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Diverse local groups come together to support the Fall Peace Festival

The Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club offers calendars, books, and other eco-friendly items at the Fall Peace Festival. Photo by Rena Guay,

By Darla Shelden
Contributing Writer

Over 60 organizations will gather to create a veritable holiday shopper’s paradise at the upcoming Fall Peace Festival on this Sat., Nov 12, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This eclectic collection of local groups will provide free informative materials, with plenty of refreshments, crafts and other items for sale.

The free event takes place in Oklahoma City at the Civic Center Hall of Mirrors 201 N. Walker, on the west side of Bicentennial Park.

The Sierra Club will be one of the organizations at the event. Established in 1972, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club has over 3,000 dues paying members in the state.The environmental groupis committed to preserving and protecting the earth’s wild places and natural resources. The group’s efforts include enhancing sustainable community development in Oklahoma. They will offer calendars, books, and other eco-friendly items.

The Oklahoma Food Cooperative links local farmers and other producers with those across the state who want local, nutritious food that tastes good. Beginning in 2003 with 60 members and four pick-up sites, the co-op today has nearly 4,000 members and nearly 50 pickup locations.

OFC founder Bob Waldrop said, “We were doing local food before it became trendy. Folks who shop the Oklahoma Food Cooperative can choose from more than 4,000 products from as many as 100 Oklahoma producers. We’ve got it all – taste, nutrition, safety – while at the same time supporting our local economies and producers during these difficult times.”

The Cimarron Alliance Foundation, another long time participant, works to educate the public about the critical issues facing gays and lesbians in Oklahoma. It supports educational efforts that validate personal identity, promotes public enlightenment, and advances equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Oklahomans. In 1995 the Cimarron Alliance political action committee (PAC) was founded by a core group of Oklahoma City lesbians and gay men. The strength of this committee gave birth to what is known today as the Cimarron Alliance Foundation.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is a nonpartisan educational organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation. Its goal is to contribute to ensuring religious freedom for all Americans.

AU represents over 70,000 members and 5,000 churches and other houses of worship nationwide. The Oklahoma City Chapter is based in Oklahoma City. AU-OK works to mobilize activists to support church/state separation, and when necessary they join with the national organization to litigate to preserve First Amendment liberties and safeguards.

James Nimmo, AU-OK communications chair said, “The OKC chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church & State is delighted to support other non-profit organizations that work to educate Oklahoma’s citizens in the principals of civil rights.This history of the United States is centered on its people taking responsibility for their own actions without causing harm to others as they exercise their initiatives as well.”

The Education & Employment Ministry (TEEM) is another organization taking part in the festival. With 16% of Oklahomans living below the poverty level, TEEM strives to provide comprehensive educational courses to the community to serve as an important stepping stone out of poverty. TEEM has operated free of charge to participants over the past 24 years, serving over 12 thousand individuals and families in Oklahoma’s 77 counties by providing education, job training and placement and social services.

The Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) Advocates for Peace club is led by Professor Stephen Morrow. He works with students to promote peace around campus through events and guest speakers at club meetings. Morrow’s Advocates for Peace class teaches students about people from different geographical and cultural backgrounds. OCCC Advocates for Peace vice president Jorj Krrzyzaniack said he believes reaching out to the people around you is the first way to advocate peace. “You spread joy to the people you encounter and then they’re going to carry that on to the people they deal with for the rest of the day.”

The Oklahoma Conference of Churches connects and empowers members of the Christian communities throughout Oklahoma on issues of faith and social justice. This organization brings many religious groups together to learn about each other through conversation and action. The Conference of Churches mission is to achieve social justice for all people through faith-based leadership, education, advocacy and partnerships.

The OCC IMPACT program tracks bills before the Oklahoma Legislature keeping people informed on issues concerning poverty, the environment, immigration, education and criminal justice.

Peace House Director Nathaniel Batchelder said, “The Peace Festival is a time of public connection and support for these local groups.”

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