Developing a creative passion for
by Mary Ann Coleman
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.
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 ------
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.
Hopefully next Earth
we will all get out and dance!