telling our story
The story of World Citizen begins with a young naval officer, Lynn Elling. Lynn served in the South Pacific during WWII. When he saw the carnage of the battle of Tarawa and, later, as he served in Korea, he knew there must be a better way. This young soldier made a commitment to cultivate a world without war.
Lynn settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he raised a family with his wife, Donna, and went on to become a successful businessman. Determined to find a way of encouraging young people to solve problems in a peaceful way, Lynn founded World Citizen in 1972. Inspired by a social worker in New Jersey, the idea was to dedicate schools as Peace Sites. By 1988 the first Minnesota Peace Site, Longfellow Elementary School in Minneapolis, had been dedicated. Since then, hundreds of sites across the globe have become dedicated Peace Sites. In amazing celebrations of communities coming together, each successive site develops their own commitment to peace and conflict resolution; plaques are hung, gardens are planted, and peace action poles are placed.
In 1996, inspired by the Peace Prize Forum (an event of the Norwegian Nobel Institute in collaboration with five Midwest Norwegian Lutheran Colleges), Lynn co-founded the Peace Prize Festival at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. For seventeen years, Nobel Laureates were studied and celebrated at the Festival by student peacemakers.
But peace isn’t just a one-time commitment, it takes daily action. Through its program of Peace Education, World Citizen regularly presents speakers and workshops on national and international topics related to our Five Peace Actions. These opportunities for Peace Communities to share ideas for peaceful homes, schools, and communities helps foster relationships between Peace Makers, working together to educate for a just and peaceful world.
Lynn Elling passed away on February 14, 2016, at the age of 94. But his legacy of Peace lives on and, in 2021, World Citizen became World Citizen Peace. The dream of a young Naval officer to assure a better future for children everywhere continues with the three Peace Pathways: Peace Education, Peace Sites, and Peace Ambassadors.
We all have a responsibility to assure a better future for children everywhere. At World Citizen Peace, we are ready with the next steps. Our hope is that you would partner with us as we continue to create, invigorate, and support Communities of Peace around the globe in their ongoing work.