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Why do we see a link between creativity, the York Region Food Network, and the Sharon Temple?

That’s a long story, but worth hearing!

The York Region Food Network uses a great deal of creativity to not only advocate for people in hardship, but to focus awareness on hunger and solutions to it. Creativity is what creates community gardens — where a square of dirt becomes a site for community action, growing our own food and sharing it. Gleaning programs take fresh food that would be wasted, and redirect it to people who need it. Creativity is behind the “Do the Math” program, and the challenge where local community leaders spent time trying to survive on a food bank diet, to discover on a personal level the unacceptable costs hidden in these kind of bandaid solutions.

Some samples:

http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion/columns/article/883862–day-2-on-the-food-bank-diet-carbs-and-more-carbs

http://yrfn.ca/issues/poverty-1/advocacy-awareness-to-action/

http://www.yrfn.ca/pdf/2010%20Fall%20Newsletter.pdf

In York Region, where the average income is high, people have trouble believing there is real hardship. For people who wage a daily battle to meet their basic needs, it must be even harder to know your situation is invisible.

We want to highlight the fact that hunger in this affluent region is UNACCEPTABLE and that people can’t obviously be creative when their basic needs aren’t met.

Many of the people participating in Spiritfest aren’t wealthy, but they all do something to make the world a better place — because creativity need not cost you anything, but is gives something you can’t put a price tag on.

We want to see a world where creativity is used not only to enrich our community’s life, but also to solve our collective problems and create a society where nobody is left behind.

After all, there are no limits to creativity. It is the ultimate renewable resource. What better way to use it than to create positive events and help raise awareness of what people need?

Hunger and poverty cost our society — not just in terms of money, but in terms of lost opportunities, lost contributions, lost potential — we can’t afford to lose anyone!

Economics is largely a con game anyway, a game played on a field most of us will never have any influence upon — but the reality is right here, on the ground, in front of us. If we work together to create a community where everyone can contribute and has enough to live a decent life, then we can withstand all the challenges before us, survive AND thrive.

Spiritfest is all about looking at the scary headlines, and refusing to give in to panic and fear. When we create, we are at our most powerful.

The Children of Peace, who built the Sharon Temple as a community centre for regular charitable fundraising, also lived in turbulent political times and faced dire hardships as a group. Many of them experienced not one war, but several. Their choice was to build a beautiful monument to the human spirit, and to gather together to create social democracy, schools, co-ops, and other forms of collective action that were designed to promote equality, peace and productive collaborative action among all people. If they could do all that, in the face of war, oppression and hunger — what can’t WE accomplish, with all the resources at our disposal?

The Sharon Temple was not a religious building per se, but rather a community meeting place where once a month, the whole community would gather and collect funds and donations for those in need. The whole design of the building carries symbolism about the importance of providing a space where people would promote the values of equality, fairness, and a decent living for all. You have to visit this important and unique jewel of Ontario history — the staff will tell you a fascinating story of pioneers who built a utopian community in the wilderness, and who lived their values in a very concrete way. Their creativity led them to form the first citizen’s musical band in Ontario, teach many important crafts to their young people, and created the first social democracy in Canada. Their work was instrumental to bringing responsible government to Ontario. You’ll want to visit many times to learn more about this amazing place!

The Children of Peace were originally Quakers, who felt that they wanted to follow the vision of David Willson, a vision that included music as part of their spiritual experience. We consider them our leaders and inspiration, since we also consider music to be especially important in creativity and life. That is why we are so happy that the Sharon Temple National Historic Site has been willing to open their grounds to us as the hosts of Spiritfest, in our fourth experiment!

We never know what the day will be — it all depends on who joins us and what they choose to offer — but I can tell you it will have the best music, the best art and the best craft you will see in one place, and you can join in the creation process yourself! Bring the whole family for a day of free activities and demonstrations. Ask the people you meet why they create art. Create some art yourself.

We invite you to join us in envisioning a world of peace, creativity and community building, on June 2, 2012.

What will YOU bring?

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When you arrive at Spiritfest, the admission is by donation — pay what you can. This money goes to our hosts at the Sharon Temple National Historic Park.

The festival is designed so that you can have an amazing experience and learn interesting things, take part in music-making and art-creating — without spending a dime. There are people selling their original and beautiful wares, or displaying their art — and you can certainly support their efforts by purchasing it. All of these items are one-of-a-kind, and you can meet and talk to the makers. The musicians have all generously agreed to play their music free of charge, but purchasing their CDs is one way to show your appreciation.

The idea, however, is to celebrate the fact that we can all get together and share these creative efforts as an alternative to having these things packaged and sold to us by huge corporations who care nothing about us.

We will be offering a silent auction in support of the York Region Food Network, and as usual, the auction items are provided by our generous participants.

If you had fun and agree that this is a valuable cause, we ask that you make any cash donation you can to the York Region Food Network.  The goal is to leave with some more awareness of what they advocate, and what hunger in an affluent society means.

www.yrfn.ca

www.sharontemple.ca

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Testing our new blog theme

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This logo illustrates the importance of community, getting together and pooling our creative talents to make sure everybody has what they need to live a decent and rewarding life… or? What do you see in this logo?

We are counting down to June 2, 2012 — the fourth inception of Spiritfest: A Festival for the Creative Soul is being hosted on the beautiful grounds of Sharon Temple National Historic Site!