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Peace and Disarmament

Back to listSep 7, 2008

SGI-USA Holds Block Party in New York City

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On September 7, 2008, SGI-USA New York Zone closed off the street facing the New York Culture Center in New York City, New York, USA, for a day-long event titled "Creating a New Peace." More than 2,000 attended the open house and block party that featured tours of the 120-year-old landmark building and introductory Buddhist meetings in 12 languages. Local SGI-USA members transformed the city block into a "road of peace," decorating it with balloons, banners and street signs advertising the event as well as relevant quotes from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda.

The culture center, formerly the Rand School of Social Science, was widely referred to as "The People's House" during the early half of the 20th century. Eminent philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952) was among those who visited and spoke at the building, which is located near Union Square. On display at the center were two SGI exhibitions: "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit" and "Seeds of Change: The Earth Charter and Human Potential." "Friendship is a key to this mission of helping overcome the world's environmental problems," said Rie Kanamaru, 12, who viewed the latter exhibition.

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Along with the guest tours and exhibitions, events in the center included world peace prayer meetings and introductory meetings in English, Thai, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Tagalog, Italian, Russian, Hindi, Korean, Japanese and Chinese.

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Taking place outside was a potpourri of family-friendly activities. Children enjoyed face painting, jumping in an air-filled bouncing castle, and learning origami, calligraphy, sand painting and balloon sculpture. Community food vendors sold pizza, ice cream, cotton candy and popcorn. Members of the SGI-USA Youth Performing Group presented traditional Chinese, Latin, African and hip hop dances and a youth band melded classical and rock music. The Queens Blues Band and the musical group Zon del Barrio also performed.

A guest, Sho Akita, shared his observations of the day's events: "There was such a colorful array of people--so much diversity. I love that."

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[Adapted from an article in the September 26, 2008 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA, and an article in the October 24, 2008 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Manuel Elias, Danny Sze, et al.]