Sarah Farmer, founder of the Green Acre Conferences (now Green Acre Baha'i School) was a woman with vision and a remarkable, life-long commitment to international peace and interfaith dialogue. In 1894, Sarah dedicated Green Acre to the ideals of peace and religious unity. Then she raised the first known peace flag in the world. In the years leading up to the 1905 Portsmouth Peace Treaty, Green Acre became known for its animated and sometimes controversial summer conferences that offered a forum for dialogue with the theme of peace. The conference of 1904 closed with a program dedicated to the resolution of the Russo-Japanese War. Operatic singer Emma Thursby, in Japanese costume, sang the national anthem of Japan, followed by the assembled crowd singing the national anthemof Russia. On August 29, 1905, hearing that negotiations had succeeded, Sarah Farmer invited President Roosevelt and the Japanese and Russian delegates to Green Acre. The Japanese, including Minister Takahira, accepted and spent the day at Green Acre on August 31st. That visit will be re-enacted on August 28th in a play written and performed by Dr. Anne Gordon Perry and on August 31st with a visit from the Japanese Minister in Charge of Cultural Affairs. On September 4th, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States has been invited to visit the Center and address the public. The Peace Flag will once again be raised.
Green Acre Baha'i School organized Portsmouth Peace Treaty Centennial events under the banner of “Towards a Culture of Peace.” Leading up to the annual conference for peace there are prayers for peace and a theatrical performance. Then, for five days, August 26-31, there are free afternoon panels (2-5:15 pm), open to the public, on various aspects of multi-cultural peace and educational initiatives; and each evening at 7:30 pm there are free cultural performances and presentations from the Russian, Japanese, African/African-American and Native American perspectives.
In addition, Green Acre hosted Dr. Suheil Bushrui, an award-winning Professor at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management, Holder of the Baha’i Chair for Peace at the University of Maryland, and former advisor to President Gemayel of Lebanon.He led a five day symposium on the Culture of Peace with the keynote address "Toward a Culture of Peace."
Portsmouth Peace Treaty Centennial events at Green Acre Baha'i School included:
Sunday, Aug 21, “Prayers for Peace: Let All Religions Agree”
At the Fellowship House on the Green Acre campus, sponsored by the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Eliot.
Monday, August 22, Pontine Theatre Performance, “The Peace of Portsmouth” — Based on the Portsmouth Peace Treaty of 1905 and using period newspaper articles, historical photographs, and turn of the century music and staging techniques, Co-Artistic Directors, Greg Gathers and Marguerite Mathews (NH Artist Laureate 02-06), explore this international diplomatic event from the viewpoint of the local citizens.
Friday, August 26, Keynote address: "Toward a Culture of Peace" — By Dr. Suheil Bushrui, Professor, Center for International Development and Conflict Management and Holder of Baha’i Chair for Peace at the University of Maryland; former advisor to President Gemayel of Lebanon.
Saturday, August 27, The Peace Treaty Curriculum — Presentation by Curriculum Coordinator Blanche Milligan of the Northeast Cultural Coop with contributions by Eleanor Tracy of the Portsmouth Atheneum, Anne Gordon Perry of University of Texas and other scholars.
“The Arts and a Culture of Peace — Russian Contributions”
Sunday, August 28, Re-enactment: “The Visit of the Japanese Peace Delegates to Green Acre" — Dramatic re-enactment of the Green Acre activities related to the Peace Treaty process in 1904 and 1905, created by Dr. Anne Gordon Perry. After the play, there were walking tours of the Ole Bull Cottage (where the Japanese diplomats were photographed) and of the Green Acre campus.
"The Arts and a Culture of Peace — Japanese Contributions” -- Concert by Melody Tachibana King of the New England Conservatory of Music with participation by Nava, Anisa, and Samin Fox.
Monday, August 29, “Islam and a Culture of Peace” — presented by Mrs. Afaf Stevens, Iraqi peace educator and Islamic Studies specialist who was born and raised in Baghdad, and lives in Massachusetts as an American citizen. With a BS in Economics from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a BS in World Religions from Harvard Divinity School, Mrs. Stevens promotes the “Bridging East and West Peace Initiative” in New England and the United States.
“The Arts and a Culture of Peace — African and African American Contributions” -- Vernis Jackson, Richard Haynes, Ellen McAllister-Flack, and others from the Seacoast African-American Cultural Center. Music by Philippe Copeland of the Boston Baha’i Community.
Tuesday, August 30, Presentations and a Panel Discussion — General themes: how fear of the other contributes to violence, how religion is used to justify violence and conversely, how religion and education can be used as foundational elements of a culture of peace. Coordinated by Robert Ciandella, Esquire of Exeter, NH, and Russell D. Weatherspoon, Dean of Residential Life, Phillips Exeter Academy.
“The Arts and a Culture of Peace — Native American Contributions” -- Tom Garland-Standing, Gal Frey, Ed Bullock, Anne Jennison, David Sanipass will include drumming, flute-playing, storytelling, and a circle dance.
Wednesday, August 31, 100th Anniversary of the Visit of the Japanese Delegation to Green Acre
Visit by the Minister of Cultural Affairs from the Japanese Embassy in Washington. Speeches on the subject of peace, short dramatic presentation on the 1905 visit to Green Acre by the Japanese delegates. Singing of Japanese National Anthem by Melody Tachibana King. Singing of Russian National Anthem. The Raising of the Peace Flag.
Sunday, September 4, Peace Flag-raising — A Green Acre tradition which dates back to July of 1894, when Green Acre’s visionary founder Sarah Farmer raised a large white flag with the word “Peace.” This special ceremony was a tribute not only to the Russian, the Japanese, and the American people but also to the peoples of the world. Presentations by Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Charles Doleac, Chair of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Anniversary Committee, scenes from the Sarah Farmer monologue by Anne Perry, and a festive raising of the Peace Flag to recall the joy of the successful conclusion of the negotiations.
In addition, the Green Acre Baha'i School offered:
August 26-31, "Culture of Peace” Seminar, Daily 9:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Towards a Culture of Peace — A five-morning course in which an analysis of the principles and the cultural, economic, educational, political, and spiritual foundations of a lasting peace were discussed by Dr. Suheil Bushrui of the University of Maryland.