-First published on Discover Parkland–
Awareness about how our actions affect the community we belong to and encouraging a more open dialogue between Parkland and PLU is at the top of the agenda for one of PLU’s newest clubs.
The Network for Peacebuilding and Conflict Management is a recently formed club at Pacific Lutheran University with that aims to create a more constructive conversation with our neighbors.
A member of NPCM and Junior at PLU, Anna McCracken, hopes conflict with our neighbors will be diminished by encouraging more open dialogue with the surrounding community.
“Trying to break down stigmas we have about the Parkland community and also break down stigmas the Parkland community has about PLU,” is one of her goals for the club’s conflict management efforts.
Founded by PLU junior Rachel Samardich, NPCM started becoming actively involved on campus and in the Parkland in January.
Improving the relationship between PLU and the surrounding area is one of the many goals that the club hopes to address. However, the club members are well aware that change is not going to happen overnight.
Club member Chelsea Paulsen is one of the several passionate members of this new organization. She stresses her hope that NPCM will open up dialogue between the two groups.
“We don’t have the best reputation with the Parkland community,” she asserts. But her hope is that by acknowledging that there are changes that need to be made will be the first step towards reconciliation.
Paulsen also noted how more often than not, the way PLU students tend to deal with conflict with the area is by shutting down and not engaging in honest conversation about it.
“Instead of shutting them out, we should be asking them what they need and what we need from them… I don’t think that question is asked enough,” Paulsen stated.
One of the club’s most successful events so far this year is a movie night on PLU’s campus that included community members.
The first movie night was held in February, and nearly 60 people were in attendance with at least 17-23 of them who were not PLU students.
Many of the attendees were from local schools like Keithley middle school and Washington High School.
Another of the club’s goals is to further incorporate the Parkland community into PLU sponsored events. McCracken hopes that in the future the club could help by making LollaPLUza more community-oriented.
“Often LollaPLUza is seen as more of a PLU event that takes over Garfield Street. We would like to work on ways to bring more families from our community into it… maybe by including a stage for community bands like the Washington HS jazz band,” she mused.
Something she also touched on was how often PLU students might not stop and think about their role in Parkland.
PLU students are a part of the Parkland community as well and often might forget about this part of their identity.
“We have to stop seeing each other so negatively and start seeing one another as neighbors and start being more supportive of this community,” Paulsen stated in regards to this issue.
Faculty advisor Amanda Feller works in the School of Arts and Communication at PLU. Of the club’s potential, she stated, “We are small but we are mighty.”
Although the club is just beginning to get off the ground, they have big hopes for the future and plenty of passionate members who hope to make an impact in the community they call home.