An NYC Photo Album

This past weekend I attended Rotary Day at the United Nations headquarters in New York. I’ve always wanted to visit the UN headquarters — and I’m so glad I went. The overall goal of the organization – to have a peaceful world – is one that I admire and believe in wholeheartedly.

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Rotary UN Day 2016

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Nonviolence sculpture in front of the United Nations, New York.

I also had a few days to explore the city and went to the Museum of Modern Art, Central Park and 5th Avenue the next day.

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The Museum of Modern Art

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A special exhibit on refugees and displaced peoples around the world by artist Reena Saini Kallat.

After the MOMA I headed down 6th Avenue and stopped at Magnolia Bakery. I had no idea, but this bakery is apparently quite famous and was even featured in Sex in the City and the Devil Wears Prada. To be honest, the cupcake brought back memories of my cake mix days in high school — so I was sort of let down by the caramel cupcake  I chose.

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Inside a Magnolia Bakery.

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A cupcake from the busy Magnolia Bakery

After that I headed to 5th Avenue — I walked past the Rockerfeller Building and Saks 5th Avenue — two famous landmarks in the Big Apple.

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Police on horses near the Rockefeller Building (and those famous yellow cabs).

And then I continued  on to 5th Avenue and stumbled upon some protesters in front of Trump Tower. Not everyone is happy about the outcome of this year’s election.

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Demonstrations on 5th Avenue in response to the outcome of the 2016 election.

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Demonstrations on 5th Avenue in response to the 2016 election.

On the next day I did a tour of the UN. Anyone can go – you just need to sign up online, bring your passport and go through security about an hour beforehand. A vibrant mural inside bore the words “Do Unto Others As Your Would  Have Them Done To You”.  I thought about how if we all lived be this saying, our world would very likely be a more peaceful and just place.

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Mural, United Nations HQ

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United Nations headquarters in NYC.

THE 2016 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE

September 21st is a very special day around the world: it’s the International Day of Peace. According to Wikipedia, the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution (sponsored by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica) in 1981 declaring the third Tuesday of each September be devoted to

“commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.”

On the Tuesday, September 21st, 1982, the first International Day of Peace occurred with the theme of the “Right to Peace of People.” The following year, in 1983, the UN’s secretary general of the time announced a “Culture of Peace” in the 21st century to make peace a practical reality for the children of the world and future generations. The Culture of Peace is based upon the belief that “since wars begin in the minds of men [and women], it is in the minds of men [and women] that the defenses of peace must be constructed.”

This Culture of Peace program still exists within the UN – although many claim that it deserves and needs more attention and resources that it actually receives.

It wasn’t until 2001 when September 21st was decided as the official day for the International Day of Peace each year. The United Nations general assembly adopted a resolution that the 21st of September would be the special day devoted to peace, whereby all Member States are invited to:

“commemorate, in an appropriate manner, the International Day of Peace, including through education and public awareness, and to cooperate with the United Nations in the establishment of the global ceasefire.”

Let us take a moment on September 21st, 2016.

Let us celebrate how far the world has come for peace, and let us not forget the hard work that has been done to get us there.

Let us honour those who served for our freedom, both past and present

Let us hope for a world with non-violence and freedom for all

Let us hope for a world with responsible and just leaders that respect human rights and are willing to work towards the global ceasefire

Let us hope for humanity, for a world in peace.

World peace is of very high importance for The Peace Shop – and striving for global stability is one of the main goals of the social enterprise, which is why 10% of profits are donated to the Foundation for Food and Peace. This foundation will support global peace education and peacebuilding initiatives. We also aim to promote peace through our peace designs.

 

A Great Quote

I watched Tony Robbins speak on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday — and he said a beautiful thing:

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There is also a documentary about him on Netflix. It’s called “I AM NOT YOUR GURU”. I recommend checking him out. He really inspires me, and I hope to meet him someday.

Tony teaches us to follow our passions, to be strong, to be hopeful and to just get off our buts and do something!

Thank you, Tony

 

 

A New Online Store for Peace ☮

About a month ago I launched an online store for peace. I wanted to do more for peace than just blog and research about it. I luckily met a talented designer and we’ve been working together to create designs for t-shirts (for men, women and children), bags, postcards and more.

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I BELIEVE IN PEACE TANK TOP – available in four sizes. Smooth and soft cotton. Click here to view this in the shop.

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FLAMINGO ME TANK TOP. Also smooth and soft cotton. Click here to view this in the shop

So far it’s been an exciting venture. I have decided to create a Foundation for Food and Peace and have 10% of all profits go to this Foundation to support food security (access to the right food is a necessity for peace), peace and peacebuilding. The plan is to support charities and other organizations on the ground that are involved with peace education and conflict resolution. I wanted to provide people with a way to truly support peace — through both their clothing and through giving.

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YES PEACE TOTE BAG — durable and unique! Click here to view this in the shop.

Check out the store and let me know what you think!

Yours in Peace,

Mary

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Peace Photos from Europe

I’ve been back to Toronto for almost a month after my amazing two-month journey through Europe. Today I thought I’d share some signs of peace I found along the way — While I was in Geneva, there was a photo exhibit at the Palais des Nations showing people standing up for their basic human rights around the world. In some of the photos, it was obvious that people are longing for peace, especially in countries where human rights are not upheld (the captions are included are those that I found on the plaques underneath the photos).

These photos may not cheer you up — they may even make you a bit sad. I don’t want you to be sad, though :). I’m just trying to show what is out there in the world and give a voice to the voiceless through my writing and documentation. At the end of the post, you will see some happier peace photos.

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“Kurdish demonstrator in traditional outfit.” 

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“Demonstration for peace in Venezuela.” 

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“Global Day of Action against military expenditure.”

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“… two Palestinian mothers demanding the release of their sons and 4,750 other prisoners.”

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“Demonstration by Kurdish women who traveled from several European countries demanding their rights.”

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I met an awesome girl from Nice. She let me stay in her top-floor bachelor apartment in old Nice for a week. I walked in and saw this hanging from her low ceiling. 

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A Willy Wonka impersonator who ‘peaced me’ in Madrid. 

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This giant joker caught my attention – he was in Madrid – inside what looked like some kind of gambling place, I’m not sure. Nevertheless, he made me smile.  

 

Notes from a Food and Peace Travel Diary: Part IV

About a week ago I left France and headed to Spain with a BlaBlaCar – a ride share, a common way of getting around these days in Europe (I would love to see a similar structure take off in North America). The drive flew by as I crossed the Pyrenees from Bordeaux towards Madrid with a smiling driver, about my age, who kept turning around to offer the two of us in the backseat peanut M & M’s. How kind, so kind that I found myself slipping my hand into the family-sized bag, even though I would normally turn away from the rainbow-coloured balls of sugar.

I’ve always wanted to return to Spain – the last time I was here was in 2004 when I spent a few days in Barcelona while nannying in Germany. I remember loving how lively it was, how the people happily relaxed in the many parks, soaking up the strong sunshine and playing instruments. I remember the beautiful beaches and the narrow streets and the Gothic-like buildings with their wrought iron balconies brought to life by plants and flower pots. This time I headed to Madrid, the country’s capital, where I spent about four busy days before heading on to San Sebastian in the north, the Basque country.

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Palacio de Cibeles, Madrid, 2016

One of the things I loved about Madrid was all the street artists. I was there on a Sunday, so I headed to the “Rasto” (el Rasto), a giant flea market that runs every Sunday not far from the Plaza Mayor. It wasn’t long before my eyes met a charming Willy Wonka impersonator. As I stopped to take a photo, he peaced me (I’m inventing this word: he made a peace sign) before I dag in my purse looking for what coins I had. “Muchas gracias,” he said, keeping still, as I continued on my way.

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Plaza Mayor, Madrid, 2016

I told people in Madrid that I’d be going to San Sebastian before making my way to France – and often I was told how the coastal Basque city is known to have the best food in all of Spain. This got me quite excited and instantly set my culinary curiosity on fire. I arrived today and decided that I would go and try pintxos. According to Wikipedia, pintxos, or pinchos, are “a small snack, typically eaten in bars, traditional in northern Spain and especially popular in the Basque country and Navarre.”

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San Sebastian, 2016

Pintxos are everywhere in this city — maybe even more common than pastries in France. I found a traditional looking place, Casa Alcalde on Calle Mayor, and hungrily strolled inside, where my eyes were drawn to a wooden corner bar full of platters displaying colourful, carefully-prepared creations that I’ve never seen before. I told the girl behind the counter that I don’t eat meat, but fish would do (I break the vegetarian rules while traveling sometimes). Being in the land of cured ham — commonly known as Spanish ham — my pescatarian request instantly reduced my pintxos selection by about half. But with a choice of over ten, if not twenty, small snacks to choose from, I was still left with some hard decisions to make.

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Pintxos, San Sebastien, 2016

I filled my plate with four exotic creations and ordered a beer. The girl told me to keep my toothpicks (each pintxo was held together by one) and that when I was done eating and ready to pay I should bring them to the counter. That’s how they know how many pintxos each customer eats – and so they know what to charge.

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As I emptied the flavourful plate filled with textures of all kinds, I took a look around at the pictures on the wall — colourful pictures of red-lipped senoras with flowers in the hair and dainty embroidered shawls and paintings of bulls, Spain’s longstanding spirit animal. The ill-fated el torro. I looked up and saw about 20 Spanish hams hanging from the ceiling right above my table. The brown-coloured skin reminded me of mouldy food for some reason. I decided not to focus on it. As I bit into each of the four pintxo’s, I thought about how the decorated walls bared resemblance to Spain’s notorious, often overlooked food culture. It’s rich and vibrant, long-standing and, I would say, quite loud.

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Notes from a Food and Peace Travel Diary: Part III

     I’ve been in Montpellier for almost a month and I’m very proud of myself for choosing to stay put here while I work an a biography for someone, among other things. Lately I’ve been staying in and have become a grateful hermit writer. But what can I say? I need to to finish the book. I understand why writers take off to cabins, sometimes it helps to get rid of all distractions at once. Sometimes I’m bored and lonely, I will admit, but that has given me time. The wonderful, relative and precious gift of time.

      Something quite neat about Montpellier is the architecture – I really enjoy setting my eyes on the classic and detailed iron balconies everywhere I look and the gothic cathedrals, especially the grand Cathedrale Saint-Pierre de Montpellier. The castle-like cathedral is joined to the University of Montpellier’s Faculty of Medicine, which is said to have attracted Muslim and Jewish physicians in the 12th century as a place of peace. The Faculty of Medicine is one of the oldest in the entire world, and is (rightfully) situated right across from a large and beautiful botanical garden.

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     I’m sure those very early physicians understood the link between diet and health, perhaps even more so than we do today. I’d love to know what the curricula was like and how they viewed food and nutrition. Some reading for another day. But really: What they would think of our food today? Of our enormous grocery stores filled with endless colourful boxes and cans and wrapped packages and our just-as-colourful bottles of sprays and pesticides that we apply with gas masks and gloves? Perhaps they’d consider us lucky, perhaps they’d shake their head in worry.

Something I made myself for the very first time here is artichokes. I’ve always been quite curious about this mysterious vegetable, which, to me, resembles a prehistoric rose. I asked the lady I’m staying with how the French typically prepare them, and she graciously told me “avec une vinaigrette”. That’s easy, I couldn’t help but think. She pulled out a big pan and instructed me to boil them in water just like I would potatoes. Facing up, she said.

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     After cutting off the stems and leaves, I boiled them and made a simple vinaigrette with some chopped garlic (I’m not sure if this is typical, but I just love garlic), some olive oil and some balsamic vinaigrette. When the lovely buds were done, after about 20 minutes, I strained them and let them cool before slowly peeling back the petals one at a time and dipping it them in the tangy vinaigrette. The sweetness from the vinegar paired perfectly with the slightly grassy earthiness of each delicate petal.

     As I tore back the petals to get to the heart, I thought about how the artichoke teaches us patience and that we can’t have everything all at once. Good things come to those who wait. But  be careful, says the artichoke! If you aren’t paying attention to things around you, you could hurt yourself. The tops of the buds as pointy as a needle, make sure not to prick your finger or, even worse, end up swallowing them.

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Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • About 5 artichoke buds
  • Some olive oil
  • Some balsamic vinegar
  • Chopped garlic
  • Salt/ pepper
  • A dallop of mustard

How it’s done:

  1. Place the buds (stems removed) in a pan covered with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes, then strain and cool in the pan or on a plate.
  2. Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the oil, balsamic vinegar, the chopped garlic, salt and pepper and mustard together in a bowl.
  3. Enjoy. Pull back a petal (as I call them) and swoop them into the sauce, just as you would swoop a paint brush into your favourite colour of paint.

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