltop. As a practitioner of racial reconciliation, he has been a consistent calming influence in situations involving racial friction or conflict.

A longtime public school educator, Willie became the first black school principal in Tacoma history when he took on the role at Lincoln High School in 1970. “He was able to diffuse many of the possible ‘riots’ on campus by engaging people in conversation that could lead to a possible resolution or more peaceful ending,” wrote Linda Caspersen (Lincoln Class of ’72) in a letter to the GTTP Board nominating him for the Prize. “He had the innate ability to teach us to not look at color as a dividing factor, but rather as a unique opportunity to appreciate everyone as an individual and be part of a larger group.”

Mr. Stewart grew up in Texas where he picked cotton as a child, attended high school, earned a B.A. at Texas Southern University, and worked a series of odd jobs before eventually joining the army and retiring as a colonel. He spent 36 years working for the Tacoma School District as a teacher and administrator and sat on the Tacoma School Board from 1999 to 2005 and remains heavily involved in local organizations. He has served as the Coordinator for the Weekly Breakfast for the Homeless since 1995. He’s also a member of the Tacoma Athletic Commission, the Goodwill Industries Board, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound Board of Governors.

The Greater Tacoma Peace Prize recognizes and honors Peacemakers from the Tacoma/Pierce County region. First awarded in 2005 during the Centennial celebration of Norway’s independence, the award has its roots in Norwegian-American culture. It’s founded on the idea that peace begins locally.

Willie C. Stewart in 2019 Parade

Learn more about Willie in his video Laureate Spotlight:


Melannie Denise Cunningham

Laureate 2018

For her exemplary work promoting racial reconciliation, the Board of Directors has selected Tacoma Resident Melannie Denise Cunningham as the 2018 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize Laureate.

“Melannie is a visionary, educator, community servant and consummate peace builder.”

Nominator Joanne Lisosky

Cunningham uses her years of knowledge, coalition building, and strategic planning to host The People’s Gathering. It is an annual conference which brings together business leaders, human resource professionals, educators, and students to engage in frank conversations about race. American society is moving backwards. Discussions to deny individuals their rights are no longer behind closed doors. Cunningham was inspired to encourage people to speak by a quotation from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.”

The People’s Gathering equips professionals with tools to use existing policy to fight cultural stereotypes, institutional racism, and discrimination in the workplace, instead of reinforcing them. The over 200 individuals that participate in the conference each year continue the sometime difficult conversations about race and move the issue forward in the greater Tacoma community.

Cunningham brings unwritten cultural knowledge back to Tacoma from one of its fourteen Sister Cities, George, South Africa. She visits George often. When apartheid policies were abolished, Cunningham saw a perfect opportunity to build solidarity based on the commonalities shared by American and South African cultures. South Africans needed to bring communities together that are separated by race, gender and class. U.S. communities, including Tacoma, face many of the same issues. Part of her efforts involve her work with Women of Vision, a non-governmental organization registered with the United Nations. Cunningham notes, “We see ourselves in the faces of women of children that cry and feel just like us.” Women of Vision brings together individuals from different backgrounds to solve community problems. They empower women and girls to make change. They improve the mind, body, and spirit. Cunningham brings those discussions back to the Tacoma community through her service on Tacoma Sister Cities Council and George, South Africa Committee.

Cunningham’s promotion of peace in Tacoma spans decades. In the late 1980s Cunningham organized the first citywide Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. In 2015 she spearheaded an effort that led to the City of Tacoma to become the first city in the United States to accept the “Hate Won’t Win” challenge.

As the Director of Multicultural Outreach and Engagement at Pacific Lutheran University, Cunningham serves as a mentor to hundreds of students of color that join the PLU community. There are few administrators and faculty of color at PLU to serve as role models. She explains, “It is necessary for students to experience teaching and learning from people of multicultural backgrounds.” Students often discuss problems with her, and she helps them strategically approach problems and develop solutions.

Learn more about Melanie in her video Laureate Spotlight:


Pennye Nixon

2017 Laureate

Pennye Nixon thoughtfully responded to an inquiry about her work. “I like to talk about poop.” Nixon explained that there are two precursors to public health – clean water and sanitation – and that sanitation is often forgotten about when assisting impoverished areas. As the Founder and Director of Operations for Etta Projects, Nixon directs projects that construct sanitation facilities and provide clean water in rural Bolivian villages. These exceptional peacebuilding efforts are why the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize (GTTP) was proud to announce the selection of Pennye Nixon as the 2017 Laureate this evening, at the Etta Projects 13th Annual Auction.

In addition to providing clean water and sanitation, Etta Projects also trains women to become health workers in the villages. Nixon explained that the women are trained in groups and network across several villages. The training empowers women who never had a role that was valued in a village before. Health care workers provide basic care such as tending to wounds, prenatal care, and treating the common cold. They also work with clinics to ensure that individuals receive follow-up care. Nixon has seen attitudes in villages change overnight. When women are empowered, their status in the village increases.

Etta Projects began in 2003 out of a tragedy. Nixon’s daughter, Etta, was a 16-year-old Rotary International Exchange Student. Nixon mentioned that Bolivia was not Etta’s first choice but she embraced her assignment anyway. Etta quickly became a favorite among locals. She attended a wealthy high school in Bolivia but reached out to individuals of lower classes. Nixon mentioned that Etta played soccer with a class of people that her classmates deemed unworthy to associate with. She also recounted a story of Etta saving a sloth from oncoming traffic in a town square. Etta passed away tragically in a bus crash after only three months in the country. However, her impact was so great that the local government named a dining hall after Etta. The dining hall provides food for the poor in the city that Etta embraced.

In 2009 Etta Projects shifted its focus from providing food to constructing sanitation and water projects. They quickly added the health worker training program. Nixon believes that sanitary conditions and health care create conditions for peace. Stable communities create conditions where individuals can progress and grow. Nixon notes, “Peace is about contentment.” It is hard for individuals to be content when they are fighting for their basic needs. Etta Projects recently added a Community Transformation Center to further development in rural villages. The center coordinates with NGOs and local officials to continue to build infrastructure and access to resources in the communities.

For more information about Pennye’s efforts:

Etta Projects Home Page

Etta Projects Introduction Video

Learn more about Pennye in her video Laureate Spotlight:


Theresa Pan Hosley

2016 Laureate

Recognizing the importance of reconciliation in peacemaking, the Board of Directors of the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize (GTPP) is proud to announce the selection of Ms. Theresa Pan Hosley as the 2016 GTPP Laureate.

Ms. Hosley was nominated by the World Affairs Council (WAC) of Tacoma “for her initiative, persistence, and long-term leadership of Tacoma’s Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation.”

The nominators related that “Her main strengths as a leader are her patience, soft yet firm touch, and her ability to listen. She is a manifestation of a peacemaker, promoting enduring reconciliation and harmony.”

Theresa Pan Hosley
2016 Theresa Pan Hosley

The 2016 Laureate Recognition Banquet will be held on Thursday, September 22, when Ms. Hosley will receive a unique glass artwork (created especially for the GTPP by Tacoma’s Hilltop Artists), a certificate of commendation, a laureate medallion, and a trip for two to Oslo, Norway, to participate in “The Nobel Days,” events surrounding the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. Her name will be the 12th to be added to the GTPP perpetual plaque.

Chinese Reconciliation Project

Learn more about Theresa on her video Laureate Spotlight:


Thomas Dixon

2015 Laureate

Thomas Dixon, the “voice of black Tacoma” for over thirty years and mentor to two generations of African-American civic leaders, has been a vital force in Tacoma’s 50-year drive forjustice and diversity. As we continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, it is timely that we honor this leading figure in Tacoma’s non-violent struggle for racial and social equity.

Born the grandson of a slave in Georgia in 19,31, Tom remained in Tacoma after completing military service at McChord Air Force Base in 1964. Two years later he became the first director of the Hilltop Multi-Service Center and in 1968 became the inaugural executive director of Tacoma’s new affiliate of the National Urban League, a position he held for 34 years. As Tacoma Urban League executive director, Tom Dixon worked assiduously for economic development, job training, social services, and the general benefit of all Tacomans. But as a leading black voice within black and multi-racial communities in Pierce County, Tom was in a key position to advocate progressive change to a conservative, predominately white city leadership; respond to an outbreak of racial violence in the Mother’s Day Disturbance of 1969 with a strong voice of non-violence and conciliation; and was a leading figure in the formation of the Black Collective, a weekly gathering of black civic leaders that continues today.

As influential as the Urban League was during this era of enormous and often hard­ fought progress, Tom Dixon’s most lasting contribution to Tacoma’s transformation since the 1960s may have been his work with and place of influence within the Black Collective. From this rich and dynamic source of human energy have emerged such influential civic leaders as Harold Moss, Tacoma’s first black mayor; James Walton, Tacoma’s first black city manager; Bil Dixon, Tacoma’s first black female city council member; and current city council member Victoria Woodards – all encouraged, supported, and mentored by Thomas Dixon.

Even today, at the age of 84, Tom Dixon continues his fight for social and economic justice with a strong, influential voice in equity efforts throughout the Pierce County area.

Learn more about Tom in his video Laureate Spotlight: