On April 24-25, a delegation from Pittsburgh attended the International Peace and Planet Conference in New York City. This conference, held prior to the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review, included Pittsburghers from RHIP, the Thomas Merton Center, and Pittsburgh Friends Meeting.
As part of the Conference, RHIP presented in a workshop titled “Global Hibakusha and Creative Peacemaking” in the Great Hall at Cooper Union. In conjunction with testimonies of A and H bomb survivors, as well as accounts from victims of nuclear testing and uraninium poisioning, these powerful first-hand stories were followed by RHIP sharing their peace-making efforts involving art, education and activism. Jo Schlesinger (above) spoke along with Taylor Hennessee and Ann Rosenthal from RHIP. You can see our presentation here.
In addition to presenting at the conference, we attended several workshops, including “Militarism and Climate Change.” Many of the international workshop speakers were in New York to attend the UN Conference; we were honored that they took time to share their expertise with us. The following day, we participated in a rally and march from 14th to 67th Streets. The procession was accompanied by song, including “We Shall Overcome,” and handing out paper cranes to passersby and police. The mood was celebratory.
In 2014, we collaborated with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to mark the August 6 and 9 anniversaries (see our prior report). Children visiting the museum learned about what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and made cotton squares using the Japanese tie-dye process called Shibori. These squares, infused with messages of friendship, peace and forgiveness, were then sewn into quilts by the Museum’s MakeShop and displayed at Museum.
A formal program on April 18, 2015 at the Children’s Museum shared the story of the quilts. Program Director Zena Ruiz presented two of the quilts to Remembering Hiroshima, Imagining Peace representative Jo Schlesinger. The violinist Kei Rush made a beautiful musical tribute throughout the event, which concluded with a spectacular dove release to send the quilts on their journey to New York City.
At the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the U.N. on April 26, the peace quilts were presented to Shinfujin/The New Japan Women’s Association as part of the culminating conference event. They will be hung in their new home at the Chihiro Art Museum in Azumino, Japan.
We are all very proud that, with the Children’s Museum, we created a stunning symbol of peace and friendship that will be shared with the children and people of Japan.
Passing on the quilts was a moving acknowledgement of the creative peacemaking work we have done over these seven years. We are so pleased to have met these wonderful women of Shinfujin and hope we might visit them someday in Japan.
Report by Jo Schlesinger & Ann Rosenthal.