02 Jan Peace Flags with Berkeley High Students
On behalf of the Mangalam Center, we are sending you all strength and ease for the new year that is upon us.
As we look back at how we closed out our 2017 year with Mangalam, we are finding new and unique ways to gather in community, with new and old friends (we celebrated 40 years of TSK in December), and we are exploring unique ways to engage the diversity of individuals who make up the Berkeley community. In our last month of the 2017 year, we organized a community project with the students of Berkeley High to evoke the spirit of generosity and compassion for our local and global community.
Mindful Mondays has become a ritual in Ms. Moreno’s Chicano Literature and English I.B. classes. We were connected with her through one of the parents of a student in her class and were invited to lead a Mindful Monday lesson in each of her five classes on the Monday of Thanksgiving week.
Using the traditional practice of loving-kindness (metta) practice, we facilitated an activity around writing love notes of self-compassion and then extending these wishes out beyond the individual to our local or a broader global community. After the five classes of the day, we collected about 150 peace flags, strung them together and then displayed them from the windows along the front and side faces of our building, as well as inside.
As we were hanging the peace flags for display for passersby to look at, we noticed people stopping to read the messages of peace, inclusivity, and well-being. We had a few people even stop to thank us for imbuing the streets of downtown with positivity amidst the palpable suffering of the growing number of people living on the streets, people being displaced and priced out as housing prices climb, and sexual assault and other forms of violence being brought to the forefront in our political climate.
One woman in our community remarked that the flags opened up the building and made it more inviting. Another woman stopped by with her two young children who were fascinated by these colorful flags and their writing, and the older sister started reading some of them to her little sister: “May we all be welcome”, “May we all be happy”, …
We are encouraged by the peace flags evoking thought, sentimentality, and interaction with one another. We will continue to explore creative ways to engage the local community within Berkeley, from our young people to our elders. Stay tuned for more projects and events in the coming months!