Video of the Peace Bench Dedication
In March 2022, we dedicated the Bill Lincoln Peace Bench on the Tacoma, WA waterfront. Below is a video of the event.
Recognizing that peace begins locally, the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize is proud to announce the selection of Kwabi Amoah-Forson as the 2022 Laureate. Since 2017, Amoah-Forson has worked in Tacoma AND INTERNATIONALLY to promote peace on multiple levels. Beginning in the Spring of 2017, he began The Peace Camp every Saturday in Wright Park, where he would take posters, a radio, and a megaphone with him to hold conversations with people about what peace means to them. He continued this work by spending the next two years bringing The Peace Camp across the Northwest, to California and parts of Europe.
This first campaign for peace, led into the “The Real Peace Podcast.” Here, Amoah-Forson interviewed community members about peace, interpersonal connectivity, conflict resolution, and the importance of culture and diversity. Continuing his work outside the studio, in 2019 Amoah-Forson began driving around in The Peace Bus, a 1988 Mitsubishi Van, distributing socks to our houseless community members. In August 2019, he brought The Peace Bus to the U.S.-Mexico border and interviewed non-violence educator Michael Nagler and members of Border Patrol. Upon his return to Tacoma, Amoah-Forson started sharing his experience and messages of nonviolence, compassion, kindness, and peace with students in Tacoma schools.
The board recognizes the need for community-based activists, who are dedicated to understanding the different perspectives people bring to conversations. Amoah-Forson’s dedication to looking at a fuller picture, and his passion for bringing others along on that journey, has impressed the Board and his community.
Teresa Hunt, who nominated Amoah-Forson, wrote:
“[Kwabi] has been instrumental in promoting peace and diversity in our community, [while continuing] his numerous community services programs. [He] is the most influential peace-promoting citizen we have amongst us.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close buildings and transition to online learning, Amoah-Forson and The Peace Bus distributed breakfast to families in need, under the belief that no Tacoma child should have to go without breakfast during the quarantine. During the Summer of 2021 Kwabi took his Peace Bus from Washington State to Washington DC, delivering hundreds of books on peace, love and understanding to Youth across the country.
Kwabi Amoah-Forson currently lives in Tacoma. He continues to work for Peace in our community and looks forward to the continuation of his recent peace campaign, “Every-Kid-Eats”, helping address child hunger in Tacoma. He also plans to finish his flight school training this year in preparation of his life long goal of flying for peace with his own airplane, “The Peace Plane.”
The Greater Tacoma Peace Prize honors local citizens and institutions who promote, achieve, and sustain peace, justice, and reconciliation at home and abroad. First awarded in 2005, the GTPP is rooted in Norwegian-American culture and the Norwegian dedication to Peace. At the GTPP we are dedicated to celebrating the everyday ways people further peace in our communities, and to growing and nuancing our understanding of Peace in all its forms. You can learn more about the organization at TacomaPeacePrize.org.
Barbara Gilchrist, board member
Cort Ockfen, publishing
Greater Tacoma Peace Prize
Marilyn Kimmerling – 2020/2021 GTPP 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.
Nancy Farrell, who nominated Ms. Kimmerling
“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.”
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
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.
Learn more about Willie in his video Laureate Spotlight:
Melannie Denise Cunningham
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 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 Introduction Video
Learn more about Pennye in her video Laureate Spotlight:
Theresa Pan Hosley
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.”
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, 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:
Dawn Sharp Olson Lucien (Local Mediator) and Admiral Eric T. Olson, US Navy, Retired (4-Star Admiral and Peace Keeper)
Nominated by William Lincoln, Norm Dicks, and Clare Petrich, Dawn Olson Lucien and her son Eric Olson have served our local community and our nation for over forty years, seeking in their respective careers community and international peace.
Dawn Lucien has merged the spirit and skills of advocate and conciliator – always civil, transparent, influential, and effective. In many ways she has been the conscience of the community. As district manager for Congressman Norm Dicks, she played a key role in the 1990 Puyallup Indian Land and Jurisdictional Claims settlement. In the mid-1980s, she was instrumental in bringing together the federal government, the Puyallup Tribe, the Port of Tacoma, the City of Tacoma and numerous local municipalities and private partners. In retirement Dawn maintains strong relationships with all parties and is an informal and meaningful advisor. She remains an advocate for the Pierce County Center for Dispute Resolution; she has been a tireless contributor to community-based efforts to develop a first-class graduate degree program in dispute prevention, management, and resolution at the University of Washington – Tacoma.
Eric Olson, Dawn’s son, is a 1969 graduate of Stadium High School and a 1973 graduate of the US Naval Academy. In a career of over 35 years, he rose to the rank of Admiral, the first Navy SEAL to be promoted to the four-star rank, and ultimately served as the leader of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOC). Twice decorated for personal valor in combat, Admiral Olson advocates for the “deeper understanding of the context of any conflict as a means to predict the effects of our actions” and he has been widely quoted for his statement that “we cannot kill our way to victory in today’s wars, so we must think our way to success.” Retired in 2011, Admiral Olson remains a thoughtful leader for a more balanced military force, one that considers linguistic and cultural expertise as essential. In 2012, as keynote speaker at Portland District Rotary ’s “Peace Is Possible” conference, he reminded listeners: “Going to war is a political decision, not a military decision.” He currently teaches a graduate course at Columbia University focusing on the challenges of “turning down the heat” in a time of global friction.
Together, Dawn Lucien and Eric Olson have been formidable advocates for nonviolent solutions to difficult conflicts. It is our honor to recognize these lifelong Tacomans as the 2014 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize laureates.
Learn more about Admiral Olsen on his video Laureate Spotlight: