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Peace vigil an all-night success

John HartChildren from the Performing Arts Guild read quotes about peace from world leaders.
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If wishes could bring world peace then that would have been accomplished at “Awakening: A Sunset to Sunrise Peace Vigil” Wednesday at Miners Foundry Cultural Center.

More than 75 of Nevada County’s music, storytelling and poetry acts donated their time for ongoing performances for about 1,500 people, from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday.

For the first 61/2 hours, the Foundry’s Great Hall and lobby were packed wall-to-wall with people.



In the lobby, attendees chatted, wrote their thoughts on note cards which were then attached to a free-form sculpture, and looked at Peace Center of Nevada County literature.

Hanging on the lobby walls were peace signs in different languages and signs that stated: “One planet indivisible. Imagine there’re no countries … it’s easy if you try” or “Bill of Rights – freedom to peacefully assemble.”




In the Great Hall, Menlo MacFarlane displayed his acrylic-and-oil canvas piece, “A Beautiful Sun Blooms Over a Peaceful World,” created for the vigil.

Wednesday was MacFarlane’s birthday; the vigil was a perfect place to celebrate.

“I want to help. I want to send my energy along with all these other people, not for my children, but for my children’s children, because it will take a long time,” said MacFarlane. He first promoted peace through art when he was 18 in Boston during the Vietnam War.

“Look at all the people here. The moment you walk through the door here, it helps,” he aid.

Arts advocate Martin Butler said, “The evidence it works is on the smiles on the faces. Happy people here,” said Butler.

About 40 youth performers read quotes by world leaders 10 minutes into the vigil.

“I’m here because I think we really need peace. Every day, I wonder if it’ll (war) happen tomorrow,” said Joey Goodnight, an eighth-grader and one of nine Nevada County Performing Arts Guild participants.

Writer, director and actress Sands Hall wrote a peace essay Wednesday just for the occasion. Although her 10-minute slot was slated for 3 a.m., Hall felt she could also make an impact by registering voters all night.

“My belief is peace is not synonymous with inaction. So vote. Get out there,” she said.

A handful of performers stayed up all night at the vigil, broadcast live by KVMR radio and simulcast on the Web.

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Paul Kamm performed with his wife, Eleanore MacDonald, at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and was backstage the next morning at 5.

“I’m beat,” Kamm admitted. This vigil is an awakening – awakening the awareness others feel, awakening the common bond in this country. Too many forces are trying to tear people apart in this country.”

Also staying all night was Robin Phillips, who joined Terry Riley for a 25-minute morning raga at 4:30 a.m. Riley was one of the vigil’s three organizers.

“I’m here because I want to be part of the energy working to create peaceful solutions,” said Phillips.

Deborah Cohen organized meals for volunteers and performers during the entire night.

“The coffee machine is starting to smoke, it never worked so hard,” joked Cohen.

Vigil co-organizer Utah Phillips’ sister didn’t mind the long hours.

“I can’t not do this,” said Cohen, who distanced herself from U.S. politics when she lived in Europe until four years ago.

“When I came back (to the States), I had a massive jolt. Some things never change. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” Cohen said. “How did we sit back? There is now, in spite of what the mass media has us believe, an inescapable groundswell against these wars fought by corporate crooks.”

Vigil co-organizer Mikail Graham called the vigil magic, “pure and simple.” He ended the event with a community sing-along of John Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance,”

Riley said the vigil reminded him of gatherings he had participated in during the Vietnam War era.

“It’s really gratifying to see a real full house,” he said. “(There’s an) outpouring of love from performers and audience who gave all they had.


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