We’re working on our third project. Pretty sure these three are going to make the cut. Probably need further tweaking though.
Photos: Carissa Snedeker, 2011. All rights reserved.
I’ve participated as a Democrat in a number of parades in heavily Republican towns, so I am not unfamiliar with less-than friendly receptions. The response to the Reno Coalition of Reason’s entry into the 2011 Nevada Day Parade was, shall we say, interesting.
Contrary to what some of our members thought would happen, we were not pelted with rotten vegetables or screamed at by anyone in the crowd.
There were a number of people who felt the need to shout out that they were good with god. Um. Yeah. We know. Did we say anything to the contrary?
Then there was the young ROTC girl who tried to tell us that all good comes from god and if we’d just . . .
One dude shouted out God Bless America!!!!
And then there was the little boy. Couldn’t have been more than four years old, standing out in front of his family. Somehow this little boy, who likely could not read, knew what our sign meant. Someone had to have told him, “Those people don’t believe in Jesus.” Or did they tell him, “Those people don’t love Jesus?” And so he stood there, in confusion and with the kind of pleading quivering voice that only a three or four-year-old can muster, “Jeeeesuuus… Jeeesuuus…” My heart broke for this little guy whose adult caretakers could not just let this little boy enjoy the day. Gotta wonder about people like that.
Mostly we were met with silence.
Speaking of silence, we’ve let all the local press know about our group. Atheism and freethought is big news, but the Reno media seems too afraid to even talk to us. With the exception of Channel 4 who interviewed us on Tuesday, but never aired it, and KOH who aired it briefly in their news segment, the response has been one very similar to the crowd at the Nevada Day parade. Uncomfortable silence.
Or confusion. There appeared to be a number of people who misread our sign (God? Good? Yeah!!!). One parade goer shouted out, “Reason? What does that mean?” Seriously, how do you answer a question like that?
But we kept smiling and waving and giving out candy.
We felt some push-back from the various announcers along the route. The first announcer, frankly, was the best in reading our highly inflammatory and in-your-face blurb.
The Reno Coalition of Reason membership promotes living in the here and now with this walking entry celebrating the 100 ways people can love and experience the wonders of the natural world and the outdoors. Good without God? Millions are. Celebrate the natural world with the Reno Coalition of Reason.
Yeah. What a bunch of radicals! How dare we show up and talk about how beautiful the world is!
Ever the professional (and I assume all announcers at the parade were paid professionals), he read our blurb with the same professionalism he’d given all his other announcements. The others announcers, with varying degrees, not so much. The worst offender, in my opinion, was the female announcer whose delivery was flat and rushed as though her full intention was to inform the crowd, Yeah, I have to read this crap, but I don’t have to like it, and I want all of you to know it. Her every word screamed I cannot put my feelings aside and do the job I was hired to do in a professional and unbiased manner. (Judge for yourself: Video link)
This is not to say the day was a failure or a downer. Far from it.
By stepping out of the shadows, we let other like-minded folks in the crowd know they aren’t alone. And yes, our people were there too. There were waves and nods and smiles from more than a handful of people. A few enthusiastic hurrahs, some fist pumps, etc. Of particular interest to us were the timid waves, the “down-low” thumbs up. Yeah, we understand. Just glad we could let you know you’ve got a safe place to go if you ever want to join us.
And yeah, we’re already planning our entry for next year. More cohesive clothing, a float perhaps?
We’re not going away, and we’re growing.
Check us out.
Reno Freethinkers (Facebook)
Reno Freethinkers (Meetup)
The Reno Coalition of Reason will be marching in the Nevada Day Parade today. We shall see if we get a good reception, a bad one, or just a few puzzled looks. We’ll all be behind a banner that is designed after our billboards that went up earlier this week, and I made some buttons for all of us to wear.
I know I owe you all the final installment on “The Mission.” I’ll squeeze that in this weekend sometime between taking more photographs for my ART 141 project (“Narrative”) and getting the house ready to face the week.
In the meantime, have some fun over at William Wegman’s place. My particular favorite is “Spelling Lesson” (under the videos dated 1970 – 1977). I could watch that one over and over again.
From my inbox:
For Immediate Release, 27 October 2011
76 secularists and human rights campaigners, including Mina Ahadi, Nawal El Sadaawi, Marieme Helie Lucas, Hameeda Hussein, Ayesha Imam, Maryam Jamil, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasrin, Farida Shaheed, Fatou Sow, and Stasa Zajovic have signed on to a Manifesto for a Free and Secular Middle East and North Africa.
In light of the recent pronouncements of the unelected Libyan Transitional Council for ‘Sharia laws’, the signatories of the manifesto vehemently oppose the hijacking of the protests by Islamism or US-led militarism and unequivocally support the call for freedom and secularism made by citizens and particularly women in the region.
Secularism is a minimum precondition for a free and secular Middle East and for the recognition of women’s rights and equality.
We call on world citizens to support this important campaign by signing on to our petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/world-citizens-defend-a-free-and-secular-middle-east-and-north-africa.
We also ask that supporters click ‘like’ on our Facebook page to support this important campaign: http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Free-and-Secular-Middle-East-and-North-Africa/271164176261820#!/pages/A-Free-and-Secular-Middle-East-and-North-Africa/271164176261820 and Tweet: #freesecularMENA in support of a free and secular Middle East and North Africa.
VERSION FRANÇAISE CI DESSOUS
FRENCH, ARABIC AND PERSIAN VERSIONS BELOW
Manifesto for a Secular Middle East and North Africa
The 2009 protests in Iran followed by the Arab Spring have the potential to herald a new dawn for the people of the region and the world. The protests have clearly shown that people in the region, like people everywhere, want to live 21st century lives.
We, the undersigned, emphasise their modern and human dimension and wholeheartedly welcome this immense and historical development. We are vehemently opposed to their hijacking by Islamism or US-led militarism and support the call for a free and secular Middle East and North Africa made by citizens and particularly women in the region.
Secularism is a minimum precondition for the freedom and equality of all citizens and includes:
1. Complete separation of religion from the state.
2. Abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes.
3. Separation of religion from the educational system.
4. Freedom of religion and atheism as private beliefs.
5. Prohibition of sex apartheid and compulsory veiling.
Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson, International Committees against Stoning and Execution, Iran/Germany
Marieme Helie Lucas, Sociologist, Founder and former international coordinator of Women Living Under Muslim Laws and founder of Secularism Is A Women’s Issue, Algeria/France
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Iran/UK
Shahla Abghari, University Professor, Iran/USA
Siavash Abghari, Esmail Khoi Foundation, Iran/USA
Ahlam Akram, Palestinian Peace and Human Rights Writer and Campaigner, Palestine/UK
Sargul Ahmad, Women’s Liberation in Iraq, Iraq/Canada
Mahin Alipour, Coordinator, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Iran/Sweden
Reza Alkrami, Human Rights Activist, Iran/USA
Farideh Arman, Coordinator, Committee to Defend Women’s Rights, Iran/Sweden
Sultana Begum, Regional Gender Adviser, Diakonia Asia, Bangladesh
Djemila Benhabib, Writer, Algeria/Canada
Codou Bop, Journalist and Director of GREFELS, Dakar, Senegal
Ariane Brunet, co-founder Urgent Action Fund, Québec, Canada
Micheline Carrier, Sisyphe, Québec, Canada
Patty Debonitas, Iran Solidarity, UK
Denise Deliège Femmes En Noir, Belgium
Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Sweden
Fanny Filosof, Femmes en Noir, Belgium
Mersedeh Ghaedi, New Channel TV Programme host, Iran/Norway
Groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les lois, Dakar, Senegal
Laura Guidetti, Marea Feminist Magazine, Italy
Zeinabou Hadari, Centre Reines Daura, Niger
Anissa Hélie, Historian, Algeria/France/USA
Rohini Henssman, Human Rights Activist, India
Hameeda Hossein, Chairperson Ain o Salish Kendra, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Khayal Ibrahim, Women’s Liberation in Iraq, Iraq/Canada
Leo Igwe, Founder, Nigerian Humanist Movement, Nigeria
Ayesha Imam, Women’s Human Rights and Democracy Activist, Nigeria/Senegal
International Campaign in Defence of Women’s Rights in Iran, Sweden
International Committee against Execution, Germany
International Committee against Stoning, Germany
Iran Solidarity, Iran/UK
Maryam Jamil, Women’s Liberation in Iraq, Iraq
Sultana Kamal, Executive Director, Ain o Salish Kendra and Chairperson Transparency International, Bangladesh
Abbas Kamil, Unity Against Unemployment in Iraq, Baghdad, Iraq
Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web, India
Akbar Karimian, Human Rights Activist, Iran/UK
Cherifa Kheddar, President of Djazairouna, Algeria
Monica Lanfranco, Marea Feminist Magazine, Italy
Houzan Mahmoud, Representative of Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Iraq/UK
Nahla Elgaali Mahmoud, Biologist, Sudan/UK
Anwar Mir Sattari, Human rights Activist, Iran/Belgium
Amena Mohsin, Professor, Dept. International Relations Dhaka University, Bangladesh
Khawar Mumtaz, Director Shirkat Gah, Lahore, Pakistan
Taslima Nasrin, Writer and Activist, Bangladesh
U. M. Habibun Nessa, President, Naripokkho, Bangladesh
Partow Nooriala, Poet, Writer and Human Rights Activist, Iran/USA
Asghar Nosrati, Human Rights Activist, Iran/Sweden
One Law for All, UK
Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters, UK
Fariborz Pooya, Iranian Secular Society, Iran/UK
Protagora, Zagreb, Croatia
Hassan Radwan, Activist, Egypt/UK
Mary Jane Real, Women’s Human Rights Coalition, Manila, The Philippines
Edith Rubinstein, Femmes en Noir, Belgium
Nawal El Sadaawi, Writer, Egypt
Fahimeh Sadeghi, Coordinator, International Federation of Iranian Refugees, Iran/Canada
Gita Sahgal, Director, Centre for Secular Space, UK
Nina Sankari, Secularist and Feminist, Poland
Secularism Is A Women’s Issue (International Network)
Aisha Lee Shaheed, London, UK
Farida Shaheed, Shirkat Gah, Lahore, Pakistan
Siba Shakib, Filmmaker, Writer and Activist, Iran/USA
Sohaila Sharifi, Women’s Rights Campaigner, Iran/UK
Issam Shukri, Head, Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq, Iraq/Canada
Southall Black Sisters, UK
Fatou Sow, Sociologist CNRS, Dakar, Senegal
Afsaneh Vahdat, Coordinator, International Campaign for Women’s Rights in Iran, Iran/Sweden
Lino Veljak, Professor of Philosophy, Zagreb University, Croatia
Fauzia Viqar, Director Advocacy and Communications, Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre, Lahore, Pakistan
Anne Marie Waters, One Law for All, UK
Vivienne Wee, anthropologist, feminist and human rights activist, Singapore and Hong Kong, China
Women In Black, Belgrade, Serbia
Sara Zaker, Theatre Director, Bangladesh
Stasa Zajovic, spokesperson Women in Black, Belgrade, Serbia
Twenty years ago I was the general manager at Carrows in Foster City. Twenty years ago, from October 19 – 23, the Oakland Hills were ablaze. Standing by helplessly has never been my strong suit, so we did what we could. The firefighters needed food, and people from all over were helping out.
We made sandwiches. Roast Beef. Turkey. Dry. We’d heard stories of firefighters stuffing sandwiches in their jackets to eat later and getting sick from the mayonnaise. We wrapped cornbread into individual portions. And then we tucked it all in the back of my ’89 Dodge Colt.
It was dark by the time I left the restaurant and as I drove across the San Mateo bridge to head north to Oakland, I saw the hills on fire. The eeriest thing I’ve ever seen.
The effects of that fire are still being felt today and that is something for Sweetie and I to keep in mind as we navigate the aftermath of the air races crash.
As victims began to deal with the trauma of the fire, their dreams also began to change. People dreamed of confronting overwhelming physical obstacles — tidal waves or floods, metaphors for the fire — directly and often successfully. After months of therapy, one heavily traumatized survivor dreamed of fending off environmental terrorists who had invaded his neighborhood.
“As you work out the trauma, there are trial-and-error stages,” Siegel said. “Nine months after the fire, this guy saved his neighborhood from environmental terrorists in a dream. There you can see the evolution of resolution.”
Siegel also found that people who had escaped the fire without significant damage to their homes or their loved ones were wracked with the worst cases of post-traumatic stress. They were bedeviled by survivor’s guilt because the community perceived them — mistakenly, it turned out — to be immune from trauma and fear.
I’ve been a bit busy lately. Family, work, my photography class, and being involved with the good people that have brought us this:
The one above has just gone up on I-80 W (west of Robb Drive) and the one below on 395 N (south of Mt Rose junction).
We’ll be marching in the Nevada Day parade this Saturday.
. . . And there’s this: parents who, particularly in this country, are expected to be superhuman, to raise children who outpace all their peers, don’t want to see what we see. The long truth about their children, about themselves: that none of it is forever.
I would walk through a tunnel of fire if it would save my son. I would take my chances on a stripped battlefield with a sling and a rock à la David and Goliath if it would make a difference. But it won’t. I can roar all I want about the unfairness of this ridiculous disease, but the facts remain. What I can do is protect my son from as much pain as possible, and then finally do the hardest thing of all, a thing most parents will thankfully never have to do: I will love him to the end of his life, and then I will let him go.
Shameless, but not surprising. I have come to expect this from both legacy parties.
Vast Left reports:
Over my dead body. And I can make my own sign, thank you very much.
Joseph Stiglitz (Vanity Fair, May 2011)
The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had. They also worry about strong government—one that could use its powers to adjust the balance, take some of their wealth, and invest it for the common good. The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but in truth they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes.
[ . . . ]
The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.
A few days ago I wrote:
. . . there is no cosmic lesson we are required to learn.
To that I’d like to add, What a relief!
It is enough to just deal with the here-and-now. I cannot tell you how relieved I am that we don’t have the added obligation of trying to glean “meaning” from tragedy.
This is not to say that we haven’t been profoundly affected by the crash and all that followed. Nor is it that I haven’t taken time to examine my life and my priorities, or have failed to appreciate those who have held us in their love and concern. But what a relief it is not to be tormented by feeling we must search for the eternal why. The what-ifs are enough.
The Nurse was Sweetie’s touchstone. It was her voice that kept him moving through the awfulness.
So you can understand why Sweetie wanted to know who she was. To find her. To talk to her again. We knew she was from St. Mary’s. That was all we knew. And Sweetie’s recollection of what people looked like was distorted by what he saw that day. Oil, blood, body parts, more blood. He thought she was a tall muscular woman with dirty blonde hair.
I made it my mission to find The Nurse.
Saturday, September 17th was a numb day. We did not leave the house. We read everything we could about the crash. We pored over photographs. We watched You Tube videos over and over again. And Sweetie kept talking about The Nurse. And we cried.
On Sunday we knew we needed a change of scenery, so our daughter joined us and the dogs on a hike up at Spooner Lake. It helped for a bit. And we cried some more.
Our friend, Cindy, worked behind the scenes to find counseling help for us. We also learned of a Family Resource Center at the Hyatt Place Hotel where we’d heard there would be mental health counselors to help. We’d heard the Red Cross was available too.
We both went to work on Monday. We thought the distraction would help. Eh, not so much. I sent an email to Gabrielle at Trauma Intervention Program asking for pointers on where to go… not for me so much, but for Sweetie. She replied that she would call me later and in the meantime attached some information on dealing with trauma. It was helpful. Around noon or so, Sweetie called to me he’d gone down to the Hyatt Place and spent an hour talking with some mental health counselors. It helped some, he said. You should go down there too, he said. They are going to set us up with counseling at the Red Cross, but you should go down there today, he said.
I left work at about 2:45 and arrived at 3pm only to find that they’d closed up shop and left. The front desk clerk told I could call 211 and talk to someone. I started bawling as I walked back to the car. I got in the car and immediately called 211. The auto-answer said I was 11th in line to talk to someone. And a few minutes later the same auto-voice came on the line again to tell me that I was still 11th in line. And a few minutes later the voice told me the same thing. And then again. I called Sweetie. They’re gone! I just wanted to talk to someone and they’re gone! And then I called the number, but they keep telling me I’m 11th in line and I just want to talk to somebody who’s not you…
Sweetie told me to call Chris at the Red Cross but when I called I got the answering machine, so I left a semi-incoherent voice mail and hung up. Then I tried calling Gabrielle at the Trauma Intervention Program and, once again, instead of a live person I got voice mail. So, I left a tearful message there as well.
Turns out, while I was trying to call Chris at the Red Cross, Sweetie had called her at the same time demanding that she get hold of me right away because I was losing it in a parking lot at the Hyatt Place. While she was on the phone with him I called and she had to gently tell him he needed to hang up because I’m pretty sure your wife is trying to call me right now.
Chris called me back and talked me down. She asked me if I wanted to come over to the Red Cross right then and talk to her. Yes, please. I headed over there and met with Chris. Chris was an old-time Red Cross volunteer who’d done time at the World Trade Center in the aftermath of 9/11, so she was a veteran. We had a very frank talk. At one point my cell phone rang, but I ignored it. The caller left a voice mail.
Sweetie showed up while I was talking with Chris, and he waited for me until Chris and I were through, and then he and I walked out to the parking lot, kissed each other and said, I’ll see you at home.
But first, I had a voice mail to listen to. It was Gabrielle, and I called her back. She listened and talked to me for a half hour. Somewhere during our talk I told her about my mission. She had a contact at St. Mary’s. She said she would see what she could do to help.
To be continued . . .