Thursday, January 24, 2008

Photographs of War and Peace

Many of the images I've seen while working on this project are horrible photographs of war zones, of burning buildings and cars, of people hurt or killed by violence, of people displaced and suffering because their lives and homes have been destroyed, or because they have been forced to leave. Many of these images are wrenching because of their subject matter, but are at the same time beautiful works of art.

While great photographs often appear in mainstream media sources, there are also many excellent photographs being taken by people who may be simply amateur photographers, and these are the ones I am particularly thinking of today.

But there are also the photographs that showcase peaceful - rather than violent - efforts. Here is a photo I found two days ago on Flickr, as part of a set of photos called "Wings of Peace." I especially like the way the cranes fill the picture, but the sculpture gives it dimension.

The photographer adds this explanation: "A Tallahassee, Florida- based group, advocating an end to U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq and returning all troops home is hanging more than 4,000 white origami cranes in the sculpture garden at the entrance to Railroad Square in downtown Tallahassee." The rest of the story is worth reading - and she's got a lot of other interesting photos as well, including this one of a lionfish which I really liked.

Anyone reading have a favorite war or peace photo to share? Leave a comment with a link!

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's Not Just About Iraq

I've heard recently that some people are wary of this project because it sounds to them too political - presumably because March, the chosen month, marks the 5th anniversary of the start of the current Iraq war.

The violence is Iraq is indeed appalling. But Iraq is not solely the point.

Every day, there are instances of unnecessary violence all over the world. Here are some thoughts to consider:
  • San Francisco had at least 6 homicides in the first two weeks of 2008. read the story
  • 22 people have been killed in just three days of rioting in Kenya in election-related protests, including local dwellers who were doing their daily tasks when gunfire erupted around them. read the story
  • CNN reports: "Insurgency-related violence in the first three days of 2008 has left at least 42 people dead in Afghanistan" read the story
  • Medecins Sans Frontiers states: "In Colombia, violence is the major public health hazard and the leading cause of death."read the story
  • Thursday's suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan, is the 20th suicide attack in Pakistan in the last three months. CNN reports: "The bombings have killed close to 400 people and wounded nearly 1,000 others in the last three months." read the story
  • Last Sunday's New York Times ran an article titled "Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles." The article says, "The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction." read the story
  • On New Year's Eve in Thailand, five bombs injured at least 27 people. read the story
  • 16 Palestinians and one foreigner working at an Israeli Kibbutz were killed in separate incidents on Tuesday. The International Herald Tribune wrote: "The escalation in violence came a day after Israeli negotiators and Palestinian counterparts representing the West Bank leadership started peace talks." read the story
I could continue this list all night. The point is, people are being hurt by violence every day, all over the world. Raising a voice - literally - for peace this March is not about any particular agenda in (or out of) Iraq, but about making a musical statement about all of the acts listed above, and those of their ilk which are not on the list. It is about using our voices and our music to say that statistics and accounts such as these are not acceptable.

Speaking out cannot undo past acts of violence. It can however, potentially, deter someone else from committing some future violent act.

We all need to speak out, in our own individual way. With Song of Peace, I am inviting anyone who makes music to "speak out" through music and words of peace, during a specific time frame. I believe that there is much power in so many voices joined together in one idea.

And that idea is so much bigger than the current American debate over our role in Iraq.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Anyone for cruising?

Warning: this post is not at all related to Song of Peace...

I have a friend who is trying to sell a cabin on a Princess Cruise line cruise to Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Colombia next month. Here's what she says:

"My husband and I booked and pre-paid a 10-day partial Panama Canal cruise on Princess Cruise lines last year. Unfortunately, my trial schedule just changed for the worse and we can no longer go. Princess calls any change of date a 'cancellation' so we can't reschedule without losing half our money. However, for $50, we can change the names of the people actually taking the cruise."

They are now looking to sell the cabin to anyone who is interested - for several hundred dollars less than asking price.

This is not a hoax, a scam or anything fishy - it is truly bona fide.

If you might be interested, please read her ad on Craigslist

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's Out There in the World

One of the neatest things about this project has been finding out about people and organizations who are doing interesting and wonderful things that I previously knew nothing about. Here is a small sampling: some of the following organizations are doing work that I fervently believe in, some are doing work that I find interesting, and some strike me as particularly intriguing concepts. Some of them also get high marks for their website design!
I know there are others as well: there are so many pages that I am seeing each day while searching for more people to invite to join the project, or in searching for photos to add to the site - or in searching for help on various web and technology glitches! - that it is mind-boggling.

Boggling. Blogging. Hmm...

Thursday, January 10, 2008


This week has been exciting. It seems that every day some new piece of information comes in, whether it's a piece that had been previously undecided, or a new group signs up, or someone has an innovative new idea... I think we have four new groups this week, and someone just sent me an article called "The Cellist of Sarajevo" about an inspiring man who played his cello out on the streets of Sarajevo amidst dropping bombs. The full story will appear on the main site when I have a chance to do a big update over the weekend.

I hope the momentum continues!

Friday, January 4, 2008


"Reach for the moon - even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

I've been thinking about that a lot recently, as I contemplate how far this project has come in the past three months. We've had amazing interest, from choir directors in Trinidad/Tobago, Cameroon, South Africa, and Israel and Palestine, from school teachers in California and New Jersey, from several choirs across the US - and some of the things that people have said have been wonderfully encouraging. Some of my favorites:

"Those of us who dream of a world without armed conflict need to raise our voices -- and how better to do so than with these many time-honored invocations. Can we sing enough prayers to overpower the warriors? If enough of us join our voices, can we change the world? It's never been tried on this scale before, and it just might work!"

"Greetings from Israel. I have shared your email and this very special project with my choir last week and they were very excited. Thanks for contacting us with this great idea. We are interested in working with you and being part of the World Wide Song of Peace."

"I am a songwriter and music teacher. I am teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th-graders to sing rounds, and will include Dona Nobis Pacem in our repertoire. I will propose a peace concert to the children. I am certain that may of the children will want to participate in this, as the peace songs we already do are a hit with them. Thank you for this beautiful idea!"

"I am interested in composing a setting of Dona Nobis Pacem for your event."

And, this wonderful story of our kick-off event, in Dallas, on March 1.

Yet despite all of this, sometimes I feel a little discouraged that the project hasn't grown as big as I'd hoped it would just yet. I keep reminding myself that the 3,000 people that are currently involved is indeed an impressive figure (and it is still growing) - and that "landing among the stars" is not so bad either!