By Melvin Giles
Hello Hamline/Midway, Como, Frogtown, and Rondo Midway Monitor Readers,
It’s a refreshing and uplifting pleasure to share with you this month a few reflections from the innovative Drive-In Peace Celebration that was held on Sept. 19th at the intersections of the Rondo, Frogtown, and North End Communities near the State Capitol. The event was originally plan for June 19 (Juneteenth), however, was postponed like most summer annual events due to COVID-19. Fortunately, a dedicated and compassionate team of Peaceful Love Warriors stepped-up to create a successful safe and meaningful Peace Celebration beyond belief. On behalf of the Peace Celebration planning team, I send us all bright thoughts of better and healthy days and the Global (global & local) Messages of Peace: May Peace Prevail On Earth and May Peace Be In Our Homes & Communities.
Drive-in Peace Celebration reflections
• Nancy D. (Member of the MN Alliance of Peacemakers): This was my first time participating in the Peace Celebration, even though I have been a resident of St. Paul for most of my life. My activism has been more focused on Global Problems and Solutions, rather than the needs of my own local community. The murder of George Floyd in the midst of our isolation due to COVID-19, and the many stark challenges thereby highlighted right here at home, created a seismic shift in my heart. I am now planting my feet firmly on the ground of my own home community of St. Paul. This Peace Festival was a most meaningful way for me to start this journey.State Rep. Rena Moran & Musician Thabiso at the Drive-In Peace Celebration[/caption]
While there is an urgent need to protest specific unjust events and actions committed by those in power, there is also a need to hold tight to a vision of what we wish for our future. Through music, dance, spoken word, and messages from community leaders, the spirit of this year’s Peace Celebration was so joyful and hopeful and inspiring! And it wasn’t just a show on stage; my participation in the planning team and the behind-the-scenes movement of the day manifested this same spirit of community and joy. I look forward to the 25th Annual Celebration next June!
• Deon H. (U of MN Extension Health & Nutrition Educator & Peace Celebration Activator): The Drive-In Peace Celebration was full of life, fun, joy, and community pride. Being a remote event didn’t stop anyone from bringing their all. The live crowd may have been small, but everyone - the volunteers, emcee, speakers, and performers, brought enough talent, passion, and sincerity for a crowd of thousands. This carried into the audience: even though we were keeping a safe distance from one another, the energy was palpable. This event was the perfect place to bring your whole self. On everyone’s face, you could witness a vision and commitment to a bright, beautiful, and Peaceful future.Maricella X., Jeff S. , Jane P. & Michael S. celebrating the closing of a successful Drive-In Celebration[/caption]
• Megan P. (Peace Sanctuary Garden’s Children’s Garden Coordinator): The resilience, creativity, determinedness, and joy of the Rondo Frogtown COMMUNITY PEACE CELEBRATION planning team was on brilliant display the afternoon of Sept 19th when the 24th annual event was celebrated as a “Drive-in” and live streamed on Facebook for all to see! The Peace Celebration, regularly scheduled in June, had to be postponed due to Covid-19. The planning team, led by Melvin Giles, was at first daunted by the prospect of celebrating during a pandemic, however in short order rallied around Melvin’s idea of a drive-in event! I can’t speak for all the planners officially but I think we all felt the joy and PEACE on the 19th when we watched dancers, heard the music, singers and spoken word artists and celebrated with the Community as masked, 6 feet apart, virtual, Peacemakers. Cheers to the Planning Team!
• Sarah P. (Executive Director of Northern Lights): I am a newcomer to the Community Peace Celebration; my first year as an attendee was 2018, I think. I was moved by the warmth of the community gathered. I got involved with the planning for the 24th Annual Celebration as an act of reciprocity for all the time and energy given by this community to help organize the Northern Spark festival in Rondo in 2019. I’ve organized some very large events in my time, but I am always a learner. The Peace Celebration team taught me so much about keeping joy close to the process of event organizing. We did a really big thing in a very short time frame. The sun was so bright and the sky so blue the day the performers and speakers met up in the parking lot to glow up our hearts with messages of peace, working it out together and yes, joy! It lifted my soul in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.
• Tezikiah (Tez) G. (Executive Director of Pathways To Peace (PTP) - United Nations Peace Messenger Organization Consultative Status with ECOSOC): What an uplifting, positive and energetic event! The Drive-In Peace Celebration inspired a small but enthusiastic audience with a variety of high-quality and local/global performers, including ethic dancers, musicians, spoken word, and speakers from all walks of life -all bound together in a unified commitment to Peace! Melvin was in his glory and at his best in elevating the crowd energy by bringing laughter, running around the cars and spectators shouting words of encouragement, and blowing bubbles to connect us beyond the bounds of social distancing. T. Michael Rambo was an inspired, funny, and captivating MC, using song, poetry, wisdom, and positivity! All in all, I would not have missed this world class, yet intimate community event!Diesel Heart Melvin Carter Jr & Emcee T. Mychael Rambo at the Drive-In Peace Celebration[/caption]
• Jeff S. (Shoreview): I had never attended St. Paul’s Community Peace Celebration before, but I knew about it through colleagues at Bethel University who had helped me to connect students with Melvin Giles and Megan Phinney at the Urban Farm and Garden Alliance. Just a month ago, I called Melvin, simply hoping to catch up a bit. As usual, I found him to be knee-deep in coordinating a team of volunteers for a community initiative – this year’s 24th Annual Peace Celebration. Since the original date for the event had been delayed due to the COVID pandemic, when a new date became available, it offered little time to prepare and coordinate all of the essential elements. The list of tasks ahead of Melvin and his team seemed daunting: gaining permission from relevant local authorities, sourcing a stage and a sound engineer, recruiting an emcee, guest speakers, musicians and performers, coordinating safety personnel, social media folks to share the word and stream the event, and gaining the support of Frogtown Community Radio (WFNU 94.1 FM) to broadcast the celebration live. I was delighted for Melvin’s invitation to help where I could, because during my brief involvement, it opened my eyes to what casual observers, like me, often take for granted. And through the coordinated efforts of Melvin’s team of caring volunteers, participants and sponsors, it came together with positivity, a genuine love for the community, and a quest for meaningful peace. I’m looking forward to next year’s 25th Annual. In Peace.
• Katharine D. (WFNU Frogtown Community Radio 94.1 FM: The Drive-In Peace Celebration was amazing! It was great to see so many happy people enjoying the live music, spectacular performances, and moving speakers giving us all hope for the future. After being isolated and away from community, the Peace Celebration was a way for all of us to come together safely in celebration!