COLUMN: The Peace Nook celebrates 30 years of progressive activism. – The Maneater

Posted: September 20, 2020 at 10:52 pm

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Hirsh Joshi is a first year law student at MU. He is a columnist that writes about race, culture, politics and government for the Maneater

Its pretty easy to miss the storefront is a single door squished between the Sycamore restaurant and Rally House. There are no large lit up signs. Yet, its very clear the Peace Nook is straight out of President Nixons nightmares; it exuberates hippie culture.

When you go down the stairs to enter the store, somebody always greets you (and gently asks you to use the hand sanitizer provided).

They have a diverse selection of books, ranging in topics from sexuality to spirituality; politics to gardening; peace to interventionism. Some of these books arent available at Barnes & Noble. Similarly, their shirt game is unique. Some shirts directly take on politics such as Dump Trump and Hes Not My President. Some take on organic food gardening.

Other clothing includes tie dye shirts and wool threaded sweaters and pants. They also sell essential oils, organic foods, ayurvedic medicine, Pride accessories, bumper stickers, tapestries, posters, fair trade wallets and hats. Perhaps the most popular items at Peace Nook are in the incense section.

But the magic of Peace Nook is not just in the store; it participates in advocacy within the community. The Peace Nook opened in late August of 1990 and recently celebrated 30 years. The store has served as a progressive staple in the community for longer than most MU students have been alive.

To really do justice to this topic, I felt it necessary to interview someone who works at Peace Nook (from 6 feet away, of course). I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mark Haim, founder and director of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, the 501(c)(3) non-profit that owns Peace Nook. Because Peace Nook is a non-profit, he told me he could not explicitly endorse or advocate for any political candidate.

I want this to be an accessible point for people to enter progressive activism ... people should be able to come in and ask Hey, is anyone doing something about this or that? Haim said when asked about his original vision for Peace Nook.

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks is not taking new volunteers this semester due to the pandemic. However, current volunteers help the cause through canvassing, passing petitions and organizing classes. This includes large events such as their upcoming 5K Walk for the Climate on Sept. 20th and Bike for the Climate Ride on Oct. 4th.

Next, I pointed out that in November we have, perhaps the most consequential election of both of our lifetimes (we are about five decades apart in age). I asked about the three largest things he hopes his patrons keep in mind when they vote.

Haim answered that climate change is the existential crisis of our lifetime. The people of [Generation Z] are likely to inherit a miserable situation, Haim said. He referred to a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change saying that we have until 2030 to cut carbon emissions in half, otherwise were doomed.

Haim then said denuclearization, saying that preventative measures should be taken before an irrational leader becomes emboldened.

He lastly said general inequality: whether it be fighting racism, homophobia, sexism or xenophobia. These have been used by those at the top, of every party, to divide us for their profit.

The conversation turned to campus matters.

I asked Haim how Peace Nook reconciles the need for students on campus and its own ideology of trusting science.

Haim has personally advocated for a more comprehensive testing system, similar to those at peer schools such as the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He said that testing should be made readily available and contact tracing should be widespread. Haim said that he sent four letters to the president of the UM system, Mun Choi. He only received a response to the first one, which was a generic letter sent to the community. He also said that he sent various unreturned letters to public health committees in Columbia and MU.

I asked what Peace Nook and Mid-Missouri Peaceworks will look like in the next 30 years. He pointed out that many of his organizations members are older, despite being on a college campus.

It seems like every day we hear about more of our members passing or moving into nursing homes, Haim said. There is high turnover for younger people. They are only involved for as long as they are in taking classes.

He hopes to attract younger people to become long-term members of his organization. This is so that it can survive well past his time. I certainly hope so too.

I left the store feeling hopeful. The Peace Nook serves as a safe place for all people. The only thing that isn't tolerated seems to be intolerance itself. The message of Haims organization can seem diluted amongst everything going on, but thats all the more reason to embrace it. Whichever direction Mid-Missouri Peaceworks and Peace Nook take, I know the right principles will live on. Heres to another 30 years and beyond. Happy birthday, Peace Nook.

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks is a non-profit dedicated to fighting for a violence-free world, human dignity and equality, the Earth and the collective empowerment of individuals. Consider donating at or follow on Twitter/ Instagram @ThePeaceNook / @thepeacenook

Edited by Sofi Zeman |

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COLUMN: The Peace Nook celebrates 30 years of progressive activism. - The Maneater

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September 20th, 2020 at 10:52 pm

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