How Community Libraries can help establish a Citywide initiative to establish their City as an International City of Peace.


Elgin City of Peace: Libraries & Communities Leading the Way to Peace

Elgin’s commitment to volunteerism and multi-partnered cooperative efforts to address community issues helped us become an International City of Peace. The library played a key role in Elgin’s becoming a City of Peace. We worked with civic and faith-based community leaders to research Elgin’s continuous efforts as a welcoming and peace-building city. From historically welcoming vulnerable groups and immigrants, hosting vigils and discussions about race and policing, encouraging volunteerism, to creating prevention policies and programming, we collected thousands of efforts for peace. We successfully petitioned the Mayor to Proclaim Elgin an International City of Peace in 2013.

Public partnerships with libraries, municipalities, social service organizations, museums, universities, school districts, health organizations, and civic groups can produce cultural programming and courageous conversations promoting peace. Go where your community gathers, collect what they already accomplish, or are willing to create and share, for peace that will help you in the ICP research process..

Elgin efforts that are replicable in other cities, villages and towns:

Global Neighbors Series: Public programs featuring international cultures engaging music, dancers, traditional clothing, and local professors and presenters who give details about history and modern lives of our local and global neighbors. Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, EID, and other religious celebrations give opportunities for exploration and sharing when communities come together to share tradition and knowledge.

Police departments can implement or highlight community policing and community engagement as it’s essential tool for community peace and can coordinate with faith, library and educational leaders to host discussions and events for all ages around the city about immigration, citizenship, hate crimes, and safety.

Films give us a deeper connection to history and the injustice of our past. Discussions with impacted communities builds bridges and dispels stereotypes that are divisive. Documentaries and dramatic films can focus conversations. The Not In Our Town film & discussion series builds resiliency and commitment to prevention and awareness of hate groups and hate crimes. Discussing reentry of the justice involved and restorative justice in communities are popular community topics for peace- building. The If Project or other films can harness the dreams of individuals and communities. See links and contacts provided.

Communities can research how they can become an International City of Peace as well as other awareness building tools like becoming a Dementia Friendly Community, a Trauma-Informed community, Autism Aware, and many organizations can be trained in mental health awareness and building restorative practice into their schools and organizations. Designate your community gardens as “Peace Gardens” around your area.

Create video and writing projects that tell your community story about immigration, family roots, difficulties and healing and commitments for the future. Personal and historical content is gathered from all ethnicities and ages in our community through various projects by the library, museums, local authors and filmmakers.

Celebrate and encourage peace stories and crafts at the annual festivals or events around town, build them into your annual programs. Use bilingual stories to celebrate everyone in the community and peacemakers from around the world engage and inform. LGBTQ community programs and Rainbow story times help community to share important perspectives.

Art, poetry and music are also valuable peacebuilding tools for communities to capture in art or writing “what family and community mean to me”. Peace art installations collaborating with all sectors of the community reach across genders, ages and cultures to create community art reaffirming “what I will do for peace in my community”.

The International Day of Peace, September 21st, is home to the Annual Global Feast for Peace that engages many places of worship in bell ringing, cultural meal sharing, stories, and peace art and songs.

We encourage you to research your peace-building efforts and take a look at the process for petitioning the International Cities of Peace here:

The Team in Elgin, Indiana: City of Peace.

Contacts for replicable programs, partnerships and events:

Annual Asian-Pacific Heritage Celebration and Black History Family Festival:  Danielle Henson Marilyn Prentice

Dementia Friendly Elgin:–dementia-friendly-communities Glenna Godinsky


Each One, Reach One film: Danielle Henson

Earth Day: Danielle Henson Erik Anderson

EID or Global Neighbors Series: Sadia Ahmed

Elgin iFest and Elgin International City of Peace & ECP Storytimes:  Barb Keselica

Hanukah: Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein Jennifer Bueche

Hispanic Heritage Celebration: Tina Viglucci

Illinois Humanities Community Discussions: Tish Calhamer

Lao Oral History Project:  or Tapestry of Freedom:                   Miriam Lytle  Aloun Khotisene (Lao Oral History)

LGBTQ Community forums and Rainbow Storytimes: Danielle Henson  Danise Habun Open Door Clinic

Not In Our Town Films & Discussion:   EPD Chief Ana Lalley Danielle Henson or Commander Rick Ciganek

Peace Community Art Installations: Rise’ Dawn Jones  Indira Johnson Danielle Henson

Project 2-3-1 documentary film:  Ernie Braodmax Broadnaxr Elizabeth Marston

The If Project: Danielle Henson  Tish Calhamer EPD Chief Ana Lalley


The Wall that Heals and GBPLD Big Read The Things They Carried:

Healing community and connecting Vets to the library for Visiting Vets/Veteran’s Voices:

Miriam Lytle Tish Calhamer


Elgin City of Peace:

Gail Borden Public Library:

For more information and mentoring, please contact Danielle Henson, Community Collaboration Coordinator at Gail Borden Public Library and Coordinating Committee Chair at Elgin City of Peace in Elgin Illinois, USA.