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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sip and Sing-along at Gary's on December 19

My blogmaster, Jen B., is helping me to communicate the purpose of the peace quilt and its journey to a broader audience. Check out the newly featured gadget link to G-map on the left. Read the blurbs about the quilt's visits so far. I salute my sister science teacher this December for enabling me to share my retired teacher's promise.

Invitation to December Sing-along! View the displayed quilt at Gary's coffee shop wall on December 19 at 1:00 for 15-20 minutes. Sip a cup of java and sing peace songs with the newly formed Harmony quartet. Small environs. Informal. Wouldn't it be beautiful to have standing room only? (Also, if you can't come, enjoy "Last Friday Night Art Walk" on December 18 from 6-8 P.M. instead. The popular event lists Gary's as a stop where the butterfly peace quilt and Katie Stocks' red watercolors are displayed.)

In January the butterfly quilt flies down off the wall when I travel to Washington state for a couple of engagements on Nobel Peace Prize Winner MLK, JR. weekend. Justice and peace and tolerance...the theme. I'll continue to spread the word that middle schoolers may have the answer to inspiring peacemaking. (Check out Jack Johnson's tune "Together;" it pretty much says it. Go to Pandora, the streaming radio station, and listen to the lyrics. You'll be inspired. The kids were. They heard it every day as they entered the classroom.)

Shasta Middle Schoolers want you to claim your particular vision of peace. Name it, write it, and act on it. Simple. Not simplistic. And while you're at it, join others by sending a peace postcard containing your written vision to Oprah now. Make it a holiday card, if you feel like it. Join ONE MILLION other voices in their expressions of divergent visions of peace. Remember that it's not about agreeing on one way of viewing peace. It is about celebrating working together, yet separately/sometimes in opposition, to live helpful lives for the betterment of our world and ourselves. Scroll down for more info on making the postcards...easy, but not easy to implement.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quilt Displayed in December at Gary's

Future Site of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Park in Alton Baker

December brings such wonderful opportunities to educate about peace...especially about the Nobel Peace Laureate Project in the Eugene/Springfield area. Come and see the butterfly peace quilt at Gary's on High Street in Eugene. It will tell a story of one way to look at peace. Many ways.

The quilt's purpose for the December display is to promote community awareness of the developing Nobel Peace Park here in our midst. Peace visions from the U.S. Nobel Peace Prize winners are clipped to the quilt surface. They were made by Shasta Middle Schoolers who researched the lives of these heroes before illustrating postcards telling what may have motivated their historic actions.

After learning about the Nobel Peace Prize, the optimistic sixth graders wanted to DO more influencing peace in others. They designed their own postcard messages, sent them to Oprah Winfrey and taught hundreds of others to do the same thing. Inspiring visions on postcards spread much like fluttering butterflies landing in Oprah's P.O.Box. (See November 11th blog entry for the information on how to send your vision of peace postcard to Oprah Winfrey. Join 1,000,000 other peacemakers now!)

During this 11th month of miracles, the butterfly quilt messages may also inspire Eugene/Springfield folks to monetarily support the construction of the peace park that will be unlike any other in the world. The two-acre plot of land donated by the city is located in Alton Baker Park but will provide a peacemaking forum for education and contemplation for all people. To break ground, $250,000 is needed to jump start the neatly designed architectural plan. Every dollar counts. This holiday make a $24.00 gift donation (one dollar for each U.S. Peace Prize Winner) in the name of someone you know who cares about peace on earth. For more information, pick up a brochure in Gary's or check the website.

Since June the butterfly peace quilt has traveled to over 24 places, but this month it's finding temporary rest at this local haven for 30 days. Basically, the quilt is on loan. I already miss it, but I will invite friends for a quilt visitation on Saturday, December 19th to sing and sip and celebrate the holidays. Stay tuned.

I thank my three friends who helped in the hanging...not an easy task. As customers sipped their mochas, deep into their conversations, they hardly noticed-- even when they had to move out of the way. The official hanger-uppers stood on tables, drew blood from the hanging-wire cuts, muttered and moaned when the quilt fell a few times, and managed to establish calm by finally getting it safely installed.

Some have asked, "Aren't you afraid that someone might take the quilt? Aren't you worried that people will get the material dirty?" Carol, the birth mama of the quilt, chuckled! "That quilt is meant to be handled, sat on, rubbed, folded, displayed, bled on, held and wrapped around those who desire peace. " In the fabled "Velveteen Rabbit" by Marjorie Holmes' the stuffed rabbit wasn't really totally loved until most of its fur had been rubbed off and its limbs were wobbly and lame. Peacemaking is sometimes messy and takes awhile too.

Meanwhile, as the months of fulfilling my teacher's promise to take the peace quilt around the world roll by, I marvel at the hope I continue to encounter. So, Oprah, you will continue to receive more individual peace postcards inspired by the stories of the youth I have promised to tell. Ms Winfrey should come to dedicate the peace park in 2012. Novel Nobel idea.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Magazine Idea for Oprah

I spent my entire afternoon today trying to e-mail the O Magazine with an idea, but it's been virtually impossible...duh? After hearing on the news that Ms. Winfrey would be retiring in a year, I decided to send the editors an article suggestion...while also giving them a large hint about the peace postcards Oprah's PO Box has been hosting.

Undaunted, I cut more from the blurb below and sent it off...not quite complete, but if anyone on the editorial staff wants to know more, the unedited English teacher format is here to fill in the gaps. The comment box allowed 2000 characters, and I kept whittling away...not too successfully, but I got better at taking out redundancies. Because Oprah is retiring, timing has become even more crucial to reaching the one million goal. I have decided to get busy encouraging twittering tweets, essays such as the soon-to-be posted essay by Pete K. on "respect," and other methods for creating those 1,000,000 visions of peace messages. Check out the youtube video "Visions of Peace" by David M.; this is in lieu of his postcard, for example. Pete and David had more to say/to dream/to ponder. They are two of the 1,000,000. No time to waste.

I find that I am a dismal(but happy) failure at small messages. Twittering is limited to 140 characters, right? (I found myself singing "Old MacDonald" this morning. "With a tweet, tweet here, and a postcard there. Here a tweet, there a tweet...everywhere...")

For those's what I wrote in the magazine's comment box that was not completely printed:

Title: "Women Advise Oprah for a Change."

Idea: Gather diverse "third chapter" stories and advice from transitioning women about adjustments, directions and dreams. Include my story ending with a teacher's promise and well wishes for Oprah: "Make a one-year promise to your fans about something you will do. What is your vision of peace? Be patient and listen as you await your transformation to a new chapter. Sleep in too."

Outline Story of a Teacher's Promise: Sixth grade students researched 23(now 24) U.S. Nobel Peace Prize winners last year. Heroes' lives inspired unique dreams of making the world a better place. These word-pictures were mailed as illustrated vision-of-peace postcards to O's PO Box. Kids set a goal to inspire 1,000,000 others to write cards. They actively taught all ages to write ways to make a peaceful difference; the acceptance of diversity was paramount. Over 1,000 anonymous cards were mailed but school ended. I promised to continue promoting their goal. I promised to spend one year taking a peace quilt "around the world" sharing their words of hope that will inspire more cards to be made and sent. But then came last night's news: "Oprah's show is ending in a year." The time has come for readers and viewers to twitter, tweet, e-mail, and write postcards of innundate the Oprah airways and P.O. Box. As someone I overheard in Albertsons say this week, "Peace is in the small details." Listen to the children.
See blog :"A Zillion Visions of Peace."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What is your Vision of Peace? Send a Card to Oprah.

It's easy. Take a blank 3 by 5 card and print the above words and address on the front. Next add your vision of peace for making the world a better place in words and/or drawings on the other side. In the lower right hand corner add your first name and age, if you wish, but don't put a return address. Together we will stuff Oprah's Post Office Box without expectation for recognition. Together we will influence change, if only in ourselves. Follow the sixth graders' examples by hoping and acting.

Why Oprah? Why not someone else? Oprah is known throughout the world as a woman of influence. A name and a media star. Children and education are primary concerns of hers. Will she respond? Is she receiving the cards from her staffers? Probably not. Would her recognition bring peace? No. Would 1,000,000 people thinking about how they could individually make the world a better place bring peace? Maybe. Every communicator knows that a message needs a receiver to make a connection.
This is what I put on my card and why I'm spending a year sharing adolescents' visions of peace: "My vision of peace is for Middle Schoolers to inspire adults to remember about the peace they may have forgotten."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pass the Peace Please

I'm back from Sunnyside, WA where I gave my first peace sermon at the Presbyterian Church pastored by the Reverend Kate Isabelle Haney on November 8. I was thankful for this bully-pulpit opportunity to urge active peacemaking through the butterfly quilt's symbolic presence and the sharing of a number of examples of children's visions of peace in the form of postcards already addressed to Oprah's PO Box. The quilt was displayed in the front of the sanctuary on Sunday morning where 11-year-old Max's card was clipped..."My vision of peace is to bring happiness to others..." Peace and joy are often inseparable, according to Max and to Jesus too.

Other card wordings were shared such as: "My vision of peace is to stop bullying at my school this year." Chris, age 11. "My vision of peace is that there be no more littering on the planet." Lana, age 11. "My vision of peace is that all seven continents will have smiles on their faces. Even penguins." Anajulia, age 12. "My vision of peace is for everyone to have a cat." Joe, age 6. "Accepting diversity promotes peace." Grandparent.

I talked about how my former Shasta Middle School students influenced over 1000 people to write peace postcards to Oprah last year...always wording their own thoughts and diverse ways of bringing joy to the earth.

I made the connection between the Gospel, the verse Matthew 5:9, and the students' collecting of 1,000,000 visions of peace postcards and its intrinsic value in influencing change. The sharing of adolescents' dreams of making the world a better world inspire others of all ages to think about and to act on justice and peace issues. The point is not to get on the talk show or even to fill out a card and mail it away; the point is to create the synergy that promotes small actions that change individuals that change more individuals that change many more individuals.

A 22-minute sermon and a reunion with long-time friends from long ago days at Northwoord Presbyterian Church (the Haneys, the Rolfes, the Kirkpatricks) made for a special time. (Also, the four women friends played one great game of pool. I think my partner and I won because I picked up the balls and put them in the pockets.)

Since the Peace Quilt's first appearance at Chico's, the quilt has been shared with 19 different configurations of people and groups. I will add all those stops and a few accompanying captions and photos on my developing map in the side panel. If you are planning to read about the peace quilt journey now and then, know that the template is due to change frequently. A rolling blog gathers no moss. I should probably give prizes to anyone who happens to catch what I've changed from entry to entry. The teacher in me can't help but scroll back to make "improvements"--add pictures, reword comments, add an interchange I forgot to mention, change spelling or word choice, delete B.S. and so on. I hope to switch the current set of maps to a g-map with the help of my friends, Jen Butler and Chuck Vanlue. It does take a village to help me become more bloggable.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Have Quilt/Will Travel

I am gathering the stories of the people and the places I meet along the way. Please join me on my journey. Add your comments, questions, and yes, requests for a quilt appearance in your hometown.

What a kick! I am getting to meet people, reconnect with friends, visit new places and spread peace. Having FUN is paramount in all of this, by the way. Joy must be the litmus test for each talk, I think. Artist and poet, Barbara Hunter, asked me a good question after a reunion with our close hometown friends from Oklahoma in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee the end of October. After its first airplane ride, the quilt became a backdrop for a picture of my 12 treasured high school friends...the ones I had slumber parties with. We stayed up all night, froze bras, and talked about boys in middle school. We're still staying up all night talking about life's happenings and arthritis and flabby arms. And, often laughing uproariously.

Barbara's potent comments to me: "You really want to do this? Right? You might want to note how the year with the quilt changes you."

Bloggers , you can help to be my gauge on that.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Peace Quilt Launched at Chico's

Carol Vanlue (left) and Lura Pierce (right) hold the Butterfly Peace Quilt at Chico's style show. Tiny copper coils rest in the butterfly wings ready to hold new visions-of-peace postcards to be sent to Oprah Winfrey.

Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days provided a backdrop, a place mat for my teaching for seemingly "hundreds of years." But for one promised year, the butterfly peace quilt will become my pictorial frame for travels and storytalking and serendipitous confabs about kids' peacemaking visions. I am hoping that promises will beget promises. Cards will inspire cards...1,000,000 of them, in fact.

Why am I traveling for one year? A promise. Many reasons but here's another one for now. I decided to retire when my students actually believed that I was ancient. For years I had shared an exaggerated age of monumental proportions the first day of school and then chanted my funny opening line, "I want you to know that I'm the oldest living middle school teacher you'll ever have." Usually, kids reacted. I thought I was funny.

This year I made an appointment with a financial planner when 11-year-old Geoff matter-of- factly shared with another teacher that I was quite elderly. Tickled, Ms. Bradshaw gently tried to point out that I couldn't possibly be 412-years-old to which Geoff defiantly stated, "Dr. Pierce wouldn't lie."

Time to travel.

Back to Verne's saga and its connection to the next 365 days. Inevitably, students over the years acted out the fictional characters in a short comedic play of 19 scenes that were periodically filmed over the course of a year. Only on the last day of school was the travel film actually viewed. Meanwhile my attempt to keep the interest of adolescents while teaching geography and just about everything else steadily continued.

Teacher Quiz Questions with Student Answers
1. What is the International Date Line? Not sure.
2 How did it affect the novel's ending? Beats me.
3. Why is the Prime Meridian important to you? Can I get a drink of water?

Obviously, over the years there was always room for more learning about our world--for the OLD and the young. In the process, I at least became hooked on travel and the insatiable urge to learn more about other cultures. I can tell you Phileas Fogg and Passepartout's circuitous route by heart, and I even understand the International Date Line. I always claimed that when I retired, I'd retrace the fictional characters in their adventures.

I am doing that...sorta.

Logically (or illogically, for that matter), if I were going to go around the world as a merry retiree, I'd buy one of those $10,000 around-the-world airplane tickets. I'd plan my itinerary beginning and ending in London, buy one of Rick Steve's backpacks for my light load, talk my husband and friends into joining me on a leg or two of the trip, and take off in a balloon.

I've "taken off" on this world journey, for sure. It's just not quite how I envisioned it. Jules Verne is rolling over in his grave wondering where I'm going with all this too. Instead of London, the peace quilt began its journey at Chico's in Eugene on Coburg Road on July 15, 2009 instead of London in 1872.

After a bit of cajoling, two friends, Katie Stocks and Mary Pat Kersten, modeled for a benefit for the U.S. Nobel Peace Park Project at this higher-priced women's clothing store. The quilt was displayed (back and front) as the intro to the evening. My Shasta colleague, math and science teacher, Kristy McElravy, joined Carol Vanlue to hold the quilt for the audience to see. Her unwaivering support of kids and their peaceful efforts never waivered over the last two years. A kindred spirit. Over 25 polite friends and friends of friends listened to the stories of our adolescents' visions of peace and the connection to the developing peace park at Alton Baker nearby. They waited patiently in anticipation for the novice models' debuts...and wisecracks. "What has Lura gotten us into now?"

To sum it up, in the past two years of incorporating peace studies into the middle school integrated social studies/language arts curriculum through the study of the U.S. Nobel Peace Prize winners, my dream of a world trip changed. Peace and a Promise to kids to spread their visions of peace got in the way. I've begun my trip at home.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Packing the Peace Quilt

My name is Lura and I am newly retired.

Teacherholics Anonymous.

I am a reformed middle school English/history/drama teacher of 30 years who is tumbling into a transitional third chapter of 30 more years doing who knows what. I've put off the acceptance of my retirement for a few months since June 13, my last day working for the Bethel School District in Eugene, Oregon. As the October air slightly shifted toward crisper nights two days ago, and Christmas ads jumped out of Sunday newspaper ads this morning at 5:30 A.M. I faced reality.

Okay, I recently had a few teacher dreams too. They probably were of the out-of-control genre where unruly adolescents are squeezing their fingers into the pencil sharpener or sexting their friends. I really can't remember. More than likely, I was going over the classroom rules on an overhead wishing that I had a Smart Board like the weatherpeople on Channel 5.

The time has come to travel for peace. I will carry the originally designed butterfly peace quilt wherever I am invited. I will tell the story of adolescents researching the U.S. Nobel Peace Laureates, internalizing their own individual ways of becoming peacemakers, and then putting their words into actions.

I will tell their stories of teaching peace to classrooms of first, second, third and fourth graders and to parents, siblings, grandparents, and other adults.

These sixth graders commissioned the quilt from a fabric artist, Carol Vanlue, for $35.00 in pennies after donating another $35.00 to the developing American Laureate Peace Park in Eugene, Oregon.

Because of their enthusiasm and hard work, I am moved to spread a zillion visions of peace to the world with the butterfly quilt as a backdrop. The hope is to inspire others to send postcards to Oprah Winfrey and more importantly, to stir individuals to act on their different ways of changing the world into a better place. (Oprah's P.O. Box is still being stuffed with postcards for peace, but no one knows from where they come. 1,000,000 is the goal.)

I will pack my carpet bag with that peace quilt to travel around the world in 80 days. In my mind at least. I like metaphors and teachers exaggerate.

And, I did promise the kids.

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