Barbara Simmons, will speak on “Creating Strong Community Through the Lens of Change” at Newtown Friends Meeting, 219 Court Street (www.newtownfriendsmeeting.org) at 9:45 a.m. on First Day (Sunday), February 23, 2020. The traditional Quaker Meeting for Worship based on expectant silence will begin at 11:00 a.m. The public is invited to all events.
The First-Day School program is part of a series on the Quaker Testimonies, known as SPICES (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship). “SPICES” is a shorthand guide used by some Quakers to describe how they strive to live in harmony with their belief that there is the light of God in everyone.
Simmons, former Executive Director of the Bucks County Peace Center, says: “Our nation has become more divided than we have seen in our lifetime and it leaves many of us feeling unsettled, anxious and depressed. Is it possible to create a sense of community that is diverse and allows us to embrace all types of differences, including politics, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, etc. if we understand the role values play?”
Barbara served with The Peace Center for over thirty years and is now consulting with the organization in which she experienced so much personal transformation. Simmons said she was mentored by some of the Founders of B.A.N.D. (Bucks Alliance for Nuclear Disarmament of The Peace Center), “several of whom were members of Newtown Friends Meeting, including the Woodmans, the Strongs, the Lovetts, and the Appelbaums to name a few.” At the Peace Center, Barbara helped create and oversee a team of “highly talented peacemakers” and Peace Center programs that have been implemented in over 300 area schools with a focus on creating physical, emotional, social and moral safety for students and staff.
Simmons now focuses her time in the community holding trainings in Racial Equity/Cultural Humility and Bias Awareness, coordinating and leading dialogues with police officers and community members, tracking and responding to hate crimes and bias incidents, and co-chairing the Dr. Martin Luther King Teen Peace and Justice Summit. These efforts are come out of a sense of Quaker responsibility.
Barbara Simmons is an adjunct professor at Arcadia University’s in its International Peace and Conflict Resolution master’s program where she teaches Advanced Mediation and Facilitation for Conflict Transformation. She was also the creator and executive producer of PeaceTalks, a project that began under the guidance of Newtown Friends Meeting. She traveled around the globe recording stories of people who were victims of war, conflict and violence, and highlighted their work to transform their communities. The audio documentaries aired on National Public Radio, Public Radio International, and WHYY.