Mt. Airy’s Will Little isn’t oblivious of violence in Philadelphia, but he doesn’t accept it either. His determination is peace.
He’s a community activist, poet, motivational speaker and founder of the movement, Peace, Live In It.
Little sells shirts — making almost no profit from them — to create a visual message that people can see, question and, maybe, even relate to.
Buying his shirts has one “catch” — supporters need to take the pledge to promote peace, and to live in it.
What it could mean for an entire city to see the word “peace” dashed across their chest?
“I think everyone wants peace… eventually,” Little said. “If it’s just buying a shirt, it’s helping.”
Little uses social media to promote his shirts and his message. Through Instagram and Facebook, he’s drawn an audience topping 5,000 that see his posts on their feed, and, he believes, this spreads the message even further.
Community meetings are accessible, but not always convenient. Work schedules, babysitters for the kids or the list of hundreds of reasons to pass on driving a few miles to listen to a few activists preach their very important message. Little asked himself if seeing violence but hosting less convenient community meetings can reach a wide enough audience to really change the world.
Stacey Wright, Chief of Staff of state Representative Stephen Kinsey, took the pledge to promote Peace, Live In It because he said he wondered the same thing.
“I’ve been lucky, I’ve never had a violent experience,” Wright said. “However, friends and family have. His shirt — it’s visual. People like to see smell and touch stuff. For me, I’ve always been about peace and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Kinsey’s office reaches more than 4,000 constituents in Germantown, Logan, West Oak Lane and the surrounding neighborhoods. Little’s movement was born in a barbershop in South Philly, where he works, but he lives in Mt. Airy. It’s another neighborhood he can impact, but he said he needs officials on his side.
“Elected officials are out on the forefront, they are our community leaders” Wright said. “It’s important for elected officials to promote positive movements like this so it can become infectious. This is the stuff that needs to go viral, and elected officials are the folks to do that.”
Little isn’t shy about his past. He’s been to jail himself, and said the experience changed him.
“I took a self-reflection and started thinking about my environment. A drug dealer, a gun-toter and a violent criminal — and I realized I was in a hostile environment. Even in jail, I was in a hostile environment,” Little said. “When I came home, I realized I needed to be a father. If I can make it out of prison, [my son] needs a father out of prison. I didn’t want my son to be in jail or growing up to be a mess, a drug dealer or something like that.”
He doesn’t hide this experience, and believes it could change the mind of a few who are close to choosing that path. He said all he wants is for them to hold onto that mindset.
“I want people to get excited when they see Peace, Live In It,” Little said. “One young man told me the shirts stopped a feud between two young guys.”
“I think the message is universal to live in harmony,” Wright said, “So I think that message is universal for every age bracket.”