Published on June 10th, 2013 | by HOHBrian3
The Front Room in the Park – Faith and Food Festival 2013
Inside Handsworth – George’s Park, vivid green in the sunlight. Hundreds of people of all faiths strolling, playing, chatting, going in and out of the large marquee full of stalls, sharing food, watching the acts on stage. On the breeze, jerk chicken and the sound of a sitar.
A small Muslim girl is doing something small girls love doing – completing a test, trying to get them all right, trying to do it before anyone else, but she’s stuck on the last one:
9. Buddhists traditionally do which of the following on Vesak, the holiday celebrating the birth, life and death of Buddha?
Compose song Prune shrubs Burn old clothes Release animals
Someone points out a white haired Buddhist gentleman talking to others at the far end of the marquee. She runs its full length and pushes herself into view with her sheet. She is given time, listened to respectfully and thoughtfully, and provided with the answer she needs. The world has become a bigger and more interesting place, which is safe and enjoyable to explore.
We all need this just now.
Lozells is often described as a place where different communities lead parallel lives. For the second year in a row, Lozells Faith Forum, drawn from the different faiths in the area, have obtained grant funding (this year from Community First, The Lozells Project, The East West Trust and Awards for All), to put on an event which uses the sharing of food from different cultures as the basis for bringing about encounters which nourish understanding and trust. The results are not easy to capture in statistics, but they are many times more powerful, with the ability to supply the optimism, hope and openness which we need our young people to carry forward into the future. Ten years ago George’s Park was a gang-ridden war zone. Thanks are due to all those who helped bring about that change, and to Lozells Faith Forum for showing us a way ahead.