Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.

Jane Addams Black and White portrait

Jane Addams (1860-1935) was an activist, feminist, and pacifist who establish the Hull House in Chicago. She also worked as a prominent social worker and fought for peace and women’s rights. Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois in 1860. As a child, she suffered from poor heath and was not very physically active. She received education from Rockford Female Seminary and continued to study medicine, but was forced to stop due to her health. She toured Europe extensively and came upon Toynbee Hall, a settlement house in London. Seeing this inspired her, along with Ellen Gates Starr, to establish the Hull House in Chicago.

The purpose of the Hull House, according to Addams, was “to provide a center for higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises, and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago.”

The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.

The Hull House grew from a place for the underprivileged of Chicago to include classes, an art gallery, a coffee house, a gymnasium, a library, a museum and more. After founding the Hull House, Addams became involved with the education system in Chicago. She served as the first female president of the National Conference of Social Work, established the National Federation of Settlements, and served as president of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. In 1910, she received Yale’s first honorary degree awarded to a woman.

I am not one of those who believe – broadly speaking—that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislatures, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.

Addams was an outspoken feminist and pacifist. She believed women should have the right to vote as well as have equal opportunities for advancement. After gaining public popularity with her work at the Hull House, public opinion began to shift against her as she spoke out against war. In 1907, she wrote Newer Ideals of Peace and she gave speeches supporting peace throughout the country. In 1931, Addams became the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. After a heart attack in 1926, Addams health began to decline. She died in 1935 in Chicago. Her tireless work for peace, women’s rights, and social work continue to serve as an inspiration for many.

In the unceasing ebb and flow of justice and oppression we must all dig channels as best we may, that at the propitious moment somewhat of the swelling tide may be conducted to the barren places of life.