I’ve finally got a chance to sit for a minute so I’d like to share some updates from the weekend.

Thursday afternoon I called Christian hoping for a chance to talk to him about the upcoming Orange Ink exhibit UNITY we’ve got planned for the month of September.
He answered and said, “Ah, hello Vanessa. Um. Are you interested in coming to Hiroshima Day tomorrow at Grafton Pagoda?”
I said yes and immediately began planning for the trip to NY.

I left Massachusetts in the afternoon for Petersburg, New York to join the Hiroshima Day ceremony and arrived at 6pm just in time for the group to start packing in to cars for the drive to Grafton center.

About 20 of us gathered for the 4 mile hike from Grafton Center to the Peace Pagoda. I was glad to see that Fred (a man I met while walking on Lynne Jackson’s Journey for Justice**) and some other familiar faces had made their way to the ceremony.


We walked the 4 miles to the pagoda.
When we arrived there were lanterns lining the path up to the dojo.

We sat indoors for a presentation “Carbon-Free, Nuclear Free Future” by Hattie Nestel”. She spoke about the dangers of nuclear power and weapons which she referred to as “two sides of the same coin”. She connected the meltdown at Fukushima with Hiroshima, Chernobyl, and Vermont Yankee a local nuclear reactor that is currently polluting the Connecticut River.

After her presentation we brought lanterns around the Pagoda and held in reflection the bombing of Hiroshima 68 years ago.


On WMUA for the anniversary of the bombing there was a program on nuclear power and someone played “Cranes Over Hiroshima” I don’t remember the entire song, but the chorus stayed in my head as we walked in the cold night around the pagoda;

“Cranes over Hiroshima
White and red and gold
flicker in the sunset
like a thousand vanished souls
I will fold these cranes of paper
to a thousand one by one
and I’ll fly away when I am done…”

A thousand vanished souls.
I thought about the 600 people massacred in Egypt just a few days ago and took my seat.

We started the outdoor program with interfaith prayers, a ceremony which has more meaning to me every time I participate.

I’ve had my own struggles with religion, and it can be another divisive ism but it really always moves me when people put aside their differences and try to share and embody the purest of their religion which is ultimately just love.

The prayers started with Naomi who offered a Hebrew prayer from the Jewish tradition. Next a Christian prayer was offered. Following that a man from the Masjid as-Salaam stood to offer a prayer in Arabic from the tradition of Islam. Finally Allan Brandt of the Mohawk Nation stood to offer a prayer from his Tradition and share the story of the peacemaker.

Say what you will about spirituality and religion, they do have their faults, but there’s something magical about people who believe very strongly in their version of the creator coming together to call out in gratitude and peace.

After the prayers, Bruce Gagnon got up to speak about his organization the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and to share some information about the upcoming Maine Drone Walk.

Along the path I’ve chosen I’ve been blessed to meet up with elders who have been hugely inspirational to me. I have so many people I am grateful to have in my life, and Bruce is one of them.


Bruce has been talking about drones and demilitarization since I first met him, and I knew the horror and dangers of drones two years ago when many people in this country didn’t even know they existed. His blog was one of the inspirations for PeaceWalks, motivated and assured that we could be our own media.

Before I went to Australia, Bruce created a platform for me to speak on a panel at the annual Global Network Conference. It was at this time that I met Manasi Mahanty, a wonderful activist from India, and several other international anti-nuclear activists.

I learned recently that Dr. Narayan Rao will be holding a conference in October in Indore, India to talk about the nuclear plant at Koodankulam and the future of nuclear power and sustainability.

I am going to try my best to attend this conference
(International Conference on Gandhi, Disarmament & Development)

[I will be trying to raise some money to help cover the airfare so if you’re in a position to, please think about making a small donation towards the trip. More info on that later.]

Following Bruce’s presentation we heard music from a Taiko group based in Western Mass, and songs from Roberto Muller.

After the ceremony finished and the circle was closed we went inside for miso and conversation.

I caught up with a few new and old friends and sometime around 11 got on the road for the trip back to Massachusetts.

I spent the morning posting photos and then headed out to Central Mass to help my mom and younger brother move into their new apartment. It was good to see them but it was for a regrettably short time.. I’ll be back soon.

Solar is sexy!

Saturday night I came back to Western Mass to go out for a long awaited and much needed ladies night with the other Vanessa and some friends.

Right as I got out of work I got a call from Christian saying he was in town and wondering if I wanted to meet up for a bit to talk about the gallery.
We met up at Food for Thought Books and Matthew told us that there was an event happening at 6. We read the flyer “The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil”

We arranged plans and came back to the bookstore.

Roberto Perez-Rivero spoke on permaculture, colonization and sustainability in Cuba –  the only country recognized as sustainable (WWF Living Planet report, 2007).

It was an incredible presentation that started with colonization and the difference between farms and plantations (one is for necessity and survival/quality, the other is for money and production/quantity) and how our current food system is really outrageous and not going to last for much longer.

You should see Hawaii now,” he said. “There used to be so many bananas in Hawaii, now, there are none. Dole was there, they moved from Cuba to Hawaii and now they are in Africa. They destroy and start somewhere else, but we’re running out of planet too.”

The incentive of these factory farms (plantations) is to create as much uniform product as possible, which is where GMO’s come into play. If you are representing a company that sells tomatoes all around the globe you are looking for seeds that grow plants that all look as similar in size and shape as possible. You are looking for plants that won’t rot or go bad as they are packaged and shipped across the globe, and that ripen at the same time for shipping convenience.
This is not right.
Food should ripen at different times. Vegetables that have the same size and shape are not necessarily the most nutritious or flavorful.

Roberto Perez-Rivera at Food for Thought Books
Roberto Perez-Rivera at Food for Thought Books

Who controls the seeds controls agriculture.

He pulled up a picture of some farmers and a small ox.
This,” he said, “is my tractor. This tractor does not compact the soil, it produces manure, and it reminds us the size a manageable farm should be.

From my work with Seeds of Solidarity (more inspirational people who were instrumental in introducing me to a different way of living) I know so much of this on a smaller scale.

Cuba is a country.
An entire country that is sustainable.
Sustainable as in huge shared city garden plots (that are chemical and GMO free), community composting, free plots of land from the Government for your entire life if you can use the land to produce food, gray water systems and composting toilets. It was really incredible to see these photos and to hear the stories of what’s happening in Cuba now. It is so exciting to see these photos and to hear the stories of what is happening in Cuba now.
In an attempt to throw around their power and put Cuba in the dark the US imposed the embargo and cut Cuba off, expecting total collapse and surrender but the opposite happened – the second the US finally pulled (some of) their imperialistic, consumer lifestyle away from Cuba the country was free to live the way we are all supposed to be living!

Basically Cuba looks a bit like all of the sustainable utopian dreams that environmentalists in the US imagine in their happiest fantasies.

Obviously this change took time and much work. When the embargo started there was no fuel. People were hungry. Roberto said it took about 4 years for the country to have a working model. Initially people were cutting down trees to use for fuel and cooking but the Government stopped this almost immediately, recognizing the importance of the forest and bio-diversity. Forests are not fuel, they are life. Because the Government was able to stop this de-forestation before it got out of control, Cubans came up with alternatives. An amazing number of people are now self employed including youth and women.
Because air conditioners and tools are insanely expensive, people are now using permaculture models when planning their homes – for instance planting trees or grape vines over a patio rather than running the AC all day.

There is so much more to tell and I can’t do it justice now, but there is a permaculture conference coming up from November 11 to December 6th.
The website for the conference is here:
I highly encourage you to at least check out their site and learn about what’s really happening in Cuba because, um, Viva la Resistencia!

After the presentation I got together with artists, friends, activists who are behind OrangeInk to talk about this exhibit happening in September. We got some dates down for the spoken word/panel/music night events and I’m really excited that all of this is happening and can not wait for OrangeInk to hit Amherst.

I hope.
Y’all are ready.

Iyi gecelar, world.


Related links:
**Journey for Justice –
Bruce’s blog –
Seeds of Solidarity blog –
Maine Drone Walk –
OrangeInk –


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