Book the Butterfly Quilt or Contact Lura for more information

Friday, October 8, 2010

Butterfly Peace Visions Released and Teacher's Promise Kept

Such, such a yellow
is carried lightly way up high
It went away I'm sure because it wished to kiss the world good bye...
(Taken from "The Butterfly" by Paul Havel. See below.}

What a wonderful year this has been. How serendipitious that the butterfly peace quilt should end its journey on display at the Shedd performing arts hall in Eugene, Oregon from September 27-October 3. Why there? Because my friend Marcee Long responded in a profound way to the question, "What is your vision of peace?"

I asked that question many times this year during my journey with the quilt. Thousands of cards with peace messages have been sent to Oprah Winfrey and more are in the mail today.

If you'd like to add yours to the swarm of visions, take a blank notecard and put the address on one side(110 N. Carpenter St., Chicago, Illinois 60607-2146, USA,) a 28 cent stamp, and your vision of peace on the back. Add "My vision of peace is..." Complete the sentence and illustrate it if you wish. Add your first name and age in the bottom right corner. If you are from another country, add too. The 250 Russian children who wrote individual cards did that as did the folks from the UK and Costa Rica.

The butterflies are out of my hands now. I kept my promise to take the quilt "around the world." I helped spread children's visions of peace. I asked people to join with adolescents at Shasta Middle School by considering or remembering their own ways of making a peaceful difference too. I didn't consider how many people actually acted on the visions they chose to claim for the betterment of the world. That didn't seem to matter. Releasing those butterflies was my primary objective. Transformation was left up to each individual something out of my control. I did believe/hope that a mass of individual visions could become a mighty force, much like a swarm of butterflies hatching out of their chrysalises.

Butterflies of all different hues and habitats do make a sight. That's for sure.

Today the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner was announced, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who was imprisoned because of his protests against the restrictions of the Chinese government's disregard of human rights. Last Christmas he was arrested to begin his 11 years in jail for daring to speak out over and over against China's authoritarian leaders for the past 20 years.

There are those bigger-than-life people who risk much for others. They are our heroes to emulate, and we are awed by their accomplishments. I believe that the rest of us, the "ordinary" ones, who may not live in such politically oppressive climates must take risks for peace also. We must join Liu and MLK, Jr. and Mother Teresa. We must initiate quiet or loud, small, medium, or large actions. We must grasp our individual passions by our hearts to make the world a happier place for all. Everyone deserves basic fundamental human rights. It we dare to forget this, our children can always remind us.

My middle schoolers had not lost hope. For this reason, I traveled for one year hoping that people would listen to their visions and those they inspired and respond with the peace they may have forgotten. That was my vision.

Sometimes peace takes daring, fortitude, and passion. Always it takes time. As Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate winner for banning landmines, put it a few months ago when I saw her speak at a Peace Jam event in Corvallis, Oregon: "Everyone can do something about what they care about even if it's only a half hour a month. Get off the couch. It will make a difference. No excuses."

Friend Marcee Long went out on a limb to present her vision of peace ("Peace Begins at Home") in an extraordinarily artistic manner in Eugene last week. She listened to the question I asked her at the Eugene library. The quilt with kids' visions of peace attached like butterflies to its surface was making one of its appearances to highlight the developing peace park honoring American Nobel Peace Winners in Eugene.

"And what is your vision of peace, Marcee?"

After she pondered the question the length of time she needed, she came to me with an idea. She dreamed of creating something really big, a vision of peace from her heart, something for the community beginning at home. Something out of her usual reach.

Months later, the vision took on flesh. For seven nights she drew together audiences to celebrate visions of peace. Everything presented was crafted with excellence and dignity and professionalism by each participant and behind-the-scenes support people. Her piano students from her "Red Room" home studio provided the verbal framework for the days of peace performances. They initiated the ripples in the pond image so often referred to throughout the week of peace. Children as young as five and as old as 17 memorized and delivered their monologues of meaning. Hope personified.

Marcee's multiple people connections proved to be a visual metaphor illustrating how all of our own individual actions begin in our homes and can subsequently affect others we know and don't know and even ultimately our world. From the Peace Nobel Laureate Gala on September 24 until October 3, choirs of children and multiple adult artists performed. People of all ages spoke, sang, danced, acted, played musical instruments, sculpted and painted their visions into action. They expressed their responses for making the world a better place out loud with boldness. Gratis. The proceeds earned were designated for the building of the U.S. Nobel Peace Park, the first one of its kind in the nation.

Was the week successful? Yes. Were there huge crowds of people there? No. Did hundreds and hundreds of people respond with their gifts of their own peace visions from the heart? YES! More butterflies were released. No strings attached.

(Paste in this address: to understand more about Marcee's dream.)

At the end of the seven days of peace at the Sunday twilight program, I talked briefly about my teacher's promise and its completion.

"...I believe that the force behind this series of events at the Shedd has not been Marcee or my students at Shasta or the wonderful performers of peace on this stage. I believe that this week was influenced by a child none of us know. His name is Paul Havel.

During WW II, young Paul wrote a poem called "The Butterfly" while living inside a Jewish ghetto.

His words inspired my students who memorized them. They frequently spoke the poem en masse in the classroom, and subsequently, wrote their own peace poetry. One thing led to another and postcards of peace visions fluttered like butterflies to Oprah Winfrey's snailmail post office box. Paul's butterfly became their peace symbol.

The quilt I've carried this year was purposely designed in the shape of a butterfly backdrop by Carol and Chuck Vanlue so that those same visions could be displayed before mailing. Middle schoolers hoped that they might become that tipping point for peace. Naively. Maybe. They innately knew that violence, hatred, and the abusing of basic human rights was simply wrong.

Thank you, Paul Havel. Thank you, Marcee Long.

Imagine now that you are in my classroom and that those 6th graders are reciting this butterfly poem...all of them together with you in this audience. Paul Havel knew the importance of seeing butterflies. Close your eyes, don't look at me, and listen for that connected voice.

The Butterfly
by Paul Havel

The last, the very last
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing against a white stone.

Such, such a yellow
is carried lightly way up high
It went away I'm sure because it wished to kiss the world good bye

For seven weeks I've lived in here
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I have found my people here
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut candles in the court
Only I never saw another butterfly

That butterfly was the last one
Butterflies don't live in here
In the ghetto.

(The butterfly poem was taken from a book entitled I have not seen a Butterfly Around here, Children's drawings and Poems from Terezin, a way camp that led to Auschwitz and subsequent death for those young children of hope.)

Now I am looking for a new vision of peace, but that will come after I've had time to ponder this year of peace. I hope that it will have something to do with laughter.

Meanwhile, I'm doing other things. Last night I "played" Julia Child at the opera gala. Merle Streep was busy. Bon appetit, my friends!

Julia Child loved her friends, her husband Paul, well prepared delicious French food, MacDonald's French Fries, and her own 6'2" sturdy frame and distinctive voice. She wrote many cookbooks, graduated from Paris' prestigious Cordon Bleu cooking school in the 50s, organized her own cooking classes with her French friends Simone and Louisette, was rumored to have been a OSS(CIA) spy, and was the first woman to have her own syndicated show on U.S. public television: The French Chef. Truly, I always thought Eleanor Roosevelt had that honor. I would have liked both of those women so very much. Such authentic souls. Perhaps I would have liked Paul Havel even more.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Peace Quilt Arrives at Prime Meridian on September 11

Two Visions-of-Peace Postcards from England

While a sickly-minded minister named Terry Jones was threatening to burn the Koran in Florida, the Jubilee tube station line was closed in Central London because of potential trouble, and Oprah Winfrey was otherwise occupied taking a break contemplating her own retirement, peace happened. The wee butterfly quilt arrived at the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England on September 11 at 1:59 PM, one minute shy of the scheduled time.

Keadys and Pierces stand on the Prime Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. London's skyline in the distance.
Saturday was not an easy day of travel for my trusty companions and me. Less hopeful peace butterflies fluttered in my head as more and more transportation difficulties ensued. After jump starting our car in Langport, we drove to the Heathrow airport's long-term parking lot #4 and parked downhill. Continuing our quirky journey to Greenwich, we caught the shuttle, boarded a bus playing loud Lady Gaga music, and switched to several alternative tube lines and finally, the light rail. Speedwalking through the village gathering my blisters along the way, we arrived at the Royal Observatory at the top of a long hill five and a half hours after we had started. The trip from Langport in Somerset to Greenwich in London had taken twice the expected time. Thusly, Roger and Karen Keady, John, and I planted our feet on the longitudinal line of O degrees, O minutes, and O seconds, known as the Prime Meridian of the World. Four smiling friends in blue peace shirts. Just us. Just right.

I felt giddy and appreciative for a year well spent as I stepped on this imaginary line of beginnings and endings. The perfect day heralded by rainbows sighted on the Thames right above Big Ben on our return trip.

Phileas Fogg would have been properly proud of our attitudes in handing tiny glitches along the way while soberly identifying with our conveyance problems and the importance of meeting exact deadlines on certain dates. Chuckling, I juxtaposed the fictional plot of Jules Verne's classic novel Around the World in 80 Days that my social studies students dramatized every year with my past year of traveling for peace.

On my real journey, the plot wrote itself and I certainly won no wager. However, by reaching the Prime Meridian, in my mind, I had completed a teacher's promise in a timely fashion. For a year, I took the butterfly quilt wherever I was invited to share children's visions of peace hoping that their words would inspire others to help build peace too. My pledge was completed on a significant date. What a great way to retire! Again.

Nine years ago terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City jarred the world. I remember another personal photo taken that year in August while I was standing on Ellis Island by the railing. The panoramic shot portrayed a closeup of my red-polished forefinger pointing at the Twin Towers in the Manhattan skyline one month before the attack. Unsettling. I remember hearing Bekah's frightened voice as she called from New York City on September 11 before we lost communication for days. She had just witnessed the second plane crashing into the second tower from the top of her Astoria brownstone. I remember another important date too. A happy one. Prime Meridian day for me was also Grandson Will Pierce's 5th birthday. He was probably home in Bend, Oregon hosting his Star Wars Party.

To Greenwich I had also carried two visions-of-peace postcards given by Sue and Susan from the UK. These token cards previewed a peace event organized by the cards' authors who were inspired by the Zillion Visions of Peace Project. An upcoming festival of peace will take place at a healing arts sanctuary in Manchester on September 21, the International Day of Peace. Visions continue to multiply.

Negatives. Positives. Disappointments. Delights. A year of unexpected immeasurable gifts of peace and serendipitous outcomes in places least expected.

Double rainbows complete Lura's journey "around the world in more than 80 days."

In this final month of the quilt's journey, I plan to celebrate Marcee Long's "Peace Begins at Home" postcard vision. Final quilt stop #50 occurs at the Shedd Community Arts Center from September 27 to October 3 where it will be displayed as a quiet backdrop. In a much grander and classier style than I could ever have imagined, the building of peace visions will come alive on stage in a festival week of peace-filled performances by artists near and far. The outgrowth of these peacemaking volunteers' efforts will be the construction of a peace park commemorating the 24 U.S. Nobel Peace Laureates in Eugene, the only one of its kind. I believe that. Marcee believes that. John Attig , head of the American Nobel Peace Laureate Project believes that. Klaus Nobel himself believes it enough to personally dedicate the park and attend a fundraising gala on September 24.

Shasta Middle Schoolers believed that a peace park would be built two years ago. I'm proud of you, kids.

For information, see

(Note to Oprah Winfrey)
Oprah, you'll receive the postcards above and more from Manchester, all because of adolescents who dreamed larger dreams several years ago. Look for messages from Sommerton, England also. A group of 5-7 year old Rainbow Girls will draw their visions of peace for you because their Girl Guide Leader, Janet, heard about the million-visions-of peace project during the quilt's visit and will implement her version of peace visions just as Sue and Susan are doing.

By the way, I am pleased to report that I contacted your agent, Kevin Huvane, before I left for England. I detest making phone calls like that, but since I asked others to call about the quilt's 49th stop in Greenwich, I decided I'd better do what I find difficult. Daughter Rebekah and her friend Ronia called the Chicago number where your producer, Lisa Halliday, learned about the Prime Meridian visit too. We did our homework, our part, so to speak.

I phoned because I wanted you to know about the thousands of postcards that have been arriving one by one in your Chicago mail slot for quite awhile. I doubt that you've seen them.

I hoped that I would get your busy agent's voicemail. Instead, Mr. Kuvane answered from his Los Angeles' office sounding gruff and impatient. I proceeded to plunge into a one-sided conversation, but he didn't hang up. Paring my words to basics, I explained the project's goal of one million visions of peace, the butterfly peace quilt's visit to the Prime Meridian, and asked for one easy favor. Out of respect for all the people who had written and sent so many visions, I asked him to tell you personally so that you could be aware of them. The rest of the 250 Russian cards recently gathered in July will be mailed at the end of this month, for example, and you don't want to miss them.

He said he would let you know.

"We'll see," as my mother used to say.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Oh, my gosh, OH, My Gosh, OH, MY GOSH! We Won! All of us.

The peace quilt has taken on a life of its own. It just won a prize, a big one, on August 28. Out of 80 entries in the Eugene Celebration Parade, the peace quilt entry entitled "Raise the Roof. Build Peace" won BEST Of SHOW under the umbrella of the Nobel Peace Laureate Project.

Actually, the middle schoolers who wrote, taught and inspired people of all ages to write 1,000,000 visions-of-peace postcards to Oprah won too. After studying a diverse group of heroes, the 24 U.S. Nobel Peace Prize winners, those sixth graders derived their own personal ideas for making a more peaceful world. The quilt went on its way this year voicing those messages as far as Russia and as near as Gary's Coffee Shop in Eugene. The Prime Meridian in England is next and a final international destination.

On the other hand, the Nobel Laureate Project Board which is building a peace park won too because we all walked supporting their vision of peace.

However, the real winner of First Place for Best View (representation of the parade theme) as well as Best of Show is obvious.

All 70 people who gathered early Saturday morning to walk for kids' visions of peace won the prize. Apparently, they got across the message of building peace to the secret judges in the crowd that clapped and clapped as we walked by. Every person did his/her part in the "moving play" of peacemakers. People from age two to 76 walked in line for about a mile in downtown Eugene along with the 80 other parade entries having a delightful time. We never expected to win. Now we can donate $450 to the developing peace park for the fun of it.

At the awards ceremony, even the incredulous announcer noted that our group had never been in the parade before and yet, we had won the top coveted prizes.

"Where have you been?" he quizzed.

That's a question we could ask Oprah or any of the rest of us who have yet to both envision peace and then act.

One sure thing is that little seeds of planted ideas sure can grow a lot larger than initially imagined. A tad out of control...

My friend Jen made a comment last spring that grew larger than anyone ever would have thought. The Vanlues, the quilt creators, held a similar thought. These delightful thoughts initiated a transforming or metamorphosing(butterfly language) event that turned out to be "better than good enough."

"Lura, why not bring the end of the quilt's journey to a close in the Eugene Celebration Parade?"

"I will."

Thusly, this past Saturday a diverse group of people headed by the U.S. Nobel Peacemakers walked under a raised roof followed by children's visions of peace protected by the fluttering butterfly quilt at the end.

Close by, walked Marcee Long announcing upcoming cultural and artistic events depicting her vision that "peace begins at home" at the Shedd beginning September 27 and ending October 3.* Peace ripples in the pond continue to expand. Seeds are planted. All of those metaphors seem to be working.

I wonder what British metaphors or sayings will be discovered in London on September 11.

*For information, check The upcoming set of visionary events are really, really big.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Open Invitation to Peacemakers in England

Peacemakers, you are invited to come and meet the quilt on the PRIME MERIDIAN in Greenwich, England. Be at the observatory on the hill at 2:00 P.M. on September 11.

The greeting/meeting will be short as we all step on the imaginary line together. This will take a small amount of your time but will be memorable for us all.

If you can put this on You-Tube, do. Bring a camera. If you want to bring some postcards for peace for Oprah, see November 11th entry in the archives for instructions. Make the cards to Oprah larger...more like 4 by 6 inches. Cards from Somerset are being hand delivered for the occasion, for example. I'll bring some blanks just in case you forget.

Are there Quaker peace groups in the area? Just come if you are a person of peace and action. Would you like to be there but can't but know someone else who can? Spread the word.

Look for the mini quilt and somebody who looks like me. The quilt's message of kids inspiring others with their varied visions of peace will spread at its 49th stop.

The journey is about over and others can take over. Where will the quilt find a home? Suggestions? I have kept my teacher's promise.

See More

Search This Blog