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Coventry: City of Peace and Reconciliation

Over the years Coventry has developed an international reputation as a city of peace and reconciliation.


John Lennon and Yoko Ono

“Two acorns, planted in Coventry Cathedral’s Unity Lawn on June 14, 1968, represented the very first public collaboration for peace between John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Placed in the ground on an east-west axis beneath a circular white garden seat, they were both a symbol of the couple’s love for each other and a contribution to a major sculpture exhibition then being hosted by the Cathedral. But at that point all thoughts of peace and harmony vanished. Souvenir hunters dug up the acorns, Lennon fell out spectacularly with the exhibition organisers over their decision to move the bench and the row left mutual recrimination in the air. Imagine if, one day, the story of the acorns could be concluded in a true spirit of peace and reconciliation...”

The International Centre for Reconciliation (ICR)

As one of the world’s oldest religious-based centres for reconciliation, Coventry Cathedral's ICR work began in 1940, after German bombers destroyed the Cathedral and much of the city. Instead of calling for revenge, the Cathedral focussed on restoring relationships with Britain’s former enemies.

The ICR’s peace work soon expanded into some of the world’s worst areas of conflict. Today, the ICR is committed to reconciliation in various situations of violent conflict. The ICR also coordinates the Community of the Cross of Nails, a permanent and international network of over 150 organisations in 60 countries, all with a commitment to reconciliation.

To find out more about the work of the ICR, please visit the website or to contribute financially to the work, please call: 024 7652 1200.

Fairtrade

Coventry became a Fairtrade City earlier this year. The Fairtrade mark on a product means that it is guaranteed that: the producers will receive a fair and stable price; the community will have extra income to improve their lives; there is greater respect for the environment; and that there is a closer link between consumers and producers.

A number of venues in the city sell Fairtrade goods and voluntary groups, workplaces, churches, cafes and shops are invited to apply for Fairtrade status by contacting:  Coventry Fairtrade Steering Group, Sustainability Team, 301Broadgate House, Coventry, CV11NH.

Further information on Fairtrade is available on the website.

The Centre for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation

The Centre for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation, Coventry University is a centre for teaching, research and related activities aimed at promoting peace, reconciliation and forgiveness at all levels throughout the world. 

The teaching programme includes an MA and certificated courses in conflict resolution skills as well as a continuing education class and a distance-learning course.

We have a group of active researchers exploring pathways to co-existence between divided communities around the world and in the UK - after all, peace should start with ourselves and our own communities.

Further details are available from Andrew Rigby, Centre for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation on 024 76887862 or e-mail: a.rigby@coventry.ac.uk

The British Friendship Hospital, Vietnam

During the Vietnam War, the US Air Force sprayed forests of the southern zone extensively with Agent Orange, a powerful defoliant, which unfortunately also affected animals, including humans. Exposed adults developed cancers and many of their children were born with gross deformities, such as partial or complete absence of limbs, eyes and severe neuromuscular problems. It is estimated that there are between two and three million victims in Vietnam. Ky Ahn District of Ha Tinh Province in cental Vietnam, where the British Friendship Hospital stands, has over 500 AO victims, of whom 100 need wheelchairs. Coventry provided £2000 of the £100,000 needed to build the hospital and they need our help again...

Further details are available from Dr Madeleine Sharp, Medical and Scientific Aid for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia on 024 7641 4512.

Coventry Peace House

Coventry Peace House is a housing co-operative and a peace and environmental centre on the Stoney Stanton Road. Those who live and/or work there are committed to non-violence and working towards a more peaceful and greener world. They do this by campaigning and running practical projects such as Coventry Cycling Centre and World Wise, which works with young people on global citizenship issues. They also offer support to asylum seekers and refugees in many ways, including publishing the magazine ‘Welcome’ in 5 languages. The Peace House is supported by scores of volunteers who give their energy and inspiration.

Further information is available from Coventry Peace House on 024 7666 3031.

Two Tone: the music of peace and reconciliation

If Liverpool dominated popular music in the 1960s and Manchester the 1980s, then it is Coventry that holds the ground between them.

Two Tone music, which fused reggae and rock in the late 1970s to create British Ska, was the Coventry Sound, pure and simple. It captured the harshness of an urban Britain sliding into economic collapse – but it also bridged the racial divide in this country in a unique way.

Almost all Two Tone bands boasted both black and white members and the music stood for something, whether it was challenging skinhead culture in the early days or staging Coventry’s own Rock against Racism concert in 1981. If peace and reconciliation has a place in 20th century popular music in Britain, it has its roots in Coventry.

Contact Details

Policy and Performance Team
CH45
Council House
Coventry
CV1 5RR
Telephone: +44 (0)24 7683 1090
Fax: +44 (0)24 7683 1106
e-mail: international@coventry.gov.uk