Exeter CND and Woodcraft Folk forge new creative links. PETER STEVENSON has the story
EXETER CND have recently formed an important link with the Woodcraft Folk, a progressive youth organisation that believes passionately in equality and co-operation, as part of our work to inspire young people to join our anti-nuclear campaigns.
Every week thousands of Woodcraft Folk volunteers and young people meet in community venues across the country to learn about big ideas through enjoyable activities like singing, drama, playing and debating.
The aim of the Woodcraft Folk is to have great fun, but also to develop children’s self-confidence and build their awareness of society around them.
This inspiring organisation, with strong anti-military principles and links to the co-operative movement, wants to educate and empower young people to participate actively in society, improving their lives and the lives of others through active citizenship.
They are affiliated to the Stop the War Coalition and the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and through their weekly activities, outings and camps children and young people are helped to understand important issues like the environment, world debt, global conflict and sustainable development.
By encouraging children to think it is hoped they will help to build a peaceful, fairer world.
Members of Exeter CND recently led a super art session where the children learned about the dangers of nuclear weapons and pledged their support to our anti-Trident campaign by producing some strikingly powerful images.
The session involved an impressive warm-up game of “It” on a community field where children sprinted and dived into bushes followed by a circular meeting where the issues of nuclear weapons were discussed.
We then moved to the highly creative art activity and finished with another circular meeting which included the moving, collective reciting of the group’s creed: “This shall be for a bond between us, / That we are of one blood you and I; / That we shall cry peace to all, / And claim kinship with every living thing; / That we hate war, sloth and greed, / And love fellowship. / And that we shall go singing to the fashioning of a new world. / Peace.”
Our work with the Woodcraft Folk is part of a wider initiative to develop understanding and action in other settings. We take pride in the newly formed Exeter University CND and Peace Society which has made important contributions to recent street petitioning campaigns and is a beacon of light on a university campus that actively promotes the values of capitalism.
The student activists are part of our latest creative public event, Music for Peace. Over 100 singers, musicians, rap poets and dancers have given their time freely to perform today at St Matthew’s Hall, Exeter.
Items from our unique peace shop will be on sale as Bollywood and flamenco dancers combine with a community choir, blues and Latin American musicians to entertain supporters, their families and friends.
Music for Peace is another example of what other CND and peace groups could aim for. There is something highly attractive about combining left-wing politics with music and food in a friendly setting. I was delighted recently to attend the Bridport Labour Party’s pro-Jeremy Corbyn pantomime We’re Behind You! — another example of what can be achieved when creative people come together with an important story to tell.
The themes of cuts in public transport, the dangers of TTIP and fracking combined with performances from singers, jazz musicians and performance poets to achieve a memorable show. The packed hall roared their approval as yet another example of progressive cultural action shone bright in the Tory heartlands of the West Country.
Pete Stevenson is Exeter CND press officer and convenor of Music for Peace. He would be happy to advise CND groups, Labour Party branches, trade unions and any other sympathetic organisation on the best ways to form links with young people and how to put on a great political community show — he can be contacted via www.creativeworkout.co.uk. Tickets for today’s event at St Matthew’s Hall, Newtown on the door.