Buchanan event inviting community to partake in traditional practice of peace, hope

BUCHANAN — A Chicagoland artist, Indira Johnson, is planning an event this weekend to bring peace and tranquility to the Buchanan community.

The Buchanan Peace Offering will be hosted from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Buchanan Common, next to McCoy Creek.

“It is a tradition rooted in coastal societies,” Johnson said. “People make offerings of leaves and flowers and candles, which are then floated out to the rivers and seas. The idea is that they would contain wishes for peace, for wellbeing and for hope. They celebrate the relationship between the physical and spiritual.”

The peace offering is a free event where participants who come to the Common will find natural supplies provided by event partners. The offering will be in the form of a traditional practice where leaves and flowers are assembled and sent out into the rivers with offerings and messages of hope, restoration and a prayer for peace, according to event information.

Johnson invites participants to bring their own pens and markers if they choose.

“This is a ritual of hope, restoration and a community intention for peace,” Johnson said.

Attendees may also bring their own natural materials to work with, such as hosta and catalpa leaves from their own gardens.

The materials are all natural and will be bound together in floating displays to be sent down McCoy Creek to join with the St. Joseph River.

Johnson said as the offerings travel towards and into the St. Joseph River, they will gradually loosen and come apart. This represents dissolution, the third aspect a lifecycle.

Johnson hopes to inspire and include everyone. She believes working with materials from nature makes creativity more accessible.

“I think what happens when you involve natural materials, there is a tendency for a lot of people to shy away from creating for a fear that they are not artistic,” Johnson said. “With natural materials, there is a willingness to pick them up and put them together. They are so beautiful and make beautiful patterns. It’s the community who comes together and makes the patterns.”

Johnson is known for her community art pieces. It important to her to see the community working toward a common goal.

“Your one voice is then joined together with others,” she said. “[You see] how the one fits the many, and how together, we can do such beautiful creative things.”

Johnson hopes participants will come away with the memory of working with fellow community members, working with nature and the healing aspect of the work itself.

Frances Tuite, owner of Flatwater Farms LLC and one of the partners of River Saint Joe Brewing, helped bring the event to Buchanan. Tuite has known Johnson for years and saw Johnson host a similar event in Skokie, Illinois, earlier this month.

“She’s an amazing artist and very much into community art installations,” Tuite said of Johnson’s work. “She has been very active in non-violence and promoting art as an effort to reach people. She’s done a number of art installations in Chicago.”

Johnson is originally from Mumbai, India, and now lives in Illinois, but keeps a residence in Buchanan with her husband.

Ten community partners in Buchanan are involved in the Buchanan Peace Offering event, including Fernwood Botanical Gardens, which will be providing some leaves and materials. The Buchanan Art Center, River Saint Joe, Buchanan Tree Friends, Gustavsen’s, Alan Robandt Antique, Modern and Vintage, Buchanan District Library, The Paper, One Buchanan and Bike Buchanan are involved in the event.

Social distancing and COVID-19 protocols will be in effect in at the event.

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