Rebooting 12seconds for Peace

logo2It was two days after Christmas in 2009. I was walking around my hometown of Rugby in the UK and getting cold and wet one evening, and thinking about a little-known social network called 12seconds TV. It was the video version of Twitter, long before Vine, Instagram, Facebook Live and the rest. It was ahead of its time by a very long way. This was back in the pre-smartphone days when you had to shoot a video with a video camera, upload it to your machine and then upload it to the relevant site. A pain in the ass. And 12seconds TV died.

What struck me about 12seconds TV though, was its creative potential. I could see all sorts of creative possibilities that could come out of it.  Ideas were spinning around in my head.  Ways to turn a bunch of unconnected videos from people all over the world, into one cohesive video art piece. To cut a long story short, I came up with the concept of 12seconds for Peace. The idea was to get people from all over the world to send me a video of no more than 12 seconds in length, making a positive statement for peace. These would then form the raw materials for a global video collage. The concept blew me away. I could see in my mind videos from people of different religions, cultures, socioeconomic and political backgrounds, all coming together to say the same thing: all we want is peace.

The only rules were: you must not invoke your own religion as being the way to find peace, and you must not point a finger at anyone as being the reason that there is no peace. It had to be a simple statement of desire for peace in the world.

The response was incredible. I had videos flooding in from all over the world. A farmer in Canada, a little girl being bombed in Gaza, a lawyer in Eastern Europe, a rock musician in Spain, an artist in the United States, a Native American, a mother in the UK. The list was endless and spanned every religion and culture.

And to top it all, I had Julian Lennon, the son of John Lennon (of Beatles fame) supporting the project, along with Bryant McGill, the former Peace Prize Nominee, various rock bands ( including Simon Townshend of The Who, Bibi McGill, the backing guitarist for Beyonce, and others), film-makers, artists, writers…you name it. It seemed like the world wanted to get on board with this little project of mine.

I contacted Peace One Day (the NGO that had single-handedly managed to get every country in the world to sign up to the  United Nations International Day of Peace), and they were on board also.

The project was steaming ahead and creating ripples everywhere. And then it died.

In 2011 and 2012, 12seconds for Peace was set to take the world by storm. Through a subsidiary project called The Global Concert for Peace, I had planned to broadcast the collected videos to the world. The Global Concert for Peace was due to go live on the International Day of Peace, 2013.

It was essentially a music concert and was to go staged at the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Peace One Day had linked it with another concert that they were hosting in Rio de Janeiro on the same day. It was also linked to a possible concert in Alexandria in Egypt, that I was involved in putting together  with someone involved in the peace movement in Egypt. So the plan was to have three major cities partying together, across two continents, for peace, at the same time. It would have been one of the biggest musical events in history. We had plans for other cities too, yet to be unrolled.

On the Egyptian side of things, I had already been given the entire Giza Plateau, where the pyramids are located, by the Egyptian government. I had free flights with Egyptair for all the performers. I had the hotel accommodation provided by the government for free.

I had a top-ranking music producer, Pete Lawrence from the UK, to oversee the music side of things. also involved was British artist Pete Thornley, who’s work involves the projection of images onto the side of very large structures. It was his job to screen the 12seconds for Peace videos onto the side of the pyramids, before, during and after the performances.

And of course, I had bands, music producers, artists, filmmakers, and the press all over me.

So why did it die? The Egyptian Revolution happened. There was no way I could hold a concert for peace in the middle of a country that was at war with itself. The whole thing got put on the shelf. 12seconds for Peace as an independent video Arts project was suffering from a shortage of cash and needed some solid backing and a platform, and the concert, which was to be the platform, was a non-starter.

I still have all of the old videos. And some of them will reduce you to tears. My favourite is of a 6-year-old old girl, who was making her video, asking for peace and reconciliation and love in the world, while the Israelis were bombing Gaza. It’s a truly heart-wrenching video. Maybe these videos can be reused in the rebooted project somehow.

So here we are some years later, in the days of the smartphone and the hashtag. It’s time to relaunch 12seconds for Peace. It might take on a new name. I am thinking right now #afewseconds4peace…or maybe just #secondsforpeace

I am reaching out to some of the former supporters and backers of this project to see if it is possible to move it forward once more. I am under no illusions over what a mammoth task that would be, but it is still a great concept. It’s still a great way of bringing people together around the world under the banner of a collective desire for peace. I would also like it to raise cash for the many refugees that there are in the world. There are so many in the world now. And all that these people want and need is a little peace in their lives and to be treated for what they are: human beings with dignity.

I would also like it to raise cash for the many refugees that there are in the world. There are so many now..it is astonishing. And all these people want and need is a little peace in their lives and to be treated for what they are: human beings with dignity.

It’s a major project, born out of my strong belief that there is always hope. That there is a need for every human being to be doing the right thing, for their own sake, for the sake of others and for the sake of the future.

If you would like to get involved in this project or have any ideas, please do leave a comment or send me a message. I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings,

Steve

PS. There’s another article about 12seconds for Peace here, that originally appeared in Om Times.

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About Steve Gooch

Steve Gooch was born in March 1962 in Rugby, Warwickshire in England and grew up there with his two brothers and sister. He moved to Corsham in Wiltshire and attended Bath Academy of Art, where he studied sculpture and printmaking, before going on to work on projects for the artists Joe Tilson and Nick Pope. He also helped with the publication of a limited edition folio of Paul Eluard’s poetry. Steve moved to London to study for a postgraduate teaching certificate and then worked as a teacher of art in the UK. He gained his MA in Education with the Open University and also studied the discipline of Reiki with his Reiki teachers in Newcastle upon Tyne. His daughter Marianne was born in 1994. For a period of time, Steve devoted himself to teaching Reiki in his hometown of Rugby, before moving to Egypt, where he resumed his career as an art teacher, becoming the Head of Art in a prestigious British International School in Cairo. He continued to teach Reiki, introducing the discipline for the first time to Egypt. He also wrote extensively on the subject for various Egyptian English-language magazines. Returning to the UK, Steve’s son Sam was born in 2004. Not wanting to go back into the teaching profession, Steve took a job as a chef in a vegetarian restaurant and wrote his first book ‘Reiki Jin Kei Do: The Way of Compassion & Wisdom’. It was the world’s first book on that particular tradition of Reiki and is still considered to be the standard reference work on the subject. Steve them moved to Sudan, where he was again Head of Art at the prestigious Unity High School, and built an online living history for the school, called 'The Unity High School Archive'. It was in the process of building this archive that Steve uncovered a major scandal involving senior members of the Anglican Church, local dignitaries, and members of the faith communities. As a consequence, he got to know the head of the Secret Police in Khartoum quite well and then promptly left the country. Steve moved back to Egypt and took up a post as Head of Art in a school in Alexandria. Very much involved in the Reiki community in the UK, however, he founded the national organisation ‘Reiki Jin Kei Do UK’ and became the editor of ‘Focus: The Journal of Reiki Jin Kei Do UK’, and then set up the global ‘Reiki Jin Kei Do International’. He also set up the global video-arts project '12seconds for Peace'. The concept grabbed the attention of a number of big names in the peace movement, including Nobel Peace Prize nominees, and threatened to go viral. Circumstances (revolutions and social unrest) put it on the back-burner. Likewise, a major peace initiative called the 'Global Concert for Peace', scheduled for the summer of 2013, which would have been the world's biggest musical event, also went on the back-burner. Steve moved to Saudi Arabia for a little over a year in 2014, before returning to Egypt to take up a senior management position in another British International School in Cairo. Finally, after a year of professional purgatory in which he realised that there is no such thing as a good British International School in Egypt, he decided ‘enough is enough’ and quit the teaching profession for good to focus on his writing, art and Reiki classes. He is currently living in Cairo and writing ‘The Temple of the Djinn’, which is loosely based on the events that he uncovered during his time in Sudan. He is also teaching Reiki and working freelance for a variety of Egyptian magazines. He misses the UK and is looking forward to spending more time in his home country with his children. He'd also like to find time to paint and make sculpture.
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