Weekend of peace

Ashland's third annual Peace Village brought live music, fresh produce and plenty of positive energy to the Jackson Wellsprings this weekend.

The three-day community festival, titled "Let's Village Together!" featured a weekend full of amenities for the public. Vendors lined the lawns in the Wellsprings meadow, selling handcrafted instruments, fabric and jewelry. This year's event drew several hundred guests from around the area.

Event coordinators, calling themselves "The Peace Village Core Team," said they bring the Peace Village to Ashland each year to foster a greater sense of community among the town's many different people.

"It's a great chance to come together," said Core Team member Michelle Bellamy. A local musician, Bellamy coordinated the village's numerous musical acts. "We had a nice little opening ceremony," she said.

The ceremony filled the sky with songs late into the night. Music was a constant throughout the weekend. From acoustic solos in the daytime to "Progressive and Psychedelic Trance" at night, more than 20 bands performed at this year's event. Bellamy said most of the bands were local, and she added that giving them the exposure of a live performance was a tremendous opportunity.

"It's important for the community to support each other, and musicians are a part of that community," she said.

Fellow Core Team member Larry Morningstar said the event was about more than music, however. It was also to commemorate the life of local peace activist Steve Traisman, who died last year.

Saturday's activities included two "Skill Share" booths. Teachers in a variety of subjects came to share their knowledge of community-oriented skills, such as, solar cooking, eco-friendly community building and tool use. Lenny Thyme gave a lecture on the importance of quality water and the impact of federal legislation on the environment.

The destination of choice for many was the Healing Sanctuary, built to heal visitors of physical stress or whatever else ailed them. Held in an outdoor dome, called the "Om Dome," a number of certified healers studied in massage, acupuncture and Shamanic healing met to share their craft with others. Core Team member Deborah-Miriam Leff helped facilitate the Healing Sanctuary. She said its activities, and the Peace Village as a whole, were a means of responding to the negative moments of life with gratitude, rather than anger.

"The goal of this whole event is to bring out peace and loving energy in a big way," Leff said.

If the Healing Sanctuary was the Peace Village's body, the Skill Share its mind and the music its soul, then the organic produce was certainly its stomach. Fresh food was available from local vendors, as well as from the Wellsprings' own community garden. Bach Thor was among the numerous food vendors on hand, and he said his fresh vegetables epitomized the shared vision Peace Village members held.

"We're really focused on the 'Village' part of Peace Village," Thor said. "In a village, it's a very local economy. And growing your own vegetables, how much more local could you be?"

The festival ran through Sunday evening. Following a community drum circle in the afternoon, there was more music, and then a closing ceremony.

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