Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008 - Songs of Hope & Change

Today, I defer to the words (and music) of others, and am happily sharing, my Obama Election Day Music Mix. I'm burning CD copies right now to take to an Election Party tonight. Here's youtube links for the tracks. Enjoy.

Track 1 - will.i.am - Yes We Can
Track 2 - Pearl Jam - Patriot
Track 3 - Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin'
Track 4 - Alicia Keys - Superwoman
Track 5 - Dixie Chicks - I Hope
Track 6 - John Lennon - Imagine
Track 7 - Tracy Chapman - Talkin' Bout a Revolution (wish the quality was better)

And Finally, Of Course:
Track 8 - Sam Cooke - A Change is Gonna Come:

As Sam says,

It's been a long, long time coming

But I know a change gonna come
Oh, yes it is

The change is now. It's time. Vote!

Monday, June 30, 2008

When I Grow Up

"Miss Jen, when I grow up, I will name my daughter Jennifer."

A simple sentence can sometimes be enough to get one through a very challenging week (or two).

During the final week of a long school year, one of the 11 year-old students in the after-school filmmaking program I run and teach uttered that wonderful, simple sentence.

It was not the sentence in itself that held such important meaning, but also the student who spoke it. This student had driven me crazy at the beginning of the year. He could not sit still. He could not listen. He constantly tested the limits. 

Yet, through care and patience on the part of myself and my co-teacher Jim and through the power of theatre and film, this student changed.

Editing film requires a lot of patience, difficult for any 11 year-old. Yet, this student, who at the beginning of the year could not sit still for even a couple of minutes, fell in love with film. So much so, that while other students are outside on the playground, he prefers for the two of us to go inside and work on the film -- editing and selecting music. 

As I reflected on a hectic school year, I think of this particular student and of so many other students who changed as they participated in the program,  I realize that all of the challenges and moments of insanity have been worth it. 

"When I grow up, I will name my daughter Jennifer."

I reply, "When you are old enough to have a child, you won't even remember me."

"Yes, I will Miss Jen. Yes, I will," is his simple response.

He will and so will I. I will always remember him and the rest of these students. 

In lieu of regular blog updates, I'm excited to share some student projects with you - it is the best way I can think of to update you on my life.  Below are some links to YouTube projects made by students of Script 2 Screen.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hope, Through Grief

In late January, I found myself walking through the Mission District in San Francisco with Salwa, a Palestinian woman. We had met just the day before, yet I felt myself deeply connected to her. My heart was opening. Hers had broken.

Salwa's daughter, Abir, was killed one year ago by an Israeli rubber bullet on her way home from school. As Salwa and I walked outside, her husband, Bassam, was speaking about his work with Combatants for Peace. He presented that night alongside Elik, a former Israeli combatant. Both had suffered significant losses to the conflict that had once pitted them against one another. Now, as the co-founders of Combatants for Peace, they and other fighters, stand together, demonstrating the "unofficial" peace accord that already exists between some Israelis and Palestinians. Their organization is now building a safe play space for the children at Abir's school.

My conversation with Salwa had a resonance that can be hard to find in everyday life. Her story, and my attempts to provide her some comfort, gave a sense of purpose to all my travels in the Middle East, and my studies of the Arabic language. All those long nights of study--all those times lost in Cairo without a map--were worth it, to be able to offer her some small comfort in her native tongue. Ahlan wa Sahlan, Salwa. "[Welcome.]"

With recent increases in violence, more families are suffering pain like Salwa's. Recently 8 Israelis lost their lives in a tragic event at a Seminary in Jerusalem. In the recent invasion in Gaza, 100 Palestinians died, including children, with many more Israelis and Palestinians injured. When I hear this news, I hold fast to Elik and Bassam's commitment to not respond with violence, no matter what is happening around them. I find strength in their commitment to talk together and to build together rather than to fight. I focus my thoughts on all of the Palestinians and Israelis I have met over the last 9 years who also bravely stand beside each other even now! Brought face to face, they have found a human connection deeper than any political division. I wish that I could walk with Salwa now in Al-Quds (Jerusalem). I feel the grief of all those who have lost loved ones in this conflict, and especially of the other mothers like Salwa.

Though I am sitting safely in front of my computer in California, my heart and my thoughts fly to Jerusalem and Gaza and Siderot, to Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, and over the whole region. And I am proud to join Salwa, Bassam, Elik and so many others in building a safer, more peaceful world. There is hope to overcome grief, knowing that there are already so many Palestinians and Israelis who refuse to see each other as enemies.

It has been a dark week in the Middle East, marred by loss and hatred. Yet, I cling to the love I have seen between the two sides, to the forgiveness and to the opportunities that reveal the common interests shared by supposed enemies, as we build hope and lay a foundation for peace. I know it exists. I see it. Our work continues.

If you would like to learn more about the building efforts of Combatants for Peace, which are supported by the Rebuilding Alliance, please visit http://www.rebuildingalliance.org

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Tradition, New Year

With the new year upon us now, ornaments will be taken off the family Christmas tree, packed away, and the tree itself will either be left on the curb, if it was real, or boxed away until next year, if it was not.

Today, I will be taking the ornaments off of our tree. But the tree's journey will just be beginning as I partake in a new tradition.

My co-teacher, Jim, gave Ramon and I a small potted Christmas tree. Though, he left it sitting on a table with no note, message, or explanation, Ramon and I knew it was from Jim. And it was. His daughter, my good friend Danika, told me that he only buys potted Christmas trees. It is the ecological farmer in him.

Weeks later, when we joined them on Christmas Eve for dinner, I discovered that there was more to this Christmas tree tradition when they took the ornaments and lights off of the tree and planted it in their backyard. Beautiful, I thought. While most Christmas trees' journeys are ending, this tree's journey was just beginning. Each year, when Christmas is over, the tree is planted in honor of friends and family they have lost in that year.

...Today, I will be planting the Christmas tree Ramon and I were given in honor of my friend Donna's mother, who recently passed, and of my friend Alan's family's significant loss in 2007. Donna and Alan are friends and colleagues from The Rebuilding Alliance, so this tree's life will honor not only their personal losses, but the losses of so many in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and will symbolize hope for a more peaceful future and honor the commitment of so many working tirelessly for that future.

The Good Long Road continues in 2008. I hope it will bring new traditions, new opportunities to love and to share in the act of being peace.

Happy New Year!