Last evening, an incredible & moving visual was brought to the sidewalk in front of the Naro Cinema to drive the point home to cause one to reflect on the violence, depravity & waste of war.
Hundreds of shoes--many of them small ones--were lined up in 3 rows enveloped with a bouquet of shimmering candlelight to offset them in the evening sky.
On each pair of shoes, was a pink tag with the following true information, carefully researched:
> name of an innocent Iraqi child who had once breathed & played
> town of their demise ( often also the town of their birth)
> method which caused the child's death (bullet, sniper fire, accident)
> date the child perished forever
Adjacent to the rows of shoes was a separate & very poignant vignette with teddy bears & the tiniest baby shoes you can imagine. Also w/ tags.
Several of us gathered in a circle to somberly read aloud an endless stream of names of real children who had perished needlessly since the US Occupation of Iraq. This list did not begin to touch on the numerous children who have perished due to harsh US sanctions before the Occupation. Being a bully in the world, rather than a true leader, is causing us to lose credibility & compassion daily as a nation. It is up to us as committed community members to set the "new standard."
After the reading, silence followed. Then a lovely song. Then more silence.
We had 200 printed hand-outs to offer anyone with an interest walking by who chose to pause for reflection or to ask questions--all 200 were given out by the end of the evening.
Only a small handful of people challenged the event & they were managed with care so as not to create a ruckus.
The exhibit was inspired by one along Broad St. in Richmond organized by Rain & her sisters from Code Pink/DC in Nov. at the Allen/Bush rally, which over 500 peace activists & other concerned citizens attended.
Last evening we saw a hard-hitting doc. in the Naro which was straight from the war zone--"Iraq in Fragments"--about the war's effects on the displaced Sunni, Shite & Kurdish cultures.
Dr. Nabil Al-Tikriti of Mary Washington College & Doctors Without Borders gave a strong synopsis of the situation & moderated an excellent group discussion afterwards.
Thanks to Jean of Tidewater Peace Alliance & www.imageproject.com & of couse, Tench of the Naro Cinema for making this possible.
Thanks to all who attended & offered support & were open to learning.
And thanks so much to our dear friend, Carol, a music teacher by day trade and active member of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) the rest of the time, who took this immense "Walk in Their Shoes" endeavor on with a busy schedule, a full heart & great creativity to assure its effectiveness.
The good news is: everything we do matters. Collectively, we are gradually shifting consciousness within 3 miles of the world's largest military base facility & "challenging value systems," as my peace partner, Tom, has said.
Please join us the next few days & evenings at the Naro Cinema & also Studio for the Healing Arts as more progressive films & workshops are featured. Check out the Tidewater Peace Alliance page on www.theimageproject.com or www.narocinema.com for more details.
Copy by Ann Williams from email to Gaia Circle
photos by Carol Manuel
Kids For Peace Art Fest, Saturday, December 16, 2006
Haley Everton dances while Spencer Timme
plays the violin
Orion Posey - Drummer/Dancer
Everyone enjoyed peace crafts
Photographs by Sonia Monson
Thanks to Dani and David for opening up their studio and providing such a warm environment for relaxation and creativity. All the food was great too!
Thank you Lisa Beckman for all the wonderful art supplies and inspiration.
Thank you Maiya for joining us.
Thanks to all the kids, parents and observers that participated.
A special thank you to Stephanie for writing the wonderful piece in the Daily Break -Teen section of the newspaper. You did an outstanding job Stephanie!!!
Wednesday, December 6
Samidoun in Norfolk
Last night, we were spellbound watching Samidoun, a multi-media presentation of the war Israel launched against Lebanon and its aftermath. (* Samidoun translates from Arabic to “steadfastness,” or “those who stay.”)
The producers, two award winning independent reporters--Ana Nogueira and Andrew Stern-- were in attendance. They shared their experiences and told us of their journeys obtaining the images and sound to create Samidoun--a multimedia presentation of the reality of war in Lebanon. We intimately experienced the raw truth of war and it's aftermath. We were able to see and hear the reality of what surrounded these reporters. The Lebanese people were given the platform to speak their truth. Best of all, Samidoun gave us the space to make up our own minds and opinions of what happened in Lebanon.
We learned details, new facts and information from legitimate, independent war reporters.
"Hezbollah/hizbollah have no preferred English spelling of their name. The English words are simply a phonetic translation of Arabic. Hezbollah's television station is named Al-Manur. Al-Manur is the Arabic word for light house. Many Lebanese believe the British targeted the Lebanese lighthouse (which are historic and valued in Lebanon) as a symbol of Hezbollah. Stern and Nogueira shared a story of how they learned about drones. Drones make a whizzing, almost a buzzing, sound. They were walking around a Lebanese town when this whizzing buzzing noise started. Their Lebanese guide ran for cover under an awning and frantically waved and yelled for them to take cover. A drone was in the area. Israel used the drones to launch their bombing attacks. If civilians did not take cover in time to hide from the drones they would die in a bombing attack. Even in their homes people would freeze and stop all physical movements when drones came whizzing and buzzing so as not to set off an attack.
Nogueira and Stern remained on site for many hours to obtain their stories. After one Israeli bomb attack the Corporate Media showed up for their superficial "tour" and then left to dispatch their stories. During their tour the bodies of five Lebanese civilian had been recovered. Which is why the Corporate Media reported that five Lebanese civilians were killed and Democracy Now reported the true civilian death figure as 20. Nogueira remained on site until the last body was pulled from the wreckage in the evening hours.
Did you know that only four countries in the world label Hezbollah a terrorist organization? According to Stern and Nogueira the four countries are the U.S., Israel, Jordan, and the Netherlands. After some online research it looks like the number could be high as 9 IF all the countries listed online actually do define Hezbollah this way (U.S., Israel, Jordan, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland). Wikipedia states that six countries label Hezbellah as terrorists. ( U.S., Israel, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands.) The American Spectator reports that the Netherlands, Italy and Poland are the only European countries defining Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Another online source states that Great Britain does not identify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, only an "arm" of Hezbollah is identified as terrorist. Their is no consensus online of how many or which countries actually identify Hezbollah as terrorist organization. (Of course, no one disputes that the U.S. and Israel define Hezbollah as terrorists.)
The work of Ana Nogueira and Andrew Stern exemplifies what independent media strives to create. It is in-depth, investigative reporting that presents the reality surrounding the reporters and sparks a discussion of the situation. In reality there is no one truth, no one party line that everyone adheres to. Only in "propaganda" is news distorted an presented this way.
Samidoun is the polar opposite of the propaganda that corporate media produces and packages as news in the USA.
Ana Nogueira worked as a producer at DemocracyNow. She is now an independent reporter and continues to work on assignment for Democracy Now. A sample of her recent reporting in Lebanon is available here.
Andrew Stern is a photographer and author whose work focuses on social and political issues around the world. For additional information and to view Andrew's work visit andrewstern.net
Samidoun review courtesy of:
Photo Credit: D.D. Delaney
Fair Trade Festival December 1-2, 2006
Held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ghent on December 1-2, 2006, the annual Fair Trade Festival opened the Light in the Dark Festival for Peace in the best possible manner.
Fair Trade food and gifts were on sale.
Kids and parents alike enjoyed henna designs
A cake raffle for the Aid for Traumatized Children Project
of the World Dreams Peace Bridge
Presentations from the Playback Theater troop
and other local artists and musicians
Festival organizer, Susan Posey (center),
and her generous volunteers created an
atmosphere of fun.