August and September

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Community lessons of love and overwhelm with Plum Village, Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers and Extinction Rebellion. Songs at the Arms Fair. My Danny Nedelko cover  from BBC6 Fresh on the Net evening with thanks to Naomi Cello and thoughts about a sharing space on immigration, and to close 4 song EP for Canadian Music channel MrFoxx’s Frequency

 

(top left fire sharing at Plum Village, top right Extinction Rebellion demos, bottom the SDCAS Garden)

We just had the warmest Summer in London ever recorded and I come to Autumn with mixed feelings about the changes. The cooler evenings and mornings remind me of balance; sun and now shade, heat and rain – a trust in the balance of the seasons, at the same time I know people are suffering with the changes where they are more extreme. The International Organisation of Migration predict 200 million Climate Refugees by 2050, something that ceases to lessen in impact each time I read it or quote it; I have a heavy sadness in my heart that feels important to acknowledge.

Climate refugees aren’t yet recognised though as current trends show, with temperatures  rising and natural disasters increasing, I pray/wish/actively hope that they will be.

And as they do may more places be created like The Southwark Day Centre for Asylum seekers (SDCAS) ; I started giving 2 hour on a Tuesday morning to the SDCAS garden project, an allotment associated with the Centre- we meet there, do dome gardening, drink tea, I have been known to take my guitar and sing a few songs (!) then we return to the centre in a nearby church to have lunch together some 50 or 60 Asylum seekers. No one is tuned away, everyone is fed, offered legal advice, English classes, art therapy, story therapy, free clothes and company – I felt like writing about this because of the sense of peace there, the love and sharing amid the post-trauma of their journeys, there are smiles. I can take anyone to the garden who lives I London, there are also other centres around the city/world offering the same I’m sure, I’d love to hear about others.

 

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This Summer also saw the 2019 Wake Up Earth retreat, in Plum Village (first picture) where I volunteered and played, many friends who read will know about the village anyway, for those that don’t, Plum Village is the monastic and lay community of the Buddhist Monk and peace author Thich Nhat Hanh, set up in the 80s as a mindfulness practice centre, where visitors become part of life there, learn the teachings of peaceful and engaged living.

I was drawn to Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings by his stories of being a young monk during the Vietnam war, creating projects of restoration, helping to rebuild villages damaged by the war and how a part of doing that was to maintain guided meditation practice and silence as a way of keeping peace in himself and his friends/volunteers, work that was later marked with a friendship and Nobel peace prize nomination by Martin Luther King.

Feels like its time for a song 🙂  – this is an acoustic version of a song inspired by a mediation Thich Nhat Hanh gave to his volunteers about finding a island within yourself, a peaceful place. I’m recording this at the moment with friends Manu (Piano/vocal) Max (Flute) Tom (Horns) and Sergio (bass) I may have that to share in the next post

and a talk and QandA given during the retreat explaining more about the teachings.


Extinction rebellion

At the time of writing, I’m anticipating some actions with the next Extinction Rebellion October events.

As a community, a network, XR manage I feel to hold the enormity of what could be true about climate change and the importance anyway of creativity and love.

Some find fault with their disruptive tactics, overselling the drama of Climate Change and being a largely white movement, insensitive to implicit racism, outlined in this Guardian Article.

I found myself talking with a friend recently giving my feelings saying , that while I just don’t know enough about the truth of the climate issue to comment (I’m not a scientist or a researcher) I feel from the association I’ve had that XR is training people how to be in community, how to live on less and how to develop ways of being together to listen and give each other the support when they need it, something I am fully in solidarity with.

Friends of colour, in and out of XR hold similar concerns about the whiteness of the movement and this is something I wish to learn more about from their experiences.

After some contemplating these last few weeks I decided too become arrestable this time so watch this space. There are many who can’t protest and being a white European man in a system where people of colour are disproportionately (negatively) affected by police violence and in a world where violence to women is also sadly so present  if I feel compelled – I’m not sure how I’ll put this into words yet but anyone interested in a conversation I’d welcome that.

For anyone new  XR (Extinction Rebellion) heres an about link  

and an introductory article in the New York Times

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Arms Fair

On the other side of London, earlier this month the Arms Fair again came again.

This film explains it and includes an interview with Andrew Smith from Campaign Against The Arms Trade and below, an old spiritual Down By The Riverside at the police lines outside the fair.

 

There is much to read on militarisation –

but I felt like posting this article from the Quakers that resonates in my heart.

quoting from the piece:

War represents our failure to resolve our differences by peaceful and amicable means; any ethos which supports it has no place in our society.

– Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain

 

My sincere love to friend Naomi Kate here who was in London last month on the evening of my BB6 Community evening at the Jackson Lane Arts Centre. Here’s the song we closed with IDLES Danny Nedelko and write up on the event.

Danny Nedelko is a song about immigration, how so many among the population of the UK are ‘beautiful immigrants’ I’m interested in some way about writing on this more in my sharing pages, if you have thoughts please let me know.

Thanks all there for a beautiful evening.

 

So glad to welcome Foxx Frequency back from a break.

Back in late July just after my last post FF put out this ep of 4 of my songs (including studio recording of Danny Nedelko with Sophie Lowendalh on violin) ,

love to hear how you are always

Love Joe

upcoming events

 

photograph from last years SHIFT Festival in Stroud

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Alongside the recordings in my journal pages I have recently released an ep of songs ahead of an album. You can visit here to stream and download.

Please don’t let money be a concern. Feel free to pass through the donation screen with my blessing if you would like to download any songs and have no means to donate.

Any donations will go to my recording and traveling fund – thank you.

 

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June July

 

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“I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” ―Malala Yousafzai

New song ‘Listen to Women’ inspired by International women day and youth strikes, singing circles with Extinction rebellion families, Stroud Sacred music festival with relaxation recording and sharing with young Stroud artists and Caribbean singer Omer Makessa. Back in London, family Sangha and upcoming evenings of songs with FOTN BBC6Music  at Jackson Lane community arts centre in London and aboutabear tour coming by Grove Park our community.

Through June and July so far, I’ve had so many moving moments connected to women and young people, I felt I would theme my post; beginning with this quote from Malala; young human writes speaker who came to the attention of many for her Nobel Peace prize; Malala has promoted education for women and children in Pakistan, despite being under threat from some who disagreed with her ideas, she was shot for these beliefs and survived.

Listen to Women came to be from these ideas, that the voices of women and children I hear speak of nurture, the earth, of a shared, loving life. While I’m aware it’s broad to say, when I think of Men, I think often of business, of competition, aggression and power. Statistics show 70-80 percent of violent crimes are committed by men and the vast majority committed by women are in self defence against men – something I feel I must hold in my heart.

I grew up at the time of the Gulf War, I remember seeing news stories, numbers of deaths; I remember thinking why are all these men killing each other. My mum responded to an advert at the time to write to one of the soldiers, I remember we received these letters a few times from someone who I’m sure was younger than I am now, then it stopped. I remember he drew pictures of planes and I wonder what happened to him.

Writing not long after the First World War Emeline Pankhurst, known for suffragette work, said this

“We have to free half of the human race, the women, so that they can help to free the other half.”

I feel the spirit of Emeline would be pleased of the social movements of the last 100 years and still say we had work to do, I wonder what you think?

This is a live recording of the song- thank you to Naomi Kate for Cello and to Sarah Gosling at BBC Introducing for playing this on her show back in June

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Twice since I last journaled I’ve sang for the Extinction Rebellion families group; an ever-growing gathering of families engaged with the planning and action of the campaigns. First outside the National History Museum where (inside) a dinner was taking place for fossil fuel sponsorship of the museum itself. Second at the Royal Courts of Justice where those gathered asked for Ecoside to be made law.

Motioned by Great Thunberg (thank you Sophie for the mural from Bristol that went up in June) the Friday school strikes are also still happening.

 


 

For when it comes around again next year I’d like to recommend the Stroud Sacred Music Festival for anyone interested in song, dance, community, interfaith and international arts. I had the honour of being the youth mentor this year co hosting the youth stage with the lovely Nell Kellino-Miller (pictured bottom right) and together with a with group of brave/ gently persuaded audience members and performers beginning the evening concert in front of the main stage, opening for Scripture Says Acappella, Baka Beyond, Omer Makessa Kakatsitsi, Master Drummers from Ghana Matthew Heyse-Moore, Bob Hillary and others

All events are on donation and it’s organised for the love of it by the Rev Simon Howell, Ali Shepherd of Ragababas, Katie and Kieran Harris to name the few of the volunteers that I know.

Sounds from Stroud and Relaxation


 

Back in London, I want to show you a film I’m in showing a project by friends of mine giving families a space once a month to explore meditation and mindfulness together. The family sangha, inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, Plum Village runs once a month this film made by the lovely Conscious Film Co says it all .


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Begun by BBC6 Music’s Tom Robinson, Fresh on the Net is a community page that invites artists to share music with each other and Tom and team on a weekly rotation. The atmosphere is supportive and I’ve found it inspiring, I’m touched to have been asked to this years Fresh On the Net festival at The Jackson Lane Arts Centre on Sunday 21st of July, Ill be on the acoustic stage, upstairs at the theatre about 9.30.

A week later our community, Grove Park, are hosting About a bear to keep them safe (James Mason pictured below) on his latest tour, we are planning a day of community gardening followed by the show and a fire in the evening, all are welcome, get in touch if you would like more details.

For other upcoming dates please go to the events menu above a few appearances and workshops in England and a peace, mindfulness and arts creativity retreat at the Plum Village centre in Germany that is now open for booking.

(The above link is for our Wake Up Your Artist page, our young adults (18-35ish) year olds, this next one an all ages retreat we are trying out, meditations, workshops and group work around peace, emotions, creativity and our art in the world.)

 

To close some flower pictures from our community – opened these last few weeks.

love Joe

 
 

 

Poem by Joseph

 

 

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Slow me down universe
ease the pounding of my heart
by quieting my mind.
Give me amid the confusion of my days
the calmness of rolling hills
break the tension in my nerves
with soothing streams.
Help me know the power of sleep
Teach me the art of one minute holidays.
To look at a blooming flower
or the face of a child
or a face to face chat with a friend

Joseph Mpanga

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