Tuesday, November 10, 2009


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.

Still treat each guest honorably,
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

MasterPEACE & Great Peace Makers

Karen Blessen leads a team of visual artists, improv actors, musicians, a dancer, an architect, a photographer, teachers, principals, and volunteers in teaching Dallas school kids the many variations of MasterPEACE: Young Artists Making a Kinder World. Dallas 5th & 6th graders learn how handle overwhelming pressures and emotions at home and in school within the mix of various cultures by using the arts for creative expression, finding common ground and resolving conflict. You can learn more about MasterPEACE other TMtB projects by checking out our website: http://www.todaymarksthebeginning.com/ and following us on twitter: www.twitter.com/todaybeginart

photo: partner schools L.L. Hotchkiss & Parish Episcopal ice cream social for Great PeaceMakers....

Friday, October 23, 2009

The relationship of the artist to her subject

Photo by James Neel of Nancy Rebal in Rwanda in front of STATIONS TWO: an interactive public artwork , gathering the collective voice of forgiveness.

Dallas artist Nancy Rebal talks about a woman in Kigali, Rwanda who captured her attention. I've seen her painting of "Madalene" and like of all of Nancy's work, it is extraordinary. The very talented James Neel is creating a series called "Art Mark" for Today Marks the Beginning and Nancy Rebal's video is the first. In the video she talks about the woman in Kigali, Rwanda who captured her attention. I've seen the painting of and like of all of Nancy's work, it is extraordinary. Brief moments of art and artists - Art Mark #1 by James Neel. See the video! Time 1:40. Dallas Artist Nancy Rebal talks painting her portrait of "Madalene" http://bit.ly/48y1eb

Another artist, Anyaa, from Sierra Leon and Today Marks the Beginning are hosting a Trunk Show of Anyaa's lush fashions for women and the home. October 24, 4:30 - 7:30 pm at Southside on Lamar, 1409 S Lamar #104 Dallas, TX. A portion of all sales will benefit the projects and programs of Today Marks the Beginning.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

New MasterPEACE Video

Be enlightened, moved and filled with hope. The new video by John Katz of MasterPEACE: Young Artists Making a Kinder World - A program of Today Markes the Beginning. PLEASE PASS IT ON TO FRIENDS, FAMILY, YOUR CIRCLES OF INFLUENCE! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0cPNcjNaSs

Thank you - James Neel for posting!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Breathtaking Photographs

RT@ EdMercerThese are some awesome b+w photographs. http://bit.ly/12nHZ6

Healing Arts

The arts allow avenues of expression for those suffering from mental illness. Mental illness is a level playing field. It has no cultural or socio-economic boundaries. Painting, writing, singing, playing instruments, moving, dancing, acting, drawing, poetry, & more - the arts lets everyone be who they are, express what they are feeling and sort through what they are thinking in the moment. The arts can help soldiers make the transtition from war to home and can help raise the spirits of anyone who feels alone or abandoned. The arts should be part of every mental health facility or organization.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Deploy Peace

Wonderful organization - take a look!
http://deploypeace.blogspot.com/ - Karen Gulino

Our mission is to help our war heroes returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The products we sell are recycled from retired military aircrafts and transformed into jewelry that spreads a message of peace and raises resources to support the important work of the Fisher House.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Stations Two - Photos by James Neel

The trip from Dallas to Rwanda was the first connection in the world wide network. Nancy Rebal presented STATIONS TWO, at the international Gathering of Forgiveness and 15th year commemoration of the genocide in Kigali Rwanda. STATIONS artists (Nancy Rebal, James Neel, Tim Coursey and David Searcy) teamed with “Gardens of Forgiveness”, New York City and “Mizero”, children of Rwanda. STATIONS TWO is a black 6 foot cube of recycled plastic. The surface serves as a chalkboard for people to write their will to forgive. Microphones gather the voices of the will to forgive. The recording are returned to home base on a flash drive to be edited and evaluated. Documentary film and other data will be reviewed and program created for a worldwide network.
Contact: Nancy Rebal nancy.rebal@gmail.com

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What NPOs Need to Know

Network for Good is providing NPOs with this free 45 minute audio cast. Take the time to listen. It will rock your world!

The best fundraising advice I've ever heard!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Filmmaker Mark Birnbaum Remembers Screenwriter Gretchen Dyer

From the art & seek blog - full transcript link below:
They were joined at the hip, Gretchen and Julia. They started The Potlatch, which you may know as a ceremonial exchange of gifts observed by Pacific Coast Native Americans. But here they brought writers and actors and filmmakers together to exchange their gifts. They organized table reads of new screenplays. Writers heard their lines read out loud for the first time in front of an audience. The atmosphere at those evenings was electric. You could feel the momentum of the independent film movement. They brought a community together, they changed the culture of Dallas. That community has hung together in some form or fashion ever since and last month it won from the Texas Legislature three bills establishing an incentive program that finally puts us on an equal footing with neighboring states to draw film production back to Texas. Gretchen helped kick that into gear.

Gretch and Julia may have been joined at the hip but they were far from identical. Gretchen was forthright and direct, Julia maybe more tranquilo, sympathetic. It took lots of guts and heart to make the film they wanted to make. Theirs was a family act. Their careers might have taken different turns individually, but they chose to stay together. They and their brother fought and worked and created together, and it was an inspiration for those of us who got to watch.

Filmmaker Mark Birnbaum Remembers Screenwriter Gretchen Dyer

Shared via AddThis

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The John Lennon Piano

The piano on which John Lennon wrote "Imagine" drew everyone to it like a magnet. There were a mix of emotions that ran through people from reverence to awe to celebration. The joy of playing it - Scott Bucklin playing "Let It Be" at the MasterPEACE art show and benefit hosted by the Goss-Michael Foundation: www.youtube.com/todaymarksthebegin

Let It be - indeed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Live Streaming June 11!

Cone Johnson @conej and Chad Bolinger @ADKodak will be streaming the MasterPEACE art show & benefit LIVE from the Goss Gallery in Dallas with Twitter updates. Today Marks the Beginning (TMtB) will be streaming the June 11th MasterPEACE art show & benefit starting at 6:30 pm (CST). Even if you're not in Dallas you'll able to “attend” the fundraiser via Ustream. Ustream is an online live webcast server that connects thousands of users around the world to view an event. Just cut and paste this URL into your webrowser and click and you’ll be “there”:

We will also be streaming the TMtB Twitter live @todaybeginart http://twitter.com/todaybeginart

You can donate during the event (or anytime) by going to our website and clicking on the Donate Now button: http://www.todaymarksthebeginning.org

We invite you to be a part of this very special event: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/TMtB

6:30pm (CST), June 11, 2009 ==> MasterPEACE: Young Artist Creating a Kinder World

Friday, May 29, 2009

MasterPEACE Art Show & Benefit

The Goss-Michael Foundation is hosting the June 11, 2009, 6:30 – 8:30 pm art show and benefit at their gallery on 2500 Cedar Springs in Dallas. The two hour fundraiser, streamed live, will be full of things to do, see and enjoy. The talented Dallas pianist Scott Bucklin is thrilled to be playing the John Lennon piano and will accompany the fabulous Dallas singer/actress Denise Lee and partner Gary Floyd. Raffle items include a month of yoga lessons, art books, jewelry, art works and more. John Katz’s delightful short film about the diverse groups of Dallas school children participating in the MasterPEACE lessons will be screened. And throughout the event, wine, beverages and delicacies will be served, adding to the festivities. There will be plenty to Twitter about!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Creativity and Invention

One of my favorites: Ole Evinrude got angry when the ice cream in his rowboat melted before he got to his island picnic spot - so he invented the outboard motor. from Karl Vesper

Thursday, May 14, 2009


We make endless choices and decisions. Some are mindful, some - not so much. Challenges evolve, spiral but always come back to the same place, hopefully at a higher level.

Friday, May 8, 2009

TMtB Video story

MasterPEACE: Young artists making a kinder world. The Downtown Dallas Library is exhibiting students' collage portraits of Peacemakers from around the world through May. You can see interviews with the TMtB facilitators and teachers on our You Tube channel!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Computer love

Interesting how a relationship can develop between human beings and objects. People develop affection for homes, cars, chairs, blankets, old transistor radios and the like. I have some of those same affections but I never, ever, in a million years thought I could "bond" with a laptop computer. But here I am happily tapping away feeling back at home in the world wide web. It just wasn't the same trying to write, create and develop on a series of "stand-ins" without my personal laptop. I am weirdly content.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Stations Two video

A story about the transformative power of art giving voice to forgiveness under horrific circumstances. Stations TWO, an interactive artwork gathering the collective voice of forgiveness began its tour in Dallas on its way to Kigali, Rwanda to help commemorate the 15th anniversary of the genocide. Stations Two is now a part of the permanent collections at the Genocide Museum in Kigali. Please go to TMtB channel on You Tube to see the moving video by James Neel of STATIONS TWO in Kigali, Rwanda:

If you pause the video (video is 10 minutes in length) in the beginning so it can quickly load, you can watch it without interruption. We invite you to add comments and forward the link on to others. Please check out our website: www.todaymarksthebeginning.org to learn more about our organization and be a part of it!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Downtown Dallas Library Student Art Exhibit

J. Erik Jonsson Dallas Central Library (downtown) exhibits DIAMONDS from DUST: 152 portraits of Great Peacemakers. The collage portratraits were created by young artists in the MasterPEACE program of Today Marks the Beginning. The exhibit runs March through April with a special reception March 28, 10 - noon.

Students in two Dallas elementary schools and three afterschool programs created collage portraits of global peacemakers, resulting in this inspiring exhibit. The students were all participants in the MasterPEACE program of Today Marks the Beginning. The exhibit also includes 12 photographs by Dallas photographer John Katz, who captured the process.

Participating schools were Parish Episcopal and L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary. The three afterschool programs were at Whitney Young Elementary; J.L. Long Middle School and S.S. Conner Elementary. These afterschool lessons were done in conjunction with the Thriving Minds program of Big Thought.

The curriculum of MasterPEACE: Young Artists Making a Kinder World, focuses on combining peacemaking skills of non-violence with art experiences for the children. The particular lesson that inspired these portraits is titled "Great Peacemakers Like You and Me." The children were asked to make something out of nothing, just like these heroes who tackled extremely difficult situations. In the portraits, a bottle top could become an eye. A straw could become a nose; a piece of discarded jewelry, a hat.

All are invited!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rwanda & Gardens of Forgiveness

A note from Diane Hosey, who went to Rwanda with Nancy Rebal, to present Stations Two for the 15th anniversary of the genocide:

Jean Paul Ntakirutimana is instrumental in making way for the Gardens of Forgiveness in Kigali. He opened his house to our entire group of about 40 people where his wife and her friends prepared dinner for us. Followed by singing and dancing of course! One of the things I have found in my travels is how openly people from other countries eagerly invite people into their homes and how honored they are to have you as their guest. This is true of Latin American cultures as well. Quite a difference from us independent Americans.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gardens of Forgiveness, Rwanda

Our friends who went to Rwanda with STATIONS TWO met many incredible people. Diane Hosey wrote me in an e-mail about Julie Moir Messervy-Master Gardener: She has some great pictures of Rwanda and a shout out to Today Marks the Beginning on it (good on her). I invite you to review her site and watch her video presentation on her design with Yo Yo Ma and the Toronto Music Garden. Though done some years ago you will get a true flavor of her personality and the spiritual nature of her work. She was a joy to be around and between her and Nancy they “worked every room they were in”! And I thought I was high energy! Julie was invited by Lyndon to view sites for a Forgiveness Garden in Rwanda.

Click on:
A Garden of Forgiveness in Rwanda - The Home Outside - JMMDS Landscape Design Blog — Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Student's Peacemaker Art

Keep checking here, on Facebook or on our website to learn more about the upcoming art show of DISD students' portraits of Peacemakers from around the world. Creating a collage portrait from found objects of people like Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Ceasar Chavez, etc. is one of the curriculum sections of MasterPEACE: Young artists making a kinder world. Coming Soon!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Stations Two RWANDA

The photo is one from the celebration and christening of Stations Two in Kigali Hotel Palisse. Burundi musicians and singers lead the procession from hotel. The singers loved that the Burundi women at Grace Methodist in Dallas, wrote them a note on Stations and adopted Nancy Rebal as their sister. The Forgiveness Dude cut-out (as Diane Hosey dubbed it) that invites people to share their words of forgiveness, is now in permanent collection of the education program at the Genocide Museum. The Museum Director there would like to have MasterPeace taught there as well and wants to explore a school in Dallas sharing with the children in a school in Kigali using the same program.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Update Stations TWO

Check out the beautiful pictures and updated blog about STATIONS TWO - Gathering the Collective Voice of Forgiveness in Rwanda. http://jamesneel.typepad.com/off_to_rwanda/ Internet connections are iffy there so they are updating when they can. This interactive public artwork is to help commemorate the 15th anniversary of the genocide. Much sadness but also catharsis and joy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Stations Two to Rwanda

Follow friends' blog to Rwanda to help commemorate the 15th anniversary of the genocide. They are bringing STATIONS TWO, an interactive artwork collecting the human voice of forgiveness. http://jamesneel.typepad.com/off_to_rwanda/

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Being 58 - a poem

I fly through the air with the the greatest of ease
The woman way up on the flying trapeze.

The body is older and wider than some
But healthy and vibrant up under the sun.

The mind is more thoughtful, reflective and calm
The heart grows wider spreading the balm.

My outlook is sunny and funny and true
I talk of the new age coming out of the blue.

I know days are coming perhaps full of despair
But I continue to fly way up in the air.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Peace in Action - Dallas School Kids

One of the lessons in the MasterPEACE curriculum is making a commitment to peace. Dallas students create a magnetized peace commitment they can place on the fridge or their locker reminding them to "be nicer to my sister", "not gossip about friends", "control my emotions" and so forth. Photographer John Katz took a photo if a young girl who has become a hero to me. Her commitment to peace, "never give up". Look for an upcoming art show of the Dallas school children's work at the Women Museum.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stations Two to Rwanda

Stations Two, collecting the human voices of forgiveness, leaves for Rwanda in a few days. It will be part of the commemoration of the genocide 15 years ago in Rwanda. Be a part of this journey. Go to our website to learn more. Click on Stations Two spotlight project on our home page: www.todaymarksthebeginning.com

Grace Methodist Church, Dallas
inaugural appearance.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Secretary of the Arts?

Quincy Jones is putting together a petition to have a cabinet position for Secretary of the Arts. Many countries have a culture minister. Jones asserts that the arts play as an important role as Education, Commerce, etc. Others think that having a culture minister could actually hinder the wide variety of artists and disciplines. They think the NEA and other government funding organizations as they exist are enough. What do you think?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Public Forum on Peace Education

Please join us Thursday, January 15, at a community conversation about peace education, sponsored by Peacemakers Inc. (7 pm, Center for Community Cooperation) This is actually happening in DALLAS, TEXAS! Something like this seemed unimaginable 25 years ago.

Karen Blessen and Babrbara Miller ofToday Marks the Beginning will describe the TMtB program, MasterPEACE. MasterPEACE is active in schools in DISD, at Parish Episcopal, and at the GirlSMART and BoySMART summer programs in South Dallas. More exciting news: an exhibit of MasterPEACE student artwork of Great Peacemakers, beginning in March, at the beautiful Women's Museum at Fair Park.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Public Art & Forgiveness

STATIONS TWO, an interactive public artwork, will make its inaugural appearance on January 18 in Dallas before traveling to Rwanda in February. The trip from Dallas to Rwanda will be the first connection in the world wide network. Nancy Rebal is scheduled to present STATIONS TWO, at the international Gathering of Forgiveness and 15th year commemoration of the genocide in Kigali Rwanda. STATIONS artists are teamed with “Gardens of Forgiveness”, New York City and “Mizero”, children of Rwanda.

Experience this powerful artwork on Sunday, January 18 at 12:15 pm. Grace Methodist Church, Junius & Haskell. Learn more: www.todaymarksthebeginning.org and click on projects.

Friday, January 9, 2009


"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in the lonely frustration of the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the tour of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours."

-Ayn Rand

Monday, January 5, 2009

Arts Activisim

The arts open up conversation and create dialogue in ways that politics, debates, editorials or community meetings can't. Today Marks the Beginning's mission is "using the arts to impact social issues." The issues we are focusing on this year so far are: teaching school kids about heroes of human rights and non-violent communication; breast cancer's effects on relationships and self-image along with educational components; interactive art giving voice to forgiveness 15 years after the Rwanda genocide and more. We invite you to join in on the conversation - creatively. www.todaymarksthebeginning.org