Learning about chickens can be a small step toward achieving world
peace. Dr. Lynne Woehrle, an associate professor of sociology at Mount
Mary College, believes that.
Her own experience with fowl began during her senior year in
college when she was on a work study project in East Africa.
"I saw how food becomes a way of organizing and economically
developing a community. When people have power over their own
life-sustaining issues their lives are much better." She took
those lessons plus the integral role of women in providing food for
their families and made the connection to the idea that wars are
fought over limited and non-renewable resources. She went on to earn
two master’s degrees and a Ph.D.; her doctoral dissertation is
titled "The Staff of Life: Women Baking for Social Change."
In her own life the seeds of social awareness were planted early.
"I attended Quaker schools where my dad was an administrator. I
grew up hearing my parents discuss community issues. We lived outside
Philadelphia and took the train into the city to entertain ourselves.
My friends and I talked about social issues and what we could do about
them." With a smile of recollection, she shares, "I
subscribed to the magazine Ranger Rick which presents stories from the
animals’ perspective. My early life was also shaped by the
anti-nuclear movement and the environmental movement’s alternative
Her bachelor’s degree in peace studies from Colgate University,
research and personal volunteerism has led her to the following
conclusions. "People must have their basic needs met. Peace is
not the absence of war, rather a quality of life, and, if people live
on non-renewable resources, conflict is inevitable. All the
participants in a conflict see themselves as a victim and cannot see
the larger issues, and, of course, their feelings are legitimate.
Perspective is needed, and, yet, it is the first thing to go."
While she thinks globally, she volunteers locally for a nationwide
organization named Growing Power Inc. In Wisconsin that takes the form
of the Rainbow Farmer’s Cooperative which connects "…consumers
and producers through a new community controlled distribution
system" primarily in the market of grass-fed, organic meat
products. For her efforts with the group, she was awarded the C.G.
Schmidt Ovation Award for Volunteerism in 2006. "I do whatever I
can for them from providing resources to writing literature they can
Teaching at a women’s college is perfect for Woehrle. According
to her, women carry a heavy load with respect to home and nurturing on
the one hand, a career and access to power on the other.
"My education inspired me to try to change the world and I
want that for my students. I especially want to see more women in
elected positions. My husband and I can also serve as role models. Our
home is a shared place including all the work."
She knows, because she and her husband had a son in 2006.
Nevertheless, she says, she is adamant that volunteering improves
society as a whole, but admits our busy lives make it difficult.
Tips for Creating Peace
Woehrle offers her personal list to help preserve non-renewable
resources and in a small way work toward peace.
•Drive a hybrid car
•Ride a bike to work in good weather
•Install water saving plumbing devices
•Participate in the Wauwatosa recycling program
•Use a rain barrel to collect water for the garden
•Make a compost pile for fertilizing the garden
•Mow the yard with a hand-mower
•Dress their son in used clothes and provide him used toys which
saves a landfill.