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Peace in her heart

Neighbors: Profiles of our community

Kihei resident Gylian Solay is the founder and creative director of the website A Global Voice of Peace, which seeks to promote peace on Maui and beyond. ALI JONES-CARTER photo

Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine the world at peace. What does it look like?

Now imagine if there were others who had a similar or complementary vision. What if you could compare notes and work together to bring your collective vision of peace to life?

That’s the idea behind a newly launched website that aims to connect people and peace initiatives from around the world.

Kihei resident Gylian Solay came up with the idea for the site in September 2001. Like so many others, she was deeply affected by the 9/11 attacks. That day, amid the horror and heartbreak, she composed an email and sent it to her friends and loved ones. Titled “A Global Voice of Peace Prayer,” it reads in part: “It is time now more than ever to gather the energy of humanness, create a net of determined loving and healing energy to those who have suffered and are lost . . . as individuals, shout out your voices of prayer to your neighbors and become intertwined as one giant global voice of prayer and peace.”

Every year since, Solay has sent an email on the 11th day of every month to an ever-expanding number of recipients. It includes the peace prayer, along with synopses of peace-building efforts n the world. Solay says she will continue to send the monthly emails until peace is realized.

“Seeking peace has always been my passion,” she said. “I feel creating a sense of peace has become a necessity as the world feels like its edges are fraying and we as humanity are losing personal and physical touch with our lives and connections.”

By 2020, creating a virtual peace hub had been on her mind for nearly two decades. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Solay to put her job as a professional organizer on hold, she knew exactly how to use the downtime. After months of planning, writing and fine-tuning, A Global Voice of Peace made its online debut on Nov. 11.

The new website offers a space to share, connect and learn. There are inspiring stories of peace-minded individuals, groups and initiatives, such as the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, Water1st International (a Seattle-based nonprofit that helps impoverished communities implement water, sanitation and hygiene education projects) and the kung fu-trained Buddhist nuns who biked across the Himalayas to bring awareness of human trafficking. There’s also an “Incite Peace” blog and a “Say Your Peace” section that encourages people to contribute peace-related visions, quotes, projects or ideas (or all of the above). In January, A Global Voice of Peace hosted a four-week virtual spotlight series, “Gender World: To Be or Who to Be.” Plans are in the works to host more spotlight series covering a range of topics. Solay also intends to add a “glocal” focus on Maui-based organizations and individuals who are creating peace in the community. (She defines “glocal” as what’s happening locally in one’s area can impact others globally.)

It’s only a few months old, but the website is already gaining momentum. So far, there have been several “Say Your Peace” contributions and Solay hopes to see more submissions in the days to come.

After all, she says, “It only takes a spark to ignite an idea. It only takes an idea to incite peace.”

To learn more about A Global Voice of Peace or for more information about upcoming virtual spotlight series, visit www.agvop.com. To share your peace-related vision, quote, project or idea, visit www.agvop.com/say-your-peace.

* Sarah Ruppenthal is a Maui-based writer. Do you have an interesting neighbor? Tell us about them at missruppenthal@gmail.com. Neighbors and “The State of Aloha,” written by Ben Lowenthal, alternate Fridays.

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