Peace Cafe says ‘peace out’
After six years, cafe closes its kitchen
By Jared Raney
“How you consume is a piece of living a peaceful life,” says Debbie Jircik, former director at Many Ways of Peace in Eagle River. And she would know; for the last six years Jircik has run the Peace Cafe, an informal gathering for people to come together, eat fresh, organic soup made with local ingredients, and discover new ways of peace.
Speakers would come to the group and discuss various projects around nearby communities, like the most recent presentation on the Little Free Library program in Rhinelander.
“A lot of it has been stories about work that people have done in their own communities to make them better places,” Jircik said. “It’s just very inspiring. Again, to me, a lot of it has been about inspiring people to believe that they can make a difference. And that there are many ways to peace.”
Unfortunately, this outlet of positive energy has had its last lunch. The kitchen of the Many Ways of Peace Center, the underlying group of the Peace Cafe program, has closed as of July 1st. As a result of budget restraints, Jircik is stepping down from her position, and the group will not be renewing their restaurant license.
But it’s not a permanent goodbye for those involved. The Peace Cafe may by closing, but the Peace Center will remain open.
“I would hope that we can still provide a forum for people, a gathering place,” Jircik said. “A place where people can find community and also be able to express their viewpoints around peace issues and related topics.”
In fact, on July 15, Many Ways of Peace will be presenting Dr. David Carlson of Franklin College for a talk on the Islamic State’s effect on youth.
“What drives me to keep this going is to be a presence for peace,” said Mary Jo Berner, the founder of Many Ways of Peace and the MJ Berner Foundation, which funds the Center. “That to me feels like we’re making a statement, and attracting people to peace. And I would like to continue to be that presence for peace, as long as we possibly can.”
The Peace Center opened in 2009, about four years after the MJ Berner Foundation for Peace and Justice was started. Many Ways of Peace has had a bounty of speakers and educational programs over the years, including several Peace Festivals. They maintain several other weekly or monthly programs, such as a walking meditation prgram, a Peace Java Jam, and a peace studies series.
“Peace has to start with the individual,” Jircik said. “We’re providing a place for people to gather and explore.”
Though she will no longer be running the Peace Cafe, Jircik hopes to remain active with Many Ways of Peace, and remains on the board of directors.