Chair Report May 2015

It has been a busy year for Protest in Har­mo­ny, it start­ed rel­a­tive­ly qui­et­ly, but then things grew apace. The choir num­bers have con­tin­ued to grow, new blood is always impor­tant in any organ­i­sa­tion. We are always look­ing for ways to encour­age diver­si­ty.

The Com­mit­tee believe that the changes intro­duced just before the pre­vi­ous 2014 AGM have been suc­cess­ful and ensured smoother run­ning of our ses­sions. To improve reg­is­tra­tion the offer was made to pay by direct deb­it and a few mem­bers have tak­en advan­tage of this. The thing that has made the biggest dif­fer­ence was an issue which prob­a­bly had more dis­cus­sion time in pre­vi­ous com­mit­tee meet­ings than every­thing else put togeth­er- teas and cof­fees. We now take a com­bined pay­ment at reg­is­tra­tion, and now the books bal­ance which is great for the Trea­sur­er. Those not par­tak­ing of tea or cof­fee still pay the flat fee.
On the note of flat fee we are proud to have been able to keep our month­ly pay­ment to £5 or £3, despite the cost on the month­ly fee to the Quak­er Meet­ing House hav­ing increased.
Sup­port­ing new mem­bers is an issue that the Com­mit­tee often dis­cuss­es and to this effect we have recent­ly intro­duced the wear­ing of name badges, a sug­ges­tion from choir mem­bers. It is ear­ly days but we hope that this will prove effec­tive in get­ting to know names as well as faces.
The web site and Face­book are our pub­lic faces and we owe a debt of grat­i­tude to Chris for his ongo­ing main­te­nance of the web site, Dou­glas for our pub­lic Face­book and Hilery for keep­ing our post­ings up to date. It is inter­est­ing the num­ber of new mem­bers who reach us this way.
Protest in Har­mo­ny events are always well attend­ed, but can be a bit of a night­mare for the co-ordi­na­tors and organ­is­ers try­ing to work out num­bers and read email address­es from paper sign-up sheets. In the cause of less­en­ing this bur­den and lead­ing to greater effi­cien­cy we are work­ing towards elec­tron­ic sign­ing up, we will keep you informed of how this pro­gress­es. Details are always in Choir Notes so that if you miss a ses­sion you are kept in the loop about singing and events.
So what have we been up to since last May?
In June there was our shared lunch after the ses­sion, which con­tin­ues to be enjoy­able for mem­bers. Many mem­bers joined the Wool Against Weapons action on the Roy­al Mile on 28th June, hold­ing up the bright pink ban­ner and singing lusti­ly. There are also some very fine knit­ters and cro­cheters as well as singers in the group.
Over the sum­mer there were some events in sup­port of the peo­ple of Gaza which the choir sup­port­ed infor­mal­ly.
Sep­tem­ber saw the ses­sions restart and on the 21st of that month a good num­ber of mem­bers attend­ed the March Against Cli­mate Change and pic­nic, in late sum­mer sun­shine. A wel­come change as many PIH events usu­al­ly con­spire to bring the rain.
On the 11th Octo­ber we sup­port­ed an event against TTIP (Transat­lantic Trade and Invest­ment Part­ner­ship) at their demo at the Mound where we enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly sang a Bea­t­les num­ber and a new ver­sion of YMCA and there was a great deal of com­mu­nal singing in yet more beau­ti­ful weath­er
In Novem­ber we respond­ed to a request from San Ghan­ny to demon­strate out­side and to be a flash mob inside Bar­clays Bank, the first of many such events we attend­ed. Rough­ly a dozen singers were present and were sur­prised at our cor­dial accep­tance inside the build­ing. St Andrews Day and a trip to Faslane for around 20 mem­bers to be with 1400 oth­er pro­tes­tors in the bright sun­shine. There was a leisure­ly stroll from the Peace Camp and although lit­tle oppor­tu­ni­ty for singing to the crowd PIH pres­ence was noticed and folks said that they were pleased to have attend­ed.
In Decem­ber about 25 singers sup­port­ed the Com­mem­o­ra­tion Cer­e­mo­ny for Bhopal at Greyfri­ars. I am going to quote from Shereen ‘œI want­ed to say that I’m always proud to be part of PiH when­ev­er we sing, but today was one of those times when I was tingly-feel­ing-all-over-down-to-my-lit­tle-toes proud. I thought we sound­ed stun­ning­ly good. The way we did Think of Me, start­ing real­ly qui­et­ly and build­ing it, is musi­cal­ly a very dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing thing to do, even for the most expe­ri­enced of choirs. It’s extreme­ly hard to start a song con­fi­dent­ly when you’re also singing qui­et­ly (which is one of the rea­sons we so rarely do it) and we man­aged it in almost pitch dark­ness bare­ly being able to see each oth­er. It felt so com­plete­ly right after the minute’s silence. We sound­ed res­olute and com­mit­ted in all three songs, I thought, but some­how med­i­ta­tive and reflec­tive as well, which again is a dif­fi­cult thing to achieve.‘ I was there and it was one of the most mov­ing events I have attend­ed. Our usu­al event in sup­port of CAAT on the 13th Decem­ber after our shared lunch saw a very good turnout in a new spot, where we got more atten­tion. Good weath­er pro­vid­ed a good sound.

On Jan­u­ary 17th after a hard work­ing ses­sion there was a vis­it to the new branch of Bar­clays. Over 20 singers enter­tained the cus­tomers inside the bank and then moved out­side once they had over­stayed their wel­come. Heart­en­ing to know that this was record­ed and post­ed on YouTube as part of a larg­er item. Also the mem­bers of SPSC (Scot­tish Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­i­ty Cam­paign) expressed their thanks, indi­cat­ing that PIH singing gives their protest more of an impact.

In Feb­ru­ary we had our first pub­lic stage per­for­mance in a while at the request of the Free­dom From Tor­ture organ­i­sa­tion. There were a lot of words and music to learn, but the 20 singers involved came up trumps on the night and we were warm­ly thanked for our con­tri­bu­tion by the organ­is­ers. I would also like to warm­ly record thanks to the song lead­ers who went the extra mile for this gig.

In March there was our res­i­den­tial week­end 27th — 29th at the Well­house Cen­tre in Mof­fat, which proved to be a stim­u­lat­ing week­end for the 33 mem­bers and 3 song lead­ers who attend­ed. Intrigu­ing activ­i­ties took place such as a ‘œBoffins Blether‘ work­shop and a Cut­lery Band. Thanks are due to the small group who organ­ised this, but men­tion must be made of Kathy Jenk­ins who stal­wart­ly heads up this group and has done for many years now.

On April 4th Protest in Har­mo­ny made a strong show­ing at the March and Ral­ly against Tri­dent, with our very own Pen­ny Stone lead­ing some singing from the stage in George Square, Glas­gow. Then about a dozen hardy souls set off at the crack of dawn on 13th April to help with the suc­cess­ful block­ade of Faslane. April also saw the estab­lish­ment of a PIH Walk­ing Group and they had their inau­gur­al trek. The Book Group con­tin­ues to thrive as well. The 26th April saw a small group sup­port Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al on Por­to­bel­lo beach to draw atten­tion to the trag­ic migrant deaths in the Mediter­ranean. Two days later,28th April saw the choir take part in the annu­al Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers Memo­r­i­al Day com­mem­o­ra­tion in Princes St Gar­dens, a very worth­while and mov­ing cer­e­mo­ny.
Final­ly there was a Protest in Har­mo­ny pres­ence at the May Day Ral­ly on May 2nd where our singing was wel­comed and appre­ci­at­ed.
I think you will agree it has been a busy year, and as they say there is more to come. On 15th May there will be a vig­il for Con­sci­en­tious Objec­tors, at the end of May we have been invit­ed to sing at Peace and Jus­tice One World Ceilidh, in June we will take part in a fund rais­er for a memo­r­i­al for Con­sci­en­tious Objec­tors and in July once more Protest in Har­mo­ny will have a pres­ence at the Street Choirs fes­ti­val in Whit­by.
It goes with­out say­ing that our 3 song lead­ers Jane, Pen­ny and Shereen, set the bench mark for the choir, a high one at that, with­out their input the choir not be the force that it is. Their unstint­ing ded­i­ca­tion and effort each month is appre­ci­at­ed by all. This year in par­tic­u­lar there has been a lot of extra work, which has gone on unseen. As a Com­mit­tee we are always keen to sup­port their devel­op­ment as song lead­ers, as we ben­e­fit direct­ly. To this effect we grate­ful­ly helped with expens­es for a Song Lead­ers Net­work Event. Thanks once again.
This year the Com­mit­tee will lose the ser­vices of Hilery Williams as com­mit­tee mem­ber and our effi­cient minute tak­er and web guardian for the last 4 years. Thank you, Hilery. Beryl Homan resigned from the com­mit­tee, thank you Beryl for all your work, this was your sec­ond stint on the com­mit­tee. I would like to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to thank my fel­low com­mit­tee mem­bers for all their sup­port and hard work the past year.
Last­ly thanks to all the singers who come to Protest in Har­mo­ny to sing once a month or to sup­port our activ­i­ties. There is no doubt about it you are a com­mit­ted group of peo­ple who stand up against all that is unfair and prej­u­di­cial, but you are also a love­ly bunch of folks who are wel­com­ing and fun to be with. With­out you, the mem­ber­ship, Protest in Har­mo­ny would not be the force that it is. So thank you, please keep up the good work. Here is to a suc­cess­ful 2015 and 2016 for Protest in Har­mo­ny.

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