East Bay Community Music Project

Music Is Community!

The Ballad of Summer 2019

I’ve traveled more in this past year
Than in all my years before.
So many songs, so many stories,
My heart: it still has room for more.

This is the year I left my job
And turned to do the work of the heart.
More time with my kids, more time with myself,
Still feels like I’m at the very start.

We had a lot of rain and flood.
Think and thank the earth.
Save the beautiful earth
For the next generation.

This year we found many friends.
My children started speaking English.
And visited many places
And studied many other subjects.

Oh, it is the month of June,
To celebrate, we cannot hide.
Rainbow flags are all around:
I wish you all a happy Pride.

Seeing kids that are caged
Really makes me feel enraged.

This Summer, we built a cottage.
We hope to find out soon
If it will be finished
By the next phase of the moon.

People sometimes move away,
And force us all to rearrange.
They’re on their way to Portland now:
Always ways to grow with change.

This year my first cousin was born.
Harriet was her name.
I started playing on a soccer team,
And watching lots of World Cup games.

In the past year
I learned so much.
I tried new things
And worked hard.

When I went to protest,
I saw teachers and allies doing their best
To fight for educational justice
Without rest.

This year my parents turned forty.
Yesterday my birthday came.
My brand new cousin was just born.
Harriet: that’s her name.

When the teachers went on strike,
I wanted to make things right
So all people can learn
To get along, and read and write.

When a bomb hit Sri Lanka
Oh, I was so surprised.
There are lots of friendly people.
It’s a place where I resided.

Morfar was a kind man.
He was never angry at me.
I loved him so much
And I miss him terribly.

On Tuesday,
I am going to turn 6.
I am going to have a lot of fun,
Playing with my friends.

Alexandros started preschool
In the fall last year.
He bakes and chops and draws and plays
And found some new friends there.

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Our Summer Solstice Celebration

How did you celebrate the longest day of the year?

One of the reasons we started the East Bay Community Music Project was to find ways to connect people and communities together with meaningful celebration that includes music-making. The seasons seemed like a wonderful point of contact that we can all agree about, regardless of what tradition one might have been raised in. There is a day that is actually the longest day of the year, and there is a shortest day as well. Why not take a moment to reflect on what has come in the year before, and what events we will face in the year ahead. Why not sing and move our bodies with our family and friends? Why not make simple gestures that help us to get to know one another better, and that help us to remember with whom we are living, for those times when we might forget?

This year, EBCMP celebrated the Summer Solstice for the 7th time since we began meeting. We enjoyed a potluck lunch on a beautiful day in the park, and met some new friends who were coming to one of our events for the first time. Our celebration included the writing of a ballad, with each person present writing one stanza–every person present, from a 3 to 53, wrote a stanza. We tied our poems to sticks decorated with a piece of bright red cloth. We prepared the xylophone, made a big circle, and sang our ballad of the longest day, with each person singing their own offering, and then placing it in a bowl in the center of the circle. Each person reflected on the year past and the year ahead. Each person, young and old, overcame their anxiety about expressing themselves in public and exposing their thoughts to scrutiny, and took an active role in the making and telling of the story of their community. When the spoken and sung part of the ballad was over, we took up our instruments and made new melodies over the now familiar rhythm and refrain.

Read The Ballad of Summer 2019

After the singing and dancing had ended, we collected the sticks, ribbons, and poems to take to our family camp the following weekend, where we took turns reading and remembering them before setting them alight in the campfire. We plan to do it again next year. We’d love for you to join us.

Each person sang or spoke their part, and shared their voice with the group refrain. I am so proud to say that this is what we do in our community, this is how we show up for one another and celebrate the turning of the world together. We are teaching ourselves how to celebrate, and our children are learning to teach themselves as well. I can say that if I am ever feeling lonely or isolated, it is not difficult for me now to stop and recall the moment that Summer began and when my community was singing and dancing our story together.

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