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2006 Our Little World Peace Fair

 

 

 

A truly free society must not include a "peace" which oppresses us. We must learn on our own terms what peace and freedom mean together. There can be no peace if there is social injustice and suppression of human rights, because external and internal peace are inseparable. Peace is not just the absence of mass destruction, but a positive internal and external condition in which people are free so that they can grow to their full potential. Petra Karin Kelly

 

Our Little World: The First Annual Lexington Peace Fair

 

On May 20, 2006, from 11:00 in the morning until about 7:00 p.m., Lexington had its first peace fair. The event, organized by Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s (BCTC) Peace and Justice Coalition, was held on the large lawn of Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s Cooper Campus. Co-sponsors were Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Community Farm Alliance, BCTC’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Franciscan Peace Center, and the Clergy and Laity Network of Kentucky. The Lexington Herald-Leader listed the event as a “best bet” in the Friday, May 19th paper. The day was gorgeous, with an estimated 700-1000 people attending Lexington’s first peace fair.

 

Most of us greatly prefer peace to the alternative, but with the current state of world affairs, it is sometimes difficult to envision exactly what a peaceful world would look like. The purpose of the peace fair was to model a peaceful world, a world of joyful alternatives to exploitation, corporatization, and consumerism. A world in which value is placed upon global knowledge and understanding as well as well as upon local production, community, and knowledge of place. We hoped to raise awareness of the peaceful possibilities for a socially, ecologically, and economically sustainable future.

 

All truths, not merely ideas, but truthful faces, truthful pictures or songs, are highly beautiful. Mahatma Gandhi

 

The event included beautiful music on a stage near the Academic-Technical Building. Entertainment was provided by the following groups:

  • Reel World String Band (Folk/Bluegrass)
  • La Banda (Latino)
  • Born Cross-Eyed (Rock and more)
  • Water (Latin jazz and African soul)
  • Pangaea Drums (Percussion)
  • The event closed with a collective chanting and dancing for peace, led by Devon Evans (from Bob Marley’s Whalers band)

 

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. Albert Einstein

The peace fair included a number of booths and displays, situated along the walkways and on the grounds. Local arts and artists (Linda Horvay, ReBelle, and Whirling Women) participated.

 

There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace. Kofi Annan

Children’s activities were provided by Providence Montessori, Quaker Children, Unitarian Universalist Children, and the Earth Angels & Community Hearth (TEACH).

 

There can be no sustainable future without peace and prosperity. Oxfam

A number of groups helped us understand more about how to live in an ecologically sustainable manner. These groups included Appalachia – Science in the Public Interest, Berea Sustainability, Home at Last, Kentucky  Heartwood, Kentucky State Nature Preserves, Sierra Club, UK’s Greenthumb and Wildcat Wheels & Sustainability Task Force, and the Water Fuel Museum. For new and prospective parents, Kirsten Updike had handmade cloth diapers on hand, and information about the ecological and health benefits of cloth diapers.

 

By beginning to make agriculture sustainable we will have taken the first step forward for humanity to begin to measure progress by its independence from the extractive economy.        Wes Jackson

Supporting our local farmers is an important part of living peacefully, in place. Participating farmers, farm cooperatives, and farm organizations included Bluegrass Farmers’ Market, Community Farm Alliance, Home Pickins, Shooting Star Nursery, and Terrapin Hill Farm. Good Foods Market and Café provided organic and local food for purchase. Waste was minimized by the use of durable plates.

 

In the final analysis, a world at peace must be one in which all living things experience themselves as being “at home.” A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold

Internal peace is another aspect of living peacefully that was modeled at the peace fair. Groups that focused on living healthfully and peacefully included Arbonne International, 4 Key Wellness – Nikken & Reiki, and the University of Kentucky’s College of Nursing.

 

Belief in the separation of one thing from another thing is the beginning of fear. Oneness is the end of it. Wendell Berry

Not only is it essential that we learn to live peacefully with our immediate neighbors, we must also learn to understand and value our brothers and sisters around the world. This emphasis on global understanding included quilt and African art fundraisers to build a classroom in Kenya. BCTC’s Multicultural Affairs, International Students; the Mexican Solidarity Network, PeaceCraft, and the Bluegrass Indo-American Civic Society hosted booths. Booths also focused on the East Asian countries of China and Japan.

 

There is little peace in a world characterized by painful differences between the rich and poor, between the haves and the have-nots. Poverty and social oppression may not lead directly to war, but they certainly are not conducive to peace. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, P. Freire

A number of progressive organizations participated. They helped us understand more about how to create a peaceful and equitable world, and to recognize the great truths of peace. The Baha’i , Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice, Clergy and Laity Network of Kentucky, Franciscan Peace Center, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Kentucky Fairness Alliance, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, Northeast Lexington Initiative (NELI), ONE, School of Metaphysics, and the Shambhala Center all added greatly to the peace fair.

 

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war. Maria Montessori

In addition to the music, booths, and food, a number of workshops on peaceful and sustainable living were offered throughout the day. The schedule included: Peace...Let it begin with me, taught by Anita Courtney, Certified Kripalu Yoga Instructor. Attendees practiced the art of cultivating inner peace through yoga postures, breathing and visualization. It was a good way to feel relaxed and energized for the rest of the day and learn some tools for incorporating relaxation into one’s daily life. The session was suitable for those who had never tried yoga, as well as experienced practitioners.  The Hidden Destruction of the Appalachian Mountains, by Dave Cooper, mechanical engineer turned social/environmental activist. The program included a 22-minute slide show featuring traditional Appalachian mountain music and aerial photographs of Eastern Kentucky mountains. After discussing the impacts of mountaintop removal on coalfield communities, attention focused on ways to reduce personal consumption of electricity from coal-fired power plants.Towards a Justice that Heals, by Marilyn Huegerich, OSF, and Patricia Griffin, Franciscan Peace Center. In the face of crime or conflict, restorative justice is a philosophy, approach, and process that offers support and provides opportunities for voluntary participation and communication between those affected (victims, offenders, community). The process strives towards a conversion from the spirit of punishment to the spirit of healing. Living in a Sustainability-Oriented Community, by Mary Ann Ghosal and Thyne Rutrough, Curtis Pike Community, Richmond, KY. At this time, when human impact on the environment is increasingly harmful, a small group of Christians has come together to pray and to work for environmental sustainability and peace.  Members of the community shared information about their identity and their current environmental efforts, accomplishments, and future goals. Small-scale Urban Gardening, by Derek Law, UK Horticulture Research Analyst. Production of vegetable crops in densely populated urban areas to supplement our diets was the focus of this presentation. Topics discussed included site evaluation, container gardening, composting, bio-intensive gardening techniques, and edible landscaping.  Examples of containers and gardening tools were on display and free vegetable starts were given to participants. Organizing 101, by Dave Newton, Organizer for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. This workshop was designed to help us understand how to use our collective power for positive change in our community. We identified problems in our community, examined the root causes of those problems, and explored several different approaches to change.

 

 Peace is always beautiful. Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman