On Friday, May 12, Mt. Hood was host to “Peaceful Resolutions: Nonviolence a Choice,” a presentation and conference celebrating nonviolence.
In its fourth year, the conference is meant to give the community a place to converse about some of today’s most difficult topics to broach on a daily basis, including race, social justice and economic diversity.
Put together by TRIO-SSS (Student Support Services) and the Associated Student Government, the event offered a wide variety of information, guidance, speakers and helpful hints when it comes to making the choice to be nonviolent.
Free to students and open to community members with a $5 suggested donation, the conference had small booths set up around the Student Union with various information and presenters available to answer questions and give information.
Flags and banners posted around the room and around the fireplace clearly represented the intent of the peaceful event and the coexistence of differing cultures.
One of the day’s highlights was the “dances of universal peace” exercise, led by Michelle Sparks-Smith and Michael Sheehan. They started by gathering the willing participants in a large circle, and lead them through a payer-like chant, or mantra, asking the group to repeat phrases tied to peace, nonviolence and harmonious spirit energy.
After the chanting had finished, Sheehan pulled out his guitar and led the group in a Native American song and dance.
The group of students, faculty and community members that had formed a large circle around a lit candle, with Sheehan in the center, began to dance and sway, lifting their arms and spinning around, all the while bobbing up and down to the music and repeating the phrases he and Sparks-Smith were chanting.
The pair moved through several songs from different cultures, all the while leading the group around the candle in the center, and chanting their prayer-like, melodic hymns.
Several participants remarked how relaxing and “enlightening” the experience was, and said they got more out of the experience than they expected.