A Peace of My Mind
Jill Rennicke

"We stood in the road chanting 'Water is life,' chanting 'Who do you serve' to the policemen slowly swarming us. Corporations are not people." With those words, a portrait of CS4 alum Mikaylo Kelly will be standing in exhibit halls across the country, part of a project called A Peace of My Mind, founded by award-winning Minnesota photographer John Noltner. A multi-media arts project begun in 2009, A Peace of My Mind built around a simple question: "What does peace mean to you?"

Combining high-quality portraits with personal stories, the project allows ordinary people -- Holocaust survivors, refugees, artists, immigrants, veterans, and more -- the opportunity reveal their own extraordinary insights into how the world can come together to work towards a world more just for all. "In a time of political and cultural polarization," Mikaylo says, "John Noltner's Peace of My Mind project is one of the most powerful and tangible tools that I've encountered. It gifts people the opportunity to understand how folks who are 'different' from them actually share the same healing core values which we can unify around to create a more peaceful world." The stories are shared at www.apeaceofmymind.net, in two award-winning books, and in traveling exhibits that are viewed in venues across the country bringing the voices of participants like Mikaylo to thousands of people to act as a powerful catalyst for community conversations, civic responsibility, and social change.

MIkaylo credits his time at Conserve School as "instrumental in helping me to form the foundation of what it means to be a good citizen." His classes here opened his eyes to "the correlation between people being vocal about their love and interdependence with our natural world, and the resulting change in our social fabric. If we don't stand up and speak out, we can't assume anyone else will."

For a complete and up-to-date listing of where A Peace of My Mind will be exhibiting near you or where to purchase books and support this much-needed project, go to www.apeaceofmymind.net.