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Velvet Mesquite - Illustration by George Malesky
Velvet Mesquite
A Natural Symbol of Sustainable Peace

Culture of Peace Alliance (COPA)
~ promoting peace, justice, and sustainability

COPA: OUR STORY

The Culture of Peace Alliance (COPA) emerged from a number of separate and overlapping organizational efforts to create Tucson as a City of Peace. The following organizations and individuals played a central role in forming COPA's story:

The Partnership Way Center, Inc. The Partnership Way Center of Tucson was birthed by Del Jones in 1991; Nicole Christine was on the Founding Council. The purpose was to help transform the world, beginning in Tucson, from a dominator model to a partnership model. This involved language, behavior, and systems change. Study Groups were held using the book, The Chalice & The Blade by Riane Eisler. Five international conferences were produced with Riane Eisler as keynote speaker. In 2003, many Council members of the Partnership Way Center got involved with Peace Alliance of Southern Arizona. In 2004 it became clear that an appropriate next step was to work with a newly evolving group, the regional branch of PeaceWeb, in forming the alliance that was to become COPA. During 2005, the Partnership Way Center turned over its non-profit corporate identity & 501 C-3 status to COPA. Basically, The Partnership Way Center, Inc. became the Culture of Peace Alliance, Inc.

Peace Alliance of Southern Arizona (PASA) The Peace Alliance of Southern Arizona was formed in 2003 by a core group of seven community activists with a mission of developing a strong and successful organization committed to peace as an active organizing principle. Four of these activists (Nicole Christine, Del Jones, Dave Kaler, and Phyllis Grimes) currently serve on the COPA Coordinating Council. PASA's structure and core concepts were based on the Department of Peace legislation and primary activity centered around supporting this federal legislation. Another important focus was establishing peace partnerships of area organizations through dialogue and asset mapping to determine, strengthen, mobilize and expand existing community resource capacities for peace. Beginning in 2004 and continuing to the present time, PASA Council members provided key leadership for the newly emerging peace alliance that became COPA.

Gandhi/King Season for Nonviolence (SNV) The Gandhi/King Season for Nonviolence of Southern Arizona was established in 2001 by Rev. Gerry Straatemeier and Phyllis Grimes. This organization commemorates the time between the memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 30 to April 4), in association with other individuals and organizations in hundreds of communities that are part of this global nonviolence movement. Tucson SNV 2002/2003 events included: "The Awakening", a multi-media Dance and Song performance by the Manav Sadhna Dancers from the Gandhi Ashram in India; "An Afternoon with Mr. Arun Gandhi"; and Peace Fair participant creation of a Peace Mural that was included in the official project of The World Center for Strategy and Policy. The Season for Nonviolence in Tucson concentrated its efforts during 2004 and 2005 to build the Culture of Peace Alliance.

PeaceWeb Southwest PeaceWeb was organized in 1982 as the National Conference on Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution (NCPCR), and produced eleven international gatherings of adult and youth peacemakers and conflict resolution practitioners. In 2003, NCPCR changed its name to PeaceWeb and shifted its focus from producing national conferences to organizing and networking on a regional basis. The Southwest Region of PeaceWeb was initiated in Tucson by Ann Yellott. PeaceWeb SW began by calling together conflict resolution and peacebuilding groups to identify what was needed to build Tucson as a City of Peace. Three "PeaceWeb Alliance" gatherings took place (Sept. & Nov. 2004 and April 2005). Following the April 2005 meeting, a core group of individuals, who had provided leadership for these community gatherings, formed the Coordinating Council for this collaborative endeavor, which they named Culture of Peace Alliance (COPA).

The Coordinating Council consisting of the six members named above (Del Jones, Nicole Christine, Dave Kaler, Ann Yellott, Phyllis Grimes, and Rev. Gerry Straatemeier) and community peacemakers Sat Bir Kaur Kalsa, Jill Nunes, Anton Schmalz, Jack Strasburg, and Heather Mayo developed the vision, mission, values, structure, and goals for COPA. During the summer of 2006, COPA completed its internal organizing activities and began reaching out again to interested groups and individuals to establish Tucson as a City of Peace.