In 2001, my mentor, Avon Mattison, saw the proposal she made to the United Nations come true - the establishment of the International Day of Peace. Since then, on September 21st each year, there are worldwide cease fires and increased efforts to make peace a reality. Avon, whose name rhymes with Heaven, made that happen. Whenever she talked with me, I felt bathed in Divine Love. She always inquired enthusiastically about Singing Tree Project, which gave me strength to keep going in the face of obstacles.


Avon saw the United Nations' as a "Divine Plan for the Unified Souls of all Nations to move from a culture of war, violence and separation to one of regeneration and peace." She also said "Peace is a verb. It includes actions for the benefit of ALL life... We don't know what the future holds. We cannot be attached to the outcome."


Avon passed away at the age of 80 on Oct. 13, 2021, leaving Pathways to Peace to carry on her work. I have kept her last message on my phone. When I am struggling, I raise my vibration by listening to her angelic voice.


This time last year, Unity Through Creativity celebrated 20 years of the Singing Tree Project - on-line. What a gathering of Peace Leaders that was! It affirmed the power of creativity and collaboration to pro-actively build a culture of peace. Thank you to everyone who joined us for that rich dialogue.


This year, we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the International Day of Peace at Keystone Heritage Park in El Paso, Texas - in-person. We will be remembering Avon Mattison, the visionary founder of this international holiday. We will also be exploring the UN's 2022 goal of the day: End Racism, Build Peace. We are proud to partner with the Interfaith Alliance of the Southwest, whose extensive network in El Paso is helping us bring together the multi-cultural, mutli-racial, multi-generational Village that is the basis of a healthy democracy.


Here's the beginning of the Singing Tree Mural that will be unveiled and contributed to at our celebration. Our focus is on Peace with the Earth, Peace with Each Other and Peace Within Ourselves. Please share what you are doing to celebrate the Fall Equinox and the International Day of Peace. Let us amplify the waves of Peace - doing conflict well - as an alternative to letting our differences destroy our planet and each other. We'd love to hear from you...


To end, I'd like share another commentary in El Paso Matters on-line newspaper about the power of Connection, Purpose and Creativity to help end gun violence. Please share your ideas and actions to heal, regenerate and transform the disfunction and harm we are witnessing. We are in this together.


With Gratitude,


Laurie

Updated: Jul 27


Five words.The United States is based on these five words. A mission statement of 5 words is memorable. Everyone in our country knows them. Really our only task is to test whether or not our actions contribute to liberty and justice for all people on the planet. The idea is that one person's liberty is balanced by the justice of the action they have chosen. And all means ALL, even if it didn't in our country's founding. ALL means a multi-racial democracy with men and women, rich and poor, having Liberty and Justice. It's brilliant. Yes, it's also messy, painful, complex and difficult beyond our wildest dreams - loggers and environmentalists, unborn children and endangered or over-burdened mothers, short term energy needs and preventing the collapse of eco-systems, to name a few. I see closing the gap between our vision of Liberty and Justice for All and our reality to be a clear goal for all of us to work on in every sphere of our society.

The Singing Tree Mural of What Makes America Great wasmade in 2017 by an intergenerational, inter-political group of people, exploring a positive future for our country. It also honors our ancestors. The tear in Lady Liberty's eye is for the suffering in our country and our world as we fail to guarantee Liberty and Justice for All.


Unity Through Creativity Foundation seeks to demonstrate the beauty of our nation's mission. In the Singing Tree Mural Project, the whole world is invited to make a painting together, envisioned by an 8 year old girl. While making collaborative murals inspired by the mutualism of trees and forests, each person is free to express their vision of a positive future with just treatment for people and planet. The daunting goal is achieved one mural at a time, and the training of Singing Tree Mural facilitators.


A remarkable organization that is bringing Liberty and Justice to All is Education Cannot Wait, the Global Fund hosted by UNICEF for children in emergencies. It has brought education to 30 million children who have experienced upheaval and displacement. If the children traumatized by loss of their state, natural disaster and violent conflict can receive support for their natural creativity, compassion and curiosity, the world will have more Peace Leaders and collaborators than terrorists, rogue militias and lone wolves. It is such important work. Unity Through Creativity will be cross-marketing with Education Cannot Wait as we begin to explore how "Peace Buliding Through Art" might play a role in their Multi-Year Resilience programs.

Our work in the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement is ready to launch as soon as we raise the last $10,500. You can support the pilot Singing Tree to Heal the Trauma of War here.


Facilitators of the Month

This month we recognize Gabi Lipska and Bobbie Rae Jones, the first two certified Singing Tree Facilitators. Gabi is an artist, social worker, mother and Polish immigrant living in Cumbria, England. She is in the middle of her third Singing Tree. Her first is called The Willow Singing Tree of Celebrating Our True Value, co-created with immigrant women in rural England.

The second was made with elementary school students when they first came back from Covid. It's called The Singing Ash Tree of Abundance and Protection.

Bobbie Rae, the second Facilitator we are honoring, is an artist, educator, mother and Disaster Recovery Worker whose family has lived in northern California since the Gold Rush in 1849. People who lost their homes to fires in Northern California helped design and paint The Magnolia Singing Tree of Our Inner Wellspring.

In these short videos, Gabi describes the magic of collaborative art and Bobbie Rae shares the process and symbolism of the mural.


To end, I'd like share another commentary in El Paso Matters on-line newspaper about the power of Connection, Purpose and Creativity to help end gun violence. Please share your ideas and actions to heal, regenerate and transform the disfunction and harm we are witnessing. We are in this together.


With Gratitude,


Laurie

Updated: Jun 13

The Magical Window Singing Tree Mural

What a joyful relief to gather in person at the Bioneers Conference after a two-year Covid hiatus. The focused, caring and visionary activists who came together strengthened our hearts in this tumultuous time. Bioneers' commitment for young people to play an active role in its gathering and programs is one reason I value this organization. Youth groups from Louisiana, Alaska, New York, California and Texas created the 108th Singing Tree mural. Even though they had never met each other before, they co-created a unique and powerful symbol in three days.

Making the mural together allowed the youth to process the impact of difficult and hopeful stories they heard in the plenaries, as well as their life experiences. The image inside the circular Magical Window is the place where humanity and nature are one, where rainbows and water begin, where the baby birds sing and leaves fly. It is surrounded by love and held by the phases of the moon.

After hearing the story of Ecuadorian indigenous forest protectors Nina and Helena Gualinga, who have stood against logging companies and oil companies, the students felt compelled to add tree stumps and oil to the painting. The courageous Gualinga sisters showed a video of a broken oil pipe spewing a stream of black liquid over the forested hillside of their sacred land. A caribou looks on, larger than the fountain of oil, yet still affected.

Some of the youth from Louisiana had lost two classmates to gun violence. They honored their friends whose lives were cut short in the birds below.

The head of the Bioneers Youth Program, Nature-based educator Will Scott of Weaving Earth, gave feedback to Unity Through Creativity's support of the young people at the conference:


"The gorgeous murals you all brought literally transformed the room. I honestly don't know if what happened in there would have been possible if the space hadn't felt so beautiful, inspiring and dynamically held by the murals that embraced it. Really. And then there's the gorgeous mural you painted! Incredible. Both the process and the end result added so much to the conference and the youth program as a whole. It was really a gift to have the art being made in real time in the space (and I know it wasn't always easy to pull that off!).


A deep bow of gratitude to you, your crew, and the amazing work you do."


Here's a short video of the joy of co-creating this project.



Facilitators of the Month


Unity Through Creativity Foundation will now be honoring our amazing facilitators each month. We begin by recognizing the enormous efforts of Leslie Rein (middle) and Diana Schiaretta (left) who have taken on a HUGE project. Leadership means facing uncertainty, inspiring trust and daring greatly. That's what Leslie and Diana are accomplishing at Shanel Valley Academy, a new, small charter school in Hopland, California.

The Singing Tree Facilitators are helping a brave group of educators, who have begun a STEAM, agricultural and project-based Learning Community in town that has been without an elementary school for 10 years. The student population is 35% Pomo, 35% Hispanic and 30% white. The school is completing their first year by making a 30 foot-long Singing Tree mural in a walk way. The Shanel Valley Academy Singing Tree of Community and Culture celebrates the return of their community school which is devoted to cultural inclusion and supporting every child. The 5th and 6th graders are the Lead Design Team for the project, inviting the younger grades, the staff, their families and community members. Unity Through Creativity is supporting the profound accomplishment of Shanel Valley Academy's first year with the all-inclusive mural project, inspired by the native oak tree. Leslie and Diana have driven over 200 miles each trip, going above and beyond in their devotion to co-creating the mural and touching the lives of the whole school community.

More Peace Leaders Are Needed


Our goal is to train 30 Facilitators in 2022. Co-heart #6 will certify Singing Tree Facilitators in a week-long training from July 18-22, both in-person (El Paso) and virtual. We're adding to the team