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Yellow Springs village peacemakers of 2013

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In December, the News, inspired by a suggestion from the Human Relation Commission’s Linda Rudowski, asked villagers to name local residents who had acted as peacemakers or had helped to create harmony in the community in the past year. Following are the responses from 17 villagers.

I would strongly recommend Debra Williamson as an advocate for peace and harmony in Yellow Springs. She spearheaded the United Nations International Day of People with Disabilities, working with the HRC, NCCJ and the Little Art to show the documentary Shooting Beauty, followed by an eye opening panel discussion and a traditional Yellow Springs pot luck. She is constantly advocating for people with challenges in their life, is willing to help out by cooking delicious home cooked meals for people or picking up someone’s children from school. She is an amazing human being, and we are lucky to have her living in our village.

I would also like to recommend Jennifer Berman and the Students Promoting Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in Education (SPIDEE) — the group at the High School.
—Adriane H. Miller

Judy Hempfling was the peacemaker who was always reaching out to have the community come in and voice their opinions. Whether she agreed with you or not, she wanted to make sure everyone had a voice in the politics of the community.
—Angela Wright

I recommend the wise women trio of Nicole Rosario Manieri, Marybeth Wolf and Amy Chavez. They come together as a unit to heal our community in many, many facets. From music and singing performances to community dance concerts to massage, to birth doulas and attendants, to holding new and full moon circles and extensive support networks to honor community and earth.
—Hannah DeLamatre

I’m putting in a vote for Cathy Roma as a great peacemaker for the last year. The new World House Choir was founded to promote social justice, and has been very busily engaged in peacemaking all year.
—Laura McDonald

When I think of harmony and peace, I first think of my mom [Andrée Bognár].  She does more to help people in this town find peace and calm than anyone I know.  But I’m woefully biased on this.

I think of the staff at WYSO, including villagers Neenah Ellis, Emily McCord, Peter Hayes, Stephanie Elsass, Luke Dennis, Lewis Wallace, Wayne Baker and Sarah Buckingham, who do a tremendous job keeping our village globally informed and musically fulfilled. We must be the smallest town in America with such a top tier public radio station.

This year, harmony came both literally and figuratively from the young musicians in the band WHEELS — Sam Crawford, Rory Papania, Sam Salazar, Jamie Scott and Conor Stratton. They consistently pushed themselves to make original music, and they knew how to end an amazing era as a band, going out with style and class.

Personally, Jonas Bender gave me a lot of peace this year, as he spoke honestly and openly about the challenges of getting older. He has always lived his life facing forward, with courage, and well into his 80s, he continues to.

Jenny Cowperthwaite managed an amazing year for the small cinema at the heart of our town. Not only did she bring one era — the celluloid era — of the theatre to a beautiful, gentle close. But she also managed the rebirth of our Little Art into a new, wonderful gem ready to beguile us for decades to come. And she made it look easy.
—Steve Bognar

James Johnston qualifies as a peacemaker in our community by bringing together more musicians than I even know where to begin counting. He provides Yellow Springs with a variety and quality of musical outlets beyond measure, for both participants and audiences. I believe what William Congreve said centuries ago, that “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” So even though James may not be in the midst of any fray or controversy, he is still a peaceful, influential presence for which I am grateful.
—Gilah Pomeranz

I would like to nominate Mary Beth Wolf, Amy Chavez, and Nicole Manieri. Their heartfelt work has the intention of healing the community, and all of their work does heal, sometimes one person at a time, but sometimes more. But that is what it takes, making change even one person at a time. Each of these women are genuine and passionate in what they do for the community, and it is remarkable what they have achieved and continue to achieve.
—Elise Yaskoff

I nominate my colleague Kevin McGruder, who has been such a great addition to this community. Since joining the faculty at Antioch College as a U.S. historian in fall 2012, Kevin has given of himself generously to both the college and to the wider community. At the college, Professor McGruder has been integrally involved with the campus diversity group, programming through the Coretta Scott King center, and collaborative projects between Antioch College and the 365 Project. Professor McGruder also participated in programming for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Juneteenth Celebration at the AME church, and sings in the World House Choir.

In each of these, he has been a voice for respect, tolerance and the celebration of diversity. He has also reached out to the broader community in his work as a historian, bringing to campus a series of different historians to lead workshops and lectures that have been free and open to the public. I am proud to be Kevin Mcgruder’s colleague and friend! He is a true peacemaker and a treasure to this community.
—Geneva Gano

I would like to honor Paul Cooper as a Yellow Springs peacemaker. My experience of Paul’s demeanor in person is always calm, thoughtful and pleasant; and his letters to the editor are always a voice of reason, non-violence and intelligence. He’s a global thinker who shares locally, and he’s my go-to-guy on the editorial page. Thank you, Paul!
—Anita Brown

Who do you feel has been a peacemaker in the village over the last year? Who has created more harmony in our community or furthered equality, tolerance and justice here, and how? John Gudgel.
—Judith Ezekiel

John Gudgel for the peacemaker win. That man can work an elementary school crisis like a master. Of course, we have adult drama and discord, and certainly peacemakers in that arena should be recognized, but John fosters a sense of well-being in so many kids who are struggling.
—Amy Scott

I would nominate Jim Hammond who bought the Barr property. He seems quite intent on going the extra mile to preserve the ambience of the village. Isn’t he the same guy that saved the Grinnell Mill? And that involved Antioch! I’m pretty sure he’s politically conservative and yet he actually believes in conserving irreplaceable natural or historic resources, and he’s willing to wade through the Village bureacracies and cliquishness and cronyism and pettiness to get there.
—John Blakelock

Judith Hempfling, for all the obvious reasons.
Diane Chiddister, ditto
Hardy Trolander, over a lifetime
Dave Foubert, quietly
Ona Harshaw, moved to Portland, alas
—Mary White

Two people come to mind: John Gudgel and Kevin McGruder, Antioch history professor. Also, Jennifer Berman for her work with Antioch College and Antioch Universoty around social inclusion and restorative justice with the schools.
—Louise Smith

I agree with everybody that Mr. Gudgel more than anyone in our community to brings about harmony and equality; not just racial equality, but also gender equality and equality of sexual orientation. Since retiring as principal of the high school he has worked towards this harmony by organized Girl’s and Boy’s Nights at the MMS and HS. These nights let the girls or boys, depending on the night come together and discuss the issues that affect them in a safe and loving environment. I have helped out with a few of these nights and have been amazed at the the honesty and progress that these nights bring about. The amount that Mr. Gudgel cares about the kids in this community is unsurpassed by anyone!
—Kori Whittaker

Hands down, John Gudgel has been a great peacemaker this past year (and for decades before). He is very dedicated to working with our youngest villagers to teach them about positive relationships and anti-bullying techniques. He has helped my daughter (age 9) with a few conflicts and has even counseled her best friend and her when they were having a rift. He shows that every relationship is important and that there are tangible ways to get along peacefully with others. What great lessons to teach our future leaders!
—Kate Hamilton

Ellis Jacobs has been a wonderful amazing peacemaker this year. He worked closely with the community group LEAD (Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton) to file a complaint with Federal Highway Administration that the City of Beavercreek violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by rejecting 3 RTA( Regional Transit Authority) bus stops requests along Pentagon Boulevard, the street that flanks the Fairfield Commons Mall. Jacobs has made a difference to many as because of his efforts with LEAD the City of Beavercreek changed its course and finally approved the RTA bus stops requests they originally denied. Ellis Jacobs has worked hard with LEAD to make sure minorities were not denied transportation access to jobs, medical treatment and education in the area surrounding the Fairfield Commons Mall. I was privileged to speak with Jacobs after the City of Beavercreek reversed its decision about the RTA bus stop requests. He is a dynamic individual who deserves to be honored by our community.
—Maria Booth

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