For Peace and Justice: The Work of Anita Heckman

“I think working for peace and justice is in my blood: my parents were a big influence on my direction toward helping to make the world a better and more peaceful place.”

Every organization has an involved party that is equal parts warrior, cheerleader, taskmaster, and motivator: in the case of the Resource Center for Nonviolence, Anita Heckman has carried those titles since 1981.

As a life-long advocate for peaceful protest, she credits her upbringing for forming her perspective, noting “I think working for peace and justice is in my blood: my parents were a big influence on my direction toward helping to make the world a better and more peaceful place.” With her father as a WWII conscientious objector and her mother as one of the first women who served on the national staff of the Church of the Brethren, it is clear that peaceful problem-solving and effective communication is what Ms. Heckman was destined to do with her career. After earning an education from Des Moines University, she found RCNV to be a place to use her graphic design skills in a non-profit environment.

AnitaHeckman Photo
 
Senses is proud to have Ms. Heckman and RCNV as partners to present Enduring Power this fall and tell the oftenun-stories of Middle Eastern women. Ms. Heckman notes that an integral step of achieving peace is the understanding of differences and similarities between people, and believes that this can often be achieved through collaborations with other organizations. She believes that “art can often tell stories or bring forth ideas in unique and engaging ways”, and noted that the upcoming collaboration with Senses Cultural will create a great opportunity for art to tell a story about the Middle Eastern woman’s perspective. Ms. Heckman is no stranger to powerful artistic collaborations through RCNV that tell stories “not always seen in the traditional U.S. media” – she has coordinated exhibits by Suzanne Klotz and Robert Shetterly for RCNV during her career.

Anita is optimistic that positive change is possible, and maintains that nonviolence is the most effective force for social change. She “would like to see nonviolence strategically used as the first option rather than last resort in conflicts internationally, locally, nationally, rather than military might or violent options. [She] would like to see much more financial resources directed to making the world a more peaceful place with a priority on community, justice, collaboration, education, meaningful work and housing for all, and would like to see the world rise up in a nonviolent revolution of values and action for climate change awareness and justice so we can save our planet and our future.”

Senses Cultural believes that this peaceful vision of the future is possible with the help of passionate and powerful women just like Anita Heckman.

by Silvana Gargione

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