Parade of Nations, Day of Peace, mark the middle of September
Art's Corner by Miriam Pickens
Throughout the Copper Country, many faith communities and civic organizations reach out to welcome people from around the world. From the intentional inclusion of programming for international friends at the Evangel Community Church to the International Neighbors program now located in Grace United Methodist, support of International Students with the Youth Exchange Program sponsored by the local Rotary organizations, the meals program, food pantry and English language tutoring at Canterbury House; it is heartwarming to live in a community that recognizes the importance of helping newcomers to feel welcome and supported.
One of the main community events each fall is the Parade of Nations, organized by the International Programs and Services at Michigan Tech and Finlandia University. On Saturday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m., hundreds of community members will walk carrying flags of over fifty different countries celebrating this year’s theme, “The World is One”.
In 2019, I helped to represent a nascent local interfaith group called Keweenaw Faiths United (KFU) at the Parade of Nations. We organized at Good Shepherd Lutheran, baked cookies at Trinity Episcopal, and handed them out at the Dee Stadium during the food festival after walking in the parade. It was so much fun to give cookies away and talk about our mission. Unfortunately, that same day, Temple Jacob was defaced with Nazi symbols. People of various faiths gathered at Good Shepherd to offer support to the Jewish community, and KFU was organized. KFU is a faith-based effort to promote respect for all people in our community.
On Sept. 21, 2021, KFU submitted an application to become an International City of Peace. Our vision is to be a welcoming community and seek to be peacemakers by standing with all our neighbors. The application was accepted and this September we are going to celebrate.
Deb Mann, the Downtown Development Coordinator for the City of Hancock who tragically passed away in a house fire recently, helped to spearhead the placement of two Peace Poles in the City of Hancock, along with City Manager Mary Babcock and the Hancock City Council. One was placed at the campground and one at the labyrinth on the east side of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.
Mann was also on the KFU Parade of Nations committee and zoomed in to our last meeting at the Chapel of St. Matthew on the Finlandia campus. I had gotten to know her as an advocate for Hancock becoming an International City of Peace, and loved her positive “we can do anything” attitude. Eric Waara, City Manager in Houghton, has also been an advocate for the Cities of Peace project, and two Peace Poles which will be placed at Bridgeview Park in Houghton. Peace Poles have the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” written on them, in many languages. To see a peace pole map of our area, go to http://kfaithsu.simplesite.com/446652039.
In August, Melissa Hronkin led the children in the Houghton Summer Elementary School Program in an art project. She created four large banners with the words “Teach Peace” and “May Peace Prevail on Earth”. The students had a wonderful experience thinking about what peace meant to them, and painting these banners with a super cool array of colors. She is also in the process of creating Peace Poles for Houghton Elementary. They will have student fingerprints on them and say “May Peace Prevail on Earth”.
Karen Scholie is promoting peace with a “Year of Creative Kindness and Caring for Our Community” for her students at Hancock Elementary. Her students have created peace signs using screen printing and other techniques. In support of this idea, she has obtained a grant to facilitate various projects like clay wind chimes and birdbaths to display on the school grounds, as well as around the community.
On Sept. 17, the banners and some signs will be displayed on the Keweenaw Faiths United/ International Cities of Peace float in the Parade of Nations. It’s so much fun to walk or ride in that parade, and anyone from the community is welcome to join in; carry a flag or just walk alongside one of the many organizations and countries represented.
Then on Wednesday, Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace as recognized by the United Nations, we will have our first Day of Peace celebration. The banners and signs will kick off the event at the Hancock Labyrinth at 6:30 p.m. where a dedication of the Peace Pole will be led by Pastors Bucky Beach and Sarah Semmler-Smith, and then we will walk, drive or ride to Bridgeview Park in Houghton where at 7:10 p.m., the celebration will continue with speeches and singing. Gloria Dei Lutheran Church is providing a shuttle run between the locations. The event is planned for rain or shine, and we join Cities of Peace all around the world in celebrating on this special day. The public is invited.