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As you board any airline, you will be advised that in an emergency you should secure your own oxygen mask before helping someone else secure theirs. For the past two weeks, we at JRPC have been working to secure our “oxygen mask”. We have figured out some new routines for our work and some new ways to connect with each other and all of you. Your memberships and donations are helping us continue to pay our employees, to give rent abatements to our wonderful renters (Upcycled and HŌM·BÄDĒ) and to keep up with the expenses of our building and business.

The Olive Branch store is a big part of our business income, but we know its bigger mission is one of justice for communities around the world struggling to lift themselves out of poverty. The artists and craftspeople who make our Fair Trade items also need an “oxygen mask”. If businesses like ours quit selling their goods, they will cease getting an income. Every dollar you and I spend – even now – is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. The support for local businesses and front-line responders is nothing short of awe-inspiring! But in our global world, local casts a larger net.

We introduced this community to Fair Trade back in the 1980’s and your purchases have made a big difference and cast many votes for justice in the world. Now is not the time to abandon that difference and those communities who rely on us. We succeed together. So, we selected a few items that we felt would be useful and relevant now and created an Online Olive Branch. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just let us know and we’ll do our best to make it happen! We are happy to offer several ways to get things to you – and happy also to throw in some Fair Trade chocolate for every purchase to say thank you for helping us continue to make a difference in our community and around the world…Betsy

Celebrate Earth Month

This month we celebrate the 50th earth day. Since we all seem to have some extra time on our hands why not spend the whole month celebrating? I am calling on our peace community to send messages of/to mother nature, the plant, earth, the environment… whatever you call this natural world that surrounds us. For some, the message might be

a photo of a flower blooming in your yard. For others, a favorite poem. It might even be a literal letter from you. Let your creativity run wild.

If you feel inclined to share your message, from now until April 19th you can send your messages or a version/ representation of them to me at programs@jrpc.org. It is my intention to take the messages people share and compile them in a larger message from our peace community so the more we collect the better!

Need inspiration? Get outside. Practice safe social distancing but get outside. Go for a hike, work in your yard, take a drive, or just sit on your deck for a bit. Be with nature and think about what you would like to say or show. Write about the experience, take a photo, find a quote, make art, sing a song, plant something, or make a promise to change a behavior. Do what makes sense for you.

I look forward to seeing your messages in whatever form they come,

Carol Schwartz

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,

JRPC Crew

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