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Stress-reduction measure to be on Denver ballot

DENVER — DENVER - Sensing that his hometown was on the verge of a collective breakdown, lanky activist Jeff Peckman quietly gathered enough signatures to put a stress-reduction measure on Denver's November ballot.

If approved, it could lead to Indian music being pumped into city office buildings, "less stressful" food in school cafeterias and mass meditation focusing on peace and tranquillity.

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"This is what I was meant to do," he said. "I find progressive solutions to big problems."

Denver could certainly use some down time. The Mile High City is in the midst of a crime wave, it faces major budget cuts, and thousands of people have already lost their jobs.

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But should it be forced to seek therapy?

"It's lunacy, it's frivolous, it's fantasy," declared Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown. "If you want fantasy, go to Disneyland. This guy wants to mandate that everyone in Denver 'Have a Nice Day.' That's their decision, not the government's."

And Brown isn't wild about Indian tunes filtering into his office.

"Hank Williams reduces my stress. Should I decide what everyone else listens to? Get the flakiness of this whole thing?" he said. "These are city offices. We don't sit around holding hands, burning incense and singing 'Kumbaya.' We are in serious economic times."

Councilwoman Rosemary Rodriguez agreed but was bit more diplomatic.

"The intentions behind it are admirable but implementing it would be impossible," she said. "If it was an afternoon siesta I'd vote for it. The world could use less stress, but it's a personal journey - not a government plan."

Not so, said Peckman.

"We have so much stress in our society that we now have secondhand stress," he said. "Stress is a major contributor to violence, poor health and unhappiness. This is a public safety issue."

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He said certain music and "primordial sounds" have been proven to support plant growth and reduce disharmony in humans. And school cafeteria food can cause aggressive behavior, he contends.

Peckman, 49, has served as a meditation consultant, taught peace seminars and worked to improve nutrition worldwide. He said ideas similar to his have reduced violence in Israel and Lebanon. He ran for the U.S. Senate from Colorado in 1998 as a member of the Natural Law Party. He lost.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.


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