Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What if May 13, 2007 was the "Sunday" chapter in "The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering"?

Sharon Mehdi's wonderful story "The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering" has seven chapters, one for each day of the week. The first chapter, "Sunday", is where the two women who take their stand in the park are noticed by the folks in the nearby cafe. This began the wonderful unfolding of events that culminated on Saturday, in the "Saturday" chapter, with the entire world standing.

On Sunday, May 13, 2007 thousands of women and men stood together throughout the world--some as individuals, some in small groups of a few to a few dozen, and others in groups of several hundred. No matter what the size of the gathering, the magic of collectively connecting occurred. I have posted at the end of this message a sample of the postings we have received. You can find additional postings at the website itself. Reading those will show the magic. Our wonderful sisters in the Czech Republic have posted a YouTube video of their standing. You can feel the magic as you watch it. You can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGqt14fWBnM&mode=related&search=

In my park which is quite large, we had several groups that did not find each other by 1 p.m. and thus we had several standings. In my location, we had about 100 women and men, and a few more joined after we began. We ranged in age from a 7 month old baby to a woman of 100 years of age, with all ages in between represented. We stood in a circle holding hands as one, both with the others in our circle and with all who were standing with us at that time. We could feel that thousands of wonderful women and men were standing with us on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. It was deeply moving.

But, this was, after all, only "Sunday". We have six chapters left in the story. Many of you have sent messages asking that we continue with standings. Please check our website to find out how to connect with each other both for more standings and for joining together for collective action to begin to create the world of which we dream. Please join us as we continue to write the story that dear Sharon Mehdi envisioned in her "little story for her granddaughter." We hope that we will together write the stories for Monday through Saturday.

Various comments on this blog provide descriptions of standings. In addition, the following are a sampling of the standing descriptions we have received on the website:

Prague/Praha, Czech Republic

We met with about 50 or more women at the Wenceslass Square in the very centre of Prague. It was wonderful. We all brought little bells or keys and ended the five minutes by ringing the bells. The energy was flowing and the energy field was quite strong. Also, we felt great solidarity with other women (and men, there were men among us, standing too!). . . . You can see a video from this event at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGqt14fWBnM&mode=related&search=

Guelph, Mexico

More than two dozen women gathered in the gazebo in front of the church that is the soul of Vallarta. To one side of us the town hall, before us the great Pacific ocean. We held hands and others gathered around and behind us. I held a brief earth healing after the 5 minutes were up, bringing light from the Highest Source - whatever each person perceived that to be, taking it through the circle of peace we had created, to anchor it in the heart of Mother earth. We filled the earth with that light, then lifted it up to the center of our circle and radiated light into all the places on the planet we felt to do so. Thank you for this chance to bring women, and men, together in this beautiful way. There cannot be too many gatherings like this.

Prince George, British Columbia, Canada

Under budding trees in a very late and cold spring in our small town in Northern Canada 25 people gathered on City Hall lawn to stand in solidarity with grandmothers and people everywhere who know that what we are doing and what has been done in this world is not working, and that change has to come from a new direction: the wisdom of elders, the knowing of grandmothers, and the inclusion of women who make up 52% of the population of the world but are without equal status with men.

The standing left me feeling spiritually stronger, more determined and hopeful for change, and very grateful to be part of a gathering of people worldwide whose priority is human emotional and physical health and wellbeing.

The standing has left me with renewed certainty and determination to speak out about what I know to be wrong: ageism (in either direction) sexism, racism, and violence of any and all kinds especially verbal and emotional violence.

Ontario, Canada

First there were two, then four, than another three, then two more, then.... From down the hill, over the fence, up from the street, from across the stairs, they came to answer the call from StandingWomen.org. We intuitively formed a circle. Women and men and children and Coyote, the dog came together in the lush clover with the majestic Loretto Convent building boarded up and empty behind us. We casually introduced ourselves to one another as we rang our Tibetan bells and cow bells and school bells and silver bells to announce the location. And then at 1:00, we held the silence. Sometimes the noise from the busy street or voices from the top of the hill intruded, but this circle held the silence. In those five sacred minutes, our silent intentions joined the bustle and rode the gentle spring wind to join with others who were also standing. A few cars slowed down and drivers and passengers looked with curiosity up the hill. A chill snaked up my spine as I looked around and beheld the circle of strangers and friends and family standing

Mt. Vernon, Ohio, USA

On a bright, cool Mother’s Day afternoon, as the bells of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church tolled, more than 80 women, men and children joined hands on Public Square and stood for five minutes of silence in hope for peace. Even after the church bells stopped ringing, people continued to join the circle, including elderly men and women, some with canes, who slowly made their way across the square. The circle broke open and let them in. “It takes a community to vision the change that we all want to see,” said Erin Salva of Knox County Voices for Peace.

Sarasota, Florida, USA

What a feeling! There were more than one hundred of us gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Church here. We rang our bells, then stood silently as cars drove past on the road in front of us. So many blew their horns and gave us a thumbs up or a peace sign! It was so heart-warming and it made me feel that there were so many more who, though they were not standing with us, felt as we did! It was a good day! Peace and love to all!

Paris, Kentucky, USA

Being a solitary, a poet, and a country woman, I decided that I would stand, not in a park or school yard, as those places are not natural to me, but on the front stoop of our house in rural Bourbon County, Kentucky. My husband stood by me, as he has done for 35 years now, and so did our son. It was on this stoop that we kept our candlelight vigil four years ago, on the eve of the War in Iraq. It seemed appropriate.

Ashland, Oregon, USA

Yesterday in Ashland's Lithia Park, 250 people gathered for the Mother's Day Stand to Save the World. We were a small band of people joining others up and down the West Coast, following in the footsteps of perhaps hundreds of thousands of others performing the same sacred act over and over through all the world's time zones. We instinctively formed a circle...the energy that emanated was astounding...and I realized this had been going on all day everywhere. And I knew the planet must be smiling.

Yesterday all of us around the world lifted up our mighty silence in blessing and hope...and in doing so, did as Buddha instructed: "Make of yourself a light." If all of us everywhere could have been seen from outer space we would have been a great light and one grand sight, indeed. Those of us in Ashland were so honored to stand with you together to change the world. This silence was golden indeed! When the bells rang out to end the silence, my soul sang.

Tacoma, Washington, USA

There were 170 of us standing in a circle in beautiful Wright Park near the Conservatory today. We held the intention of peace in sacred silence after we sang together accompanied by a beautiful flute. We then had a large gong calling us into silence. During this time. a beautiful gentle breeze came and gifted all of us. We extended our intention of peace to the world and to one another.

Portland, Maine

I stood by myself in my backyard by the pine trees. I love the idea that so many women are sending out their healing thoughts to the universe. It is powerful. Keep it up!

Lawrence, Kansas

I write this after the event to share how I felt. I arrived at the park early with my family. We were expecting a crowd. As the time approached they came from all directions. I think there were 60, maybe more. We stood near the peace pole. When the bell rand the silence was enveloping and multiplied by joined thoughts like group meditations. It was meaningful and a great beginning. Thank you.

Santa Barbara, California

A wonderful and large gathering at the Rose Garden at the old Santa Barbara Mission -- 250 people or more I am guessing. It was perfect.

Raleigh, North Carolina

A small group of us stood in a park beneath an oak tree across from our church at 1 pm on May 13. The breeze was blowing and even though cars were passing by on the busy streets and we could hear the sounds of a homeless rally in the distance, there was peace. The leaves of the oaks rustled above us and while my eyes were closed, I saw a flash of bright light out of the corner of my eye. It seemed as though the sun shone through the trees for an instant, but the flash was much brighter in my mind. Then I knew that peace was with us and dreams were coming true.

San Jose, California

We stood at the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment at our Peaceful Shrine, about 100 of us after hearing a sermon and reading the wonderful statement posted here that had been duplicated, some of us stood at the corner of Alameda and University. It was powerful to hold the intention and vision and know it was happening everywhere.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What Next?

Many have begun asking what happens after we have stood together in May. What should we do next?

Our hope is that the very act of gathering and standing together in silence will inspire and energize all of us to take actions that will help realize our dream of a better world for our children, grandchildren and the seven generations beyond them.

The most important ideas for what comes next will come from you. We hope that in the discussions that follow your standing, you will develop ideas to share with all of us. We are in the process of creating a page on the StandingWomen site that will allow all of you to offer suggestions, tell us about existing organizations and efforts, and that will permit connecting links to occur by areas of interest.

We have great power to shape the world to achieve our dreams. Individuals, in deciding how to spend their time and where to donate their money, can have an enormous impact on the world. For example, students from a school in the Bronx, P.S. 52, made up of some of the poorest kids in the area, after seeing the water scarcity in a UN video hosted by rap star JayZ, got together their pennies, dimes and nickels and raised over $2,000 to send to the most drought affected villages.

In many countries we, as individuals, through how we cast our votes, can help our elected officials come to see that they are the guardians of our children's and grandchildren's future and that every decision they make should be made within this context.

In this internet age, we also can band together collectively. We suggest that you look at the work of these existing groups that already bring women together internationally to change the world:

Gather the Women www.gatherthewomen.org

Women's Intercultural Network www.win-cawa.org

The Millionth Circle www.millionthcircle.org

Circle Connections http://www.circleconnections.com/
Peace X Peace www.peacexpeace.org

UNIFEM www.unifem/org

For U.S. women, we also recommend

Mothers Acting Up http://www.mothersactingup.org

U.S. Women Connect www.uswc.org

Moms Rising www.momsrising.org

Stand Up and Vote http://www.standupandvote.org/partners.html

One.org www.ONE.org. ONE: The campaign to Make Poverty History is a coalition of over 2.4 million supporters and over 100 of the nation's most well-known and respected non-profit, advocacy and humanitarian organizations. ONE is a new effort by Americans to rally Americans--ONE by ONE--to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. ONE is students and ministers, punk rockers and NASCAR moms, Americans of all beliefs and backgrounds, united as ONE to help make poverty history.

In our work, we can be guided by quotes from Margaret Mead and Helen Keller:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does." Margaret Mead

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do." Helen Keller

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wonderful Note from Sharon Mehdi, author of Great Silent Grandmother Gathering

Sharon Mehdi, the author of The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering, sent us this wonderful note that follows. We share it here with her permission. She also sent us the superb poem by Margaret Robison that follows Sharon's note. We share it her with Margaret's permission.

I want to tell you a story.

Last summer during the Lebanon-Israeli altercation, a handful of us started standing every morning from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. in our beloved Lithia Park here in Ashland. We continued standing until November. Three months. Seven days a week. No matter what the weather. It was hard. Our backs hurt and our bones ached.

As summer turned to fall and the mornings got colder, we wore layer upon layer to try to keep warm. Sometimes there were four or five of us, sometimes 18 or 20. At the end of our stand each day, we joined hands in a circle and sang: "Peace is flowing like a river/ flowing out from you and me/flowing out into the desert/setting all the people free."

On a grand and global scale, what we did was insignificant. But it was what we could do and we were committed to it. Like the wonderful Helen Keller quote: "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do."

Perhaps it didn't transform the world, but it transformed us. Our local newspapers ran front page stories about us. Ours is a tourist town and visitors took pictures of us standing. No signs, no banners. Just standing. Sometimes they joined us. And sometimes they emailed friends back home. One woman from your own state of Ohio wrote that she lived on a farm and didn't have a park or a group of women to stand with, so every morning she stood in her cornfield. She said she pretended all the cornstalks were women standing with her. She wanted us to know she was doing what she could.

You Ohio women have put so much energy and creativity and hard work into the invitation to others of us, around the world, to stand on May 13th. Your sincerity spoke to my heart. That is the magic. Women from the heartland, inviting others to stand at a certain moment on a certain day to save the world. The word is spreading. Friend to friend. You are empowering women all over to find their own way, their own park, their own cornfield.

The glory of your dream is that it is not organized. It is spontaneous and it is holy.

Love, Sharon

To Save the World by Margaret Robison
I sit still in my wheelchair
With my back straight, my head erect.
I breathe in the warm air of the room.
Out my window light from the full moon Shines on the dark water.
I breathe the warm air out.
This house is quiet tonight.
I too am quiet.
I breathe the warm air in.
On the mountain across the river a train passes
Howling its plaintive howl.
I breathe the warm air out.
The night is silent once again.
Light from the full moon shines on the dark water.
What did I do to save the world today?
I watched no news on TV.
I walked in no protest demonstrations.
I wrote no letters to Senators or Representatives.
I sat very still in my wheelchair a long time.
I held my back straight and my head erect.
I breathed in the warm air of this room.
I breathed out the warm air of my body.
And all the time,
I was smiling.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Power of Technology

Once we decided to gather together the world's women, the next question became how we can do it. Of course, that answer was using technology.

Beck, one of the wonderful women who said "yes", also is a technology woman. She was sure we could do this with a website and a YouTube video. So, we embarked on this great venture--using the magic of technology to call together the women of the world.

Sapna S., another fabulously wonderful woman, quickly joined us and designed the beautiful website www.StandingWomen.org.

In early December we filmed the video that appears on YouTube. Again, Beck and Sapna guided us through the filming, and Beck edited and posted the video.

As soon as the website was ready to go, we began flooding the world with e-mail messages about StandingWomen.

The power of technology truly is amazing!!!! Without Beck and Sapna, none of this would have happened.

The Power of "Yes"

Margaret Wheatley, author of Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time and other books, believes that all social change begins with a conversation among a few people. She also believes that someone in that conversation must say "yes" we can do this.

After Jean Shinoda Bolen's visit to Columbus, the first two women I talked to about inviting women of the world to stand together on Mother's Day were Gail G. T. and Rebecca (Beck) A. Both are fabulous women who inspire me in so many ways. The question I asked them was whether this was too crazy to work. Both said, yes it is crazy, but just crazy enough to work. If they had not said "yes" we can do this, the idea would have ended with these two conversations.

We hope all of you will say "yes" we can do this. By standing together, we can all make a statement to the world, but most importantly to ourselves, that this is our world, this is our global family, and that we--not someone else--are responsible for our world and that we--not someone else--have the power to create the world about which we dream.

From this collective statement, we can be energized individually and collectively to create the world of our dreams.

Please say "yes" with us.

Origin of Standing Women

The Standing Women concept originated with a number of women associated with Ohio State University, although this is not a university project. Over the last year a number of us have felt that women everywhere we traveled are just weary about where the world is moving and, more importantly, that women everyone are ready to stand up and do something about it. We also know that many men are ready to stand up, also.

In the summer of 2006, we came across the origins of Mother's Day in the U.S. from Jean Shinoda Bolen's book Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women, Save the World.

Julia Ward Howe issued the original Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870:

"Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears!

Say firmly: 'We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.'

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says 'Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.' Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace."

After reading this proclamation we began to feel that we needed to do something for this Mother's Day, May 13, 2007. What, however, we did not know.

Jean Shinoda Bolen spoke at Ohio State in October, 2006. During her visit, we shared our thoughts with her. After listening to us, she pulled a little book out of her case and shared it. It was the original version of The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering by Sharon Mehdi. After reading it, and talking to Jean, we knew this was what we had to do.

We had to call together the women of the world to stand together to save the world, to save our children.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The women of Ohio, U.S.A., call upon the women of the world, from day-old babies to our most senior elders, to stand with us on May 13, 2007, to save the world.

We will be standing for the world's children and grandchildren, and for the seven generations beyond them. We dream of a world where all of our children have safe drinking water, clean air to breathe, and enough food to eat. A world where they have access to a basic education to develop their minds and healthcare to nurture their growing bodies. A world where they have a warm, safe and loving place to call home. A world where they don't live in fear of violence--in their home, in their neighborhood, in their school or in their world. This is the world of which we dream. This is the cause for which we will stand.

If you share this dream, please stand with us for five minutes of silence at 1 p.m. your local time on May 13, 2007, in your local park, school yard, gathering place, or any place you deem appropriate, to signifiy your agreement with our dream. We ask you to invite the men and boys who you care about to join you. We ask that you bring bells to ring at 1 p.m. to signify the beginning of the five minutes of silence and to ring again to signify the end of the period of silence. During the silence, please think about what you individually and we collectively can do to attain this world. Please feel free to sit rather than stand. Afterwards, hopefully you and your loved ones can talk together about how we can bring about this world.

See www.StandingWomen.org for more details and to register your commitment to stand with us.