The Peace Walk & Talk was designed to mark the 75th anniversary of the first bombs dropped on Swansea during World War 2 on June 27th 1940.
This event marked the beginning of a three-phase, ‘Marking the Past, Making the Future Project’, on the themes of war, peace & sustainability. At the heart of each of the three separate but related events was a conscious emphasis on ‘peace-making’ – building connections to one another, promoting dialogue and a sense of our shared endeavour as well as an acknowledgement of our differing backgrounds or views. All three events in the series in some way looked back at the history or traditions of Gower in order to look forward to build a sustainable, resilient and peaceful future.
The Peace Walk & Talk took place on June 27th 2015 and was designed to mark the 75th anniversary of the first bombs dropped on Swansea during World War Two on June 27th 1940. In terms of ‘Marking the Past, Making the Future’, it was of the three events, the most consciously focused on war and peace.
This day-long event began with a peace talk by peace activist and earth pilgrim Satish Kumar and then and walk of six miles, with activities along the way. The walk was from central Swansea, site of the main devastation caused by the bombs to Mumbles Hill, Gower; the remains of gunning placements and look-outs. It was designed to highlight the connections between Swansea, it’s history of devastation during the Blitz and the important role of Mumbles and Gower in the protection of the coastline of Britain during WW2. Another theme was looking back into the past and casting forward into the future, contemplating what kind of Britain and world we might be creating or remembering in 75 years time. The date of the walk coincidentally fell on UK Armed Forces Day.
The Peace Walk & Talk captured people’s imagination and word of mouth spread immediately and the event was full to capacity very quickly. The event was free to all and people came from a wide geographical spread throughout Swansea and further afield in Cardiff and the valleys.
Satish Kumar spoke about his peace walk as a young man to all the nuclear capitals of the world that began in 1962 and the ideals that compelled him and his friend E.P Menon, to leave their homeland of india to walk for two years without a penny in their pocket. You can hear a voice recording of Satish’s talk further down in the ‘resources’ section. His main theme was how we as world citizens can bring peace into every area of our lives, in small not just big, public actions. He also interestingly touched on the difference in approach and intention between a ‘Peace March’ and a ‘Peace Walk’. Satish and many of those who came to hear him speak waved the thirty or so walkers off who were each given a white peace handkerchief to wear.
We walked to the sea along the route of bomb-blasted Swansea, through a crowd gathered to celebrate Armed Forces Day and towards the sea. We then walked in silence onto the beach to the sea-front war-memorial to hear a poem by Siegfried Sassoon and write messages of peace on our white handerkerchiefs.
Walkers were met along the route by local artists offering creative interventions – actor (Phil Ralph), dancer (Catherine & Georgie Bennett and singers/musicians (Aled Warwick & Margot Morgan). After reaching Mumbles Hill, walkers participated in completing an installation of 60 white Peace Flags with walk artists-in-residence (Erin Rickard & Sean Pouston).
American Peace activist and author on leadership and social change, Margaret Wheatley welcomed walkers at the walk destination and gave a compelling talk about our individual roles as peace-makers in the world and in our lives. She spoke powerfully about the dangers of being a self-righteous peace activist and perpetuating the divide between us (the peace-makers) and them (the war-mongerers). The day finished with sharing the intentions for peace we had written before going went our separate ways leaving the flags waving gently in the wind.