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Lewiston Peace Garden lives up to its name

by jmaloni
Sat, Jun 2nd 2012 07:00 am

by Alicia Wainwright

The Lewiston Peace Garden, located at 476 Center St., has definitely evolved over the years. Eva Nicklas from the Lewiston Council on the Arts explained how it began as a "funky gravel parking lot" and, after years of hard work, is now recognized as an International Peace Garden by the International Peace Garden Foundation.

"It's a beautiful green space that all of Lewiston is proud of," Nicklas said.

The Peace Garden contains a fountain, a stage, different kinds of flowering plants, and memory bricks throughout.

The garden has been host to various events over the years, including belly dancing, poetry readings, chainsaw artists, and fundraising events. But this summer will be different.

"All of these events that we're doing in the Peace Garden are with a focus on peace, with a focus on bringing the community together; they're all consciousness raising, and a way to use the peace garden in a way that fits with what it has become," Nicklas said.

T'ai chi is one of the new classes coming to the Peace Garden this summer. T'ai chi is an exercise that can slow down the effects of aging and bring the entire body into harmony. Instructor Bob White will bring this ancient exercise to the Peace Garden for six classes over the summer.

T'ai chi classes will be held on June 7, 14, 21 and July 5, 12, 19, from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m.

If you want to relax after a long week, yoga classes will be held on Saturdays at the Peace Garden. Yoga instructor Laura Vendryes incorporates both Hatha yoga, a static form of yoga, and Vinyasa yoga, which she describes as "a flowing yoga," into her classes. She teaches in a way so that people of any skill level will be satisfied and challenged.

"Yoga, to me, is sort of a way to someplace else. If you work through issues in your movement, in your breathing on the mat, then it helps you work through issues in your life. That's the way I look at it," Vendryes said.

Yoga classes begin June 2. They run 8 to 9:30 p.m. every Saturday until July 7.

Both T'ai chi and yoga cost $10 a session or $50 for the entire six-week series if paid in advance. Class size is limited. Pre-registration is required. To reserve your spot, call the Lewiston Council on the Arts at 754-0166.

"Drumming for Peace" is a free, relaxing jam session in the Lewiston Peace Garden. Hosts Dan and Gail Reinbird use multi-cultural beats to create an evening of improvised fun for people of all ages and skill levels.

"Drumming is a community thing, and it brings people together, so it's kind of a unity thing," Gail Reinbird said.

There are various styles of drumming, including African, and healing. "Drumming for Peace" can be described as festival drumming.

"It's lightly facilitated; it's kind of an open drum circle, so people come in and somebody starts a beat and people will join in," Reinbird said.

This is not the first year for "Drumming for Peace" at the Peace Garden. It was so successful last year that the LCA is able to host special guests this year. Every other week over the summer, a special guest drummer will join the drum circle.

The first session on June 8 will be an open jam. The following week, Alassane Sarr, a fourth-generation drummer from Senegal, will bring his long tradition of storytelling and dancing to the Peace Garden.

Jill Clause from the Tuscarora Nation Turtle Clan will be the special guest drummer on June 29.

The finale will be on July 27. Alassane Sarr's group N'Dias (meaning "the mix") will perform its contemporary world beat.

Basic percussion instruments will be provided. But people are encouraged to bring their own instruments.

"Drumming for Peace" will be held every Friday from June 8 to July 27. The jamming starts at 6 p.m.

To continue with the peace and tranquility theme, the LCA chose to look at the War of 1812 bicentennial in a different light.

"So while everyone else is thinking about commemorating the war of 1812 and re-enacting battles and things like that, we are choosing to focus instead on the 200 years of peace with our countries since the War of 1812," Nicklas said.

"The Ties That Bind" on June 15 is a beautiful way to celebrate the past 200 years. "The Ties That Bind" is a part of the Binational Doors Open 2012, a cross-border event celebrating the rich shared history between the U.S. and Canada.

Hundreds of scarves will be tied together in myriad shapes and colors to signify the numerous ways women on both sides of the border are bound together in 200 years of peace and friendship.

"This is our way of commemorating the 200 years of peace that happened after the War of 1812," Nicklas said.

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