[Air-l] saturday, september 11, 2004

david silver dsilver at u.washington.edu
Wed Sep 15 15:30:23 PDT 2004

The September Project (09.11.2004)

On Saturday, September 11, free and public events about democracy, citizenship, 
and patriotism took place.  To the best of our knowledge, 469 events took place 
in all 50 states.  Outside the US, events took place in 8 countries: Australia, 
Cuba, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and Venezuela.

Living in Seattle, I had the opportunity to attend 55 events spread throughout 
the Puget Sound area.  All of the events were free.  All but two events -- at 
the King County Jail Library and at the King County Regional Justice Center 
Detention Library -- were open to the public.  I wanted to attend all of the 
events but a day is short so I selected two: the Ballard Public Library (my 
neighborhood) and the Central Library downtown.  Both events were inspired and 

At the Ballard Public Library, librarian Ellen Fitzgerald organized an 
excellent event.  About 75 people attended a talk by Ian Spiers, a college 
student whose photographs of a popular Seattle landmark led to visits from 
police officers and officials from the Department of Homeland Security 
(http://brownequalsterrorist.com/), followed by comments by Doug Honig, 
Communications Director of ACLU-Washington.  Few were silent during the Q & A 
period and the discussion covered issues of security, racism, civil liberties, 
and justice.  75 community members discussing issues that matter in a public 
space: it was as if we were all part of an unironic and uncynical Norman 
Rockwell painting.  The event finished with folks talking about how we can 
continue to have events like these.

At the Central Library, Andra Addison, Chris Higashi, Amy Twito, and Kristin 
Zavorska organized a diverse set of events, including two film screenings of 
the film "Poetry in Wartime," a facilitated discussion about the film, poetry 
and creative writing workshops, and information booths featuring local 
organizations and non-profits.  The event also included a video kiosk (designed 
by The September Project's John Klockner) which allowed participants to record 
their personal thoughts and reactions to the day.  It was great to see kids, 
young adults, and adults record their thoughts throughout the day.

Outside the library were four blank murals.  This was a very large project, 
involving many, and organized primarily by Irina Gendelman, Giorgia Aiello, and 
Tema Milstein, three graduate students at the University of Washington.  Each 
mural had a different theme and color -- America (red), patriotism (white), war 
and peace (blue), and 9/11 (black). As the day went on, people (some library 
patrons, some who were there for September Project events, and some directly 
from the streets) observed the murals, talked about them, and added an image, a 
word, a sentence.  It was quite beautiful.  Every community should have 
community murals!  For images of the process and product, see:

I find a ton of hope in individuals and collectives that are working hard to 
make our communities, our countries, and our globe a better place. Here's to 
LIBRARIANS, who, despite budget cuts, despite pay cuts, and despite the Patriot 
Act which compromises their very job description, work hard and creatively to 
heal our communities.  Here's to ARTISTS and ACTIVISTS who have always and will 
always tackle the kinds of issues we are encouraged to be silent about.  And 
here's to YOUTH -- the hopeful, the unjaded, the uncynical, the not-yet burned 

It is difficult to find someone, anyone, who is happy with the directions our 
communities, our countries, and our globe are taking.  I'd like to end by 
thanking all of you, from all of us, for succeeding -- with grace, with 
inspiration, and with belief that it can and must be done -- in working to 
change those directions.

Here's to libraries.  Here's to public culture.  Here's to free culture.

Here's to dialogue, discussion, and dissent on topics that demand attention.

Here's to the people.

david silver

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