International Peace Poets

The Bellingham Poets for Peace Read-In! Write-On! Event is pleased to announce the confirmed international speakers:

Candice James,Duke Ashrafuzzaman, Bernice Lever, Max Tell
Bong Ja Ahn, Lilija Valis, Janet Kvammen, 
Farina Reinprecht, and Una Brauhns.

Referring to this collaboration of Canadian poets and American,
Farina said it best, “We are a team” 

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Event: Read-In! Write-On!

Some local poet and writer friends are organizing a World Peace Read-in! and Write-on! It will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013 from 2 PM to 8 or 9 pm. at 910-14th Street (St. James Presbyterian Church). There will be an opening and welcome reception at 2 pm. People will be welcome to come later in the day and evening, but we want a crowd at the opening.
It is open to everyone. We are planning a special Young People’s hour that features their writing from 2:30 to 3:30 pm. We are hoping that young people (through high school) will come and share poem/stories about peace…living peacefully or whatever they might like to share. They can speak from 1 to 5 minutes.  Please sign up young people sending us an e-mail at worldpeacepoets@gmail.com we’ll confirm the time and answer any questions.
At 3:30, we are planning a time for international poets (speakers and writers in more than one language).  Most of the international guests will be from British Columbia, but local international voices can choose to read now or later in the day. 
For the World Peace Open Mic held after 5:00 pm, five minute slots of time are open to poets and writers from everywhere. The sign up for this time period is at Village Books.  
Musicians ! Musicians are welcome. We’d especially like musicians included who have song about peace that young people would enjoy. This sign-up is done at: worldpeacepoets@gmail.com. For times after 5 pm musicians can sign up for a five-minute slot at Village Books. These will be musicians who can perform using one voice mic and one instrument mic, with no additional setting up required. (questions go to worldpeacepoets@gmail.com)
Other activities will be posters for peace, Information about world peace initiatives and a space will be provided for meditation and writing.
This a free event, no one is getting paid. It is part of a world-wide “poetathon for peace”  to be launched October 23, 2013 by World Poets Canada (friends in New Westminster, BC).

-Event coordinators,
Carla Shafer, Betty Scott, Shannon Laws

Whatcom Creek Fire

On June 10, 1999 around 3:25 P.M., a 16 inch fuel line owned by the Olympic Pipe Line Company ruptures spilling over 277,000 gallons of gasoline into Whatcom Creek.  The volatile fuel explodes killing three people.  The massive fireball sent smoke 30,000 feet into the air, visible from Anacortes to Vancouver!

One and a half miles of earth was scorched, and 25 acres destroyed in the explosion.  It was witnessed that the river was so full of gasoline, it had turned pink.
Residents nearby called into 911 complaining of an overwhelming smell of fuel, but by this time it was too late.  At 4:55 P.M., approximately and hour and a half after the estimated time of the pipe rupture, the river was set on fire!
Map of Whatcom Creek’s path (in red) that flows
through downtown Bellingham, and into the bay.
The fire ignited half a mile before the I-5 underpass
just to the east of downtown.

Two young boys, lighting off firecrackers nearby, as it was close to the Fourth of July, were playing near the river.  These innocent children are heroes!  If they had not accidentally set the fire off when they did, the gas would of continued under an interstate highway, directly into downtown, spilling into the busy Bellingham Bay and marina, with potential deaths and injuries in the thousands. (see map, above)

On June 18, 1999, Bellingham Mayor Mark Asmendson said, “The cause of the fire was the fuel released from the Olympic pipeline. The fact that it was ignited was inevitable. With the thousands and thousands of gallons of fuel that were proceeding down Whatcom Creek, had the ignition not taken place where it did and at the time it did, the damage to this community and the loss of life would have been far greater. These boys completely, without notice or any awareness, were involved in an action that ended up being heroic for the city of Bellingham.”

FOURTEEN YEARS LATER
Hiking the Whatcom Creek trail today, it’s hard to believe that such a hellacious event happened here.  If you look for it, you can find burn scars on the trees and see the restoration efforts by the city to bring back salmon and other species to this precious stretch of land.
Nature finds a way to heal and recover.
Smoke Rising from the Creek

The creek is a special place for me, as are most rivers, and woodland areas.  I find the forest such a peaceful location for a “technical detox”; a place to clear my mind and sort things out.  I feel fortunate to live in a city that makes nature trails such a priority.  Thanks to this trail system I am an easy walk to Whatcom Creek.  Although I have only lived near the creek for a year, I am encouraged by the recovery efforts the city has made.

This last Saturday at the Writers International Network Literary Festival in Richmond, B.C., I read my poem “River Ink” inspired by Whatcom Creek.  The Festival’s theme this year is “Peace”.  I shared this history of the creek with the audience.

before/after

William Wordsworth, a Romantic poet, said it best, “Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.”

 The creek is green, luscious with all types of trees, bushes, wildlife, and fish. Nature recovers, finds a way.
Now, simple folk like myself, who just want to recover from a hectic day can stroll along this peaceful river
with the encouraging visual reminder that life continues, even after it seems all is lost.
***
My thoughts today are with the family members of those three lives,
lost on that fateful day, in June 1999.
May your hearts recover from the lost of such young life.
Rest in Peace

Liam Wood, 18, and Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvas, both age 10.

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A Falls Along the Upper Portion of Whatcom Creek

City of Bellingham restoration update:

http://www.cob.org/services/environment/restoration/cemetery-creek.aspx

History Link Sequence of Events:

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=5468

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