Peace House puts on art show fundraiser

An art show benefit was held for Washington, DC’s Peace House on Saturday, May 12 at Larry’s Lounge on 18th St. NW.

Proceeds will go toward purchasing the Peace House, which is currently up for sale.

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Activist community seeks to keep its home at Peace House

It’s a race to raise half a million dollars in one month.

Otherwise, the resident activists of Peace House on 12th Street will be turned out on the streets.

Peace House now serves as a refuge, usually a temporary one, for activists on the streets. Particularly since the February raids on the Occupy DC camps at Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square, when 24-hour no-sleeping rules went into effect, Peace House has provided a couple nights of sleep and a shower for displaced Occupiers.

But Peace House will soon be sold, if not to the activists under its roof within the next month, then to a buyer on the open market.

Peace House stands out among the other houses on 12th St. with its turquoise brick facade, bright flags, and the word “Peace” arching over the entrance. When I visit, someone is stretched out with a laptop on the comfy purple velvet sofa in the living room, and a few gather in the small room off the kitchen with a couple of well-loved dogs. Lots of artwork hangs on the walls, and even more “protest art” is lying around, most of it from the BP protest marking the Gulf oil spill the previous week, including paper maché “Frankenfish.” Resident artist Ray is in the backyard working on a paper maché Uncle Sam.

While Denise Valdez cooks black bean soup in the kitchen, Mira Dabit shows me around and talks about the mission of Peace House–art, education and activism. Mira wants it to be “a real space for anybody who has a revolutionary idea, an idea to change society. We’re trying to do events relevant to everyone.”

Resident artist Ray

Even though time is short, she wants fundraising to tap more than just big-time donors. “We want to have a dollar from everybody–so everybody has a share in this house.”

Both Mira and Denise see Peace House as important in keeping Occupy alive in DC and stress that it’s a vital center for community. The moral support the house provides to full-time artists and activists seems clear. Mira says, “There are some days I wake up and don’t want to do this any more, but by noon I’m energized.” “Yeah,” adds Denise, who has a son in Austin, Texas. “Sometimes I just want to go home. But this is my home now, this is my family.”

If the community of activists can’t buy the house, they have no real contingency plan at the moment. They would probably be dispersed. They seem to take the attitude of founder Concepcion Picciotto, who says, “This is my life, what will be, will be.”

Concepcion carries on a 31-year vigil started by Bill Thomas in front of the White House against nuclear proliferation.

Concepcion Picciotto

Unable to leave the vigil tent unattended, she returns to Peace House only when a volunteer relieves her. “God has given me health and strength to do this,” she says.

She’s adamant that Ellen Thomas, wife of Bill, is not authorized to sell the house, which is titled to non-profit Proposition One. “[Bill] Thomas never signed anything, he bought the house for activists.”

But others don’t seem to be challenging Ellen Thomas’ authority to sell, and the goal is to raise a half million–or a good portion of it–by the end of May to purchase the house.

Peace House will hold an art show and auction on Sunday, April 29 from 12 to 6pm. Peace House is located at 1233 12th St., between M and N Streets.

To donate to Peace House, go here.

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Cool Quote of the Day

In order for the world to become peaceful, people must become more peaceful. Among mature people war would not be a problem–it would be impossible. In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war. However, people can mature just as children grow up. Yes, our institutions and our leaders reflect our immaturity, but as we mature we will elect better leaders and set up better institutions. It always comes back to the thing so many of us wish to avoid: working to improve ourselves.

Peace Pilgrim

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Cool Hero of the Day: Peace Pilgrim

For 28 years a silver haired woman calling herself only “Peace Pilgrim” walked more than 25,000 miles on a personal pilgrimage for peace. She vowed to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.” Born Mildred Lisette Norman, she walked from 1953 to 1981–spanning the Korean and Vietnam Wars–carrying only a message of peace.

Cool Quote of the Day

artwork by davis.jacque

A violent act can never put down another violent act. If you do not believe in violence, you should not exhibit violence in any way. Every act of yours must be based on non-violence. That means you have to build up that capacity within yourself, that faith in the virtue of non-violence. Until that capacity is developed, peace marches, demonstrations, protests and things like that will not bring any real benefit. It would be better for you to sit still and find peace within yourself; then you will be able to take peaceful thoughts, peaceful vibrations, with you wherever you go.

-Sri Swami Satchidananda

Unafraid of insecurity

Photo by Tidewater Muse

Rudolph Bahro writes, “When an old culture is dying, the new culture is created by those people who are not afraid to be insecure.”

I suppose some would question whether an old culture is dying now, but somehow it rings true for me that we’re in a time of major change, a major transition in the world, and many of us are rather nervous about where we’re headed.

You can think of insecurity as a moment in time that we experience over and over in our lives. when you feel insecurity, whether you’re feeling it in the middle of the night out of nowhere or whether it’s constant, there is a groundless and unformed quality to it.

You can think of the groundlessness and openness of insecurity as a chance that we’re given over and over to choose a fresh alternative. Things happen to us all the time that open up the space….It’s like the sky….And this is accessible to us all the time.

-Pema Chödrön, Practicing Peace in Times of War


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Cool Heroes of the Day: Kunzang Palyul Choling

photo by @mmorri

Six members of the Vajrayana Buddhist community Kunzang Palyul Choling in Poolesville, MD arrived at McPherson Park during the confrontation between police and DC Occupiers. They chanted prayers to generate the Buddha of compassion.