Solidarity and tree share deep roots

As we move to Autumn, we celebrate this year’s midsummer small park BIG RUN with a short film.

Inspired by the wonderful words of Mahmoud Soliman, the poetry and courage of Feryal and Arwa in Hebron and helped by the stunning photography of Ahmad Al Baz, Trees and Sumud is a short film paying homage to Palestinian trees and Palestinian resilience.

Arwa and Feryal sit by their tree resolute in its defence:

Solidarity events in Khan Younis and New Horizons 2023

Thanks the the Vanguard Video Unit in Gaza for producing this film. It interleaves footage of our event in Sheffield and the wonderful events in Gaza that took place at the same time: one by the children at Never Stop Dreaming Association in Khan Younis, the other at New Horizons Children’s Centre based at Nusseirat Refugee Camp.

The children in Khan Younis are remembering their friend Lian Al Shaier, who was 12 when she was killed by an Israeli bombing raid last year. You will see them holding her picture.

Trees behind the fence – a Palestinian voice

As in all past years, we surround the run with events that we hope raise awareness about Palestine and give voice to Palestinians. This year was no exception with talks in the Palestinian Voices tent.

Before these talks, on Saturday, we were joined by Mahmoud Zwahre, activist and academic who helped plant a solidarity tree in Meersbrook Park.

This was accompanied by Catherine reading a poem, Trees Behind The Fence, translated by our friend and comrade Arwa, who sadly died during covid but spent many days and hours, as Catherine explains in this video, defending her land from Israeli settler diggers trying to force her, as a Palestinian, off her land.

Trees behind the fence. Words are printed below

Our Trees Behind the Fence
On the day when our trees were cut
On the day when our land was fenced in
They gave me all sorts of excuses.
They said to me your trees are not legal
Your trees are not citizens
No religion forbids killing these trees.
I said, Oh God: Our Trees after today won’t bloom behind the
fence. Our sky after
today won’t rain behind the fence.
But there they are now; putting out new shoots,
coming to life again and I see the beautiful smile
tempting me
the almond trees calling me, saying “Get angry, be
upset but don’t stay crying for me.”

There they are now. Sending me a fragrant greeting
every morning. Oh our trees behind the fence
I thought that being fenced in would suffocate the perfume of your blossom.
I thought that being cut would be the end of you. There you are now blossoming again and sending out new shoots. Your roots in the
depths of the earth are not destroyed by being fenced in or cut.
Your roots in the depths of the earth are strong enough to defy
hurricanes .

Peace to you a thousand times our trees behind the fence God
bless you and protect you from all evil and wickedness.

Feryal Abu Haikal
(translated by Arwa Abu Haikal)
Tel Rumeida\ Hebron Palestine.

what a weekend #spbr23 was!

What a fantastic weekend that was!

Everything we hoped for, and so much more. Thank you all so much for coming!

Once we’ve sorted them, we’ll be posting a lot of photos over the coming week. Watch this space. Here are a few to whet your appetite.

And here is a lovely cut of the BIG SING from the Green Party; many thanks to Graham Wroe for producing this so quickly. And thank you all for taking part. We will have more over the next weeks.

When is the best time to run and marshal?

With one week to go it is time to sign up!

You can see from these ‘heatmaps’ when we most need help ensuring the run is supported and safe. Click on the images in the slides to get a full screen image.

  • Heatmap for marshals. Click to view.

You might not think it but signing up to take part at night time or very early morning is exciting, fun and invigorating . Owls, foxes and supportive marshals can be spotted making all sorts of noises, from hoots to hoorays!

Palestinian voices @ small park BIG RUN

small park BIG RUN is a community solidarity event in support of Palestinian people. For a day, in the heart of Sheffield, Palestine is visible – in spite of continuous efforts that would encourage us to forget Palestine and silence voices in support of Palestinian people.

So, we are really pleased to have a programme that has Palestinian voices loud and clear both on 3pm Saturday afternoon and 10 am Sunday morning. (Free coffee and cake on Sunday morning!)

On Saturday, we are privileged to be able to welcome Mahmoud Zwahre who has been tireless (and brave) in his activism to defend Palestinian farmers.

Mahmoud will be helping us plant a native tree in solidarity with these hard pressed famers close to Meersbrook Hall; this will be followed by a talk in the Palestinian Voices tent.

Mahmoud will show us how Palestinian farmers bear the brunt of the environmental destructions perpetrated by Israel whether – this is uprooting of trees or denial of access to land or water. he will talk to us too about his campaign to plant native trees in Palestine to replace the ones uprooted by settlers.

Just as Palestinian farmers have to confront, daily incursions, so Palestinian women have to confront climate and environmental change. Dima Alshami will follow Mahmoud and discuss what climate justice means for Palestinian women.

Dima is a Rotheram-based Palestinian student.

Finally, our own Jawad Qasrawi, ran at the Palestine Marathon event in March this year. He will talk to us about what this means to him, his attempts to see his father’s village and meeting up with his family. Bring a hanky!

Look out for the Palestinian voices tent! For times see the programme.

small park BIG SING – can you help?

As always we will be having a celebration at the end of small park BIG RUN – the Lord Mayor, congratulations to the 24 hour runners and all the people who have helped, and as always a special zoom call with children and childcare workers in Khan Younis, Gaza, at a centre where the money your raise goes.

This year we will be doing something really special.

We have invited six choirs to come and help us sing you’ll never walk alone. We want you and your friends to join in too

…in the park or on the zoom.

We want you to feel the joy of singing with lots of people and we want the children and their carers to hear us say loud and clear they are not forgotten, that we think about them and we shout out for them.

But for this to work really well as a broadcast, we need your help now to raise £2000 in order to have the right technology and make this a truly memorable event.

We have set up a crowdfund:

Please like, share, spread the word and , if you can , make a small donation. Lots of small donations will do it!!


Plant-a-tree at small park BIG RUN

This year  at small park BIG RUN we are raising awareness of how Israeli state policies have been labelled by Amnesty International and Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem as apartheid.

We have recently written about how Palestinians are denied access to clean water. 

Here we want to highlight how indigenous Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and apartheid, with no control over their land or natural resources, are highly vulnerable to the actions of settlers who defended by the Israeli army, regularly tear down trees that Palestinian farmers depend on for their livelihoods.

In a previous small park BIG RUN we welcomed Khaloud Ajarma who told us about the legacy from her family’s forced removal from their land.

This year, we are really pleased to be welcoming Mahmoud Zwahre, an academic and grassroots activist at small park BIG RUN at 3pm on Saturday 17th June.

He will plant a tree, native to the UK, and talk to us about the daily fight that Palestinian farmers face to hold on to their trees their land and their livelihood.

Save the date for small park BIG RUN 2023, 17th – 18th June

Home is a place you can go back to at will  
where your history sits

Our beautiful park welcoming the spring, holding tight till midsummer’s weekend. It reminds us of the freedom we have to simply take a stroll. It is part of our home.

The wonderful poem below brings to the fore the torment of being forced from your home and the things we might miss.

So join us from small park BIG RUN this summer, midday June 17th to midday June 18th, to celebrate and show solidarity with Palestinian people forced from their homes still waiting to return.

More details coming soon.

I have left my history   
clothes in the cupboard   plants in the garden 
who will eat the beans now?
the litany of what I should have brought gets longer: a stick to walk with
dried fruit  matches  better shoes  door key 
but they could change the locks
and now I think: scissors  scissors  of course   if only I had scissors.
What exact thing should I have brought to remind me of me?

We can’t look at once  in all directions and can be seen for miles 
unless we lie flat and still in clothes the colour of ground 
all we have as defence is how we move and what we have on our backs
if we are found we could be lost
we must stay lost to find the way 
beetles   ants  we creep up the slope    scan the hillside for men    dogs
we cannot rest too long    those who pass us might forget us or take our place
shouts in the distance    thundering feet

I am ablaze with dry    mouth sandpapered rough
thickly sticky lips    cracked tree bark throat closes over words unspoken
I flash a dripping tap    a bubbling spring    a watering can 
a wave that never comes    never crashes
someone gives us bread  sweetness spreads as I chew 
now I can wash my feet  tension skimmed off but   not poured out
I reach out to feel the soil beneath me   fall into desperate dark,
someone drops a pan and I start up shaking    how do I know it is safe?

Home is a place you can go back to at will  
where your history sits   where the language spoken is your language
days punctuated by those small routines 
kitchen cupboards with the spices you need to cook    a pan big enough for the family
the locked door    the shuttered window
rattle of army trucks roared into the village
it’s not my home    now    people roam round it
plan a future that doesn’t include me.