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Coming together for peace

Golden West College will host its 2014 Peace Conference on Friday, with seminars focusing on justice, corporate responsibility, women's rights and more.

April 15, 2014|By Michael Miller
  • Fran Faraz, left, Don Garrick and Ron Lowenberg will participate in Golden West College's peace conference.
Fran Faraz, left, Don Garrick and Ron Lowenberg will participate… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Forty-three years ago, John Lennon penned a lyric that has become a staple on the radio and countless bumper stickers and T-shirts: "Imagine all the people living life in peace."

This Friday, Golden West College will host its 2014 Peace Conference, but simple imagining isn't high on the agenda. Instead, the eighth annual event focuses on pragmatic steps toward a more humane world, with seminars on corporate responsibility, restorative justice, women's rights, entrepreneurship and other topics.

Huntington Beach, as a city, has long made human rights a priority. In 1996, in response to the latest in a series of hate crimes, community leaders formed the Human Relations Task Force to meet with police and encourage diversity education in schools. Since 2008, students and others around town have read a tolerance-themed book each year through the HB Reads program.

As the conference day approached at Golden West, three people involved in the event gathered to share their views on the topic. Fran Faraz, who directs the college's Peace Studies Program, seeks to educate students in nonviolence; Don Garrick serves as vice chair of the task force and works with local interfaith groups; Ron Lowenberg oversees Golden West's Criminal Justice Training Center, which includes the police academy. The following are excerpts from the conversation:

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The word "peace" gets thrown around a lot, just kind of as a generic concept. It looks like each of the three of you approaches the subject of peace in a very different way — in one case, law enforcement; in one case, religion; in one case, education. If each of you could define what the word "peace" means to you, how would you define it?

Faraz: For us, it's the presence of a society that is just, is compassionate and is sustainable. So, basically, we define it as those words. Academically, there are, like, four different categories of that, which would be probably — one is peacekeeping, which would be preventing violence from spreading; one is peacemaking, which involves negotiations, negotiation skills; and one is peace building, which would be building the structure of the society; and one would be conflict resolution and conflict prevention, which would be before that. You know, it would be a preventive thing that before things happen. We will prevent violence from happening.

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