The Anguish of War - The Work of Hope


Every night I wake up and think of the people being bombed in Ukraine as the world watches. I think of Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Myanmar and Sudan - other places where people are being bombed as the world watches. I am in anguish over this needless suffering. How are you doing, my friend?


I turn to art in these difficult times. The creative expression of feelings brings relief. I invite you to join me and contribute to the 102nd Singing Tree mural, The Ukrainian Singing Tree of Strength and Freedom. We hope to bring love to those who are suffering in Ukraine, including the African students who are having a hard time leaving. The project will raise funds for the International Rescue Committee’s work with Ukrainian refugees. Below you'll find the study for the mural which uses the Ukrainian flag for its background and honors Ukraine's national tree which is a viburnum. The roots are holding the heart of the world. The national bird – the nightingale - is singing and calling out, and the map of Ukraine on the earth is surrounded by blood and prayer dots.

Instructions and templates for leaves and birds are here.


Progress on The Cyprus Singing Tree of Peace

The mural has begun, after two years of planning with our amazing partner in Cyprus, Visual Voices. Below is the study that grew out of the genius of 8 artists working together, four from the North and four from the South of Cyprus. It was not an easy process. They worked through differences and came up with a rich, unique image. Photographer Giorgos Stylianou took the bottom two photos, one using a drone. He will be documenting the project.





To witness such beauty and collaboration between opposite members of a divided nation in this time of seeing bombed out, flatten cities and families having to flee for their lives gives me strength. I hope it gives you strength, too.


The Cyprus Singing Tree of Peace is Unity Through Creativity's first 5 x 5 Project: 5 Singing Tree Murals in 5 countries for 5 years. The countries are Cyprus, Uganda, England, Peru and the United States.

The Kyangwali Singing Tree of Healing the Trauma of War

Our project in Uganda has taken on new meaning as we witness 2 million people becoming refugees in 12 days. The question of whether our species can handle mass migration with compassion, grace and focused resources is a challenge of the 21st century. Climate chaos has been estimated to dislodge 120 million people in the next decades. This number doesn't include migration caused by people fleeing violence and poverty.


The Kyangwali Refugee camp is all too familiar with leaving one's homeland because of war. 95% of the refugees who live in the UN's settlement in northern Uganda have come from the Congo. The trauma of war has stayed with them for decades and the need for healing is intense. The Singing Tree process is a collective way for feelings to be expressed and stories to be shared - a necessary step in healing.


Kanizius Nsabimana, the Lead Organizer, came up with the theme for the Singing Tree of Healing the Trauma of War. He fled the Congo to the refugee camp when he was seven in 1996. As a visionary educator, he founded Youth Challenge 4 Change which supports entrepreneurial projects by high school students and teaches Peace Building Through Sport.



World-renown Lead Artist, Emma Kavuma, lives in Kampala, 6 hours away from the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. He follows in his artist father's footsteps, even though he lost him and his mother as a young child. His father used charcoal as his main medium. 4 year-old Emma picked up charcoal from the fireplace when his parents died and started drawing. He hasn't stopped. Sharing the principle that creativity is a birthright, Emma brought art-making to Syrian refugees in the Netherlands. We are thrilled to have both Emma and Kanizius join our team of Singing Tree Facilitators.


The Kyangwali Singing Tree is the 2nd 5 x5 Project. The $20,000 project still has $9000 to go before we can launch. We're going to be embarking on a creative fundraising campaign soon. Please stay tuned!


And lastly, we celebrate with you. May all women be cherished and safe. May all men be cherished and safe. May all children be cherished and safe.


Humbly and with love,


Laurie


P.S. The eagle in the moon at the head of the newsletter was drawn by Lidia Lopez, Singing Tree Facilitator and Community Matters Bully Prevention Trainer, in honor of her father who died last year.



Perseverance Furthers


Have you ever had a dream, year after year, and it doesn't come true, but you keep dreaming it and you never give up and, 20 years later, it actually happens?


Well, my dream came true on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 when 4 artists from the South of Cyprus and 4 artists from the North of Cyprus began the Cyprus Singing Tree of Peace. We met on Zoom with Dr. Katia Petersen, former Director of Education for the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the founders of Visual Voices, Alden Jacobs and Marina Neophytou. As the Lead Design Team, the eight artists will create a Singing Tree together with the goal of then making one in each of their communities. Here we are on Zoom. Thank you, Technology.

For the first time in 20 years, Katia and I combined programs that we've created and devoted our lives to - Worldview Exploration and the Singing Tree Project - with young people from Cyprus. Yes, we've been talking about doing this for 20 years.


Katia grew up on Cyprus. She was 16 when the Civil War broke out. She was passed out a window just as the person who caught her was shot. In her first teaching job, thrust upon her during the war, she discovered that telling stories and making art with the children who had lost their parents was healing. This was the beginning of her career as a visionary educator, art therapist and psychologist.


In January, 2020, Alden Jacobs and I met through the Rotary's Eclub for World Peace, an international team of dedicated Peace Leaders. This young Rotary Peace Fellow, now living in Cyprus, and I presented a joint session at the Rotary's Peace Conference of 2020 on Peace-Building Through Art. Here is Alden at the conference in front of a little canvas Lili Lopez and I made of flying to Cyprus.

He and his partner, Marina Neophytou, founded Visual Voices in Cyprus. Their mission is to be a non-profit supporting youth artists from communities affected by violent conflict. They promote the creation contemporary visual art that reflects the desire for positive social change and build the space for these ideas to be shared. They brought together the eight artists, succeeded in getting funding from the Cyprus Ministry of Culture with Unity Through Creativity and made arrangements for the Cyprus Singing Tree of Peace to go on the wall seen below of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNPFIC).The mural will be on this wall, Alden and a UN soldier are measuring showing how long the mural will be.

Emel Ramiz, one of the Cypriot artists, was on fire after the first session and sent her study of the Pomegranate/Olive Singing Tree right off. The Lead Design Team, Visual Voices, Katia and I will put together a vision of Peace with people from different sides of Cyprus, the world's longest occupied country. Katia and I waited 20 years for this. Cyprus has waited 50 years for Peace. Can we add momentum to bring connection over division? That is our impossible dream. And the dream is bigger: Inner Peace, Family Peace, Neighborhood Peace, International Cities of Peace, Countries at Peace, a Peaceful World.


The visionary co-founder of the Rotary EClub of World Peace is Barbara Muller. I was honored to have this author/educator activist interview me on her Peace Podcast last Thursday. She also sent me a book about her deceased husband, former UN Assistant Secretary-General Robert Muller who dedicated 40 years of his life to the UN. I want to end with his words: I will help this planet, with all my abilities and love, to become what it was always meant to be: a planet of God, a true miracle in the universe, inhabited by a happy, fulfilled, peaceful loving humanity, thankful for the miraculous gift of Life.


I hope the fact that Katia and I did not give up for twenty years to do our work together gives you faith to hang in there with your dream. I'd love to hear your long term dream stories.


With gratitude,


Laurie Marshall



It’s a New Year! I am sending you a winter greeting of nourishing the roots during the fallow season. As I reflect upon the concept of Unity Through Creativity, I am struck by the importance of being a Life-Long Learner in order to continually regenerate the roots of Creativity. Nature doesn't say, "I'm done adapting to reality." Nature says "How can I grow in this new situation? Where can I get nourishment? How can I give back to my eco-system?" By getting support from inspirational leaders, Unity Through Creativity (UTC) continually seeks to go deeper, wider, higher. Two programs gave us rigorous frameworks, team strength and expansive vision in 2021: Redesign Training and Shiloh Sofia McCloud's Intentional Creativity. The wisdom of these two loving, demanding and innovative offerings are being incorporated into the Singing Tree Methodology, Facilitator Training and other UTC programs.


Redesign Training provided an accountability structure for being one's word, goal-setting, radical possibility and group collaboration. The Blue Angels are the model for teamwork. These Air Force jets fly 20 inches apart at 900 miles per hour. The stakes are high and the accomplishments are thrilling. UTC partnered Redesign Training to raise $13,000 for Kids in Need of Defense through the Mahogany Singing Tree to Reunite Children with Their Families. We are also supporting Redesign Training for our Singing Tree Facilitators and Board members.


Shiloh Sophia McCloud is spearheading a worldwide movement of Intentional Creativity. A community of over 10,000 women join together as a stand for Inclusion, Creativity as a Birthright and growing Feminine Wisdom. Last year I participated in Shiloh's offering called "Ritual", painting on one canvas for 13 moons, as did 200 plus other women around the world. Shiloh asks us to deeply experience our unconscious, embrace our shadow and express what is unknown. I view this self-reflection as an essential process for Peace Building. Violence so often results from unmet, unconscious needs and trauma. If these needs and trauma can be made visible through art and shared through community, healing takes place. Below is the process of my painting which is almost complete.


Beginning - Three Soul Strokes


Consecration


Devotion


The Soul Dwells in Place - Mountains


Illumination


The Visible Self and the Hidden Self


I am now embarking on Shiloh's next offering, "Maverick". I love how she articulates this year long-process: "Create a painting that honors your disruptor, rebel-with-a-cause, badass mystic artist archetype along with over a hundred other people around the world. All WHILE cultivating radical optimism in unreasonable times."


Yes, radical optimism in unreasonable times! This is the foundation of Unity Through Creativity. This is the unseen growth of the roots during the winter. This is the dandelion growing in the crack of the concrete. I treasure the nourishment from ReDesign Training and Intentional Creativity. Where are you getting your nourishment in the fallow times? I'd love to hear.


The challenges ahead are daunting. Creativity, Connection and Compassion are the key to a thriving human presence on the earth.

Thank you for being a part of this movement. You are treasured. You are needed. You are connected. You are essential.


With Love,


Laurie



 


|||. TheSinging Tree of Love and Inclusion at Biondi Elementary School in Yonkers, New York - facilitated by Kristin Linder-Holmes in a school for traumatized youth who have been incarcerated and hospitalized. Students in Workington England, who just completed the Singing Tree of Inclusion and Protection, part of the 5x5 Program, will be connecting to New York students to accompany them in their project.

These are just highlights of the many projects we have planned. We will feature these original collaborative murals in our newsletter over the coming year.


This is what your gift can do:


$25 = A Set of Prismacolor colored pencils for coloring leaves and birds on a Singing Tree mural

$50 = Two 8' x 4' Boards that will make an 8' x 8' Singing Tree

$100 = Paints and brushes for an 8' x 8' mural

$500 = 400 Posters and postcards to distribute the Singing Tree Image throughout the impacted community

$1000 = 3 days of Singing Tree Facilitation with 150 students working on a Singing Tree

$3000 = Full Scholarship for a Six-month Singing Tree Facilitator's Training for a deserving trainee


You can make your gift here or contact me for other giving options. Your support now will help ensure that we can expand the reach of the Singing Tree Project and affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the next 20 years


May the Holidays and New Year be filled with Creativity, Joy and Abundance.


With Gratitude,


Laurie