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Karym Sanchez, Laura Hayth, Karen Polnitz, Annie Russell, Xav Dubois, Cristian Lopez

Yosemite Symposium Inspires Promise Of Peace

By Jeannie Harsha —

FISH CAMP — “What an inspiring two days!” “ I feel so energized!” “I feel hopeful again!” “This makes me want to not just talk about doing good things, but really get out and take action toward the common good.” “So many people are doing so much good in the world. I just want to join them and do my part.”

These are quotes I heard from some of the participants in the first annual Yosemite Peace Symposium, held at Tenaya Lodge on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26 – 27.

Detail from Minarets High School art project, My Piece for Peace.

The idea for this event came to Susan Madden of Oakhurst about two years ago. She ran the idea by Gayle Basten, pastor of United Community Methodist Church, who immediately wanted to be part of it. The event grew and evolved with many people jumping on board to assist and — bam! It happened, and with flair!

Speakers shared motivational and inspirational stories from around the world. Music therapist Christine Stevens told of how she was called to Iraq to help with the infighting between tribes and helped them heal through drumming.

“Everyone who has a heartbeat knows how to drum,” Stevens says. “We were all born with that rhythm.” The whole place turned into a drumming and shaker band as she demonstrated for us in real time.

David Hartsough, author of Waging Peace, told of his lifelong journey peacefully protesting wrongs in the world. Many speakers advised that it often takes tenacity to do the right thing.

Eric de Jong, a local organic farmer from OOOOBY (Out Of Our Own Backyards), informed us of ways we can make better choices, and that those better choices are good for people, resources and the environment. It’s a win-win situation.

There were a variety of speakers, including botanists, farmers, artists, religious leaders, social justice workers, writers and musicians —  folks of many stripes, with something for everyone and learning for all.

Keep your eyes open for word of next year’s conference, as preparations have already begun. Plan on being inspired, welcomed, and invigorated.

In the meantime, dear reader, contemplate this question, “What’s your promise of peace?”

Not Your Average Conference

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