It’s weird to hear yourself on tape

KBOO has posted a clip of three of us who testified last week at the Portland City Council in support of the Department of Peace. I don’t know how long they leave audio content up, but the audio file is posted here. I know it sounds like I was about to cry the whole time… I probably unnerved the City Commissioners some. I was really nervous, though — they kept looking at me! Anyway, mostly it’s all a blur.

But, now I have a copy that I can study to improve for next time. Note to self for future: breathe before the first word, breathe frequently throughout testimony. Allow myself to sit up straight. Breathe more.

Here’s the text I was attempting to read from (I had to trim it a bit because they encouraged me not to read from what I had written):

Testimony for City Council August 8, 2007
In support of Department of Peace Resolution

I decided to come to City Council because today is the 22nd anniversary of my brother’s murder in an act of political violence in 1985, when I was 15 and he was 20 years old. For much of my life since then, I have found ways to work to prevent violence, and as part of that, I’m here today to ask you to add Portland to the growing list of cities supporting the Department of Peace.

Although my brother’s murder was unique in that it was politically motivated, it unites me with millions of people across our country who have lost loved ones to other acts of violence — domestic violence, violence connected to drug addiction, or to economic desperation. This experience is far too common in our country, in our state, and in our local community. It’s part of why we need more national work for peace.

And part of why I call Portland home is that peace work is part of the fabric of our city. We are home to one of the oldest domestic violence programs in the country, and a newer program that supports family members of murder victims in the African-American community. We are host to youth anti-violence programs, neighborhood dialog programs, international relief work, sister city programs. From programs with local to international impact, Portlanders keep ourselves busy working for peace.

The Department of Peace proposal carries with it the potential for us to fund peace development in a way we’ve never seen. With a Cabinet level position that directs and more importantly, funds peace work from the federal to the local level. I’m asking you to support this legislation because down the road, it has the potential to add resources to many extraordinary organizations working for peace in Portland.

There will be some folks who will say we can’t create this Cabinet level position, that because a Department of Peace does not exist now, it can’t exist. They will especially say that cities calling for the change can’t make it happen. But local commitment makes all the difference in anti-violence work. Just over 20 cities have already signed on, making Portland a leader if we sign on now. This proposal may take a while to pass, but the time to act is now to give it momentum and reflect our city’s commitment to peace.

I am proud to be a Portlander, a city where so many of us who have experienced violence now find ways to work for peace.

I hope you vote to support this resolution, to position Portland as a leader in this national movement and reflect our city’s commitment to peace.

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