Monday, September 21st marked the International Day of Peace for 2009 – this year Brisbane saw a number of events large and small to commemorate the day of global non-violence and ceasefire.
Two that I was involved in running through the International Day of Peace Alliance, were the International Day of Peace Fair out at the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens and the Youth Peace Parliament.
The Peace Fair was on Sunday to reach out to a larger crowd and featured stallholders from charities and community groups, as well as performers from a number of different cultures and the nine Rotary Peace Fellows who have been selected from across the world to study at the University of Queensland.
The IDPA’s convenor, Richard Cowley organised a live linkup via Skype with the UN Mission in Afghanistan to talk about the effects of the ceasefire on last year’s Peace Day (a 70% reduction in violence in the country) as well as preparations for another ceasefire for this year – more details on that here.
Between the preparations for the Peace Fair and the Youth Peace Parliament, I hadn’t got much sleep for the past several weeks, and only about 3 hours the night before the Fair, so when I got out to the Gardens at 7am, I wouldn’t let myself sit down for more than a couple of minutes at a time, or else I’d start to drift off.
And the fourteen hour day on Sunday led straight into the Youth Peace Parliament on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This year as well as the parliamentary side of things, we’d added streams in Arts, Media and Research to give students (drawn from high schools across Queensland) with different skills and interests, more opportunities to participate.
The Media Team produced a daily broadsheet detailing the events of the Peace Parliament as well as running a Twitter feed and a live blog (here) and the Researchers helped out with in-depth analysis of the issues before the parliament, and held meetings with lobby groups to carry their concerns back to the parties for further action.
One of the absolute highlights of the YPP though, came about in the lunchtime of the last day – which we’d had to move inside because of the apocalyptic dust storm that helpfully travelled up from Sydney. One of our two Arts facilitators, Luke Haralampou started some activities which led to a freestyle battle between him and our Deputy Youth Premier. I was locked away in a meeting at the time, to help decide who was going to receive the various awards for their participation, but everyone was buzzing from it and when we came out, we could still hear the cheering.
Luckily, I’d heard Luke, Lesson MC, perform at the Peace Fair, so I had some idea of how great his performances could be.
And it inspired me to write this -
My bearded brother from Greece
Free-form poet, warrior for peace
Luke, my brother, does it lower your opinion
When I confuse the Greek with the Carthaginian?
Do you think I’m just an ignorant boy
‘Cause I think of our Youth Speaker when people speak about Troy?
How could you not grow up thinking war was a farce
When your country’s greatest weapon was a wooden horse’s arse?
Luke’s going to be performing at the Blackstar Street Party on October 2nd – everyone who’s got the time, should get along if they can. Details below the fold – Continue reading ‘Freestyling for Peace’