How Art & Twelve Women Activists Revolutionized My World. The Completion Of Roots To Resistance

I know you have heard the oft repeated story about how a butterfly flapping its wings in Tahiti can stir change in Siberia. We hear it and know vaguely what is being said but like all worldy things, personal experiences are what bring deep intimate understanding to such notions. These twelve Women Activists: Natalia Estemirova, Malalai Joya, Chouchou Namegabe, Rebecca Gomperts, The Zapatista Women, Wangari Maathai, Aung San Suu Kyi, Razan Ghazzawi, Frances Crowe, Shireen Issawi, Yvonne Margarula and Berta Cáceres have brought clarity to the concept of such traveling and profoundly awakening winds.

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Upon completion of my twelfth and final portrait a wise friend concluded that it was time to reflect on the nine years of Roots To Resistance adventures and get those reflections down  in writing, to which I promptly thought- Isn’t there something I need to be painting?

Reflecting means a pause from painting, a pause from the busy, buzzing brain of mine that wants to be on a 24/7 loop of transforming the inside stuff into tangible seen objects called Art. The act of creating for me has been as magical as the dreams of the alchemists in their search to transform base metals into Gold and elixirs of truth. I remain enchanted by this gift that each Human has for making and creating, amazed that a subtle notion or emotion can pass from heart to brain to paper in an instant, a magical process to be sure and I experience it that way every time.

The discovery of Art has been the primary gift given to me in this lifetime, a profound gift for someone with a tendency toward fear and anxious worrying. I was the child who stayed up at night pondering how I would perish the following day. Would it be from a nail shot out of the lawnmower like I saw on Rescue 911 or a kidnapping by the ding dong cart as I had heard happened in the Midwest? Perhaps I would simply be whisked away by orange skinned big eyed aliens as my odd childhood friend claimed to foresee.  These strange ever present death fears and ponderings followed me into adulthood and Art School where I picked up the most useful tools I have ever been given; making, painting, drawing and most importantly a concept I have coined as Art Alchemy. This being the process of churning Art out of one’s inner workings, tapping in and making pathways that express the inner as outer.  This was Life altering and it changed the trajectory of my path and infused it with meaning, purpose and medicine for my overactive worrying insides!

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I have never stopped creating Art from that moment on.  I painted my fears and my loves, my hikes, my imaginings and my questions. Many elements were added along the way and in my late twenties nature and all things creature stormed into my life and Art after a four month cross country camping adventure. By my mid thirties the influence of Social Justice was finding me and my perspectives grew much wider to encompassed the Earth as a whole.  I felt I needed to be more informed and connected to People and Places on the Planet, who and where they were physically on the Globe. I wanted to be able to point to a map and say here is where Sri Lanka is and these are the People who are living there.  I embarked on my first large sustained project called, Invisible Earth Our Human Family, which consisted of 234 painted Human faces, one from every country and territory in the World. These faces were then connected to the places that they called home by thousands of personal letters sent from People around the World. The project was greatly received and appreciated, exhibited widely in Schools and Universities, and personally shifted my perspective outward and carried me up the path toward new places. Art was no longer just used as a personal instrument, it could now be used as a tool for addressing things outside of myself.

With passing years the Art got bigger, more detailed and more diverse. There were painted rock cars driven by eggplants and luna moths, there were paintings on rusty metal dragged from old broken down amusement parks. There were devils, beckoning skeletons and fears but more and more there were snails and efts and fiddleheads. I was walking the woods each day and happily painting all of this quietly alone in my studio when I heard a news story in 2009 about a Woman named Natalia Estemirova…..

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It is certain that the seeds of the Roots To Resistance project were planted with that first news story. That was the summer that I learned about Natalia Estemirova. That summer Natalia was abducted from her home in Chechnya and murdered because she raised her voice to speak truths about the horrors being perpetrated on her Community and because she refused to be silent when threatened by those perpetrators. I had never heard of Natalia Estemirova before, I didn’t know that she was a Human Rights Journalist who had tirelessly served as a voice for the silenced, war torn, and poor Communities of Chechnya. I had heard stories before about heroes and Activists but for some reason I was more profoundly moved by her story than any other I had ever heard. Natalia Estemirova most certainly was the far away Butterfly wing flapping that so magically guided this project into being. When I started painting her portrait I had no plans for 11 other Portraits, it was just Natalia that I wanted to paint back to life, and the act of the painting was a holy one that has never quite been duplicated in any of the portraits that came after. But came they did and from Natalia was born a focus and a question: Who else is doing such work on the Planet? The answer, thousands.

For those who have followed this adventure, you know that Roots To Resistance is a project focused on 12 Women Activists doing profoundly important Justice work on this Planet. With Natalia I had one Portrait and was aiming to do 11 others. A collaboration of friends and mentors gathered to help me choose 11 Women, Women like Natalia, that were still alive and doing Earthshaking, often extremely risky work in Communities across the Globe. What I did not know then was that this list would be a revolving one, that as 9 years unfolded there would be new Women emerging and exploding onto the scene as the World raveled and unraveled. In this way I decided to prioritize what was happening in this very moment, to draw attention and protection to those alive and risking so much in these times. Thus some truly amazing Women, Maria Gunnoe, Parvin Ardalan, Ditah Indah Sari and the one and only Vandana Shiva sacrificed their places for Palestinian prisoner Shireen Issawi, Syrian Journalist Razan Ghazzawi, Local peace Activist Frances Crowe and the fallen Honduran Activist Berta Cáceres who stepped into the spot of what was to be my final portrait, Vandana Shiva. I feel certain Vandana has happily stepped aside and that the final 12 are just as they should be, symbolic of the issues, challenges and voices of Resistance we are witnessing in these times. Thousands of brilliant, earthshaking Women did not make their way into this small handful of vitally important change makers and I hope you will go out and find them.

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The advice to take some pause for reflections on this project has been wise because I have the urge to storm through transitions and endings. I also have the habit that many of us have for discounting and quieting, or at the very least being uncomfortable with, naming our achievements. This has been a very long campaign, one that has been dependent on the support of others, one that has required more asking for help and more touting of achievements than I could ever have imagined. Having to ask for so much support has been uncomfortable, awkward, sometimes embarrassing, most certainly my biggest challenge and almost caused me to breeze by the completion of this project without naming or celebrating it. I do not want to breeze by nine years of passionate work or the amazing achievements of these twelve Women, so thank you Tuti Scott for the reminder to pause and for always being there to fit me with the big girl shoes and encouraging me to wobble forward in them!

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As long as we are talking challenges and questioning, there is also the question of whether or how a western, seemingly white Woman, takes on the paintings of 12 Women Activists of the World.  Most of whom, 9 to be exact, are Women of Color. For the record I am actually not officially white, I am half Puerto Rican, a mixed raced Latina I suppose, that did not grow up in contact with this part of my heritage and thus never felt the right to claim it officially and I am still very careful about doing so. The fact Is that I was adopted and raised by a white Family, have always presented as white, have always benefited from white privilege and have just barely scratched the surface of figuring out where my original Roots lead me. So the question of how this Woman from Western Massachusetts paints Indigenous Australian Yvonne Margarula and Palestinian Prisoner Shireen Issawi remains. I suppose the answer is that I have tried to approach this project with humility, openness to the questioning and always working hard to avoid defensiveness in the face of questions about taking on this project. Most importantly I have always sought to partner with the Women I am painting vs simply portraying, fetishizing or iconizing them and always letting their voices and ideas lead the way. I am certain mistakes on this long journey have been made given that my perspective is often that of an outsider but I have striven to make the emotional impact of the Art and the power of the  Women’s voices stand above all else.

Reflecting on the entirety of the Roots To Resistance project is a very large and overwhelming task which naturally starts with the twelve painted Portraits. These are the imposing, larger than life, visual hearts of the project, the embodiments of the Women themselves and each contains and captures the stories and narratives of the Roots Women in great and dizzying detail. The portraits however, cannot travel with ease to places near and far and for that purpose we created the Global Postcards Campaigns. These campaigns could carry the Women’s voices and resistance cries to all corners of the Planet, to echo and amplify the words and work of each of the twelve Women Activists. In some cases the Women themselves or Organizations they worked with crafted the postcard campaigns. We then sent those campaigns through partnerships with International Organizations that helped us send and disperse over 25,000 Postcards into Communities around the Globe. We sent Postcards to the UN asking for Justice and inclusion for Burma’s Indigenous and displaced Peoples, we sent them to demand truth about the murder of Natalia Estemirova and to bring the heart of Wangari Maathai and her Freedom Forests to inspire an entire Planet. In our final campaign we refused Islamaphobia by sending our “Standing with Muslim Neighbors” postcards to the trump tower in NYC  from countries around the World. The Portraits may have been the home base of this project but the Postcards were the megaphone.

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Creating the 12 portraits and postcard campaigns was an enormous undertaking and sometimes I forget that there was so much more! Within each of the twelve campaigns there was laser focus for the issues and places these Women were working. If it was Malalai Joya, I was all things Afghanistan, its History, her History, her brave story, her accomplishments, and in her case a friendship, as we have spent time together in the US on many occasions and continue checking in and working together when she returns to Afghanistan. It was she in many ways that brought local Massachusetts Peace Activist Frances Crowe and I together as we worked side by side on many campaigns to raise money for Malalai and the people of Afghanistan. Eventually I would paint Frances Crowe as well and we would craft a Postcard Campaign calling for an end to all Nuclear weapons. These postcards would be carried by Monks and Peace marchers from Western Massachusetts to Washington DC. in 2015. This is how it worked, one step would often seamlessly lead to another with each of the 12 campaigns,  often there would be a pause to help raise money for an Afghan Woman to attend medical school or to raise funds to support refugee groups in Syria and Palestine. Eventually though I would have to leave the intense focus of Malalai’s World or Frances Crowes work for a new campaign and in that way my work is very different than the sustained lifetime of commitment that all of these Women have dedicated themselves to. In the end my chosen place is the Art and I have only just dipped my toes into the issues these Roots Women have faced down for decades.

So the 12 Portraits are painted and the postcards continue to find their way over the lands and seas and the work is not done. A full circling is needed and for that I need to raise funds from these 12 larger than life avatars, some of the most magical, beautiful, fierce and transformative Activists on the Planet. Roots To Resistance will be raising funds from the sale of these Portraits, with 60% of what is raised landing directly in the hands of these Women or in the places they have designated. In doing this we can close the circle and put resources in the hands of those who know how to turn them into all things good. Thus for now my reflecting comes to a close and the work of bringing this project into a full landing is about to begin, it will be the hardest work I have embarked upon in these nine years.

For You

There are not enough words of thanks and Gratitude to heap on my Family, Friends and Mentors. You have all contributed so much to this project, you have showed up at every event and pitched in with every fundraiser, so many of you leapt in at just the right moment, with just the right thing to offer to ensure that this project reached its potential. Thank you truly from the bottom of this indebted heart.

So much love and gratitude to all of you and to the twelve Women of Roots.

Sincerely and In Solidarity,                                                                                                                  Denise A. Beaudet

 

The final Portrait-Berta Cáceres

Hello All!
I am going to keep this blog update super short as I know it is a busy season for all of us 🙂
Roots To Resistance is painting its 12th and final Portrait.
A great deal of thought went into the decision to bring the project to completion on this 12th Portrait. The main consideration being that we want to offer the Portraits for purchase in an international auction where 50% and if possible 60% of the funds raised will go to the Women and their Organizations. This way the Women themselves or the Organizations they have created can decide how to best use the resources to continue doing the Earthshaking work they do. We have used the Portraits and the Postcard Campaigns to help inform small pockets of the World Community and to raise inspiration locally and abroad and now feel that this Auction will bring the project full circle.
The final Portrait will be of the recently slain Honduran Activist Berta Cáceres (above). We chose to portray her work long before she was murdered because of her dedication to protecting the lands and waters of her native Lenca Homeland. She was assassinated for her work and these devastating events only strengthened our conviction about her portrayal, her profound importance and that of her Organization COPINH.
 
We thank you for all of your partnership and support in honoring these Women and passing on our Postcard and Postering Campaigns. We will be organizing a broad international virtual auction in 2017, and there will be much more to come on that!
 
We have finally created some high quality and affordable posters of some of our Roots Activists and we are using the proceeds from the sales to help bring the project to the finish line. The Zapatista Women below seems to be the most popular at the moment!
If you are interested in taking a peek at the Posters  Click Here  🙂
Much Gratitude to you all
Berta Cáceres became a leader among her People, the Lenca and endeavored to protect the Forests and Waterways in her native Homelands from those attempting to harvest and destroy them for profit by founding the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras COPINH. In 2013 she lead her Community in a year long blockade to protect the Rio Gualcarque (River) from an illegal dam project and thwarted both the World Bank and SinoHydro, the Worlds largest Dam builder into abandoning their aims. Twelve Environmental Activists were killed in 2014 and Berta herself was assassinated in March of 2016. The loss of her in the fight for sanity and the protection of the Planet is an enormous one but the legacy and impact she has left behind is more enormous still. .
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What I Am 150 Tiny Paintings To Fund Roots

Hello lovely friends! I am Sending out a quick update about the 2016 path!  I have taken a brief departure from the portrait paintings of the Women Activists and embarked on a season of tiny personal paintings created to fund the final leg of the Roots To Resistance Project. ‘What I Am’ is a loosely woven tale of a Woodswalking Artist in tiny words, paintings and photographs, and it was created because I did not want to hold another traditional fundraiser. Instead I am using my Artistic efforts to support what will be the final and 12th Portrait, of recently slain Honduran Activist Berta Cáceres.

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We were devastated to learn of the murder of Berta Cáceres  in March of this year.  We had originally reached out to her organization in late 2015 about painting her Portrait and creating a Postcard Campaign in her own words and design. We were never able to complete that aim but intend to carry forward with that Portrait and Partnership in honor of the profound force of life that she was and is.

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So this in fact will be the final Portrait for Roots To Resistance. We have had many thoughts and many intentions along the way for the future of this project, some of which included a lifetime of Portraits and Activists, a project with no end, a cross country Bus Tour, and international showings. The list of Activists originally chosen has changed, transformed and grown as the times have dictated, some of our aims have been met and others have fallen short. We have raised money for some amazing Women and Organizations along the way, spread some information, raised issues and stated our cases to the likes of Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and the UN. We partnered with our local Peace Pagoda in 2015 outfitting the marchers with thousands of Postcards demanding an end to all Nuclear Arms, which they handed out on their long walk from Massachusetts to Washington DC. The project has had a good run and now we feel we want to offer more to the Women than the ongoing project can provide. We want to offer them funds to be used in their own Communities in the ways they see fit. With this goal in mind all 12 of the completed 8 foot high Portraits will be Auctioned off in 2017 with half of the proceeds going to each of the Women or the Organizations they were affiliated with.

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That is the update folks! Lots of tiny paintings of creatures, bones and underearth worlds, as well as amusing narratives of my anxious childhood brain, all on display  August 26th 27th and 28th at the APE Gallery in downtown Northampton Massachusetts. The paintings will be small and profoundly affordable and all proceeds will be used to take Roots To Resistance to the finish line. Much love and gratitude to you all for your generosity and support.

For more on the What I Am show

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Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi

Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi
“As water is to life, so dignity is to my Humanity” Shireen Issawi

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Shireen Issawi is a Palestinian Human Rights Lawyer who was arrested on March 6th 2014 by the Israeli Military as part of a crackdown on Lawyers who where defending and advocating for Palestinian Prisoners. The lawyers, who were enacting fundamental Human Rights law, were branded as supporters of terrorism and have been incarcerated ever since. Shireen Issawi has become the very prisoner that she sought to defend, someone imprisoned and mistreated because of her work, her beliefs and her non violent resistance. Shireen was arrested because of her actions and complaints as a Human Rights lawyer concerning the mistreatment of Palestinian Prisoners and the holding of prisoners without charge. She was very much aware that defending the rights and treatment of Palestinians was a highly risky endeavor but this did not deter Shireen from her work and she continued to press forward in the face of mounting threats. Where would we be without such Humans, who are willing to sacrifice so much in the name of what is just, and what are we willing to do in support of them?

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It is from the portal of Shireen Issawi that we can view the devastating effects of so many Palestinians currently imprisoned under similar conditions. Perhaps you might imagine your own Sister, Daughter, or Mother arrested, knowing she is innocent but entirely unable to help her, and the World is mostly silent. Indeed Shireen stands in for hundreds of thousands of Political Prisoners all over this Planet, in Burma, Bahrain, Egypt, China, Eritrea, Mexico, here in the US, and in almost every Country across the Globe. As citizens of the World, I hope we will feel obligated and committed to using whatever small tools we may have to denounce such abundant injustice, despite the complications, despite our fears about entering into the realms of Israel and Palestine, despite the ease and lure of keeping quiet and tending our own lives.

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In this case, we at Roots to Resistance, a small Arts and Social Justice Organization,  make our offerings to those who have long been seeking and fighting for Justice on issues in Palestine. We have painted an 8 foot high Portrait of Shireen and created a Global Postcard Campaign Demanding her Freedom and an end to the US funding that perpetuates conditions of Occupation across Palestine. Most importantly we have partnered with dozens of Organizations and hundreds of Peoples from all over the World to create A Global Sign Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi. The Organizations and People involved in the campaign may not speak with one voice when it comes to all of the issues involved with Palestine and Israel, but we do speak as one about the absolute demand for Shireen’s release from prison.

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The Global Sign Campaign is an initiative asking folks from all over the Planet to send pictures of themselves holding signs Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi. In the end we have gathered over 150 with more arriving each day. Our goal in this endeavor was to invite all voices to demand Justice, not just the politicized or those well versed in the talking points of the Middle East.The invitation was for all to join because we think that a movement filled with a diversity of opinions but one voice on Shireen is the strongest way forward. Please come visit and enjoy the gallery of beautiful faces on our campaign page. puebla mexico 5                                                                  If you would like to add your own picture to our Global Sign Campaign please send your submissions on to us:  invisible_earth@yahoo.com

Many of those who sent pictures and signs also sent answers to a question we posed: “Why is it important for you to be involved in the Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi? “ Below are some of the answers beginning with a statement from the two Organizations working together to win Shireen’s Freedom.

“Shireen Issawi’s case is emblematic in highlighting how Palestinian human rights defenders are being targeted by Israeli authorities for arrest and prolonged detention due to peacefully working to protect and promote fundamental human rights. Ms. Issawi has now been held continuously in detention for nearly 19 months pending the outcome of her trial. We reiterate our call for the evidence relied upon by the Israeli authorities to indict Ms. Issawi to be subjected to rigorous examination and testing, in accordance with Israel’s duty under international human rights law to protect Ms. Issawi’s right to a fair trial.
Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights of the UK and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Ramallah Palestine

“Shireen has dedicated her life to justice and freedom for those Palestinian arbitrarily detained in Israel. She is a courageous and inspiring human rights defender who comes from a family committed to nonviolent resistance. The accusations held against her of supporting “terrorism” are ludicrous. She became a lawyer precisely because she believed the path to peace must be based on the protection of human rights and justice.” Ines Osman Alkarama Foundation, Switzerland

“The imprisonment of human rights lawyer and activist Shireen Issawi is yet another stain on Israel’s grim record of severe violations of human rights and international law and conventions. It is a gross miscarriage of justice, and should be terminated at once.”   Noam Chomsky, US

“I felt compelled to support the call to free Shireen after learning about her deep passion for supporting human rights. As a veteran of two recent wars – I fully appreciate the heart and soul she has put in her struggle (and consequent imprisonment) to allow the freedoms we all deserve. Although we may do it in different ways, we share the need and passion to serve our fellow humans – in hopes of obtaining what is the basic rights of all humans on our wonderful planet. “                                                                                   MSgt David Beaudet, USAF, Ret, B.S.

“I support this because we cannot let fear and confusion run our lives. Israel will not be safe until Palestine is free and Palestine will not be free until Israel is safe. As a Jew, I find it is critically important to take a stand against atrocities that are being committed towards Palestinian People. Shireen Issawi should be free. Free to live her life and speak her mind.”                                                                                                                            Rachel, Massachusetts

“Hope springs from the lives of people like Shireen Issawi, who strive non-violently for the freedom of political prisoners. Her dedication to that cause was recognized in December when the president of PeaceWomen across the Globe awarded her (in absentia) the AlKarama Award for Human Rights. Then, as now, Shireen was locked behind bars in an Israeli prison with those for whose freedom she has devoted her efforts. Should we not also recognize Shireen’s dedication and call for her release from prison and for the release of all non-violent political prisoners?”
Paul , New York

“It is important for me to be involved in the campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi because justice must be universal. Justice for Shireen and all other administrative detainees must be immediate with freedom granted or charges laid. Administrative Detention is an usually cruel and inhumane practice and must be condemned. If a simple inhumane law like “Administrative Detention” cannot be overturned what hope for true justice for Palestine. Free Shireen and the other prisoners.”
Nasser, Victoria Australia

“ In our work with people in Gaza, we have been told repeatedly that the issue of the prisoners is a vital one for the entire Palestinian resistance movement that cuts across political divides. Shireen Issawi like all political prisoners needs to know that she is not forgotten and that she is in our hearts.”                                                                                Rafah Sister City Project, Madison, Wisconsin

“We support human rights and all those like Shireen Issawi who are working for Human Rights.”                                                                                                                                   Davis Committee For Palestinian Rights, California

“Why is it important for us to be involved?!
Well , if we can do not much – this we can ! We can give our voice for the People which have no voice right now ! Shireen Issawi and her Family suffer because they are Palestinians who fight for their rights! We will stand with them! Free all political prisoners!”
BDS Zurich, Switzerland

Shireen Issawi has been punished, not for committing a crime, but for daring to defend human rights and free speech in the face of a brutal occupation. Her arrest an incarceration show how threatening these basic values are to the Israeli occupation. Palestine Advocacy Project, Cambridge

Shireen Issawi and her family have been relentlessly persecuted by Israel for over two decades. The imprisonment of Shireen is another deep and brutal injustice for her and her family that is representative of how Israel attempts to quell and punish righteous rebellion against its many decades of systematic apartheid and ethnocide. Israel must release Shireen and the over-5,000 political prisoners it holds and tortures, remember that compassion is the essence of life, and abandon its current course.
Alisa Klein Massachusetts

“ It’s about empathy, I live in Mexico, Mexico is a corrupt country and where the law favors the powerful, I can be arrested arbitrarily to defend my people as has happened to Shireen, she defended her brother and she has defended political prisoners in Palestine, but who defends her? If I lived the case of Shireen, I wanted someone to defend my case, someone to talk to the world about the injustices that I live and that my people live, is my reason to get involved in the campaign to demand the liberation of Shireen Issawi, empathy and solidarity with someone who has fought for the Palestinian people without asking anything in exchange.”                                                                                                Ana Rosa Moreno  Puebla, Mexico

“I strongly support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted by the UN in 1948. As a person who believes in human and civil rights and human dignity, Palestinian lawyer Shireen Al Issawi,is a shining example of courage, perseverance, and determination in striving to achieve justice for Palestinians who have suffered an ugly and brutal military occupation for 48 years. She has been unjustly imprisoned and I call on all those leaders who say they endorse human rights to act to free Shireen Issawi and the Palestinian people from the prison they currently endure.”
Will Thomas New Hampshire Veterans for Peace

I am in involved in the Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi, as I am involved in all the campaigns related to Palestinian political prisoners, because the issue of Israel’s mass incarceration of Palestinians is at the heart of Palestinian resistance and struggle for liberation.
Rima, Jerusalem

I support the campaign to demand freedom for Shireen Issawi because she is simply asking for truth and justice for Palestinian prisoners. This should not be a lot to ask of the Israeli government. The fact that this government considers this inflammatory and unacceptable, to the point that they have kept Shireen imprisoned and silenced, demonstrates the brutality and irrationality of the Israeli regime and occupation. Shireen’s fight is a fight to return humanity to her fellow Palestinian citizens, and it is emblematic of all brave activists around the world fighting for the humanity of all oppressed peoples. Shireen Issawi must be freed!                                                                                           Natascia Pica, Massachusetts

“Free speech and justice should be global rights”                                                                  Kate, Massachusetts

“The world must demand release of all prisoners held by Israel in violation of international law!”                                                                                                                                       Joyce, Germantown Wisconsin

Thank you ! Thank you, Shireen Issawi, for your brilliance and courage and perserverance! Michael, Colorado

SAM_9362 (2)                                                         Please add your voice and hearts to this call for Justice. Join Us!                        Remember to click + Follow on this blog so we can keep you updated on Shireen!    For more on Roots To Resistance and this campaign please visit our website.

   

Frances Crowe’s Portrait-Reclaiming The Peace Movement, Disarming The Planet

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Frances Crowe turned 96 last week. 96 Years which brought her along the way to where she stands now, a Woman who in the last 4-5 decades has gathered all of her efforts into the service of Peace. In 2014 I painted the 8 foot high Portrait of Frances Crowe, beginning in the early Summer months and completing the Portrait as the year turned. I wanted to enter into a deep investigation of what qualities and experiences might create a person who uses so much of their lives almost exclusively in the service of something as elusive as Peace. I also wanted to revisit and recommit myself to this Justice Movement known as Peace, in a way that did not look back nostalgically to the 60’s and 70’s but which brought Peace fully into this time as one of the most important issues intersecting with all others. I think honestly I had written off Peace as something that would never coexist with us in this age and perhaps not in those after it. I doubt Frances spends much time in dreamy pondering as this Artist so often does, she is on the move, in action even when she is standing still.

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I recently joined a Peace march that walked from Amherst to Northampton and I walked and talked with an Activist from Vermont who was a friend and colleague of Frances. Apparently, recently in a newsletter of some sort, it was incorrectly reported that Frances had passed on and this friend cried and grieved and then decided to call Frances Crowe’s number so he could hear her voice one last time. To his immense surprise Frances answered but had no time for trivial talking about her reported death and launched directly into ideas for an upcoming Anti Nuclear Initiative. This pretty much encompasses what I know of Frances, she has a single mind toward this work and it amazes me. As a dedicated Libra, I don’t seem to be able to have a single and forceful mindset toward these issues. There is the constant weighing, balancing, Juggling, considering and questioning. Especially present is questioning of why what I think and believe is so certainly the right thing. This is why I am painting these Women, Frances, Shireen, Malalai, Rebecca. They have a kind of unapologetic certainty, a knowing faith and profound dedication to their work that makes them so very powerful.

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I had the privilege of spending some time with Frances this Summer as I worked on her Portrait. I don’t paint from life, this is not my talent but I spent time looking with Frances through her dozens of scrapbooks which documented all of the Social Justice Movements that she has been a part of. We had tea and talked about the scrapbooks, the Women’s March, The Anti Apartheid Movement, Abolishing the Nuclear Plants and Weapons, Palestine and the Occupied Territories, Wall Street and of course we talked about Democracy Now. For those of you who do not know, Frances brought the daily radio news show, Democracy Now to the valley by force 🙂  She pirated the station from her own home for a couple of years and then put immense pressure on local Public/College Radio to carry it. In many ways from hearing her talk, I see that it is one of her proudest accomplishments and I for one am grateful for it Monday-Friday!

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In creating this Portrayal of Frances I used her stories to fuel narratives and her essence to create the tone of the Portrait. I used my growing inspiration and reconnection to the Peace and Anti Nuclear movement to depict the collective rising and the intensity of feelings that swell and emanate from such a collective. I painted deep ancestors under the Earth, skeletons and bones with messages for us, Frances and Paki raising fists and singing, missiles and weapons wrapped in their terrible intentions, cocoons and butterflies, snakes, beets, owls and turtles, Peace is not just for Humankind. The Portrait is packed with many stories, many ideas and many who call out and reach out to those who will take the time to stand and see. The point of course is to see and honor this life of Frances Crowe, a beautiful life, but the point is also to not stop there. Be moved, connected and inspired, and let that take you somewhere!

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Below is the Postcard that was created to both honor Frances Crowe and to carry forward the work that is so important to her. The tone and message of the card was chosen by Frances and I implemented it as she suggested. This Postcard is very timely because in May of this year 191 governments, relevant international agencies, and scores of civil society organizations will convene at the United Nations in New York to review and assess, for the eighth time, the implementation of the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. This Postcard, pre-addressed to Secretary Ban Ki Moon, Ambassador Samantha Power and President Barack Obama, demands that the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty abides by its promises to work toward the security of a World free from Nuclear Weapons, as it is the only sane course to be taken. 5000+ Postcards were translated and sent to our Global Partners across the Planet. Several Thousand more are in the hands of those who left Amherst on Saturday from the Leverett Peace Pagoda, walking to Washington DC in a quest to demand Peace.

Below this Postcard image is the text printed on it’s back. We offer them free to all who will carry and pass them forward.  Gratitude to Frances Crowe, The Delegation Of Peace Walkers and all who funded this campaign and helped make this possible. Special thanks to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the Proteus Fund. xo

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In Honor Of Peace and Justice Activist Frances Crowe

In May 2015, 191 governments, relevant international agencies, and scores of civil society organizations will convene at the United Nations in New York to review and assess, for the eighth time, the implementation of the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Collectively Nuclear armed nations spend over 100 billion dollars a year to sustain these weapons which bring an unspeakable threat to every Community on the Planet.
We the People state that the true nature of Nuclear Weapons is in their potential to destroy all of life on Planet Earth. We believe that no Nation has the right to create, hold or use such weapons for any reason. We take a stand here and demand that the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty abides by its promises to work toward the security of a World free from Nuclear Weapons, as it is the only sane course to be taken.

We are occupying the Planet with this renewed statement calling for the ban and elimination of all Nuclear Weapons and I personally have added my name below in support of this demand.

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Razan and I | OpenDemocracy

This is a beautiful and important article written by Syrian Activist Razan Ghazzawi.

Exiled Razaniyyat

My latest article on Razan Zaitouneh published yesterday on OpenDemocracy:

10172824_691852620878867_7378733230773807252_nBetween me and Razan there are those tiny stories that do not belong to and cannot be classified as one of those typical close relationships between friends. We weren’t friends. To me, she was the woman whose path is always crossing mine, a hard working woman who values human life more than any other values favored by other humans. She believes everyone is equal and everyone deserves the same treatment from law. Razan is a true human rights activist who doesn’t just write statements, but actually commits to advocating human rights and equality in her daily life.

Razan cannot be racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic or carry a prejudice, she only targets abusers. An abuser is he who commits a form of injustice against another. Period. Razan’s idea of human life is this simple, and it’s quite admirable to see…

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