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(photo: NBEN-RENB)

 

Celebrating the Earth:
Developing a creative passion for change

by Mary Ann Coleman
NBEN Coordinator
May 2000

 

elebrating the Earth", the NBEN Earth Day event was a bold new step for this organization. We deliberately set out to build links with another community - artists and musicians. The thinking behind this move was that while environmental activists work to change our society, artists and musicians, who are often interested in ecological themes, are directly shaping our culture. Yet, never the twain shall meet. The goal of the Earth Day event was to provide an opportunity to develop relationships between these two groups.

As we worked with the artists and musicians to plan the event, new ideas surfaced. Many in the artistic community felt that we needed to move away from traditional get-togethers where people have workshops and talk. They felt that this had been tried and that it didn’t get us too far in changing society. They wanted to try something new. They believed that creative channels were a new direction for us to take in bringing forward an environmental agenda. So we created a day based on music, art and dancing.

------ Theatre events ------

(photo: NBEN-RENB)

And what happened? For me, I learned a lot. I saw a day that was attractive to people with well over 100 participating. The crowd consisted of many people who are not "regulars" at environmental events. During the sunrise ceremony, Donna Perley introduced the concept that by simply "paying attention" to the earth and to rivers, we would be making a difference. This concept threaded the whole day together. People were deeply moved by the words of others during the talking circle. They listened intently to Heremenégilde Chiasson and were blown away by Inka Milewski's research linking the salmon decline to the "chemical soup" in which they live.

------ Talking Circle ------
(photo: NBEN-RENB)

At noon, we headed out onto the boardwalk to drum in the tidal bore. Two First Nations’ women joined the drummers with a chant and were joined by others chanting and dancing, all with a didgeridoo lowing in the background. Back inside, the musicians’ jamming accompanied a "belly dancing" celebration of the river. A group of artists painted a beautiful mural of the river, for which the Petitcodiac Riverkeepers will locate a public "home" this summer. And people did develop strong bonds with each other as they expressed themselves creatively and celebrated rivers, achieving the goal of the event.


(photo: NBEN-RENB)

Hopefully next Earth Day
we will all get out and dance!