In Building Peace: Overcoming Violence in Communities, Holsopple, Krall and Pittman contribute to the literature on peacebuilding and offer concrete examples that "combine community development and public health paradigms" that may foster a culture of peace (p.4). Considering the culture of violence that permeates society in the United States and global efforts to combat violence, the authors stress the importance of moving from micro to macro initiatives in order to promote peace. In other words, "we must begin at home" (p. 17). Based on this perspective, the authors recommend numerous actions that may be taken by community members in order to foster peace.
The book does not provide an analysis of the issues facing communities and assumes that the issues are known. The focus of the book is to offer the reader a general understanding of key fields well-positioned to build peace, and to present a comprehensive list of activities that may be implemented within communities experiencing violence in order to foster a culture of peace. The authors’ "intention is to provide ideas that are practical and possible" and to target those wanting "to create a culture of peace in their own setting" (p. 14).
In order to develop the framework of the book, the authors first discuss their own backgrounds and explain how their experiences with peace initiatives in violence settings have broadened their horizons and have led them to write a book offering concrete activities that foster a culture of peace. Second, the authors provide an overview of their concept of a culture of violence, including violence portrayed through television, video games, newspapers as well as interactions among individuals. Presenting different perspectives of peace, the authors stress positive peace, which "refers to social and cultural situations in which exploitation is either minimized or eliminated entirely" (p. 20); as opposed to negative peace, which is the "absence of war or violence" (p. 19). Through a community approach, theauthors promote a culture of positive peace that begins with the individual (the micro) and expands to include the community (the macro).
The heart of the book describes a number of approaches, activities and ideas for promoting peace through key fields that have a strategic place in the community, lending itself well to promote peace (or violence). These include education, public health, religion, mass media and community organizations. Chapters that present peace actions are based on the "Spectrum of Prevention" by Larry Cohen, which emphasizes a "comprehensive, community-wide collaboration across disciplines" (p. 24). Each chapter includes reflective questions to motivate readers to think of possibilities for peace-building in their communities.
Throughout the book, the authors emphasize the importance of community involvement in peace-building and focus on strategic key fields. Schools can assist children in developing conflict resolution skills, building tolerance and increasing integrity. Education can also forge ties with children’s families and foster a peaceful living environment in the home. Healthcare providers witness the effects of violence and are positioned to work with different actors involved in violence and can implement peace building initiatives. Promoting increased safety, victim’s resiliency, community crisis procedures and networking with professional organizations and community leaders, peace building may be fostered. Although religion has...