Saturday, May 24, 2008

Peace Demonstration in Hutchinson Kansas

One of the things I love about my life is that I just never know what interesting thing is going to happen on any given day. Today I met Mark and Greg at Roy's for lunch. Mark is covering the antique truck show at the fair for his XM radio show, Landline Now. Greg has been hired to do photos for the magazine so they were both headed back to the fairgrounds.

I intended to hit Smith's Market and then head home. As I approached the intersection of Main and Avenue A I saw something that made my heart sing. There were about ten people gathered, holding signs promoting peace. Yes, PEACE, that ever-elusive thing.

All of the photos here were taken by Greg. You can see his blog at

Well, I couldn't resist stopping and talking with them. So, I circled around and came back and interviewed them, discovering that they're the Hutch Action Alliance. Their facebook page says, "The Hutch Action Alliance is a group of concerned citizens' attempt to put good intentions to good use. We aim to aid the community through service, dialog, activism, and social justice advocacy." One of the organizers, Hutchinson native Jon Dennis, 24, said, "we're people trying to find solutions for the problems plaguing our world."

Today was their first public event, although they did volunteer as a group at the Soup Kitchen last week.

A core group of five people has been meeting for about a month. They were inspired after hearing Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness speak about that organization. The goals of the Hutch Action Alliance include finding ways to bring peace into the conversation of the community. Dennis said, "people will be talking about this tonight."

I'm sure he's right. It's not every day you see a group gathered in downtown with colorful signs stating a point of view.

The signs were created by artist Mikaela Trim, 23, who moved to Hutchinson about a year ago. Her parents are missionaries in Japan and she lived abroad most of her life, but would come back periodically to live near her grandparents in South Hutchinson. She was seeking a place of her own, and chose Hutchinson.

She is one of the organizers. She said, "I'd like to see the community come together, agree or disagree, come together and talk. And this is one of the ways to manifest that - to start a conversation."

The most recent addition to the group is 22 year old Mason Hitchcock. He said he was out there today because he had wanted to be able to do something but didn't have the means to get involved.

Another of the organizers, 17 year old Jason Depew, who will be starting his senior year of high school this fall, said he'd heard many people express that desire to do something and this is one way to provide an opportunity for that. He said he's involved because, "I'm really passionate about the causes."

The other organizer who was there today was David Coon, 24, a member of the National Guard. He said, "I was deployed to Iraq for a year and certain experiences I had over there prompted me to do something more with my life."

I asked him more about that, but as I've seen before when asking anyone who has been to war about their experiences, he didn't seem to want to talk about it much. Because this is my personal blog, and not journalism, I had no reason to press him. But he did say, "It forced me to evaluate my place here in the community. I wanted to make sure I could make a difference. I didn't want my life to go to waste."

After I was done with the interviews, I picked up a sign, and finished out the event with them. I choose a sign that said, "Support the Troops, Bring Them Home," which, as you know if you've read here any amount of time, is one of my favorite concepts - how can my desire for the troops to be home and safe be construed as anything less than supportive?

I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the people in passing vehicles were supportive. One man yelled out, "Peace, Brother," as he drove by. Many folks flashed peace signs and thumbs up signs.

I was thrilled they allowed me to jump in on their event at the last minute. It was a joy to be involved with folks who are interested and motivated to do something in our community.

They have another Peace Demonstration set for June 7 at noon, at Ave. A and Main. Everyone is welcome to join in. I'm going to be unavailable that day - sure wish I could be there. But, I'll be eager to read your report about that day's event.

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