Tag Archives: Big Soul Project

Local and Global

I have been musing about this topic, particularly reflecting on the annual Ottawa Friends for Peace Day – now in its 13th year. See my blog on community activism: https://ianprattis.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/community-activism-at-work-in-ottawa/

I realized 15 years ago, when I founded Friends for Peace as the engaged arm of Pine Gate, that I was making a conscious choice to focus my energy and work on the local, my home city of Ottawa.  My focus was on mindfulness in schools, city environment, youth at risk and other local causes. On reflection I am astonished by the results – more true to say “blown away.” For at the local level there was continuity with great folk who helped make things happen.  There is now a two week Peace Festival in Ottawa that precedes the Friends for Peace Day – which is the final bookend of the Festival.  It has grown in ever increasing concentric circles. All have adopted some form of the Friends for Peace mandate – peace, planetary care and social justice. The foundation of mindfulness at Pine Gate trickles through the 50 some organizations we partner with.  All spontaneously brought about – no intention to do so.

sticker v41

At the same time I realize why I have resisted the pull and lure to go global.  There are folks who do this very well, some are good and some not so much – yet I decided to stay local so that deep powerful roots were put down that could well serve as a global example for other localities.  I offered a gracious decline to the many opportunities to travel and teach globally, as I felt that was not the arena that would make the difference I wished to see. There have been people from many cities around Canada and the world who accessed the Guidelines on the website www.friendsforpeace.ca  Of course the local and global inter-are, yet for me there was a conscious decision to place my energy at the local level, knowing full well that it would trickle through to the global. There is certainly a global aspect to our activities in terms of the projects actively supported elsewhere. Each year Friends for Peace presents Peace Awards to Canadian citizens who have devoted their lives to securing peace, planetary care and social justice.  That’s the mandate at www.friendsforpeace.ca  Past recipients include Grandfather William Commanda, Michael Monner and Tone Magazine, Marion Dewar, Max Keeping, David Smith, Irwin Cotler, Elizabeth May, Douglas Cardinal, Bruce Cockburn, Maha Rath Sam, Jack Layton and many others since our first Celebrate Peace Day in 2003.

Jack Layton with Dalai Lama

The funds raised from the day are used to issue Peace Grants to organizations, in Ottawa and internationally, that are making a real difference. Current projects in the city supported by Friends for Peace are the Multi-Faith Housing Initiative of Ottawa’s Interfaith Council, the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, Child Haven International, and Peace Camp Ottawa, which brings Palestinian and Israeli teens together.  This is in addition to supporting the Physicians for Global Survival initiative to expand the mandate of the Canadian War Museum to include the creation of a culture of peace.  In Africa, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation, the Congo Education and Schools project plus the Morungatuny Resettlement Program in Northern Uganda are also supported. In India a school, orphanage and medical centre was supported at the Ram Yoga Centre north of New Delhi. The major planetary care project was the campaign to make the Dumoine River watershed a protected conservation park. Friends for Peace also co-operates with other groups in Ottawa for the annual Ottawa River clean-up.  In particular we have supported youth organizations to burst on to the local scene.

For instance Orkidstra – www.leadingnotefoundation.org  – established in September 2007 gives children from under-served communities the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and sing in a choir. They are creating a quiet social revolution in the city. The Dandelion Dance Company – www.hannahbeach.com/dandelion – an Ottawa based youth dance theatre company explores social issues through movement. Their repertoire is driven by the experiences, reflections and passion of young women who range in age from ages 13 to 19, and include children’s rights, hunger, authenticity, bullying, stereotypes and inclusiveness. Both youth organizations perform regularly at the Friends for Peace Day.

The drive is to foster a strong cadre of people in the locality of Ottawa who can make a difference.  I talked about this when introducing the film “Fierce Light” to Pine Gate Mindfulness Community.  The film is pretty good but somewhat lacking in that it does not make clear that activism without spiritual depth and mindfulness soon runs out of steam. The activists burn out and become overwhelmed. The place to develop such depth of mindfulness is the local community and the continuity of inter-connecting with our partners across the city. And then noticing the many changes and transformation.

I remember the sage Krishnamurti – a true globalist – being in tears in San Francisco when he realized that his audience for the nth time were still asking the same questions – not having moved an inch from where they were the first time he spoke to them. I also wonder just how much our great teachers move the global sangha from where they were ten years ago. They certainly provide impact, yet that diminishes without a local energy focus to take the experience deeper.

I will reflect further on this – just giving you a heads up.

2013 Friends for Peace Day

Image

2013 Friends for Peace Day                                                             

 Koozma Tarasoff wrote this article as part of his report on the two week Peace Festival that preceded the Friends for Peace Day. He received a Peace Award in 2012 for his long term activism for peace issues.

 

The 11th Anniversary of Friends of Peace under the leadership of Ian Prattis and his team from Pine Gate Mindfulness Community, was an outstanding event. With a coalition of 50 organizations in the Ottawa area, Friends of Peace has been an integral part of the Annual Ottawa Peace Festivals.  There were peace and environment booths along the periphery of the hall, a food court at the back, a long set of tables on which were items for the Silent Auction, and the stage at the north end. Mony Dojeiji and Alberto Agraso had a booth publicizing their European-Asian Walking for Peace: An Inner Journey, about their 5000-kilometer, 13-country, 13-month walk for peace from Rome to Jerusalem in 2001.

The OrKidstra Kidplayers, in the photo above under the direction of Tina Fedeski, and Kidsingers directed by Margaret Tobolowska, Jeannie Hunter, and Jennifer Martinez, were excellent. Among the songs in the half-hour presentation was ‘Ode to Joy’, with some 35 instrumentalists and 20 young children.             

 

Dandelion Dance Company, directed by Hannah Beach, brought forth some 11 young lady actors, dressed in black, up to the age of 18. With their passion for nonviolence and the basic rights for people, the Company presented four themes designed to build a better peaceful world: (1) We have a right not to be bullied and harassed; (2) We have a right not to be hungry; (3) We need to deal sensibly with a ‘cash, credit, and debit’ society; and (4) A poem on our hope and dreams that we want for our society.

The Big Soul Project (some 50 people as singers and a 4-piece band), headed by Roxanne Goodman, Music Director, has appeared at the Friends for Peace every year, on this day for the 11th time. They were excellent in fulfilling such numbers as ‘What are we going to leave behind when we leave?’ Its message: ‘Now is the time, will you be able to say I was here?’ ‘When I leave this world, will I make a mark that I was here?’ The implication is that what we do today will affect the quality of life tomorrow.

 

The Metis storyteller Robert Lavigne titled his talk ‘Idle More More’ to highlight the urgency of dealing with the misdeeds of the Canadian government with the Native population in the country. ’Enough is enough. It is time to act now!…This is a movement of awareness. Remember 99 to 1 percent? This formula does not work. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. And the environment is being destroyed….This is part of our Spring.’

Ian Prattis presented the annual Peace Awards. The first went to Douglas Cardinal, ‘a visionary world master’ who was the architect for the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Born to a German – Native family, Cardinal said that all of Nature including human beings are interconnected. ‘Life springs through every being and rock in this life. This is a symbiotic relationship of life and nature. Each person has divine creation in them….Each person is a God….We are Gods on this land. That is our legacy. We have the capacity to create as well as destroy….Elders trained me to honour culture as the peacemaker. We come from a society where everyone is noble, unique and responsible.’ Ian Prattis then turned to the second recipient of the 2013 Peace Awards. This was to Amber Lloydlangston, historian at the Canadian War Museum and the key person who developed the Peace Exhibit there. Ian praised Amber for her excellence in producing such a unique exhibit, beginning with the Aboriginal Six Nations story. The exhibit officially ends in January 2014. Ian remarked: ‘Let’s help to make this a permanent exhibit, so that peace remains as an integral part of the war museum.’ After receiving her Award, Amber Lloydlangston said that she was humbled in being present with such a candidate as the renowned Douglas Cardinal. In the Peace Exhibit, she said that she and her colleagues wanted to show to Canadians what peace means in the form of diplomats, soldiers, peacekeepers and humanitarians.  

 Image

Lucille Hildesheim’s performance on the Celtic Harp was outstanding.   The closing Friends of Peace Band from Montreal, led by Sonja Ball and friends, was very lively, with a focus on how lucky we are to be alive. ‘This is about being happy and our right to be happy.’ That was certainly the feeling at the end of this magnificent day. The diversity of citizens who came to the Friends for Peace Day laughed, danced, cried and went home with confidence and solidarity.

Peace, Planetary Care and Social Justice are alive and well in our northern city. A Circle of Nations no less.

 

 

 

Canadian Architect and Museum Curator Receive 2013 Peace Awards

Canadian Architect and Museum Curator Receive 2013 Peace Awards

sticker v41

11th Annual Friends for Peace Day

Saturday, September 28, 2013, 11am – 4.30pm,

Jean Pigott Place, Ottawa City Hall

All Nations, All Traditions – a Circle of Friendship

www.friendsforpeace.ca

 Friends for Peace Day is an awesome, diverse, unique Ottawa experience.  It is a day to celebrate the consciousness of peace, social justice and planetary care rather than bemoan their scarcity. Mayor Jim Watson had this to say: “Friends for Peace is an outstanding organization that does very important work, promoting, strengthening and maintaining peace, planetary care and social justice within our communities and the environment.”

There will be music, speeches, dancing, fabulous food at the Servery, and a chance to learn and connect. The day opens with Orkidstra followed by the Dandelion Dance Company. These young people signal that we have a future. Peggy Taillon will talk about the Hera Mission in Kenya. And all-time favorites, Big Soul Project, close the morning program by raising the roof with their exuberance and joie.

Max Keeping and Ian 02

The Lunch Break is an opportunity to browse the Silent Auction, visit the community tables, check out the Connection Centre and enjoy the country bazaar nature of the event. The afternoon program begins with a First Nations theme – Asinabika Drum Circle and Idle No More. The 2013 Peace Awards will be presented to architect and visionary Douglas Cardinal and to curator Dr Amber Lloydlangten and her team at the War Museum for their magnificent Peace Exhibition. From Montreal – a great band with Sonja Ball and Friends, followed by Lucille Hildesheim on Celtic Harp. Samba Ottawa close the day with their rhythmic magic.

Entrance is by donation. All funds raised enable Peace Grants to be presented every year to organizations making a difference in our city and internationally. The intent is to create a different form of peaceful expression that appeals to a wide cross section of Canadian citizens who want to create infrastructure in our institutions that value peace and planetary processes.

Get there early for the opening with Orkidstra. Doors open at 10.30am. Watch this glorious song by Orkidstra at the 10th Friends for Peace Day in Ottawa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NsVb2a2cbE&feature=youtu.be

Ian congratulating Orkidstra