Berkowitz meets with group promoting peace
Anchorage’s mayor met Tuesday with members of a group advocating human kindness as a way to get people in touch with one another.
Representatives of Let’s All Connect stopped by City Hall to speak with Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.
The group's website features images of leaders from across the political spectrum, including Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, crossing arms and touching palms side-by-side with participants under the #connect hashtag. The site says human connectivity is the “core element” in “a world that today is virtually connected but humanly disconnected.”
“Metaphoric and practical at the same time, connecting people palm-to-palm helps building bridges between cultural differences and creates awareness for Peace & Unity,” organizers wrote.
The simple gesture is accompanied by a sound effect. “Mmmhmmm!” the group's Manuel Tisba and Andrew Frederick said as they touched palms with Berkowitz.
“It's a mutual understanding sound that you can hear every day, from anybody. Like, to say, 'Mmhmm, I agree with you,'” said Tisba.
“In all cultures, every language, ‘Mmhmm,' you go like this, 'Mmhmm,'” Frederick added.
The pair has traveled across the country, encouraging people young and old to touch palms and share a moment of human connection.
“You create what we call oxytocin, which is the hormone of feeling good. So what is peace? It's a state of mind, of feeling good. So the more we connect people, the more we create peace,” Tisba said.
On Tuesday afternoon, Frederick and Tisba asked Berkowitz what he thought was the biggest problem people faced.
“I think it’s the same problem as everywhere else,” Berkowitz said. “It’s very easy to stereotype and to demonize people who are different than you are, and that happens so often.”
Berkowitz went on to extol the virtues of tolerance.
“It takes a certain amount of courage and energy to go past that, and to see people who are different than you are and worship differently, and to see them as human beings,” Berkowitz said.
Now, in the most diverse city in the nation, the duo is celebrating diversity – and sharing the love.
“If you approach people with a smile, openly and you start conversation and you connect ‘mmhmm,’ people open up, and all kinds of people,” said Frederick.
The duo is headed to Oregon next before finishing their tour in California.
Liz Raines contributed information to this story.
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