Citizens for Peace president Colleen Mills (left) of Livonia, and Pax Christi of Michigan Peace Walk chairperson Kim Redigan of Dearborn Heights, meet July 13 to discuss the upcoming Michigan Peace Walk and share the banner flags they will take with them. The artwork was made by children at a July 7 peace camp held at Fort Street Presbyterian Church, 631 W. Fort St. in Detroit.
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
HEIGHTS – While most activists “talk the talk,” few can claim they also “walk the walk.”
Kim Redigan of Dearborn Heights, however, is not one to sit on the sidelines when she strongly believes in a cause.
That’s why, as the 2011 Moveable Peace Walk chairperson for Catholic peace movement Pax Christi of Michigan, she hopes to raise awareness about peace initiatives and inspire others to speak and act by putting their souls and soles into their cause.
From July 30 to Aug. 9, three Peace Walks will begin toward Lansing.
The peace walks are part of Moveable Peace 2011, which came together after the U.S. Social Forum, a self-described “movement-building process” last year in mid-June 2010 in Detroit.
“People from Michigan came together committed to peace,” Redigan said. “We came together and the deal was, what (can) we do to make Michigan a more peaceful place, how do we move toward an economy… that’s more sustainable, that’s more just, ‘how do we shift our spending so that human needs are met?’”
Redigan said the Catholic Saint Francis inspired her to suggest that they “take to the road” and listen to people’s suggestions for peace.
“My inspiration for the walk was that people need to be listened to,” Redigan said. “People are really angry, people are polarized, but people are not being listened to. So that was kind of the embryonic idea. From there it morphed into this big thing called Moveable Peace.”
The group has been meeting for almost a year and are now asking Michigan’s governor and the legislature to be the first state to set up a commission for peace and justice.
“Michigan has about 200 state commissions,” Redigan said. “There’s a commission on beets I think, but there’s nothing on peace and justice.”
She said that their group has been gathering signatures on petitions across the state to support the request.
Moveable Peace Walk groups plan to leave from Detroit, Grand Rapids and Saginaw on Saturday on the way to Lansing.
Along the Moveable Peace walk routes they also plan to temporarily create a “moveable commons” showcasing programs and ideas that support peace, justice and sustainability.
A blessing and send-off is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at Central Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams in Detroit.
She said the walk also is designed to help break down political barriers between conservatives and liberals.
“We need to change people’s consciousness,” Redigan said. “This is not about politics; we are so beyond that right now. We’re not going to go anywhere if we don’t break through this left-right paradigm.”
Walkers hope to follow Grand River to Lansing, traveling about 10 miles per day. Along the way she said they plan to stop overnight on the west side of Detroit, in Farmington, New Hudson, Brighton and Howell. After Howell , they will stop in Hartland, Fowlerville, Williamsburg, and East Lansing before converging with the other Moveable Peace walkers in Lansing.
“We want to hear where people are at,” Redigan said. “We want to hear from workers who are unemployed, employed, (or) under-employed. What solutions do people have? There is always better wisdom in a group.”
Area walkers also include Annette Thomas of Clarkston, Jusif Barakat of Pinckney, Gretchen Smith of Lansing, Sharon O’Hare Bruce of Lake Orion and Rudy Wood of Ferndale. Rita Carey of Westland will serve as a driver and will manage logistics.
“The young people – this appeals to them because it’s out there, it’s active, (and) it’s moving. It’s not sitting around a table at a meeting like old people do,” Redigan said.
Colleen Mills, president of Livonia-based nonprofit Citizens for Peace, said in addition to engaging with people along the route of the Moveable Peace walk and listening to their concerns, they hope to collect petition signatures calling for a Michigan commission for peace and justice.
“We have to engage the young people,” Mills said, “and get them to feel that they’re part of creating their future, which is what this is all about.”
Mills said when she heard the concept of having a Michigan Commission for Peace and Justice it “spoke to (her) spirit.”
“I said ‘we have to do this,’” Mills said. “My belief is we have to have, in the structure of government, places for people to have input– the grassroots groups, the non-profit groups, which are huge employers in state, and make this group in this state feel they are part of the decision making.”
Mills added that Citizens for Peace realizes the need to appeal to and include everyone in their message of peace.
“Regardless of what they may think on certain issues, we are all humans and we’ve got to focus on the human beings in this state,” Mills said. “That’s why the idea of having a Michigan commission for peace and justice really appealed to me.”
The group is also planning a presence at the Mackinac Bridge Walk held during Labor Day weekend.
For more information about Moveable Peace, go to www.MoveablePeace.org, its Facebook page, or www.MichiganPeaceNetwork.org.