Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Expanding Horizons

From 2002 until the spring of 2004, Joanne and I were living in Nova Scotia so that I could create another art peace for me national art project entitled “Canada: Glorious To Be” -

The artwork for this project was nearing completion so I decided that it was time to find a place within the community of Wolfville to donate it to. In both Manitoba and British Columbia the artworks for this project were donated to the local elementary school so I thought that this would be a good place to start, here in Wolfville.

I walked into the school and soon I was speaking with the principal. He was truly amazed by the scope of this project and he was delighted to accept my donation of this artwork. However, this story is not about this artwork…

The principal then began telling me stories about some of the activities that the school had organized that were designed to educate and inspire the students to realize that the world is in need of our help. He then told me about another such workshop that was to take place in about a week’s time. The school workshop was called ‘Expanding Horizons’ and it was designed to give the students a variety of influences by people from the community who are working towards social, environmental and political justice. I was inspired!

There were to be close to thirty guests at the school on this day. Each guest was given a classroom to use for the entire day. Each room was filled with one class of students for one class period. After one period was finished the students would go to another class for a different workshop. This meant that each guest would be visited by about five classes by the end of the day.

The principal of the Wolfville School told me that one of the guests had just cancelled, right before I walked into the school, and he asked me if I would like to fill this vacant spot. Of course, I accepted!

Now, to this point in time I had gained only a little experience of teaching and organizing workshops for students, so I was a little nervous. This new challenge was forcing me to plan an art event that close to 120 students would participate in. My mind began to churn with ideas. Do I structure a class around an art event that would be completed by each class, resulting in five finished art creations? That seemed like a rather daunting task and I had a hard time pinning down any solid ideas.

A few days later I had a plan.

I designed an art project that all of these classes could participate in, ending with one painting. Each class would add their bits to this painting and by the end of the day all 120 students would have worked towards the completion of one grand design.

The finished painting would be an image of the Earth, moon and sun. The students would add their little bit to just one area of the painting. Now, what was ‘their little bit’ to be?

I began each class, not with a lesson, but with a question period, so that the students would not just be sitting in their chairs listening to me rattle on about environmental and social issues. Instead, I got them to tell me what they knew about issues concerning clean water and air, war, poverty, expanding deserts, disappearing forests, etc. After this portion of the class was finished, I asked them to tell me what they thought should be done about these issues. Soon, the conversations turned towards the topic of ‘World Peace’.

In turn, I had the students raise their hands if they could think of just one sentence that began, “Peace means…” Once the students had created their sentence I had them come to the front of the class – where the artwork was taped to a chalkboard – to print their sentence onto the art. If they wanted to print their sentence in the ocean part of the design, they would use a blue marker. If the student wanted to print their sentence in the sun part of the design, they would use a yellow marker.

The day went well and the artwork progressed rapidly. Near the end of the day a group of student volunteers visited each participating workshop class to present each speaker with a few small gifts to show the schools appreciation. I was surprised and delighted!!

I realized that my particular art creation would not be finished at the school by the end of the day. Yes, all the ‘peace’ sentences were printed throughout the artwork but there was a lot of white space surrounding these words that needed to be filled in. I took the artwork home with me, for three days, to complete the last stage of the plan. Simply, I used a very small paintbrush to fill in and around the student’s words using colourful inks.

I returned to the school, with the finished artwork and the principal was very pleased. It was sent to the framers that day and a few days later it was hanging in the entrance hallway of the school.

Here are a few of the other sentences that are now a part of this creation…

Peace to me is a world full of cooperation
Peace is a world where there is a cure to all illness
Peace is a world full of fun
Peace to me means no fighting
Peace to me means no racism
Peace to me is when everybody shares
Peace to me means for everybody to have no need to think about violence
Peace would be no hunger
Peace is being OK with other people’s opinions
Peace is awesome!
Peace is respect, love and honesty
Peace is no more pollution
Peace is a world without doubt
Peace is where everyone has an equal chance to succeed
Peace to me is a world with resources available to everyone
Peace is a world with more of Jim’s peace Stik-ers
Peace is a world without war, poverty and greed
Peace is a world where you can live in happiness
Peace is when no one lies to no one
Peace comes when fear is gone
Peace is a world with no homework
Peace is the uniting of all global societies
Peace to me is to have freedom
Peace is a world with trust
Peace is enjoying life
Peace rocks!!!

‘Nuf Said!!!!


Friday, October 23, 2009

World March For Peace

When I first became aware that our planet and all its inhabitants are faced with so many problems that our continued existence is threatened (Yikes! That’s a heavy statement.), I became extremely concerned and a bit full of fear. The first thought to enter my mind was, “What can I do?” Since then, I’ve found sooooooo many different ways to answer that question.

In my early years as an environmentalist, peace activist and budding artist I could only find comfort (or companionship) through others who had become icons: Neil Young, U2, The Tragically Hip, David Suzuki, Al Gore. It seemed like only the real ‘big wigs’ were speaking out and raising awareness. For many years I felt alone with my struggles to enlighten those around me.

NOW!!! You would have to try really, really hard to avoid the swelling of voices ready to take action to ensure the survival of our home… the Earth! Earthday celebrations and tree planting initiatives are becoming more and more popular every year. In the last three years millions of individuals from around the world have united to celebrate Earth Hour as we look for ways to support global ‘green’ energies.

The most recent global peace initiative to take place began on October, 02, 2009… just a few weeks ago. This date is known globally as the International Day of Nonviolence and was thus selected as the kick-off date for the World March For Peace (

This three month long event will see a large group of people ‘the team walkers’ walking around the world… just like the title suggests. Now – it would take over a year (or even two) to walk continuously around the globe, so I’m thinking that the march will be broken down into smaller segments in order to accomplish their goal. Beginning at the most easterly part of the world, New Zealand, the team walkers will navigate through 100 countries to reach their final destination in Argentina. Thousands of events are schedule throughout the world including marches, festivals, exhibits, concerts, forums, conferences and many other cultural and educational events.

A Facebook friend of mine, from British Columbia, thought that this would interest me… and it did. Soon, I was visiting websites and sending out emails asking for information about how Canadians are supporting this effort. Soon, after that, on October 02, I found myself in Kitchener, Ontario to participate in the kick-off event for this world tour.

Marchers were to meet at a downtown café… and I’m glad that we did – I was starving after having left straight from work without any food. A few people were busy moving tables and hanging up posters while I enjoyed a vegetarian pizza (with eggplant) cooked on homestyle pizza bread.

Soon, a small choir consisting of about ten young adults started off the evening. It had been a while since I had heard Elvis Costello’s song ‘What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?’ ( I thought that they were really great!

Since my photos can’t lie, I won’t try to say that there were many people in attendance. In fact, there were only about three people who showed up especially for this event… including me. There were about seven organizers, the choir, another musician, the three participants and one guy who just happened to drop into the café for his dinner. This fact didn’t bother me at all. We were there and that was all that mattered!

About half an hour later our March For Peace began. Our walk was simply a symbolic effort to show support for this global action.

Our walk lasted for about fifteen minutes as we circled around a few blocks in Kitchener’s downtown core.

One of the co-ordinators told me that he was so happy that the choir had decided to join our walk or else we might have looked a little foolish with only six people walking around with a banner.

When we returned to the café, the choir entertained us with a few more songs.

Then the stage was cleared away for another musician. He played his violin and flute for us for the rest of the evening. While he continued to fill this space with delightful melodies, the rest of us created artwork for a very special quilt.

The idea, as I understood it, is that people from around the world would be creating peaceful art on small squares of fabric that would later all be joined to create on massive quilt at the end of ‘the team walkers’ journey in Argentina.

Of course, I had to participate!

We were to use bright and colourful permanent markers to create our artworks.

Just a few minutes later, my design was complete. I figured that this would be an interesting way to introduce my website (with all its links) to many other people so I signed it with ‘’.

Many people from the choir also created artwork for this global quilt. Here are a few of the designs…

The woman who was in charge of the quilt station was also recording greetings of support (in digital video format) that would later be shared with ‘the team walkers’. I thought that this was a brilliant idea… to let the world know that Canada is aware of their effort and that we support them. In my greeting I recited the following poem…

Be peaceful
Be kind
Cuz we can’t rewind

Our actions of today
Are building the histories of tomorrow
Let’s try to build a world
With a little less sorrow

Here is a link to the one-minute video that was created from events from this evening:

There were many, many events happening around the world on this day in support of this global effort.

In Kenya, hundreds of people rallied together and spent part of this day marching for peace.

In Paris, over one thousand people showed up to march for peace. Candles were lit and organizers shaped the crowd to form the international symbol for nonviolence. Quite spectacular! This symbol kind-of looks like a ‘yin & yang’ symbol with an eye in the middle.

This is a link to an online news report from Southern Lucena:

The article shows a picture and talks about the fact that a world record was created on this day in support of this World March For Peace. Students of Lucena numbered over 10 000 and they created the largest human peace symbol in the world! This is a link to the video that shows the construction of this peace symbol:

And, finally, this is a link that shows what happened in Milan, on this same day: Thousands of people all joining in to sing one song that has been opening eyes and healing hearts for close to four decades.

“You may say I’m a dreamer… But, I’m not the only one… I hope someday you’ll join us… and the world will live as one” Thanks John!!!


PS – There is one more event planned for Canada (and the world) to participate in to support this World March For Peace. It is scheduled for November 19, 2009 and it will take place in both Kitchener and Waterloo. There is a walk planned between these two cities – about 4 km – as well as a concert. I am offering a ride to anyone in London – maximum four people – who would like to share a ride to and from this event. If interested, please contact me –

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

350 - International Day of Climate Change

Just a quick announcement for all Londoner's (and others from Southern Ontario).

This coming Saturday - October 24th, there will be a rally/event in the sports field of John Paul II high school (just east of Highbury on Oxford Street) starting at 10:00am. This event is in support of gaining attention for the problems caused by global climate change. I'm not sure what will be happening - possible speakers, etc. - but I know that I will be there to learn something and to make my stand in support of making this world a better place for future generations!

Later - the same day - starting at 1:30pm there will be another event at the Central Library's Wolf Hall (Dundas Street - downtown). Again, I'm not sure what will be happening but I would guess that there will be a speaker on the subject and possibly a movie will be shown to educate us all.

I feel that this will be an important event that may gain some support from the local media and the story and photos would be greatly enhanced if you attended to show your support!

I'll be there with lots of my peace Stik-ers to give away and I'll be sure to share a more in-depth story about these events - with photos (of course) - at a future date.

Hope to see you there

The Peaceman

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More Art For The Peacebus!

The students who ride The Peacebus are very, very creative! When I began driving, in September, I asked my students to help me decorate my bus with their art. Topic: Peace On Earth.

To date, I think I’ve shared three stories about their artwork and since then I’ve received so much more…

Almost every day at least one new art creation is handed in to me. Most times the artwork is filled with peace symbols and other times the students simply want to share with me their artwork that is inspired by Nature.

One of my artists has gotten ahead of me and he has already created two full page images inspired by peace in the haunting season of Halloween!

The student that drew this amazing picture must have been very encouraged… after seeing my reaction after he had handed it in to me. My face was filled with amazement and wonder, and then it broke into a huge smile. I looked at the artwork, and then lowered it to look at him, and then I looked back at the art and simply exclaimed, “WOW!” I have hopes to be able to share some simple concepts about design and layout with him, so that I can continue to encourage him to realize what a special gift he has been given!

All of these students have made me feel very special. They truly embrace the ideas that I share with them about the environmental problems facing our world and the fact that we all have to work hard to find solutions that will benefit future generations!

The future leaders of the world are blessing me with their continuous ambition for creative self-expression and if I ever had any doubts about our ability to heal our planet, they are gone… now!!!!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Never Duplicated - Ever Changing Beauty!

Another Thanksgiving weekend… another trip to my parent’s house.

Joanne and I always enjoy travelling to my parent’s house. We usually do this about four times a year – on long weekends to make the three hour drive worth while. Last year, the weather was nice and warm. We started the mornings with our sweaters on and by lunch time we were in our T-shirts. Last year, I discovered how easy it is to make videos using our camera and my first music videos were born:

This year, it was rather chilly, with lots of clouds moving quickly across the sky. That didn’t stop us from spending one afternoon travelling through the amazing scenery of this landscape.

This land is as unique as the Grand Canyon, having been formed by the glaciers during the last ice age, over 10 000 years ago. Locally, this region is referred to as The Niagara Escarpment.

Whenever I’ve had the pleasure of introducing a friend or relative to this area, I always include a trip to one of the ten highest points in Southern Ontario. From this point, on a clear night, you can see the city lights of both Toronto and Barrie, at the same time. Toronto is about 100 km to the south and Barrie is close to 80 km towards the north-east.

While Jo’, my sister Sandra, Koly and I were adventuring through the hills, my parents were busy at home preparing one of my favourite meals of the year. This year, Jo’ and I had brought some potatoes and carrots that I grew in my garden to add to the meal.

This may be the last time we see my family until next spring. During the winter, the roads can be really dangerous and extremely unpredictable. It’s always nice to share these too brief moments with my folks and my sister.

Upon our return, we were overwhelmed with the warm smells coming from the kitchen. One of my mostest favouritestest parts of the meal is my mom’s special biscuits. Soon after dinner, it was time for ‘the nap’ on the couch – LOL!!

It’s times like these that allow me to be thankful for all the I have – all that I’ve been given – and all that I can share. I never forget that there are so many others that are not as blessed as I am.