All kinds of everybody invited to all kinds of everything for good relations

PeacePlayers International Northern Ireland
PeacePlayers International Northern Ireland

Half a dozen years ago I was perturbed to hear that a campaign had begun in America to ban the word “awesome”.

This disturbed me as it’s a word that I use more than occasionally.

Theatre of Witness in 'Then, Now' Next'

Theatre of Witness in 'Then, Now' Next'

The immensity, spirituality and tranquillity of Grey Abbey monastic ruins well deserved the tag on this page a few weeks ago, as did numerous other places that Roamer has visited, here and further afield.

The campaign to ban “awesome” was launched in 2012 by British poet John Tottenham, who worked in a bookshop in Los Angeles.

He claimed that the word was “nauseatingly ubiquitous” and “completely meaningless” and performed an “Anti-Awesome Oration” incorporating some of his poems.

Apparently quite a few people jumped on his banned-wagon though I was amused to see a post on his website – “I think we should ban poets”!

Community Relations Council chief executive Jacqueline Irwin

Community Relations Council chief executive Jacqueline Irwin

Mr Tottenham wasn’t too successful with his campaign – particularly on Roamer’s page today, where the only word that adequately describes next week’s Good Relations Week is “awesome”!

Coordinated by the Community Relations Council (the CRC) the week’s enormously varied programme features over 180 events across all council areas between September 17th and 23rd, supported by The Executive Office, the Department for Communities, the Department of Justice and other government agencies.

Under the theme ‘Then, Now… Next?’ the events cover an awesomely wide range of issues including cultural diversity, dealing with the past, faith, sport, young people and language.

Organised by community and voluntary groups, local councils, libraries, museums, schools and other bodies, the events range from Irish language taster sessions in Larne Methodist Church to the launch of a short film in our Maiden City’s Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin called For the Love of Bands, focusing on the contribution of individuals and families who support marching band culture.

There’s a Shankill Women’s Centre event focussed on uniting women from nationalist and unionist areas of north and west Belfast to discuss how they can be involved in building a united community together.

The Intercultural Education Service and Urban Villages organisations are celebrating the schools that have achieved the School of Sanctuary Award, allowing other schools to learn from their experience and journey.

This important accolade helps and promotes schools to become “welcoming places” where “cultural diversity is valued and every pupil is celebrated”.

International Peace Day and Culture Night, both on September 21st, are included in Good Relations Week.

Entitled, intriguingly, Brexit and the Bible, a Corrymeela Community event next Wednesday in Belfast invites “people of all faiths and none” to come along and “share in dialogue about Brexit, borders and belonging, using the Book of Ruth from the Hebrew Bible”.

Staying with next Wednesday to illustrate the awesome scale and range of CRC’s Then, Now… Next? programme, there are 34 events, from Londonderry to Lisnaskea, from Ballymena to Belfast, from Lurgan to Larne – workshops, talks, exhibitions, a ‘Pop-Up Law Clinic’, films, guided tours and a presentation about the legacy of the 17th century Scottish settlement in Ulster.

(The Ulster-Scots event will be featured in more detail on this page on Wednesday)

In Millisle on Monday an event called Community Relations Through Sports Training organised by Peace Players International NI will address issues of community division, flags, emblems, sectarianism and dealing with the past through sport.

On Tuesday in Omagh anyone and everyone is cordially invited to A Step in Time – the story of Irish dance at home and abroad.

It’s billed as a “unique exhibition which looks at the history of Irish dance over the last 125 years, through objects, images and personal stories.”

The artefacts in Ulster American Folk Park reveal the cultural narrative behind “the phenomenon of Irish dancing” which has “captured the imagination of the world”.

Along with everything else already listed here that’s happening on Wednesday there’s a Small Worlds café-style event in Belfast City Hospital hosted by members of Belfast Friendship Club.

This is a lunchtime workshop/meeting-space for people from around the world (and locals too) where participants can encounter people from different backgrounds and from other corners of the planet.

On Thursday the Beyond 1918 Conference in Omagh examines the key historical events at the end of the First World War and its aftermath.

The speakers and the audience will look at the differing perspectives of the past, discussing insights into how such events can be commemorated in a way that is respectful to all.

Starting next Friday and running until Monday The Orange Tree Festival in Loughgall, hosted by Co Armagh Community Development, offers three days of music, song and heritage commemorating and exploring the formation of the Orange Order.

An event in Lisnaskea next Saturday invites community leaders to examine opportunities for peacebuilding in the local area and just one of the many events on Sunday is called Barefoot and Fancy Free!

“Lose your shoes”, suggest the organisers “come together to connect with neighbours through an eclectic mix of music, dance, arts and alternative barefoot activities”.

Introducing the week long programme of events CRC’s chief executive Jacqueline Irwin said: “Every day the groups and organisations showcased during the week continue to work to drive us all forward as one collective community, representing this place in all its diversity. The week is only a snapshot of the work that takes place year-round, and we hope it encourages more people to engage and foster new relationships.”

The full programme is listed at www.goodrelationsweek.com.