Saturday, June 20, 2009
the blessed self-shot: lara, moi, and emily.
lara and i arranged this ourselves when we were ravenous after yoga.
I just spent the week near Williamsburg with my best friends Emily and Lara at her parents beautiful turquoise home. We made our own little budget spa vacation with daily outings to do hot yoga and visit nearby thriftstores (I found such good used books at one of them--I picked up a copy of The Green Pharmacy for $1.99, which I'd been wanting for a while). We also found out that while we may not be the greatest cooks, we can arrange a killer array of snack foods and salads.
We've been friends for over 15 years (along with our friends Ricki and Julie) when we decided around sophomore year that we liked each other more than anyone else in our high school. We are always living in different places and are all so different in what we like to do, but there is something so real and familiar about them and when we come together once or twice a year, it's such a treat. I can go on and on talking about how crazy beautiful and amazing these women are and how I feel better about our world when I spend time with them, but lets just leave it by saying: oh my, I laughed so much this week and my heart felt wide-open big.
ps--lara is selling these beautiful, handmade skirts made from recycled saris. she's wearing one in the above photography. i love mine (its green and pink) and think you will too. let me know if you are interested.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Joel tells us how he does what he does.
Does everyone know that my roommate Joel is a super amazing mural painter in DC? I like his murals because they are accessible, manage to be political and peaceful at the same time, and always feature the prettiest women. Other people also feel this way which is why he's been getting quite a few commissions around DC over the past year (you can see a few around Georgia Ave).
This particular one that he just finished in Silver Spring (on the outside of Kefa Cafe) is about refugees in Maryland and their stories. He featured a man from the Congo, a woman from Burma, and another woman from Iraq. Their stories are intense--the woman from Iraq's brother was murdered by government hitmen--yet Joel makes it beautiful with his unflinching honesty and by adding traditional art and proverbs from each culture.
It's helpful to me right now because I feel so down about what is happening in the Peruvian Amazon these days. It seems like the powers that be are too big and strong and power-hungry to change and that all we can do is watch and sigh as one of the last major frontiers is violated. It's easy to think that and just hate Alan Garcia (and trust me, I fall into that though a lot).
But I've said from the beginning that my work in the jungle is about raising awareness about the beauty that is already there. Actions are definitely needed, but first we must understand what is going on and what is at stake. I think this awareness takes a lot of courage--just being able to look something ugly and difficult right in the eyes. I think once you get enough people who are brave enough to know and think and start a conversation, then the right actions naturally come out of it.
So my first step in this process is sharing my photos from the Amazon of Peru--a very nice place.
The first album contains my photographs from the communities and healers and activists we visited in March/April of this year while making our documentary, "Spirit Songs":
event id: spirit_songs
And this album is a behind the scenes look at us and our friends and guides while we were filming and photographing and interviewing and nursing and getting eaten by bugs:
event id: spirit_songs01
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
AAAARgh, I don't even know how to write about this right now. People are dying and the situation is getting worse. I knew it was bad in the beginning, but I had no idea the lengths that Garcia will go to to get what he wants (money, he wants money--that's what he wants). This is the worst violence seen in Peru since The Shining Path in the 1990's. It's been reported that Peruvian police threw tear gas and shot at still-sleeping protesters who were blocking the road.
I'm glad that Pizago is safe in Nicaragua right now (he had a judge order his arrest for sedition and inciting violence) and that the rest of the world is hearing about the deaths of so many (including Peruvian police officers) and this awareness is getting out, despite its vast costs. I am so impressed that the indigenous movement has been able to educate and organize itself into a unified movement despite some serious opposition and that they are going to keep going to no matter what to protect their land.
It's scary to think what more could happen but it also shows the extent of their love for their land and how many avenues that are taking to achieve it. AIDESEP (who we interviewed for "Spirit Songs") is one of the best organized indigenous movements in South America. I love it when Alberto Pizango names specific United Nations doctrine to defend his position that the indigenous people need to be advised when their land is being given away.
Is that really so much to ask? Would Garcia really want to start this kind of violence in Peru again, after so many years of peaceful growth?
It's also scary because Ollanta, the super nationalistic, pro-military, friend of Chavez guy who lost against Garcia in 2006 has immediately stepped up to defend the indigenous movement. He's running for president again in 2011 and I would not like to see him gain this sudden popularity for being with the people--I think he'd be a pretty scary president too.
I'll keep updating as I learn more--in the meantime, please keep this situation in your thoughts and start talking about it to the people in your life. As international awareness that grows, it will become harder and harder for Garcia to do exactly what he wants as the jungle and its people suffer his consequences.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Jim, Frank and eager beaver students learning about plant love.
I went to a workshop by Frank Cook on neo-shamanistic plants at Dr. James Duke's garden in Fulton, MD and spent the day learning about medicinal plants and eating wild foods (read: weeds). I know that doesn't sound great, but once you saw the spanikopita made with wild mustard greens and a big salad of hostas with lemon tahini dressing you might think differently. Dr. Duke has one of the largest medicinal gardens in the country, which is divided and marked by stones engraved with the disease the plants cure.
It made me remember some things I learned in Peru and have slowly been forgetting, which is hard to explain--its something about interconnectedness and something about going back to the earth and something about how pharmaceuticals aren't as great as we think they are and maybe just how to get out the city and enjoy being in nature for a while.
Jim and Frank demonstrate a shamanic ceremony.
Jim "the barefoot doctor" Duke worked for the USDA for over 30 years and wrote the great book "The Green Pharmacy." He also writes protest songs, like this one about a study done by Eli Lilly that proved that St. Johns Wort isn't anymore effective than a placebo. They also forgot to mention that their boy Zoloft didn't do any better than the other two in the study.