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Celebration promotes peace

By Rodney Woodson, editor-in-chief
On April 4, 2013

Andrew and Santiago Manriquez, Edwin Martinez and Rene Garcia are all former Contra Costa College soccer players who were murdered between spring 2011 and summer 2012.
Carrying a heavy heart for his fallen athletes, coach Rudy Zeller addressed the attendees of All College Day in the spring of 2012. Sending out an invitation to start a group dialogue that discuss' violence in the community, he hopes to advise a way to promote peace.
Since then, members of the CCC staff and various campus programs have answered Zeller's call to help bring about a peaceful society in what has developed into the month-long series of events, the "Contra Costa College Peace Celebration: Transforming Violence - Inviting Peace Uniting our Community."  
"We're trying to find a way to get the community involved and participate in (promoting peace)," Zeller said.
Culinary arts, the Metas program and the automotive department are among groups that will be participating in the month-long celebration beginning Thursday, which will end with an April 27 finale in the Amphitheatre.
The celebration itinerary consists of 12 events and workshops, which will take place over the next four weeks. The events include a vigil at the Pinole Detention Center and workshops covering topics of violence, economics, stress, and meditation.
During the summer of 2012 Academic/Student Services Manager Mayra Padilla and Metas program instructor Amanda Eicher accompanied high school students from Richmond to Colima, El Salvador for one month during the annual Colima Project trip.
The Colima Project has been established for 10 years, using art as a way to promote community development in less fortunate areas. Before the trip, students communicated with children living in Colima.
The latest trip, focused on improving the living conditions of the residents of Colima. The group provided doors for homes that did not have them, as well as a crosswalk to help them navigate a dangerous highway.
"When the economy began to do poorly more drugs began to flow in, increasing the amount of violence (in Colima)," Padilla said. "(The students) asked what can be done to make them feel safer in their community and one of the things the children mentioned was having doors for their houses."
Colima, a small town, is located along the Pan-American Highway where many residents live in shanty homes - many of which do not have doors.
"We wanted to do something in Colima (to help) but a lot of the options we were discussing were expensive," Eicher said. "The doors became the objects we could come together around."
Omega Salvage, located in Berkeley, donated 10 doors to the Colima Project. Eicher and the students were asked for suggestions to remedy problems with school, violence and economic struggles. The responses were laser etched onto the doors and accompanied the group to Colima over the summer, Eicher said.
The trip to Colima led to a $3,000 donation from the San Francisco Foundation, Padilla said. The funds were given to the Metas program and the Colima Project organizers so they could relay to the community the experiences of Colima.
"With that money we were going to do one peace celebration day in April," Padilla said. "As I started putting the word out (the idea of a peace celebration) started to resonate with (community members)."
While trying to organize just one day for the celebration Padilla said representatives of the San Pablo and Richmond police departments, Capacitar International, an organization that offers programs teaching multicultural wellness, trauma healing and transformation, as well as specific programs for children and teachers, among others offered services.
"(The collective of contributors) felt like it was too much for one Saturday so we decided to extend it to one week, which became too much for a week so we decided to extend it to a full month," Padilla said.
 


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