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Arts & Culture Collective

A letter from Emily

April 12, 2012

Emily Mendelsohn, one of our committee members is currently in Africa. We miss Emily and wanted her to know how proud we are of her and all the work she is doing.

She recently sent us a letter that we are posting to give everyone an update on her activities.

Dear Arts and Culture,

Thinking of you and the coming Peace Fair. Break Legs! How is it going?

Busy here with my tiny part in this massive arts and social justice project. Making up some training techniques with Ugandan actors. We’re having an informal presentation/conversation on a play about the Rwandan genocide here at the National Theater in Kampala in a couple of weeks. The genocide was not in Rwanda , but affected the region – the army of Rwandan diaspora who ended the genocide lived and trained in Uganda. Many people in the cast remember that in ’94, people in Uganda stopped eating fish because so many bodies ended up in Lake Victoria. And, yet, the details of the genocide are not so much known here. There were even Ugandan actors who traveled with me to Rwanda who weren’t sure there had been a genocide in Rwanda. To tell the story, and to have a way to tell that is not theater-for-development (NGO’s ravaged the performance scene in Uganda by paying artists to create quick, result and message-driven work), I hope is useful…

Soulographie – a 17-play, grass-roots organized project that creates contemplative space to consider 20th C genocide, especially those in which America is complicit – goes up in November at La MaMa. I hope you’ll be able to come!

There’s also a benefit April 29 (also at La MaMa). If you are interested and its available to you, it could be a great way to meet other people working in arts and social change. I think these are some of the real stalwarts of the field.

My best to you all and, again, have a blast at the Fair!


Thanks Emily for your incredible letter. Stay safe and we are always thinking of you!

Arts & Culture Committee

The WORD on Peace Event

Friday, January 27, 2012,

Brooklyn For Peace’s Arts & Culture group hosted its second event at WORD bookstore in Greenpoint.

Titled “The WORD On Peace,” the event sought to bring together artists, writers and musicians with the Greenpoint community – both those interested in peace and justice, and those interested in books and culture.

The evening began with a reading of “We Will See,” a poem by Ahmed Faiz Ahmed and translated by Rafiq Kathwari, part of the Occupy Wall Street poetry group. The poem promises:

We will see
That promised day
Chiseled on tablets of pre-eternity

It’s inevitable
We, too, will see

Pyramids of tyranny
Floating like wisps of cotton

The evening’s next reader was Susan Metz, who read from original works as well as a Walt Whitman poem. Of her own verse, Metz read:

Peace Waveless, windless silver and gold glitter trail across the placid sea to the setting sun
A harmonious chorale praise in an unfamiliar language
Under a featherbed – ataraxia, absence of emotional disturbance-halcyon winter afternoon with long-haired, grey and white Muffin purring at my side, 
serene and silent, I slip over and out

The next reader was Professor Jan Clausen, who teaches at Eugene Lang College and the Goddard College MFA Writing Program.

The first musical performance of the evening was from Madeline Fix-Hansen, performing solo without her band, Alma Garnett. Madeline performed some original songs, including “Song of the Chicken Fair” and “All These Riddled Maps” and a cover of Exene Cervenka’s “Leave Heaven Alone.”

After Madeleine, a group of three poets from Detroit read. Including Jhon Clark, James Hart III and Anita Schmaltz, the Detroit poets read poems of pain, altruism, hope and despair. James Hart is the director and editor of White Print Inc. publishing.

Closing the evening was Greenpoint-based musician Anya Skidan. Anya played several original songs, including “Be Here Now” and “Traveler’s Heart.

The packed, standing room only event, filled the basement of WORD bookstore for an evening of poetry, music and peace building.

Many thanks to the artists who participated and those in attendance that help make this event a great success!

Brooklyn For Peace’s New Arts & Culture First Event

Brooklyn For Peace’s new Arts & Culture group held its first event on December 6th, 2011. Held at Brooklyn College’s BC Student Center, the event brought together people in the peace and justice community in Brooklyn with students at Brooklyn College for an evening of music, theater, poetry and storytelling.

The evening began with Deron W. Crockwell, a seven-year-old, who read a letter he had written to the United Nations about the need for world peace. BC student Joel Williams performed passionate songs about love and the awful power of indifference to an unjust world. BC student Ransom Woodson sang a beautiful aria. Musician Dennis Gronim played driving rhythms and licks on his dobro, incorporating Deron’s letter to the UN in one song. Brooklyn musician UnBelievable Jones performed two songs the first being a sing-along with audience enthusiastically participating and the second, a jazz standard. Another seven-year-old, Ameliyah Bastien Israel, read pieces she had written about love and peace. Brooklyn-based band Hollands performed with electric guitar and violin songs about the shallowness of blind belief in power, and love songs.

Two members of the Arts & Culture group performed. First, poet Sandra Israel read poetry, including these lines:

Taste Just like honey, natural goodness for a petalled soul.
Bees reminiscent to magic, ensuring a domino’s fold.
[‘August Nectar.’]

Nothing means more than one flight set alone
written for the stones.
No worries on a heavy load.
Buttons function according to my manual.
[‘First Flight’]

Secondly, Emily Mendelsohn performed with Mr. Abdel Mageed SALIH a theater piece about what peace is, particularly from the perspective of the Sudan, where the latter-two performers are from. Afterwards the audience was invited to share how they envisioned peace, and several shared their stories.

The evening gathered a large crowd in the BC Student Center for a cultural event about peace, and built ties for a more peaceful future.

Upcoming Peace Performance – Pieces of Peace

On Tuesday, December 6, 2011, the newly formed Arts & Culture Committee of Brooklyn For Peace and Brooklyn College Student Center, will host an evening of music, theater, poetry and dance.

Pieces of Peace is the first of the ongoing Peace Performance Series presented by the Arts & Culture Committee.

The evening’s topic:
What is peace? What does peace look, move, taste and sound like?
How do we create peace in our community, in our home, in our heart, in our world?Listen to Pieces of Peace Ad

Where: Brooklyn College – BC Student Center – The Club Room
East 27th St. & Campus Road
Brooklyn, NY 11210 (map)

Time: 7:00 PM – 10:30 PM

There will be food, beverages and a dance hour following the performances.

Recent events at Occupy Wall Street, including the more than 30,000 people who marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on November 17th, demonstrate the growing power and popularity of the peace and justice movement. We will celebrate and expand it further with performances from Brooklyn College student-artists, local Brooklyn artists, as well as performers from Occupy Wall Street’s Arts & Culture Group and Brooklyn For Peace’s Arts & Culture Committee.

Come celebrate the growing movement and participate in some pieces of peace.

The Program

Theater presentation with Q&A:

Emily Mendelsohn and Mr. Abdel Mageed SALIH Speaks on Sudan

Mr. Abdel Mageed SALIH is a human rights advocate from Sudan and a chairperson of HAND, human rights and advocacy network for democracy.

Emily Mendelsohn is an American theatre director with an interest in East Africa.

Musical Performances

Brooklyn “freak-poppers” Hollands are a cheery mix of folk, punk, and free-noise.

UnBelievable Jones
The world has never seen a singer like statuesque 6 feet tall (183cm) Yanelle Dugar AKA UnBelievable Jones, among other aliases, SHHH! Yanelle is in a league of her own-able to handle many a genre- traditional Jazz, R&B, Eletronica & Dance. Like a superhero-she conquers all-wonder woman with a microphone-fearless feminine force of nature.”

Joel Williams
Piano and spoken word

Ransom Woodson
Piano and spoken word

Dennis Gronim
Dennis plays powerful driving rhythms and stinging licks on the dobro and guitar like a train delivering his spontaneous poetic riffing on the exciting cultural and political action around us.

Links to some of Dennis’s YouTube videos:

Poetry Readings

Sandra Israel
Brooklyn born and raised, I am a natural born actress and an exceptional writer with a need to speak out loud! I have been writing poetry since I was 13 years old. My goals consist of reminding people about the value of their art and staying true to that calling. Because art is a wide variety of creativity, we all must respect our purpose. I am a helper, family woman and a voice for those who have a hard time conveying the words they wish to speak.

Ameliyah Bastien Israel & Deron W. Crockwell
Ameliyah and Deron are two cool kids from Brooklyn, who are also cousins. They have a keen sense of understanding a world where no violence is tolerated. It is best to view these kids (and others as well) as seeds in the soil. Let’s help nurture their purpose and patiently watch them grow.

Peace of Peace flyer and invite other to join in as we journey toward peace through art.

The Arts & Culture Committee –
Brooklyn For Peace

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Mission Statement

Our mission is to bring together cultural workers and artists working in all media and performance arts with the focus on contributing to building the peace and justice movement in Brooklyn.....Read more

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