We Shouldn’t Wait, By Melissa Hassard

885531_1397643157198017_8152972408955752389_o

I was invited this week to talk with a group of young writing campers held at a local university campus. The e-mail I received advised there would be about 100 kids, from 3rd to 12th grade, and asked me to talk about “being an author,” what I write, and my writing process. I did some of that. But I also wanted to hear from the kids; how they are experiencing camp and the world.

Early in the conversation with them, I brought up Writing for Peace. I asked them how they thought a person might write for peace: how that might work, and how it is possible that writing might somehow accomplish peace. They were tentative at first but ultimately they came to these wonderful answers about understanding another person’s point of view through reading their stories, and how by reading what others have to say we can better understand their experiences. And then this one young man raised his hand and started speaking earnestly:

“Because really good writing,” he said, slowly, “can touch your heart.”  This beautiful response moved me deeply.

I was also asked to bring them a “writing prompt,” so I asked half of the room to write down two or three new laws–things we should start doing to make the world a better place, a safer place, a more peaceful place.

And to the other half of the room, I asked that they write two or three new laws of things we should stop doing in order to make the world a better, safer, more peaceful place.

Again, they were shy at first, but then they started getting into it and hand after hand went up. They’d come up with some amazing ideas, many of them talking about love and respecting all genders, skin colors, and religions. One young woman, cautiously and from deep in a corner, stated quietly but steadily that we needed to begin thinking more deeply and responding much more thoughtfully to the events happening around us.

Again, hand after hand went up, young people presenting idea after idea, until I ran out of time. And just as I had to stop calling on the young writers, one more hand went up–a clearly determined young girl who hadn’t yet raised her hand to speak during the time I’d been there. I called on her, of course. She said the most amazing thing.

She said, “We shouldn’t wait for these things to become laws. We should start doing them right now.”

I turned and put it to the group, “Who can start right now?”

Every hand went up.

“Really? You all are serious?”

The hands went up harder. Many nodded.

“Okay, then.”

I was so proud of these kids. I hope they settle firmly into their ideas and their generous and kind hearts. I hope they keep writing.

And I wanted to share these moments with you.

 

About Writing for Peace Adviser Melissa Hassard

Melissa Hassard, Writing for Peace Adviser

Melissa Hassard is speaker, writer, poet, mother, womanist, and activist — currently residing in North Carolina. Her background is public relations, advertising, and travel, and she considers herself a student of the world, who loves travel, history, culture, and language.  Writing is as much a part of her life as breathing. Partner at Sable Books and founder of Women Writers of the Triad, she is blessed to work with writers on meaningful projects — from helping writers publish, to teaching writing to survivors of domestic abuse, to organizing local community workshops and readings. Her essays and poems have been published in various journals, is she is now revising work for a first book, that will no doubt take her years to finish. For more information about Melissa and her work click here.

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Writing for Peace News

cropped-Peace-Correspondent-header.jpgThe Peace Correspondent: Call for Submissions

Information is beginning to go up on the website about our new online periodical, The Peace Correspondent, a tri-annual solution-based publication. The first issue will be published on October 31st. Submission deadlines are September 1st. Guidelines are posted here.

DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts: Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceGuidelines are posted for the 2017 Edition. DoveTales is an extension of our mission to promote writing that explores the many aspects of peace.  Our purpose is to expose young writers to a diverse collection of thoughtful works by established and emerging writers, as well as our advisers. The journal will also feature works by the winners of our annual Young Writer Competition. The journal will be released on May 1st, 2017. There is no fee for submission, but please read our guidelines carefully.

Theme: The theme of our 2017 issue of DoveTales is Refugees and the Displaced. As in our earlier issues, we encourage contributors to take a broad view of the definitions within the context of peace.

  • The reading period begins July 1st, 2016 and ends January 15th, 2017, and the journal will be released on May 1st, 2016.

Support Writing for Peace

You can help make the Writing for Peace Mission a reality by supporting our youth outreach, international journal, and peace journalism in the following ways.

  • Help spread the word about Writing for Peace. One way to do that is to frequent our Facebook page, share and like our posts.
  • Purchase copies of DoveTales for yourself, friends, and loved ones.
  • Add Writing for Peace to the list of organizations you support in your annual giving. Writing for Peace is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, Federal Tax ID Number, 45-2968027. Donate now.

Thank you for your on-going support!

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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With Ilaria and Francesca in Piacenza

habitation

With Ilaria and Francesca in Piacenza

By Sam Hamill

The years can be brutal––yesterday
a torrent, today just a drizzle. I sat
in the sidewalk café sipping cappuccino,
watching the morning’s passersby. The girls
found me amusing, “like a grampa,” they laughed,
“grizzled old poet against the war,”
who creaked down cobblestone streets in search
of ice cream or granita, or a newspaper.

The girls I knew at such a tender age
wanted no part of me. And now my daughter
could, indeed, be their mother. They are beautiful
and intelligent, and happy to be kind
to the foreign visitor, practicing their English.
All of their joys and heartaches will rise
in time like summer storms, but today
they are laughing, teasing, laughing as only
girls can laugh, and the sun is burning off the clouds
as Plaza Duomo fills with noisy people.

Pigeons coo in the bell tower above the cage,
for sinners like me, that swings in the morning breeze.
I tell the girls, “I sentenced a couple of writers
to that cage last night, kvetching with friends
over pizza and wine at Pasquale’s.” Down here
in sweet samsara, the girls and I get a laugh,
and the cobblestones glisten and the air grows thick
and sweet as honey. “Buon giorno,
buon giorno,” as happy people pass. Cappuccino
finished, I suggest a stroll and put on dark glasses
so Francesca and Ilaria won’t notice
a tear in an old man’s eye.

From HABITATION, Collected poems by Sam Hamill, published by Lost Horse Press.

About Writing for Peace Adviser Sam Hamill

Sam Hamill, black background 1Sam Hamill was born in 1943 and grew up on a Utah farm. He is Founding Editor of Copper Canyon Press and served as Editor there for thirty-two years. He taught in artist-in-residency programs in schools and prisons and worked with Domestic Violence programs. He directed the Port Townsend Writers Conference for nine years, and in 2003, founded Poets Against the War. He is the author of more than forty books, including celebrated translations from ancient Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Latin.

For more information about Sam Hamill and his work, visit his page, here.

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Writing for Peace News

DoveTales Reprinted and Replaced

2016 DoveTales Front cover ImageDoveTales readers noticed a problem with the color images in some of our most recent  Family and Cultural Identity books. Our printer, McNaughton & Gunn, a company with a reputation for quality and attention to detail, insisted on making it right. We appreciate their integrity in this matter, as well as the opportunity to correct the little typos and errors on our end that were found after the first printing. The new books have arrived and they are perfectly beautiful. Shipping will begin in the next week, first to those who have been waiting for book orders, and then to our contributors and readers who purchased the book when it first came out. Contributor discounts will be extended through July . Thank you, friends, for your patience and support through this process, and thank you to McNaughton & Gunn for standing behind their product.

Meet Our 2016 Young Writers

Writing for Peace dreamer2016 Young Writers Contest winner and finalist profiles are beginning to appear on our website. Learn more about these accomplished young writers here.

Writing for Peace challenges young writers (ages 13–19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes. There is no fee for participation. The 2017 contest will open on September 1st, 2016. Interested school representatives and teachers can contact us at editor@writingforpeace.org for information, bookmarks, and a DoveTales ebook at no charge.

Recommended Reading From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace Adviser“The government of President Park Geun-hye is using the National Security Law in an extreme way to ban protests and arrest activists. For example, simply speaking positively about North Korea is a crime punishable with seven years in prison.”

Newsletter: Free Prisoners Of Conscience In South Korea

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

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2016 Youth Summit Now Public

cropped-17WFP_Listen-To-Me-

“Listen to Me” created by Paula Dawn Lietz, artist-in-residence

The last weekend of April, Writing for Peace hosted our first annual Youth Summit to provide a safe place for young writers, artists, and activists (ages 18-30) to discuss aspects of peace, artistic expression, and activism, as well as the chance to engage with keynote speakers and develop their craft through educational opportunities.

During the event, work and conversation is not shared publicly, allowing for uninhibited self-expression. Participants are offered the opportunity to remove work and comments before the summit is shared publicly.

2016 Writing for Peace Inaugural Online Youth Summit

Participants shared and discussed their own work. For those interested, we offered a workshop on Peace Journalism, taught by Dr. Elissa Tivona, and given the opportunity to accept assignments and join the ranks of our Peace Journalists in our developing Writing for Peace Journalism Program. They also watched and discussed Dr. Erica Chenoweth’s TED Talk on Nonviolent Resistance. You’ll find links to these and the key note speeches on the site. We welcome you to peruse the site’s content and discussion. Comments have been disabled there, but can be directed to Writing for Peace on this page, or through our contact page. Comments are moderated.

Topic:
“What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”

Keynote Speakers include:

Lyla June Johnston, Writing fr Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity. After studying Human Ecology at Stanford University, Lyla founded Regeneration Festival, an annual celebration and honoring of children and young adults worldwide.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNathan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Nathan held fast to his convictions, despite being sentenced 10 times, to a total of 178 days in jail. Nathan’s struggle was first of all a struggle for the freedom of conscience, but it was also a struggle for peace between the Jews and the Arabs in Israel.

Amal KassirAmal Kassir is a 20 year old Syrian‐American spoken word artist. Born and raised most her life in Denver, CO, she came from a dinner table of tabouleh and meat loaf, Arab father and American mother, best meals of both worlds. She runs a project called More than Metaphors that focuses on the education initiative for displaced Syrian children, but uses the grass roots to bring communities together for all conversations.

Damilola

D.M. Aderibigbe was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He graduated with a BA in History and Strategic Studies from University of Lagos in 2014. His chapbook, In Praise of Our Absent Father was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New Generation African Poets Chapbook Series. He is the recipient of 2015 and 2016 fellowships and honours from Oristaglio Family Foundation, Entrekin Foundation, Dickinson House, Callaloo and Boston University where he is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing.

Writing for Peace is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating empathy through education and creative writing in order to develop a foundation of compassion on which to build a more peaceful world. Our goal is to inspire and guide young writers (and other artists) to refine their craft and consider the many ways their writing focus can bring us closer to nonviolent conflict resolution, a society that values human rights, as well as environmental and economic sustainability.

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Posted in Activism, Advisory Panel Contributors, Youth Summit | Leave a comment

2016 Young Writers Contest Winners

2016Judges

2016 Contest Judges

We would like to acknowledge all of the young writers who took the time to research a new culture and write a story, essay, or poem for the Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest. Completing this challenge is no small achievement, and we salute your commitment to expanding your knowledge base and developing your craft. We would also like to thank the teachers and mentors who encouraged their students to take our challenge, and then inspired and guided them to prepare their best work.

In Fiction

First Place: “Cherry Blossom Soldier –  Winner” by Vivian Zhao
Naperville, Illinois, USA

Second Place: “My Two Fathers” by Julianna(YoungEun) Lee
Demarest, New Jersey, USA

Third Place: “In A Southwestern Town” by Jake Pritchett
Belvue, Colorado, USA

 

In Nonfiction

First Place: “North Africa to Iberia” by Jared Anwar
Pacific Palisade, California, USA

Second Place: “The Kurdish Injustice” by Grace Choi
Old Tappan, New Jersey, USA

Third Place: “Destined to be Dalits” by Jaeeun Kim
Tenafly, New Jersey, USA

 

In Poetry

First Place: “She Serves in Ben Hai” by Lisa Zou
Chandler, Arizona, USA

Second Place: “Dear M” by Lydia Chew
Chandler, Arizona, USA

Third Place: “Mae Jean” by Ritika Bharati
Chandler, Arizona, USA

2016 winning entries will be published in our 2017 DoveTales. Participation Certificates and Awards will be sent out next week. Be sure to watch our blog and Facebook page to learn more about these talented young writers, and what our judges had to say about their work. We would like to thank our prestigious panel of judges: Meg Pokrass; Rebekah Mosby, Nonfiction; E. Ethelbert Miller, poetry.

 

Notable Finalists

This year, in addition to our winners, Writing for Peace would like to recognize  three exceptional finalists whose submissions will be published in our blog.

“The Night of Shattered Myth” by Swatilekha Roy
Durgapur, West Bengal, India

“Cocktail at Azrael’s” by Gokce Guven
Istanbul, Turkey

“Unity in Peace” by Archika Dogra
Bellevue, Washington, USA

 

Congratulations to all our contest winners!

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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Introducing DoveTales, Family & Cultural Identity

2016 DoveTales Front cover Image

DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts

Family & Cultural Identity

<Purchase Now>

Release Date: May 1st, 2016

Cost: $14.95

Page count: 456

Book Description:
DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, “Family and Cultural Identity” edition features poetry, essays, and short stories from our 2015 Young Contest Winners, as well as our advisers, established, and emerging writers, and well as strikingly beautiful art and photography.

Contributors:
Pilar Rodríguez Aranda, Cara Baker, Gary Beck, Gayle Bell, Elena Botts, Katarina Boudreaux, Jo Burns, Lorraine Caputo, Mary Carroll-Hackett, William Cass, Stephanie Cheng, Cody Conklin, Joe Cottonwood, Chella Courington, Edward D. Currelley, Lorraine Currelley, Maija Rhee Devine, Andrea W. Doray, Milton Ehrlich, Juleus Ghunta, Veronica Golos, Gabor G. Gyukics, Sam Hamill, Melissa Hassard, Yuliya Ilchuk, Shokoofeh Jabbari, Dan Jacoby, Joseph Johnson, Lyla June Johnston, Julianne Jones, Rio Jones, Irène Kaesermann, Amal Kassir, Sasha Kasoff, Debra Kaufman, Antonia Alexandra Klimenko, Ross Knapp, Robert Kostuck, Richard Krawiec, Page Lambert, Tom Larsen, Vicki Lindner, Shannon Lockhart, Djelloul Marbrook, Kathleen McGuire, Sandra McGarry, Dean Metcalf, Oleg G. Mikhailovsky, Mark Mitchell, Dean K. Miller, Chuma Mmeka, Malaka Mohammed, AH Muir, Lee Nash, Nikhil Nath, Roseville Nidea, Pattie PalmerBaker, Adriana Páramo, Rachel Pater, Jared Pearce, Simon Perchik, Richard King Perkins II, Geoffrey Philp, Thomas Piekarski, Wang Ping, David S. Pointer, Meg Pokrass, Stephen Poleskie, Laura Pritchett, Janelle Rainer, Shirani Rajapakse, Stephen Regan, Jude Rittenhouse, Althea Romeo-Mark, Matt Saleh, Terry Sanville, Howard Stein, Samantha Peters Terrell, Kelly Thompson, E. J. Tivona, Mercy L. Tullis-Bukhari, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Georgia Wilder

Art and Photography by:
Elena Botts, Allen Forrest, Pd Lietz, Roseville Nidea, Daniel Rhodes

Editor-in-Chief: Carmel Mawle

Associate Editors: Craig Mawle, Phillip M. Richards, Melody Rautenstraus, and Willean Denton Hornbeck

Sponsored by Colgate University Research Council.

 Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

 

Call for Participants: Online Youth Summit

Join young artists and writers, ages 18-30, in conversation about the matters you care about in this online Youth Summit.

Summit Dates: This coming weekend, April 29th, 30th and May 1st

Submission Deadline: April 25th

Topic:
“What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”

Fees: There is no fee for participation in this summit, with thanks to a generous grant from Longwood University in Virginia, United States of America.

Participation:  In order to provide a safe environment for participants to express themselves, this event is closed to the public. Participants are invited guests, ages 18-30, and will be given the password for admittance to the Summit following the acceptance of their submissions.

Description: In this online summit, 100 invited participants from schools and colleges in the US, Mexico (through Colectiva Poéticas), and Canada will have the opportunity to submit and present their creative work on the following theme: “What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”.

Submissions will be accepted in the following areas: Creative Writing, Visual Arts, Music, Theatre, and Dance. For more information and to submit your work, go to Youth Summit.

  • Photos: Please submit high‐resolution images as JPGs or PNGs. Maximum file size is 5MB.
  • Creative Writing: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Genre X, in written (PDF, DOC, or DOCX) or video format, as a reading (see below).
  • Videos: to submit videos, participants should upload videos to YouTube as a private video and send the unlisted link to SubmissionsForWFP@gmail.com . That link will then be embedded on the WFP site. Please use your first name last name and the title of your film in the subject.
  • Submit Here

Participants work will appear on the closed summit website for the conference weekend, and then will remain only if the participant desires to include it in the post‐summit open website. Participants in the conference will have the opportunity to hear live‐stream TED‐style keynote speakers—young people from their generation from around the world—talk about what it’s really like growing up globally, living in the midst of war, and becoming 21st century young activists. Participants will also have the opportunity to engage in threaded and real time online discussions with their global peers on topics including the impact young artists can have on Women’s Issues, LGBTQ Issues, Sustainability and The Environment, Hunger, Education, Using the Arts for Social
Change, and Using Social Media for Real Change.

Keynote Speakers include:

Damilola 1D.M. Aderibigbe, was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He graduated with a BA in History and Strategic Studies from University of Lagos in 2014. His chapbook, In Praise of Our Absent Father was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New Generation African Poets Chapbook Series. He is the recipient of 2015 and 2016 fellowships and honours from Oristaglio Family Foundation, Entrekin Foundation, Dickinson House, Callaloo and Boston University where he is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing fr Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity. After studying Human Ecology at Stanford University, Lyla founded Regeneration Festival, an annual celebration and honoring of children and young adults worldwide.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNathan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Nathan held fast to his convictions, despite being sentenced 10 times, to a total of 178 days in jail. Nathan’s struggle was first of all a struggle for the freedom of conscience, but it was also a struggle for peace between the Jews and the Arabs in Israel.

Amal KassirAmal Kassir is a 20 year old Syrian‐American spoken word artist. Born and raised most her life in Denver, CO, she came from a dinner table of tabouleh and meat loaf, Arab father and American mother, best meals of both worlds. She runs a project called More than Metaphors that focuses on the education initiative for displaced Syrian children, but uses the grass roots to bring communities together for all conversations.

quill3Young Writers Contest

Our Young Writers Contest is closed. Results will be posted on May 1st. The 2017 contest will open on September 2016. Teachers planning to include this empathy and craft craft building challenge into their school curriculum can contact us for bookmarks and DoveTales e-books free of charge.

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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D.M. Aderibigbe Joins Advisory Panel

Damilola 1Writing for Peace welcomes D.M. Aderibigbe to our panel of young advisers and Youth Summit keynote speakers. Aderibigbe was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He graduated with a BA in History and Strategic Studies from University of Lagos in 2014. His chapbook, In Praise of Our Absent Father was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New Generation African Poets Chapbook Series (purchase information below). He is the recipient of 2015 and 2016 fellowships and honours from Oristaglio Family Foundation, Entrekin Foundation, Dickinson House, Callaloo and Boston University where he is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing. 

Says Aderibigbe:

“A few months ago, several children were burnt to death in my native country (of course this happens everyday now.) I posted this to my Facebook, with the caption ‘the real face of the world.’ One of my poet-friends commented and said, ‘Dami, this post won’t change the mind of the world, but your writing can. Keep writing those necessary poems you have been churning out.’ It dawned on me that day, that all along I have been writing for peace.”

Two Poems by D.M. Aderibigbe:

NEW HELL

Fire burnt on a cold morning:
he screamed “E mi o mo nkankan,
I’m innocent” until his voice was

swallowed by the ravenous fire.
The woman arrived at the scene
to see her love had become ashes.
She poured tears before a broken
statue of Oshun.
I and my two siblings stood, staring —

our skins, veiled by Akure’s harmattan.
Police sirens were a muezzin’s voice
that slashed through the morning for solat;

the vigilantes, who made the fire
that melted the life of their thief
without proof he was thief,

dispersed into our bewilderment.
Guns and truncheons lay
on the road, casualties in a war —
torn country.
Police led the new widow to a van.
I and my two siblings stood, staring.

The fire died.
 

 

ELEGY FOR MY MOTHERS

Let’s not pretend the sky
is always plaited with beauty,
even the gods are not too perfect.
On my grandmother’s skin,
the heaven doesn’t stop
crying for 13 years– God’s
eyes are patched with red.
A schoolboy’s body–
her only son– empty
like a soda can
found at the doorway
of his mother’s store.
All the women in his life gather
around what the police’s anger
has left of him: each calling
his name, as though death
is a disease noise could cure.
Each calls his name,
their breasts flapping like clothes
on a line driven by wind. Lord,
is this what it takes to be a woman?

 

D.M. Aderibigbe’s poems appear in numerous journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, Ninth Letter, Prairie Schooner, RATTLE, Stand and elsewhere and featured on Verse Daily. Spillway recently nominated his poem for a 2017 Puschcart prize. His first manuscript is a 2015 and 2016 finalist for The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. He’s also an essayist, with essays in Blueshift Journal, B O D Y and Rain Taxi. He knows God loves you.

To purchase his chapbook, In Praise of Our Absent Father, send $10 through PayPal to dammyg1989@gmail.com. Also, send your mailing address to the same email and you’ll receive your copy within a week.

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Writing for Peace News

Call for Participants: Online Youth Summit

Join young artists and writers, ages 18-30, in conversation about the matters you care about in this online Youth Summit.

Summit Dates: April 29th, 30th and May 1st

Submission Deadline: April 25th

Topic:
“What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”

Fees: There is no fee for participation in this summit, with thanks to a generous grant from Longwood University in Virginia, United States of America.

Participation:  In order to provide a safe environment for participants to express themselves, this event is closed to the public. Participants are invited guests, ages 18-30, and will be given the password for admittance to the Summit following the acceptance of their submissions.

Description: In this online summit, 100 invited participants from schools and colleges in the US, Mexico (through Colectiva Poéticas), and Canada will have the opportunity to submit and present their creative work on the following theme: “What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”.

Submissions will be accepted in the following areas: Creative Writing, Visual Arts, Music, Theatre, and Dance. For more information and to submit your work, go to Youth Summit.

2016 DoveTales “Family and Cultural Identity” Edition

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceOur fourth edition of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts will be released on May 1st! Links will go up soon, and if you are in the Fort Collins area we hope you will join us for our Book Release Celebration Reading! Check out the details and RSVP at Book Launch Celebration.

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Posted in Activism, Advisory Panel Contributors, Young Advisers, Youth Summit | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Important Writing for Peace News:

Writing for Peace, Lennon Imagine PeaceCall for Participants:
2016 Writing for Peace Inaugural Online Youth Summit

Join young artists and writers, ages 18-30, your peers from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, in conversation about the matters you care about in this online Youth Summit.

Form of Submission: Online

Summit Dates: April 29th, 30th and May 1st

Submission Deadline: April 15th

Topic:
“What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”

Fees: There is no fee for participation in this summit, with thanks to a generous grant from Longwood University in Virginia, United States of America.

Participation:  In order to provide a safe environment for participants to express themselves, this event is closed to the public. Participants are invited guests, ages 18-30, and will be given the password for admittance to the Summit following the acceptance of their submissions.

Description: In this online summit, 100 invited participants from schools and colleges in the US, Mexico (through Colectiva Poéticas), and Canada will have the opportunity to submit and present their creative work on the following theme: “What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”.

Submissions will be accepted in the following areas: Creative Writing, Visual Arts, Music, Theatre, and Dance, and will be accepted via Submittable link above in the following specific formats:

  • Photos: Please submit high‐resolution images as JPGs or PNGs. Maximum file size is 5MB.
  • Creative Writing: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Genre X, in written (PDF, DOC, or DOCX) or video format, as a reading (see below).
  • Videos: to submit videos, participants should upload videos to YouTube as a private video and send the unlisted link to SubmissionsForWFP@gmail.com . That link will then be embedded on the WFP site. Please use your first name last name and the title of your film in the subject.
  • Submit Here

Participants work will appear on the closed summit website for the conference weekend, and then will remain only if the participant desires to include it in the post‐summit open website. Participants in the conference will have the opportunity to hear live‐stream TED‐style keynote speakers—young people from their generation from around the world—talk about what it’s really like growing up globally, living in the midst of war, and becoming 21st century young activists. Participants will also have the opportunity to engage in threaded and real time online discussions with their global peers on topics including the impact young artists can have on Women’s Issues, LGBTQ Issues, Sustainability and The Environment, Hunger, Education, Using the Arts for Social
Change, and Using Social Media for Real Change.

Keynote Speakers include:

Lyla June Johnston, Writing fr Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity. After studying Human Ecology at Stanford University, Lyla founded Regeneration Festival, an annual celebration and honoring of children and young adults worldwide.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNathan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Nathan held fast to his convictions, despite being sentenced 10 times, to a total of 178 days in jail. Nathan’s struggle was first of all a struggle for the freedom of conscience, but it was also a struggle for peace between the Jews and the Arabs in Israel.

Amal KassirAmal Kassir is a 20 year old Syrian‐American spoken word artist. Born and raised most her life in Denver, CO, she came from a dinner table of tabouleh and meat loaf, Arab father and American mother, best meals of both worlds. She runs a project called More than Metaphors that focuses on the education initiative for displaced Syrian children, but uses the grass roots to bring communities together for all conversations.
Malaka Mohammed, Writing for Peace AdviserMalaka Shwaikh is a Palestinian activist and freelance writer living in Sheffield. She is a graduate with a Masters in Global Politics and Law from the University of Sheffield.

Writing for Peace is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating empathy through education and creative writing in order to develop a foundation of compassion on which to build a more peaceful world. Our goal is to inspire and guide young writers to refine their craft and to consider the many ways their writing focus
can bring us closer to nonviolent conflict resolution, a society that values human rights, as well as environmental and economic sustainability.

 

Writing for Peace AdvisorsYoung Writers Contest

Our Young Writers Contest deadline is just around the corner. Be sure your submissions are in by the end of April 15th. We experienced some difficulties with the form earlier, so if you submitted and didn’t receive confirmation of your entry, please check with us, or re-submit at Young Writers Contest.

 

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for Peace

2016 DoveTales

“Family and Cultural Identity” Edition

Our fourth edition of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts will be released on May 1st! Links will go up soon, and if you are in the Fort Collins area we hope you will join us for our Book Release Celebration Reading! Check out the details and RSVP at Book Launch Celebration.

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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When the bell tolls for coal, By Vicki Lindner

VickiLindnerHorizontal1000-745x373When the bell tolls for coal: Pull yourself up by your WHAT?

By Vicki Lindner

(Previously published in Wyofile.com, Wyoming’s truth-telling online newspaper, representing free journalism in a conservative state. Reprinted by permission.)

(Opinion) — I moved from New York to Laramie in 1988, when cheap foreign oil made drilling for domestic reserves unprofitable. Unlike unemployed roughnecks, who’d walked away from vehicles and homes, I came for a job — teaching creative writing at the University of Wyoming. The salary ($28.2K) wasn’t so hot (my New York friends groaned), but it included benefits, and thanks to severance fees paid by the minerals industry, I wouldn’t have to “give the governor” a dime.

Like most newcomers with romantic notions, I was looking for change more than high pay. I soon rented a funky cabin on the Big Laramie River, 30 miles from town, and fantasized that a single rugged individualist like me would soon be two-stepping with cowboys down at the bar.

But strangers were suspicious characters in Woods Landing. A university administrator, an  outsider, complained about his high electric bill, a faux pas, as the rural power company was run by his next-door neighbor. My landlord, an artist, had shared the green shack with her lover — another gal. Then she rented it to a woman who left her miserable pets to fend for themselves while she flagged for highway construction crews in other counties. What, locals wondered, would this new citified single lady, also a UW prof, get up to in there? For almost four years, they kept their distance and waited to find out.

Isolated on the Big Laramie, I pondered the folksy signs and sayings that seemed to offer prescriptions for my Wyoming life: “If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It,” was a motto never heard in New York, an economic “energy center,” where whatever didn’t change demanded rethinking. Were the stickers on pickups, “Welcome to Wyoming: We Don’t Give a Damn How You Do It Back Home,” aimed at me? And what about, “Stop Whining,” “If You Don’t Like it Here, Leave,” and “Pull Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps”? (Were those the wee loops on the tops of my used gold parade boots?) Most unnerving was the expression I heard when natives didn’t know I was listening: “Our Way of Life.” Was my new state an exclusive country club, open only to insiders?

While on one hand the maxims advocated self-reliance and proud survival on high desert plains, on the other, they concealed warnings for presumptuous newcomers: We own this place. Don’t try to change it. Cowboy up or ride out on the horse you rode in on. What was the difference, I wondered, between Our way of life in a boom-and-bust state, where the population had sunk to 458,400, and Xenophobia — defined asan unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers, or that which is foreign or strange.”

Meanwhile, my students feared they’d betray their birthright if they abandoned small, remote towns for overcrowded cities in other states, or even Jackson. I soon heard that only the Wyoming-born could win major state offices. In 2014 Gov. Matt Mead announced that three new additions to his staff were men with “Wyoming roots.” And last May, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services introduced a new program, “Wyoming Grown,” designed to bring natives home by clueing them into job opportunities. Hayley McKee, the information officer, said that in the last eight months 26 professionals have been placed.

Yet, as the 21st century got underway, “Our Way of Life” took a sucker punch. The world finally acknowledged that climate change was real, and billions of tons of CO2 spewing from coal-fired power plants played the largest role in higher temperatures, storms, tornadoes, floods, impending food shortages and species’ extinction, not to mention lung and heart conditions. Thanks to new EPA regulations inspired by the June 2014 Clean Air and Climate Change Act, followed by the Paris Agreement on climate change, U.S markets were no longer buying the 400 million tons of publically-owned and federally-regulated Powder River coal that 15 mines had railroaded out every year. And largely dependent on fossil fuel fees, 11 percent of state revenues went down the drain. As 2015 ended, coal stocks continued their dive, the industry reeled from debt, two companies went bankrupt, U.S. coal production fell to its lowest level since the 1980s, and coal mine workers  applied for unemployment insurance. This past Christmas, New York Times reporter James B. Stewart wryly joked that we could extend coal’s future by putting more lumps of it in bad children’s stockings. Then, on Friday Jan. 15, the Obama administration landed  a knock-out blow by announcing a “pause” in approving new coal leases. If the National Mining Association had any doubts, it now knew that the Feds intended to keep coal in the ground.

Coal’s dim future was already a sensitive issue in 2012, when Tom Buchanan, then president of the University of Wyoming, was pressured by coal-county legislators and the Wyoming Mining Association to raze Chris Drury’s $45,000 campus installation, “Carbon Sink” — a spiraling circle of beetle kill lumber that morphed into coal. Yet the sculpture only symbolized what everyone knew: that CO2 emissions were largely responsible for tepid winters that allowed lodgepole predators to thrive. By 2015, the warmest year yet, Gov. Mead, the university’s School of Energy Resources, and legislators beat their breasts like ancient Egyptian mourners after the Pharaoh’s death, and asked what offerings coal would need to embark on its afterlife.  

You’ve heard the proposals: What about turning the mineral into a gas that makes plastics, pharmaceuticals, paints, and food sweeteners? (Those gasification plants are costly to build and also eject CO2). Could Wyoming cash in on iffy CO2 sequestration technologies that neutralize emissions in different kinds of reservoirs, or better yet, enhance oil recovery? How about shipping Powder River coal to Asia? (The states with ocean ports said no, and, it turned out, Asian markets could access closer, cheaper suppliers as they, too, began phasing out coal.) Meanwhile, Wyoming’s renewable energy sources, wind and sun, didn’t engage imaginations preoccupied with schemes for coal’s second coming.   

“Thank God for the rainy day fund,” Wyomingites sighed, meaning the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, flush with $1.8 billion. But states can’t retire and live off their savings, like I did. And how long will Wyoming’s other non-renewable fossil fuels — oil and plentiful natural gas — hold out (centuries?) before they, too, go the way of coal, coal methane gas, and the dinosaurs that left their bones in Como Bluffs?   

The governor suggested diversifying the economy. (Not a new idea.) True, Wyoming is one of three states (with Texas and West Virginia) where the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the 10 highest employment quotients are energy related. Other industries, Mead affirmed, would make state coffers less susceptible to energy downturns. He focused on clean, high-paying technology companies, (Colorado has 495 in Denver alone), and proudly announced that Microsoft had expanded its Wyoming operation by 25 jobs.  (A positive move, but to put it in perspective, the new Google campus in Boulder, Colorado, will add 1,500 positions to the 300 the company already had.)

Diversification is a soul-stirring word, but what does it call for? Not just a few companies, expanding high speed wireless broadband, but a wider business base, including small manufacturers. They might choose Wyoming over China and Vietnam when they got a load of the Cowboy State’s lack of corporate and income taxes, less stringent regulations, and low union participation, as well as federal tax incentives for staying and producing in-country. (New Wyoming businesses do pay a franchise tax.) But one crucial factor is missing: Asia’s abundant labor force. You can’t attract a factory that makes, say, mattresses, or diesel-hybrid electric tractors, or even a meat packing plant without  potential workers.

A viable workforce demands an increased population. (Wyoming is the least populous state in the union.) And where in Sam Hill will the state get that? The answer, my friend, is blowing in a gale-force wind: The answer is people from other countries — yes, Immigrants, including refugees, with other religions, languages, traditions, and skin colors, who are unlikely to share “our way of life.”

These people, who may have suffered human rights abuses, war, economic and political oppression, don’t think that “freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.”  As I write, the foreign-born that the state needs to transform its economy are walking through 31-mile tunnels under the English Channel, and risking their lives to cross turbulent seas in inflatable rafts. They’d love to have a job, a home, and a school for their kids in a peaceful place with beautiful scenery. And, I bet, they’d be happy to pay a state income tax, like the one Tax Reform 2000 suggested. (Sixteen years ago the group of legislators and economists estimated that a small, flat-rate tax would raise $153,633,405, only about $5 million less than the 2016 budget shortfall. And, they pointed out, every state on Wyoming’s borders, all red but one, has an income tax, except South Dakota.)

Other governors realize that paying taxes is one of the ways that immigrants expand local economies. Michigan’s Rick Snyder called for a new program to attract and welcome the foreign-born, citing statistics that said newcomers were more than three times as likely as non-immigrants to start a new business. (They also filed more international patents.) Cities, too, have adopted pro-immigrant initiatives. Despite Congress’s discouraging rhetoric, Washington, Atlanta, Nashville and Memphis, Charlotte, Louisville, Tucson, and Dayton have pledged to create immigrant-friendly climates because they recognize that new arrivals who attract businesses also start them, spend gobs of money, and pay sales, income, and property taxes.

Actually, immigrants already reside in Wyoming. The American Immigration Council’s statistics say that in 2013 one in 10 Wyomingites was Hispanic or Asian. The foreign-born made up 3.5 percent of the population, or 20,081. (All but 5,000 were “authorized.”) Comprising 4.1 percent of the workforce, they paid $105.9 million in federal taxes and $38.5 million in state taxes (property and sales). Like immigrants elsewhere, many are better educated than natives. As a Dubois summer resident, who buys groceries in Jackson, I can vouch that the thriving tourist town’s restaurants, motels, and grocery stores depend on Hispanic and Eastern European workers. (The former owner of the Italian bistro, The Yellowstone Garage, once told me that Hispanics had saved the restaurant and hotel industries, and are the only restaurant employees who still have a work ethic.)

This brings me to Syrians — for Wyoming, largely a symbolic issue, as the U.S. hopes to settle the 10,000 in cities where Syrian communities already exist. Instead of joining 27 Republican governors who rejected the war-ravaged victims of Assad and ISIL, Gov. Mead, who ran into political flack when he sensibly proposed a refugee center, should have begged for 5,000. With federal subsidies, nonprofit grants, a committee to create acceptance strategies, and a chunk of that bulging rainy day fund, the state could have stimulated its own economy by building the strangers housing in Casper, where Monster.com now lists 691 positions, mostly for drivers and sales associates. Like your grandfather and mine, the foreign-born who worked the Butte copper mines, and my cab driving Ethiopian friend in Denver, immigrants know you gotta start somewhere.

Diversity, however, describes not just changes in population, or a good business mix, but personnel in individual organizations. A study from The Center for Talent Innovation shows that companies benefit from hiring diverse employees, instead of safe “cultural fits,” like their friends, who root for the same team, look and act like the boss, and share his or her taste in movies and books. Research shows that homogeneity breeds complacency; and the mere presence of someone from a different social background improved workplace performance and accuracy. The strongest teams employ different ages, races, and genders, as well as members with “acquired” diversity, like military experience, foreign language skills, and time spent abroad.  Leaders who are receptive to unexpected or challenging questions, and support new ideas, increase their companies’ profits and capture new markets.

Which brings me back to the Manhattan emigrant I was long ago. Although I made no waves in rural Woods Landing, I shook up the university’s English department. I said what I thought in faculty meetings (a cultural no-no), challenged students to excel in harder courses, and designed a visiting writer program that hired authors from many states, including Wyoming, who also taught community members. As my own contribution might indicate, the diversity that energizes a single workplace, could energize an unsustainable fossil fuel-based economy.  

So how to fix what’s broke? Sure, create a Refugee Center to vet Muslim immigrants and dream up new lives for coal, but grow the workforce with ambitious newcomers who will have a profound personal stake in enjoying and enhancing their American home.

But what will keep the new residents from moving to Oregon? Before you roll out the welcome wagons, stop saying, “Our Way of Life,” and tear off that xenophobic bumper sticker, “We Don’t Give a Damn How You Do it Back Home.”

About Writing for Peace Adviser Vicki Lindner

vicki Lindner (3)Vicki Lindner is an Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Wyoming, and an instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, where she serves on the Diversity and Inclusivity Committee. She is the author of a novel, co-author of Unbalanced Accounts: How Women can Overcome their Fear of Money, and many essays, short stories, magazine and newspaper articles. Learn more about Vicki Lindner and her work here.

— Essays are the signed perspective of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WyoFile’s staff, board of directors or its supporters. WyoFile welcomes guest columns and op-ed pieces from all points of view. If you’d like to write a guest column for WyoFile, please contact WyoFile editor-in-chief Dustin Bleizeffer at dustin@wyofile.com.

WyoFile is a nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.

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Check Out Our 2016 Young Writers Contest!

Writing for Peace dreamerWriting for Peace challenges young writers (ages 13–19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes. We’ve extended the submission deadline to April 15, 2016 at midnight (Mountain Time). There is no fee for participation.

First, second, and third place prizes will be awarded in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry categories. Announcements will be made on May 1st on the Writing for Peace Blog.

  • First place winners will receive $50. Second  place winners will receive $25. Third place winners will receive $10.
  • Winners work, photo, bio, and a follow-up interview will be published in DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts. Winners will receive one hard copy of the book.
  • Finalists may be eligible for online publication in our Writing for Peace blog.
  • Winners and finalists may receive invitations to participate in other Writing for Peace events, such as our Annual Youth Summit, readings, and possible mentoring opportunities.

Check out our full guidelines here.

Recommended Reading From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace Adviser“The conflict between democracy and state repression, often claimed as necessary to protect our safety and security, has moved the United States consistently toward a greater national security state that has become inconsistent with people’s privacy and freedom; as well as their ability to exercise First Amendment protected political activities. Where are we in this balance? How do we change it?”  Newsletter: End The Security State

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

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How Humanity Fell in Love with Itself Once Again, By Lyla June Johnston

Nordic_Sami_people_Lavvu_1900-1920

The Story of How Humanity Fell in Love with Itself Once Again

By Lyla June Johnston

I spend a lot of time honoring and calling upon my Native American ancestors. I am keenly aware that my father’s people hold a venerable medicine as well. He has ancestry from the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe.

I have been called a half breed. I have been called a mutt. Impure. I have been told my mixed blood is my bane. That I’m cursed to have an Indian for a mother and a cowboy for a father.

But one day, as I sat in the ceremonial house of my mother’s people, a wondrous revelation landed delicately inside of my soul. It sang within me a song I can still hear today. This song was woven from the voices of my European grandmothers and grandfathers. Their songs were made of love.

They sang to me of their life before the witch trials and before the crusades. They spoke to me of a time before serfdoms and before Roman tithes. They spoke to me of a time before the plague; before the Medici; before the guillotine; a time before their people were extinguished or enslaved by dark forces. They spoke to me of a time before the English language existed. A time most of us have forgotten.

These grandmothers and grandfathers set the ancient medicine of Welsh blue stone upon my aching heart. Their chants danced like the flickering light of Tuscan cave-fires. Their joyous laughter echoed on and on like Baltic waves against Scandinavian shores. They blew worlds through my mind like windswept snow over Alpine mountain crests. They showed to me the vast and beautiful world of Indigenous Europe. This precious world can scarcely be found in any literature, but lives quietly within us like a dream we can’t quite remember.

As all this was happening, I peered into the flames of our Diné hoghan fireplace. These Ancient Europe voices whispered to my heart to help me understand. “See, our songs are not so different from your Diné songs,” they seemed to say with a smile.

In this moment, the moment I first acknowledged and connected with my beautiful European ancestors, I could do nothing but cry. It was one of those messy, snotty, shuddering cries, where my face flowed over with tears of joy and sorrow. It was the cry of a woman who met her grandmother for the first time. I always wondered where she was. What she looked like. What her voice sounded like. Who she was. And now, for the first time, I could feel her delicate hands run through my hair as she told me she loved me. I sobbed and I sobbed and I sobbed.

Intermixed in there were also tears of regret. My whole life I was taught to hide my European “side.” All I knew was that my father came from Dallas and that was all I needed to know. These pale-skinned mothers and fathers were to be forgotten, I was taught. They carried violence in their blood and avarice in their smile, I was taught. They were rubbish, I was taught. There was no need to ask questions about them or think about them, I was taught. Whenever I wrote down my race on official forms, I would only write “Native American,” as I was taught.

But then, as thousands of European ancestors swirled around me and reassured my fearful heart, I wished I had honored them sooner. I wished I hadn’t disowned them. I wished I knew how beautiful they were. I wished I could have seen through the thin wall of time that dominates our understanding of Europe. I wish I could have realized the days when Indigenous Europeans were deeply connected to the earth and to kinship. In my mind I told them I was so, so sorry for forsaking them. But, of course, they did not care. They only held me tighter and assured me they would be with me to the end.

The sweetness of this precious experience changed me forever. I have come to believe that if we do not wholly love our ancestors, then we do not truly know who they are. For instance, I get very offended when people call Native Americans “good-for-nothing drunks.” Because by saying this, people don’t take into account the centuries of attempted genocide, rape and drugging of Native American people. They don’t see the beauty of who we were before the onslaught. And now, I am offended when people call European descendants “privileged good-for-nothing pilgrims.” Because by saying this, people do not take into account the thousands of years that European peoples were raped, tortured and enslaved. They do not understand the beauty of who we were before the onslaught. They do not understand that even though we have free will and the ability to choose how we live our life, it is very hard to overcome inter-generational trauma. What happens in our formative years and what our parents teach us at that time can be very hard to reverse.

They estimate that 8-9 million European women were burned alive, drowned alive, dismembered alive, beaten, raped and otherwise tortured as so-called, “witches.” It is obvious to me now that these women were not witches, but were the Medicine People of Old Europe. They were the women who understood the herbal medicines, the ones who prayed with stones, the ones who passed on sacred chants, the ones who whispered to me that night in the hoghan. This all-out warfare on Indigenous European women, not only harmed them, but had a profound effect on the men who loved them. Their husbands, sons and brothers. Nothing makes a man go mad like watching the women of his family get burned alive. If the men respond to this hatred with hatred, the hatred is passed on. And who can blame them? While peace and love is the correct response to hatred, it is not the easy response by any means.

The Indigenous Cultures of Europe also sustained forced assimilation by the Roman Empire and other hegemonic forces. In fact, it was only a few decades ago that any Welsh child caught speaking Welsh in school would have a block of wood tied to their neck. The words “WN” were there-inscribed, standing for “welsh not.” This kind of public humiliation will sound very familiar to any Native Americans reading this who attended U.S. Government boarding schools.

Moreover, our indigenous European ancestors faced horrific epidemics of biblical proportions. In the 1300s, two-thirds of Indigenous Europeans were wiped from the face of the earth. The Black Death, or Bubonic Plague, ravaged entire villages with massive lymph sores that filled with puss until they burst open. Sound familiar?

The parallels between the genocide of Indigenous Europeans and Native Americans are astounding. It boggles my mind that more people don’t see how we are the same people, who have undergone the same spiritual assault. The only difference between the Red Story and the White Story is we are in different stages of the process of spiritual warfare. Native Americans are only recently becoming something they are not. They are only recently starting to succumb to the temptations of drugs, alcohol, gambling, self-destruction and the destruction of others. Just as some Native American people have been contorted and twisted by so many centuries of abuse, so too were those survivors of the European genocide. Both are completely forgivable in my eyes.

Now I see I have a double-duty. I must not only honor and revitalize my Diné culture, but also that of my European ancestors. This ancient Indigenous European culture is just as beautiful as Native American culture and was just as tragically murdered and hidden from history books.

And so, some years later, armed with this new understanding, I traveled to Europe. I scaled a beautiful mountain in Switzerland to see if I might hear hints of ceremonial songs in the wind. I stepped upon the earth guided by those grandmother and grandfather whispers. I plucked a strand of hair from my scalp and placed the offering upon the earth, still wet from morning dew. I ambled through the forests enchanted by the new sights and smells. And I did see glimmers of visions of the villages of yesteryear. And they were full of Earth People living out harmonious community. And, they had beautiful music.

As the sun went down, I fell back on the grass and looked up to the sky. At the time, I was going through a very painful separation from a person I loved. To my surprise, it felt as if the earth was pulling all the sorrow I was carrying down into her core where she could transform it into beauty. The sky was speaking to me about how I didn’t need to worry, that I would be happy again one day. The earth and the sky healed me that day from the great weight I had carried for months. It was a special reunion with the mountains of my foremothers.

My mountain experiment yielded astounding results: the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe is still alive and breathing and waiting for her children to come home! She is waiting for us to ask her for songs so that we may sing to her once again. She is waiting for us to scratch passed the surface of time, into the B.C. period when our languages were thriving and our dancing feet kissed the face of the earth. She is waiting. She is waiting for us to remember who we are. If you hold this descent, or any forgotten descent for that matter, I am asking you to join me in this prayer to remember who we are. I have a feeling this prayer will heal the whole world.

In 2009, archaeologists came across a female effigy believed to be the Goddess of the Earth buried inside of German soil. The radiocarbon dating tests came back. They indicate that this clay deity was molded by European hands 40,000 years ago. 40,000 years ago. This is the time she beckons us to. This is the world she hopes we will remember: where man and woman alike, held the soil in their hands and saw the value and sanctity of women and of the Mother Earth. This is the world that still flows through our veins, however deafened we have become to it. With prayer we can learn to hear it once again.

I compare this earth-based, Indigenous European culture to the witch-burning psychosis of the first and second millennia. I cannot help but ask myself, when and how did this egalitarian, earth-loving, woman-honoring culture, become the colonial, genocidal conquerors that washed upon American shores? Could it be that our beloved Indigenous European ancestors were raped and tortured for so many thousands of years that they forgot who they were? Could it be they lived in a pressure cooker of oppression for so long that conquer-or-be-conquered is all they knew? Yes, I believe so.

Our task is to shake the amnesia. To not be ashamed of our European-ness, but to reclaim our beautiful grandmothers, to reclaim our venerable grandfathers, to reclaim our lost languages, our lost ceremonies, our lost homelands and become one with the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe once again. The European diaspora is spread all throughout the world, searching the planet for something that lives inside. I promise you will hear it when you climb the mountains of Switzerland! Of Scotland! Of Tuscany! Of Hungary! Of Portugal! Of the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe! Just because bad things happened upon her bosom does not mean she is bad.

Our task is to honor our ancestors, even those who caved beneath the weight of systematic destruction and became conquerors themselves. Our task is to remember that we are those beautiful Earth People. The ones whose love and prayers were so strong that they could carry 25-ton blue stone monoliths for miles and miles and build the sacred place of prayer known as Stonehenge. That is who we are. When we remember this, the healing of our lineages comes full circle. When we remember this, we will no longer need to borrow spiritual practices from other cultures (although that can be very helpful when there is nothing else to hold onto.) When we remember this, we will remember that the fates of all beings are intertwined with our own. When I remembered this, I found whole-ness in my self—no longer a half-breed, but a daughter of Two Great Lineages, Two Great Rivers that ran together to make one precious child.

This is the story of how I became whole. Some days, it feels like both fire and water live within me. They dance and swirl around one another. In the morning when I wake up, each bows to the other, honoring themselves as equals, as beautiful. When I go to sleep at night they wish each other good dreams. They teach me how it could have been when Columbus first stepped upon Taino shores: a meeting of two long lost brothers, embracing each other and celebrating their unique cultures. They teach me how things can be for our children in the future.

Because that’s what matters most, doesn’t it?

Not how the story goes… but how it ends.

We each hold a pen. Now, let us co-author a story of how humanity fell in love with itself and its Mother Earth once again. Shall we?

 

About Writing for Peace Adviser Lyla June Johnston

Lyla June Johnston, Writing fr Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a poet, musician, anthropologist and human being, from Taos, New Mexico. Her passion for peace unfolds both outside of herself through community organizing and within herself through continual prayers to forgive and love a wounded world. Learn more about Lyla and her work here.

(c) Copyright 2016. Lyla Johnston. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted here with permission by the author.

Photo courtesy of Wikicommons: Sami Indigenous Peoples of Norway, circa 1900. They are standing beside their “lavvu” which look strikingly similar to the tipis of Plains Indigenous Peoples of North America.

 

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2016 Young Writers Contest Begins!

Writing for Peace challenges young writers (ages 13–19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes. We’ve extended the submission deadline to April 15, 2016 at midnight (Mountain Time). There is no fee for participation. Check out our guidelines here.

Recommended Reading From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace Adviser“How do we fight for what we want and need; to protect the planet; and to ensure justice for all, when we are confronting an oligarchy?”

Newsletter: Defeating The Oligarchs

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Posted in Activism, Inner Peace, Peace, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women, Young Advisers, Young Writers Contest Guidelines | Tagged | 1 Comment

2016 Young Writers Contest Begins!

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 The 2016 Young Writers Contest Is Open!

2016JudgesSince we first started our contest in the fall of 2011, we’ve received stories, essays, and poetry from students in over 24 countries. And now our 5th annual Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is up and running.  Due to the late start, the deadline has been extended to April 15th, 2016. You’ll find our guidelines online here.

We’re very excited to announce our prestigious panel of judges:

Meg Pokrass, Fiction

Meg Pokrass is the author of “Damn Sure Right” (Press 53, 2011) “Bird Envy” and a novella-in-flash “Here, Where We Live” one of five novellas-in-flash in the award-winning anthology “My Very End of the Universe – Five Novellas-in-Flash and a Study of the Form” (Rose Metal Press, 2014). Read more about Meg Pokrass and her work here.

E. Ethelbert Miller, Poetry

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the board chair of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a progressive think tank located in Washington, D.C. For ten years he has been the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. In 1996, he delivered the commencement address at Emory and Henry College and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature. Mr. Miller has been a Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow to Israel in 2004 and 2012. In February 2006 he was the keynote speaker at the 50th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program in Israel, at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. Read More about E. Ethelbert Miller and his work here.

Rebekah Presson Mosby, Nonfiction. 

Rebekah Presson Mosby is a Grammy nominee and Audie award winner known for her work in poetry audio, for arts reporting on National Public Radio and for interviews with writers and artists. Read more about Rebekah Presson Mosby and her work here.

Special Note:

Writers for Peace, with this late start we’ll need your help more than ever to get the word out. As always we’re happy to mail you free bookmarks to hand out in classrooms and workshops. Contact us at editor@writingforpeace.org. Thank you so much for your help and support. It really does make a difference. Happy writing!

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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