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Friday, February 26, 2010

Where is that Peace Quilt when you need it?



I deleted the picture of the offending horse. (It could have been worse.)

Question: What happens when a traveling peacemaker named Lura rides a horse after zipping over the canopy forest in Costa Rica?

Answer: A sprained sternum! (I'd never heard of it either. Watch a Carol Burnett rerun about how to get on a horse. Next try to imagine my "unpeace-filled," sideways moment. Good news: I'll recover. Bad news: The doctor said that I'd hurt for a long time.)

Question: What happens when a woman named Laura(current vice president and peacemaker politician) runs for Costa Rican President?

Answer: She wins! A first. ( I bet she can ride horses too.)

In spite of sprung chests and mishaps, my trip to Costa Rica was delightfully successful. Peace prevails there. It's got a lot to do with happiness and satisfaction and the right emphasis on money for education instead of weapons. My friend Barbara just sent a great link from a New York Times article that is a "must read." Costa Ricans are rated the happiest people on the planet. I understand why the sharing of the mini butterfly quilt seemed so welcomed at the school we visited. Studying peace is their country's curriculum. The sharing of peace visions and actions is the norm; making peace is education's intent. We have much to learn!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Costa Rican Children Write Oprah Too(even if they'd never heard of her)

Peace quilt creators and designers, Carol and Chuck Vanlue, once again supported children's inspiring ideas for making the world a more peaceful place. How? In two weeks they readied a mini version of the larger butterfly quilt to fit into my carry-on luggage for Costa Rica. Why? They knew that Costa Rican children might need a tangible sign for peace to understand the challenge of gathering one million visions of peace. (My suitcase was just too small for the original queen-sized quilt.)

It worked. I was able to share the peace-visions project with the school children in La Fortuna by displaying the mini quilt. With the help of Mariangel and her brother Leonardo who held the quilt and loudly read the English words, "Meet Me at the Peace Park," I spoke to the other elementary children(ages 4-12) who had just finished dancing for our Overseas Adventure Travel group. Our guide, Victor, interpreted. He invited these 16 other children to join others in the world to further peacemaking by writing visions-of-peace postcards to Oprah Winfrey. They had never heard of Oprah, but they clearly understood peace and wanted to create peace visions. I left stamped, Oprah-addressed postcards for each child. Mui Bien, teachers and children at San Francisco Elementary!

Who will they influence? Me, for one. I was "taken" with their country of beauty and purpose...and with their pura-vida attitudes. In the land of Blue Morpho and Owl Butterflies, no standing army since 1948, the Rosette Spoonbill and multitudinous multiple-named herons, clean water, zip lines over canopied jungles, and eco-friendly tourist destinations, I felt healthy and relaxed. Even the Bullet Ant, the seven-foot Boa Constrictor and the poisonous red frog seemed quite lovely...from a distance.

Mainly, I was drawn to the giggling, gracious children who inspired conversations for peace by simply being welcoming presences at their local school on a Saturday, of all things. Picture a smiling child confidently taking your hand, introducing herself, and leading you on a tour of her school...all while attempting to initiate a Spanish/English conversation. Thank you, Mariangel. You are one great 9-year-old hostess and a doer of peace already.

I also thank certain "doer" adults who just seem to "get it. Seeing the bigger vision of spreading peace, the Vanlues, "flew into action" to get that visual aid ready for traveling into wee Mariangel's receptive heart and hands. Eight digital pics taken of the front and back of the original butterfly quilt were printed on eight fabric pieces and then quilted together to form an over-sized pictorial representation. Now that it has traveled to Coast Rica, its softly reflective colors will continue to remind me of the "spirit and soul" of a peaceful Central American country with a newly elected President named Laura. First woman to hold this office! (I even brought a poster home...carefully removed from a telephone pole by a new friend...)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Camp Creek Children Change World for One Day

Katie Stocks and Four Camp Creek Peacemakers

It might only take 14 children in a small rural Oregon school with different "visions" to change the world into a happier more peaceful place. On February 2, 2010, Camp Creek Children shared their papa-bear sized visions of peace as I sat and listened in a wee chair much too small. After each special thought, we all voiced a resounding "Yes!" together. 15 powerful "Yeses!" These kindergarten and first graders had formulated their peacemaking ideas with their teacher Katie Stocks earlier in the day. Thus, when it came time to write and illustrate them on postcards addressed to Oprah, they were eager. A little help spelling and penciling on the cards...that was all! They stood firm on their methods for a peacefilled-future world. At the end they clipped the cards to the butterfly peace quilt which would soon fly away as butterflies to the media star's PO Box.

28 cents per card and 14 more visions added to the 1,000,000 year's goal.

To those who are still wondering if Oprah will pay attention to these envisioners of peace and all of the 2000 plus others already sent, I doubt it. I'm a practical adult with closed categories of thinking, after all. My educated guess is that even if President Obama wrote a peace postcard to Oprah, there would be no response--especially if it were sent by snail mail and not twittered, texted, or talked.

However, after being taught by kids for 30 years, I have retained some sense of wonder. Miracles did and do the classroom. (That reminds me of the peace dove that landed on the window sill and kept returning as the butterfly peace postcards "flew away to be mailed."...another middle school story for another day.)

The truth is that just one of those cards inspired by the Camp Creek Children could become the tipping point to peace education and action. Wouldn't we all together say, "Yes!"

Consider this: These 14 Oregonian schoolchildren act as our leaders for peacemaking for one day. In that projected senario, adults they encounter agree to try to interpret what these small children suggest as ways to envision peace. What will happen? How will individuals, families and Facebook fans, clubs and congresses, countries and cities implement these wee teachers' suggestions? How will the simple words become translated, tweeked and implemented in the next 24 hours?

What could you DO with one(or more) of the following Camp Creek visions today?
1."Be nice."
2. "Stop hurting other people."
3. "No drugs."
4."Everyone needs a home."
5. ETC. (Stay tuned...more on their way...)

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