From 2008 - 2015, InSpiritry founder Anne McCrady was a supporter, volunteer and featured poet & storyteller at the Art of Peace Festival in Belton, Texas. The creation of art professor and peace advocate, Helen Kwiatkowski, the Art of Peace Festival featured music, spoken word, visual art and children's advocacy. Distressed by world conflicts and local family violence, Helen, Anne and singer-songwriter Emily Kaitz hosted an annual folk concert and art show in Belton, Texas, to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Peace, September 21. Helen named it The Art of Peace Festival, an afternoon gathering with proceeds supporting the Child Advocacy Center of Central Texas. The Art of Peace Festival became a family reunion of Central Texas musicians, artists, poets, students and friends who support more compassionate and creative communities. In 2016, it was decided the event would be downsized to a house concert with the same intent.
Inspired by the United Nations International Day of Peace on September 21, and inspired by her experience with the Art of Peace Festival in Belton, InSpiritry's Anne McCrady wanted to host a similar event in East Texas. She approached friends, Mary Andrews and Rabbi Neal Katz about creating a local Peace Day celebration. In 2010, the trio began to plan for a celebration of local artistic expression as a way to affirm peace and to encourage a more compassionate community. They wanted to bring together and connect East Texans committed to the tenets of peace. Since then, the Art of Peace Tyler committee has expanded year after year-- and so has the celebration.
Now in its sixth year, the Art of Peace - Tyler has grown to a ten-day series of arts-based events that include dozens of peacemakers, volunteers, artists, art forms, venues, businesses, non-profit organizations, civic groups and supporters, with the continuing mission of Compassion - Creativity - Community. Anne McCrady co-directs the festival and hosts several of the Art of Peace - Tyler events, and InSpiritry continues to be a founding sponsor. Events include music concerts, film, visual art, poetry, peace pole installations, children's activities, speakers and conversations, college campus events, spiritual events, an open-table peace meal and the tradition of a Living Peace Sign.
Often the high point of Peace Week, Art of Peace - Tyler live music concerts have featured outstanding singer-songwriters such as peace advocate David LaMotte, singer-songwriter & producer Tom Prasada-Rao, Texas icons Sarah Hickman and Ruthie Foster, and local musicians playing in a tribute to Harry Chapin, who spent his life addressing hunger. The 2016 Singer-songwriter will be Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul & Mary fame!
As its literary contribution, InSpiritry publishes an annual international chapbook collection of peace poetry in conjunction with the event. Past titles have included PeaceWords, Hunger for Peace, and Intertwined - Poems of Shared Endeavor, with poems from as far away as Africa, the United Kingdom and both U.S. coasts. The 2016 chapbook title will extend the festival theme: Paths to Peace - Journey to Wholeness. Anne McCrady edits the collections.
Each year, Art of Peace - Tyler spotlights a local organization promoting peace at the local level. Past honorees have included PATH - People Attempting to Help, The Tyler Literacy Council, The East Texas Crisis Center, East Texas Food Bank, and the St. Paul Children's Foundation. In 2016, the group will honor the Samaritan Counseling Center of Tyler. Proceeds from each poetry collection benefits the annual Peace Honoree; love offerings are also collected at other events.
Peacemakers, Inc. was founded by pioneering Dallas, Texas, journalist and inspiring feminist Vivian Castleberry. Besides being a community leader, Vivian is the namesake and inspiration for the University of North Texas Castleberry Peace Institute, of which Anne McCrady and her husband Mike were founding members.
Peacemakers, Inc. hosted the first International Women's Peace Conference in Dallas, in 1988, with a second conference in 1999. The third conference was held in July, 2007, in Dallas, Texas, focused on empowering peacemakers. Almost 1400 delegates from 45 countries and 37 U.S. states attended the conference. Action Plans, developed by delegates at professionally facilitated workshops, outlined specific actions that can be taken by grassroots peacemakers to build peace in their respective communities and countries. Peacemakers invites individuals and organizations to collaborate in these peace actions and to network with peacemakers throughout the world by communicating success stories, advice and requests for assistance.
At the 2007 conference, Anne was a delegate and hosted a Peace Poetry Open Mic of poets from around the world. Peacemakers, Inc. with Vivian's guidance, is in the planning stages of the next International Women's Peace Conference, to be held in Dallas in the summer of 2017! Anne McCrady and InSpiritry will again be part of this historic event!
You can find out more through Peacemakers Incorporated!