As 2018 ends, it can be overwhelming (and even exhausting) to try to reflect on the events of the year. Donald Trump entered the second year of his presidency and continued his upheaval of the White House; the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre horrified us all and sparked a national movement; the US continued to aid and abet human rights abuses across the Middle East; millions more refugees fled their homes worldwide; and the climate crisis deepened with wildfires of unprecedented intensity devastating parts of California. This and much more has had a traumatic effect on the global consciousness. And while each event may seem to crush us under its weight, there are moments of hope.
The 2019 Syracuse Cultural Workers’ Peace Calendar brings these moments to light. Each month reminds and educates us on the resistance that remains stalwart in the face of such tumultuous and uncertain times. The calendar has sought to do this for 48 years not just with powerful images, but also with inclusive, multicultural holidays, lunar cycles and 13 native moons.
Opening the year is a stunning photo from choreographer Camille Brown’s BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play. The performance interweaves original music and dance to tell the complex story of Black womanhood in the US, where so often Black women are portrayed as one-dimensional. The image is joyous and boundless as it begins the new year.
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Other photographs and collages represent landmark events, such as the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the Palestinian Right of Return. A gorgeous illustration by Hal Cameron depicts an Indigenous elder passing language on to a child, reminding us that we must still fight against assimilation and colonization as the American holidays approach.
Bookending the calendar is a Syracuse Cultural Workers collage of an expansive tree, with vast networks of boughs and branches representing The Charter for Trees, Woods and People. As an initiative that began in 2015 in the United Kingdom, the charter seeks to unify more than 70 organizations and 300 local groups to protect plant life for the mutual benefit of humanity. The collage reminds us of the interconnectivity of all life on Earth – that peace means understanding and helping each other achieve it. Closing the calendar with this image illustrates the unity in all the images that came before it.
When finding peace seems fruitless, or it seems that power will never bend its ear to listen to our voices, we must remember that we are not alone. Collectively, our voices are heard and amplified by one another. We need only to look at a calendar and remind ourselves, with each passing day, that we are in this struggle together.