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Technological Wisdom


What is humanity's relationship to technology? And what does it mean to be technologically wise?

Dr. Allen Kanner, co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and co-editor of the book Ecopsychology, recently wrote an article in Tikkun magazine on technological wisdom, in which he describes the illusion of technological neutrality and the need to shift from technological progress to technological wisdom. Allen warns that "our species is at a technological crux, a moment when it needs to examine its ability to create as never before. Collectively, we are having a manic-depressive reaction to our inventions. On the one hand, we can but marvel with giddy anticipation as scientific and technical wizards spin out one stunning innovation after another. On the other, we are horrified with disbelief as we witness these same innovations destroying complex life on the planet. Obviously, we need to find a more even keel, an internal equilibrium in which we can fully absorb all the wonders and dangers of each invention and then decide, with full use of our rational faculties, if the gains are worth the losses. This would be the beginning of technological wisdom."

We have become dependent on our technology to exist, and have come to believe that only technological solutions can solve our problems. The technology we develop is wholly dependent on our intentions. By relying on tools instead of improving our understanding, we are travelling on a path to destruction and separation. Wisdom is found in the users of tools, not in the technology itself.

Futurist Neil Postman described our society's relationship to technology in his book Technopoly: "Technopoly is a state of culture. It is also a state of mind. It consists in the deification of technology, which means that the culture seeks its authorization in technology, finds its satisfactions in technology, and takes its orders from technology. This requires the development of a new kind of social order, and of necessity leads to the rapid dissolution of much that is associated with traditional beliefs. Those who feel most comfortable in Technopoly are those who are convinced that technological progress is humanity’s supreme achievement and the instrument by which our most profound dilemmas may be solved."

But technology is also responsible for most of our problems. Modern technology requires many natural resources, found spread throughout the planet, to be harvested, processed, and distributed. The use of a tool can not be separated from its physical origin, just like humans can not be separated from our natural environment or from the tools we use. Allen wrote, "Thus, the value of any technology is only partially determined by the security, comfort, and convenience it confers. We need also to know if it draws us closer to the land, to each other, and to the cosmos. These relational, political, and spiritual/ethical dimensions are always present in our inventions and are part of their inherent pull."

Whether we have technology or not is not an issue, humans are inherently designed for making and using tools. It is a specialty which should be respected and nurtured. We are developing the tools to do anything we can imagine, but our imagination is caught in an isolated web of fear and greed. Open source technologies represent a different approach, enabling collective intention to determine what is made and how. There is also a global movement to be more conscious of what is needed to produce technology, exploring ways to work sustainably in harmony with our environment. But most importantly, we need to re-connect with the rest of our planet, and stop replacing that connection with material objects and anger.

"At present, much that we manufacture is, in a word, junk. As consumer society transforms into a technologically wise one, far fewer things will be made, allowing those items that remain to be of much higher quality and to be produced under considerably more favorable circumstances than the modern factory affords. People who work with wood, metal, or stone will know the local forests, caves, and mountains from which their materials come," says Allen. "Our technological potential is unfulfilled, and unfulfillable, when it is divorced from the spirit of the Earth."

The Native American perspective on technology is explained by Jeannette Armstrong, co-founder and director of the En’owkin School of International Writing, the first accredited Canadian writing school operated solely by and for Aboriginal people. In Ecopsychology, Jeannette shares the technological wisdom of her people, the Okanagan: "We are tiny and unknowledgeable in our individual selves, it is the whole-Earth part of us that contains immense knowledge. Over the generations of human life, we have come to discern small parts of that knowledge, and humans house this internally. The way we act in our human capacity has significant effect on the Earth because it is said that we are the hands of the spirit, in that we can fashion Earth pieces with that knowledge and therefore transform the Earth. It is our most powerful potential, and so we are told that we are responsible for the Earth. We are keepers of the Earth because we are Earth."

Dr. Kanner explained, "Human beings are destined to mold the Earth. Gifted with exquisite hands, passionate imaginations, and boundless curiosity about how things work, we need to tinker, prod, poke, and build. It is in our genes, and our souls, to engage so completely with our physical surroundings that we alter them, just as the abundant fertility of the planet could not help but produce us. Indeed, our propensity to construct and redo may be a flamboyant expression of the generativity of our evolving world, which in its four-and-a-half-billion-year history has never ceased to cast itself anew. To be against technology is to deny a crucial part of human nature. Today, however, it has become extremely difficult to fully appreciate or ponder our ability to make things. Instead, we are caught in a tragically flawed philosophy called “technological progress” that blinds us to the numerous choices we have, the various ways open to us to become both wise and creative technological beings. It is as if we had decided that the only proper use of our legs is to run, and run as hard as we can, at every possible moment."

"At present, our modern machines are polluting the Earth, increasing the pace and stress of daily life, and transforming our environment faster than we can comprehend. We are experiencing one wave of future shock after another and cannot seem to slow down long enough to figure out why. We can only have faith that the next set of advances—nanotechnology, bioengineering, virtual reality—will magically save us.

As an ecopsychologist, I am interested in the personal relationships we each have with the natural and built worlds and how these relationships interact. Our many inventions and devices are not only altering the face of the planet, but also radically changing our connection to nature, to each other, and to ourselves. These are profound changes worthy of our most serious attention. Yet at present there is no “psychology of technology,” if by this we mean a systematic examination of the myriad influences of each innovation on our psyches, our relationships, our identities. This is a curious state of affairs, especially since psychology has turned its magnifying glass onto so many other aspects of our lives. But my profession is itself caught up in the sweep of technological progress and assumes that each “advancement” is ultimately positive, inevitable, or both," Allen continued.

"An alternative view, and one that ushers in the full psychological complexity of technology, conceives of our capacity to mold the Earth as engaging in a two-way relationship. As we enter into this relationship, we will be transformed. In this act of transformation, certain questions emerge. What happens to us, and the world, when we do not try to build it up as fast as possible? What happens when we do? Is there such a thing as technological walking, skipping, strolling, and meandering, as well as running, and how do our experience and treatment of our selves and surroundings differ in each of these modes?"

As we become more aware, and more connected with the rest of the planet and beyond, our technology will follow. We, not our tools, are the captains on this living, moving planet. And just as our technology becomes an extension of our hands and eyes and brain, humans are the hands and eyes and brain of the Earth itself.

In a sense, it could be said that humanity is a technology of this planet to better care for and understand itself.

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Urgent statement from American indigenous spiritual elders


Today begins one of the most dangerous missions that humanity has ever attempted, the removal of over a thousand nuclear fuel rods from Reactor #4 at the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in Japan. The potential release of radiation is beyond anything that we have experienced before. We can only hope that everything goes smoothly with this operation, which could take years. At the same time, an even greater disaster is slowly and relentlessly unfolding around us each day, through the many ways we are comprising the planet's biosystems and making irresponsible short-term decisions. We are clearly living out of balance with the earth.

"Powerful technologies are out of control and are threatening the future of all life."

On October 31, 2013, an urgent message from the Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council, comprised of the wisdom keepers of the native peoples of the western hemisphere, was delivered by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the spiritual elder of the Sioux Nation (Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota tribes). "This statement reflects the wisdom of the Spiritual People of the Earth, of North and South America, working in unity to restore peace, harmony, and balance for our collective future and for all living beings." The words express "deep concern for our shared future and urge everyone to awaken spiritually."

Today, modern society is desperately searching for ways to be more sustainable. The indigenous elders of the earth already have the answers, and are begging us to listen.

Council Statement

The Creator created the People of the Earth into the Land at the beginning of Creation and gave us a way of life. This way of life has been passed down generation-to-generation since the beginning. We have not honored this way of life through our own actions and we must live these original instructions in order to restore universal balance and harmony. We are a part of Creation; thus, if we break the Laws of Creation, we destroy ourselves.

We, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, have no choice but to follow and uphold the Original Instructions, which sustains the continuity of Life. We recognize our umbilical connection to Mother Earth and understand that she is the source of life, not a resource to be exploited. We speak on behalf of all Creation today, to communicate an urgent message that man has gone too far, placing us in the state of survival. We warned that one day you would not be able to control what you have created. That day is here. Not heeding warnings from both Nature and the People of the Earth keeps us on the path of self destruction. This self destructive path has led to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Gulf oil spill, tar sands devastation, pipeline failures, impacts of carbon dioxide emissions, and the destruction of ground water through hydraulic fracking, just to name a few. In addition, these activities and development continue to cause the deterioration and destruction of sacred places and sacred waters that are vital for Life. Powerful technologies are out of control and are threatening the future of all life.

The Fukushima nuclear crisis alone is a threat to the future of humanity. Yet, our concern goes far beyond this single threat. Our concern is with the cumulative and compounding devastation that is being wrought by the actions of human beings around the world. It is the combination of resource extraction, genetically modified organisms, moral failures, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and much much more that are threatening the future of life on Earth. The compounding of bad decisions and their corresponding actions are extremely short-sighted. They do not consider the future generations and they do not respect or honor the Creator’s Natural Law. We strongly urge for the governmental authorities to respond with an open invitation to work and consult with us to solve the world’s problems, without war. We must stop waging war against Mother Earth, and ourselves.

We acknowledge that all of these devastating actions originated in human beings who are living without regard for the Earth as the source of life. They have strayed from the Original Instructions by casting aside the Creator’s Natural Law. It is now critical for humanity to acknowledge that we have created a path to self destruction. We must restore the Original Instructions in our lives to halt this devastation.

The sanctity of the Original Instructions has been violated. As a result, the Spiritual People of the Earth were called ceremonially to come together at the home of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle. These Spiritual Leaders and those that carry great responsibility for their people from both North and South America came together with the sacred fire for four days at the end of September 2013 to fulfill their sacred responsibilities. During this time it was revealed that the spirit of destruction gained its’ strength by our spiritually disconnected actions. We are all responsible in varying degrees for calling forth this spirit of destruction, thus we are all bound to begin restoring what we have damaged by helping one another recover our sacred responsibility to the Earth. We, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, offer our spiritual insight, wisdom, and vision to the global community to help guide the actions needed to overcome the current threats to all life.

We only have to look at our own bodies to recognize the sacred purpose of water on Mother Earth. We respect and honor our spiritual relationship with the lifeblood of Mother Earth. One does not sell or contaminate their mother’s blood. These capitalistic actions must stop and we must recover our sacred relationship with the Spirit of Water.

The People of the Earth understand that the Fukushima nuclear crisis continues to threaten the future of all life. We understand the full implications of this crisis even with the suppression of information and the filtering of truth by the corporate owned media and Nation States. We strongly urge the media, corporations, and Nation States to acknowledge and convey the true facts that threaten us, so that the international community may work together to resolve this crisis, based on the foundation of Truth. We urge the international community, government of Japan, and TEPCO to unify efforts to stabilize and re-mediate the nuclear threat posed at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. To ensure that the Japanese government and TEPCO are supported with qualified personnel and information, we urge the inclusion of today’s nuclear experts from around the world to collaborate, advise, and provide technical assistance to prevent further radioactive contamination or worse, a nuclear explosion that may have apocalyptic consequences.

The foundation for peace will be strengthened by restoring the Original Instructions in ourselves.

Prophecies have been shared and sacred instructions were given. We, the People of the Earth, were instructed that the original wisdom must be shared again when imbalance and disharmony are upon Mother Earth. In 1994 the sacred white buffalo, the giver of the sacred pipe, returned to the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people bringing forth the sacred message that the winds of change are here. Since that time many more messengers in the form of white animals have come, telling us to wake up my children. It is time. So listen for the sacred instruction.

All Life is sacred. We come into Life as sacred beings.
When we abuse the sacredness of Life we affect all Creation.

We urge all Nations and human beings around the world to work with us, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, to restore the Original Instructions and uphold the Creator’s Natural Law as a foundation for all decision making, from this point forward. Our collective future as human beings is in our hands, we must address the Fukushima nuclear crisis and all actions that may violate the Creator’s Natural Law. We have reached the crossroads of life and the end of our existence. We will avert this potentially catastrophic nuclear disaster by coming together with good minds and prayer as a global community of all faiths.

We are the People of the Earth united under the Creator’s Law with a sacred covenant to protect and a responsibility to extend Life for all future generations. We are expressing deep concern for our shared future and urge everyone to awaken spiritually. We must work in unity to help Mother Earth heal so that she can bring back balance and harmony for all her children.

The text of the statement can be found here.


Chief Arvol Looking Horse quote

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The 1st Compassion and Technology Conference and Contest


On December 6, 2013, Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) is holding the inaugural Compassion and Technology Conference at the Stanford Medical School in Palo Alto, California. Scientists, engineers, social entrepreneurs, and compassionate people will converge at Stanford University for discussions and presentations on the cutting edge of compassion. Plus there is a contest to design technology to enhance compassion. The conference is a collaboration with CCARE, Facebook, 1440 Foundation, HopeLab, and The Dalai Lama Foundation.

 Compassion and Technology Conference and Contest

The conference’s purpose is to support a dialogue around innovative practices on compassion and technology. Expert researchers and technology leaders who have successfully implemented and fostered compassionate action through the use of technological advancements will present talks on compassion. Conference attendees will learn how compassion can be trained using technological education tools, tracked geographically through mapping tools, used to inspire, and implemented as an intervention in communities where it is most needed (e.g., war zones, prisons, at-risk schools, trauma populations, and healthcare systems).

"While compassion is a fundamental part of every religious tradition, there is an ever enlarging body of scientific evidence that technological advancements have an immense positive impact in terms of increasing compassion and altruistic behavior on both the community level and the individual level. This conference will highlight these aspects from a technological aspect as well as a scientific aspect in an effort to promote awareness and progress, and reward those who are working towards these goals. We at CCARE are very excited to initiate and sponsor the conference and contribute to this expanding field," says Dr. James Doty, Founder and Director of CCARE.

Compassion and Technology Contest

The Compassion and Technology Contest calls for innovators, engineers, and designers to present a technology design or product that will help people learn, practice, or improve qualities of compassion, empathy, social connectedness, or altruism. Some examples of compassionate technology are a website using knowledge from compassion science to help “build compassion muscles”, compassion education apps, and compassion-inducing video games.

The technologies will be judged on whether they:
    1. Help people learn, practice, improve, and share one or more of the following qualities: compassion, empathy, social connectedness, altruism.
    2. Use technology (broadly defined as tools, apps, social media, etc.) to effectively reach a wide audience and increase the scalability of the idea.
    3. Apply to one or more of the following areas: learning, practicing, increasing, and spreading compassion.
    4. Are easy to use, so that people without technology expertise can easily access and use it.
    5. Are scalable, sustainable, and financially viable.


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Bridging the gap between compassion and technology


Krista Tippett is a journalist and host of the National Public Radio program "On Being", which explores the great questions of human life, such as what does it mean to be human and how do we want to live? Two years ago he gave a TED talk at the United Nations called "Reconnecting with Compassion". The term "compassion" - typically reserved for the saintly or the sappy - has fallen out of touch with reality. Krista Tippett deconstructs the meaning of compassion through several moving stories, and proposes a new, more attainable definition for the word.

"Compassion is a spiritual technology. Humanity needs this technology as much as it needs all other technologies that have now connected us and set before us the terrifying and wondrous possibility of actually becoming one human race," explains Krista Tippett.

Compassion is often misunderstood in modern society. Although compassion can be similar to empathy and pity, those words are not its synonyms. In fact, compassion goes far beyond simply feeling another person’s misfortune or sharing in one’s suffering. Compassion is a word which is directly related to awareness. One’s awareness of the world gives him or her the opportunity to empathize with other beings… and actually do something about it. Krista Tippett gives the example of Albert Einstein as a person who not only had compassion for other people, but he served humanity through his exploration of technology.

"Compassion is a spiritual technology." - Krista Tippett

Why does technology exist? Some people argue that technology is developed out of greed. There is no real evidence to support that claim. Most technology comes out of one’s compassion to solve problems. This is self-evident in things like the paperclip. The person who invented the paperclip named Samuel Fay must have realized that his invention saved time. As he connected fabrics to tickets which denoted either prices or other product information, Samuel must have realized something. There is a moment in the inventor’s mind where one thinks, “This technological idea has value.” When one decides to share technology with the world, he or she is embarking on a journey of compassion.

"Compassion is kindness, practicing curiosity without assumptions, empathy, forgiveness, presence, generosity, hospitality, and a willingness to see beauty not just what we see in another that needs fixing. Compassion also brings us into the territory of mystery - encouraging us not just to see beauty, but perhaps also to look for the face of God in the moment of suffering, in the face of a stranger, in the face of the vibrant religious other. Compassion is a sign of deeper human possibilities."

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The Story of Solutions


The Story of Solutions, a new video from Annie Leonard, explores how we can move our economy in a more sustainable and just direction, starting with orienting ourselves toward a new goal.

In the current "Game of More", we're told to cheer a growing economy -- more roads, more malls, more Stuff! -- even though our health indicators are worsening, income inequality is growing and polar icecaps are melting. But what if we changed the point of the game? What if the goal of our economy wasn't more, but better -- better health, better jobs, and a better chance to survive on the planet? Shouldn't that be what winning means?

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3D Printers for Peace Contest


A unique contest was held to show that 3D printers could be a tool for peace. Michigan Technological University's Open Sustainability Technology (MOST) Lab and 3D printer manufacturer Type A Machines came up with a contest for designs that encourage peace. The deadline for submissions was September 1, 2013, for a chance to win a fully assembled Type A Machines Series 1 3D Printer for first place. As the contest explains, "Winning open-source designs will discourage conflict. Designers are encouraged to consider: If Mother Theresa or Ghandi had access to 3D printing what would they print? What kind of designs could help reduce military spending and conflict while making us all safer and more secure?"

The examples given of possible designs were low-cost medical devices, tools to help pull people out of poverty, designs that can reduce racial conflict, objects to improve energy efficiency or renewable energy sources to reduce wars over oil, tools that would reduce military conflict and spending while making us all safer and more secure, and things that boost sustainable economic development (e.g. designs for appropriate technology in the developing world to reduce scarcity).

The winners were announced yesterday, and first prize went to John Van Tuyl of Hamilton, Ontario. He created a design for beads that show immunizations, called VaxBeads. The plastic beads act as an immediate immunization record for medical professionals....

First Prize: 3D printed Immunization Records

The contest was organized by Michigan Tech’s Joshua Pearce, an associate professor of materials science, who had become alarmed that 3D printing was known primarily as a technology for making homemade guns. “We wanted to celebrate designs that will make lives better, not snuff them out,” said Pearce, a 3D printing aficionado. “They showcase the ability of the 3D printing community to benefit humanity.”

“What I’m hoping this does is change the conversation to start really thinking about the constructive uses of 3D printers, not just on manufacturing, but trying to solve some of the most pressing problems, particularly in the developing world,” said contest creator Joshua Pearce. “All the open-source entries demonstrated the technical ability and promise of low-cost 3D printers to provide for humanity’s needs and advance the cause of peace.”

"Michigan Tech has already saved tens of thousands of dollars using 3D printable scientific and engineering equipment and our labs have developed 3D printable tools to test water quality, recycle waste plastic, and found that 3D printing consumer goods is better for the environment than shipping conventional goods from China."

All the entries are posted on the website, which now has over 146,000 open-source designs that can be downloaded for free and printed by anyone with a 3D printer. As Pearce says, "3D printing is changing the world." ...

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Buckminster Fuller Institute has a contest to redraw the Dymaxion Map


The Dymaxion Map is an iconic design that shows accurate information and supports a global perspective. The idea being that if you change the way you see the world, then you can change the world.

Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Map

Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Map

The Dymaxion Map was created by Buckminster Fuller in the 1940’s to accurately map the earth with no visible distortion to land masses, no political boundaries, and no western bias in its orientation. It was first printed in Life magazine in 1943, where map could be cut out from the printed pages and arranged in numerous ways. Fuller later settled on a permanent configuration, an icosahedron that broke up none of the land masses and showed the planet as one island in one ocean. The final map is a series of 20 interconnected triangles, which can be arranged to produce an icosahedron, reminiscent of Fuller’s geodesic dome geometries.

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Dymaxion Map, the Buckminster Fuller Institute launched a graphic design challenge, to take the Dymaxion into a contemporary context. The contest was called DYMAX REDUX, and was an open call to create a new and inspiring interpretation of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Map. The contest was judged by graphic designer Nicholas Felton, artist Mary Mattingly, and Dymaxion Map cartographer and Bucky's close friend and associate, Shoji Sadao. The winner of the DYMAX REDUX contest would have the winning design produced as a poster, and along with the other ten finalists will be featured at an exhibition at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, in New York City from October 22nd to November 27th, 2013. They received over 300 submissions from 42 countries. "This was the first contest of its kind organized by BFI, and the response and interest has been amazing. We are thrilled to have such a high-level of submissions and look forward to doing more similar initiatives in the future" says BFI Executive Director Elizabeth Thompson.

On August 6th, they announced the winners of the contest. The top design was called Dymaxion Woodocean World. It was produced by Nicole Santucci and Woodcut Maps, from San Francisco, California.  Nicole and her team created a display of global forest densities, an ever-increasing important issue with the continued abuses of deforestation. And an actual woodcut version of the map was made in the process, using the very subject matter as building material, allowing the 2-D version to transform into an icosahedral globe. As BFI Store Coordinator Will Elkins put it, "They went above and beyond our call by creating a powerful display of relevant information using the subject matter itself as a medium. The idea, craftsmanship, and end result are stunning."

Dymaxion Woodocean World

Dymaxion Woodocean World

Dymaxion Woodocean World folded together


The second prize went to the Clouds Dymaxion Map, which follows the spirit of the original map. Anne-Gaelle Amiot used NASA satellite imagery to create this absolutely beautiful hand-drawn depiction of a reality that is almost always edited from our maps: cloud patterns circling above Earth. Anne-Gaelle describes the idea and process, "One of the particularism of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion projection is to give the vision of an unified world. From the space, the Earth appears to us covered, englobed by the cloud masses which circulate around it. By drawing a static image, capture of clouds position in one particular moment, the sensation of a whole is created. The result have the aspect of an abstract pattern, a huge melt where it is impossible to dissociate lands, seas, oceans."

And an additional recognition went to Map of My Family, a map by Goeff Chritou. His map traces the geographic history of his family, and by extension all families, utilizing lines of movement around the planet. "This map makes the best use of the Dymaxion projection, by highlighting information that is primarily land-based and allowing for the paths to extend in an unbroken fashion throughout the world," explained judge Nicholas Felton. ...


In these changing times, it's important to always ask... What would Bucky do?

What would Bucky do?



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Peace through music and dance


Ludwig Van Beethoven once said that "music can change the world." And so did Jimi Hendrix. The 2013 How Weird Street Faire showed again that music and art can bring thousands of extremely diverse people together to find common ground and celebrate peace.

Weirdi Gras - Carnival of peace!

The How Weird Street Faire uses music, art, and dance to connect across divisions. Traditionally, dance has been one of the primary expressions of human culture, used for communication, community building, social interaction, healing, and religious ceremonies throughout the world. Preceding the spoken and written word, dance is a global language, transcending barriers and differences. And so is music.

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. Music connects us all and reminds us that we are human.

The How Weird Street Faire is a world-class music festival that takes place in the streets of downtown San Francisco. It features a wide range of electronic dance music, uniting all the diverse communities of the Bay Area.


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Musicians unite for peace in Mali


Fed up with the violent conflict that has recently engulfed their country, musicians in the west African nation of Mali have come together to call for peace. More than 40 of Mali's most talented musicians gathered in the capitol city of Bamako to record a song for peace and unity called "Mali Ko" (which means "For Mali"). They collectively call themselves the Voices United for Mali.

The song's lyrics state, "It is time for us artists to speak about our Mali. Malians, let us join hands because this country is not a country of war. Dont forget that we are all of the same blood. The only way out of this crisis is the way of peace." ...

"War has never been a solution," the lyrics say. "We don't want war! Not in our Mali! War destroys everything in its path. We want peace. Peace in Africa! Peace in the world!"

Cultures of Resistance attended Mali's legendary Festival in the Desert in 2009, and produced a short video called "Playing for Peace in the Sahara". They describe how "in the Malian desert, musicians meet to build mutual respect by sharing cultures. Artists share their music and dance to emphasize what they have in common, rather than what separates them. This short film highlights the event's approach to promoting cross-cultural expression as a means of overcoming the threat of divisive conflict."

"When you have peace, you have everything."

The 2013 edition of the Festival in the Desert will be a touring Caravan of Peace, called the Festival in the Desert in Exile. It will be a caravan of artists promoting peace and national unity in Mali, travelling from Mauritania to Mali and onto the Tuareg refugee camps in Burkina Faso. The caravan will last from February 7th to March 6th 2013....

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The world's largest festival

The largest gathering of humanity is taking place in northern India, a unique event that blends religious and cultural features, in an atmosphere saturated with the scent of burning incense, and the sound of chiming bells, Vedic hymns and mantras, and the beating of countless drums. More than 100 million people are expected to attend the two month festival and bathe in the waters of the Ganges River. For more than 2,000 years, the festival has been the main meeting point for the Hindu sadhus or holy men, giving people the opportunity to meet with the devotees of the various religious orders, and learn from the many religious teachers and spiritual masters....

In 2001, the last time the Kumbh Mela took place, more than 40 million people gathered in an area smaller than 7.7 sq. miles (or slightly larger than San Francisco). This year they are expecting over twice that number, making it the largest gathering of humanity ever held. Yet in spite of all the people and chaos, it is a peaceful event.

Psychologists from St. Andrews, Dundee, and Lancaster Universities in the UK, along with several Indian institutions, completed a study in 2007 into Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. What they found along the banks of the Ganges River overturned many long-held beliefs about crowd behavior. Professor Steve Reicher, of St. Andrews, stated that "the mela is much more than a wonderful spectacle. It promises to unlock the secrets of how large communities can live together in harmony".

The Kumbh Mela brings together the equivalent of over 20 times the population of the entire Bay Area in one place, yet there is virtually no disorder, crushes, or rioting. And even though people at the festival came from very different castes and social backgrounds, there was a strong sense of common identity. This positive outlook stemmed from a lack of the "them-and-us psychology" which is often at the root of social conflict.

Dr. Clare Cassidy, from St. Andrews University, explained that "many people argue crowds are bad for you. But in the Mela we found that people become more generous, more supportive, and more orderly rather than less. This is the opposite of a 'walk-on-by society', it is a community where people are attentive to the needs of strangers."...

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A carnival of peace


The 14th annual How Weird Street Faire takes place Sunday April 28, 2013 from Noon to 8pm in downtown San Francisco, centered at Howard and 2nd Streets. This year's theme is "Weirdi Gras: A Carnival of Peace".

The How Weird Street Faire is our experiment in creating peace, and a fundraiser for the World Peace Through Technology Organization. It has brought many different types of people together to celebrate peace. It has let people experience the reality of a place where cooperation is favored over competition, where diversity is celebrated, and where people can see that our differences are far fewer than our similarities. The How Weird Street Faire has made learning the foundations of peace fun and exciting.

For its 14th year, there will be 13 city blocks of art and celebration, including many stages of world-class performances and electronic music, marching bands, food and drinks, vendors from around the world selling unique and creative wares, and non-profit organizations to educate and inspire. Filling in the faire will be performance artists, thousands of people in colorful costumes dancing in the streets, and more parades than any street fair in the world.

For more information visit the website -


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21st century art festivals


"Twenty-first-century arts festivals ask the audience to be a player, rather than a passive spectator," says David Binder, a Tony award-winning theater producer. In his TED Talk earlier this year, he explains the new face of arts festivals, which break the boundary between audience and performer and help communities express themselves, something we've been doing for 13 years, with the 21st century festival we call How Weird. The How Weird Street Faire is an experiment in creating peace, in bringing strangers together and enabling them to form a common bond of understanding and appreciation.

"Festivals promote diversity, they bring neighbors into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, they improve our general psychological well-being." As Binder explains, "Artists are explorers. Who better to show us a city anew?"


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A United Nations of Music

What happens when you bring together 32 musicians from 21 countries on 5 continents, almost equally divided between men and women, to write, produce and record original music and take it on the road for American audiences? That was the idea behind OneBeat, a new international cultural exchange that celebrates the transformative power of the arts through the creation of original, inventive music, and people-to-people diplomacy....

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Diplomacy Through Music

"Some might ask 'What difference can a folk singer from the Blue Ridge Mountains make in a tortured place like Afghanistan?' It's a valid question — partly answered by one of the State Department officers who said our visit did 'more for diplomacy between Afghanistan and the United States than any diplomat had done, more then any road that was built, or any power plant that was constructed in the last year.' Because of music we were reaching people at a level you don’t usually reach," explains Peyton Tochterman, the U.S. folk singer who became an unlikely cultural ambassador.

"If nothing else, we are returning home reassured that music really is a universal language that can unite diverse peoples. We have proven to ourselves and others, there are no borders for good music. We are all connected through music and we must continue to celebrate this connection, this language that is so important not just to our own culture, but also to cultures around this fascinating world of ours." ...

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Code4Peace launches today


Our new project Code4Peace launches today at the 13th annual How Weird Street Faire in downtown San Francisco. Stop by the Info Booth + Peace Pavilion at the center of the faire to find how you can get involved.

Code4Peace will serve as a global portal for the creation and distribution of peace software, showcasing new tools and solutions. There will soon be a series of Code4Peace events that will bring programmers and peace workers together to create practical and valuable tools that can be used by people around the world. We’re looking for computer programmers, software engineers, and people from technology companies who want to use their talent and resources to help bring peace to this planet.

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