Sunday, December 27, 2009

In Need of a Good Graphic Designer

Just before Christmas, I was lucky enough to speak at length with Suzanne Romaine, a seasoned PBS station relations professional at KQED in San Francisco. She gave me all sorts of tips on how to get The Insular Empire broadcast on as many PBS stations as possible. One of the many pearls of wisdom that fell from her mouth: "Get your program announcement out to stations on January 5th."

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.

Military to Guam: Now that we've taken all your public land... just go bowling!

The Marianas Variety recently published an article about recommendations included in the Guam military buildup Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in which the military is recommending that the local people take up indoor activities once all their public land has been taken away.

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

David Letterman skit on Guam

This skit basically sums up what most Americans know about the Marianas. Maybe I should send a copy of The Insular Empire to David Letterman?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Guam to be featured on NOW/PBS - THIS FRIDAY -Dec. 11

This Friday, December 11th, at 8:30pm, Now on PBS will debut an episode about the planned military buildup of Guam. (PBS stations program their shows independently, so be sure to check with your local stations for exact times and dates.) It focuses on the military's plans to bring 79,000 new residents into Guam by 2014 as part of their $15 billion militarization of the Marianas. I know the producers of this show interviewed Hope Cristobal (and many others involved in Guam's response to the buildup), and I can't wait to see it!

The show can also be viewed on the web after 8:30pm EST on Dec 11th, at

Monday, December 7, 2009

Japan to Propose Adding Environmental Regulations to US Bases Treaty

Until reading this recent article in Japan's Mainichi Daily News, I was unaware that US military bases in Japan are not subject to any environmental regulation. I've become familiar enough with how the US military conducts business in US territories that this didn't entirely surprise me -- but how could a first-world, industrialized, independent country like Japan allow unmitigated environmental contamination on its own soil by the US military?

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

Another Interesting Marianas Blog

This one is in the CNMI:

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

The Drowning Mermaid: Honk if You Hear Me!

The Drowning Mermaid: Honk if You Hear Me!

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!