Saturday, April 15, 2006

Beautiful things...

collage by Lani

I was looking on the Reflective Happiness WebSite yesterday, when I found a virtual partner, Loretta Nutumya, (Is she a virtual person, I'm not sure) but she said (virtually) that when she was a child, her grandmother taught her how to make pottery and jewelry. She loves making beautiful things that express her cultural traditions. It makes her feel connected to her people, her grandmother and to her past, and it allows her to support herself. She said her grandmother taught her about making beautiful thoughts as well as beautiful things.

Although she may be virtual, her statement struck me as marvelously true. How many wonderful things have we learned from our grandmothers? It is something which Edith Kramer (grandmother of Art Therapy) suggests to her students, to create art as much as possible, as often as possible and to be very careful how you furnish your mind.

Do you furnish your mind in a careful way? Do you read things that will exercise and nourish it? Do you take in sounds and sights that are rich and inspiring?

While I was on the road, Adela (Artella's resident grandmother) sent me an email suggesting I re-visit "resilience" in terms of "valor" and the blogspot of Riverbend.

Riverbend is a 26 year old Iraqi blogger who along with 18 others has been nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize for contemporary non-fiction which is £30,000 award. The winner will be announced on June 14 in London.

Riverbend's blog, Baghdad Burning, quickly became one of the most read Iraqi blogs, because she offers a very clear Iraqi woman's perspective on life in Baghdad and the US invasion and occupation. Because it comments on daily political and sectarian strife and "life under occupation" so articulately the blog was adapted into book form by UK-based publishers Marion Boyars and New York-based Feminist Press. In March 2005, the blog was adapted into a play by a New York-based theatre production company, and has also won third place in the 2005 Lettre Ulysses Prize for Reportage and a 2006 Bloggie award.

Baghdad Burning is full of day to day resilience and valor. Thank you Adela for reminding me. Riverbend was asked in an interview if she was unabashedly biased and anti-American, as some of her detractors have suggested.

She answered: "Unabashedly biased towards what? Iraq?"

Of course! We are all unabashedly biased towards the place where we live, our communities, and our families. It would be odd not to have a biased towards the things we know best.

But she goes on to explain, "One thing that bothers me is that many people equate being anti-occupation with anti-American. I am not anti-American - I know many wonderful Americans and correspond and communicate with them regularly. I am, however, anti-occupation."

Now that makes so much sense. If you are interested in Riverbend's life please take a look at Baghdad Burning or better yet, buy the book! Here's the link to Feminist Press.

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