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This will be the first of our bi-weekly posts to clue you guys in on what Peace Train is doing for Imagine Peace Fest 2011. First things first, if you haven’t heard of imagine peace fest it’s a yearly drive to help raise funds for NPO’s that do charitable work across the world. We’re taking part this year with several events live in Second Life and some live events at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia!

This week I’d like to give you guys a little look into how we’re putting this together to make this a great and inspiring event for everyone included. Gregory and myself are each in the process of putting on two shows, both spoken word, to help raise awareness on campus and spread the word about Imagine Peace Fest and the plight of the charities which we’re supporting.

If you guys have any ideas as to an event you’d like to put on to support Imagine Peace Fest in Second Life or real life, or if you want to know how to help contribute to this wonderful cause feel free to reach us here:

Peacetraincharitabletrust@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter here

Follow us on Facebook here

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We are very excited and thankful to have secured two internships through Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia – US.  It’s actually an interesting indicator of the level of attention new technologies – virtual worlds and social media – are getting from academic institutions.

In a few days, Tim and Greg, two students at ODU, will begin their work to help expand awareness of IMAGINE PeaceFest.  Thanks in advance, guys!  And thank you very much to Nakia, Tom and team at ODU for making this possible for us and of course for the organizations we are supporting this year.

I’ve posted also about our planning on the Nordic Virtual Worlds Network blog.  I have the good fortune of knowing a number of the people involved in that interesting work, and have shared the planning for our upcoming event with them – as they are interested in the innovative uses of virtual worlds technologies.

For now – planning meetings are happening each Monday at 1pm and 6pm pacific time (Second Life time) – we are meeting online in Second Life at the Peace Train meeting space on Virtually Speaking island:  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Virtually%20Speaking/226/65/25 

More soon!

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On Wednesday April 27th, we’ll be speaking with Sandra Bérard of the Rural Economic and Agriculture Development Agency (READA).

Sandra will join by phone and tell us about the work that READA is doing to help families secure drinking water,Rural Economic and Agriculture Development Agency - Cambodia

learn sustainable farming methods, and address the ongoing issues affecting our fellow humans there – after 30 years of civil war.

I’m sure you will enjoy hearing from Sandra, and if you are able to join in Second Life, please do submit your questions for me (Cotton Thorne) to ask during the interview.

Peace Train would also like to thank Zachh Cale for volunteering his time and talents!  Zachh will be entertaining us with live music just before the talk with Sandra begins.  I personally think he has a bit of Bob Dylan in his style, but will leave that assessment to you!

What you need to attend:  the Second Life software and your computer sound turned on.  We’ll be meeting in the Garden For Change, a fantastic site in Second Life.  The specific landing point for the concert and interview is at this SL URL (which will open a window to let you teleport to the destination in Second Life).

Hope to see you there!

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Like the Spring…

We are awakening after a long winter.

At Peace Train, we have been resting from PeaceFest 2010 (read the posts below, or archives to learn more about that!) and have quietly been repositioning ourselves for greater impact in 2011.  First, I can’t leave the post alone without mentioning the incredible duress our friends, families, Peace Train volunteers, and others are undergoing in Japan.  Our hearts have been with you, and will continue to be so.  For links to sites to donate and help, I have provided some of that below, thanks to the good work of Siri Vita.

We are living in a time of incredible change.  One might call this the year of revolutions.  As the earth spins and plates shift creating incredible earthquakes off the coast of Japan, so has the citizenry of a number of countries in North Africa and the Middle East shifted, dug in, and exploded in an eruption of voices for freedom.   We are in the throes of it with Japan as I write this – the near-term impact will be known in the coming days as nuclear fuel rods react, damage is assessed, bodies are recovered.  The longer-term impact awaits us like a bad report card we know we’re going to get. The chickens are coming home to roost, as we might say, in Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, and the other countries inspired by those who have dared to speak the truth.

For Peace Train, we will stay connected on these and other efforts around the world to bring peace.  As I think of it, peace is a goal we continually strive for in response to the trials of the day.  As we move towards November, we will do our work to identify a few organizations that are doing incredible things to advance peace, and will be stoking the fires of goodwill across our network to organize for PeaceFest 2011!

Watch this for news on PeaceFest developments.  Consider giving to the organizations below now.  Enjoy the season where you are.  Be at peace.

Steve

Red Cross:
Donors can contribute to the relief efforts by calling 800-733-27677 or visiting http://www.redcross.org Each text message is a $10 donation to the Red Cross, which will be added to the donors’ next cellphone bill. Very convenient.

Medical Teams International:
Medical Teams International is also on alert and staying closely in touch with its nine partners along the coast and in Japan. To donate to Medical Teams International, visit http://www.medicalteams.org

World Vision Canada:
Among the first organisations to begin relief work by distributing emergency supplies and sending highly-trained staff to assess and respond to the most urgent needs. To donate, visit http://www.worldvision.ca/give-a-gift/Pages/Pacific-Tsunami.aspx

Mercy Corps:
Mercy Corps has not sent its own team to Japan but it set up a donation fund for its partner, Peace Winds Japan, and its emergency assistance on the ground. To make a donation, call 888-747-7440 or visit https://www.mercycorps.org/donate/japan

Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders):
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international humanitarian aid organisation that provides emergency medical assistance to populations in danger in more than 60 countries. MSF workers are already on ground in Japan, assessing the situation. For more visit http://www.msf.org/msf/donations/donations_home.cfm

Shelter BoxShelter Box:
Providing tents, basic living supplies and cooking and water purification supplies to victims of natural disasters all over the world. http://www.shelterbox.org/donate.php

The Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army  in Japan has three emergency service relief teams working in areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami. One of the teams is assisting people who have been evacuated from areas threatened by the damage of nuclear power plants.- Text the words “Japan” or “Quake” to 80888 to make a $10 donation- By phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY- On-line at: www.donate.salvationarmyusa.org

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DRUM!

Divine Rhythms of Universal Music (DRUM) – an amazing show featuring drum styles from various cultures – African, Native American, Japanese and Latin.  An impressive combination of coordinated  actions and sound, it was incredibly enjoyable!  Thanks very much to the DRUM group for helping us See and Hear One World!

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I was just informed that PeaceFest has made the Destination Guide on Second Life’s page:

http://secondlife.com/destination/peacefest-2010

Check it out!  “Like” it, and share it through Facebook, etc.

Also – we’d also like to thank the very kind folks at AviewTV who are providing video recording / streaming services for PeaceFest 2010.  THANK YOU, AviewTV!!  You are helping us help many others!  For more about AviewTV, please see their website.

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PeaceFest starts!

You can imagine the number of communications and the amount of preparation that goes into putting THIS LIST of events together!  We’re thrilled to start PeaceFest today – and what better way than with a live interview with our friends in Kigali Rwanda (technology permitting!) .  I will record the conversation and will post a link here later for those that can’t be there.  For those in Second Life, we’ll be here (SLURL) for the interview.  Come ask your questions!

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YES!  At long last an update here : )

The Peace Train board met today for a first round of discussions related to the benefiting organizations for PeaceFest 2010.  We’re well on the way to determining those – we know there will be 3, they will be small non-profits positioned around the globe, and that very likely one will be on the African continent, one in India and one in central or south America.  Stay tuned!

WE are also looking for connections far and wide to various groups or interested parties who would like to collaborate with us in this effort.  We are looking beyond the Second Life events, to real life events that would coincide with the online work.  Ideas are blossoming.

Yes, it’s a lot of work. Yes, it’s terribly rewarding.

I received an email, unsolicited, from a former recipient of PeaceFest funding.  Mind you, our contributions are relatively small, but in the scheme of things, and for small organizations, they mean a lot.  The leader in question, a Rwandan, expressed her gratitude for the *connections* made as a result of PeaceFest;  her group has been visited twice by representatives from an american university.

Progress.  Hope.

In the interim since PeaceFest 09, there have been a number of events:  the 16 Days Against Violence campaign last November, the interview and concert for children in Sudan in March of this year, and most recently the Project Tents for Haiti campaign that resulted in funding for 2 Shelterboxes for victims of natural disasters!  We have been busy….

And now it’s time to focus on PeaceFest.

Planning is being tracked at the wiki.  We will be overhauling this blog, as we do each year, to re-brand it for PeaceFest 2010.  Come be part of the action!  Email or comment here – we are listening.  We need your help!  Check out our list of opportunities

Peace  –

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Dr. Robin Teigland of the Stockholm School of Economics has had an article published in the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, and it is all about our work in Peace Train and the PeaceFest event!  The title of the article is Born Virtuals and Avapreneurship: A case study of achieving successful outcomes in Peace Train – a Second Life organization.

I hope you take the opportunity to read it – it’s an interesting academic, research-based perspective on what we have all directly experienced; the good parts and the difficult parts of organizing a completely virtual endeavor.

Onward!

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Thinking back on PeaceFest 09 and the other work Peace Train and its supporters did over 2009 brings a smile.  It was a hectic time at the end of PF 09, and the Fall was full of action.  I’m currently taking time off of work and so have some moments to reflect, and there are some things that stand out:

  • Photos from PeaceFest 09:  Allison, Medora, Artemisia and others contributed to a pool of photos on Flickr from the 3 days of PeaceFest.  REALLY neat to see the map photo and the closeups of the artists and others…  you can see that set of images here.
  • 16 Days of Activism:  I was personally honored to be asked to moderate two panel discussions featuring leaders from around the world – women leaders who are making positive change happen.  Siri Vita provided real-time translation from Spanish to English for one of the panelists.
  • Earth Week happened in April, and recently Paolo Rouselot and friends invited Peace Train and Four Bridges to provide a display on their One Climate sim in November.  Something I sometimes take for granted about this method of work is that it is very ‘green’ as they say; no travel for anyone, and yet everyone gets together…
  • Another interview with Prinny and Connye – the descendants of the Monticello family (Jefferson and Heming).  STILL makes me smile thinking about how the ideals we share about our common humanity and reconciling old wrongs have become so very real for these great people.
  • The unstoppable Siri Vita and her (ongoing!) work helping the folks in Iran get the word out, organizing and running Organizing for America meetings in SL for US health care reform, and the events for PeaceFest she, Tonks, and others put together.
  • Gwenette and the Ga-Go Concert.  I think I may have to make up new words for the English language to describe that.  AND there is a new concert being planned for February!
  • Conversations with people from around the world – learning about their great work, and becoming a much more connected person myself, benefitting from first-hand accounts of things. 

The moon is going to be full tomorrow night; it is New Year’s Eve in the US.  Peace Train work will continue steadily into 2010:  my personal hope is to expand the number of events we host and support, to increase the number of core team members, and to raise the donations to increase impact.  Feels achievable to me.

Thanks to all of you who have contributed and who continue to help us develop the ideas and events, and build the bridges across the world – bridges of help and understanding.  Best wishes (for those celebrating) for a happy and healthy New Year!

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