love in the time of cholera

In Haiti there has been a (as yet) manageable outbreak of cholera. 250 people have died, 3,000 are estimated to be effected. Given that over 1 million Haitians are still living in tent cities it is a testament to the efforts of aid workers that this has not turned (as yet) into a devastating epidemic. Cholera is thought to be passed through contact with the faeces of an infected person. In the tent cities, sanitation is a huge problem.

But more so, the problem is that 1 million people are displaced and in temporary shelters and they have fallen off our radar screens because…well…they are still there and change in their situation is not easily resolved. It is still the hurricane season but at least, so far, the storm tracks have not hammered the island that much.

Today has been a very interesting and long day. I think, it would be safe to write in my diary that today is the day that I ceased to be neutral. And I realized that I have have spent a long time – years in fact, in developing my self and my thoughts to the point that without doubt I may stand and say “this then is what I believe in.” That does not, of course, mean that it will not evolve. But there is a sense of …freedom in realizing it about oneself. As we discussed over a hair raising game of buraco today one of the problems in the world, as far as being able to work effectively to resolve problems that exist, is that too many people who have no idea what they think or believe are non-neutral and too many people who are aware of what they think and believe are so used to being in that neutral role that they are hesitant to step out of it. And by saying “no idea what they think or believe” I mean that many people function under the impression that they have opinions and beliefs but really they are literal more then a memorization or regurgitation of someone else’s ideals with no act of…processing to discern if they are enough of yours as well that you would be willing to sacrifice your life and your comfort in pursuit of their realization.

The buraco game, although it can get raucous, silly and fun is something that is taken very seriously. In the ten plus years they have been playing few games have been missed. Today I dragged myself over even though I feel under the weather, the house guest from Brasil was left in Massachusetts with a printout of how to get back by himself, and the third took a breather from her wedding anniversary to not miss the game. I play with people who have and are influential in the Department of Health, CDC, State Government ad Universities – not to mention all the other shared political and social connections we have between us all and stretched across at least 8 countries in 2 hemispheres.

One of the points we were haggling about in between cafe zinos and fist-fulls of nuts was what are effective measures and actions to combat poverty in the here and now. The ‘here’ being this city and state, the now being…well, now. The poverty, even though each of us have developed lives that are aimed at specific aspects of poverty – emotional, spiritual, education, cultural, economic and health was focused on economic. While the housing market is an absolute mess here, it has opened up some affordable homes for some, unfortunately they are in areas where the homes have been historically rented to the impoverished. Then there is a new bill in the city that will raise the taxes on tenement properties by…hold your breath…33%.

Perhaps one of the funniest things I have seen of late, funny/sad, is the new bus shelter down the street from me. I live in a fairly well-off, educated and artsy area. Granted, I live under the radar and not in one of those places, but in the cave and carve my existence out as best I can. This area borders one of the poorest areas (that is now slowly being gentrified). We all share the same bus stops.

And the city put up a new shelter, it is….one of the most artistically appealing and impractical things I have ever seen in my life. The shelter itself is inadequate, you can barely stand under the shelter because of how the supporting wall is positioned,but it has attractive grillwork. The complimenting roof is flat and provides to wind or rain protection. But best of all there are no benches. There are…don’t laugh…three artistically placed rocks with leveled tops that would allow kate moss to sit comfortably for about 2 minutes. None of the rocks are under the shelter.

One of the “puzzles” we gave each other over the second hand was “what would you do to get a neighborhood back on its feet?” without a grant, without funding, and without some organization to support in order to do it. How would it be done? How could you begin to recover lives on a dollar a day?  And more importantly, who would be first in line to stop you? And how could you get around that?

For me, visuals help when approaching a problem. Given my background and tendencies towards mechanical hobbies, I have begun to try and picture what the “engine that drives modern society” looks like. And like an industrial spy I am reverse engineering it to reveal its secrets and discover what parts, what fuels and what elements are needed for it to run.

And then I just might go break it, so to speak, or at least, pull a Prius and make something that is practical and so much better. The trick is to also find how to make it affordable and attractive. That was the other problem we discussed, what does one do in the face of gross ignorance and misconception and an absolute lack of interest in really investing the time and energy to learn about reality.

But then the game was over.

The President is here tomorrow. I have run all my errands because the city is so small it will probably be impossible to try and get around.

c.2010. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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