Nov. 20, 2013 Live from the road

San Diego

Reported by Santiva Morrison, Sujantra Mckeever

To celebrate peace in our community this holiday season, we invited San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, Superintendent of San Diego Public Education Cyndi Marten and Chief of San Diego Fire Department Javier Mainar to plant a peace tree at the Sri Chinmoy Peace Garden (located in the community of Normal Heights in San Diego) and to honor this outstanding citizens with a Torch Bearer Award Medal for their selfless service to the community.

We began our ceremony where Sujantra McKeever, founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga Studio welcomed everyone and offered these inspiring words by Sri Chinmoy: “If you sincerely want peace in the outer world, then offer all your wisdom. If you sincerely want peace in the inner world, then offer all your silence.”

We began our program by students from St. Didacus Catholic School and students from John Adams Elementary school reciting Sri Chinmoy poems about peace and harmony.

Mahiyan Savage, owner of Jyoti Bihanga Vegetarian Restaurant spoke about founder of the World Harmony Run / Peace Run, Sri Chinmoy, how he inspired people around the world dedicating his life to fostering oneness among humanity and peace inside the hearts of human beings from all nationalities and faiths. Sri Chinmoy was a prolific author and poet as well as a musician and athlete. He wrote 1,568 books, he offered 770 concerts worldwide all free of charge, created 16 million bird drawings, wrote over 20,000 songs and painted 220,000 paintings in his lifetime as contributions to world peace.

Next, the Sri Chinmoy Choir performed three beautiful songs composed by Sri Chinmoy with the theme of peace, harmony and oneness.

Local artist, Papaha Gosline spoke about the World Harmony Run / Peace Run how volunteers from around the world carry the peace torch in more than 100 countries visiting schools, civic groups, city officials spreading the message that world peace begins in the heart of each individual. He had just returned from a Harmony Run in the Caribbean.

Event coordinator, Santiva Morrison, offered words of gratitude for special guests, teachers and students for taking the time from their busy schedules to be present during the event. She offered TBA Certificates to the students for their kind participation and thanked our special guests for their contribution in creating a more peaceful and harmonious world. She also shared about the Torch Bearer Award that was created by the WHR to recognize and honor people who have inspired their nations, their cities, and their communities through their own lives and deeds. Other recipients include Desmond Tutu, Carl Lewis, Billie Jean King among many others. At the end she offered gratitude to the special guests for their inspiration and inspiring our future generations.

Sujantra offered the Torch Bearer Awards and explained to the public the contributions of our special guests to our community:

Our first recipient:
San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria

Todd Gloria is a third generation San Diegan and was attracted to politics from childhood. At age 14 he volunteered to work for Democratic candidates in the 1992 election. In 2002, Mr. Gloria became the District Director for Congresswoman Susan Davis.

In 2008 he was elected to the city council to serve and represent District 3 which includes San Diego’s most diverse and forward thinking neighborhoods from Downtown and Golden Hill up through Hillcrest and into our own Normal Heights!

He has taken steps to help the homeless, has championed the hiring of Veterans and is a proponent of increased funding for bicycle riders, pedestrians and Public Transportation.

In 2012 his colleagues elected him President of the City Council.
A position to which he will return after fulfilling his role as Interim Mayor.

Interim Mayor received Award and said it was truly an honor to be there. The thanked students for participating and congratulated them on a job well done. He said the award means a lot in part for which is provided by and advocating peace in our community. He thanked Marilyn for making it a possibility to use the space to reflect in peace in the middle of a very busy urban environment. In regards of award itself he said it means a lot, as we all know there have been difficult times in City Hall and city officials are trying to make a change; which comes with collaboration, working closely together it is how things get done in a short period of time. He feels that they have done just that, by working together in the last 3 months they have gotten a lot done and hopes the future Mayor of San Diego projects stability in the City. He offered a Proclamation for WHR and congratulated our organization.

Superintendent of San Diego Public Education Cyndi Marten

Superintendent of SD Unified School District Cindy Marten’s 25 years as an educator include teaching elementary grades as a classroom teacher and later, serving as a school-wide literacy specialist in the award-winning Poway Unified School District.

She believes that a child’s ZIP code should not determine the quality of their education.
San Diego Unified serves more than 132,000 students in pre-school through grade 12 and is the second largest district in California. She oversees more than 226 educational facilities with 13,559 employees. More than 6,500 teachers are in classrooms at the district's various educational facilities, which include 117 traditional elementary schools, 9 K-8 schools, 25 traditional middle schools, 24 high schools, 49 charter schools, and 14 atypical/ alternative schools. The student population is extremely diverse, representing more than 15 ethnic groups and more than 60 languages and dialects.
After receiving award, Superintendent Marten offered her gratitude for being honor with this special award. It was special for her since that neighborhood is where she started as an educator at Central Elementary where she shared with students court values as ‘Work Hard, Be kind, Dream Big, No Excuses.’ This is something she believes in, that peace begins within each of us and it emanates out from there. They created at Central Elementary school (with 1,000 students), a place for peace, first and foremost as educators. She continued saying that with education we can change the world and with 130,000 students it begins with one student at a time.
Mrs. Marten also shared that San Diego Public Education is committed to bring the highest quality of education in every neighborhood and this starts with one child, one mind, one heart at a time. She starts her day by saying a blessing every morning to be safe, to be happy and live with peace. She asks herself how she may serve and how to work together to offer opportunities for students to learn and grow.
For Superintendent Marten, Peace is essential and said it has been lost in education, where the main focus is only on producing test scores. She wants not only to bring high quality education in San Diego but also make productive members of society to make a positive difference in the world. She continued saying that children are more than test scores. The problem is that the city, the state and the nation has not figured out yet how to measure values that are important for human beings. How do you grade in a bubble perseverance, love, tolerance, compassion, forgiveness, hope, peace? All these qualities have been lost in public education and these characteristics are the ones that make the world a better place and in fact are great for the economy; when children grow up to be a participating productive members in society that hold those inner values that cannot be tested they become great employees. We are creating a new system in the city of San Diego that will be a model for the state and the nation bringing quality neighborhoods and quality schools which begins at home. She thank everyone for honoring her and allowing her to continue to serve.

San Diego Fire Department Chief Javier Mainar

After ceremony we all sang the WHR theme song and planted the peace tree.

Torch carried by
Mahiyan Savage (US), Papaha Gosline (US), Santiva Morrison (US), Sujantra Mckeever (US).  
Photographers
Alakananda Lebedev

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