Aim of walk is to foster reflection

Event tomorrow to focus on thoughts of peace, preservation

September 29, 2006|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN REPORTER

Margaret Flowers and her friends don't have a traditional agenda.

They aren't raising money for a cause, rallying to save a farm or protesting the status quo.

The Walk for Peace and Preservation that they have organized is more about a feeling. By gathering folks on the Northern Central Railroad trail tomorrow, organizers hope to give people a chance to focus on important issues.

"It's to give people a place and time to reflect on peace and preservation," said Flowers, a Sparks-area school physician and one of the five northern Baltimore County residents who organized the event. "We're busy people. Further action comes when you have time to reflect."

Initially, Judy Waldman, 62, a land preservationist from Monkton who leads community-empowerment workshops, was inspired to organize a walk, in part, after reading a book called, Peace is Every Step.

She and friend Jacki Hayward Gauger, a 55-year-old massage therapist and yoga instructor from Parkton, talked about inviting others to join them as they meditated on the philosophy: "All people are sacred. All land is sacred," Waldman said, adding that it's become a subtitle for the walk.

"It's a group effort to show that you care," said Gauger, who helped organize a national peace walk a decade ago. "You can feel hopeless as one person. But when it's two people, or four people, you feel that you can make a difference."

Flowers, who has played host to several political festivals at her farm, liked the idea of organizing a walk. But, she said, organizers decided not to give walkers lists of preservation or peace groups they could join. "The idea is to encourage people," Flowers said, but not pressure them or to seemly endorse one organization over another.

Waldman said they chose the NCR Trail because much of the land on either side of the trail is preserved-- a fact she says they hope will inspire the walkers.

And, she said, the route follows the Gunpowder River, which flows into the Loch Raven Reservoir that provides drinking water for more than a million people in the Baltimore area.

The walk begins at 9 a.m. at the Monkton station with a short ceremony that will include music, poetry reading and stretching. Coffee and breakfast will be available at a nearby organic food market. The group will walk south for seven miles, ending at 2 p.m. at Paper Mill Road.

However, the organizers say that those who don't want to walk the entire seven miles can join them along the way, turn around after a comfortable distance or carpool back to the starting point in vehicles that organizers plan to have stationed at several intersections.

"People don't have to commit to the entire seven miles," said Waldman. "They can just come for the opening ceremony. ... Just looking around at all the other people is very reinforcing."

The walk is designed to be a family event. A children's art table will be set up at the Monkton station. And strollers and bicycles are permitted.

A rain date is set for Sunday. Those who wish to park at the walk's end point at Paper Mill Road can ride a bus to the starting point, but reservations are requested by calling 410-591-0892.

The schedule:

9:30 a.m., Monkton Station

10 a.m., Corbett Road

10:55 a.m., Glencoe Road

11:20 a.m., Sparks Road

12:10 p.m., Phoenix Road

2 p.m., Paper Mill Road

laura.barnhardt@baltsun.com

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