Monday, December 29, 2008

Life After TV

“The world is made of stories not atoms”
- M. Rukseyer -

It's been five and a half years since I've had a TV. Despite what that may sound like there has been no absence of "TV" viewing at all, I'm a sucker for good stories and I believe "the world is made of stories not atoms".  Life after TV has been very bright.  All media viewing became targeted, purposeful, more diverse, and better quality. The most vital part of life after TV is that I no longer allow giant media conglomerates with political agenda’s to spoon feed me advertising with what they deem to be quality TV in between. I get to choose.  That’s why I checked out "Six Feet Under" from the library and watched the entire series over two years on DVD, that’s why I sampled “24” and “Lost”. The rest I can do without.

Together as media consumers we have the power to completely reshape the media landscape.

Here are some places to watch/check out targeted media online for free (feel freed to comment and add your own favorite places):

(Best) Your Public Library
Check out DVD’s at your library! You may be surprised by many library’s have some great classics, foreign films and new films.

Current TV
Viewer created content
The most popular internet film spot will often have just what you’re looking for but now it’s partnered with MGM and offers selected feature films (poor selection for now but it may improve)
Google video
Revver pays video makers a small fee for viewers who watch their video.
Classic Cinema Online
Great classics for free here!
A joint venture of NBC and Fox.
Atom Films

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Five Years Dry

Yes, that’s five years dry. Five years (plus) that I haven’t owned a TV.

As a media person I assure you it wasn’t intentional. I recognized it’s addictive nature yet I still craved it, wanted to flip channels mindlessly and sink into the soothing drunken depressed stupor afterwards. You know what I’m talking about - the confused dislocation, the spinning numbness, the deep dissatisfaction with your body, heck your entire life! Ambitious politicians call pot the entry drug, but uncool teenagers know that junk food and all night TV/Video Game/Internet binges are the real entry drug. Of course this drug, much like alcohol is widely accepted and universally encouraged to promote the heavy stuff. Haven’t guessed? Consumption!

Some of our favorite articles of consumption include, oil, beauty/health supplies,  celebrity news, (more oil), fast food (with giant meat portions) and TV!

My pathway to ridding my addiction to TV was a fortunate twist of fate. I lived in a climate inhospitable to TV viewing enjoyment. Imagine a stark university apartment with carpet off limits to bare feet and 4 girls from all corners of the world thrown together. The hard and fast rule in the place was that you must be out of the apartment as much as possible. When in the apartment, you must venture outside of your room only to fulfill the absolute necessary. Cooking was necessary, bathroom use was also necessary. Use of the TV (where suspiciously only the Australian SBS station could be tuned in) was not necessary and therefore frowned upon. It put you into the category of extremely uncool. This was a very unpleasant category to be in. If you were caught watching, you had to claim that someone else turned it on, while you were innocently cooking in the nearby kitchen, thus shedding any blame.

During this 6 months in a home utterly intolerant of TV viewing, I felt deep withdrawal symptoms, craving my German MTV where I learned to speak Hoch Deutsche, my thumb-on-remote exercise, the surprise excitement of a real movie on TV, that you never wanted to watch in the first place, but you would watch on TV since it’s a free movie. At first I denied my addiction. I hadn’t even been a TV everynighter, a statistic average (4 hours a night is the US standard) and obviously only the TV everynigghters, the unnamed statistics, were addicted!! Of course I could live without TV! Me? No worries.

It still didn’t stop the sweat that beaded on my forehead, the craving, the longing. Those first few weeks in my new home I was forced to read Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix cover to cover much too quickly, twice. I flipped through art and film magazines, I wrote and finished my first novel (it sits neatly on my hard drive collecting dust). Amidst the melt down, it dawned on me that I was addicted. My addiction may have been eased had I had the Internet at home (I could have easily replaced one addiction with another) but I didn’t even have that. (Yes – shocking I know – I was too cheap to install it, in my temporary living space). For this period I even fasted from movies – for 6 months!

Only time could heal and it did.

At the end of my fast I realized I hadn’t craved for a long time. In fact, I felt released, freed, better, improved. I liked myself more. I was more inspired, more tuned in, turned on, more creative, more alive!

When my boyfriend joined me in Australia, for a brief second as we hunted for apartments we had a TV or no TV discussion, it was hands down – no TV. He went along, and five years later neither of us have looked back.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Transit Comics

A comic anthology by the Dirty Drawers (Bay Area cartoonists with some amazing talent - do explore the links) about public transportation has been published on the Internet and is also being distributed, from what I can gather, on San Francisco public transport.
 If you've public transported much, you know the time you spend there can range from maddening to spiritually uplifting. This anthology taps into the ritual, the opportunity, the small yet beautiful daily habit. How often do you get to sit in close proximity with absolute strangers after all? For some of us everyday. For most, rarely. I think car is still king. And all that time waiting then riding and all of the different stories colliding together, it's so beautiful it makes me cry.

Check it out for yourself.

I especially like Story Submission #7 Lean on Me and  "No Live Animals" has got to be on the way to cult (if it isn't already?). I even sent in a story myself ("Story Submission #6")!

What's your story?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope is the thing with feathers

I ran across this poem today by Emily Dickinson - it so perfectly captures how I feel for America and the world at this historic moment:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune  without the words
And never stops at all,

 And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Friday, October 31, 2008

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

A friend asked me after I emailed him - so why was this trip so meaningful to you? (See below - The Women's Earth Alliance Transformative Advocacy Trip to the US Southwest) 

I wrote him some garbled email then after I sent it, the reason why clicked in my brain. Let me just say there were a lot of reasons why the trip was amazing - I got to see Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, I spent time with some beautiful people who are all working on issues that need much attention and I got to film - which I love. There was a thundering experience for me though, that really amounts to fully understanding that we can do anything - and if there is something in the world that speaks to your heart you can do it. If you want world peace then go out there and be a leader for world peace. If you want to be a great cook, then take classes, travel and learn new ways to cook and bless the world with the best you-cook that you can possibly be. And if we all took this great reponsibility of being the best versions of ourselves that we could be - which means discipline and reaching out when we'd rather sit at home and be lazy, then this world would tip over onto a brighter pathway - hands down. What I fully understood was this Hopi Elders words, (below) that have been running around the internet, since I think they were on the film - The 11th hour - which I didn't yet see but I'm planning to. I realized fully and completely - as one friend said to me recently - you make your own magic in this world.

A Hopi Elder Speaks 

"You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.  And there are things to be considered . . .

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader."
Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, "This could be a good time!"

    "There is a river flowing now very fast.  It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.  They will try to hold on to the shore.   They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly. 

    "Know the river has its destination.  The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water.  And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.  At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves.  For the moment that we do,  our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.      "The time for the lone wolf is over.  Gather yourselves!  Banish the word struggle from you attitude and your vocabulary.  All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. 

    "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

-- attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder

Hopi Nation

Oraibi, Arizona

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Verse 11 - Goodbyes

In Albuquerque, the Women's Earth Alliance - Transformative Advocacy 08 group said our goodbyes over searing enchiladas that brought tears to my eyes and cleaned out my sinuses. The heat made me feel alive. To say goodbye we played a game. Each of us had to share what quality of the others had stood out in our minds. It was like a mirror of encouragement reflecting back at you, urging you to be your best version, because that's who you really are.

On the plane back home I met a man who had just flown out to New Mexico to learn about earthships. He was planning to build one on his land in New Mexico. We raged on about the changes we wanted to see, the ills and goods of American society, and then parted ways.

Although I may never see many of these ladies again, I feel strengthened to know they are out there. And, I think this trip has changed me in ways I don't yet understand.

For me - now, the editing of the footage has begun. I'm aiming for the end of the year or the beginning of 2009 for a finished film of the trip. I'll post a note here when its complete.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Verse 10 - Still a National Sacrifice Area?

In New Mexico we met with two very distinct organizations. In the morning we met with members of Dineh CARE (Dineh Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment) who came out in force. Many elders attended, and the meeting was led by Lori Goodman and Dailan Long. The group was well presented and well prepared with an impressive power-point presentation.

In the afternoon we met with Elouise Brown, president of Dooda (NO) Desert Rock Coalition.

Both groups are working to put a halt to a pulverized coal-burning power plant that is scheduled to begin construction in Burnham, New Mexico on the Navajo Nation by next year.
Navajo Nation leaders, including Joe Shirley, Navajo president, support the project for the jobs and revenues it could potentially bring the tribe.

Although the plant is being advertised as a clean coal-fired plant, the facility would add to CO2 emissions in the area (that already has two existing power plants), emit mercury, (estimated at 117-161 pounds per year minimum), pollute the water, and generally add further credence to the designation of the Four Corners area as a "National Sacrifice Area."

I was impacted by the dedication of Dine Care and Dooda Desert Rock Coalition. Elouise's extreme level of commitment extended to sleeping in her car or walking miles just to spread the word about what is happening in her community. Dine Care was very forward thinking with a vision for the future of their lands and for using renewable energies to empower tribal members and sustain Navajo cultural values.

Our last day of meetings with Native American environmental leaders who are pioneering the way for all of America ran short again.

We followed Elouise part way on our long drive to Albuquerque, stopping off to have a quick and late dinner together. She drove away fast, with much to do. I could hardly believe the journey was coming to its end.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Verse 9 - Forced Relocation

We met with Louise Benally who I first encountered in the award winning documentary film Broken Rainbow. Our time was very brief. We met outside the office building of the Black Mesa Water Coalition and the Indigenous Environmental Network with great plans for the day, although our first obstacle was a three hour drive out to Black Mesa and the Big Mountain community.

Louise quickly explained her story in the parking lot; in 1974 a congressional act called public law 93531 (or the "Bennet Freeze") passed, which called for the removal of over 10,000 Navajo's (Diné) from their land. The US congress decided that the land belonged to the Hopi, although the Navajo and Hopi had been living there in peace for centuries and manufactured a disagreement between the tribes to better sell the idea, which was in essence plotted to free up 62,000 acres for expanded mining operations.
Those who did not want to move were faced with starvation as the following the Bennet Freeze, a federal court ordered an "85 to 90 percent reduction in their livestock herds, and banned new construction or even repairs to existing structures."

Our plan for the day was to go out and meet with a Dineh elder still protesting the move and to view the mining site, but a flash flood stopped us short and then time ran out.

As we drove to our next destination we listened to the first presidential debate through a crackling radio with shifting reception as the sun disappeared in the sky. It felt like the world was shifting from all that I had learned.

I strongly encourage you to watch the academy award winning
Broken Rainbow or "Vanishing Prayer", pasted below to learn more about this topic.

Verse 8 - Whose religion is valid?

The sun was low and distinct strands reached out to the earth at the San Francisco Peaks part of the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff, Arizona. The feeling of solemn humbleness grew in me as I felt my small self blend into the greater landscape. I don't have the history or teachings about this landscape embedded inside of me but I could feel its amazing presence. I could feel that this place is a source of strength and no wonder 13 different tribes hold it to be holy and 22 tribal nations consider it culturally significant.

Earlier in the afternoon Women's Earth Alliance (WEA) visited the Save the Peaks Coalition volunteers, Jeneda Benally and Rachel Tso.

The history of the struggle at the Peaks is long. A ski area was built there in the 30's and then in 1979 was expanded significantly against protest and lawsuits (Wilson v. Block).

Save the Peaks formed in 2004 to protect cultural and spiritual rights and is now fighting a new challenge.
The courts recently approved the use of reclaimed sewer water to be used to make snow for skiing on the Peaks. You don't have to be an extremely bright bulb to figure that skiing on sewage water is not a cool idea. As Rachel Tso pointed out in our meeting, no one falls, no one eats snow while they ski, no one scoops snow up in their water bottle for drinking, right?

The Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort plans to clear cut 74 acres of forest to add additional ski lifts, create a 14 mile pipeline up to the San Francisco peaks to a 10 million gallon pond where fake snow will be made out of the waste water. As we all know, anything that goes into a toilet ends up in waste water. That's not a very nice thought. There is also a catchment pond at the bottom of the ski area which will only keep a small percentage of the waste water from getting into the water table.
Rachel TsoJeneda Benally

Aside from the obvious reasons for why you might not want sewer water on an area where people ski, there are culturual and spiritual reasons for the many tribes that hold the peaks sacred. For example, the Navajo use the area for gathering medicinal herbs which are used in healing ceremonies and there is concern about not only the health aspect of the herbs but the a question spiritual integrity of contaminated medicine bundles that are used for reviving health and the spirit.

In our meeting Jeneda touched all of our hearts with her eloquence, I 'll leave you with her powerful words about the courts ruling and what that means to her. Bear in mind the battle is not over, there are plans to take this ruling to the Supreme Court.
"This last court decision for us, told us that our cultural belief, our spiritual belief is not a valid religion. It's subjective spiritual feelings. For traditional people, who have grown up with our identity and who carry on these ways of life, since the beginning of time and want to ensure that our children have these spiritual connections as well, to be told that your ways of life, your culture, is a spiritual subjective feeling is one of the most painful, painful feelings that I think anybody could ever feel, is to be told that your culture is not valid. What you believe, what your ancestors have fought for, what they've carried on, what they've died for is not valid."

Check out this great film, "The Snowbowl Effect":

Verse 8 - Pancakes in Flagstaff

We shared a pancake breakfast at Ihop in Flagstaff with Valencia Herder, who is involved in numerous grass roots organizations (though she said she's learning to say no) including North Leupp Family Farms, a sustainable agriculture project in Leupp Arizona. Valencia grew up on the Navajo reservation with sheep, cattle, horses and farming. Now she works in sustainable agriculture centered around
topics like health information (free range grass fed animals), reinvigorating farming, and plants as medicine, with her focus moving towards water, such as how to set up water catchment systems, how to restore erosion, and control erosion.

She said about 60 to 70% of her community in hard rock Arizona do not have running water and 10% do not have electricity although there's a coal mine 30 miles away. At home, Valencia, her family and fellow community members travel long distances for water. The well is 10 miles from her home and she has to haul water in 55 gallon drums over a 10 to 15 mile radius to water their crops, which are largely corn, beans and squash.

Her sisters work along side her to bring sustainable economics to their communities. One of her sisters, Nicole Herder is featured in the film Weaving Worlds, that explores weaving as it relates to Navajo identity and the way the artists are being taken advantage of by the traders who sell the rugs.

The meeting was brief and left me and the Women's Earth Alliance (WEA) group with a strong desire to see including North Leupp Family Farms and to see where Valencia grew up, to learn more. No doubt WEA will have to go back soon!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Verse 7 - Grand Canyon Dreaming

I went to the grand canyon in a bus full of tourists, with a driver named Tye who was part of 5 documentary's as an animal trainer. After the overwhelming beauty filled my heart with wonder and peace I slept awaking the next morning with catastrophic nightmares that included floods and earthquakes. The nightmare shook me. It took me by surprise. If anything I had expected good dreams after such a wonderful day. I didn't know what to think until later (in Verse 7) when Jeneda Benally shared that she had a wonderful dream that the mother earth would provide and take care of her. In a flash I felt I understood what my own dream meant - those close to the earth would know how to react in times of change in our environment and land. Although, this may be a very logical thought, I feel it is a powerful message for white folks like myself, living in our little urban clusters. It felt like a warning. And it makes me think of the Tsunami in 2004; because of their kinship with the land, the indigenous people in the areas affected, were able to avert disaster.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Verse 6 - Dirty Energy Bootcamp

We met with Wahleih Johns of the Black Mesa Water Coalition (BMWC) and Jihon Gearon of Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) in Flagstaff Arizona. The walls were plastered with defiance that washed over me as a sign of hope. This meeting was, for me, like the first day in dirty energy 101, bootcamp style. The disturbing news I'd read about on the internet or at work surrounding mining and oil were suddenly right there, in the room - two young beautiful bright women about the same age as me, whose lives are directly impacted by the effects of mining in their back yard. The connection I felt was penetrating.

In a story that goes back to the inception of Arizona and questions of how to power the growing urban areas of Phoenix, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Peabody Coal began mining on Navajo land before Wahleih was born. Using pristine ground water from the Navajo aquifer Peabody built the longest pipeline and the only of it's kind in North America for transporting coal 300 miles away from Black Mesa and in the process using about 3.3 million gallons a day of drinking water.

Black Mesa Water Coalition formed to protect the Navajo ground water.

Due to pressure from the Black Mesa Water Coalition and other community groups in 2005 the Black Mesa Mine was shut down and for a time the misuse of water was halted. Now, the entire issue has been reopened. At stake is the reopening of the Black Mesa Mine, merging it with the Kayenta Mine, and allowing Peabody Western Coal Company the right to mine coal until there is no coal left.

Something Wahleih said sticks with me, she said that the elders reminded her that as long as their communities live on top of precious resources the battle will never stop. That is true for now, but Wahleih and team have plans that could side step that with proper support. They have formed a green jobs initiative and the future looks bright!

Indigenous Environmental Network works with groups across the USA and Canada such as The Black Mesa Water Coalition to connect them and to serve as a watch dog on national and international policy, mobilizing their network when needed.
The bulk of their focus is on:

  • Tribal campus sustainability projects, such as community gardening, solar installation, etc..

  • The red oil network (resisting environmental destruction on indigenous land) which is focused in Alaska

  • The Tar Sands in Canada

Jihan's work specifically focuses on several other campaigns that do not fall into these areas, connecting all of the varied groups together, and aiding in providing the support and training they need to launch their own campaigns.

One area of her work that stands out for me is the Tar Sands in Alberta Canada. One world's largest deposit of tar sands occur in Canada in Fort McMurray and the situation there is like the gold rush, but for oil.

Extracting oil from Tar Sands requires an enormous amount of energy including oversized machinery to knock down forests and then scoop up two tons of sand to extract the bitumen, to then upgrade to remove impurities. "Making one barrel of oil from the sands generates two barrels of toxic waste."

The resulting destruction and environmental degradation there is massive. If you're like me and you find your nuggets of truth these days on blogs and late shows do visit the green peace spoof site to get a glimpse.
Planned development in the area to meet US addiction to oil (about 16% of US oil comes from northern Alberta) is the size of Florida.

Already Native communities that live down stream from the Tar Sands are being affected. The animals are getting sick and the communities who live off of the land and hunt animals for survival and are being contaminated by animals with tumors and illness and toxic water.

That is true insanity.

Check out this resource:

Canada's Highway to Hell

Toxic Eden - Verse 5

On a short tour through Gila River Indian community near Chandler Arizona, and just outside of Phoenix, the skeleton of a casino rose against the sky, high class hotels and spas clustered nearby led to what was the grand finale for me, a cowboy town! According to its website Rawhide offers attractions such as, Arrest-a-guest, desert train rides, shotgun weddings, sundown cookouts, a shooting gallery and much more.

Just nearby this flash back to the wild-west, in Lone Butte Industrial Park is a chemical waste recycling plant - Romic Environmental Technologies Corporation. We drove by and stepped outside our minivan rentals to observe a thick white mist spew from it's roof piping. One of the WEA staff began sneezing uncontrollably. Lori Riddle of GRACE (Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment), shared her story with us that day in a church hall where a painting of Mother Theresa hung over her shoulder. It was fitting.

Lori and GRACE aim to shut down Romic, and are building on a successful track record. In 2002 GRACE was instrumental in closing Stericycle, a medical waste facility also located in the Lone Butte Industrial Park .

The effects of these facilities, has had a large price. Lori's health is poor and she has sacrificed everything to put the health of her community first.

Her work is paying off.

In 2007 the Gila River Indian Community (as landlord) voted to shut down Romic by refusing to approve it's permit. The waste management facility has been operating without a permit for over a decade. Now more permanent steps are underway to close the plant.

Even if the plant is closed it doesn't address the larger issues of waste management and environmental racism. And It doesn't give Lori or her young daughter back their health.
Lori RiddlePollution

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Imaginary Borders - Verse 4

In verse 4 we drove to the border town of Sells on O'odham land to meet with Ofelia Rivas of O'odham solidarity project.

The presence of the border patrol could be felt like a thick web. Installed behind plump saguaro's, angled high atop hills, the steel of their patrol vehicles glinted in the sun, almost benignly restful but I learned them to be capable of lashing out unforgiving violence - as they did with Angelita Reino Ramon's son. The border patrol murdered her son, running him over several times. She shared her story and the pain her family has gone through to seek justice.

We learned of ongoing harassment of O'odham by the border police, and of Ofelia's own experience with harassment, no doubt a result of her activism. Ofelia formed the O'odham Solidarity Project to raise awareness about the Department of Homeland Security's plans to build a wall across the Arizona/Mexico border that will cut through Tohono O'odham land, restricting access to family and creating a barrier to maintaining their traditional culture. In july 2009 tribal enrollment cards will no longer be accepted at the border. The O'odham will need a passport, and since many do not have birth certificates, I'm not sure how or if they could get a passport to take part in ceremony at Quitovac, Mexico where they gather annually.

I left the meeting with an argument in my head. Should I cry or get angry? I decided to get angry, but that wasn't the end of the emotion. Where do I put the anger? What use is the anger? Anger is dwarfed without action. So I will act. What will I do? What will I do?

It's a humbling thought that comes at me again and again in this day. As the war in Iraq blazes, as a walk through the city is a reminder of those left behind by our system, as the environment is polluted and the animals we share the earth with go extinct, I think, what can I do.

I always come back full circle - become the best version of you, that you can possibly be. Choose your goals, your cause to work for in this life and live every moment in the present. To honor Ofelia and the rest that I have met on this trip I will do my very best.

Fireworks - Verse 3

The next morning we flew to Arizona. My first sunset in Tuscon was a fireworks across the sky outside the airport.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bug Dust - Verse 2

Our van rooted itself in the bug dust on our first trip outside of Elko Nevada. It was stubborn so we left it on the edge of the beaten road of fine earth and drove on our flat tire (we didn't know at the time) all the way to rock creek where the sunrise ceremony's are performed to speak with members of the Western Shoshone tribe and the Western Shoshone Defense Project.

The day was a shock of information that touched on military testing on native land, gold mining and toxic heap leaches.

In 1863 the US government and the Western Shoshone entered into the Ruby Valley treaty, which was known as the treaty of peace and friendship, and allowed the US safe passage through Shoshone lands. Over time white settlers moved into the lands.
Fast forward to 1962. Through some deceptive maneuvering the Department of Interior persuaded a group of Western Shoshone to  seek compensation for their lost land. It was decided that the Western Shoshone had been deprived of their land by 'gradual encroachment' and that they should be compensated. Compensation was based on a date 9 years following the Treaty of Peace and Friendship.  The Western Shoshone refused to accept the payment so the Department of Interior received the money on behalf of the Western Shoshone.

The Dann sisters, two Western Shoshone elders (Mary and Carrie) became tangled up in this mess of who owns what piece of the earth when the Bureau of Land Management, a branch of the US department of the interior confiscated 700 horses and 200 cattle from the elderly Dann sisters, fining them $564,000 for allowing their cows and horses to graze on lands outside of the boundaries of their homestead.

Their story became the subject of a powerful documentary "Our Land Our Life."

Women's Earth Alliance had the great opportunity to meet with Carrie Dann and Julie Fischel, the attorney for the Western Shoshone Defense project. We were invited as guests at Julie's home, where we scarfed down a late night pasta and later were graced with words of wisdom from Carrie Dann.

I wished the camera was running. But it was seated on the couch in the nearby living room...some moments are just that, moments.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Song - Verse I

 At one time there were no cameras to tell stories and there was no youtube where now we can find anything that we might imagine. Instead, we had song and story. I have a story that I would like to tell here - a journey to the US Southwest to meet with Native American environmental activists and bring them together with a team of women public interest attorneys to build a network that will confront the destructive practices of corporations, extractive industries and indoctrinated patterns of thought made into law. Convened by Women's Earth Alliance (WEA) in September 2008, I was invited into this story as a videographer who comes from a background of working with disadvantaged youth and on indigenous issues. The camera I took with me has captured this story into digital, and it will eventually be set free into the hyperspace of the Internet. Before that can happen long weekends spent culling through the material and chopping and fixing is necessary. In the mean time the story calls to come out here, almost as a song with high notes, somber low notes and the spirit of hope. May this song sets you afire as you read. I hope it lights one of your matches inside, so that you will burn even brighter, so that we will all together light up the sky.

In Verse I, the women of women's earth alliance met the 5 delegates who are all law professionals with an interest in working for environmental justice. In a stark white hotel conference room introductions took place and a low rumbling was heard in the distance, the sound of drums. Now, I don't know how you hear it - do you hear it as drums or bagpipes or bees? The it I am referring to is very peculiar. You can only hear it, if you are very quiet and still. It is the steady march of oneness. The march of we are not alone (ness). The remembrance that all life on earth is interconnected and made of the same fabric at which the base is love. So yes, the drums became more apparent to me as Jennifer, Genesis, Meredith, Libby, and Stephanie the delegates and Melinda, Caitlin and Shannon the WEA staff introduced themselves and that triggered my ears. I did have headphones on through amplifying equipment, so that may be an unfair advantage. Since this first day, I continue to hear the drums, as a reminder of all that we know deep inside us. I am strengthened by these amazing women.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Berkeley 1974

Foolishly I didn't recognize her voice. As she sang thanks to Bob Dylan, as she sang odes to war prisoners worldwide and talked of Amnesty International's work. I half listened and absorbed only that she had a big heart and something to say. It gave me hope, it sparked pride, perhaps among the youth of America there was a gem, a brave gem who would sing for us? She would sing and tell the stories of change and hope and human struggle. How better to bring peace than with song. My heart lifted. I listened closer and stopped. The voice was familiar, and somewhere I questioned, could there be someone so precious who has escaped my radar? Indeed she had, for some time she'd drifted. She was a relic, a lady I admired, someone that my mom listened to. I hadn't thought about her in years until today when m2 played her concert live from the Greek Theatre in Berkeley CA. The year was June 2, 1974, before I was born, and the Joan Baez concert streamed to us via, a site we tend to listen to lately in the evenings.

Is there fire in America? Is there fire like hers? Do we consume ourselves with fear and stuff? Are we all so tired? Is the commute so long? Or do fires burn somewhere still, waiting to erupt?

"No more nations Lord Kum Ba Yah
No more armies Lord Kum Ba Yah"

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Oasis

After two years of filming The Oasis, a documentary film following the youth from inner Sydney's Oasis Youth Support Network and the man behind it all - Paul Moulds - finally launched, premiering on the ABC. The reception in Australia has been huge and no doubt as the film goes the festival circuit people world wide will be moved. Please do check it out.
m1m2 had the privilege to work at Oasis and with some of these youth in the documentary. It was an unforgettable experience that has changed us forever.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

wbm is at Around The Coyote Video Lounge

w_b_m_ (water breath money) will be screening at the Around the Coyote Video Lounge curated by LiveBox in Chicago April 25th - 28th. This screening is part of Artropolis, not sure what Artropolis is? It's Chicago's biggest art show! Get down and check it out if you can.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Obama in 30 Seconds

Ok, all you creative folks, who are pulling for Obama in this years election race. Here's your chance.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A New Earth

If you haven't already checked this out do! Tune in on Mondays. I guarantee you'll find yourself asking (to yourself) now what would Mr. Tolle do?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pedestrians spotted in suburban American town

A confused taxi driver on his way home from work halted this evening mistaking pedestrians for stranded, confused wayward citizens. He asked us (m1m2) if we were lost or in need of help, apparently confused to find people WALKING in a suburban American town. We thanked him politely saying that we were just, err - walking, and he went on his way. This incident was either a new marketing strategy to coax clients into taxi's, or it was a genuine act of kindness in which he noticed the absurdity of two people **walking**. Naturally, in American suburbia this can ONLY translate to - oops their car broke down - unless of course the people are attached via leash to a dog. (As we all know, in cases of dog walking this rather obscure activity is overlooked.)

Just another one of those things that make you shrug and smile - ahh it's America.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Microanimation #6 - Anxious Peeps

A warm day,  good friends and a long walk - that's the story behind microanimation #6. At the top of the hill we rested in the sun and found a peeps stuck to a pole casting it's shadow and peering at us in it's peculiar form. It's body somewhat melted to the pole. I wonder what it would look like if I went back a year later?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hillary, Obama and the showdown at Foothill Expressway

If there was any doubt in my mind of whom I would vote for in the upcoming California primaries (there wasn't, I mailed in my vote a week ago) the answer came through loud and clear this morning.

I took, S. El Monte towards the highway, the same road that I've taken every morning to work for the past six months. Half awake I chanted monosyllabically with the German Language tapes in the CD player, and then I did a bad thing. I drove through, or rather into - an intersection. The traffic didn't move, the light turned red behind me and a portion of my car was left sticking out. I thought about backing up but saw that wasn't an option, besides it was too late. I crept as close as I could to the car in front of me and hoped that everyone could get by. They could get by, and they did. There was no honking or confusion as the cars turned left, one after the other.

I felt quite relieved, until the light turned green for those turning right onto El Monte Ave. There was one car, a sleek black suburban. It was the size of a hummer, but not a hummer. It pulled up tight and horned non-stop.

Horn horn! Horn! Horn!

In response to the horning I yawned, half a display of my boredom with their rage, and half out of sheer exhaustion from long commutes and the workweek.

The light turned green. It turned red just before the white striped crosswalk, where I stopped, and in my mirror observed a tan lady with lovely skin swagger up to my car like she thought she was a famous defense lawyer about to present her culminating evidence in a high profile case. From her proclivity to honking I quickly deduced she would be pounding on my window like she had a tick so I had might as well roll it down. I did. But I locked the doors.

I started to say - I'm so sorry - you know I am really exhausted today. I've never done that and certainly didn't do it on purpose - but I got as far as "I'm."

She, let me call her Ms. Spastic, yelled into the car, at me, standing on the side of the road in the thick gray morning with the mountains as our backdrop. A light mist of rain fell intermittently and the roads were colored dark with days of rain. She shouted, breaking down my heinous crimes into sound bites. First, she raved in a threatening undertone of the blatant illegality of blocking an intersection. Then, she accused me of a premeditated crime, of an act of riotous selfishness that is in her book, inexcusable and unforgivable. She yelled from a position of indignation, of shock, of I am so much better than you and could have your head on a platter, if I wanted. She funneled her moral superiority at me. Ms. Spastic knew she could judge my soul by this one terrible act, and judge she did.

Amidst her sentencing I found myself distracted - not by her nose, which was rather large yet somehow it worked, and was beautiful in an odd way. It was the button she wore on her shirt, which was large in its own right, that distracted me. She wore it in support of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Once Ms. Spastic finished expunging her morning's stress at me, a complete stranger in the middle of the road, she left. I had no chance to comment or even clear my throat. She knew she was right, she knew that I deserved to be put in my place, she exacted her lecture and thus went back to her gas guzzling tanker having performed her duty as royal nanny of road misdemeanors.

At first, I couldn't decide if I should get upset or get very upset. I got upset. Then, in my brief moment of anger the absurd nature of what had just happened jolted me with perfect clarity.

The Moment of Truth

I knew in that moment, that in this meeting between her and I, lay the fundamental difference between Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and their distinct supporters.

Ms. Spastic, feels she is in a place of superiority. She feels she is in a place that allows her to judge others, to lash out at the world as she sees it. She is 50ish, old guard, established, embittered, and ready to wag her finger in others faces because she knows better. She drives her giant sleek car out of her nice suburban house and claims to know people because of her experience. For all of her experience, I doubt she understands working for minimum wage salary on the night shift just so you can eat. These are our concerns, we the people. And for all of Ms. Spastics high ideals - working for peace, for the end of the war, for healthcare, for children's healthcare, for women's rights, she ACTS differently. She lashes out, she shouts, she creates violence where none had been, and this evening she will cover it up with a political statement. She will play politics like a master chess player.
Yes, Ms. spastic is a Hillary Rodham Clinton supporter who will tell her husband over dinner about a miscreant she had to put in her place at the intersection of S. El Monte Ave. and Foothill Expy., because she was bad, and Ms. Spastic is good, and knows what's best for everyone.

Be the change you want to see

And that is exactly why I favor Obama. Because I think people deserve the benefit of the doubt. Because I believe if you want to see peace in your world, you must be the living example of peace in your life. I believe that if you want change, you better start working on yourself. And if you think you are so perfect you can play judge and jury then you aren't looking very hard. It was on this day at this intersection that I saw the difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Obama makes us believe in the better versions of ourselves that we are, that we can be. Obama, reminds us of what a great nation America is when we all come together, united for a good cause. Obama is a spark, a fire, he is passion and leadership and charisma.

Hillary is a well-meaning, intelligent and wonderful lady, but she comes from the America we knew before America ended - on that day where she- and a majority of the Senate voted for an unjust war.

America has died my friends and now she needs resurrecting. This requires new passion, new energy and new leadership. America desperately needs someone who will not only speak of peace and change, but who will defend peace and lead with a decisive hand towards positive change. The only one that can do that, is clearly Barack Obama.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Holy Spud

Young voters can vote in the primaries on Facebook. It's about %$!!%&& time. I just received an option to vote (permanently) by mail, that felt a bit stone age to me. It seems we could just go straight to facebook and other nominated sites. (with paper backing) And since we're on the topic it's time we lose the Electoral College too! Are you with me?

I was thrilled to see Obama took Iowa on Jan 3rd!

And in other important news, reporters at Fox News have uncovered Jesus in a Potato. Just another example of the fine reportage coming out of that house.