21st century art festivals

Nov
11

"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

Oct
09
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

Jul
14
"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

May
13

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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Mothers Day and Peace

May
01

Mother's Day has its origins as a peace holiday, so it's appropriate that this year's How Weird Street Faire occurs on Mother's Day. The 13th annual How Weird Street Faire takes place on Sunday May 13, 2012 in downtown San Francisco. The faire is a celebration of peace, bringing a diverse collection of people together to find similarities and overcome differences. The How Weird Street Faire is a project of the World Peace Through Technology Organization.

The history of Mother's Day is also rooted in peace. In 1858, Ann Jarvis, a young mother from West Virginia, started organizing Mother's Work Days. These were initially focused on improving sanitary conditions. After the Civil War, they focused on reconciling former enemies of the Union and Confederacy, and honoring mothers who had lost family in the war.

From the words of the original Mother's Day Proclamation:

"From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: 'Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.' Blood does not wipe our dishonor, nor violence indicate possession."...

In honor of all mothers, and all those affected by war, we gather in peace.

(from the first Mothers Day for Peace)


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The power of music

Apr
17

A new documentary called Alive Inside explores the healing power of music. The film, which premiers this week in New York City, looks at the mysterious way music functions inside our brains and our lives.

Alive Inside follows Dan Cohen, executive director of the non-profit Music and Memory, as he brings iPods to a nursing home. The transformation in barely responsive, seemingly lost patients was remarkable. As seen in the clip below, the music worked like a jolt of electricity for patients, transporting them back in time and even allowing them to speak energetically after the music had ended....
 


"Music gives me the feeling of love."


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Friends Without Borders

Mar
19

The direct exchange between Israelis and Iranians reminded me of the work of Friends Without Borders, a peace campaign created to encourage cross-border friendships in conflict zones, building connections directly between people. It's original focus was a massive letter writing campaign between children in India and Pakistan, which became the largest peace effort in both India and Pakistan's history. As they explain, "Children have a natural instinct toward friendship and will jump to reach out and create new friends, when given the opportunity. The simple act of writing a letter leaves deep and lasting impressions that help to humanize 'the other.' These are the seeds that promise to mature into a safer, friendlier world."

Here is an inspiring short film about the history of Friends Without Borders and the enormous impact it has had both in India and Pakistan. It serves as a model for building peace, using the natural goodness of children and the power to connect through letters and the internet...



Friends Without Borders is a new approach to world peace. All across India, tens of thousands of children have been writing heartfelt letters to the students in Pakistan. And all across Pakistan, tens of thousands of children are replying with heartfelt letters back. New connections are being made. New friendships are being formed. It's an amazing story, which features the World's Largest Love Letter and an epic peace concert on the border of India and Pakistan....


Countries have borders, friends don't.


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Loving the "enemy"

Mar
19

"To the Iranian people, to all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters, for there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I'm not afraid of you, I don't hate you. I don't even know you."

That was the beginning of a letter to the Iranian people by two Israeli graphic designers. Fed up with the growing hysteria over a possible war between their countries, Ronny Edri and Michal Tamir, a couple from Tel Aviv, decided to take matters into their own hands and reach out directly to the Iranian people on behalf of the Israeli people. The Israeli people do not want a war, as recent polls have confirmed, and it appears that the majority of Iranian people do not want war either.

It all started when Ronny and Michal partnered with a small preparatory design school called Pushpin Mehina, and uploaded posters to its Facebook page of themselves with their children above the message, "Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we love you."...

"So I thought, Why not try to reach the other side; to bypass the generals and see if Iranians really hate me?"


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Free energy

Jan
26
"Free Energy" is the first release of a series of viral music videos produced by Elevate, featuring the conscious hip-hop band Luminaries. The series intends to bring awareness to globally significant issues and solutions. "Free Energy" was produced in conjunction with Pachamama Alliance. Elevate’s mission is to utilize the awesome power of art and media to celebrate and elevate the human experience....



It is "time to gather round. The moments now!
How will it all turn out?"


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Remaining awake through a great revolution

Oct
22
The following is from a sermon by Martin Luther King that was delivered at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., on 31 March 1968. It is even more relevant today...

There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in the world today. In a sense it is a triple revolution: that is, a technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation; then there is a revolution in weaponry, with the emergence of atomic and nuclear weapons of warfare; then there is a human rights revolution, with the freedom explosion that is taking place all over the world. Yes, we do live in a period where changes are taking place. And there is still the voice crying through the vista of time saying, "Behold, I make all things new; former things are passed away."...

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Words to occupy your heart

Oct
12
The World Peace Through Technology Organization knows that quotes can be very useful. They can inspire and motivate, offer insight and persective, and they fit nicely on a poster. They are memes that can be spread easily, each containing a packet of wisdom and understanding. They are like little mind-bombs being launched from all directions, in a battle against apathy and misunderstanding. They can be extremely powerful, especially when put to music.

We'd like to share with you some quotes that may be useful now...


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An honest look at America

Oct
05
Through an inspiring experiment in direct democracy and consensus building, this statement was released after a unanimous vote of Occupy Wall Street's general assembly:

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.

We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right...


Their actions are all a practice in well-understood nonviolence, and their goals are all related to peace and social justice. They go on to list the problems that we, as a society, are facing....



                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       

 
(Click play button to see the animation.)

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U.S. Tax Dollars at War

Oct
03

A great animation explaining the cost of war. At least 53% of our tax dollars now goes towards war, an ammount greater than any other country. We're still paying off the debt from all of our previous wars, debt which is going to the banks who loaned the money to pay for the wars. And it doesn't look like the government will stop any time soon.

"Tax Dollars At War" is a brilliant visualization of a radio interview about U.S. military spending as a proportion of our national budget. The dialogue comes from a Flashpoints interview with Dennis Bernstein and Dave Lindorff. It is produced by Softbox, animated and directed by Chris Fontaine.



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The World Peace Game

Apr
27

Musician, teacher, filmmaker, and game designer, John Hunter has dedicated his life to helping children realize their full potential. His own life story is one of a never-ending quest for harmony. In India as a student, inspired by Ghandi's philosophy, he began to think about the role of the schoolteacher in creating a more peaceful world.

Hunter created an interactive teaching model called the World Peace Game. He begins the game by telling his students, "I'm so sorry, boys and girls, but the truth is we have left this world to you in such a sad and terrible shape, and we hope you can fix it for us... and maybe this game will help you do it."


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Revolution 2.0

Mar
07
In TED's first talk of 2011, Al Jazeera's director-general Wadah Khanfar shares his view on the historic uprisings happening in the Middle East. As democratic revolutions led by tech-empowered young people sweep the Arab world, Wadah Khanfar shares a profoundly optimistic view of what's happening in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and beyond. He spoke on March 1, 2011 in Long Beach, California, where he discussed how we can "imagine a future that is magnificent and peaceful and tolerant."...

Wadah Khanfar: "The future has arrived... and the future is now."



Another 2011 TED talk was with Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who helped jumpstart Egypt's democratic revolution. Ghonim is an Internet activist and computer engineer who started an influential Facebook page that galvanized voices of protest in Egypt. In early 2011, he was detained by the Egyptian government for 11 days. After he was released, he became a leading fugure in the youth revolution that forced Hosni Mubarak from power. Speaking in Cairo, he tells the inside story of the past two months, when everyday Egyptians showed that "the power of the people is stronger than the people in power."

"Our revolution is like Wikipedia. Everyone is contributing content. You don't know the names of the people contributing the content. Revolution 2.0 in Egypt was exactly the same. Everyone contributing small pieces, bits and pieces. We drew this whole picture of a revolution. And no one is the hero in that picture." Ghonim explained on 60 Minutes....

Wael Ghonim: "This was Revolution 2.0. No one was a hero, because everyone was a hero."

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