I just returned rather abruptly from what was to be a 3-week vacation in Ireland with my family. We were heading to a cousin’s wedding with a long list of people to see and places to visit. And instead I sit here at home in the beginning days of isolation with my thoughts, my emotions and the mental pictures of all the people and connections I am grateful to have in my life. This is not the first time, the universe has tried to teach me that I am not the one in control. But this time I have plenty of time to let it sink in – to listen with my heart to all the lessons around me now.

I cannot control what is happening in my world, only how I respond and what I do with it. Sounds a lot like working for peace! I can acknowledge the fears and worries I have and choose not to respond from them, not to react and blame others, but to seek knowledge and connection instead. I can rest in my aloneness while also reaching out in compassion and understanding to let the needs of vulnerable others fill my heart and mind. And as I hear tales of empty shelves, I am reminded of Gandhi’s quote that “the world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed”.

I am grateful for the opportunity to write this letter today. Connecting with you, my peace community, every week for the last 15 years has been one of the constants in my life. We will continue to focus on the connection we have with you and others in our community, because that is what the JRPC is about. And we will continue to keep an open mind to hear the lessons our future holds for us all.

Finding the peace within — with you, Betsy

What a Week

What a week. I don’t know about you, but I have been blown away by how our community and others across the country have come together this past week. It really has been a beautiful thing to watch unfold. The momentary sense of dread I had last Wednesday after being addressed from the Oval Office has been replaced by hope and faith. Hope for what we are capable of achieving by working together and faith in our ability to do so. Times are strange right now (to say the least) but the work of peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability continue.

This week I was reminded that 17 years ago today, March 19, the United States was addressed from the Oval Office by a different President. I was 10 years old. I can still remember sitting in our guestroom watching Survivor one minute and the next watching President Bush announce our invasion of Iraq. 17 years. Our country has been involved in some version of (official) war and/or armed conflict all but 3 years of my life. War creates conditions where people live in fear and uncertainty. People lose jobs, homes, family members, and education opportunities.

I’m sure there will be no shortage of lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. One lesson that I have personal hope for is this- No person should have to live in the conditions created by war, disease, and climate crisis. There is, as always, much work to be done. While the JRPC office remains closed to the public for now, we are taking full advantage of this time to think outside the box. To find creative new ways to build a world that is nonviolent, socially just, and environmentally sustainable… and until we build that world, I will maintain my stubborn faith in our ability to do so.

Carol Schwartz

JRPC closing during virus restriction

Dear JRPC & Olive Branch Friends,

In an attempt to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 we will be closed to the public starting March 16. While this was not an easy decision, we feel it is best for the safety of our community, staff, volunteers, and customers.

We encourage you all to practice social distancing where you can and follow all recommendations of your local and national health officials.

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
World Health Organization

We are all in this together and JRPC will continue to be a resource for you and our community. Stay tuned to our social media and email newsletters for ways to continue to practice peace in this time of social distancing. We also invite you to join our JRPC Community Group as a way to virtually socialize!

Be good to each other & stay safe,


Peace – Peaceful

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”

Jean Shinoda Bolen

Dear Friends,

We are all too familiar with those days when you feel like you are pushing yourself to function at a baseline human level. I see you. I see you in the person weaving in and out of traffic gesticulating wildly and saying what I’m sure are lovely things. I see you in the Mother staring blankly ahead at the store while your child throws tantrum number 4 for the day. I see you in the person doodling on your notes during that meeting that could have been an email. I see you in the person being short with the waitress taking your order because that guy took your parking spot. I see you in the mirror sometimes.

We have all seen these people. We have all been these people. I’m sure a whole thesis could be written on judge not lest ye be judged as it relates to all these scenarios. I don’t have time for a thesis today. So, without judgement, I offer a reminder that in order to give the best of yourself to the world you need to treat yourself with kindness, patience, and compassion. Not all days are good days. Somedays you need to take care of yourself and there is no shame in that. Far too many people opt not to practice self-care because it is perceived as selfish or they don’t think they have time. I would counter that if taking 30 minutes to meditate every morning makes you happy it is the most generous thing you can do for the people around you and I promise you have the time.

So, I challenge you this week make time for at least one thing that brings you joy. This month, try some new self-care practices. We live in a community overflowing with opportunities to nourish your soul. Here are a few ideas.

  • Get outside.
  • Create something.
  • Watch a new movie at home or the theater.
  • Take yourself on a date.
  • Read a book.
  • Take a drive with no destination.
  • Sit and take in a view.
  • Introduction to Meditaion with Present Moment Practice: March 19, 6:00-7:00 At JRPC
  • Knitting For Peace: Tuesdays, 1:00–3:00pm At JRPC.
  • Nonviolent Communication Practice Group: 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, 12:00-1:00pm At JRPC.
  • The Cranium Origami Group: The Cranium creates origami delights every 1st, 3rd and 5th Wednesday, 1:15-3:15 At JRPC

Be good to others and yourself,
Carol Schwartz

Women in Black Stand for Peace

“I believe that peace is not merely an absence of war, but the nurture of human life, and that in time this nurture will do away with war as a natural process… Only in freedom is permanent peace possible. To unite women in all countries who are opposed to any kind of war, exploitation and oppression and who work for universal disarmament and by the establishment of social, political, and economic justice for all without distinction of sex, race, class, or creeds.”
Jane Addams

Dear Friends,

Have you noticed the women standing on the Higgins St. Bridge on Friday’s? They have been standing there almost every Friday since December 6th, 2001. These Missoula Women, are part of an international movement that began in 1988 in Israel when Israeli and Palestinian women stood united for peace while they mourned the victims of war and violence. They are part of an international history and the history of women here in Missoula. March is Women’s History Month, a time to note the contributions of ordinary women.

While the individual women have changed over the years the belief in peaceful protest, and consistent visibility is an action that brings attention to the ongoing loss of life by violence and war. The women stand as witness to the suffering of all victims of violence and in solidarity with people all over the world who struggle for peace and justice.

For the past eighteen plus years, each Friday, from 12:15 to 12:45 pm, women of all ages supported by brothers, partners, fathers and sons stand quietly as an on-going presence reminding others that war and violence continues.  Each week we hand out peace cranes, we hold signs and we wait and we hope.  We will continue to quietly stand as a presence dedicated to peace.

A few years ago, the Missoula Veterans for Peace, joined the peaceful protest of the Women in Black.  They stand beside us sharing the belief that until we end violence and war, we will not have peace. Both the Women in Black and the Veterans for Peace, invite you to stand with us and share our common belief in peace; Peace in our homes, in our communities, in our governments.

Let Peace be worldwide,

Carel Schneider
Missoula Women in Black