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The Story of Peace Brook - and peace on the Chicago Westside

Barry Koren

The old story is of violence. The new story is of peace, opportunity, and hope. I give you—


 
The Story of PeaceBrook. After yesterday's storms, it's a bright day in PeaceBrook, a village in Chicago. People hustle as they build communication networks on their blocks—phone and chat networks. They seem radiant and healthy, with a sense of peace and vitality. 

Year-round, Taylor, a Master Drummer, 54 years old, drums the Principles of Kwanzaa. Deondre, 34 years old, raps consciousness-raising poetry. Drum sounds and people humming float through the air. In the quiet of 3AM, the Insomniacs Club meets for a stroll. A cohesiveness underlies the conversations you hear and the body language you see. 

The Kwanzaa principles on which PeaceBrook is based are:

* Unity  * Self-Determination  * Collective work & responsibility  * Collective economics * Purpose * Creativity  * Faith 

The Values underpinning PeaceBrook are:  

* Safety * Trust & respect * Helping one another * Education * Jobs & productivity * Health * Restorative justice * Peace * Spirit  * Simpler ways of living * Working things out * Family & friends

The vision for 2030 is of people sitting around their kitchen tables, or one of the community tables, with loved ones, eating locally grown, wholesome food. They have become masters of unwaste and garbage has disappeared. The blocks are lit at night. People walk around and nod or chat as they see neighbors. Gardens and greenhouses are tended, and flowers bloom in Spring. So many blocks are beautiful and marvelous to behold. We are creating this place.

The spirit in PeaceBrook is a source of enormous energy, used to power the community. This spirit rises as people work together in harmony. Teamwork is highly valued. Good feelings and productivity flow. Things go right.

Community leaders inspire and mobilize our energy and empower us to do what is needed. Please tell me— Who are the local leaders that inspire you?

Powwows happen in the café, local resort, and streets. They spread the sense of community and camaraderie experienced among members. They are places to relax, socialize, and gather with family and friends. Green gardens, leafy trees, and blue water abound.

Mid-block, people gather for a block meeting. Conversations happen on front steps and porches, and in brief chats when people happen to pass. There's chitchat about the weather, logistics about food and children, and peace talks when needed. 

The Café is home base and the venue for fellowship luncheons every other week and for events that range from career development to dancing to chatting.

The Resort is for special occasions and large gatherings, like wedding celebrations and annual events, and for activities like walking trails, boating, fishing, tennis, golf, indoor basketball, and theater.

Governance takes place in the village council and in individual councils such as: 

* Safety & justice * Food * Wellness * Tech * Education & career * Young Adults * Children * Adolescents * Elders * Peace  * Art, music, & culture * Facilities like libraries, parks, gyms, sanctuaries * Production & quality assurance


Each Council operates a service which it had proposed and for which it received support. Each of the services is designed like a babysitting coop, where, for example, there are 5 families, and each family cares for all the kids once per week. 

Monthly membership is about $3. Luncheons cost about $5 plus 1.5 hours of shared work and fellowship time. 

Services are provided or overseen by individual Councils. They include fresh food, dining, a network of connections, and advocacy for local services on your block. The service providers set the time and dollar costs of their services. The whole package—benefits & contributions—is the social contract we are making with one another. 

Click here for more info.

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