By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Peace Education Institute (PEI) is a non-profit organization created to encourage people to become active in non-violent social change. It provides educational opportunities to all ages that contribute to non-violence in all aspects of living.
PEI’s current focus is on sustainability as the primary path to peace. It continues to teach and model personal spiritual discipline, nonviolence and reconnecting with nature as elements of a peaceful existence.
PEI is located at MettaWing near Spencer, OK, just 15 minutes from downtown Oklahoma City. The 5-acre facility includes a large organic garden and a small community of people, chickens and honeybees.
According to Wilkinson, “Metta” means the cultivation of loving-kindness in Buddhism, and “wing” carries the connotations of both protection and freedom.
Incorporated in 2007, PEI was formed through the efforts of its founding director, Conna Wilkinson along with Nathaniel Batchelder, director of the Peace House of Oklahoma City.
In January, PEI joined with Jesslynn Stull, founder and director of Quantum Wellness and the Wellness Co-op to create a place of education and healing at MettaWing.
Wilkinson and Stull, PEI’s new director, announced the partnership in a recent article in the Oklahoma Peace Strategy News, published bi-monthly by the Peace House.
Wilkinson said, “Jesslynn has agreed to become the new volunteer director of PEI. I will continue in a volunteer capacity to promote and provide educational opportunities for children and adults.
Stull’s health and wellness skills, integrated into PEI’s natural environment, will add a complimentary element to the Peace Education Institute’s mission. Stull brings experience to PEI that will elevate how people think about wellness and peace.
Stull said, “As the newly elected director I am honored to take this position very seriously and with great thoughtfulness. I believe the unified vision we have for PEI will unify our community with a great example of how to live sustainably and to create a more peaceful environment.
“Since moving to Mettawing and joining Conna in her journey with PEI, we have expanded the Co-op experience to the easygoing farmstead. Together we are creating an environment where guests have opportunities to do inner work as well as experience workshops and enjoy many of the educational opportunities previously offered by PEI.”
New ceremonies and celebrations will be added to PEI’s list of existing programs that include Wellness Days, Children’s Peace Challenge Camp, Drum Circle events, personal practices, workshops and retreat challenges.
Wilkinson said, “It is time for all of us to realize we are working towards the same goal: social transformation. We are dedicated to the premise that every sane human being on planet Earth would prefer to live in a peaceful and just society rather than live with on-going violence and inequity.”
PEI’s programs are designed to empower children, youth and adults in a journey toward more peaceful living.
“We do that by being considerate of others and willing to sacrifice non-essential items so that people we care about can have the essentials,” said Wilkinson. “We also learn to communicate clearly and to understand ourselves as deeply as possible, learning not to judge and exclude others, but to include and support them.”
Recent studies show that children who have unstructured experiences in nature, such as time to wander and explore, grow up with a greater interested in the environment.
A popular PEI event is Full Moon Drumming, which will continue with the next session in April.
“On the Friday nights nearest the Full Moon every month we gather to drum, howl, laugh, and talk.” Wilkinson said.
The Peace Challenge Camp, for 5th and 6th graders, takes place at St. Francis of the Woods Retreat Center near Coyle, OK, each summer. The camp focuses on teamwork, conflict resolution, shared leadership, clear communication, and developing internalized self-discipline.
Wilkerson said. “Peace Camp is an excellent experience especially for children who need this kind of opportunity but who otherwise might not get it.”
PEI is the educational partner of the Peace House and event co-sponsor of Oklahoma City’s annual Fall Peace Festival.
“Live entertainment by local musicians and fair trade goods on sale make this a popular event for supporters of human rights, social justice, environmental sustainability, and peace,” Wilkinson added.
Those interested in supporting PEI can send tax-deductible contributions to The Peace Education Institute, PO Box 33, Spencer, OK, 73084.
For more information, visit peaceeducationinstitute.org. To visit PEI, call 405-204-64-79 or email [email protected].