1990s

In 1990 Sister Joan Brown left the position of Executive Director and assumed the position of AfJ editor until April, 1991. In reflecting upon her 6 years with the J & P, she said “I have seen the Commission move toward being an organization that tries to involve more people than just those who are already convinced about the need to be involved in peace and justice issues.” In May of 1991, Geoff Parker, who had been office manager for 3 years, and Sister Barbara Huber became the new Co-Directors. They recognized that great strides had been made over the past several years: significant increase in the quality of AfJ; improved and broadened relationships with local churches; and the consistent quality of the Commission’s educational events. Geoff’s goal was “to create an atmosphere of hospitality, to make the office a J & P center where people feel welcome to visit, to learn and dialogue about issues.”

In 1990-91 the Board evaluated its current structure and governance of the J & P. A new Mission Statement was adopted at the February 19, 1991 Annual Meeting and appeared for the first time in the May issue of Active for Justice. It reads: The Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission is composed of people who, while looking to other traditions for inspiration and welcoming the participation and membership of all people, are grounded in the principles of justice and peace which are integral to the teachings of Jesus Christ: Reverence for all creation, The power of nonviolence, Solidarity with the poor and oppressed, The transforming qualities of relationship, reconciliation and community. Our task is to facilitate growth toward justice and peace in ourselves and in our sisters and brothers of the Pikes Peak community by providing alternative sources of information, facilitating formative experiences, and encouraging prophetic witness.

Note: The word “Christ” was deleted from the Mission Statement in January, 1995.

At this same February 19, 1991 Annual Meeting, the Board was restructured to include the staff as well as Commission members as Board members. The Board consisted of three officers who were Commission members, four additional Commission members and four staff members.

In July of 1990, the Commission office moved from the Sacred Heart parish educational center to 29 East Bijou Street in the upstairs of the SAK’s building.

Much of the Commission’s work during the 1990’s was shaped by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War leading to economic sanctions on Iraq. Much time and energy was devoted to exposing the effect of the sanctions on the Iraqi civilian population, especially women and children. The Commission’s strong stance against the sanctions motivated four PPJPC members to travel to Iraq in 1999 as a statement of conscience in opposition to the sanctions.

Out of a stance of compassion for humanity and the earth, and in opposition to consumerism and militarism, some Commission members made a personal commitment to use alternative means of transportation—basically walking, biking, and use of public transport. Peter Sprunger-Froese publicly burned his driver’s license on March 2, 1991 as a commitment to alternative transportation. His reasons encompassed theology, consumerism, militarism, and compassion for humanity and the earth. In celebration of alternative energy and personal creativity, the Commission supported a nationwide effort to reduce fossil fuel dependency. In 1991 and ’92 the Commission entered the city’s Festival of Lights Parade with a bike-powered float. Bikes were used to pull the float as well as to generate electricity for the Christmas lights on the float. The theme in ’92 was the 12 Rays of Christmas: 12 generators humming, 11 solar ovens, 10 organic gardens, 9 fluorescent light bulbs, 8 low flush toilets, 7 recycled papers, 6 bus passes, Yes, Solar Pays! 4 compost piles, 3 car pools, 2 bicycles and renewable energy. They were not welcomed back for the 1993 parade!

PPJPC joined other voices in 1992 standing against Amendment 2, the Constitutional change in Colorado that denied civil rights protection to gays and lesbians. Amendment 2, which initially passed, was later determined to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Work on prison reform and opposition to the death penalty gained momentum in 1994 when Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, addressed the public in PPJPC’s annual speaker forum. In coalition with a national movement, PPJPC lobbied and demonstrated against the proliferation of “control unit” prisons, particularly in Florence and Canon City. Members organized protests on behalf of political prisoners and offered hospitality to family members visiting their loved ones in Florence.

Work continued to expose environmental contamination by the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons factory and the transport of nuclear waste. Activists demonstrated against the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, known as WIPP, a plan to store nuclear waste in underground salt caves in northern New Mexico and use I-25 as the nuclear waste transport route.

In January 1994 the Rose and Thorn program was initiated; PPJPC partnered with the Northwest Earth Institute in offering the Voluntary Simplicity study course in April 1998 and by July five groups had formed; and the Peace Scholarship program began in October 1998. Workshops in Nonviolent Communication were also offered in 1998.

In March, 1994, the Commission moved back to 235 East Fountain Blvd.

In August ’95 Mary Bauer, SC assumed the position of Director. She was succeeded by Gail Snyder in February ’98 who in turn was succeeded by Jenny Finn in February ’99. In August 1999, Dorothy Schlaeger, osf became Director of the Commission and served in this capacity until August 2005.

In 1996 the Commission focused on “economic nonviolence”—maintaining that the only way to peace is through addressing the systemic causes of violence, and that violence typically emerges out of economic systems that place relative value on life, class, nationality, sexual preferences, beauty, athletic prowess, material possessions, and similar designations.

Over the years since the restructuring of the Board in 1991 which included the staff as Board members with a ratio of 4 staff to 7 non-staff Board members, the number of non-staff Board members declined as members completed their terms or were lost through attrition. By 1999, the number of staff members on the Board outnumbered the non-staff members.

Through the late 1980’s, the 1990’s and into the 2000’s, PPJPC intermittently held an Annual Speaker’s Event. PPJPC invited many prominent figures over the years including Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Brian Wilson, the Berrigans, Richard Rohr, Helen Prejean, Michael Bremmer, Kathy Kelly, Phyllis Bennis, John Dear, and others.

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