HOLYOKE The seventh annual Peace Week kicked off on Sunday with a program of poetry, song and hope.
Many of the walls of Holyoke Heritage State Park were covered with posters and displays created by Holyoke students around this year's theme of "Respect Equals Peace." The artwork provided created the backdrop for presentations from Emanuel Restoration Center, Inc., Church of Jesus Christ Agape Ministries and the Council on Aging Writers Group.
This year's peace banner was at the ceremonies for people to sign as their own pledge to peace.
Before the presentation Mayor Michael Sullivan explained that one goal of Peace Week was "just getting people talking to one another."
"There is a need for people to know each other," he added.
While some people might think of global conflicts when the word "peace" is used, for Sullivan, the emphasis is on local behavior. Issues such as bullying falls under his definition of peace.
Sullivan's emphasis on peace has earned the city national attention, he said.
Having the activities of Peace Week plus the annual participation in the National Day of Prayer has helped the city obtained funding for its Weed and Seed program. It also helped the city obtain funding through the state's Shannon Grant program.
Peace Week was born out of the Peace Initiative that came ourt of Sullivan's first term in office in 2000. On his first day in office there were two murders. There had been 12 murders during the previous 11 months.
"We knew we had to come together as a community to understand the concept of peace more," he said during his introduction.
The week of activities will culminate on Nov. 19 with the annual Community Dinner sponsored by Sullivan. Conducted at the War Memorial at 810 Appleton St. from 5 to 7 p.m. the free event is open to all with the cuisine donated by local community restaurants and businesses.
For more information on the Community Dinner, contact the city's Planning Department at 322-5575