“Belfast’s Wall” Wins Photography Award!

As someone who’s never even managed to win at Bingo, I’m pretty much over the moon to be able to announce that one of my photographs recently won third prize in the 1000Kalema photography contest!

1000Kalema is a project sponsored by Think Peace and NaYa of the United Religions Initiative, an organization that coordinates grassroots groups all over the world “to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.” The 1000Kalema photography project brings together word and image to tell stories of overcoming violence, fostering social justice, and cultivating sacred relationships with people from religions and cultures all over the world.

My submission to the contest was a photograph I took last summer while attending a Celtic Spirituality and Radical Peacemaking retreat in Northern Ireland, during which I had a chance to meet with many key figures who were and still are involved in the peace process, and to visit some of the sites in Belfast where that work is taking place.

Belfast’s Wall

In Northern Ireland, a concrete and barbed wire wall still cuts through the city of Belfast separating Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. The decades since the end of the Troubles have seen a long and often precarious peace process, as raw wounds slowly heal and together neighbors learn to overcome their silence and grief through storytelling and everyday acts of kindness. In this view from an upper-story window in Clonard Monastery — site of clandestine peace talks between Catholic and Protestant militia leaders during the darkest times of the Troubles — the sun breaks through the clouds to illuminate rolling green hills on the horizon.

My photograph will be included along with the first and second place pieces and a number of honorable mentions in a traveling exhibit that will tour the world over the course of the next year as part of the 1000Kalema project. The winners were announced during a premiere exhibition in Amman, Jordan, in early October. I just heard from one of the organizers that this week they’ll be showcasing the exhibit in Atlanta for the 13 Moon Walk 4 Peace walk-a-thon, and then later in Houston as part of the Houston Peace and Justice Center‘s annual fundraiser and award ceremony. Other events are scheduled in Sao Paulo, Rabat and Beirut for later in the year. How cool is that?!

Also, I’m looking forward to finally being able to get a new, way-better camera with the prize money. Woot! And Jeff says I am now officially allowed to refer to my photography as “award-winning.” (He’s so cute when he’s proud.)

Alison Leigh Lilly
Alison Leigh Lilly nurtures the earth-rooted, sea-soaked, mist-and-mystic spiritual heritage of her Celtic ancestors, exploring themes of peace, poesis and wilderness through essays, articles, poetry and podcasting. You can learn more about her work here.

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