Progress, Peace by Peace

It's the season for Peace on Earth, and last week two groups demonstrated that it just might be possible.

The Peace Links gala on Tuesday made headlines because Rep. John Dingell fainted, but the event's real story is the work of Betty Bumpers, who in 1982 founded the international network dedicated to finding peaceful alternatives to violent conflict. The organization first worked with women of the Soviet Union--"They wanted the same things in life we do: a future for their families," said the wife of retired Arkansas senator Dale Bumpers. "I feel we played a small but significant role in the thawing of the Cold War."

Jordan's Queen Noor, honored for her efforts to ban land mines, was at the Capital Hilton with her father, Najeeb Halaby. She wore a black lace dress with a miniature diamond-framed portrait of her late husband, King Hussein, over her heart. "I'm soldiering on," said the queen, who accepted the Peace Links award on behalf of Hussein's belief in "mediation and reconciliation."

On Thursday night, WETA, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United States Institute for Peace and the Albert Einstein Institute held a screening of "A Force More Powerful" at the Ronald Reagan Building. The 90-minute documentary on the use of nonviolent protest--which will be released theatrically this week and seen in an expanded version on PBS next year--chronicles the stories of India's Mahatma Gandhi, lunch counter sit-ins in the South and the fall of apartheid in South Africa. Producer Peter Ackerman honored two of the film's stars who were present: civil rights leader Bernard Lafayette and anti-apartheid activist Mkhuseli Jack. Indian Ambassador Naresh Chandra was among the 600 other human rights advocates at the preview.

Friends and Lava: A Flow of Support

There was no dancing at Saturday's CD release party for the band Lava because there was standing room only at the Galaxy Hut bar in Arlington. "It's a very intimate setting," said Rebecca Icing, singer, songwriter and bassist for the alternative-rock, moody-dark-pop group. "We wanted to be surrounded by family and friends." The Virginia trio invited pals to celebrate the release of Lava's first full-length disc, "Before They Were Stars." "Hey, you!" Icing called out to a friend in the audience; guitarist Jeff Asch waved out a window to fans walking by. But Lava didn't let all this love and support go to their heads--or their music. "The tortured artist," said drummer Susan Ganley, "is alive and well."

The Art of the Schmooze

The official purpose of Monday night's 14th annual Montgomery County Executive's Ball for the Benefit of the Arts was to celebrate Maryland artists. Honoree Allan Lefcowitz, artistic director of the Writer's Center, playfully showed off one of his many awards: "It's for valor in the face of run-on sentences, fragments and bad spelling."

Once a year, the county sets aside a night to recognize local arts leaders: "It is a good evening because it allows the arts organizations to shine and also raises awareness for funding the arts and humanities," said Theresa Cameron, director of the Arts Council of Montgomery County and one of the 800 guests at the Indian Spring Country Club in Silver Spring.

The unofficial purpose of the evening was . . . let's just say there was plenty of pressing the flesh. County Executive Doug Duncan (above, near left, with ball chairs Barbara Duncan and Barry Scher) headed the long receiving line that included Montgomery County Council members Ike Leggett, Phil Andrews, Steve Silverman, Michael Subin, Nancy Dacek and Betty Ann Krahnke (above, far left, chatting with lobbyist Kim Burns).