Yesterday I was biking home after videotaping a yoga class for a client (and friend), and I noticed a couple dozen people, many who I knew from my neighborhood, digging holes in a vacant lot a couple blocks from my house. There was a huge hand-painted sign ready to be installed that said "Ramona-Magon Memorial Garden and Autonomous Community Park". Wow, I thought, that is so cool. You see, this vacant lot was city property, and it was about to be in the path of a huge new road project that has been a hot battle for years.
Greta and I came back a little later and grabbed some shovels to help out. I took some photos. People were putting in benches, planting native plants, digging water basins. The idea was to put something else valuable to the community there, obstructing the construction project.
My arms are still tired from chopping up caliche (the hardened desert earth that is so common around here) and shovelling dirt, but it felt good to be part of the project. This was a perfect example direct action that I would wholeheartedly embrace. Even if it gets destroyed and doesn't stop the highway, I feel like it is still effective, because planting plants and generating the kind of constructive, barnraising kind of positive feeling is a great thing for the community, even if it is only temporary.
I've been away from home for the last 9 days and today I'm finanlly returning. It seems like much longer. I'm so glad it's over. It's been fun, and also very productive, and I was able to see several friends and acquaintances I haven't seen for quite awhile, but none of that has counteracted the ache of missing my partner, and her dog.
Not to mention that I've had quite enough of the New York City transportation experience. The subway system is amazing considering its challenge: providing a way for a few million people to move around without all needing to drive cars. But I can't really wrap my mind around the need to budget an hour to get anywhere. I'm accustomed to hopping on my bike and being anywhere I routinely need to be within 10 minutes, maybe 15 tops. So waiting for these big metal worms to laboriously drag me through this concrete anthill is not cool.
Oh and speaking of cool its still damn cold in NYC. Sonoran Desert here I come!
The war tax resistance documentary is taking me out of town again, for 9 whole days. I'll be flying to New York City tomorrow and we'll be shooting Sunday and Monday there, and then heading down to DC for the big anti-war demo there on Wednesday. Activists will be blocking the IRS building that morning, and all sorts of other things will be happening. Later in the week we'll head up to Western Mass. to talk to WTRs there.
I'm kind of tired of travelling so much, and i'm not looking forward to cold and snow out there just when it's starting to really be nice and warm here in Tucson... although a side effect of that is that the pollen count has been crazy high and my sinuses are under assault to an almost intolerable degree.. so in that sense it will be good to get away....
Well, the nice thing is that a judge in Texas slapped down Chertoff for not following the law and consulting with landowners before having Homeland Security try to force its way onto their property to build the border wall.
On the other hand, back here in Arizona 2 more fascist and racist things happened: a mistrial was declared in the murder case against border patrol agent Nicolas Corbett, who shot dead in the back an apprehended migrant who posed no threat to him. The jury couldn't decide after 3 days of delibration and so now it has to be tried all over again and meanwhile the asshole walks free.
And in the Arizona state legislature last week several anti-immigrant bills passed through their respective committees. All of the ones that had been introduced, in fact.
But hey, more good news, Chertoff says that on the white border, err, I mean, the Canadian border, there won't be a wall, just another broken high-tech cyber fence, like the brilliant $15 million boondoggle that Boeing scammed the feds on here in Southern Arizona, which even McCain is calling "a disgrace."
Meanwhile unknown parties on bicycles are blowing up army recruiter stations in Times Square and not getting caught. I feel so damn safe I can hardly stand it, Michael. You're doing a heckuva job.
I'm getting increasingly tired of people using the name "Turtle Island" without, in my view, really understanding it. Activists, new agers, poets, etc have been using it to be another name for the North American continent, in an effort to get away from using names invented by the white colonizers, ever since Gary Snyder published a book of poetry by that name. I guess it's somewhat debatable, but here's my point: the idea comes from the common Native American cosmovision that all the world is perched on the back of a giant turtle. One might argue that it refers to just this continent because they weren't aware of any other continents, but if there were there would be Deer Island and Whale Island and whatever else besides Turtle Island. But the point is that it's a cosmological, not geographic, worldview - they believed this continent was the entire world, was all there was for humans and other animals to live on. Therefore, I think you're really being too specific if you refer to North America as "Turtle Island." The whole world is Turtle Island.
I admit that it is ambiguous though. Here's part of a version of the myth:
Nanaboozhoo took the piece of Earth from Muskrat's paw. Just then, the turtle swam forward and said, "Use my back to bear the weight of this piece of Earth. With the help of Kitchi-Manitou, we can make a new Earth." Nanaboozhoo put the piece of Earth on the turtle's back. Suddenly, the wind blew from each of the Four Directions, The tiny piece of Earth on the turtle's back began to grow. It grew and grew and grew until it formed a mi-ni-si', or island in the water. The island grew larger and larger, but still the turtle bore the weight of the Earth on his back. Nanaboozhoo and the animals all sang and danced in a widening circle on the growing island. After a while, the Four Winds ceased to blow and the waters became still. A huge island sat in the middle of the water
So, is it "a new Earth", or is it just "an island" that is part of the Earth? Maybe a European, over-rational mind just can't make sense of it.
Here's a photo of me in the Lower Rio Grande River Valley shooting an interview for the project I'm doing for the Sierra Club on the environmental impacts of border infrastructure.
The project is really coming along. I just got back from another interview with a biologist here in Tucson, just a few blocks away from my house. It's funny that I've been from the Gulf to the Pacific on this project and also working right in my neighborhood.
O and I have been in San Diego since Thursday night, here to work on the border wall enviro impact video.
It's actually chillier here than in Tucson this time of year. brrr. But, it's nice to see the ocean.
Anyway, interviews have been good. Throughout this project it's been impressive and inspiring that just about everyone I've talked to on camera has gone beyond just the environmental focus and talked about the bigger picture - the overall problem and that people are immigrating because of what the U.S. has done to their countries, and the responsibility to do something about that, not just build walls.
In a few minutes, we head down to the Tijuana Estuary to shoot there.