MADISON -- Thirty months ago, a group of young, enthusiastic middle schoolers and their older student interns with faculty began the first summer session for SIPPP! (Students of the Integrated Peace Performance Project!), a new Madison County-based youth non-violence, empowerment and leadership program. On their second day, the youngsters divided into four or five groups. Stewarded by the high school interns and witnessed by the adult staff, they worked diligently to answer a two-part question,
“What would you like to see happening currently in this program, and what would you like to carry forth from it after you leave?” Working for a couple of hours, youth then shared, acknowledged their small group contributions, and together wove their work into a cohesive personal and group ethic; now called, The SIPPP! Code.
The code still reads, “We ‘SIPPIONS’ vow to try to respect, honor and trust Spirit, ourselves and each other. We pledge to try to listen, to show love and support as we work to enjoy one another. May we move mindfully to protect the environment and care for all others as peacekeepers on the journey.”
This simple code of ethics opened and closed every meeting, reminding all participants that Stewardship, Right Relationships and Deep Community represented acts of commitment as we shared with one another. Beginning with self, moving in family and community, and stretching globally, we’re responsible for who we are and how we behave in our environment.
The SIPPP! students don’t meet routinely during the school year, but can be found in the public, private and home schooling communities in five counties. They have participated publicly and privately in numerous service activities over the past two years, mostly in Madison.
This past summer, with unforeseen events in the way of deadlines, we didn’t run a summer arts camp experience. Instead we worked on the program infrastructure and program development.
Extensive work has occurred to replicate the non-violence communication programming in other nearby areas or to assist those counties in their dialogue. SIPPP! interns are actively involved in those events in their home towns, including Madison.
With a strong bow to the environment, (part three of the ethics code), SIPPP! will begin our New Year 2014 commitment to the environment looking at water issues from the local to the global level. In Madison on Jan. 23, from 7-9 p.m., an open public informational forum will occur at the Madison County Administration Center auditorium at 414 N. Main St.
The topic will examine Madison’s current state of affairs related to the watershed serving our area, issues related to availability, area water history as well as changes in upcoming legislation. County Administrator Ernie Hoch will speak to these issues and answer related questions.
The Department of Environmental Quality Representatives will speak about Storm Water collection and run-off. The frequency of monitoring for contaminants, the process of checking for best practices surrounding water use and disposal ;related to the importance of how commercial businesses, farming, and residential users steward and safeguard water and DEQ’s role in issuing of permits.
We expect these seasoned and other professional environmental speakers to be on hand to address issues either via the panel or during Q and A periods provided. All members of the community are invited to this initial water session.
As per all SIPPP! activities, our student interns will steward healthy communication practices, assisting the public in the question and answer periods. Madison County High School junior Summer Davis, a SIPPP! intern and Forensics Club state winner, will co-serve as event emcee and leader with MCHS senior Tristan James, also a Forensics Club state winner and a friend of SIPPP! Wetsel Middle School and SIPPP! Student Board member and youth environmentalist, Taylor Davis, will personally assist speakers with logistics.
SIPPP!’s award-winning videographer and staff member, Culver Long, will film the proceeding for the public. It will be available through the Madison Library.
(Contact Madison resident and SIPPP! Director Kaaren Lynn Ray for further information. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at  572-0702. )