Excerpts from my journal while in Detroit, moving backwards (not always), last to first.
About deindustrialization, depopulation, residential and commercial vacancy, corruption of capitalism—and the rise of urban gardens, local resistance and activist organizations—ending with news about the US Social Forum, Allied Media Conference, and the first public national gathering of anti-Zionist Jews in the United States.
In several parts, with photos and videos.
VIDEO: Marathon Refinery, Detroit
We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.
— Malcolm X
July 4, 2010, Sunday, Ann Arbor MI, home of A and FR
I am near an end point on this journey of 3 weeks to Detroit [but not the end of this blog series], looking forward to the 18 or so hour train ride home, not looking forward to meeting the train tonight in Toledo, a minimum 4.5 hour wait, train due in at 2:30 AM, entering my home tomorrow evening late, enjoying my privacy and internet access, pleasuring myself, sleeping in my own bed, and rising early the next morning for either a sit or a stroll, about to begin my aftermath work from the journey: photo editing and developing, outputting, writing, blogging, collating, etc. While dovetailing as well as I can with my quotidian duties, chief among them teaching.
Dream wise, not a bad night (sleeping outside on the porch), Harvard University oriented: I was head proctor of a language or public speaking exam. One of my jobs was to select the text that would form the test. I worried about proper pronunciation of the German and French, tried to find an English text to use so I’d not embarrass myself in front of so many smart Harvard undergrads. I dithered, not sure about the choice and also not sure exactly how they were to take the test—recite, memorize and recite, interpret?
During my dithering about 1/2 the students walked out, not in anger or frustration but they were due somewhere else. Some women entered who seemed to know better what the proctor’s role would be. I felt more confident. Dream ended before resolution.
July 5, 2010, Monday, aboard the Amtrak Lake Shore Limited to Boston, just east of Erie PA
Nothing much to report concerning dreams, other than I occasionally dreamt. Thus proving that I slept. The reason this is significant is that from about midnight to 2:30 am, I slept in the Toledo train station on a relatively cushy cushioned bench awaiting the train. And then for about 3 more hours on the train, stretched out, fairly comfortable.
So now I feel reasonably rested, fed from my left over kibbe from the Mideast dinner A and F treated me to, accompanied by Karen (who I miss already, sad to say), gazing out on a mostly agricultural landscape, full sun, warm and muggy, cruising at about 60 mph, the train on time, the day a post July 4th holiday so not much activity outside, musing about the entire journey, its high and low points, where Karen fits in, where Detroit fits in, where I fit in. While needing a haircut and a shower.
The train is about 4/5’s full, the usual mix of families, elderly, blacks, couples. The tracks are wobbly, so far not littered with freight cars which would then impede our travel. When I asked about the Lake Shore Limited being on time, the station person said shouldn’t be a problem, freights not running on the 4th of July or the 5th since it is a holiday. Bussing from Ann Arbor to Detroit to Toledo we occasionally saw fireworks, even in Detroit, which I thought had its fill last week.
What were the highs and low’s of my 3 Detroit weeks? Exploring Detroit, mixing with so many young activists, info about content and presentation styles, energy generally, opportunities to photograph and video and write, giving my 2 workshops, especially discovering that the Photography as Tool for Political Transformation workshop has real possibilities in other venues, meeting and loving (in some strange way) K, living with her, imagining being a couple, revisiting A, seeing how she lives, meeting F, and a break from the quotidian. Low’s: arguing about schedule with Rick and others while trying to share Karen’s house, frustration at lack of contact with X and others including Katy, not having my own bike for the Detroit exploration, not having my better photo equipment for Detroit, not installing the Gaza photo exhibit, not giving the Jordan River slideshow, not selling photos, having so little time in Ann Arbor with A and F and Karen, not putting up photos and blog, and so much work piling up at home which will rage at me when I walk in the front door.
~~The train might have just hit something. A loud crunching scraping sound under this car, the train slowing down, and now stopped. What now? The power is off. The car is heating up. We might be in a for a long delay.~~
In Ann Arbor the last day of the 3 week journey: help F and A hang their dry cleaned front room drapes, attend Ann Arbor Friends meeting, meet Deb and Dina who are helping organize a possible presentation by me in the fall, chat with A and F, walk with Karen thru the “arb,” the local university affiliated arboretum, dinner at a new Mideast restaurant, ride with A and F to the Ann Arbor train station to catch the Amtrak bus to Toledo by way of Detroit, and now the train, waiting hoping that we will soon resume travel.
~~Word is we hit one or more RR ties. The crew is checking under the cars. The power is back on. We are still stopped.~~
A has a very strong belief in me, and some pride that I am whom I am, doing what I’m doing. She was very interested in my description of our upcoming video project. She’s never been to Israel-Palestine, and might envy those of us who still have physical capability to endure the rigors of such travel. She thinks the best of me, expects the best from me. Nearly like a mom, I told her, but not quite old enough (11 yrs older). She confided that she’d not read my photo memoir, And you will be carried where you do not wish to go, because of the title: it scares her. When I explained it to her she seemed to change her mind. Having her rooting for me is a true gift. In partial thanks I gave her and F a Gaza photo. They chose the family along the Mediterranean which I will reprint. I also gave them a jug of Lebanese olive oil.
~~We resumed travel, slowly picking up speed. Let’s hope there was no damage to the train.~~
More about K: she is a loving compassionate caring soul, well developed spiritually and socially. Others seem to like and respect her, the couple meeting her in the restaurant for instance, A as well. She listens well, is genuinely curious and attentive. She expresses anger concerning some elements of the Israel-Palestine story, via her feelings about the movie Ajambi for instance. She is hesitant about her future, notably about her house. She has a weak rudder, not fully decided about her future paths. She may be ambivalent about her male friend, M, earlier referring to her relationship as “sort of” seeing each other. She blends Buddhism end Quakerism, perhaps not fully absorbed with either. She is an in-between sort of person.
About A: her big issue, other that Palestine/Israel, is her health, her energy in particular. She seems very attentive to it, marshaling it, guarding it, rendering her at times indecisive. She may be counting her remain days, unclear about her future. She is healthy mentally, accomplished, effective, knowing just what to do when. Her relation with F is solid and admirable.
About F: jovial beyond expectation. A model of fortitude, determination, endurance. Talk about sumud!
And about me, the author of this rambling account: as always, pathetic in his yearning, his unfulfilled expectations, perhaps admirable in his achievement.
[Postscript: When I arrived home I wrote to the Amtrak president and chief of the board about my recent return trip from Detroit, all my complaints laced with a few laudatory comments. Within 24 hours Concetta from the customer relations department phoned me. We had a rich commiserative 30 minute conversation. She summarized my letter, heard it precisely right, explained some of Amtrak’s problems (such as sharing track with freight companies who tend to be dominant), then offered me a $30 voucher, along with consoling words such as how much she appreciated my remarks. We reveled in the continuing good news about increasing ridership, and rising congressional and administrative support. Amtrak has seemingly navigated at high speed a 90-degree turn, maybe 180. All looks very good for our national train service. And I am pleased to play a role—loyal loving advocate.]
TO BE CONTINUED
“And you will be carried where you do not wish to go,” a photographic witness (part 8 and last in the series)
SLIDE SHOW: “And you will be carried where you do not wish to go,” a photographic witness & a summary (for the moment & as of 2005) of my photography
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has sharply criticized the Environmental Protection Agency and the Canadian company Enbridge for what she has described as a “completely inadequate” response to the oil spill near the Kalamazoo River. More than 800,000 gallons of oil have spilled into Michigan waterways after the rupture of an underground oil pipeline carrying Canadian oil into the United States. Concern is now growing that the oil could reach Lake Michigan. The Detroit Free Press reports the company that owns the pipeline, Enbridge, was notified twice this year of potential problems involving old pipe prone to rupturing and an inadequate system for monitoring internal corrosion. The spill is believed to be one of the largest in the history of the Midwest.
Canadian company allowed pipes to corrode; Kalamazoo River leak could cost $40-million to clean up
“Workers try to grasp Michigan oil spill toll on wildlife,” by Eric D. Lawrence, Free Press