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A statement for peace

October 10, 2004

Deirdre Newman

"Uncle Sam wants you" has been part of the national consciousness for

decades, but the first "Peace Wants You" festival at UC Irvine

Saturday challenged the white-haired icon for attention.

Between 500 to 600 people came to the festival in the university's

Aldrich Park, taking in an array of peace activities through

speakers, music, Arabic drumming and a certain machine.

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One by one, the paper cutouts of people were ingested by the

machine -- the "Bush War Machine," a cardboard contraption, which,

when someone cranked it, spewed out the cutouts as coffins to

illustrate discontent with American policy. Crosses dotted the grass

next to the coffins.

"It's great," said Ben Savill, as he surveyed the device, which on

its front were the words imperialism, religious fundamentalism and

globalization. "I'm from London and it's good to see so many people

here questioning the government and doing it in such a dramatic and

visual way."

The Citizen Peacebuilding Program at UCI, which researches,

educates and acts in support of grass-roots efforts to prevent

violence and promote peace around the world, sponsored the one-day

festival.

Although it would have been nice to attract a larger crowd, the

first effort felt like a success, said Shelley Baker, a UCI employee

and one of the festival organizers.

"We look forward to next year and want to invite more

participation, more booths and hopefully get more of the community to

come," she said. "Definitely, there was a good vibe here. So it would

be great for others to experience and enjoy it. There's so much

information to educate themselves on how to promote peace."

The festival was the brainchild of author Jonathan Schell, who has

worked with the citizens' program in the past, Baker said. Schell

spoke Saturday on the topic of "New Paths to Peace -- Redefining

National Security."

Jim Leonard, who attended a lecture by Rama Vernon, a founding

member of the Center for International Dialogue, on the topic of

peace and consciousness, was moved by her eloquence.

"She was telling stories about her international relations and

peacekeeping efforts with small countries that were in conflict and

how she resolved it and how both sides were hugging and drinking

together afterward," Leonard said.

One of the musicians, Cheryl Procaccini, whose performing name is

Cheryl Medicine Song, sang her new single "I Pledge Allegiance" -- a

potpourri of patriotic songs with a peaceful outlook.

"It kind of spins verses from patriotic songs into a new paradigm

for America and the world," Procaccini said. "It's different than our

old way of using the military and force."

About 40 community organizations set up booths to promote their

peace-making activities. Among them were Students for Peace and

Justice, the Pacific Center for Positive Living and the World Divine

Light Organization, which promotes purifying the soul to remove

negativity to help lead a peaceful life.

"By giving purification, a person feels less stressed and more

peaceful," member Paul Driskell said. "By [doing this] on a

one-to-one basis, it can make the world more peaceful."

* DEIRDRE NEWMAN covers government. She may be reached at (949)

574-4221 or by e-mail at deirdre.newman@latimes.com.

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