(To commemorate the memory of our last peaceful world conversation at the Red Vic, we decided to repost this blog in celebration of our ongoing peace work. )

By Marcus Lorenzo Penn

On Sunday morning, November 3rd 2019 with the feeling of Fall in the morning air, we convened our 2nd Peaceful World Conversation at the Red Victorian (Red Vic) in San Francisco’s Historic Haight/Ashbury District. 

The Red Vic Building on the morning of November 3, 2019

As our last gathering had its own uniqueness due to our return to the Red Vic, this morning had another notable return being that of our founder Sami Sunchild’s two granddaughters Tamara and Celina with their father.  They came to visit from Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We were all feeling blessed to be in the presence of two true living legacies of our organization’s founder.

Celina and Tamara with their father visiting from Albuquerque.

One of our opening introductory questions for our attendees was the following:

“What is a childhood memory of yours that makes you smile when you think of it?

This icebreaker was quite apropos given Sami’s adult grandchildren were in attendance and could give us all a window into their lives relative to their grandmother. 

Tamara shared a memory of spending time with some of her friends at the Red Vic in what she remembered was called the Grandkids room.  She pointed it out to us all during her sharing, as it was just above the lobby where as a kid she could look down at the early days of Breakfast Conversations.  Up there they played music and enjoyed hanging out.

Young Tamara standing behind her grandma, Sami

Sami’s other granddaughter, Celina, simply remembered that the Red Vic was her life. In the mornings she would help take rooms down after guests checked out.  She also recalled tender memories of having lunch with her dad.  It was a treat to have their dad present as he shared about how he would go fishing with his father who also played in a band that had a special gig one New Year’s evening.

Duane Menting, our board member welcoming the family.

The common themes coming from the introductory sharing centered mostly around family and community.  This was a perfect reflection of what we have been cultivating with our Breakfast Conversations.  It also had the effect of bringing us all closer together that Sunday morning as we got to tell old stories of our youth. 

We actually had one youth with us that morning and it was my 13 year old son.  He shared a cute memory about a time where his grandmother gifting him raw fruits and vegetables for his birthday.

Our international representation at the table included from France, the U.K. and Canada with stories involving a French farmer giving out bon bons to kids, to a father learning about mouthwash for the first time (it didn’t go well), to walking into a waterfall with it splashing over their shoulders.

The deeper reflection we all were invited to explore was encapsulated in the topic question:

As you grew up, what lessons did you learn about caring for others and/or about bringing peace into the world?

Many great themes came from opening this question to the group.  Adversity was a big prompt for much of the group to embrace caring for others and learning about bringing peace into their world.  Whether from experiencing death, dysfunction in the family or fighting for justice, some of our participants revealed how these early childhood events shaped who they are today. 

Quite poignant was how our founder’s granddaughter shared how her Native American roots and grandmother Sami guided her to be respectful to others (and the environment), treat others how you want to be treated and as a result she (and her sister) became a nurse helping people.

We ended up having some extra time at the end of the Breakfast Conversation to have a bonus question to pose to the group.  The question was the following:

When was a time in your life that you saw the need to actively bring peace to a situation?”

What was surprising was that more than half of the shares involved interpersonal and familial reconciliation.  Because of this, there was a deeper and more profound level of vulnerability that befell the attendees.  Tears were shed by some of those around the table as a true testament to the safe space that was cultivated. 

Some of the most touching shares were about reconnecting with family members after up to 15 years or mother and daughter reuniting and healing at mother’s deathbed.

After this Breakfast Conversation, we were all left with a greater sense of the sacred.  Quite likely that had to do with us being graced with the presence of Sami Sunchild’s living legacy, her grandchildren and the stories they shared.  Her Spirit was quite evident though the reemergence of the Red Vic as an international hub of peace and connection for the Peaceful World Foundation.

Marcus and Duane were introduced by Dave Whitridge.