Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Photos from 2006-2012

Gearing up to spread some peace poetry love out of a Cargo bike in Amsterdam 2010
 Since the VPP started every February I receive (or take myself) photos of varied participants in cities I'm in or cities I've been in or cities I've never been to (yet)!  I remember a high school student with a basket of poetry scrolls at her school in Southern Australia in 2007.  The many photos I've received of individuals passing out poems or thoughts on peace with real or paper flowers or just poems, can be viewed here with participants from places such as Swansea, beloved Amsterdam, London and Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco and elsewhere including some peace tulip bulbs packaged and sold in London around Peace Day (September) and also a photo of them fully grown.  The project grows with ideas outside and including the Community Valentine which is the seed of how it started.

Appreciate that someone somewhere had something to say about peace and wrapped it around a flower or submitted it to us to do it or used poems already on the website and sent photos or looked to me to document photographically the many poems and flowers with volunteers I gathered together to spread them. Thanks also to photographer Annelies Van Dam. Also Sjors Beenker in Amsterdam and Morten Arstad, LaShawn Moore and Georgia Freedman-Harvey in Southern California, Pam Evans of Peace Mala in Wales, for contributing great images in February or September year after year.  And Kai Forsley in San Francisco; fabulous Amsterdam coordinator Elena Kravtchenko and beautiful Lies Leen and the many others that have helped document and lead their communities in an alternative Valentine's Day. And for the many bloemen/flowers - in the beginning FTD, then Fairtrade Global Flower Trading and One World Flowers.  



Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Conversation Peace


Bringing people together to open more worlds, make beauty, make magic, create peace, create freedom, be more futurist than nostalgic – and use art and its power to build a community. Curator Frank J Miles

Dixon Place, a downtown Manhattan performance venue, hosted Federico Hewson and photographer Christopher Artell to talk about art and social change on Tuesday September 17.  I gave out Peace Flames tulip bulbs provided by Brent and Becky's Bulbs in the lounge/conversation bar of this historical Lower East Side venue.  I spoke on the history of my project, about socially engaged art, ethical trade and the viewpoints of artists working on social justice and/or social enterprise.  

In the current New York atmosphere of artists feeling crushed by spiraling real estate and other stresses Communitas is an opportunity to get together and discuss in a creative think tank about where NY is headed, and the larger conversation about peace, community and sustainability in a rapidly changing local and global culture.  What is breaking through out of what is breaking down. .  

Four days later was Peace Day - Saturday September 21 and I attended the Educating for a Just, Peaceful and Sustainable Future: The Humane Education Conference sharing Peace Flames tulip bulbs to educators, activists, artists and peace poets who had come together to examine ways to create student solutionists for these challenging times.  

Peace grows . . 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Scenes from a Pilgrimage

Peace Mala Pilgrimage to the Forgotten Monastery of St David 

Uniting all Faiths and Communities in Peace


Diverse Faith Leaders gather in the Peace Garden led by Director Pam Evans
Valentine 'Pax' Peace Tulips from the Netherlands in the Peace Garden thanks to Groot-Vriend Tulips BV and Preijde Bloembollen 
Students from half a dozen local schools gather for conversations on dealing with conflict with Bishop John

The pilgrimage to local Saint Davids then onwards to Service of Thanksgiving with Prayers for World Peace in Llangyfelach, Wales ('Serving the community since the 6th century')

Blessing and reflection on the daily work of peace by Bishop John of Swansea
"You are my Brother"
Lighting the 'Candles for World Peace'

Reflecting on possibilities of peace in ourselves, in the Middle East, in the world community


  When you walk through a beautiful botanical garden, you feel open and light. You feel love. You see beauty. You don’t judge the shapes and placement of every leaf. The leaves are of all sizes and shapes and they face every-which-way. That’s what makes them beautiful.
What if you felt that way about people? What if they didn’t have to dress the same, believe the same, or behave the same? What if they were like the flowers . .
 The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer 

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Spring's Creative Impulse

Our peace tulips planted last September for Peace Day (the 21st) look just about to open under the slow coming UK spring to summer sun.  

Meanwhile attending to other personal gardens of creativity I've been examining many photos I've taken or received from Project participants over the years - either February Community Valentine give-outs of poetry and diverse flowers, my trip to the extraordinary flower auction in the Netherlands, or bulb selling last year at autumn festivals.  

Inspired by nature's creativity I got a little creative myself - adding borders, edits and crops to colourful images I've taken or received at different locations since I started the Project in 2006.  I also posted the project at Actipedia.

Original photo by Morten Ă…rstad



Next month I go to Wales to view VPP tulips which are part of the Peace Garden of Peace Mala.  A group of us together with participating schoolchildren will do a pilgrimage to a historic monastery on the coast - The Steps of St David.  The pilgrimage is not only a chance for reflection on the Swansea coast but a fundraiser as well for Peace Mala's educational work on religious diversity in schools.  Schools work towards accreditation from Peace Mala demonstrating commitments set out by the Welsh Assembly Government:

* Interdependence
* Citizenship and stewardship
* Need and rights
* Diversity
* Sustainable change
* Quality of life
* Values and perceptions
* Conflict resolution

Creativity is key which includes Peace Gardens and symbols such as the famed Peace Mala bracelet worn as a commitment to religious diversity and unity.

Mala means garland of flowers in Sanskrit and it is in this vein of creativity I look to my own poetic gardens both within and out in the spirit of poet Wendell Berry -

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Heart Speaks

Nova College is an international school in Amsterdam with students from China, Bulgaria, Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, Ghana and Santo Domingo.

On Valentine's Day these students went to the dialysis department of Lucas Ziekenhuis (Hospital).

Another group of students which included students from India, Somalia, and Egypt went into another ward.  They were there to share Fairtrade roses along with poems on love or peace they had written.

Luis wrote:   

A hospital can give you a bad feeling 
Not being able to be outside and have a good time with your family 
But you should never lose hope - it forces you to stick to your closest who will always support you
Know that your family loves you
Enjoy this beautiful day.

"I'm happy when I make other people happy."

"We read poems in different languages because there were people from different countries and we gave them the roses. The people were very happy with our visit and listened carefully."

"These people have sick kidneys and through a machine their blood is cleaned.  I wanted to cry when I saw so many lying in their beds -  I gave them roses"

"We gave roses also to the nurses as we could see them working hard."

"The people spoke about their illnesses. I stood at their bedside talking to them."

"In Somalia people know Valentine's Day well and give chocolate to persons they are in love with.  
I read a poem I had written in English for a woman from Somalia and she began to cry. I almost had to cry too. My heart was broken. I wished her well in our Somalian language."

"I read a poem in Chinese to a sick man. He was so happy and I was happy that I could do this."


Saturday, 23 February 2013

A Community Valentine

Tres Flores - Carlos Echeverria

Dear Valentine Peace Project:

We had a marvelous time rolling up the love & peace poems provided by the VPP during our Valentine week.

Volunteers passed them out to patients, clients and passers-by. We also shared beautiful original flower paintings by local artists. 

I had sent out a poem a day during Valentine [Peace] Week on Facebook. Many asked if they could share them with others.  

Rosebud in Vase - Carlos Echeverria
The local cafe let us set up a little place where people could have a poem & order freshly brewed coffee. The wonderful Valentine Peace Project poems were passed out to all. The owner at the cafe was happy to read his poem aloud. The Clinic, cafe as well as nearby thrift store were key places where we passed out the beautiful poems.   

We also decided to pick Bay Laurel leaves from our garden to share as well. 

We gave what we were able to give.  

Thank you for keeping the Valentine Peace Project alive. It's needed now more than ever!

Yours in Peace & Love,
Teresa Tacy Padua
Executive Director
Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic


"To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses – that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living beings. That exchange brought home to me for the first time a precious idea: that all humanity is somehow together."    Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Gardens of Inspiration

Chas Raws from The Friends Quarterly (a Quaker publication) describes the Royal Horticultural Society's annual show at Tatton Park featuring an award winning vision garden by Dori Miller and son Howard of a World Without Torture:

"Thousands of visitors took the time to walk through its high security fences, past the rubble of a bombed site with an ecological succession of plants, representing the recovery of land as a metaphor for the healing of human bodies and minds after torture.  They could pause to listen to the subdued voices of victims of torture before emerging into a garden of predominantly white flowers with a statue releasing a dove.  They took away with them leaflets and seed packets bearing the message of 360 years of Quakers sowing seeds of peace and reconciliation and 36 years of working for the abolition of torture." (the Quaker Abolition of Torture Group was established in 1979).

The Iroquois Tree of Peace representing the Six Nations of the Native American Iroquois Confederacy.  The Great Law of Peace inspired founding fathers of the United States and Canada.

Paul Rousselle of Peace Mala's Youth Group worked with Pam Evans, director of Peace Mala in Wales to mark the ten year anniversary of Peace Mala and its vision of global religious unity through youth.  Representatives of different faiths were invited who had worked together on the Peace Mala Gower Pilgrimage for World Peace (the historical sacred sites of Gower).  The Tree of Peace ceremony took place within a prepared Circle in Coed Bwlardd, near the Black Mountains and Carreg Cenin Castle of Carmarthenshire.  A local oak sapling was donated and dedicated to be planted in the center of the circle.  

Valentine Peace tulip bulbs were planted around the tree.  Representatives from local Peace Mala schools participated along with spiritual representatives of Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Celtic earth religions to give distinct blessings.  This profound ceremony is described here with details of weapons buried, pebbles representing acts of personal reconciliation, as well as messages of peace on scrolls placed in a Willow arch.  Also stated there are the meanings of each of the elements and tools of the ceremony.  

"What took place had to be one of the most profoundly beautiful and deeply spiritual ceremonies involving people of different faiths ever witnessed. We all felt that we had experienced a miracle."

The essence of this time of prophecy is that we are living in a time of crossroads; a time of shifting world age cycles where the old world and its separation-based mentality is in the process of dying and transforming into a new world that lives and creates through our hearts.

Dear St Valentine, your martyrdom resounds through the centuries, An impassioned heart Guilty only of love . . We celebrate your gift, however vaguely remembered, By romantics and poets, Your love essence remains.  Yet we only know it now as a dress rehearsal, For our sentient nature, Clothed in superficial colours of glamour and illusion.  

But a higher love beckons, One we will yet experience, On all planes consciously, The magnet of the heart, Will bless the sacred union.  (VPP poem submission, Sophia La Toa, New Zealand)