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Community peacemakers to be honored Sunday

Seven years ago a group of local religious leaders met, as part of the Violence Free Duluth initiative, to figure out a way to honor local peacemakers. In 2001, Men as Peacemakers took responsibility for organizing the celebration, and this year ...

Seven years ago a group of local religious leaders met, as part of the Violence Free Duluth initiative, to figure out a way to honor local peacemakers. In 2001, Men as Peacemakers took responsibility for organizing the celebration, and this year is joined in sponsoring it by CHUM, First United Methodist, Fond du Lac Center for American Indian Resources, Gloria Dei Lutheran, Islamic Center of the Twin Ports, NAACP, Peace Church, St. Paul's Episcopal, St. Scholastica Monastery, Temple Israel, Trinity Lutheran and Woodland-University United Methodist.
This year's Celebration of Community Peacemakers is Sunday, April 21, at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church (the Copper Top). The celebration will include lots of music, storytelling and an award ceremony.
The committee who chose this year's award winners used Martin Luther King's definition of a peacemaker as its template. "A peacemaker is someone who has sought to teach, to transform, to make friends, to heal, to defeat injustice or to choose love instead of hate." This year the committee chose to honor an adult, a youth and a group. They are:
Andrew "Andy" Olson: Andy is a senior at Central High School and will receive the Steve Rolland Youth Peacemaker Award. He was nominated by Scott Mathern- Jacobson of Loaves and Fishes who said, "Andy is trustworthy and dependable. He is someone who can be counted on to do what he says he will and more. He is one of the friendliest, kindest people I know."
Andy has worked as a volunteer at Loaves and Fishes. He has taken leadership roles in the group Northland Action for Peace and Justice, organizing talks, demonstrations and meetings. He is also part of the Central High School Diversity Project helping educate students and community members about the right of all people to be free from discrimination. Andy has also been involved in the Duluth Economic Justice Project, Together for Youth, Duluth Advisory Board and Students against War.
Gay Trachsel: Gay was nominated by Mary Sitek who said : "I have known Gay Trachsel for 25 years, and in all of that time I have never known her to demonstrate anything other than peacemaking in her everyday life: she walks the path she talks consistently. I know her to hold a prophetic voice in our community, never varying her stance as a peacemaker, no matter how uncomfortable this role has been. Her skill at observation and her willingness to spend herself studying the material necessary to be an articulate spokesperson have melded her into one very wise woman. I am honored to be her friend and honored to nominate someone whose public and private persona so match each other."
Gay has been involved in a whole host of peacemaking activities both as a worker and a leader. In 1994, she was a participant in a journey to Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights in the Palestinian Territories to dialogue with Palestinian Women for the purpose of peace. She helped found the local chapter of the Million Mom March. She cooks once a month for the Loaves and Fishes Community and was, for many years, a house sitter for them. She is a member of the Junior League and was their volunteer of the year in 1986.
Gay has a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's degree in education and has worked for 30 years for SMDC as a medical technologist.
Clayton-Jackson-McGhie Memorial Committee and three of its leaders Henry Banks, Katherine Osthos and Heidi Bakk-Hansen: This is the first time that the committee has chosen to honor a group, but it seemed obvious that this group deserved the honor, as it so clearly fit King's definition of a peacemaker.
"On June 15, 1920, three African American men were falsely accused of raping a white woman and were lynched as a result of the incident. In July 2000 the Clayton-Jackson-McGhie Memorial Committee was formed to carry out the work of providing the educational, informational and healing aspects to Duluth citizens."
Andrea Gelb says in her nomination of the group: "The idea of transformation, education and healing is something they are striving to build and keep alive now and for generations to follow. The mayor stated publicly that this group moved him from opposition to support of their goals through their work."
Many more people have been affected as well. They have learned about a horrible incident in our past and begun the work of building a better future because of what this group and its leaders have done.

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