August 2023
City of Peace, or City in Pieces?

Following a local 2021 International Day of Peace celebration, a conversation ensued regarding the peacefulness of our beloved city. The ease of access to natural settings while seeking relief from life-stressors represents a strong measure of peace afforded by our community.

Yet by many measures our community is fragmented. Rather than “live and let live,” there’s a prevailing sense of “don’t be surprised if you get run over if you cross into my lane.” This view was on display in the response to a Black Lives Matter rally on the Courthouse Plaza in September 2020.

On any given weekend, groups that represent opposing views can be seen on the streetcorners around the plaza. While dissenting views may be heard in elevated tones, these gatherings generally take place without incident, and at the end of the day the groups disperse and return home to their respective echo chambers.

The Prescott Peace City Coalition hopes to affect change within our community to represent a genuine sense of peace. The coalition is an informal group of individuals and organizations that hold a vision of peace for Prescott. Unity of Prescott, Prescott Peacebuilders, the Paths to Peace Foundation and others are actively promoting peace-themed events to nurture this elusive paradigm.

The Yavapai College Peace Pole is a recent example of a peace-themed project. The Prescott Frontier Rotary Club sponsored a student design competition that resulted in the creation of this unique structure, serving as an example of the Rotary International Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention Area of Focus in action.

The Prescott Frontier Rotary Charitable Fund is supporting a Peace Essay Scholarship to be offered during each fall semester to Prescott High School Interact Club members. Interact Clubs are high school extensions of local Rotary Clubs.

On August 23 the club invites the public to attend an event titled Paths to Peace at the Watson Lake Upper Ramada, noon to 7pm. The event will include a 2pm presentation to discuss the theme “Expanded Patterns of Faith,” and feature the Paths to Peace labyrinth.

Featured speakers will be Rabbi Julie Koslow of the Jewish Community of Or Atid , Unity of Prescott Reverend Richard Rogers, Museum of Indigenous People Executive Director Manuel Lucero, and myself representing the Paths to Peace Foundation. Our intention is to create a sacred space for the public to experience while reflecting on their personal vision of Peace. Our hope is that attendees will become more active in some capacity to help realize peace on both the personal and community levels.

For those who feel a sense of societal fragmentation, we ask for patience. A classic eastern proverb suggests, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” A shared sense of peace throughout our community can only be realized when we slow down, let others merge into our lanes, and share stories along this journey.

Unity of Prescott peace path

For further information contact Unity of Prescott at 928-445-1850 or

Robert Wertz is the founder and executive director of the Paths to Peace Foundation. He chairs the Prescott Frontier Rotary Club Peacebuilder Committee, and was recently appointed as Rotary District 5495 Peacebuilder Network coordinator.

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