Have you seen that powder blue, 1988 Mitsubishi van driving down Sixth Avenue in Tacoma? You may have thought it was the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine at first blush, but these local activists are out to spread peace, not solve mysteries.
The Peace Bus is movement founded by Tacoma resident Kwabi Amoah-Forson, 29, who has made it his mission to promote peace for the last three years. In the beginning, he spent his Saturdays in Wright Park engaging in conversations about peace; how it can be attained, what it means to different people, etc.
As his conversations developed, so did his aspirations. He brought in fellow Tacoma locals Kevin Wolford, 28, and Lenora Seastres, 24, to begin documenting these dialogues. Soon, the Real Peace Podcast was launched, featuring interviews with local officials, politicians, and everyday people about topics surrounding peace.
Amoah-Forson and his friends used their platform to organize sock drives and philanthropic endeavors, but they soon realized they could accomplish even more with increased visibility. And so, The Peace Bus was born.
Actually — at first, Amoah-Forson wanted it to be a plane. Inspired by humanitarian Abie Nathan, an Israeli pilot who flew a “Peace Plane” to improve relations between Arabic and Jewish people, Amoah-Forson began taking flying lessons. But his salary as a Case Manager helping people with severe mental health illnesses at Comprehensive Life Services didn’t support the expensive endeavor. So, he settled for the bus.
Now, the goal is simple: drive The Peace Bus down the West Coast, spreading peace and documenting interactions along the journey.
The two-week road trip will begin on Aug. 9 and includes an extensive itinerary. At each stop, The Peace Bus team will engage in street interviews with everyday people and give away socks and blankets to those in need. Some of the locations have scheduled interviews with specific topics in mind. Here is the current outline of the itinerary:
- Portland, Oregon — To conduct an interview with the musician Samuel Eisen-Meyers, who includes messages of peace and joy in his songs
- Redding, California — To interview a park ranger in one of the nearby national forests
- Berkley, California — To have a discussion with Michael Nagler, a retired professor of nonviolence at UC Berkley
- San Francisco, California
- Los Angeles, California
- Disneyland — To get children’s perspectives on what peace means to them
- San Diego, California
- The US-Mexico Border — To hopefully sit down with someone who works at the border and someone who is affected by immigration policy to have a peaceful conversation, despite great differences
- Los Vegas, Nevada
- The Grand Canyon — To visit a Native American reservation and interview elders about peace
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- Boise, Idaho
When they return from the road, Amoah-Forson hopes to complete the process of making The Peace Bus an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit. He also hopes to visit college campuses and conduct presentations on what he learned about how people of different cultures, ages, and backgrounds perceive peace.
Further on, The Peace Bus crew hopes to do other road trips across Northern Canada and down the East Coast. And, Amoah-Forson said he still dreams of one day flying a Peace Plane around the world.
The group has set up a GoFundMe page to purchase supplies and gas, and is accepting physical donations of food, clothes, and hygiene products at 2509 6th Ave. Ste. B in Tacoma. Follow their journey on Instagram, and visit their website for more updates.