Over the years I’ve written about individuals who spend their life creating and promoting projects that fly in the face of the nay-sayers who find little hope of repairing this shattered and divided world.
Here are two such individuals who have come to my attention recently. I urge you to read their stories. They’re a great antidote for pessimism.
I just saw the documentary, “Dancing in Jaffa,” Hilla Medalia’s charming movie telling the story of Paul Dulaine, head of the non-profit organization, Dancing Classrooms. Having been born in Jaffa to an Irish father and Palestinian mother (the family left in 1948), he returned to Israel in later life to try to instill mutual respect in 9 to 11-year-old Jewish and Palestinian Israelis through a 10-week course in the movements and courtesies of Latin dance.
Dulaine, four-time champion of international ballroom dancing competitions, was convinced that dance could bridge the divide between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, transforming long-held prejudices and turning wallflowers into confident teens in the process. In the movie, he instructs at five schools, some mainly Palestinian, some mainly Jewish, and one a blend of both. Though he admits to a particular concern for his Palestinian students (“I would like to give them a chance to better themselves”), he is equally firm and considerate with all his charges.
See the movie and you’ll be amazed and heartened by the outcome. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/11/movies/dancing-in-jaffa-a-documentary-by-hilla-medalia.html
Another individual, Harvey Price, (http://music.udel.edu/percussion/), assistant professor of music at the University of Delaware, was called to my attention by a fellow-percussionist and good friend, Phyllis Bitow.
His program is The Peace Drum Project, making peace in Galilee. http://peacedrumsproject.org/the-projects-start/
In 2007, Harvey Price formed three youth steel drum bands in Israel of primarily Jewish Ethiopian youths. All three bands, under that Israeli teacher, are still going strong!
In 2011, the clergy of Delaware Churches for Middle East Peace and four Northern Delaware rabbis, Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist met to exchange views regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. As a result, they began to explore how they might collaborate locally to promote peace in their shared Holy Land.
An interfaith committee was formed to involve youth in peacemaking. Mr. Price’s success with youth steel drum bands in Israel was brought to the committee’s attention and wholeheartedly embraced as a way to build trust and nurture peace among Jewish, Christian, and Muslim youth through teamwork and music.
The project was launched in October 2013 when Harvey Price and fellow enthusiasts traveled to Israel and delivered the first set of drums. Read about the various ways organizations and students have raised money for this project and listen to their playing! http://peacedrumsproject.org/steel-drum-students-learning-quickly/
As I wrote in my posting about Pete Seeger, he was another steel drum enthusiast, who believed that music was the way to bring people together and promote peace, and urged my husband, Glen Peterson, then President of Oscar Schmidt, Int’l, to make steel drums along with our autoharps and Orff percussion instruments. These drums were all the rage at that time in music education. It seems that they are now as popular as ever!
Langley has been beautiful this spring. Sunny and cool. All kinds of art exhibits are in progress as well as some wonderful plays. Two outstanding productions were: Good People by Davis Lindsay Abaire, a play I missed at the Manhattan Theater Club in NYC, and Our Town by Thornton Wilder, a production I last saw on Broadway with Spaulding Gray. I have not seen a better production and plan to see it a second time before it closes. I often usher at WICA (Whidbey Island Center for the Arts), where most dramatic productions take place. We have another smaller theater, The Outcast Theater, which is where Good People was mounted.
It’s amazing the talent that the South Island boasts. For a theater addict, this is, indeed, heartwarming.
My next blog will tell about my birthday party, but I’m still gathering photos, and getting used to being so old.