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peace in the park feedback

Dan Olner | 22.06.2003 15:39 | Culture | Free Spaces | Sheffield

Peace in the Park took over Devonshire Green in Sheffield for a day. As the sun shined...

Peace in the Park, Saturday 21st June 2003

“I love Sheffield.” The first words of a friend of mine as he sat down on the grass and surveyed Devonshire Green, in its one-day-only incarnation as Peace-in-the-Park. It’s the people, I reckon. A bit of a Sheffield cliché, but clichés are often clichés because they’re true. Of course, the blazing sunshine helped. The Sheffield Samba Band’s flyer, for me, captured what was best about this day: “There is much in the world to be anxious, fearful, sad and angry about. Music and dance can help to create the joy and strength we need to get beyond our fear, grief and anger to take creative action for change.” Just as importantly, being together can create that joy and strength too. If I was feeling a bit trad, I might even call it solidarity. This was the first time since war with Iraq finished - since the marches that bought Sheffield centre to a standstill - that such a number have been gathered together in one place, and it was good to see.

Headcharge were there all day, under their own tent filled with happy bouncy techno monkeys. The main open stage, cunningly fashioned out of an old lorry, saw a variety of goings-on throughout the day, some musical, some poetic, some polemic. Much hand-making of hippy and samba paraphernalia was taking place also, churning out a vast swarm of little dayglow munchkins all over the site. A fair ol’ number of interesting stalls dotted the place, feeding and clothing and politicking us. (Including a stall for the site you’re reading this on…) And a full-on Samba parade. Peacenik heaven, huh? Its coz of people like us the country’s in the state it is today…

A strange thing, though: the day drew attention to the fact that, for better or worse, the growing culture of resistance is exactly that – a culture. Our own sounds, to an extent our own dress, a whole stack of people spinning things round their heads in interesting ways… Walking past the Forum, just on the edge of the green, made that even clearer. Some of the faces of the drinkers as they looked over to the green reminded me of one man who, during an anti-war march in Sheffield, was scowling under his breath, ‘parasites.’ It’s funny the reactions you can get, just for believing in peace.

Thanks to the organisers for making the day happen, and here’s hoping there are many more get togethers in the future…

Dan Olner
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