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A Magazine for Sheffield

War in the World, Peace in the Park

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Joe Scarborough

It's good to be reminded that Peace in the Park is coming round again. This year our local peace festival is on Saturday 8 June.

The full music line-ups will be on the festival website and all over social media soon. Look out for five lists, all different: the Sheffield Stage, the Reggae Tent, the World Music Tent, the Blues Stage, and the Cabaret and Circus Tent. There's a Climate Action Zone with information stands and activities related to the environment. There's a Healing Area offering free yoga and massage taster sessions. There's a welcoming Kids' Area with free drop-in craft activities and games till 6pm. And it'll be full of street food, local vendors and charity stalls.

It's a great event, enjoyable every time, and the volunteer organisers deserve buckets of praise. They need donations to cover costs and support their chosen charities each year, so please give kindly to your local peace festival, and volunteer to help if you can, on the day, before or after.

An event to remind us of the need for peace, when people can't even remember a time before war - it's like trying to remember when Brexit wasn't in the news.

One of the earliest organisers of Peace in the Park said: "Peace is people being kind to each other, in short. It's standing up to the corporations and governments who are destroying innocent lives and profiting from war. It's looking after the Earth and its resources [...] Peace is something so far from reality for so many people in the world and in Sheffield we are incredibly lucky that in most of our daily lives, we are free from harm."

I couldn't put it better.


2003, the year Peace in the Park was launched, was not a happy year. This beautiful festival began in the aftermath of 9/11. George W Bush had introduced the Homeland Security Act and then invaded Iraq. Millions of us marched against the war, but Blair went ahead because he was convinced about the existence of weapons of mass destruction. The rest is history. In 2003 Sheffield people wanted to make a point, not just to start a festival.

And now, in 2019, war still rages. The panic and trauma, starting from the moment of hearing that conflict is coming, is still an awful life experience for so many across the globe. A fog of lies has fallen over mainstream war reporting in the West. New methods of influencing opinion have appeared, like generating crowds on the streets through the persuasive power of social media. Something's not right. George Monbiot sounded prophetic recently when saying that a revolution is needed.

It's hard to deal with all this and even harder to celebrate anything while war rages. But we shouldn't take our eyes off peace as the ideal state of the world. We don't need an excuse to celebrate and promote peace, to keep the flame of hope alive. No doubt many volunteers have had children of their own in the 16 years since Peace in the Park began, so a new generation needs to hear the message of peace. Come and teach your children. Come and party.

Hosted by Alt-Sheff


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