Hey everyone we’ve all been hard at work trying to make this year’s peace train the biggest ever! That being said we thought it’s only fair to clue you guys in to some of the great stuff that we’re planning both in Second Life and in Real Life here at Old Dominion University.

Also we’re in the process of updating the schedule over here so check back soon for a more complete listing of s

On the Second Life front:

Some of the live virtual performances include:
– Ga Go Gigamon (from Japan!)
– Louis Landon (aka Louis Volare in SL)
– Cylindrian Rutabaga
– Blues Heron
– Max Kleene
and Gina Stella
Some of the virtual discussions and interviews include:
– Water Rights and Peace
– An interview with READA Cambodia
Some of the Learning sessions include
– Democratic organizing
– Tour of the RAWA virtual space
– Talk with Dr. Andrew
Some of the other virtual events include
– CARP Benvolio
– A reading / performance of The Universe is a Green Dragon
Again More Updates on the schedule coming up soon.
At the Old Dominion campus we’re going to have two sepearate spoken word events to help sponsor Imagine Peace Fest.
The first day will be put on by the Flowetic Movement on Friday, November 11 around 5 PM at the House of Blues Cafe at ODU. More specific details to come.
The second event will present live poets from the area preforming poems and spoken word pieces in support of peace fest on Sunday, November 13, around 5 PM at the House of Blues Cafe at ODU. More specific Details to come!

The Rural Economic and Agricultural Development Agency’s was founded in 2004 with the sole mission, “to change the rural community people from a situation of poverty towards advanced socio-economic autonomy with professional skills that leads them to have their own sustainable small and medium business or livelihood activities with a high awareness of society and health.”

READA is revolutionary in the way it’s thinking about helping impoverished individuals. READA takes economic principals and mixes them with community environments to help create sustainable farming practices that help these communities raise standards of living and improve farming practices. Their model allows innovation on a base level; the farmers themselves implement and create new strategies to make their farming more successful. The idea is that when these farmers implement and begin to grow it pays back into the community as word spreads and their farming practices are re-implimented into other nearby communities.

Working with Non-Governmental Agencies and Local Governmental Agencies READA has spent the past 7 years using this method to help creating better communities in rural areas. Not only does this method improve the local farming culture but it also helps create a better sense of communal education as one generation passes it’s ideas on to the next.

Since READA has started they’ve expanded their operations into other parts of society such as HIV Awareness, societal protection, and helping create equality within their communities. READA is a model for what an amazing NGO is and we’ve chosen to sponsor them for this years IMAGINE PeaceFest because of all the great work they’ve done and continue to do.

You can find more about READA here.

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If you guys like what we’re doing then tell your friends to hop on board. Change starts in the smallest of places so lets all work together and make a difference! Make sure to share this video all around to help support people in need!

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This past Sunday, September 25, 2011, the world lost an amazing advocate for peace when Wangari Maathai died during treatment of her Ovarian cancer in Nairobi. Wangari worked tirelessly to help spread both economic prosperity and environmental awareness and change across Africa.

Wangari was born in Kenya and studied there until her college years, from which she was sponsored by a committee of John F. Kennedy to represent Africa and travel to America to attended Higher Education in America. During her studies Wangari focused on Biology and German and during her time witnessed the first hand effects of Environmental Restoration in Pittsburgh. She pursued her education to a Masters Degree in Biology.

Wangari was soon promised a job at a Univeristy in Kenya and when she traveled back to claim the job the offer had been withdrawn. Wangari believed that this was because of her gender and tribal bias. After a few months Wangari found herself work in Germany as an assistant researcher of microanatomy at the University College of Nairobi. Here she met her future husband and continued her studies to become the East African to obtain a PhD in Anatomy.

After her extensive Education Wangari sought out a political life and fought for equal rights rights for women working at her university. She began to fight and advocate for democracy in Kenya as well as pursuing official office. However even without actual government holding she worked to make Kenya an equal and thriving democracy.She finally achieved her position and fought hard in parliament before not being re-elected. However even after her loss she continued to serve as an Assistant Minister for Environmental and Natural resources under Mwai Kibaki until her removal for her radical policies.

In 2004 Wangari became the first African to obtain the Nobel Peace Prize for, “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” What contributed the most to her award was most probably her work in Green Belt, an organization which under Wangari helped higher women to plant trees across Africa for meager wages. This idea grew into creating tree nurseries and gained international attention. Wangari soon found herself escorting delegates and international figures to her work to raise awareness for her cause.

While there isn’t much that hasn’t been said about this incredible woman yet I believe it’s worth saying that there aren’t many women as bold, brave, intelligent, or cunning as Wangari Maathai. Her work helped define and grow a region and her impact will always be remembered. I ask that we all take some time out to look over her work, which can be summed up (if possible) in her extensive wikipedia page. Let your friends know and pass this around. Although her death is an unfortunate thing I believe her legacy should inspire everyone, including those here at Peace Train, around the world to do something positive and daring in our communities.

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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:


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The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) is one of the three Charitable organizations to which we will be donating during Imagine Peace Fest 2011. I think that it’s only appropriate that we provide a brief introduction to their work and purpose.

RAWA was founded in 1977 by Meena Keshwar Kumal in an attempt to fight for Afghan Women’s right to education, right to participate in political life, and be full members of the Afghan society. Through her work she visited France during a French socialist Congress to speak on the behalf of Afghan women. Meena also helped set up schools and medical centers across Afghanistan to help alleviate the plights of her people.

Sadly Meena’s activist role in the advancement for the women in her culture led to her assassination in 1987, a mere ten years after the establishment of RAWA. Her spirit still lives on as her legacy and work helped inspire generations of RAWA members after her death. The following is a message posted about her influence on the RAWA Website,

“Meena gave 12 years of her short but brilliant life to struggle for her homeland and her people. She had a strong belief that despite the darkness of illiteracy, ignorance of fundamentalism, and corruption and decadence of sell outs imposed on our women under the name of freedom and equality, finally that half of population will be awaken and cross the path towards freedom, democracy and women’s rights. The enemy was rightly shivering with fear by the love and respect that Meena was creating within the hearts of our people. They knew that within the fire of her fights all the enemies of freedom, democracy and women would be turned to ashes.”

Since Meena’s assassination RAWA has gain strength and continued to fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan. By going against the law and filming the savage beating and killing of women at the hands of their government to show how these women were and are being treated. RAWA has protested occupations of Afghanistan and radical fundamentalist culture that berates their rights. They continue to build orphanages, hospitals, and schools to help protect and educate future generations of Women in Afghanistan.

To support RAWA go visit these sites to help raise awareness:
Official RAWA Website

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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!

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!

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.


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

From a hotel in Rwanda

I sit here after three days of amazing tours, meetings and meals provided by the wonderful people of UMUSEKE.  “Umuseke” is a word with two meanings; first it is a descriptor of a bamboo shoot that is very straight.  The second meaning is that of ‘aurora’ – the colorful light before dawn.  As we bumped down a road in the Toyota pickup truck, Emmanuel at the wheel, Mariette explained this to me.  The two definitions work really well together to capture what they are trying to provide for the kids, and for their country.

Look at these kids!  When I arrived two days ago after a crazy-exhausting set of flights from Stockholm – Rome – Addis Ababa – Entebbe – Kigali, the UMUSEKE team was waiting for me at the airport.  They checked to see if I was not too tired, and then we all (5 of us packed in the Toyota) went directly over to the Ecole APAPER (a primary education school, privately funded).  Now, all the kids were on holiday this week, but the principal (Pierre Muvunyi) and several of the children were waiting for me.

After a tour of the school (provided by the kids) and a game we all played in a circle in the courtyard, the children took turns telling what ‘peace’ means to them.   Their English was remarkably good.    The work that UMUSEKE is doing with them is essential to re-establishing a peaceful society here after all the pain they have been through.

Will send more as I can – one last funny tidbit; it was really cool to hear Mariette and others in the truck (Clement, Constantin, Emmanuel, Jacqueline) talking in the native language and occasionally hear the words “Peace Train” pop out amidst the rapid, and very foreign to me, cadence!