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ALERT: difficult to view photos below.

Woe to those who plan iniquity,
to those who plot evil on their beds!
At morning’s light they carry it out
because it is in their power to do it.
They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them.
They defraud people of their homes,
they rob them of their inheritance.   

Micah 2

PHOTOS

Historically, prophets have abounded in the Levant, historic Palestine, among them Abraham, his wife Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Obadiah, Amos, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Uriah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, Malachi, Deborah, Esther and Jesus himself. Navi, the Hebrew word for prophet, derives from niv sefatayim, meaning fruit of the lips, a speaker. Conventionally thought of as women and men gifted with predicting the future, their more crucial role is often to confront the power structure—often at the risk of their own lives. Are they all sealed into scripture, long expired, known by texts only? I doubt it.

Yeshayahu Leibowitz

Observing Israeli intoxication by power after the lightning victory of the Six Day War in 1967, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, known by some as a “prophet of wrath, harbinger of the future,” spoke against the Israeli occupation of Palestine up to his death in 1994. He stated, “if we maintain the violent repression of people they will revolt and commit terrorist acts. And we will use all means to suppress this…. The moment nationality becomes the highest human value that is fascism.” Altho recognized by Israel for his contributions to chemistry, philosophy and religion, when he spoke against the occupation he was hated, derided, and excoriated by the state and its populace, but not defeated. The tradition of prophets from that region continues.

As I write Gaza suffers one of its worst assaults in the past 10 years, a string including Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, killing 1,500 people, upwards of 80% civilian, Operation Pillar of Fire in 2012, and most recently “Operation Solid Cliff” (a.k.a. Protective Edge). A limited air assault purported to end rocket fire into Israeli civilian areas has become a major ground assault. Four children innocently playing on the main Gaza City beach were murdered by Israel. Eight members of the Abu Jarads family in Beit Hanoun were killed by Israeli artillery in another attack. The El Wafa Medical Rehabilitation hospital was totally destroyed. The Shejaia district, east of Gaza City, has perhaps suffered the most. Some 72 Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed on Sunday as the Israeli army searched for tunnels.

The UN and various human rights groups estimate some 75% of the casualties are civilian. As of July 30, 2014 (numbers increase daily), according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in collaboration with humanitarian partners, 1,170 Palestinians are dead, including 127 women and 232 children, more than 7,000 injured, at least 215,000 displaced persons are sheltered by UNRWA (United Nation Refugee Works Administration, responsible for Palestinian refugees) schools and other shelters, most of the 1.8 million lack adequate access to water and sanitation services, and nearly all receive electricity 4 hours per day. While 57 Israelis have died, including 54 soldiers, with many injured. Three Israeli civilians have died from Gazan rocket and mortar attacks.

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SOURCE: U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Israeli Defense Forces. (published in the Washington Post, frequently updated)

Israel attacks anything connected with Hamas, which besides constituting a military organization, is the municipality of Gaza, providing all the usual services, mostly civilian. President Obama declares his unwavering support of Israel, saying, “No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunneling into its territory,” I would ask the president, what nation or region would accept a total siege and periodic military attacks that kill civilians, ruin infrastructure, control all entrance into the territory, and label any resistance as terror?

Thru my 11 years of photographic work in the region I’ve made many friends, Palestine and Israeli. This is a blessing and a curse because I feel heart-connected with the violence, in touch with people there—while, on a minor level, suffering with them. I joined the one-day international fast for solidarity with those who suffer, intensifying my connection. I attend and photograph local demonstrations, vigils, and marches. I report nearly daily to my email list of those who’ve expressed interest in my work and the issues. This blog entry is my first attempt to more specifically explain the situation as I view it and my feelings.

David Nir

They peaked when David Nir, an Israeli activist and friend living in Jaffa-Tel Aviv forwarded a set of photos allegedly of Gaza. Like him and others who’d circulated the photos I was horrified. They were easily the most disturbing images of violence I had ever viewed. I warn the reader about the following photographs.

Why are “my people” so anxious to create Hell upon Earth?

It is astonishing how the collective field here (i.e. the “Jewish” sector) has so swiftly become totally engulfed in sleep and automatism;  except few, the majority is willingly blind to the ongoing butchery and agony of the Palestinians.

If you find it wholesome, please do as you wish with the photos. (I assume you have similar photos from 2008/9).

—David

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Please convert and distribute this message to everyone you know around the world
الرجاء ارسالها الى كل من تعرف حول العالم 
 
علي السنتريسي ali santrisi
pbc – Palestine TV \ presenter
تلفزيون فلسطين – معد ومقدم برامج
00972599210912 -
امين سر المكتب الحركي للصحفيين في اريحا  

Nomika Zion

Another Israeli friend, Nomika Zion, living in Sderot, the small Israeli town built on Arab lands less than one mile from Gaza, asked me if I could verify that these were indeed current Gaza photos.

Dark dark days in Israel and in Palestine in so many ways.

Horrible pictures, horrible reality, and so much violence everywhere. I’m hardly breathing the air around me.

Tnx for sharing, although it’s so painful to look at the mirror.

A few days later:

Question: who took these horrible pictures and how do u know that all of it are coming from the war in Gaza?

I would like to forward it, but I want to make sure that I’m sending accurate and reliable information.

Someone told me that people distribute pics from Syria under the Gaza war title.

Pls, let me know, it’s very important.

Tnx,

About the authenticity of the photos, here’s what I learned:

Using watermark identification on some of the photos and the name of the person who I think initiated the chain I found these links.

Ali Alsntrici, Palestinian journalist based in Jericho

Ain Media, based in Gaza

Belal Mhareb, photographer, Gaza

David Nir is convinced they are authentic and Uri Davis, an Israeli Jewish activist, who spread the photos seems also convinced.

Rana Baker

For further confirmation here’s a portion of an interview by a young Gazan friend, Rana Baker, who studied photography with me in 2012,  with her father, a physician working in El Shifa hospital, the main Gaza City hospital. I am convinced that whether these particular photos are recent and from Gaza, they accurately depict the carnage of Gaza.

… My father, Basil Baker, is a neurosurgeon, a Cairo graduate who works at al-Shifa hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip. We live just across the road from this hospital, except that now I live in London….

“Not all wars are the same,” he said. “Incursions in the past were not as bad. This time, most of the injuries fall into one of two categories: first, there are injuries which are the direct result of missiles; these are often very severe, body parts ripped apart. The other category consists of injuries which result from rubble falling down on people: broken ribs and so forth. They [the Israeli army] bombard houses, so there are those who have their walls collapse over their bodies [long silence] and so on.”

I asked him whether there are many women and children in the hospital.

“Yes, a lot,” he said. “I mean, many women, but many more children. They [the Israelis] are probably blind.”

What about amputations?

“A lot. I am sure you’ve seen the pictures. There are so many children whose limbs we had to amputate. There’s a child who came with his belly ripped and legs already gone….”

For the complete blog

—Rana Baker <rana-baker-91@hotmail.com>

Dr. MH writes me from Gaza:

Unfortunately, your people in the USA are still very naive and very little understand what’s going on. The current war is not with Hamas or specific Palestinian party ..it’s with all Palestinian seeking freedom…seeking to live in democracy and have access to borders and free trade just like the rest of the people in the world. Now its time to get rid of the ugly occupation…

Believe me, most of the people in the States are just concerned about how quickly the pizza will arrive home, which club to spend fun time at and where to go with girlfriends……I have been to the States several times and this is most of the lifestyle of the American…of course, your government likes you to be in this form …

sorry for my English, electricity will be off in 3 min.

And again, from my courageous and poetic friend, David Nir, a singular voice (but not the only), from an email:

Israel has now entered the final stage of its nightmarish self-inflicted horrors which it disposes on the Palestinians; it has now very much ripened so as to issue a full scale, NAKBA/genocide. The F16/15’s shower bombs, the heavy guns “work” overtime, day and night from outside Gaza, shredding Gaza to bits. I always sensed “Israel” has it in its blueprint. Now its obsession has been entirely unleashed, and arrogant rhetorics are all over. Time of confusion and doubt, however  dreamtime still dominates. More confusion is present now. Refusal to wake up. However you can, since yesterday, notice it on the face of the leaders and the media presenters: the hero posture has shifted to include some pain and loss, the impeccability is gone. 
 
With 80-400 nukes ready for instant launch and given its proven rejection of universal humanness principles, and equipped with its Masada-archetype urges in its subconscious darkened cellars, preparing to express themselves fully; who knows what it has in store for humanity?! And now Obama shamefully again prostrates in front of genocidal Israel, excellent timing. 

Four prophets

Four prophets, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, David Nir, Nomika Zion, and Rana Baker, along with Eyad Sarraj, Mahmoud Darwich, Uri Avnery, Gideon Levy, and Amira Hass. And, let’s hope, many others who will elevate the discourse—against suicidal diplomacy and for sanity and humanity. May those with ears, hear; and those with eyes, see.

The final word, from my former photography student, Ban Ghussain, in Gaza:

Bomb, attack and kill… but we will never let you kill our children’s hope and smiles… we will always protect them with our love …. we will let them live and laugh despite our pain and fear…
To my beloved son “taym”… you are the most precious thing in my and your dad’s life.. i pray to Allah to give us the strength to give you a safe, peaceful, and happy life..

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Ban, Taym, and Islam in Gaza 
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Haztor air force base demo
Haztor Air Force Base, Israel (Thanks to David Nir)

Then I said,

“Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of Israel.
Should you not embrace justice,
you who hate good and love evil;
who tear the skin from my people
and the flesh from their bones;
who eat my people’s flesh,
strip off their skin
and break their bones in pieces;
who chop them up like meat for the pan,
like flesh for the pot?”

Then they will cry out to the Lord,
but he will not answer them.
At that time he will hide his face from them
because of the evil they have done.

Micah 3 New International Version (NIV)

LINKS

“Right-wingers beat Haifa deputy mayor during anti-war protest,” by Roy (Chicky) Arad, July 20, 2014

“The deafening silence around the Hamas proposal for a 10-year truce,” by Francesca Albanese

VIDEO: Celebrities, artists and activists call for Palestinian freedom in #GazaNames project

PHOTOS: Children in Gaza at the Qattan Center for the Child by Skip Schiel

“Why do you continue to kill people?” by Alan Hart

VIDEO: Free Free Palestine (Boston demonstration) by Skip Schiel

PHOTOS: Outrage Against Israeli Massacre in Gaza: Boston Protest :: Part 1 (of 2) by Skip Schiel

VIDEO: Gaza Emergency 2014

Once and For All, by Uri Avnery

“It’s Not Just About Fear, Bibi, It’s About Hopelessness,” by Nomika Zion

Other Voice

“Fathers and Sons in Gaza,” by Wasseem El Sarraj

“The Massacres at Wounded Knee and Gaza: December 29, 1890 & December 27, 2008,” by Skip Schiel

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Excerpts from my journal during a 3 week sojourn in Detroit Michigan, late winter 2014, searching for the seeds of the New Miracle of Detroit

PHOTOS

April 6, 2014, Sunday, Detroit

Cool, low 30s, clear, calm.

Leaving early from my meeting at the Boggs Center I drove to Birmingham [on April 5, 2014] , a wealthy suburb north of Detroit, to join a rally and march organized by various United Church of Christ congregations shouting out for proper treatment of pensioners, home owners, people of color, etc. Make the banks pay!

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Quotes from Cornell West and Martin Luther King Jr.

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This group was slow to form. Nearly 1 hour after what I thought was the declared start time of 2:15, at Shain Park in the center of Birmingham, speeches began, many of them moving, as was true of Rev. Rowe from the Central Methodist church who led with a joke about Methodists always being late, and a young Black minister who rapped his sermon. A former police officer, female, spoke to us about integrating the force. She now advocates for retirement rights for city workers like herself. The last speaker, a woman, Mamie Chalmers, was from Birmingham, Alabama, the real Birmingham, the illustrious, Birmingham, the Birmingham famous for its role during the Freedom Movement. At some length she informed us about the reality of Jim Crow, including how she was forced to order thru a window and move aside to wait for the food, and—a fact I was not aware of—to buy clothes, to be fitted for clothes, one would be measured and was prohibited from trying on the clothing. Wearing the jacket, trying on the shoes, both prohibited.

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“Mamie Chalmers personifies the Birmingham, Mich. to Birmingham, Ala. connection in the struggle for human dignity. At age 20, the Alabama native joined the movement and in 1963 was among the demonstrators attacked by police dogs, and eventually losing part of her hearing from the water hose blasts. She was arrested and spent five days in the Birmingham County jail. Yet, she attended the historic March on Washington that year.”

I made a point of standing with Black people, talking with them, gaining trust so I could photograph them, with each other and with White people. It was a hearty mixture of human beings, friendly and welcoming.

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Finally, finally, the march. Thru the downtown section of this rich suburb. Many noticed. I tried to show them noticing. To the Chase Bank, one of the many banks seemingly profiting from Detroit’s poor conditions and the bankruptcy. We chanted and sang one song. I wished there were more in the style of the Freedom Movement. As someone noticed later, resurrecting Detroit is good for the burbs, for the state, and probably for the nation. Renewal is in all of our best interests.

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April 7, 2014, Monday, east of Erie Pennsylvania, on the train

Cool, low 30s, partly cloudy, calm—all without feeling the weather, merely sensing it thru a train window as I cruise home to Cambridge.

A few stories from last night’s [April 6, 2014] dinner conversation at the Covintrees’s.

Bill Wylie-Kellerman and Denise, recently married, Denise also a minister, were in a serious auto accident, but unharmed. I believe an oncoming car leapt the barrier causing Bill’s car to veer into an embankment. The first driver sped off. This is on Bill’s Facebook page if I can remember to check it later for details. He and Denise had intended to a participate in the Birmingham march and may have been on their way there when the accident occurred. Several at the march wondered where they were, since they were expected. And it was Bill, I believe, who told me about the march.

George and Winkie related a contrasting story about a White man, Steve Utash, who accidentally struck a young Black boy at night with virtually no street lights functioning. A crowd of neighbors, led apparently by 2 young Black men, assaulted the driver who’d stopped to assist the boy he’d struck. They beat him savagely and crushed his head. He may not recover. The driver had done the right thing, the neighborhood was shocked and disagreed with the beating. George and Winkie bemoaned how this incident will cause more Whites to not enter Detroit, an escalation of the great divide. The problem of the Color Line, as described astutely by W.E.B. Du Bois, remains with us.

My comment on the lack of street lighting may have elicited this story. Lights off—crime on. This story directly affects me because of my night travels, either in car or on bike [I later learned the assault occurred not during the night, but at 4 pm.]. Also my willingness to frequent and even live in Black neighborhoods. We agreed that the Dalai Lama’s injunction to carefully consider the consequences of one’s actions before acting is wise. Also using language rather than fists, rocks, and guns to communicate.

TO BE CONTINUED

LINKS

Interfaith March for Justice: From Birmingham to Birmingham

Five Plead Guilty to Beating a Motorist in Detroit,”  19, 2014

Reading Rivera, Resurrection and Remembering in Post Industrial Detroit by Bill Wylie-Kellerman

“Resurrection City” by Bill Wylie-Kellerman

Excerpts from my journal during a 3 week sojourn in Detroit Michigan, late winter 2014, searching for the seeds of the New Miracle of Detroit

Hart Plaza

Hart Plaza

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.

―Ernest Hemingway

PHOTOS

March 29, 2014, Saturday, Detroit

Cooler, high 30s, overcast, still

Yesterday [March 28, 2014] mainly a 16 mile group bike ride organized by Farmada with the North American Bicycle Week, one of the week’s 5 or so group rides. The westerly wind was strong, tiny water droplets periodically fell on us, the temperature was not too cold, in the 50s. Possibly this curtailed participation because only about 50 at most rode, all but a few young, most seemingly from Detroit or nearby, I might have been the only one from a distance. An array of bikes, some fancy, some plain, mine the only folding. One young Black man asked me, what do they call that type of bike? Suggesting the paucity of folding bikes in Detroit on bike rides.

Our route began at Hart Plaza, progressed to the river, along the river walk, up “the cut” (an old rail line made into a linear park, S would love this) and then circuitously thru an old cemetery where many brewery magnates are buried, across a bridge to Belle Isle Park, to the statue (organizers shortened the route because of the strong winds on the island, blowing down the river), a break for photos and snacks (I peed in the fountain—scandalous!), and reverse the route, stopping at Andrew’s for lunch.

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Dequindre Cut, once a rail line

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Belle Isle Park

There, eating Cajun fried fish with fries and coleslaw, I sat with a Black man, the one I thought had been with a very attractive young Black woman. I sat with him partly expecting she would join us—she never did. This guy, missing a number of upper front teeth, spoke incessantly about the many rides he’d made in North Carolina up and down mountains, his strategies for winning races, all the while gesticulating wildly with his hands and arms. When I told him about Mt. Washington (in the White Mountains), he exclaimed, jubilantly, I want to climb that mountain! Later I realized this was not the Black man I thought, with the handsome partner, but more a loner. I positively identified the 2 when I examined my video footage.

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I made numerous photos, most of them lame, and about 5 video clips, some perhaps useable. I suspect 2 guys I spotted with single lens reflex cameras, able to turn around and photo people from the front rather than the back as I mostly did, produced better results. One guy, dark black, used a Nikon D700, full frame camera. As we rode, we discussed the relative advantages of the D600 which I usually use (not on this bike ride) and the D700. He told me, I no longer worry about high ISO, at 3200 there is no noise. I felt, zooming around Detroit by bike, I’d made a photo buddy. I only wish we could join together later and compare photos—maybe online later [never happened that I found, except for the stupendous one below].

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Courtesy of Farmada Free Ride

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Indian Village

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Leaving the restaurant early, believing the ride effectively over, I pedaled as much as possible along the river back downtown to retrieve my car. I’d parked it in a lot with other cars opposite the Motor City Casino, near the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) headquarters. I worried. Ah, happily, it was still there and intact.

I have to wonder about Detroit as Motor City. Maybe Detroit has lost its earlier distinction and now, with the times, found or is discovering a new one: Detroit as Bicycle City.

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At Eastern Market where I expected more bike week activities I found only a group of men huddled beneath large blue blankets conversing. Asking where the bike week activities are, they told me many had been canceled because presenters had cut out, numbers were definitely down, they suspected because of the weather. I thought, what a bunch of wimps.

So I wandered the Market alone, not looking for bike events, but searching for a fine cup of coffee and something sweet. I found precisely what I needed in the large Gratiot Central Market amidst its myriad meat, poultry and fish—a heavily sugared cruller and a large cup of cheap black coffee. After depositing 2 quarters in the hands of “my brother” waiting by the main door for likely benefactors, I sat outside because there was no seating inside. I sat opposite a series of graffiti on a hardware store that might be abandoned. Poor sign.

Cruller

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Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. 

—H. G. Wells

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TO BE CONTINUED

LINKS

The Wind Blew With Us/Against Us (video)

Farmada Freeride

North American Bicycle Week

Bike Detroit

Detroit Women Bike

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The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?

—Dorothy Day

Excerpts from my journal during a 3 week sojourn in Detroit Michigan, late winter 2014, searching for the seeds of the New Miracle of Detroit

Yesterday marks another major step in my Detroit experience: sitting with, listening to, learning from, and photographing many of the individuals and groups associated with Detroit renewal. The setting was Cobo Hall, the event an all day conference called the Equity Action Summit, organized by the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. The theme was Voices of Healing. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor from Chicago’s South Side, keynoted over lunch. Grace Lee Boggs opened the day. I met her, finally, after several tries over several Detroit trips.

PHOTOS

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Grace Lee Boggs with Native American drummer and singer

March 30, 2014, Sunday, Detroit

Cool, low 30s, clear, mild northwest breeze.

In a powerful dream this morning [March 30, 2014] I observed the aftermath of a martyrdom operation/suicide bombing in downtown Jerusalem, I may have been partially responsible for it. By the time I appeared on the scene, everything had been cleaned up. The site was outdoors and formed a circle. I may have photographed it.

Grace Lee Boggs, activist and theoretician, raised on Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, and Marxism, nearing her 100th birthday, sat glumly in a wheelchair, her signature mouth down-turned, sometimes gazing out into the audience. As part of the introduction to her organizers played the trailer for American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, a recently released movie heralding her. I felt I was on a mission sent by S to meet and photograph and learn from her. I recall also that L first told me about Grace by alerting me to her importance, and I must remember to thank Louise.

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Ron Scott, another familiar name, former Black Panther, spoke repeatedly. Probably in his 60s, he looks young, vibrant and powerful.

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Ron Scott, member of the Boggs Center Board and other activist organizations, former Black Panther Party member

As I wrote S last evening from my office (at the local McDonalds where I use the free internet and drink discounted senior coffee):

today i finally met grace lee boggs, thanked her for her work, told her how much she inspires me. i heard her begin her address to the michigan equity round table with the words, “i am an old woman.” but she spoke as one with a strong young spirit. she turns 100 in june.

i believe you would have been as excited as i was at the roundtable today. many of detroit’s key players were there, like her and ron scott, former black panther, now an effective community activist. i attended the criminal (in)justice breakout session which was loaded with formerly incarcerated black men and still grieving black women who’d lost family and friends to the violence and the dirty rotten system of incarceration. many referred to michelle alexander’s book, the new jim crow. to top it all, rev jeremiah wright, obama’s former minister, offered the keynote, one of the most powerful speeches i’ve heard in years.

In a subsequent phone call to sort out when we’d Skype I elaborated on the theme of discharge, a concept from Reevaluation Counseling which she practices. She asked me if anyone wept. I said yes, and told her about Brenda, the mother of a recently killed young man. Brenda told us about the organization she founded for grieving families.

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Brenda Hill

Rev Wright stayed with the theme of voice of healing by elaborating on the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa (correctly pronouncing apartheid, apart-hate). He lauded the various leaders, not only Mandela, with the message that a unified struggle is vital. He segued into his own story, how his great-grandfather was, I believe, enslaved and freed, had little money, but sent his son, Jeremiah’s grandfather, to college with all the money he could spare, 25 cents. The family is loaded with academic degrees and Wright pointedly claimed his doctorate was earned, as were several others in his family. As contrasted with the DD, deacon-declared. (Now I believe I understand the source of so many black ministers’ doctorates, which might also be named FD, fake doctorate.)

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, "The Power of Story for Social Change"

Reverend Dr Jeremiah Wright

Deficit was another of his themes, often generating ooh’s and ah’s of appreciation. We are not people in deficit, deficient; the system is deficient.

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I was surprised to observe that Wright barely looked up from his text, reading it, but was somehow able to convey deep emotion. I’d love a copy of his text or better, a video of his talk, a model of good preaching.

He is light-skinned, possibly explained when he recounted that a white slave owner impregnated a black enslaved woman, I believe in the great grandparent category. He is handsome as well, with a wispy goatee. Many greeted him later, surrounded him, and asked to be photographed with him. I snuck in for a few images.

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Panel moderator, City Council Member Raquel Castaneda-Lopez

Moderated by Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, Detroit City Council member

The earlier panel I attended was equally informative and exciting, 2 women and 2 men including Ron Scott and a white minister who, altho speaking strongly, constantly looked to one side of the audience, as if gazing into the distance. Moderated by the first Latina city council member, Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, the theme was state of the city regarding racism. 85% black, ruled by a largely white, right winged state government thru the emergency manager, I do believe racism is a well-established fact.

Desiree Cooper, columnist for the Detroit Free Press

Desiree Cooper, columnist for the Detroit Free Press

Sarida Scott Montgomery, executive director of Community Development Associates

Sarida Scott Montgomery, executive director of Community Development Associates

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Rev Ed Rowe, senior pastor to Central United Methodist Church

Following the panel we could choose between transit, housing, and the prison system. I chose the latter. In it, near the end of an impassioned presentation and discussion, one woman raised the question, what exactly does “criminal justice” mean, i.e., where is the justice in the criminal system? I heard a collective sigh, all acknowledging that to combine the 2 words is absurd. So I now use the term “criminal (in)justice” which is a major part of the “dirty rotten system” Dorothy Day often spoke of—“our problems stem from our acceptance of this dirty, rotten system.”

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Yusef “Bunchy” Shakur, community activist, former incarcerated gang leader and member

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IMG_4397Oh, I wish S had been with me, I’m confident she would have been equally moved. L also, and JB, and M, my honchos from back home and in Oakland, Dan also if he were not so diminished, and George Wald, desperately wishing to “get back in it,” meaning, heed the calls to action. I participated for all of them, and report photographically for all of them—and many others.

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This conference was not all of yesterday. Cobo Hall is huge, holds many types. On the floor below, as I searched for the bike expo, loud rock music drew me to a sneakers’ expo, in strong distinction with the Equity Action Summit. Many youth, most male, half and half black and white, amid a myriad of sneakers, all probably selling for astronomical prices. These shoes some would fight over. I made a video.

Sneakers, $100 and up

On the floor below that, the bike expo, each floor with a different population, each a different theme, each a different message. On the top floor: people suffer, the city has big problems, let’s fix them. On the mid floor, look at these cool sneakers, buy them. And on the ground floor, the bikes, here’s an alternate form of transport, have fun, play and ride.

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North American Bicycle Week

(more photos of the expo)

TO BE CONTINUED

LINKS

Equity Action Summit Images & Media Coverage

Brenda Hill, Detroit Coalition Against Violence

Yusef B. Shakur

Monica Lewis Patrick on the spiritual element in the struggle for justice

Boondoggle in the Motor City: Detroit’s Train to Nowhere

North American Bicycle Week

Detroit Bike City (video)

 

Excerpts from my journal during a 3 week sojourn in Detroit Michigan, late winter 2014, searching for the seeds of the New Miracle of Detroit

Touring Detroit with Colin Connaire, a police officer formerly stationed in Detroit, we visited three police stations—one abandoned and vandalized, the second renovated into a nonprofit arts center and farm and garden supply company, the third still an active police station.

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PHOTOS (in two parts)

March 27, 2014, Thursday, Detroit    

Warmer, low 30s, overcast, mild southerly breeze, rain-snow showers forecast, bike week begins today.

today [March 26, 2014] was another huge day photographing detroit. the police officer i wrote about earlier, colin connaire, is a special sort of guy—compassionate, committed to helping others, humane, and very knowledgeable about detroit, crime, and of course policing here. we visited 3 precinct stations, one abandoned and decrepit, another abandoned and converted into a for profit garden and farm supply center along with a non profit art gallery, the third a functioning station. he will contact the captain and request permission to photograph inside. this is more than i ever expected.

—To two friends

The tour with Colin was not what I expected, less in some respects, much more in others. I visualized we’d stroll around his old beat, his region in northeast Detroit, he’d tell me stories, I’d photograph as he did, him and the environment. Much as I did with Ibrahim in Gaza recounting his tale of near death between Hamas and Fatah. We might even meet some people he’d known on the beat, some stories of recovery or deterioration. This might itself be a major study. Instead we mostly drove, and often to sites I’ve observed and sometimes photographed myself, like the Cass Corridor. Not much juice here.

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Colin Connaire

What I did not expect was the sequence of police stations. The vandalized and scrapped station was first. We explored it thoroughly, cells, intake, holding, garage, offices, etc. Lots of graffiti and vandalism, mostly from recovering materials for resale, like copper. Little that suggested anger at the police, which surprised both of us. Equally surprising was the second site, purchased, owned, managed, and maintained by Southwest Solutions, apparently a non-profit developer. A for-profit garden and farm supply firm inhabited the former police station garage, owned by 2 men, 1 of whom stood behind the counter and explained everything. (He is the strapping young man, well muscled, bare-chested that I photographed last fall.) Colin and I had noticed mounds of earth on the roof. The fellow explained, yes, a green roof. Because it’s not fully visible we plan to plant a tree.

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Detroit Farm and Garden Supply

The rest of the building is devoted to a non-profit arts center—studios (some of them in the jail cells), exhibits, workshops, and a small café. The gallery is available for rental for weddings, receptions, parties, and the like. Listening to the vivacious, street talking, curly white-haired, goateed, dark-skinned Norm Kobylarz, himself an artist (sculpture, but his studio is not in the arts center), I sensed much vibrancy in the place, some traffic, a growing enterprise. I dropped in on a young woman, Ellen Coons, who explained to me when questioned, that yes, I am a hipster, maybe a new hipster. She is an artist and— self-admitted—apathetic. She graduated from the College of Creative Studies, and showed me some of her art, including animation. Her boyfriend, Joshua Mulligan is half Diné (Navajo) and himself a talented animator. She showed me an array of hers and his on video. Norm showed us a Banksy mural done originally on a wall at the abandoned Packard Auto Plant, but removed and fought for in court. The arts center now owns it and could sell it. Media are fascinated by it, as am I.

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Norm Kobylarz, artist in the arts center, with Colin

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Ellen Coons

The facility is officially named 555 Creative Community, and sits at 2801 W Vernor, Detroit 48216. This happens to be across from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Detroit Mexicantown International Welcome Center 14 (contradictory facilities?), which itself are near the Canada Bridge. Easy to find, near a well-traveled route.

Map 2801 W Vernor

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Norm with Banksy street art retrieved from the abandoned Packard Plant

All this of course excited me tremendously: conversion, renewal, arts, agriculture, youth, many of my main themes coalescing in this one facility, or rather, the 3 buildings compared.

The 3rd was a functioning station, Precinct 11, which we visited last. The captain was not in so we couldn’t receive an answer to our request to photograph inside. But Colin promised to check today and call me [no luck, no access—yet]. I hope to at least photograph the interior of this working station, especially the jail cells, a central theme, if not some of the personnel.

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Detroit police station

I explained to Colin the concept of “synecdoche,” the part standing for the whole, which is related to the question of the derivation of the word “cop”. He believed it derives from “Constable On Patrol,” I parried with “cop” from “copper” from the badges worn earlier. As usual, Colin said, oh my, I never thought of that, could be. One of his unique features is openness to new ideas, active interest, a flourishing mind. Same as his mom, the venerable dramatist, Chris Connaire, my friend from the Cambridge Quaker community and my link to Colin. I applied the notion to our station exploration: this small story of three police stations could stand for the larger story of Detroit.

At the end of the tour Colin treated me to a local favorite—fast food hamburgers in the style of White Castle, Telway Hamburgers. On Michigan Ave, not far from the 555 Arts Center. Four burgers for $2.50. Coffee that Colin claims excels most others. We were together for more than 4 hours and bonded quickly. He told me how much he loves his work, his work pals, his life. In a nutshell: born and raised in the Boston area, with roots in Michigan thru his mom and her mom; from the age of 8 wished to be a cop; joined the Detroit force after college; studied and graduated from Wayne State in law while in the police; lived in the upscale Indian Village during this time; moved to Grosse Pointe Park and joined that force; now a sergeant; owns his house; divorced, remarried, kids by both marriages, an 18 month girl with epilepsy.

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Telway Hamburgers (courtesy of the internet)

I told him, this is somewhat like my story: my early wish to be a photographer, practiced from an early age, changed genres, studied, married, divorced, etc. Both of us love our work. A key question: risk, injury, death? How do you feel about all this? I didn’t get a clear answer from Colin. Except maybe when he’d stated earlier that one reason he shifted from Detroit to Grosse Pointe Park was danger. Maybe the incident when he almost shot a man. He and his partner noticed a guy in a parked car, they approached the car. The guy folded his body over and leaned down, perhaps to grab or hide a weapon. Colin’s partner had slid his hand thru a partially open window, opened the door, and was trying to pull the man out when he bent down. Colin pointed his gun at the man who then slowly rose up, hands empty. Later they discovered a Glock automatic pistol with a 30 round clip hidden under the seat.

Colin wasn’t sure of the man’s intent. Perhaps to rise up shooting. That, Colin claimed, was the only time he came close to firing his weapon.

Are you trained to fire non-lethally?

Oh no, to the chest, maximum bulk, the legs are too small for a target, shoot to kill.

Are you trained in humane methods of crowd control and other intervention?

Not really, we can pick this up on the job.

How about SWAT operations?

Yes, we are prepared for that but the approach is always maximum force, intimidation. I told him about my political arrest on Cambridge Common.

Furthermore: Colin told me he reads bodies, uses proportional force, as when he ended a chase because of the danger to him and his men, compared with the seriousness of the crime. We discussed our short hair, a convenience for him, but I suggested subliminal associations, as with monks, military, and skinheads.

He provided a perfect companion on the tour because he engaged all parties in conversation, like Norm, while I concentrated on photography.

Norm with Colin

Leaving Colin after the tour I walked briefly around his neighborhood, the “Cabbage Patch” of Grosse Pointe Park (on the border of Detroit, not quite so exclusive as other suburbs, perhaps named Cabbage Patch because of the Irish immigrants once living there) to feel the neighborhood and town—lots of cafes, boutiques, health food stores, etc. But most specially, three boys, 2 of color, 1 white, looking suspiciously Jewish, in fact like a young Woody Allen.

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Grosse Pointe Park

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Excuse me, young men, I’m a photographer from Boston, could I please photograph you?

This might emerge as the hit photo of the day.

To a friend:

btw. about your question, whether i feel completeness in this recent detroit foray: hardly, partially. 

some disappointments like doing nothing more on the theme of greening detroit (mostly because of the season) and not gaining access to a functioning police station (we tried but the boss never responded, a frequent occurrence in my line of work). and some surprising achievements like the police officer, colin connaire, escorting me to 2 other stations in various conditions and him personally, what a fine man he is, and the enormous, busy bike shop i discovered and photographed a few days ago. on and on. down and up personally. as with my work in palestine-israel my disappointments generate a commitment to return and plumb more deeply. i hope my achievements never fully satisfy me. disappointments and achievements fuel my curiosity.

satisfying yes, satisfying no. i suspect you can relate with your drawing. could be more, thank god it’s not too less.

thanks for asking, you raised a key point.

TO BE CONTINUED

LINKS

555 Creative Community Arts Center

Gallery’s plan to sell Banksy’s Packard Plant mural sparks uproar

Detroit Farm and Garden Supply

Eighth / Sixteenth Precinct Police Station

Volunteers clean up abandoned Detroit police station in hopes of it reopening (May 2013)

Detroit officials break ground for new police precinct (May 2014)

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42 Brattle Street Harvard Square Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
PO Box 9113 Cambridge, MA 02238-9113
Phone: 617-547-6789 Fax: 617-497-7532
www.ccae.org
teeksaphoto.org

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Spring Light: Photographing Massachusetts Audubon Society wildlife sanctuaries
A field trip-based workshop for students beyond the basic level—how to work photographically with summer light.
Three Fridays, July 11, 12-3, July 18, 5:30 pm-8:30, and July 25, 5:30 am-8:30 with review sessions on three Thursdays, 6-8:30 pm at 56 Brattle St, Cambridge, July 17 and 24, and August 14. (Please save Sunday, July 13, 12-3, for a rain date.)

Street Photography
How to photograph people we meet on our explorations outside our private domains—field trips, lectures, demonstrations, and reviews.
Four Tuesdays, 3-6 pm. Begins July 1.

Night Photography
Explore the equipment and techniques of night photography thru lectures, demonstrations, and field trips.
Four Wednesdays, 7:45-9:45 pm. Begins July 2.

Summer Photography Intensive Retreat
Taught jointly by Melinda Bruno-Smith & Skip Schiel
Deep seeing, effective camera use, composition, visual literacy, and post production processes—to learn skills that express your vision, feelings, and thoughts.
Five days, July 28-August 1, 10 am-4 pm

Although I enjoy taking photographs on my own, Skip Schiel’s classes give structure and direction, which adds another dimension to the experience. He also does these wonderful awareness exercises that help me look at things differently. It’s an experience I take into other areas of my life. (Sy Friedland, Fall Light 2013)

I have owned a Lightroom tutorial video for 3 years—but the class was orders of magnitude more useful. (Adobe Lightroom Essentials, 2014)

Skip gave us ideas to think about while we were shooting. Shooting objects from different perspectives instead of just blasting away. One of the best things was that Skip was out there shooting with us. We could see after what he was looking at and what he was thinking. I have never had an instructor do that. (Winter Light, 2012)

Skip challenged us, gave thoughtful feedback and facilitated great discussions. The format of the class offered a mix of feedback, learning new techniques, seeing the work of other artists, and field trips to practice what we learned. The class flew by and I would have enjoyed a couple more sessions. (Night & Low Light Photography, summer 2011)

More testimonials

Photography workshop

Emerald Necklace, Boston, Winter Light, January 2014, photo by Skip Schiel

Photos from this workshop

Contact Skip Schiel

View his photographs

His teaching philosophy

Along the Mediterranean Coast: To learn photography (teaching in Gaza, Occupied Palestine)

If you reside in the Boston Metro area, I’d like to invite you to Cambridge Open Studios, a rich smorgasbord of art displayed in homes and public venues thruout the city of Cambridge Massachusetts. If not in the Boston area, you can find many of my photos on my website.

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