DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Decatur community members gathered at the Salvation Army Community Center on Wednesday to engage in conversation about how to improve resources for people across town.
Millikin University professor Keyria Rodgers hosted a peace summit with the goal of discussing key issues and working toward creating a restorative justice center or a peace hub in hopes of achieving Victory Over Violence.
It’s the third time Rodgers has held a peace summit to bring people together.
“This whole thing started as an initiative to create the community’s first peace hub,” Rodgers said.
So what is a peace hub?
“A place where people that are struggling with food, housing, education, jobs, who are struggling with restorative things, to turn a new leaf,” said community activist Sheiliane Gragg.
Rodgers said they were inspired by communities like Chicago that have restorative justice hubs.
“We’re trying to get an opportunity to interact with the community, let the communities voices be heard about what it is they feel we need here,” Rodgers said.
By letting the community be a part of the conversation, Rodgers said it becomes a community involvement project.
Gragg said it’s important to encourage younger people to be invested in their community.
“I was pretty excited about the youth because if we can reach them now, they won’t be adult offenders,” she said.
Even Rodgers’ students, including Stephanie Munoz, are getting in on the project.
“If I can do something with my time here at Millikin, why not?” Munoz said.
So far, Rodgers believes these peace summits are working.
“There are a lot more people having conversations just about what more we can do how do we take the initiatives that have already started, how can we build on those,” Rodgers said. “So yeah, it’s definitely having an impact and I’m glad to be apart of it.”
Rodgers said these peace summits are for anyone who is wanting to make a change in their community and that the summits bring them one step closer to starting a peace hub in Decatur. They’re planning to have more events in the future.