I was so sad on Friday night because violence marred the beginning of PEACE Across the Northside, an initiative to inspire peaceful coexistence and nonviolence in North Minneapolis. Walker community programs staff were on hand for the launch of PEACE Across the Northside, a communityrally and symbolic act of linking along one of the most gang and violence infested streets in Minneapolis. Ironically, at the conclusion of the event a youth was shot in the back after having water spilled on him during the performance by HouseSquad, a twin cities Hip Hop dance troupe.
This past Friday also marked the beginning of a documentary photography project called Portraits of PEACE – organized by the Walker’s community programs staff in partnership with the PEACE Foundation, Minneapolis Park and Rec and The Folwell Center for Urban Initiatives.Portraits of PEACE was inspired by the work of Diane Arbus and Sharon Lockhart. Lead by Walker Community Programs Coordinator and documentary photographer Megan Leafblad and Io Palmer, artist in residence at the Folwell Center, youth participants will photograph and gather stories at community events of residents who have sustained relationships across differences of race, geography, ability and culture. PoP is the visual arts component for The PEACE Games, the sports and cultural component of PEACE Summer 2006.
Although the event was marked by violence, it reminded me of the importanceand difficulty of Peace work.Moreover, it would be pollyannaish of us to think that by organizing one feel-good event that violence in an economically marginalized communitywould miraculously disappear. Despite violence that sought to derail what was otherwise an extraordinarily hopeful event, attended by over 1500, we remain even more committed to exploring ways that the arts can help support peaceful and vibrant communities.
To see photos from the event go to photographica