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The latest event at peacePlace (the non-profit office of the Cultural Arts Coalition which celebrates its eight year of operation) began on a warm Arizona morning, Saturday, June 2, 2012.
Melanie Ohm, CAC co-founder/co-director, greeted persons at the door providing journals and explaining the planned interactive events of the day. Welcome to peacePlace. Welcome to a day about Peace.
It was a wonderful time to meet, eat breakfast and greet one another as well as answer 3 posted questions. We very much enjoyed having Ollie visit us and bringing Thuong to the event...
This experience is a time for personal and communal reflection and joy. As you enter the house, you will have the opportunity to respond to these questions:
* What does the word/image peace mean to you?
* How do you bring peace to yourself and others day to day?
* Imagine people making a path for peace in your community. What actions are they taking?
Melanie welcomed everyone to the space then sang an uplifting chant that resonated throughout the house providing each one of us with positive waves of energy. Our heritage of peace we give to you...
The chant was followed by "Labyrinth", a poem read by Holly Parsons, CAC board member. "Concealed are my souls deepest secrets, etched in the stones I traverse..." Holly has published a book of poetry available at Changing Hands Book Store in Tempe, titled "The Soul of a Woman". She also has a You Tube video Japanese Sacrifice - "To the people of Japan affected by nuclear disasters now and in the past..." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmeDvyGjjnI Ken Koshio accompanied Holly on flute and continued to play for us in our state of meditation.
judy butzine, CAC co-founder/co-director, introduced Dulce Juarez the office manager and CAC board member, who brought her mother to enjoy the day with all of us.
Kaiko Conn was welcomed and spoke as one of the workshop artists who created origami cranes with everyone. She explained that this process is a ritual as one folds the paper as in a state of meditaion. Thuong Nguyen assisted Kaiko when many persons were wanting to make this complex paper bird. Peace Crane The Crane is a powerful symbol across many cultures of Japan, China, India, Egypt, and Africa with different meanings – longevity, faithfulness, immortality, birth of language, self-knowledge, and also less positive interpretations. Today the paper crane is an international symbol of peace (origami crane lesson plan http://artsCARE.org/peacepals.2.shtml )
Francisco Flores was also introduced. Francisco has recently joined the CAC board and has already contributed his multidisciplinary expertise and artistic talent to the Cultural Arts Coalition’s community building activities. At this particular event Francisco facilitaed the "Torches of Enlightment" workshop. Based upon the Huichol culture’s acts of giving thanks with a material object created termed an uru, an ancient art form of the Huichol people of Mexico, to symbolize our dreams for peace.
Torches of Enlightenment: The Torch is a symbol of enlightenment, hope, liberty, and universal goodwill. Traditionally, the uru is made of painted, patterned sticks that are highly decorated with feathers, ojos de Dios (God’s eyes), woven rings, and pieces of embroidered cloth. All of these decorations are symbolic of an individual’s specific wish, a "prayer arrow" to direct hopes and intentions. The completed uru is left at a holy place, or sent into the wind, or floated down river as a prayer. Leson plan: http://artsCARE.org/huichol5.htm
Keith Johnson and Muslimah Hameed were welcomed as our lead drummer and dancer. They guided us with heartfelt movement and lots of energy permiating the rooms from the sounds of the drums and rattles as we connected to our bodies and the strenghts of one another in the space... Everyone loved this interactive flow of JOY from the dance...It was internally vitalizing!
Muslimah and Keith have the magic that gets ALL up on our feet and invigorating one’s whole body to the natural rhythms of the drums.
Dr. Dianne Anderson-Nickel, an original CAC board member, is an accomplished musician and teacher at Lowell elementary School. She is also an amazing drummer.
Networking through meeting new people is an objective of these peacePlace events that promotes and supports community building collaborations.
Issues discussed during CAC events almost always involve some aspect of advocacy and policy change, meeting the needs of vulnerable populations of community individuals.
At noon the house became a performance stage for Dulce Juarez. Dulce has her masters in higher education from ASU and has paid for most of it through acting and commercial jobs, as well as an ordained minister. She says she's constantly acting or filling a role, whether that be in the front of a classroom, on a stage, in a crowd, or behind the podium - and each has a different change of clothes that she usually has to keep in her car because of her tight schedule. More than anything, Juarez isn't afraid to be the voice of a universal immigration struggle. She was brought to the United States from Mexico when she was 5. The one woman production we viewed was the story of her journey as a young woman trying to fit in as an Anglo teenager with white skin, blue eyes and blonde hair.
One day Dulce awoke and heard she needed to respect and honor her indigenous past. Her physical appearance was the embodiment of Dulce’s ancestors. If she did not respect her physical being then she did not give honor to her loved ones who came before her. Everyone was over whelmed with this story of "The need to be true to our own being." and understood this universal message regardless of the color of one’s skin or the origin of one’s birth.
Labyrinth...path to peace
Labyrinths have long been a symbol of contemplation, an inner journey, and personal enlightenment. A labyrinth path takes us on a deliberate, winding physical journey that mirror’s an internal journey to "navigate" some aspect of life. It is a meditation to engage the whole person. It provides time to think, to feel, and to integrate and connect with the spiritual self.
We reconvened to listen to the music of Ken Koshio who played guitar and sang his song of peace followed by "Imagine" by John Lennon.
Imagine all the people...living for today, living life in peace, sharing all the world... We all joined in the singing of the lyrics!
Ken has multiple community projects, all revolving around his desire to bring intercultural understanding through the shared enjoyment of music. Projects include A Thousand Cranes, which served as a memorial for those fallen at the Twin Towers on 9/11, and as a way for their friends and relatives to have some closure. Ken uses his music as a way to intertwine his love of his native country with his loyalty to his adopted country, the United States, and to nurture peace between people of all different backgrounds.
And it was... Everyone left with their origami cranes of peace, torches of enlightment, and daisies of the flower children who support and promote peace and love one another.
May Peace Prevail UPON the Earth for ALL and May It begin with Me!
Photo narrative by judy butzine, June 12, 2012