This week the student led climate strike was on. I was at work, and not able to go, but I felt so pleased that, led by young people, many others participated. I spoke to Bet on the phone afterwards and she said that going down on the bus was amazing – lots of kids getting on, especially at stops near their schools, and the busdriver encouraging them not to worry about validating their tickets, just to move down the aisle to allow more room for others. Then there were the businesses who closed in solidarity, or let their staff attend. The interest and concern is heartening and powerful (as is the educative value for those not at school). That people will speak up and take some action to express their views and connect with others about this important issue creates energy and hope for change.
The inspiration of young people was on my mind again this week as I attended the Peace Rules Performing Arts Showcase at Norwood Concert Hall. This is put on by the Graham F Smith Peace Foundation – whose mission is ‘working for peace through the arts’. High schools participate in the event – their students work on an issue and present a performance in whatever medium they choose. I went last year too – it is a great night. The clarity of the students’ vision about social issues and the quality of their work was really something. There were 10 schools and 14 different performances. Most schools were in Adelaide, but Port Lincoln was also represented. The issues they highlighted included domestic violence, the importance of education, inequality, the importance of not being silent, environmental issues, racism, respect for indigenous people, relationships and bullying and more.
One of the most powerful pieces was from students at Para Hills High. Theirs is a very culturally diverse school, with lots of kids from refugee backgrounds. They had a group of male students who did a dance performance called ‘We stand for peace’. Many of the students originally came from places which were experiencing war or conflict, their younger childhoods marked by these things. Their expressed commitment to peace through this work was very powerful and real – the sense of connection and solidarity between them, and the support for each other, their ‘holding each other up’ in the moves of the piece. Given the overwhelmingly ‘masculine’ nature of most military conflict, and the way males are conditioned around violence, to have boys alone perform this work was very powerful also.
I went last year as well and took heaps of bad photos, so took less this year – I will include a few from both nights to give you a flavour – but they don’t do justice to the quality of this fantastic event.