Category Archives: events

August 6 and August 9

August 6, the day Little Boy fell on Hiroshima, and August 9, the day Fat Man fell on Nagasaki, have become haunting days for me. Oblivious until the 80s, I became involved when Church Women United planned a Ribbon project. They sought a mile’s worth of individual yard-long muslin pieces decorated with a peace message to be held hand to hand around the pentagon.  More than a mile of ribbon and people converged on Washington.DC for that march.

For me the most profound part of that weekend was sitting in the park across from the White House observing the annual moment of silence concurrent with the people of Hiroshima at exactly the time, their time, the bomb had fallen..

That moment has been surpassed by this year’s installation, Suspended Moment. It’s the first time I’ve attended an installation enacted and not just one in a museum with a continual loop video.  The artist, a third generation Hiroshima survivor, made a sculpture, a cloth version, to size, of Fat Man, the Nagasaki bomb. She made it from silk from her grandmother’s kimono studio and stitched her hair into it to meld the generations.

D setting

The installation, lasted half an hour. The action was a poem read at the beginning and end that consisted of words from Obama’s speech at Hiroshima. Single words. First in English then in Japanese, as chanted dialog, each word repeated several times. The two walking toward each other, then together, then apart. “Mirror.” “Suffering.” “We look.”  “We survive,”  “We survive fear.”  (I don’t remember them all.) In between a butoh dance (somewhat like mime). In the Q and A afterwards, the choreographer said he’d aimed to create moments rather than a narrative, moments like combing hair, putting on lipstick. And there were more obvious moments of fear.

Dance 1
The sound was part vocal and part computerized music, haunting, along with occasional voices of children playing and an almost continual drone of planes.

Suspended Moment has been performed at Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was developed, and at Hanford, where nuclear waste is awaiting cleanup.
The atrocity of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings (and all the health/environmental aspects of nuclear programs) is certainly one of the “Never again” moments of history. To that end, 122 nations recently ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (info here and here)

It is not a big surprise that the nuclear holding nations boycotted the negotiations. However, the hope is that making nuclear as illegal as biological and chemical weapons will change the discussion. To that end we can communicate with our representatives.

The memorial event was sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility . They are concerned with other problems (“we must prevent what we cannot cure”) as well and are worth following.

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A Week (plus a day) of Rallies and Marches

It’s been a long week, and I’ve felt kicked in the gut most days. While demonstrations alone won’t change anything, they are part of the tool box. So I’ve chosen several out of the multiple possibilities in Portland, OR.

It started with the rally against Fascism on inauguration day.

I didn’t stay for the whole because I also wanted to go to the Ford Gallery’s opening of “Divided We Stand,”  artists’ reactions to the election. I didn’t take any photos there because I wasn’t sure of copyright restrictions.

Then Saturday was a two march day.  First the Jobs with Justice rally. Though it supported immigrants, workers and single-payer healthcare, I photographed different signs.

That rally preceded the women’s march and marched as a group to join up with the women.

Newspapers are reporting the attendance at Portland’s Women’s March was around 100,000. I met my friends about two blocks from the stage. There were so many people that it seemed useless to try to get closer.

womens-march-official-route

Only the news-helicopter video shows the size of the crowd. People moved too quickly for me to get detailed photos of their signs, though some were witty. This was on the main route after I’d been on two overflow streets.Yes, it was raining. That didn’t feel so bad after I read of the people above the Arctic Circle out where the temp was -51.

Then Friday began the next round when Credo  orchestrated a rally against Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Senator Jeff Merkley, one speaker, was going to deliver Credo’s 1.4 million signatures in opposition to her confirmation. He graded her performance at the hearing as F on all points, including oblivion to the Students with Disabilities Act. To highlight that one, a graduate special-needs student spoke of the importance of schooling with her peers. Other objections included DeVos’ dependence on private schools without oversight in Michigan to the detriment of quality. Maybe you can read others on the poster.

Saturday followed. I selected two from the available options. First was the March for Justice and Equality.

People have a way of ruining a photo’s composition. The obliterated phrase to replace “again” is “for once.” My friend and I marched till the group got about a block ahead of us, then we took a street car to the Stand with Standing Rock event.

This was led by Native elders. One speaker, Grandma Addie, wrapped in the green and brown blanket–last photo, reminded us of all the points in our lives marked by water and had us chanting, Water is the First Medicine. She asked us to thank water every time we saw it as in crossing a river or used it as in the shower. She and another elder speaking were in their 90s. She mentioned there being five living generations of her family.  Several speakers reminded us that decisions should be made to benefit ourselves and seven generations.

Several spoke via phone, including an onsite report from Digital Smoke Signalsand Winona LaDuke. Songs and drumming alternated with speeches. There was also a round dance. People formed two circles and greeted everyone as they moved in opposite directions.

Perhaps next week I’ll have time to sew.

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Filed under events, Portland OR