It has been 150 years since twins Alfred and Albert Smiley fell in love with the Mohonk mountain range and decided to purchase a 10 bedroom inn.
To pay homage to the fall celebration of their 150th anniversary in the Mountain House, this past weekend, from Friday, Nov. 1 to Sunday, Nov. 3, the Mohonk Mountain House hosted a range of activities—including s’mores around the campfire, origami crafts, group morning strolls, Quaker style gatherings and historic tours of the grounds. The celebration was themed: “Creating and Sustaining Peace,” deeming it “a weekend of peace.” Out of all four of their seasonal 150th anniversary celebrations, this is the first to have a theme.
The theme was evident through peace-focused discussions and group peace-inspired music, art and crane origami over the course of the weekend.
On Saturday, The Mohonk Mountain House hosted two keynote speakers for the “Creating and Sustaining Peace” conference.
Philip Hellmich, an international consultant and speaker, gave a talk entitled “Vision for Peace—Challenges and Successes.” He offered a vision of peace on the micro and macro levels by presenting a “new narrative of peace quietly and powerfully emerging around the world—one rooted in ancient wisdom and accelerated by modern science and technology.”
After Hellmich was Sakena Yacoobi, founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning and co-founder of Creating Hope International. Her lecture, entitled “Building Peaceful Societies; Educating Girls and Women,” delved into the importance of educating girls and women.
Following the keynote speakers was a panel to address “Successful Solutions and Best Practices.” The panelists included Jeffrey Weisberg, co-founder and executive director of the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding, Masooma Rahmaty, an Associate Board Director and United Nations non-govermental organizations (NGO) Youth representative at RiverTides and Solange T. Muller, a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
On Sunday there was a peace panel titled “Youth and the Future of Peace,” featuring Hudson Valley Youth.
Laraine Mai, a representative from the Mohonk Mountain House, says the focus on peace goes hand-in-hand with a larger focus on climate change. “The practice of peace building has grown a great deal in the last few decades, as has the understanding that building sustainable societies and peace building are two sides of the same coin,” Mai said.
An important takeaway from the conference, according to Mai, is “the importance of taking individual responsibility—Do you engage peacefully in the issues at hand or do you add to the conflicts?—and of engaging in your local and/or regional communities to support sustainable policies and practices, and the importance of being educated about what’s happening in the world.”
By teaching these ideas to a group of young and diverse students, the event leaders believe the ideas, practices and information will continue to spread and inspire change.
Although 150 years have passed and the amount of rooms in the Mohonk Mountain House have expanded, most things have, thankfully, remained the same. The focus on nature as a source of providing one’s own inner peace is timeless and will enlighten the direction of the Mountain House for an eternity.
The last 150th anniversary celebration for the Mohonk Mountain House will be from Jan. 18 to Jan. 21.