Ein Samiya, Occupied Territories of Palestine, aka, West Bank, (click for enlargement)
Well and pump house in Ein Samiya. From an aquifer in Ein Samiya 20 km northeast of Ramallah Occupied Territories of Palestine, paid for largely by Jordan in 1963, replacing an earlier system relying on cisterns and a few local springs for drinking water, pumped in several stages over hills thru pipes, water reaches the city of Ramallah of 25,000, supplying about 18% of its water, the rest bought from Israel.
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.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
—Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi
June 28, 2010, Monday, Traverse City, Michigan, home of AR
Roman mill, to which the water was brought to grind grain
My Hydropolitics in Palestine/Israel slide show played to about 30 people, in and out, more or less, following the concert and in the same general area. Specifically a place called Higher Grounds, a coffee emporium smaller than Equal Exchange but related. The owner, Chris, buys and roasts the coffee, using the route of fair trade. I joked about how the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage in 1998 resided overnight in the Equal Exchange warehouse in Canton MA, with the roaster going all night, creating a slight problem for those of us addicted to coffee. I forgot to highlight the excellent photos in the entry hall of Higher Grounds showing aspects of coffee growing.
I’d rehearsed the show, made minor changes (I lost the monitor calibrations, redid it, and now notice some of the images are too dark) and thus knew the show fairly well, able to anticipate the next slide or slide sequence. The main problem—other than too long and still not with proper graphics and tables—was loss of sound. Mysteriously audio would not play. Neither on the show or thru iTunes. Later, closing the lid and reopening it, I discovered the music plays. As I mentioned to a few there, this is trickster at work, lurking around knowing what annoys me most, waiting for an opportunity. And there it was: I wished to have my sound during the show, had set up speakers, and then zippo, no audio.
Until later, when too late.
The audience was not very lively, especially compared to the conferences. Not many remarks or questions. They might have been deadened as a result of the long detailed show. A Palestinian who knew the Huwwarra checkpoint south of Nablus came up after to thank me. Others did as well. Despite the lack of a vibrant discussion maybe the show went well enough. As well as I could deliver it.
As with the US Social Forum presentation I tried to link local hydropolitics with the global and then with Israel-Palestine. In Traverse City it is the historic dimension, whites settling where Indians had already settled, in part for the water access. Additionally there’s been a controversy over the city-required septic system, and further, Nestlé’s bottled water. I learned that local people opposed a bottling plant, prevailed in the first court episode, lost in an appeal. Some now consider direct action. At this moment Nestlé’s is pumping up huge quantities of water, bottling it, selling it, and the unwary are supporting this with every bottle purchase. When will we see the end of bottled water? Some communities—and this includes Traverse City’s city hall—prohibit sales and distribution of bottled water.
I’ve not yet entered the local lake water, hope to today if conditions are right. I use the free wifi at Arby’s for my internet connection, eating one “value pack” of fries as the price of admission ($1). Local hosts have been very generous, Mary H who set it all up, Ann R opening her house to me, Terry at meeting, her buddy Mark with lots of info about native people around here, Randy driving me from Detroit and attending my hydropolitics show for the 2nd time in one week (1st at US Social Forum), and others. This touring continues to be a primary joy in my life, a form of working vacation that brings me into new communities, new regions, often surprising me. I’d probably not have otherwise visited Traverse City.
Just before awakening this morning—often the best time for recalling dreams—I was with a group of people, including family, including my young daughters Katy or Joey, and a mom, probably P. We walked to and thru an old railroad car, me asking one of my friends who knew trains what era this car might be from. I found a wagon, boarded it, cruised downhill toward an old building, maybe a garage. Opening the door gingerly I found inside signs of some habitation. Outside we all discovered a painting project, someone had been painting on the sidewalk. Somehow we knew it was a woman who’d painted. I tried painting, Katy tried it, P and I considered that when Katy is older she could come here alone and paint. I found a dead squirrel.
But what about whoever is painting here now? we asked.
Attending Friends Meeting in Traverse City was a joy. The congregation is surprisingly large, some 8 for 1st session, completely silent, unprogrammed, followed by a programmed section which I did not attend, drawing about 20 souls. They are housed in a Friends church, small, handsome, old. A joy because I arrived early, about 20 minutes before start time, sat quietly with a rotund fellow, joined by an attractive woman, Terry, who is one of my hosts, and then the full hour. No spoken messages but a relaxed silence that I enjoyed thoroughly. I enjoyed it so much possibly because it was a sharp contrast with all the noise and bustle of the previous days in Detroit conferences.
Breakfast out followed, 5 of us, all political firebrands.
In the afternoon my hosts treated me to a concert by a folk singing couple living in this area, Seth and May (or Daisy May as she’s sometimes known). Very expert, excellent guitar work, lilting, lyrical songs mostly about the environment since it was a benefit for a local group, the Bioneers. We sat under an occluded sky, never sure if the rains would return. The sun did, however, and with the humidity created uncomfortable conditions. Mostly families attended. The setting was a partially rehabbed former insane asylum, later called a state psychiatric hospital, a huge one, one of 3 in the state around the turn of last century.
I note that yesterday DR gave a forum at Friends Meeting at Cambridge about his recent journey to Israel-Palestine. And me? After 5 journeys, including several working with AFSC? Not a peep of an invitation. Why am I so passive, for now, about requesting a slot?
I find X fading from my awareness, finally free of this seductive albatross. For how long? What happens when I return home? Or if she writes? Or returns to Cambridge for August? Do I once again trap myself in absurd longings?
Here’s what I wrote Anne:
Your letter touched me deeply. You write so gracefully, powerfully, and honestly. All you express I could return in kind, if only I had the words.
We are at different stages of our lives, even tho close in age. You are happily married, content with home and family. I am yearning, not content, yet content, confused, between roles in life: solitary figure and “vagabond lover” (a term my former father in law astutely gave me, trying to warn his 20 year old daughter, failing), contrasted with man wishing for a partnered lover, sharing all that is meaningful (or most) to both of us. The eternal quest that might drive me.
You are single pointedly devoted to one primary method of responding to the Middle Eastern tragedy (and hope) we share. I am spread out, not regionally, but by method and topic.
You find yourself “with low and ebbing energy,” while I tend (for now) to find my energy waxing, surging, volatile, endless (for now). You dipped into the social forum, I swam in it and before it the US assembly of anti Zionist Jews and before that the allied media conference. And after all 3, a week or so exploring Detroit.
Contrasts and unities.
I’m so happy we could hug each other for the brief USSF moment, after being physically apart since 2008. I rarely feel distant from you since you are such a vivid presence in my life. I owe so much to you, from connecting with other Israel-Palestine Quakers to being such good friends. You know more about my inner life and understand me better than many of my closest friends. And I may be one of your inner circle on Israel-Palestine matters. I cherish all this, as I do you.
More later, and thanks again for finding me the gig in TC.
TO BE CONCLUDED