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Peacemaking: From West Bank to West Side

When he was on the West Bank with a Christian Peacemaker Team in 2005, Chicago organizer Elce Redmond realized the problems people faced there were similar to those faced by people back home – and solutions might be similar too.

Redmond, an organizer with the South Austin Coalition, will give the opening keynote for CPT’s 25th anniversary Peacemaker Congress, Thursday, October 13 at 8 p.m. at Evanston Reba Place Church, 533 Custer.  The congress runs through Sunday the 16th.

In 2005, Redmond’s team was providing “peaceful accompaniment” for Palestinian schoolchildren who faced bullying and attacks by adults (“they were mostly from New York,” he says) living in Israeli settlements there.  “I was struck that the same situation happens on the West Side of Chicago, kids trying to get home from school and facing gangs and violence.”

Back home, Redmond began organizing the Austin Peaceforce, with parents and community volunteers trained in nonviolent strategies who are deployed to defuse conflicts and prevent violence.  Today they have a regular presence in Austin schools, including parent patrols after school.

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Community Organizer Visits Baghdad

After years of helping residents of Chicago communities get basic services, organizer Elce Redmond is bringing the tricks of his trade to Iraq.

Joining a six-member Christian Peacemaker Team delegation traveling to Iraq from September 16 to 30, the South Austin Coalition organizer said he planned to work with Baghdad residents who have been unable to get water, sewer, and electrical services — “good bread-and-butter issues to organize around” — targeting local Bechtel Corp. officials who are responsible for Baghdad’s infrastructure repair.

“I believe that community organizing is a great tool to address issues of oppression and disenfranchisement,” Redmond said. “If we can get some victories, we can get them to see that non-violent community organizing is the way to go, rather than violence.”

Redmond has conducted leadership development and organizing trainings in a number of war-torn countries, including Bosnia-Herzogovina, Northern Ireland, Argentina, East Timor, and Cote D’Ivory.

As he was leaving, news media were reporting that many infrastructure repair projects were being suspended by the U.S. for lack of funds, and money was going to hire private security forces to guard unfinished water and electric projects.

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