September 18, 2021
This issue of the Peace Chronicle focuses on the theme of Community. Like everything else, the way we understand ‘community’ has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The move to digital in place of physical gatherings in 2020 may have given us access to new communities, or it may have separated us from communities we already held dear. I would guess that most of us experienced both of these things in combination. The past 19 months have been isolating for many, and for others have meant more time with the people in their “bubble” than ever before – at times, even too much. The context of the pandemic has provided fertile ground for camaraderie where none previously existed – it has also exacerbated divisions.
This issue explores what it means to be a part of a community on any scale, from the international to the individual’s “bubble,” and even the individual in their own company. It examines ways the pandemic has changed how a community is built and experienced. And, it delves into what it can mean to be part of a community that society has “othered,” in or out of pandemic-times.
In “Three Campuses, One Community,” Luke Shorty writes about the international community of Lee Academy, and their coordinated approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic. He gives us an inside perspective on seeking the balance between responding to each campus’s unique context, and internal consistency as an organization. Luke’s article also sheds light on what worked to maintain a sense of camaraderie between students continents apart, and how that experience has served the students.
Adama Bah shares the story of learning she was an undocumented child in the United States, and the decades-long fight that ensued – first against deportation, and then for citizenship. She writes about the way she was treated as an undocumented minor, and as a Muslim following the 9/11 attacks, as well as the importance of her community’s support.
Kyle Ashlee writes about the challenges of building successful learning communities in the age of online education. A longtime proponent of the “brave space” model, he shares his experience translating that teaching philosophy to a digital space. The lessons learned about the viability and maintenance of digital community extend beyond the classroom.
In an interview conducted by Gabriel Ertsgaard, Kim Baldwin talks about her work with the nonprofit One Fair World, a fair trade store in Salem, Oregon. Through their work promoting fair trade values at home, and partnerships with artisans at home and abroad, One Fair World has helped to bring a global community into their local community. Kim discusses the ways that One Fair World serves Salem, while keeping the focus on the artisans whose stories they are sharing.
Quentin Felton has contributed two pieces to this issue. Their poem “Belly Up: an Etymology” explores the shifting landscape of generational trauma and healing, and of developing one’s “self” in that space.Their essay “Portrait of a Sundial on All Fours” discusses the ongoing struggles for safety and respect within Black Transgender communities, and delves into their experience of self-discovery as both a member of that community, and an individual apart. Quentin allows us a glimpse of the intimate and on-going process of cultivating a sense of community with and within oneself.
Gabriel Ertsgaard shares a moment of family normalcy in the form of a haibun – a blend of prose poetry and haiku. The poem captures the idea of family (or one’s “bubble”) as one’s community during the pandemic.
Caleb Robinson writes about the importance of staying an active participant in your community, especially during periods of extended lockdown. They share several personal examples of times that someone making the effort to reach out made all the difference. They also acknowledge the reluctance many of us feel to “put ourselves out there” by taking that first step, and introduce some tools to help us help ourselves over that hurdle.
Throughout this issue, we see community as an active, participatory thing. In any context and on any scale, the opportunity to show up for one another – and for ourselves – is the gift that community gives us. As we enter another season of pandemic restrictions, complications, and struggles, we hope that this issue of the Peace Chronicle reminds everyone of the importance of the Peace and Justice community we are all a part of.
With tremendous gratitude for the chance to serve the community through the Peace and Justice Studies Association, we thank you.