Trauma doesn’t take a backseat during a pandemic.
While there are plenty of services and efforts being put toward meeting people’s physical needs during a time of uncertainty and struggle for so many, local nonprofit Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is doing its part to ensure non-physical needs are being met.
Through its Peace Literacy Institute, NAPF has developed a community of practice, using webinars and Zoom video conference discussion groups that aim to give people a place to learn peace literacy skills, discuss them with their peers and strategize how to apply them in their own lives and communities. As part of this practice, the organization is in the midst of publishing a nine-part series titled “Peace Literacy for Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis.”
“We’re all living in uncertain times and we’re doing our best to try to help people get through it in the way we know how,” said Rick Wayman, president of the NAPF, told the News-Press.
Mr. Wayman acknowledged the importance of continuing to meet immediate and physical needs such as providing food or shelter or those in need or ensuring adequate care is being provided, though there are still other needs being overlooked.
“These are things like purpose and meaning, nurturing relationships, belonging, self worth,” he explained. “All of those things can take a hit during a crisis and that’s what we’re seeing right now. We’re looking at this both in the short term — people need help with this right now — but also in the long term, because if you don’t take care of your own non-physical needs and help others meet them in healthy ways, that can lead… to things like rage, alienation and mistrust. Things that are the root causes of a lot of problems that we knew in our society prior to the coronavirus, and things that still clearly exist and will exist when we come out the other side of this virus.”
The NAPF was recently awarded a $3,000 grant from the Fund for Santa Barbara’s Emerging Need Grants Program. The group combined the grant funding with private donations from its supporters to launch its online learning platform and new peace literacy series. Thus far, five entries have been published, with each focusing on an area of non-physical need, along with practice ideas to create stronger relationships and communities.
After reading the entries, a group of anywhere from 12 to 20 people will join together on a video call to talk about the entries.
“We see it as a way for people to better internalize what they’ve read. You know, it’s one thing to publish the article on your website, email it to a bunch of people or share it on your Facebook page, but when you’re meeting in a community — even if it’s a virtual community — you can learn from the input of others, the experiences of others, and you also have something of a community that can help to keep you accountable,” Mr. Wayman said. “It’s a really great learning experience for people, but it’s also a way that we can build relationships right now. And these are relationships that hopefully are going to last into the future.”
Last week, in lieu of a new publication, the group published three 30-minute modules designed by middle school teachers specifically to be delivered through distance learning. The publication includes powerpoint slides and a teacher’s guide.
“Everyone is scrambling right now. Nobody could adequately predict what was going to happen and what learning is looking like right now,” Mr. Wayman said. “We’re providing this curriculum that we published today for free. Any teacher can download it and they can adapt to any particular age group that they deal with and whatever else they have.”
To view the three-module curriculum, visit https://www.peaceliteracy.org/curriculum.
Due to the pandemic, the NAPF offices on Anacapa Street have been closed as the staff of six continues to work from home. Mr. Wayman said that it has been an adjustment, but also has served as a good bonding experience.
“Even though we’re not together, we can see how hard we’re working and we know that these services that we’re providing and the products we’re producing are changing peoples’ lives for the better,” he said. “That gives us a lot of purpose and a lot of meaning in our individual lives and collectively as an organization. It’s been a challenge. It’s been definitely something to adapt to, but our staff are resilient and adaptable and it’s been really a great experience to go through this with our team.”
The NAPF has also been forced to cancel some upcoming events due to COVID-19, namely The Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future, which was established in 2002 to honor the vision of the late Mr. Kelly, who was a founder and senior vice president of NAPF.
“That was going to be about a lot of the challenges our society is going to face with emerging technologies, like when virtual reality and augmented reality become much more ubiquitous in the next few years,” Mr. Wayman said.
The group is working to transition the lecture online, which would not only allow the lecture to take place, but also spread beyond the local scope.
“This is something that we’ve done to give back to the community of Santa Barbara for the past 18 years and this would give us an opportunity to reach much farther beyond that as well,” he said.
NAPF was also scheduled to collaborate with the Santa Barbara County Education Office to conduct training sessions with local preschool teachers. The training has been postponed, though Mr. Wayman and the group remain excited about the potential of that partnership.
“We had a full calendar for the year of trainings and workshops and lectures,” he said. “We’re working on getting as many of those as we can to take place online.”
The group has been able to follow through with at least one event, in which Peace Literacy Director Paul Chappell taught a three day honors course via Zoom at Oregon State University.
“It went really well and the students really got it. It’s obviously different being in person versus being online, but they got a lot out of it and we proved to ourselves that it’s a viable way to deliver this content,” Mr. Wayman said. “We’re going to be continuing to focus on that.”
To learn more about NAPF or the nine-part series, visit www.wagingpeace.org.