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Million Women Drummers march.

The first thing to know about the Million Women Drummers Gathering (October 2013) is that you don't have to be a drummer to participate. Around the world, groups of women are forming to honor the trees from which drums are made and to celebrate the vital part they play in sustaining life on earth. Anyone interested in becoming more aware of the basic cycles of nature is invited to share the experience the Gathering will offer. However, women who have participated in drum circles in their communities will be especially excited to have this opportunity to feel the rhythm of the drums permeating the air in global expression.

Over the last two years, members of the WILPF MN-Metro Branch have joined in the local preparations for the Gathering. Our Arts Committee considers this activity a natural progression of its six-year study of global water issues. It is important to recognize and emphasize the role of trees in the circulation of water through the atmosphere and the soil. Because our committee seeks to promote public awareness leading to action through presentations in various forms of art, we chose to present water issues through music. To do this we sought out guidance from the Women's Drum Center (WDC) of St. Paul, whose members helped us to create "Stirring the Waters," an intergenerational women's percussion band. (Our interest in drumming stems from this collaboration.) The WDC is the organizing agent and center of preparations for the Gathering throughout Minnesota. (See www.


Beginning in the fall of 2011, the WDC began offering a monthly Drum Circle as a place for women interested in the Million Women Drummers Gathering to learn to drum together and to study the connections between drums and trees. We learned how trees create wood, which trees have traditionally been used for making drums and which tree produced the wood for our individual drum. Science stories confirmed for us the central place of trees in our ecosystems and in the creation of the atmosphere that supports life on earth. We learned more about the history and care of forests on our land base. As consumers of drums, we became more aware of forest management and logging practices and the impact of drum making. We practiced a special drum song to play during tree plantings. One of the goals of the Gathering is the planting of one million trees worldwide.

For us, a highlight of 2012 was the visit to Minnesota by Ubaka Hill, the creator and organizer of the Gathering. At the invitation of the WDC, she came to spread the word and to meet women drummers throughout the State. In the Twin Cities she offered a two-day drumming workshop and was the featured performer at a well- attended WDC concert. WILPF demonstrated its work on water and trees at the concert, and performed with the Gathering's Drum Circle.

Members of WILPF and the WDC also presented an overview of their Gathering-related activities at a public program offered by our branch in November. Entitled "Women, Water, Trees and Drums," we discussed each one of these areas and how they interrelate. We used the examples of three outstanding women who have dedicated their lives to actions in these areas: Wangari Maathai, Vandana Shiva and Jean Shinoda Bolen. And, of course, we played drums (or shook maracas made from recycled water bottles)!

Preparing locally for this inspiring global event has broadened and deepened our approaches to the environment and to drumming as a community building tool. The Gathering is a great opportunity for all the members of WILPF to come together to demonstrate their concern for the natural cycles of life on earth, to feel the pulsating rhythms of the heartbeat of all living things, and to be connected to women working for a more humane world, everywhere. Check out the website to get a preview of what can happen when lovers of trees and drums come together. See you there!

Marilyn M. Cuneo is the convener of the MN-Metro WILPF Arts Committee. She can be reached at mcuneo77@
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Title Annotation:Million Women Drummers Gathering
Author:Cuneo, Marilyn M.
Publication:Peace and Freedom
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2013
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