“I’m Gonna Walk It With You”

The world amazes me – even in this dark time.  I was feeling particularly down this week with all the talk about eliminating funding for the arts and humanities.  We (and so many others that I know and love) are living, working artists. And, while we don’t depend directly on federal funding – it is part of the wide web of support we rely on. Art – in its many expressions holds a mirror to who we are – the best and the worst  of what it is to be human. Funded or not, artists will always find a way to create – they can’t help themselves.  But – around the world, throughout time – the strongest communities and most vibrant cultures celebrate, support, encourage and protect the creative spirits among us.

Imagine my surprise when, in my sad state, five different people sent me a link to the same video and, the singer/songwriters turned out to be related to some dear friends.  Moved as I was by their song, I had to hear the story of its journey – so I found my way to Brian and Ellie who are happy to have me share it with you.

Brian Claflin and Ellie Grace are songwriting partners, musical collaborators, and old friends. The first seed of their song started as a Thanksgiving morning present of friendship and solidarity from Brian to Ellie. Over the next few weeks they went back and forth – writing lines to one another via email finishing it together in December while they put the final touches on a recording they’d been working on.

Brian described what happened next –  We had no intention of including this new, barely-finished song as a late addition to the album, but did feel a certain urgency about the song and  need to share it, in however meager a form, with our friends and the world at large, as an expression of our need to have, and offer, hope during an often hopeless-feeling time. We hastily recorded a video on Ellie’s phone, while reading off a lyric sheet just out of frame, and posted it on FB. Within 48 hours it had 100K views. So, we went back into the (home) studio to record a proper version of the song.  (That original post now has over 200K views)

Ellie continued the story – We have lost track, at this point, of the full extent of the amazing journey this song has been on since we finished writing it in December, but it has traveled all across the world and been sung at protests, marches, houses of worship (churches, synagogues), women’s groups, schools, colleges, yoga classes, equality summits, concerts, MLK gatherings, state houses, community sings. It leaves us in total awe as it was a song that poured out of our hearts, with no idea of how/if other people would connect to it. (Check out the Women’s March in Utah where over 10,000 people sang an abridged version in the Utah State Capitol)

So, in your postcards and calls this week – consider adding support of the arts to your list. If I’ve done my math right – the cost for these programs comes to about $2.29 per person. The quilt block below is part of a larger peace quilt that poured out of my heart during the build up to the Iraq war- just as the song did for Brian and Ellie about today’s challenges.

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Section of Peace Quilt by Debbie Block

Did you know there was a U.S. Department of Arts and Culture? It’s a people-powered  grassroots action network inciting creativity and social imagination to shape a culture of empathy, equity and belonging. How great is that?!

Ideas and Information

I istened to the Sunday evening Resistance Phone call sponsored by MoveOn.  It was informative, well-run and inspiring.  The next one is on March 12th – you can participate by phone or online.

Suggested actions for the coming week:

Remember to check the link section on the right – The65 has an updated list of current issues, scripts and contacts.  Really user-friendly!

If you want to focus your attention in two areas consider donating time, resources and money to organizations supporting the Trans community and Immigrant communities.

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Immigration – use the #NoBanNoWallNoRaids in your social media. Sanctuary cities, churches, campuses are needed. Want to learn more?  And, for immigrant rights.

Check out the Southern Poverty Law Center and their work to Teach Tolerance, expose Hate Groups and protect Transgender youth and contact GLSEN  for specific information on supporting the LGBT community.

You can call or email the US Dept of Education’s Office for Civil Rights at 800-421-3481 or email: ocr@ed.gov to report Betsy Devos for discriminating against trans and gender nonconforming youth.

Next action from the Women’s March – General Strike  MARCH 8.

While Michael Moore can sometimes drive me crazy – he’s written a 10 point list for activism (scroll down, you’ll get there) that I recommend checking out.  He’s also created  The Resistance Calendar  where you can search for and add events – a true peoples’ calendar and a great resource.

Here’s a 5 minute read from Arianna Huffington that I found particularly useful. …The goal of any true resistance is to affect outcomes, not just to vent. And the only way to affect outcomes and thrive in our lives, is to find the eye in the hurricane, and act from that place of inner strength…

HOPE is evident:

More than 100,000 people organized or joined more than 600 events this past week during  “Resistance Recess” while members of Congress were home from Washington. Many elected officials met with large and angry crowds and those who didn’t show up were called out by equally large and angry crowds.

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Democrat Stephanie Hansen won in Delaware’s special election for the state Senate district.

According to Politico, President Obama is behind this new organization to protect democracy.  Don’t you miss him? And, don’t even get me started on missing Michelle.

Article by Rumana Ahmed -a Muslim American woman who worked in the White House as part of President Obama’s National Security Council but lasted only 8 days in Trump’s White House. My father taught me a Bengali proverb inspired by Islamic scripture: “When a man kicks you down, get back up, extend your hand, and call him brother.” Peace, patience, persistence, respect, forgiveness, and dignity. These were the values I’ve carried through my life and my career.

Inspiration

Finally, coming back to the importance of art in our lives, if you need to leave the noise behind, check out Beth Moon’s amazing photos  of the world’s oldest trees.

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photo by Beth Moon

Knowing that we share the same planet with these wise ones gives me endless hope.

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photo by Beth Moon

Here’s to you, here’s to us – all in it together.