By Heidi Majano
On September 21st, the welcoming and inviting space at the Anubhuti Retreat Center in Novato offered a family like setting for our annual Peace Festival. In collaboration with the Bramah Kumaris, Creative Canopy and the Peaceful World Foundation, the Peace Festival brought music, prayer, meditation, conversations, art and food to the wider community of peace builders. This year, the Peaceful World Foundation was excited to see our 2018-2019 grantees attend the festival and engage with other participants and fellow colleagues.
This year, I was moved by the care that we brought into the preparations of our work together. Elia Pochron, the owner of Creative Canopy and Elizabeth Padilla, facilities co-manager at the Anubhuti Retreat Center and I, began our exploration six months earlier. The exploration itself was a wonderful token of intentional collaboration.
Working with the peace movement has influenced our lives mostly because it is a movement that takes us inwardly, where we see ourselves as we are and we begin to re-learn ways to heal whether through meditation, self-care, art, laughter, dance, music and conversations, we discover that there are many tools to help us return to our source. The peace prayer was lead by Sister Elizabeth Padilla from the Brahma Kumaris. Our M.C. was lead by Jignesh Desai and the music group, Peace Shaktis was made possible by the lovely and talented Sue Govali, Kyoko Kimura, Leon Gozar and Elizabeth Padilla.
Among those present in the prayer circle was Oren Slozberg, Executive Director of Commonweal and Doug Lerch, Founder and Executive Director for Seeds of Awareness. Participating and engaging with the activities tent were Adriana Guerrero and Jinny Jung from Outward Bound California, Laurie Marshall from Create Peace Project, who also facilitated a conversation table and Josefa Vaughan, Founder and Executive Director of Artseed. A special thank you was given to Sister Hema Patel, facilities lead manager at the Anubhuti Retreat Center and Carolyn Dawn Good who was instrumental at filling in the gaps with preparations, marketing, and facilitating a conversation.
Our aim this year for the peaceful world conversations and activities tent was to create and encourage people, family members, children of all ages to come together to talk about the topics that matter in our lives and in the world as a whole through art, music, dance, and conversations.
This year we had set up six tables, seating 8-10 participants at each table. In tradition with Sami’s introduction, we introduced ourselves and read the six-ingredients of a good conversation card. Each table had a facilitator and we opened the conversation topic:
“In what ways does Peace show up in your daily life?”
After an in depth discussion, our M.C. took the mic and asked if anyone wanted to share from their experience during the conversation. Those who shared were touched by the topic and the experience of coming together in conversation, the feedback was about their experience which resonates to the aim of our programs at the Peaceful World Foundation.
The Peaceful World Foundation is dedicated to fostering a culture of global peace through the promotion of hosted conversations and community building. Our peaceful world conversations are an opportunity to bring our grantees, members of the community together to discuss topics that are important in furthering our peace building efforts, often times generating partnerships and collaborative efforts.
Lunch was shortly announced, and the kitchen staff offered a delicious vegetarian lunch along with desserts and refreshing drinks. Music and song were being played on the main stage while people shared light conversation over their lunch. The pace was tranquil and restful.
Creative Canopy held the space for creativity and hands on projects. Taylor, Elia’s son appeared with a wonderful mid afternoon project, painting the pot to plant your own succulent. During these uplifting activities, many attendees were either eating good food from the vegetarian spread or were engaged under the various activity tents. Children and adults were having their faces painted by local artist Priscilla, making arts and crafts, creating their personal masterpieces in watercolors and vision boards, sharing poetry and stories, and truly enjoying themselves.
The meditation lead by brother Mohan Jain, helped us to look inwardly and embrace the light that is inherently within each of us. Gene Kelly has been influenced over the years and he brought his art piece, the Head of Ghandi. Music enriched the air when Mary Spadling, a one woman band brought the Caribbean’s sounds through her steel drums. She commented in her surprise to see how a peaceful event was not just about quieting the mind, but also about lifting the human spirit through music and dance.
The peace festival was a joyous time to come together to reflect, recharge and renew ourselves among others, to be in community. As the sun began to settle and the breeze welcomed a pleasant evening, we began to break down the tables, bring down the decorations, and collect our belongings in a pace that I can only describe as peaceful and respectful of the time we shared together.