Dr. Joan Coff believes peace begins locally. That's why the Baldwinsville resident has eagerly plunged in head first to help organize and promote the fourth annual Onondaga Lake Peace Festival this Sunday at Long Branch Park.
"If we want peace in our world, we have to begin with peace in our community," Coff said.
And she practices what she preaches. In 2005, she invited Tibetan Monks to St. Marie of Iroquois to bless the lake with a sand mandala. First the monks blessed the mandala, then placed the sand in the water. The theory behind this practice is as the sand moves with the water, so does the blessing and as a result the blessing spreads to people throughout the world.
It was during her experience at St. Marie of Iroquois that Coff first collaborated with David Yarrow, the Peace Festival's founder.
"David helped me with that blessing, then he asked me to be a speaker at last year's Peace Festival," Coff said. "This year, I wanted to get more involved and help them organize the event."
In addition to being a member of the organizing committee, Coff also coordinated the health and wellness area, a topic she is very familiar with as she owns and operates a North Star Natural Health Center in the village of Baldwinsville.
"It's a duty as a citizen of the Earth to take care of yourself. If you're healthy you can go out and do more for others. Your first priority should be yourself," Coff said regarding the connection between health and wellness and the Peace Festival.
The Onondaga Lake Peace Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday Sept. 9 at Long Branch Park at the northern end of Onondaga Lake Park. The location of the festival pays tribute to the Legend of the Peacemaker, which is said to have taken place at Onondaga Lake.