The Creating Peace Project

The “Creating Peace” Project began in the summer of 2012 when Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche tasked four Shambhala Centers with the job of creating a program that predominantly focused on some form of social engagement that felt relevant to our city.  We were asked to envision what the year 2020 might look like in the city of Chicago and how a peaceful city might look.

Collectively, center members spoke of wanting to create safe spaces in Chicago, end the ongoing violence in the city, and create an atmosphere of true diversity and peace.

The Imagining Peace Conference

In April 2012, the Chicago Shambhala Center held a weekend long peace conference. As part of the conference, the center partnered with over 25 different organizations that were currently serving in the area of resolving the violence plaguing the city.

Two partners, Youth Connection Charter Schools, and the Alternative Schools Network were the main providers of the youth that the Shambhala center helped to train in group facilitation practices.  The youth, along with trained Shambhala facilitators helped to facilitate small group dialogues and discussion about the violence that was affecting everyone in the city.

During the Saturday or the conference, over 400 people—young people and adults—helped to create a Peace Platform.  Through discussion groups and keypad voting, 15 statements emerged about how best to create peace in Chicago.

The Peace Platform

Shambhala is inviting each of our Imagining Peace Partner organizations to choose 1 or 2 statements from the Peace Platform and describe that statement and how they will work on this part of the platform in during 2014.  The statements will be collected and presented to the mayor and governor’s offices.

Shambhala has elected to work with #11 on the Peace Platform which is “Create safe spaces [for young people] for activities.”

The full Peace Platform can be viewed here.

Creating Safe Spaces

Shambhala developed a program called Creating Safe Spaces in order to create safe places where young people can be with one another, learn mindfulness, talk and be listened to, and enjoy themselves.  This program is comprised of four elements (the last three elements will begin in 2014):

  • Organizing a monthly gathering of young people, called the Shambhala Peace Warriors, to give Shambhala input on the Peace Platform, to talk over the challenges they are facing in their lives, to participate in guided meditation, and to have a good time with a variety of activities that so far have included playing basketball and doing face painting.
  • Opening the West Loop Center  one afternoon a week to young people for meditation, afterschool snacks, arts, and conversation.
  • Encouraging young people to create visual art and musical performance for the Grand Opening of the West Loop Center in March 2014 when Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche visits Chicago.
  • Hosting two groups of young people for two weekend retreats at the Windhorse Retreat Center in the summer.

Mindfulness Training for Our Partners

Many of our partner organizations from Imagining Peace have asked Shambhala to consider providing mindfulness training for their staff and/or for the young people they serve.  We are working to create mindfulness training programs tailor-made to the specific organization requesting the training.

In addition, in March 2014, Shambhala will convene one-day mindfulness training program with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche for the partner organizations of Imagining Peace, for both staff and youth.  Shambhala will also convene a two day training program for Shambhala leadership locally, and around the mandala.

Motivational Interviewing Training with CeaseFire

Acharya Fleet Maul is working with the staff of CeaseFire, one of Shambhala’s Imagining Peace partners, to develop and implement a training session for CeaseFire staff in motivational interviewing.  Motivational interviewing is a collaborative conversation, involving deep listening, that can strengthen an individual’s motivation and commitment to change.

How Can You Help Us to Create Peace?

Staffing Meetings

Volunteers are needed to help staff periodic meetings.  Similarly to staffing a Shambhala level, volunteers will do food purchasing, food preparation, food set-up, meeting materials preparation and set-up, and general clean-up.  Volunteers will be creating the container that holds the meeting and inviting good energy into the room.  Volunteers will have the opportunity to cultivate their awake and gentle hearts.  The team will take a few moments for practice before the meeting and will meet briefly afterwards.

Staffing The Peace Warriors Project

We are seeking individuals who have experience relating to high-school aged young people, people who have experience guiding visual art projects, with drama, music, and contemplative movement activities, including martial arts.  Volunteers will be creating the container that holds the session for the young people and will be inviting good energy into the room.  Volunteers will have the opportunity to cultivate their awake and gentle hearts on the spot.  The team will take a few moments for practice before the weekly sessions and will meet briefly afterwards.

Donate to the Peace Warriors

Honorary Shambhala Peace Warriors (part of the Creating Safe Spaces project) are needed to financially support the monthly meetings that began in August and are on-going.  Donations are needed for renting space, for food for lunch, and for sports and arts equipment and supplies.  Any amount is welcome and qualifies you as a Shambhala Peace Warrior.  Space rentals could average $150 per monthly session, food approximately $200 per time, and supplies $25 per session.  To donate, click here.  All Honorary Shambhala Peace Warriors will receive a monthly update on the Shambhala Peace Warriors complete with photographs and a great amount of gratitude.