Donna Weeks

‘What is the point of studying international relations?’ I was once asked by a persistent parent on behalf of their daughter, a prospective student, at a university open day. ‘If my daughter studies medicine, she can find the cure for cancer, something useful!’ ‘Well yes’, I responded, ‘and if she studies international relations, she can find a way to make the world a peaceful place and find a cure to why mankind opts for war’.

I don’t know whether or not my response convinced that parent but that reflexive defense of my profession on that day spoke to me perhaps even more than I had intended. Relations between Australia and Japan have been a prominent part of my student and professional life. I examine how two countries, once allies, then enemies, now partners can work together on the international stage. In my work, I seek the realisation of a ‘security community’, a place on the international stage where states can coexist with dependable expectations of peaceful change, not war—a place where anger, distrust, hate and killing are no longer automatic responses. In my most recent work with Kumi Kato, we are extending this concept to the whaling/anti-whaling arena.

‘Peaceful space’ manifests itself in other ways too as I visit Japan and live in Australia—the quiet gardens just metres behind the noise and excitement of hundreds of tourists at the statue of the Kamakura Buddha; trying to emulate Buddhist chants on my bass clarinet as the full moon rises; responding to the calls of the pale-headed parrot in my backyard. I soon realise my ‘peaceful space’ dissolves the vacuum between my personal and professional lives.

Bio: Donna Weeks is Lecturer in Japanese Studies and International Relations at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her areas of expertise include International Relations, Japanese politics and foreign policy and Australia-Japan relations. She has taught language and politics at the University of Queensland and Griffith University, and held appointments as Project Officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and research officer for a Queensland Senator. She has enjoyed extended periods in Japan as a graduate research student at Daito Bunka University Tokyo (Law Faculty), the University of Tokyo Graduate School and Visiting Research Fellow at Waseda University. An active member of the Brisbane community music scene, she is compiling a story based on recollections of past members of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Patricia Morgan

There is an energy, in communion with Nature-being, that transpersonal awareness of the continuum of Nature relationship, which has the power to shift my state of consciousness, from singular to universal. It seems paradoxical to use the words ‘energy’ and ‘power’ to describe peaceful moments with Nature, though through creative and meditative engagement with Nature I have become still enough to awaken to the peace that is brimming with life.

Bio: Patricia is currently working on a PhD situated at the interface of creative process and Reverential Ecology. She has worked as a community developer, researcher and educator and originally comes from an arts background, in which she was always inspired by Nature’s beauty. After developing and presenting arts for self-development programs in many therapeutic communities she began to question how it was that the environmental arts component of her programs seemed to have the most profound impact. Currently her research takes up most of her time, though she is currently working on a compilation of 12 short one- shot videos of sacred moments in Nature.
"Godsings" posted here is one of them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSQQIz3cMiM


Greg Bamford

Is peaceful space harder to achieve as our cities densify? Probably, but all may not be lost. The properties of urban and suburban outdoor spaces that are conducive to peacefulness are easily negated by noise sources such as the car, chainsaw or leaf-blower, amongst other intrusions. Moreover, a culture of space is needed to nurture peacefulness, as with any social goal for an environment. So merely how space is shaped will never be sufficient to achieve this end but what, other things being equal, works? Let's consider two outdoor domestic environments whose space shaping moves have worked and try to see why.

Bio: Greg Bamford is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture at The University of Queensland, where he teaches architectural design and people/environment studies. He has a PhD in Philosophy and his research interests include the social and environmental aspects of urban housing and neighbourhoods.


Kumi Kato

tamayura –玉響 (dew resonance) a drop of dew on a leaf in early morning before sunrise, which will stay only for a short time and be gone by the time the world wakes up
sanshisuimei - 山紫水明 a mountain range glows in the purple pink sunlight, and reflects in the clear water in a serene silence
shinonome – 東雲 (east cloud) just before the sunrise, the lower edge of the clouds become pink, just before the entire Eastern sky emerges in the light. It is still dark and things can be only seen as silhouettes
shimonokane – 霜の鐘 (frost bell) total silence of a cold night with sharp clear air – it is so crystal clear you can hear the sound of frost forming
ukō – 雨香 (fragrant rain) fresh smell of flowers and plansts brought out just before the rain starts to fall

These moments of beauty, serenity and ephemeral can only be “seen” if we listen attentively with all our senses. They are the moments of a-wa-re - when we are so moved by the transient fragility of things passing, both human and non-human worlds. Perhaps with such mindful listening, we can capture a peaceful space that actually exists in every part of our life.

Kumi Kato teaches environmental studies at Wakayama University, Japan. She is also a research affiliate at the UQ and Cheju National University, South Korea. Her work is best described "creative ideas & expressions for sustainability”, and especially interested in the role of sounds in articulating human-nature connectivity. With her totally multi-disciplinary approach, she sees herself as a positive activist, who acts on, building on people’s strength, good-will, trust, celebration, beauty and joy. She founded an Australia-based not-for-profit organisation ecco: exchanging culture for conservation (http://www.ecco.org.au/), which supports diverse range of creative projects for sustainability, including this “Creative Conservation 3”.


Tamsin Kerr

Our bodies of clay experience the sheer delight of our more-than-human world through landscapes of sound. This is what landscape memoir is made of; this is where peace is born. Love of a place is constituted through an awe born from the imagination as well as the scientific microcosm. We improvise around place, this throne, and our more-than-human nature. We produce ithin the thick time of soundscape, speak of darkness and of light, play with nature, let nature's animal spirit lead in this short dance we create upon this earth. Here is our chance to tell the history and the future of this land through the soundscapes of music, to be more artful in our imaginations. Certainly, we play in partnership with the many layers (past, present, and future) of each place. We take the temper and the tempo of this earth, building it to a more ceremonial time. Such sounds sink into place, enhancing peaceful space. Come, let us listen... landscape's always dreaming the wild.

Bio: Tamsin Kerr writes under the supervision of a mountain in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. Tamsin escaped the confines of senior public service positions in environment and culture so as to find the stillness and beauty of a more settled place. In the process of writing herself into the landscape, she found she had acquired a PhD, titled "Conversations with the bunyip: The idea of the wild in imagining, planning, and celebrating place through metaphor, memoir, mythology, and memory". Now she is investigating and writing about the links between the arts and environment, as well as establishing the Design, Art, Land Centre of the Cooroora Institute with herfurniture designer/maker partner, Ross Annels.


Ann Bermingham

PEACEFUL SPACE For me, peaceful space is a physical space where I can be solitary, or with like-minded companions, and allow my mind to be still and my ears and heart to be open. Then I can experience a congruence between my internal; state and the external environment that is nourishing and

Bio: Ann Bermingham works as freelance musician, primarily as a performer, conductor of 2 community choirs, workshop leader, and on music and multi-arts projects with Festivals and community organizations. Her main focus is voice, but she also plays guitar and clarinet. In 2007, Ann was Artist-in-Residence at Mt. Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, and focussed on listening to the sounds of the Gardens. She created a short recording of ambient sounds - 'A day in the Life of the Gardens' - and also some solo and collaborative vocal and instrumental compositions out of that experience. Ann sings with the trio Zhiva Voda, who perform traditional music from Bulgaria.


Ruth Blair

Joseph Meeker said: 'The way we think about the world is the way the world tends to become.' As an epigraph to the Peaceful Space forum, I would add: 'The way we see, hear, and feel the world is the way the world tends to become.' For ultimately the way we think about the world is a product of the senses through which we experience it. In celebrating the role of the senses and the imagination in our experience of the world, this forum seems to me a place to seek out the music of these interrelationships. Peace is a wonderful guiding word for the gathering, as it evokes the sense of harmony that marks the most satisfying and responsible aspects of our behavior in, on and towards the earth.

I was inspired by living up close to conservation issues in Tasmania to begin teaching a course in literature and the environment in the early 90s. I transported the course and my interest in the role of creativity in the relationships we establish with the world around us to UQ and thrived on the way in which students shared my passion. Currently I am drawn to think and write about gardens as site of connections of many kinds with the environment - and as peaceful spaces.