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Spring Mobilization to End the War in 1967

Apr
15

On April 15, 1967, the largest peace demonstration in American history up to that point was held to protest the Vietnam War. It was called the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam. There were around 100,000 people in San Francisco, and over 125,000 people in New York City. In SF, they marched from Second Street and Market (just a block from where the How Weird Street Faire takes place) to Kezar Stadium at the edge of Golden Gate Park. In New York, Martin Luther King, Jr. led the walk from Central Park to the United Nations building.

The Spring Mobilization marked the emergence of a new era of peace protests, creating a national coalition of anti-war activists. The Mobilization followed a week of anti-war activities on college campuses across the United States. By the spring of 1967, more than 365,000 US troops had been sent to Vietnam, and the number of casualties had risen to more than 6,600. There was a sharp increase in public interest and scrutiny of the war, which by 1967 had affected most people’s lives either directly or indirectly.


In San Francisco, Kezar Stadium was packed with a diverse crowd of protesters. Music was provided by Country Joe and the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Judy Collins. The speakers included Coretta Scott King (wife of Martin Luther King Jr.), Eldridge Cleaver, Morris Evenson, Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, Julian Bond, and Robert Vaughn (from the hit TV show "Man From Uncle"). Vietnam veteran David Duncan gave the keynote speech.

The growing anti-war movement was credited for eventually ending the war. Abbie Hoffman later said "The lesson of the sixties is that people who cared enough to do right could change history."


On April 15th, the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood held a Clean-In to prepare the area for the influx of people expected after the march and rally. Streets were sweeped, windows were washed, and trash was removed. The march itself passed near the Haight on Fulton Street, before heading south along Golden Gate Park.

There were many concerts held in support of the peace protest, including a free concert by Country Joe and the Fish in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park on April 14th, and a Peace Poets Dance the day before that. The merging of the creative countercultures and the political countercultures was on full display in San Francisco on April 15, 1967.

 

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Confronted with the fierce urgency of Now

Apr
04

 

Fifty years ago, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech called “Beyond Vietnam” which tied the civil rights movement to the growing peace movement. On April 4, 1967, King delivered a harsh critique of the Vietnam War at the Riverside Church in New York City. He rallied against the hypocrisy of standing up for the poor and oppressed in America, while America goes to war against the poor around the world.

He received a lot of criticism for that speech, but King realized that there can be no true civil rights until there is peace. King anticipated the reaction, and understood the risks. In the speech he mentions those who did not want to discuss peace, who said “peace and civil rights don’t mix”. His response was, “They do not know the world in which they live.”

In the speech, King called for a “true revolution of values” that would lead to a life of love, and a “beautiful symphony of brotherhood”.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed exactly one year after this speech. He explained soon before that “only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.”

 

Here are some excerpts from the speech “Beyond Vietnam”…

It is with such activity that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin, we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I’m not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.

We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors.

If we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

 

 

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How Weird celebrates 50 years of inspirational counterculture

Jan
31

On May 7, 2017, a unique gathering of the tribes will occur in downtown San Francisco for a Celebration of Peace. It will be the 18th How Weird Street Faire, the World Peace Through Technology Organization’s annual peace event. Tens of thousands of people will fill the streets, dancing at the eleven stages of world-class electronic music, enjoying spectacular performances, partaking in fantastic foods, visiting unique vendors, experiencing visionary art, inspired by awesome creativity, and learning at peace technology exhibits.

The How Weird Street Faire will take place from Noon to 8pm. The faire is centered at Howard and 2nd Streets in San Francisco, the heart of the art and technology centers of the city. The theme for 2017 is “Summer of Weird”, paying tribute to the cultural pioneers that inspired us and paved the way forward. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, a time of great change, and an explosion of creative culture here in San Francisco. Love and peace were celebrated then, as now. How Weird brings people together in unity, to generate waves of joy and expand our consciousness. Costumes and an open mind are encouraged. Leave your fear behind.

The SF Oracle proclaimed in 1967, “A new concept of celebrations must emerge, become conscious, and be shared, so a revolution can be formed with a renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind.” Our need for love is growing again as today’s youth attempt to find solutions to the greed, corruption, hatred, violence, and separatism around us.

The Human Be-In on January 14, 1967 became the template for a new type of conscious event, inspiring the evolution of music and art festivals, beginning with the Summer of Love and leading directly to the How Weird Street Faire. How Weird is proud to continue the great San Francisco tradition of taking culture further.

The conservative British newspaper Financial Times, in an August 12, 2016 article titled “Were the Hippies Right?”, wrote, “Was it mere coincidence that the centre of hippie culture became, a couple of decades later, one of the world’s wellsprings of technological innovation? Did Haight-Ashbury inexorably lead to Silicon Valley? The epochal social changes of that era inspired a range of cultural initiatives that led, in various shapes and forms, to the world in which we live today. There is a bond between the creative spirit of San Francisco in the late 1960s, and that of today.” Steve Jobs once observed the reason for this innovation, “What is not normal is normal here.” How Weird is the modern epicenter for all things not normal in San Francisco.

The How Weird Street Faire is a project of the nonprofit World Peace Through Technology Organization, showing the world that peace is possible. After half a century, peace is needed more than ever.


For more info visit http://HowWeird.org

 

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Human Libraries educate us about each other

Mar
22

The Human Library is a new way of challenging prejudices through conversation. Human Libraries are an international movement that use social contact to break down barriers and discrimination. They use the language and mechanism of a library to facilitate respectful interactions that can positively change people’s attitudes and behaviors towards members of communities who are at risk of exclusion and marginalization. The Human Library is where difficult questions are expected, appreciated, and answered. In spite of all the violence and conflict taking place in the world today, the Human Library is a simple way for people from all different demographics to sit down together and have an open exchange of ideas and perspectives.

Human Libraries


Just like in a real library, a visitor to a Human Library can choose a Book from a range of titles. The difference is that the "Books" are people, and instead of reading there is a conversation. Social contact is known to be among the best ways to challenge prejudice, and the Human Library enables it to flourish. The Human Library provides a safe environment for people to engage in conversation within a framework of respect, and with permission to respectfully ask questions and share experiences. The dialogue that the Human Library facilitates has the potential to challenge prejudice, stigma, and discrimination. Some of the popular Book titles are Muslim, Refugee, Gay, Transgender, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Young Black Male, Handicapped, Blind, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Downs Syndrome, Recovering Alcoholic, Teenage Mother, Substance Abuser, Unemployed, Autistic, Learning Disability, Facial Disfigurement, Obese, and Homeless.

In practice, the Human Library celebrates the diversity of our communities, raises awareness of many different reasons people may experience exclusion, and takes positive action to address some of the issues that can lead to bullying, abuse, and hate crime. Book titles deliberately acknowledge and provoke the assumptions and common prejudices that we, or society, may have. Readers are empowered to choose from a broad range of titles, and challenged to engage with the people behind the labels. The experience generates instant appeal and is a practical way to engage the public with big issues such as equality, diversity, and human rights. The Human Library is easy to organize because it not expensive to produce. The biggest ressources needed to facilitate a Human Library are time and volunteers, which has made it possible to stage events in a wide range of countries, including Denmark, Romania, Iceland, Poland, Italy, Holland, Slovenia, Belgium, Portugal, Israel, Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Human Library checkout table


The first Human Library was created for the 2000 Roskilde Music Festival by a group of Danish activists who formed in response to a violent hate crime. Their idea was to use the language and mechanism of a library to facilitate conversations that challenge prejudice, thereby reducing the risk of tension and violence. In 2008, the Human Library Organization was formed in Copenhagen. From there, the creators and founders of the Human Library Organization have helped the movement to grow steadily across the world. It is currently active in over 70 countries. http://humanlibrary.org/

The story of the Human Library really begins in 1993, when five teenagers - Ronni Abergel, Erich Kristoffersen, Asma Mouna, Thomas Bertelsen, and Dany Abergel - created a Youth NGO called Stop The Violence. Their inspiration to form Stop The Violence was motivated by the brutal stabbing of a mutual friend in Copenhagen. They sought to reduce youth violence and challenge some of the negative stereotypes of young people in Denmark that had surrounded the reporting of their friend’s attack. By 2000, Stop the Violence had over 30,000 members and had organized a range of engagement and awareness-raising activities across Denmark. Then Leif Stov, the Director of the Roskilde Festival, asked Stop The Violence to create an activity that would challenge prejudice, encourage dialogue, and build positive relationships between festival-goers at the 2000 Roskilde Festival. Ronni Abergel, Asma Mouna, and Christoffer Erichsen created the "Human Library" - an event where different sub-cultures and groups that are often hostile to one another could connect, engage, and converse. They recruited so many volunteers from the festival-goers that the first ever Human Library featured 75 Human Books. "I figured that if we could make people sit down with a group attached to a certain stigma they don't like or even know about for that matter, we could diminish violence," explains Ronni Abergel.

The only permanent reoccurring Human Library event has been in operation since the fall of 2014. More than ten events have been organized at Denmarks biggest library, the Copenhagen Central Library, and the events are continuing to happen. Readers are invited to choose between more than 25 titles published from the Copenhagen Human Library Book Depot. The services of the Human Library are always free to Readers.

Human Library in Denmark

The Human Library in Copenhagen, Denmark featuring a handicapped "Book".


The Human Library is made up of Human Books, which are people who volunteer to challenge prejudice and stereotype through respectful conversation with members of the public. By volunteering, Books give their permission for people at a Human Library event to ask questions about their life, and to talk openly about prejudice, stereotype, and discrimination. With the help of their Organizer they choose a Book title that directly relates to the prejudice, stereotype, or stigma that they want to challenge, such as issues related to asethnicity, sex, age, disability, sexual preference, gender identity, religion/belief, lifestyle, or other aspects. They receive training beforehand where they have the opportunity to meet other Books from different backgrounds, learn how the Human Library works in practice, and explore the potential questions people could ask. Although the role of the Book might appear to be similar to storytelling, the Human Books are not storytellers. The Human Library encourages active and engaging conversations, rather than storytelling. Books are encouraged to ask as many questions as Readers, and sometimes the Books will ask the first questions. This could be as simple as "Why did you choose me?" or "What did you expect me to look like?"

Human Library shelf of Books

Don't judge a book by its cover.


Many individual or societal prejudices are based on stereotypes or lack of knowledge. Sometimes our opinions and attitudes are based upon prejudices that we might be unaware that we have. Think about the first thing that comes to mind when you encounter terms such as "Schizophrenic", "Drug Addict", "Transgender", "HIV+",  or "Asylum Seeker". It is likely that all of our responses will be influenced to some degree by pre-existing ideas. It is only by reflecting the diversity of our communities that the Human Library can effectively challenge prejudices.

Inclusion is of vital importance because the Human Library supports all groups, communities, and individuals who experience discrimination. The Human Library does not highlight a single issue or cause because they believe that prejudice and discrimination has to be challenged in the widest possible context. That is why Human Books are recruited from a wide-range of backgrounds to represent and potentially challenge the multiple prejudices and stereotypes that can be experienced. This is not only a powerful statement of inclusion, it allows for a wide-range of social contact between the volunteers and Readers, exposing them to different experiences and perspectives.

Choice is a vital component of the Human Library. Readers must be given a choice from a range of titles. This is why the mechanism of a library was chosen, and why the Human Library is so effective. Not all Readers will be aware of their own prejudices, let alone motivated to publicly declare and challenge them.

It is important these days to understand what life looks like through another's eyes, which leads to empathy and encourages compassion. The Human Library is a powerful step towards peace.

The Human Library

 

Posted By Justin read more

Music is a path to peace

Mar
18

When two people are in conflict, they are focused on what separates them. During war, there is a divide between people that makes it difficult to relate to each other. If there was some way to bridge that divide and find a way for opposing people to understand each other, then there would be a path towards peace. There are ways, and one of them is music.

Music is one of the few things that all people can relate to and appreciate. Music makes us human. It is a fundamental part of our lives. Music is found in all cultures and all nations, from the very beginning of our history. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, "Music is the universal language of mankind." Music has an amazing ability to bridge divides between people. Music can increase empathy and teach us how to relate to others. Music can directly lead to peace. It only takes understanding one person to break barriers of fear, separation, and misunderstanding.

One powerful example of music directly leading to peace was during World War I, in Northern Europe at the end of December 1914. The war had been raging for 5 months, and the soldiers were tired and homesick. In southern Belgium, at the epicentre of the fighting along the Western Front, there were 100,000 soldiers divided by a small empty space known as "no-man's land". On one side were British, French, and Belgian troops. On the other side were German and Austrian troops. On Christmas Eve, near the tiny village of Ploegsteert, an amazing thing happened. The British soldiers started noticing that the German soldiers were decorating the tops of their trenches with candles and Christmas trees. Then they heard a familiar tune, the Christmas carol Stille Nacht, which changed their way of thinking about the enemy. The tune was the same as the song Silent Night, which they had grown up with. The British troops responded by singing O Come All Ye Faithful. And then the Germans joined in with the Latin words to the same song. The mutual appreciation of music had an immediate effect on the soldiers on both sides of the divide. Suddenly, they no longer saw the others as enemies, but rather as potential friends that were similar to them. Finally, a German messenger raised a white flag and strode boldly across the snow dusted no-man's land to broker the Christmas ceasefire.

 

Christmas Truce in 1914

The Christmas Truce of 1914


The troops then walked out into the empty space and greeted each other. They exchanged food and drinks and buttons and badges. They told stories and jokes, and even played a game of soccer. One German barber gave haircuts to British “customers” in a crater, while others posed for pictures. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described that time as “one human episode amid the atrocities which have stained the memory of war.” A British officer wrote to his wife that a further truce had been fixed for New Year’s Day as “the Germans want to see how the photos come out”. But that never happened, because as soon as their commanders back home heard about the truce, they ordered it ended and began rotating in new troops who had not been humanized by the sharing of music. British Lance-Corporal George Dyce, who participated in the truce, said of the Germans: "They don’t want to fight any more than we do; they are as fed up of this game as we are fit to be. They told us that they would not shoot if we did not, so we have had a holiday for the last two days we were in the trenches... I thought peace was
proclaimed, but no such luck. I am sure if it was left to the men there would be no war."

Another example of peace bridging the divide between opposing people happened in South America in 2008. The Peace Without Borders concert took place on the border between Colombia and Venezuela, at a time when there was much conflict and mistrust between the two countries. Tens of thousands of people, on both sides of the border, came together to hear music that was popular throughout the region. "It’s not that a song is going to change people. But music becomes an excuse to send a message, that we’re all here together building peace, that we are here as citizens and this is what we want, and we have to be heard. We don’t want to get involved in conflicts between people," said Juanes, a Colombian musician who played at the concert.

 

Peace Without Borders Concert

The Peace Without Borders Concert


There are many other examples of music bringing opposing people together. There have been Indian and Pakistani musicians playing together, Israeli and Palestinian, Russian and American, North and South Korean, as well as different groups of religious, political, and cultural backgrounds. And these have had a lasting impact on many people. Music touches us deeply, speaking directly to the emotions. This is why the connections that we make through music can be meaningful, and lead to a greater understanding of others.

Music festivals are an excellent way to bring a diverse group of people together and have them co-experience music together. Here in the United States, a concert or festival in a major city like New York or San Francisco brings a very diverse audience together. People from different countries, cultures, and identities, come together to share their love of music. Everyone can find common ground through music, and once that is done, the "other" is no longer unknown. The other is just a different version of yourself. You grow understanding and connections by appreciating the same thing, which leads to peace.

The World Peace Through Technology Organization produces an event every year that brings together many different types of music and people called the How Weird Street Faire. It uses music and art to create an atmosphere where anyone can find common ground with others. The event encourages people to accept and appreciate our differences and what makes us unique, while embracing the things which we share, like good music. The event has enabled friendships to form where before they were unthinkable. We know that music is a path to peace, because we see it happen year after year with an extremely diverse crowd of tens of thousands of people from around the world.

Music is a great uniter, bringing people together. Music crosses all bridges, borders, and time zones. Music transcends all ideologies, politics, religions, languages, cultures, and wealth. Music is oblivious to race, gender, age, and appearance. With so many things to divide us and separate us, it is important to find things that can connect us. Music connects us all.
 

Music connects people

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The Cosmic Stew

The World Peace Through Technology Organization is proud to present the 17th annual How Weird Street Faire on Sunday May 1, 2016. This year's faire will focus on diversity and multiculturalism, exploring the many ways in which we identify ourselves and how we can all live together in peace. There was a contest to choose the theme name, and the winner was "The Cosmic Stew".

The first step in coexisting is acceptance of different cultures. Just as an inspiring work of art can be made up of many different colors and elements, the many diverse ways that people have grouped together and the cultures they share make the world a more interesting place. Life is a symphony of different instruments working together in harmony.

How Weird 2016 will bring tens of thousands of unique cultures together to coexist in peace, proving that it is possible. The How Weird Street Faire celebrates acceptance and appreciates diversity, showing the world that relative differences can be fun.

Chief Oren Lyons of the Onandaga Nation explained, "Although we are in different boats,
we share the same river of life."

How Weird is a menagerie of attractions, including a world renowned music festival featuring 10 stages of different styles of dance music, an open air art festival filling an expanded Art Alley, a unique market of interesting vendors and delicious food, and a platform for performers of every type. The faire is from Noon to 8pm. Get there early to enjoy all of the fun.

The faire is located in the SoMa district, what has become the center of the technology industry for the city of San Francisco, and perhaps the world. How Weird attracts many of the area’s innovative technologists and internet pioneers, who are making a profound effect on the world with their digital tools. The area is home to a large concentration of art galleries and museums. How Weird also attracts many types of artists and lovers of art and culture. The faire, the area, and the participants represent the convergence of art and technology, the fusion of creativity and possibilities. How Weird is a place where evolutionary ideas can form, paving the way for fresh perspectives and new ways of viewing the world.

Stop by the Peace Technology Pavilion at the faire and say hello!

 

 

  

The new WPTTO logo

Apr
25

The World Peace Through Technology Organization presents our new logo, which shows our peace dove taking a more active role in spreading light and knowledge. The new WPTTO logo was designed by Landon Elmore.

The WPTTO is preparing for exciting new projects that will vastly expand our abilities to inspire peace. The new logo will make its public debut at the How Weird Street Faire on Sunday April 26, 2015, at the Peace Technology Pavilion at the center intersection of the faire. There you will find fun technology exhibits, and information on the history of the peace sign - the world's most famous peace logo. You can enter the pavilion through the giant peace sign.

The How Weird Street Faire is a project of and fundraiser for the WPTTO. The faire is an experiment in creating peace, finding ways to connect diverse people.

WPTTO logo

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Open source peace events

Mar
11

Celebration of Peace

The How Weird Street Faire is the World Peace Through Technology Organization's annual festival, and an experiment on how to create a peace event that allows “opposing” sides to find common ground and similarities. We identified some elements that could help lead to peace between people, including electronic music, synchronized group dance, inspiring visionary art, a collective expansion of consciousness and awareness, a diverse group of people, an open mind, and a lot of fun. Then we applied them on a large scale in a public venue with amazing results. We found that those elements are the ideal ingredients to a peace event.

The need for creating peace has only grown in the years since we started the faire 16 years ago. We want to share what we have learned, and open source the elements of a peace event, in the hope that more of these events can help bring peace to the world.

We encourage all people to make their own peace events. We need more gatherings that can bring different people together. Please let us know what you learn and what elements you find to be useful for bridging divides and connecting people. As the Dalai Lama explained, one of the best things that people can do to bring peace is to hold festivals with music and art that bring people together.

 

How Weird Street Faire - Celebration of Peace

 

THE COMPONENTS OF A PEACE EVENT

 

MUSIC


Music is a bridge, connecting everyone. Music is the ideal medium for crossing barriers, and uniting diverse people. Music knows no boundaries. More than any other form of communication, music is able to transcend differences between people. Music has the power to change us physically, directly affecting the emotions and the chemical balance of the body. Music inspires us and takes us to other places. Music can lift our spirits and increase our creativity. Music can heal people. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said recently, “There are no languages required in the musical world. In this era of instability and intolerance we need to promote better understanding through the power of music.”

Electronic music plays a key role in the How Weird Street Faire, and one of the reasons why the faire attracts people from all over the world. Electronic music is the most diverse and globally listened to music in human history. Every culture and every country has DJs playing and creating music, and communities forming wherever people dance together. In some places it is the mainstream culture, in others it is alternative or underground, but electronic music is present everywhere on the planet.

How Weird features the full spectrum of electronic music styles, bringing different communities together to connect them to each other and encourage cooperation and mutual appreciation. This gathering of the tribes at How Weird creates a unique music festival that is always full of surprises. Faire participants are encouraged to see and experience all the different music stages, and try something new. Great care has been taken by each stage to create a high quality environment to enjoy the music and dancing, and have a maximum amount of fun. Electronic music is a good choice of music for helping to create peace, as represented by the cultural motto of “peace, love, unity, and respect”.



DANCING


Dance is a fun activity that everyone can participate in, and find common ground and similar interest with anyone else. It is a very effective way of connecting with others. Dance and music are powerful ways to reach a deep meditative state, used for thousands of years with much success. A meditative state is helpful for bringing inner peace, and building the foundations for lasting peace with others. Dancing in a group also synchronizes the individuals on a collective level, enabling deeper understanding and acceptance of others, and forming coherence among the group. In spite of our differences, when we dance to the same beat, we become one.

A Cambridge University study published in the Psychology of Music journal in 2012 found that “interacting with others through music makes us more emotionally attuned to other people,” resulting in an increase of compassion and understanding of others. Another article in the American Psychological Association journal Emotion in 2011, called “Synchrony and the Social Tuning of Compassion” described how “synchronized movement evokes compassion” in groups of people. Science is noticing the same things that we did, that dancing together creates very deep connections and increases empathy, which leads to peace. As Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology at Cambridge University, explained, “Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble.”

For the third year, the How Weird Street Faire will participate in National Dance Week, a massive celebration of all forms of dance. Cultures all over the planet have enjoyed dance since before the written word, it is a universal expression of life. As Nelson Mandela once said, “It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world.”

 


VISUAL ART


Visual art, like music and dance, is a form of communication that bridges separations, and speaks directly to the heart and soul. Art can lead to greater understanding and appreciation of others. How Weird showcases many kinds of expression, including visionary art. We found that being surrounded by visionary art helps to recreate those states of awareness, and lay the foundation for deeper connections and understanding to take place. Music, dance, and art have always been recognized as having powerful effects on human consciousness, and being a fundamental part of our existence.
 


BECOMING MORE AWARE


The How Weird Street Faire tries to raise people’s consciousness through music, art, dancing, and ideas. By viewing the world from a wider perspective, the connections between us become more apparent, as well as our common interests. By raising our level of awareness and understanding, we make it easier to live in peace, to develop connections between people, and to find solutions to the many problems facing humanity at this time. As Albert Einstein explained, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
 


DIVERSITY


The How Weird Street Faire celebrates extreme diversity and individual expression. Those attending and participating in the faire are a vast multitude from all over the planet, and perhaps other planets as well, representing a very unique and interesting mix of sentient beings. All of them potentially finding common ground and connecting with each other and new communities. There are babies and small children to young adults to elderly, and all in between. There are very wealthy attendants, and struggling students and artists. There are people of different politics and religions and perspectives, that have chosen to attend the same faire and enjoy the same activities. The extreme diversity of people at How Weird is testament to the universal appeal of inspiring art and music, and the desire of all people to celebrate peace. That deep connections are made, and a collective cohesion is formed, is proof that these elements can unite even the most extreme differences.

The faire is open to people of all ages, all backgrounds, and all points of view. Everyone is encouraged to be accepting of others, and to appreciate the differences between us. One faire participant explained why he liked the faire, “Instead of trying to bring us all into one line, we all get to enjoy what makes us different.”

 


AN OPEN MIND (or as we say “being weird”)


We chose the name “How Weird” as a play on Howard Street, the street where the faire took place. At first, we thought everyone would see the play on words, and didn’t really appreciate our own weirdness. Over the years, we grew to embrace being weird. We found that celebrating weirdness encouraged people to freely express themselves, and readily accept others. If everyone is weird, all viewpoints are equally valid, and everyone has an opportunity to be appreciated. Suddenly, the person who was an outsider is now a valuable part of the community. Differences between people become so great, that they become something interesting and amusing rather than dividing. Similarities that would usually remain elusive are brought out, enabling connections where none could have been imagined before. Being weird means doing things differently, and seeing the world in a unique way. Being weird enables us to step outside of preconceived notions and stereotypes, and think things we normally wouldn’t think. Having a festival of weirdness is an excellent way to open people’s minds, and prepare them to accept others no matter how different they are.

We weren’t the only ones who noticed these traits of weirdness. Being weird used to evoke emotions of fear and intolerance. In our modern world of rapid changes and extreme complexity, weird has become a desirable attribute, especially in the technology industry, which continues to play a major role in How Weird’s regional environment and immediate neighborhood. Weird has become associated with being creative and innovative. Thinking in a weird way has become the popular key to "stepping outside of the box", as we try to solve the planet’s problems, as well as our own. Being weird somehow plays a part in creating an effective peace event. Perhaps, like clowns and jesters, being weird gives people permission to tear down preconceptions and rewrite all the rules, placing them in a position to find new ways of living and interacting with others. Being weird encourages people to open their mind and accept new perspectives. Being weird allows people the opportunity to be outside of their usual way of doing and seeing things, and try a fresh approach. Plus being weird is fun.

Having people arrive in strange and colorful costumes reinforces the element of weirdness and unexpectedness, that anything is possible. At first, we just liked wearing costumes. But soon we noticed that it is an excellent way to encourage individual expression and acceptance of others. Costumes enable people to be themselves. Individual costumes break down the associations with groups or ideologies, and allow people to appreciate others based solely on their creativity and interests.

How Weird inspires peace by bringing people together and allowing them to experience a place where everyone is accepted no matter what their background is. At How Weird, everyone is appreciated for having a unique perspective that is valuable to the whole. We encourage having an open mind by embracing the weirdness within us all, the things we do differently, the things that make us unique. What political or religious affiliation someone has makes little difference when they are in an outrageous costume, dancing in the middle of the street. How Weird provides a place where people can be understood by their similar passions. At How Weird, people are surrounded by unexpected opportunities to connect with others and find common ground. Despite the extreme diversity at the faire, it is all one community.

The extreme participation of the faire goers, especially the costumes and dancing, encourages a level of acceptance and appreciation rarely seen at a public event. It is an environment that fully embraces inclusion and appreciation. By accepting others’ perspectives, we increase our capacity for empathy and understanding. Allowing yourself and others to be weird can be an important lesson in peace. In a place where everyone is weird, then every way of seeing things becomes equal, and differences are more appreciated. This leads to collective empathy and understanding. If this level of respect for each other was the standard way of dealing with each other, there would be no more wars.



FUN


The faire is a lot of fun. Peace is fun. Fun makes everything better. Having a positive attitude helps to connect with others and appreciate them. Plus it’s hard to fight when you’re having fun. Fun often results in smiles, which are very contagious. Smiles help to make people happy, even at a distance. And happy people are at peace.

Buckminister Fuller noticed that to create change, you need to built something new that makes the old way obsolete. We feel that in order to create a new world that is sustainable and at peace, we need to build something that is better and more fun. Peace is badly needed now, so that we may thrive on this planet and coexist with each other. It is through music, art, and the imagination that peace is always possible.

 

  

   Peace

 

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Three short films about peace

Oct
13

Errol Morris, the acclaimed filmmaker and writer, just produced three short films about peace. Each film highlights an inspiring moment in the lives of Nobel Peace Prize winners Leymah Gbowee from Liberia and Lech Walesa from Poland, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bob Geldof from Ireland. He was able to interview these subjects through a Visa commercial being filmed to air during the World Cup games. The commercial was interviewing these subjects about soccer. Morris asked if he could also ask them about peace, and everyone agreed. The results are three thought provoking films that show the possibilities of what one determined person can do.

Errol Morris explained how he "interviewed five of the world’s greatest peacemakers, and chose to feature the three who told the most compelling stories on camera. But it was a privilege to meet and to interview every one of them. David Trimble, whose participation in the Good Friday Agreement helped bring an end to Northern Ireland’s Troubles, and Oscar Arias Sanchez, who brokered the Esquipulas peace agreement that ended decades of internecine strife in Central America, were no less inspiring than the three included here."

When Morris asked Leymah Gbowee "whether the women’s movement in Liberia needed her. She said no. It was the opposite. She needed it. Through her activism, she was able to restore her own faith in humanity and in the power of each and every individual to effect positive change. I was truly moved by her remark, perhaps because I feel the same way. I needed these people to remind me that there is still the possibility of doing good in this world and the possibility of helping other people. That one person can make a difference."

Below is the first of the three films, featuring 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, the peace activist who brought the women of Liberia together to stop the civil war there. You can watch all three films here: http://www.nytimes.com/peacefilms

 


The Dream - featuring Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee

 


"We have various ideas about what makes a hero. Courage, determination, and fearlessness. But, often what makes a hero is a refusal to accept the status quo...
a persistent refusal to accept the world the way it is." - Errol Morris

 

 

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Peace is life.

Sep
27

Sociologist Jane Addams, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, observed that “peace is not merely an absence of war, but the nurture of human life.” Peace is a celebration of our co-existence, a necessity in our collective struggle to survive and flourish, and an acknowledgement of our inter-connections and mutual needs. Peace is recognizing within others the same things that are inside of you. Peace is combining of efforts to increase our collective potential.

Peace is not the opposite of war. Peace is our natural state, required by the core unit of the family to survive.
War is a specific type of failure of human spirit and reason, an illness, a mistake.

We are living in a time of exponential technological growth, and overall change. To survive and flourish, we now need to rapidly expand our understanding and awareness, and focus on cooperation in an increasingly inter-connected world. Much of the focus of technology today is on military and security use, on means of control. It is essential that these tools be used in an open and transparent way. We could achieve so much more if we used these tools for peace.

Napoleon Boneparte once noted that "those who have changed the universe have never done it by changing officials, but always by inspiring the people." The World Peace Through Technology Organization wants to inspire you to live in peace. We want to educate you with stories and information, and expand your perspective through creativity and art.

 

 

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The reality of war

Aug
02

World Beyond War is a global movement to end all wars. They have listed some of the myths and facts about war, and why it's bad for everybody...

War is not inevitable.

War has only been around for the most recent fraction of the existence of our species. We did not evolve with it. During the most recent 10,000 years, war has been sporadic. Some societies have not known war. Some have known it and then abandoned it.

War is not “natural” or healthy.

A great deal of conditioning is needed to prepare most people to take part in war, and a great deal of mental suffering is common among those who have taken part. In contrast, not a single person is known to have suffered deep moral regret or post-traumatic stress disorder from war deprivation.

War is not a permanent part of our culture.

Any feature of a society that necessitates war can be changed and is not itself inevitable. The military-industrial complex is not an eternal and invincible force. Environmental destructiveness and economic structures based on greed are not immutable.

Ending war is possible.

Human societies have been known to abolish institutions that were widely considered permanent. These have included human sacrifice, blood feuds, duelling, slavery, the death penalty, and many others. Ending all war is an idea that has found great acceptance in various times and places. It was more popular in the United States, during the 1920s and 1930s, then it is today. It is the reason that the United Nations was created. In recent decades, the notion has been propogated that war is permanent. That notion is new, radical, dangerous, and without basis in fact.

War is not “defense”.

The U.S. War Department was renamed the Defense Department in 1947, and it is common in many countries to speak of the war departments of one’s own and all other nations as “defense.” But if the term has any meaning, it cannot be stretched to cover offensive war making or aggressive militarism.  If “defense” is to mean something other than “offense,” then attacking another nation “so that they can’t attack us first” or “to send a message” or to “punish” a crime is not defensive and not necessary.

War preparation is also not “defense”.

The same logic that would claim that attacking another nation is “defensive” can be used to try to justify the permanent stationing of troops in another nation. The result, in both cases, is counterproductive, producing threats rather than eliminating them. A defensive military would consist of a coast guard, a border patrol, anti-aircraft weapons, and other forces able to defend against an attack.  The vast majority of military spending, especially by wealthy nations, is offensive.

Defense does not need to involve violence.

Evidence shows that the most effective means of defense is, far more often than not, nonviolent resistance. The mythology of warrior cultures suggests that nonviolent action is weak, passive, and ineffective at solving large-scale social problems. The facts show just the opposite. People under attack can refuse to recognize an attacker’s authority.  Peace teams from abroad can join the nonviolent resistance.  Targeted sanctions and prosecutions can be combined with international diplomatic pressure. There are alternatives to mass violence.

War makes everyone less safe.

War mythology would have us believe that war kills evil people who need to be killed to protect us and our freedoms.  In reality, recent wars involving wealthy nations have been one-sided slaughters of children, the elderly, and ordinary residents of the poorer nations attacked. And while “freedom” has served as a justification for the wars, the wars have served as a justification for curtailing actual freedoms.

War does not bring stability and is not moral.

War can be imagined as a tool for enforcing the rule of law, including laws against war, only by ignoring the hypocrisy and the historical record of failure. War actually violates the most basic principles of law and encourages their further violation. Murder is the one crime that we’re taught to excuse if it’s done on a large enough scale. Morality demands that we not so excuse it. War is nothing other than murder on a large scale.

War erodes our liberties.

Just look what is happening in America now, as a result of our endless wars. Freedom is being compromised in the name of security. The War on Terror and the War on Drugs have been the excuses used to increase control on the population, and limit what we do.

War threatens our environment.

The world's militaries are the leading cause of pollution and environmental degradation. Plus a major motivation behind some wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas, which are then used instead of clean alternatives.

We need the money we spend on war for other things.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world. That sounds like a lot of money to you or me. But if we had trillions of dollars it wouldn’t. And we do. It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. Again, that sounds like a lot. Let’s round up $50 billion per year to provide the world with both food and water. Who has that kind of money? We do. But we're spending that money on war, which is impoverishing us. The world spends around $2 trillion every year on militarism, of which the United States spends about half, or $1 trillion. The effects of war and other violence cost the world trillions more. A study published by the Institute for Economics and Peace found that violence cost the world $9.46 trillion in 2012 alone. That’s 11 percent of gross world product. By comparison, the cost of the financial crisis was just 0.5 percent of the 2009 global economy.

Of course, we in the wealthier parts of the world don’t share the money, even among ourselves. Those in need of aid are right here as well as far away. But imagine if one of the wealthy nations, the United States for example, were to put $500 billion into its own education (meaning “college debt” can begin the process of coming to sound as backward as “human sacrifice”), housing (meaning no more people without homes), infrastructure, and sustainable green energy and agricultural practices. What if, instead of leading the destruction of the natural environment, the United States was leading the world in creating a sustainable future.

The potential of green energy would suddenly skyrocket with that sort of unimaginable investment, year after year. But where would the money come from? $500 billion? Well, if $1 trillion fell from the sky on an annual basis, half of it would still be left. After $50 billion to provide the world with food and water, what if another $450 billion went into providing the world with green energy and infrastructure, topsoil preservation, environmental protection, schools, medicine, programs of cultural exchange, and the study of peace and nonviolent action?

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $23 billion a year. Taking it up to $100 billion — never mind $500 billion — would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth. A recent poll of 65 nations found that the United States is far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing food and schools and medicine and solar panels to the entire world, instead of military actions, then the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be laughable and probably non-existent.

 


Imagining a world without war.

 

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Rethinking our priorities

Jul
11

Hayes Brown wrote a column for Think Progress on how Americans have spent enough money on a broken plane to buy every homeless person a mansion. We are giving much needed money to a few private companies to continue the racket that is war...

Just days before its international debut at an airshow in the United Kingdom, the entire fleet of the Pentagon’s next generation fighter plane — known as the F-35 II Lightning, or the Joint Strike Fighter — has been grounded, highlighting just what a boondoggle the project has been. With the vast amounts spent so far on the aircraft, the United States could have worked wonders, including providing every homeless person in the U.S. a $600,000 home.

It’s hard to argue against the need to modernize aircraft used to defend the country and counter enemies overseas, especially if you’re a politician. But the Joint Strike Fighter program has been a mess almost since its inception, with massive cost overruns leading to its current acquisition price-tag of $398.6 billion — an increase of $7.4 billion since last year. That breaks down to costing about $49 billion per year since work began in 2006 and the project is seven years behind schedule. Over its life-cycle, estimated at about 55 years, operating and maintaining the F-35 fleet will cost the U.S. a little over $1 trillion. By contrast, the entirety of the Manhattan Project — which created the nuclear bomb from scratch — cost about $55 billion in today’s dollars.

Buying Every Homeless Person In The U.S. A Mansion

On any given night in 2013, the Department of Housing and Urban Development concluded, there were an estimated 600,000 homeless Americans living on the streets. Numerous studies, however, have showed that rather than putting money into temporary shelters or incarceration, communities have saved millions of dollars by investing in permanent homes for the homeless. A recent report showed that in one Florida community, it cost taxpayers an estimated $30,000 to take the homeless off the streets through traditional methods, but only around $10,000 per person to give them permanent housing and provide job training and other support. Expanding that concept to the Federal level, even taking into account things like varying real estate prices around the country, it’s possible that $7.4 billion would be more than enough to start a program nationwide. With the full amount spent on the F-35 at its disposal, the U.S. could afford to purchase every person on the streets a $664,000 home.

Boosting Funding Needed To Rebuild America

The United States is falling apart. A lack of funding for bridges, roads, and other infrastructure has led to collapses across the country and the more than 63,000 bridges that have been labeled as “structurally deficient.” The Department of Transportation’s total budget request for next year is $90.1 billion, part of a four-year budget of $302.1 billion with $199 billion set aside to rebuild America’s roads and bridges. Obama has for the last two years called for a $50 billion lump sum to be added to the on top of DOT’s budget to help address the growing need, and twice Congress has rejected this proposal. If the U.S. were to have channeled the $298 billion is has spent so far on the F-35 — and continued spending at that level for the next six years — the U.S. would be halfway towards closing the $1.1 trillion gap in investment needed in infrastructure, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. In addition, a report from the Center for American Progress, citing Moody’s Analytic’s chief economist, estimates infrastructure investment generates $1.44 of economic activity for each $1 spent. That sort of claim can’t be duplicated in the spending on the F-35.

Imagine what we could achieve with peace, and different priorities.


“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.” - Dwight Eisenhower, 1953

 

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What does a peace event look like?

May
11

Sophie Kerr once said, "If peace only had the music and pageantry of war, there'd be no wars." Peace is needed everywhere, and so are celebrations of peace. The Dalai Lama expained recently that one of the best things people can do to create peace is to have festivals that bring people together. Peace events can bring different communities and individuals together to find common ground and form connections that will expand peace.

The people attending a peace event should be as diverse as possible, coming from many places and of mixed demographics. The event should encourage self-expression and inclusiveness. Each person should feel free to be themselves, and accept others for who they are. By accepting others, we lay the foundation for deep understanding and peace.

There should also be a cultural and artistic element to a peace event, that allows people to find similarities across political, religious, and social barriers. Art and music are universal in their reach, providing an ideal background for common interests to be discovered. A peace event needs to provide a platform for connections and relationships to form, and new ideas to be sparked. Peace events should be a place for personal transformation and collective growth.

These are the elements of the How Weird Street Faire, a peace event held in the streets of downtown San Francisco. This year's faire was on Sunday May 4, 2014, and was attended by over 25,000 people. The people come to the faire from around California, from across the entire US, from Canada and Mexico, and South America, and Europe, and Africa, and Asia, and Australia and New Zealand. The ages range from babies to senior citizens, although most are young adults. Many of the people wear colorful costumes, which offer the opportunity to fully express their unique perspectives to others, and creates an environment where others' perspectives are respected and admired.

How Weird is a place where weird is normal, and creativity is valued over everything else. Being weird leads to discoveries and seeing things differently, exploring new ideas and new realities. By honoring weirdness and uniqueness, the How Weird Street Faire has created a peace event that welcomes everyone, no matter how different you are. How Weird is a place where anyone can feel accepted, and is encouraged to accept others.

The How Weird Street Faire brings a very diverse group of people together through music, art, and culture. The primary music used is electronic dance music, because it has the widest appeal and use around the world currently. How Weird tries to bring all the different communities of electronic dance music culture together, to showcase the full range of what is going on in this vibrant area, and as a peace-building project to build connections between all the different electronic dance music communities and unite them for a day.

The primary action used to get diverse people to interact with each other at the faire is dance. Dance is a highly respected art form, a powerful therapeutic tool, and a great form of exercise. Traditionally, dance has been one of the primary expressions of human culture, used for communication, community building, healing, and religious ceremonies throughout the world. Preceding the spoken and written word, dance transcends differences, and is an ideal way to connect people on many levels. And it's a lot of fun.

The How Weird Street Faire is a fun and inviting place. Everything about How Weird is positive and supportive of others, it is a true celebration of peace. The faire creates an ideal community of peace for a day, which then inspires others to help make their community more ideal, and more peaceful. We hope to bring the faire to other places soon, and seed new peace events around the world. The How Weird Street Faire is a project of the non-profit World Peace Through Technology Organization, showing the world what peace looks like, and a demonstration of what is possible.

The 15th annual How Weird Street Faire

The 15th annual How Weird Street Faire

Peace… the final frontier.

This is the voyage of our beloved Spaceship Earth.


Our ongoing mission: to discover new ideas and new perspectives, to raise our awareness and understanding, and to live in peace as one planet - in harmony with the cosmos as we collectively dance across time and space.

  

  

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An empathy revolution

Feb
02

Roman Krznaric spoke at TEDxAthens in 2013 about how to start an empathy revolution. The goal is to go "from me to we, seeing the world from other perspectives, understanding others and our connection to them." He talked about how to harness the power of empathy through technology and tools. Empathy can be taught when you bring diverse people together to meet, and they begin to see life through each other's perspectives. Differences spark curiosity, that can be used to find connections.

Roman Krznaric is a cultural thinker and writer on the art of living. This talk is based on his new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution. Roman is a founding faculty member of The School of Life in London, and advises organisations including Oxfam and the United Nations on using empathy and conversation to create social change. He is also founder of the world's first Empathy Library. He has been named by The Observer as one of Britain's leading lifestyle philosophers.

 

Empathy can be taught and shared.

 

"Empathy is like a universal solvent.
Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble."

-  Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University

 

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