Making Lanterns for Peace
Project Progress Report 30 March 2011
The Front Fundraiser
Magical night at The Front last night. Lanterns hanging the trees outside. Women's Chorus harmonising inside. Plus excellent performances by Daniel Champagne, Beth 'n Ben and Winiata.
The event certainly embodied the qualities of culture making friendliness, participation and artfulness we intend for our Anzac Lantern Vigil, a true taste of things to come.
It was the first time i had seen our Lantern Vigil Musical Director, Johanna MacBride, in action conducting a choir and i was most impressive. Lively and light on her toes we had The Front resounding with song as we tried out new rounds. So good for the heart to sing together!
I knew then that our Lantern Vigil, under Johanna's direction and with the support of the Chorus of Women could become a big sing up for peace. Hundreds of people in a big lantern lit circle about a fire, singing open heartedly. A Community Chorus. A Citizens Chorus!
Ellie Gilbert spoke and showed a prophetic photo from The Canberra Times of her late husband, Kevin Gilbert doing a lone Anzac Day remembrance of the frontier wars some twenty years ago. She also read a poem Kevin had written when his son had asked :"You won't let that bomb drop on me, will you Dad?"
The event drew forth Paul Collis, an Aboriginal peace maker from Darling River country, who spoke about the Pedagogy of the Oppressed and the need of love for the oppressors. Which seemed to confirm for me that we are on the right track bringing forth remembrance of the frontier wars.
About 30 people participated. $150 was raised.
Big thanks to Winiata for his organising efforts and to The Front managers for their support. Winiata had spent the previous day in a concentrated effort painting a beautiful new banner. "Least we forget the frontier wars.'
I will use the cash raised to print flyers and posters for the Vigil. Please contact me if you can help distribute posters and flyer. You can download the pdf here and print them yourself
What's pressing on my mind is the need to begin the media promotion for the event. How to begin? What the angle? I pray for help and guidance.
Lantern procession route and assembly areas
Before we assembled for lantern papering at The Front, Annie Didcott, Marie Jack and I walked the ground of our Anzac eve Lantern Procession and Vigil.
Here is what I provisionally propose for assembly areas and timings.
6.30 pm assembly on top of Mt Ainslie for lantern distribution. Here there will need to be some context setting words and maybe songs before we set off.
7 pm Lantern procession begins descent down bush park passing by the Aboriginal War Memorial grove which is about 100 m from the end of the walk.
7.45 pm First lantern bearers arrive at the assembly area in Memorial Park, behind the War Memorial at end of bush track. It is anticipated that it will take another maybe 45 min depending on numbers, for the last of the lantern bearers to arrive. Here more song and ceremony in the area adjacent to the BBQ shelter dedicated to Reginald Rattey VC.
8.45 pm Lantern procession departs and parades around the War Memorial and down Anzac Avenue
9.15 pm approx Parade arrives at Vigil assembles on the lawn outside East Block, the derelict building on SE corner of Anzac and Constitution Avenues, across the road from the NZ Memorial. Here further songs and closure leading to closure and the beginning of the all through the night Vigil for them's that want.
Plenty car parking spaces behind this building. Also shelter from wind.
Much to be organised. Including a people transporter to get drivers back to their cars on top of Mt Ainslie. Suggestions welcomed.
To make it easier to keep friends informed, here www.peacebus.com/AnzacLanterns is a link where I have posted Anzac Lantern Vigil information and updates best i can.
Project Progress Report 28 March 2011
Lantern making Production Record
The gracious Zahira-Madeleine Bullock hosted lantern making in her garage in Watson last weekend and, with help from Annie Didcott, Clair Hochstetler and his partner, Carol-Anne, Zahira's friend, Lois McCrae, Marie Jack and i, we made 66 frames on the Saturday and papered 40 of them on Sunday.
Record production! A mighty effort and exhausting for us pensioner cultural activists. Marie's back was aching after and Zahira so fatigued she had to sit out at her dance group on Saturday night. Zahira too weary to dance is serious fatigue!
That's 207 lantern frames ready. Which promises quite a lantern spectacle.
We lantern makers are thinking that's maybe enough to go on with
No more lantern making workshops unless we have a specific request from some community group or other wanting to be engaged. As with the lantern making already booked at the Silver Wattle Quaker Centre near Bungedore for Good Friday 22 April.
What we need now is lantern bearers; the work from here on in is promotion and production planning.
An Evening with Lanterns
Tomorrow evening at The Front, Lyneham shops, will be the first promotion event. Thanks to the good work and good heart of Winiata.
It's a small venue and the entertainment (starting 6.30 pm) promises to be excellent. Marie and I will be there papering lanterns outside from 4 pm
Keri has returned from her time away and forwarded an update of the flyer.
Lake War Memorials Forum Public Meeting
We got the Anzac Lantern Vigil flyer printed in time for the Lakes War Memorials Forum public meeting at Albert Hall last Wednesday night 24 March. And got to the venue in time to give some to Annie Didcott who leafletted the seats.
Marie and i set up Peacebus.com with lanterns outside and leafletted from there. It was in effect the unveiling of the new mural. We were well received.
There was much common ground with our concern about the militarisation of Australian culture and history and the Forum's concern about the militarisation of the Canberra's lakescape.
Here is Annie's take on the meeting:
What I got out of the meeting was the realisation that this b*****y thing is pretty well sealed and signed, but not yet delivered. Gary Rake from the NCA was very hard pressed by questions from the floor to give details of the processing that has been going on behind locked doors. Seemingly, from memory, NCA's practice changed around 2008 to require public consultation much earlier on in any newer applications for developments, but the war memorials were pretty well set in concrete by that time and he indicated that retrospective action wouldn't be possible. There will be minutes of the meeting made available on the website and I reckon we should keep a close eye on progress. The meeting was unanimous on all the actions that were put to the vote, eg seeking an urgent and early meeting with the PM.
Gary indicated that there are a couple more small hoops [one of which is a 10 day opportunity for public input] to go through before the bulldozers move in and he mentioned that there's only between 5 - 10% chance of being able to get the proposal reversed.
As this is a Federal issue, not ACT, I think we should all motivate our interstate contacts to lobby their own MPs against the plan. I bet 99% of Australians don't know the first thing about it and the War Memorial is an Ozzie icon [which I, for one, hate.]
Lantern Vigil Flyer updated
Marie and i left before the Forum meeting's end to hurry Sydney to visit my daughter, overdue with third grandchild. I regret to inform that my presence did not bring on the labor, but I had a wonderful romp with my grandsons none the less. Here is grandson Baxter Bravo Price, aged 4, the swinger.
And my daughter made minor changes to the flyer graphics. If printing, please use the linked version. Note that it is designed to be printed same size on A4 back to back. And that there is a colour and B&W version.
OfficeWorks gives best deal for small job printing, i reckon. Without much difficulty the first page of the flyer can be enlarged and printed to serve as an A3 or A4 poster.
Project Blessing from Mahathera Santithtito
When leaving Sydney Marie and I called in on our friends at Wat Buddhalavarn, the Lao supported forest Monastery near Campbelltown.
The senior monk there and indeed the longest ordained western monk in Australia, is Mahathera Santithito. Known as Santi to his friends he was consciencious objector to the new Germany army way back in the 60s. He has been following the Anzac lantern Vigil project on the web and, fully supporting our initative, drew a mandala blessing for my journal and blessed Happy Wheels.
Canberra Interfaith Support
Clair Hochstetler reported that the flyers were well received by his Manuka Baptist Church congregation last Sunday. And the lantern he and Carol-Anne had on display drew much curiosity and interest. Likewise with the people at the opening on Sunday of the Interfaith Peace Garden near Kings Ave Bridge.
Reconnaissance of Lantern Parade route and Vigil assembly areas
Annie the Practical has been saying. "Time to get exact about where we will be assembling and where we will be carrying the lanterns cum 24 April".
To this end Annie and I will be meeting at 2 pm tomorrow Tuesday 29 March in the car park behind the Australian War Memorial, to walk the ground and report back to the gathering at The Front in the evening. Company welcome.
Planning the Liturgy
Glenda Cloughley brought Reverend Ivan Roberts of the City Central Uniting Church to my camp at the Tent Embassy on Wednesday to begin the dialogue about the liturgical form of the Lantern Vigil. Ivan has depth of experience in the practice and develop of liturgy, including in recent years the commemoration of the Myall Creek massacre of 1838.
The smoke from my camp fire choked us but it was a good meeting, Ivan eager to be involved and his rapport with Glenda wonderfully auspcious.
A Chorus of Women
Glenda Cloughley reports she has been in overwhelm this past week with work pile-ups, family biz, and friends in need and that the lyrics to Auntie Jude's lament must wait at least till after The Front.
So good to have Johanna McBride's name on the flyer as musical director.
Here the offer from Ecopella:
Hi Johanna, hi Graeme,
The songs that Ecopella and the Solidarity Choir would happily contribute are:
Across The Hills
Who Cares About The Human Race?
Ecopella and Solidarity:
Nursery Rhyme go to then click Music, Ten Years Strong, Nursery Rhyme
Some of these songs have sound grabs on the choir's website. None of these songs are easy singalongs I'm afraid. Please let me know if this is more music than you wanted, and I will trim it down.
Also would be good for us to know when and where as soon as this becomes clear.
yours in harmony, Miguel Heatwole
"What's Wrong with Anzac?" Manning Clark House 14 April
It was my delight to give Dr Sue Wareham a copy of the MCH "What's Wrong with Anzac?" flyer as she arrived at Albert Hall last Wednesday. "Thank you'" she said. "Likely i will be there."
She later pointed out that the flyer text had truncated a line from her intro. Oh dear. Here attached is the full version.
This will be a lively and context setting discussion. Note that bookings required: 6295 1808 or email@example.com
Best we can.
0407 951 688
Lantern making in the front yard of Keri James' home in Downer, 28 February 2010.
Reflections of the first public planning meeting,
Corroboree Park, Ainslie, 21 February 2011
What an enchanted event was our lantern lit meeting in Corroboree park last Monday evening! There were 23 of us, 23 good souls wanting to work for peace.
Gratitude to all the people who helped make it happen. Special thanks to Winiata and Keri for setting up and provisioning that splendid table of hospitality.
A particular boon was the brazier, also a gift from Winiata. How elegant it was in form, like how I imagine the sacred fire of Delhpic oracles. And how elegant it served in function. Sticks from the Park's gums to fuel it, the agreeable smoke, the warmth of its embers.
Our friend Ellie Gilbert is, I believe, blessed with prophetic voice. She suggested having future planning meetings in Corroboree Park just so. Weather permitting of course.
Let's do it.
Such meetings would serve as an opportunity to check in on progress, meet new friends, extend networks of association and maybe share a song or two, or a poem of two. Getting used to working together and making art in the open. Rehearsals as it were. Building community as we build the event.
Let us light lanterns, break bread together there, sit about our brazier and plot peace. Regularly till Anzac eve. Next one Friday 4 March. Bring food to share. Warmeries. Cushions or folding chairs to sit upon. Assembling 6 pm, Yes?
Ask no permits, pay no dues. Peace making citizens occupying public place with grace.
At the meeting we talked about another social lantern making event and i promised to check out availability of Bobi's veranda for Thursday (tomorrow). Not a good time for Bobi, her daughter will be recovering from surgery.
Marie and I could be available for social lanterning making Saturday 24 and Sunday 25. Who would like to offer a deck or a carport?
Bobi offered her shed for storage and I have checked it out. As she said it needs clearing but once cleared it could store a couple of hundred lanterns. Bobi very frail. A working bee to clear the shed maybe? Will confirm.
The challenge before us is to create new ways and new words for commemorating the war dead of this land and making it sacred, participatory and as accessible as the existing Dawn Service liturgy.
It is an artful challenge and its accomplishment will demand creativity. And because we will be challenging so many sacred cows, it will also demand a special kind of courage. Not of the VC kind.
Rather it will be the quiet courage of the open heart and deep conviction. Such as the Chorus of Women bore when they lamented the beginning of the Iraq War in the Parliament in 2003.
For me the best thing that came out of our first planning meeting was the enthusiasm for the Peace Lantern Vigil project heard in the voices associated with the Chorus of Women.
The meeting also revealed tensions between the proposals to bring forth the voices of soldiers who returned from war and spoke for peace, on the one hand, and including remembrance of the dead from the colonial frontier wars, on the other. Mixed agendas and mixed messages leading to confusion about the nature of the event, it was suggested, so making the Vigil difficult to promote.
But creativity is born of paradoxes and contradictions. Let's hang in there with these questions and see what evolves. We have plenty of time. We don't have to get it all right and perfect in the first year. We do best we can with what we got and learn from our outcomes.
I also promised to draft a paragraph or three for friends to send about in search of a studio/workshop space for setting up a community participation, lantern making assembly line. I will do that in a separate email. And send pix.
Meanwhile Happy Wheels is not happy, spluttering along and overheating. No mobile lantern making workshops while Happy Wheels is off the road, Marie and i must attend to it. We are grateful to have had Bobi's kindness, her driveway to start the maintenance and her spare bed.
May all beings be happy.
And at peace
23 February 2011
The Challenge for Peace in these Times
Two facts run together: the commemoration of Anzac Day and its glorification of war as nation-making has never been more popular. At the same time, as a nation, Australia has never been deeper in war.
And this is no accident. Rather it is the consequence of a deliberate and massively funded cultural policy, introduced by the Howard government and sustained and expanded by the Rudd and Gillard governments, to militarise Australian history and culture.
The normalisation of war in these times is a profound challenge to all people of goodwill and good faith.
The challenge is to find new ways and new words for commemorating the war dead in this land; ways and words which both respect and lament the war dead and also recall the voices for peace; ways and words which evoke the sacred and make it accessible to all.
This is a challenge for culture makers with peace in their hearts: orators, poets, musicians, lyricists, liturgists, masters of ceremonies and engineers of the imagination of all kind.
Unlike the proponents of war, there are no tax subsidies for the work of peace and we must proceed as a grass roots citizens movement, a band of friends on a journey of exploration bound by generosity and goodwill, doing best we can.
In Canberra this search will begin with a lantern parade and lantern-lit vigil near the Australian War Memorial on Anzac Day eve next.
Our aim is that new liturgies for war-dead remembrance and peace spread across the land like a lantern virus; 10,000 lanterns by Anzac eve 2015 when the centenary of the Gallipoli landing is celebrated.
Come join us. Come help us.
How would you remember the war dead and make it sacred and peace promoting?
Let's make art, build community and transform culture.
written 8 February 2011
revised 10 March 2011