Sunday, December 27, 2009
Hello good advice – goodbye Christmas vacation!
As a former graphic designer, I know that a good program announcement needs to convey the graphic identity of the film. So this afternoon, over turkey leftovers and a big glass of hot chocolate, I sat down to try to come up with a 'look' for The Insular Empire. The good news is, I now know what I want. The bad news is, I can't do it myself.
Yes, I did say that I used to be a graphic designer... but that was about ten years and eight versions of Photoshop ago. So, I'm looking for someone who is a (current) master at Photoshop who can help me. This week.
Here's the mockup I've come up with:
If anyone out there knows of a good graphic designer who is available to help me implement this properly, THIS WEEK, please let me know! Thanks.
I'm serious. I couldn't make something like that up. Check it out for yourself. There are so many things wrong with this I don't even know where to begin.
My mother (a retired city planner) says that if an EIS includes 'mitigation' activities it is more likely to get passed - which is probably why they stuck this provision in. But she also says that Guam needs to give the EIS back to the military, saying that there are all kinds of problems with it and that they need more time to assess it. If anyone out there wants to pick her experienced city planner brain on the specifics of this, just send me an email.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The show can also be viewed on the web after 8:30pm EST on Dec 11th, at www.pbs.org/now.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Part of the answer may lie in the simple fact that the US/Japan Status-of-Forces agreement was signed in 1960, based on the Japan-U.S. treaty of mutual cooperation and security - back when environmental regulations weren't top of mind. (And far from being popular with the Japanese, the treaty was, in fact, violently opposed by many in the Japanese Diet; mass opposition riots even led to the resignation of Japan's Prime Minister, Nobusuke Kishi. The treaty only passed by default, when Japan's House of Councillors failed to vote on the issue in time.)
As to why no one has bothered to amend this agreement in the intervening fifty years and add in some environmental protections - that answer may lie in the simple fact that the vast majority of US military bases in Japan are located in Okinawa. While Okinawa has been a part of Japan since 1879, and is represented in the Japanese legislature, the Okinawan people have a distinct language and culture from the rest of Japan. Many Okinawans feel that they have been colonized -- both by Japan and, with Japan's blessing, by the US military. Okinawa was, in fact, under US administration for 27 years -- from 1945 until 1972 -- meaning that, technically, all those Okinawa bases weren't part of Japan when the Status-of-Forces agreement was signed in 1960. And the Okinawans have, until recently, held little political power in Tokyo.
The good news is that the new Japanese government is finally paying attention to the Okinawans. And getting the US military to take responsibility for the environment it operates in is one of the bargaining chips being put on the table. The question now is, will Washington pay any attention?
Friday, December 4, 2009
I particularly like her editorial at the bottom of this post about the dire state of affairs in Saipan, and who is to blame. While I do agree in part with the commentator (and it would be nice to know who this person is), that Saipan's current mess is in part their own doing, I also believe that the islands still have a lot going for them. And I believe that while their leadership may have succumbed to individual greed and/or malfeasance, the problem is much bigger and deeper rooted -- and until people understand these underlying issues, the same problems are likely to persist.
Good leadership, under the best of circumstances, is hard to come by. When you've been someone else's colonial subject for generations, when you come from a culture that thinks about power and wealth and reciprocity in a radically different way than the culture of the colonizing countries, and when you've got the world's biggest military power breathing down your neck... well, let's just say true leadership isn't likely to flourish. Not impossible, but not likely. Ghandi's are few and far between.
But I also believe that the islands have everything they need to turn things around for themselves. I've been impressed with the new generation of local activists rising in response to the military buildup on Guam. And the northern Marianas holds a wealth of cultural knowledge that they can share with their cousins on Guam - a wealth of knowledge to help restore faith in themselves as a unique and important people. The Mariana Islands and their people are resilient - they just need to believe in their own power. And -- and this is probably the hardest part -- they need to come together and put aside petty differences and old hurts. Progress will come when the people recognize that they need to be the ones to help their islands, because no one else is ever going to do it for them.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I just discovered a wonderful Guam blog by Desiree Taimanglo-Ventura -- a truly gifted and accomplished writer, with a passion for her tiny island that is heart-warming and inspiring. Check it out!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The bill evidently made its way out of the House Committee on Natural Resources by unanimous consent. According to Congresswoman Bordallo, "The full committee’s approval of H.R. 3940 signals that political status education for non-self-governing territories is a priority for the committee that has jurisdiction over the territories."
More information on H.R. 3940, including joint testimony in support of the legislations, can be found here.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Yes We Can (But We Won't): Obama, Hatoyama and Okinawa
Thursday, November 12, 2009
One of the things we discussed was bringing The Insular Empire to Guam for a premiere screening in the spring, as part of the GHC's NEH-funded civic engagement program around the impending military buildup. According to Kimberlee, "the purpose of the project is to allow Guam residents at the community level the opportunity to discuss the impending expansion and its implications in a meaningful, non-confrontational way through the use of "texts", i.e., poems, excerpts from short stories and essays, and film. With the project, we want to provide a space to encourage residents to talk with each other openly and reflectively about the buildup so they can be better informed and more civically engaged."
(Now of course, IMHO, giving the good folks of Guam a vote in Congress, or at least giving them some say in how, when, and if the buildup occurs, would be a better idea... but the NEH doesn't fund that sort of thing. So I guess you have to just take what you can get.)
The GHC is planning on screening The Insular Empire as a part of this project, and they are inviting me and some of the film's participants to Guam to speak with audiences there. I really am honored to be included in this project, and I can't wait to finally bring the film back to Guam!
Friday, November 6, 2009
For those of us interested in the US military buildup on Guam, it's interesting to see how the planned realignment affects larger geopolitical affairs. Come to think of it, Guam has been a lynchpin in large geopolitical affairs for centuries... and STILL it gets only the tiniest mention. (one word, actually, in the Reuters article). Of course the article doesn't say much about Okinawa, either...
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Hope Cristobal (Sr.) has a possible explanation:
"I believe the Congresswoman is asking for an allotment of about $300,000, not much compared to what Guam spent for the Guam draft commonwealth act that was turned down by Congress Oct 1997."
Monday, November 2, 2009
However - and this is where you, dear reader, fit in - it's up to the individual stations whether or not they choose to grab the show and air it. So if we want this film to have a truly national broadcast, it's going to be up to us to make sure it happens - by letting our PBS stations know that we want to see The Insular Empire on Public TV. As soon as I have a feed date from NETA, I will be posting a letter here that you can print out and send directly to your PBS stations, telling them about the show and urging them to air it.
So stay tuned for more info to come...
Thanks, Si Yu'us maase, and Olomwaay for your continued support!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Si Yu’us maase!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Driving directions to the CSUEB campus are here.
Here is the link for the campus map.
And here is the facebook page for the event.
And lastly, after much discussion and consultation (and many thanks to all of you who participated in my surveys)... I've decided to stick with the original title of The Insular Empire: America in the Marianas. No, it's not perfect -- but it seems to be closer to perfect than anything else we were all able to come up with!
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
- If you know of a funding source we should apply to, please let me know.
- Throw a fundraising party! It's fun, it'll make you really popular, AND it will help us out. Send me an email and I'll send you a DVD screener w/ info on how to collect donations. It's that easy!
- Tell other people about the film and show them how to donate. Hey, it's tax deductible! It's good for the economy! It's good for the planet! And it's easy.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Here's the current situation: the military holds most of the power, the Chamorus have almost no international recognition, and their environment is in dire straits. Given this sorry state of affairs, my personal feeling is that it would be politically astute for local people to jump on the environmental bandwagon. Yes, the environmental protection laws are made by people who know nothing about Chamoru custom or culture. Yes, the people enforcing those laws are usually just as ignorant. But protecting the environment serves everyone's long-term interests -- especially the Chamorus', because when the military is long gone, the Chamorus will still be there. And if there aren't any turtle or fruitbats or coconut crabs left, it's going to hurt them more than anyone.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I ended the conference over a delicious French dinner with Lisa and a lovely woman named Lotus, an activist from Berkeley – but I woke up the next morning to four inches of snow and a case of the flu. Rob and Elisa’s kids went sledding, while I sipped hot tea and went back to bed. Tuesday I wasn’t feeling much better, but I managed to get myself out of the house in order to get some paperwork signed at the Department of the Interior.
To get there, I took a city bus that dropped me off near the White House. I was delighted to see that the barricades erected during the Bush/Cheney years are now gone, and the White House is once again visible from the street. There were even some people protesting in front of the gate, without police harassment, including a very effective group dressed as prisoners from Guantamo Bay.
As I made my way closer to the Department of the Interior, I began to notice more and more police cars on the street, then cars from Homeland Security and Federal Protective Services.
I retraced my steps to the back entrance, dropped off my paperwork (the guy I wanted to have sign it was busy waiting for the President), then I waited in the icy cold hoping to spot President Obama as he walked in. After half an hour I finally gave up and hailed a cab – but no sooner had I closed the cab door than the sirens started and traffic stopped, and a few minutes later the motorcade passed in front of us. I grabbed my camera, and this is all I was able to see:
But I’ve zoomed in on this photo, and I think I see the President’s silhouette in the window. I swear he’s looking right at me, and smiling.
Once the motorcade passed, the cab took me to the National Museum of the American Indian, where I met an old friend for lunch. The Museum is a treasure, and worth a visit if only for a delicious meal served in its magnificent cafeteria – all of the food indigenous, and organized by tribal region. (They didn't, of course, have any Chamorro food. Maybe someone should suggest it. How cool would that be, to get chicken kelaguen on the Mall?!) I only had an hour and a half to spend visiting the museum itself, which was nowhere near enough time to take in all the stories, exhibits, films, artifacts… but enough to know I need to go back again.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Lisa turns out to be lovely, articulate, and smart. It was worth the trip just to meet her. After some less-than-ideal scheduling snafus, we managed to screen the film twice, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Several people (Lisa included) were even moved to tears. (Definitely an odd feeling, as a filmmaker: satisfaction in making people cry.) The delegation from Okinawa descended on me afterwards to ask how they could bring the film to Okinawa this summer. I’ve also met a lot of people interested in showing the film to their various constituencies – from Puerto Rico to New Orleans to Honolulu – and made contacts that I hope will help with the film’s outreach once it’s done.
At the end of the conference, American University host professor David Vine led us all to a closing ceremony at the far edge of the AU campus, at a small clearing next to an ugly construction site. I was beginning to question his sense of spatial aesthetics (why were we having a closing ceremony between a construction site and the bus depot?) when he began explaining that the clearing was actually a toxic military clean-up site.
The ceremony ended with Lisa pouring a bowl filled with water brought by participants from the many different oceans of the world, at the base of a tree in the clearing. We all placed roses on the tree, and a Kanaka Maoli delegate from Hawaii said a Hawaiian prayer for peace. I felt badly for the tiny bulb shoots around the tree that the group was inadvertently trampling underfoot (you had to be a gardener from northern climes, I guess, to recognize the tiny budding life in the wintry landscape), but the ceremony did leave us all with a sense of peace and common purpose.
And now – time to visit the Department of the Interior, and to see some of the city.
Friday, February 27, 2009
I've also updated our website (at long last, and with late-night help from my unbelievably helpful husband Nik). If you haven't checked it out lately, please do: www.horseopera.org. It's bare-bones, and nothing fancy, but it's clean and up-to-date. I'm hoping to work on a much bigger, richer website in the months to come...
Other accomplishments from the whirlwind of the last two weeks: I've nailed down a venue in LA for a fundraising screening next Sunday (more info on that in my next post), sent in two more funding applications, upgraded my organizational and financial systems, and finally found a good bookkeeper. I got a screening time at the AFSC/IPS conference being held in DC this weekend (hence the flight I'm on), and I even managed to get my hair cut. I'll drink a toast (ginger ale and pretzel snacks, please) to the end of February... may March be just as productive, but a little less hectic!
As for what's up next... this is my first trip to DC in many years, and only my second trip to the US since Obama's election. I am curious to see how things may have changed in my absence. And part of me, lately, is very very homesick... I have been in Canada now for over four years, and I feel like my American identity is slowly fading. Here I am, making a film about what it means to be American, and I myself no longer know. So part of this trip will be trying to figure that out.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
I sit on the board of the Documentary Organisation of Canada, BC chapter (DOC-BC), which runs a monthly screening of local independent documentaries and works-in-progress. The "DOC-screens" committee has agreed to have their next event be a rough cut screening of The Insular Empire, at a very cool little cafe/artist space in Yaletown, called Raw Canvas. My fellow DOC-BC board member, Adelina Suvagau, has also agreed to feature the screening in her weekly show on Omni, Rompost TV.