|Federico Hewson in Amsterdam on Feb. 14, 2010|
Holidays are moments filled with all manner of ceremony and traditions passed on for generations. Since talking last week a bit about Contemporary Performance Art Rituals and the fact Valentine’s Day is close at hand, I thought it would be great to focus on how one individual, Federico Hewson, is leading the cause to redefine (and ReBegin) the way we perceive the tradition of giving out flowers on that special day (and others) with his non-profit initiative, The Valentine Peace Project (The VPP).
Imagine walking down the street and suddenly coming upon a group of people passing out free Fair Trade produced flowers. Attached to the stem is a refreshing poem about world or inner peace that was written by school children or famous authors submitted to The VPP website. It isn’t about forcing a religious perspective, but about raising awareness of peace, conscious practices, and Fair Trade products. I love it for it’s simple, refreshing take on a ritual that has been mass marketed as a romantic event and excuse for selling sugar and flowers that leave a massive carbon footprint.
|Federico and a happy flower recipient in Amsterdam 2009|
I’ve participated in handing out the flowers on many occasions since its beginning, and the response from people can be so amazing. I’ve had several experiences where the receiver of the flower was filled with joy by the receipt of the flower, or was moved to tears by the poem. One lady gave me a hug because she had never received a flower on Valentine’s day before. Being a giver of flowers is so rewarding, and there is definitely an energy transfer that takes place as you hand out flowers imbued with messages of peace. In time, with enough people participating in this new type of Contemporary Performance Art Ritual, it could bring about a real transformation in our relationship to peace.
|with Rochelle Palkowitz at the Downtown LA Art Walk on Feb 14, 2008|
The Valentine Peace Project started as a community project in 2005 to open up the definition of February 14 as a day to not only celebrate romantic love - but love in all its many faces - friendship, basic human connection and community, and to underline the work of peace building. Love and peace is normally a cliche 60s slogan - but what does love mean outside of romance and next to spiritual practice? Where is peace in our relationships, in our hearts, and where can we locate it in a global community still plagued by deadly violence?
Moving into the 21st century the Project is now evolving into a social enterprise to be a vehicle for many of our 'symbols of love' to 'work for peace' via products or gifts of love giving to conflict resolution on many levels - a business with a social development goal.
But this is about The VPP as a performance ritual - a ritual that started by writing a poem or message of peace - rolling it into a scroll and giving it away or wrapping it around a flower to handout on the streets. With thousands of Fair Trade roses donated in the Netherlands together with thousands of poems the city of Amsterdam has been and will be blanketed February 14 in citywide peace performance art with individuals making cards, passing out flower poems, performing music and folding origami to leave on cafe seats or hand out to tourists.
|Children participating in Peace Education project in Amsterdam 2009 that includes putting the poems on flowers before handing them out|
"Make something beautiful and give it away. Energize, underline and help manifest the true integrity of love."
Flowers, poems, cards, thoughts of peace - tied with a ribbon or wrapped around flowers or chocolate or shared virtually - these have been the rituals of the Valentine Peace Project for five years now- reflecting, promoting and acting upon the work of love and the promise of peace in today's connecting world.
SO…Take action - write or find a favorite poem on love and pass it around this February- and check out the website at www.ValentinePeaceProject.org to become involved!
More pictures of The Valentine Peace Project in action can be found at:
|while singing a song of peace during "Love & P's"party at the Pollination Pavilion on Feb 14, 2010|
|Shakuntala & Kuva look great with flowers at the Downtown LA ArtWalk on Feb. 14, 2008|
|Rochelle is one happy woman who loves to pass out flowers for peace!|