Archive for November, 2004

A Gathering of Digital Storytellers

Digital storytellers are everywhere – in middle school, in senior centers, and Native American communities; they are survivors of war, victims of abuse, and at-risk youth. This evening, storytellers from Portland, Ukiah and Santa Barbara joined storytellers from the Bay Area at KQED to network and share stories.

The evening was co-sponsored by KQED Digital Storytelling Initiative, the Center for Digital Storytelling, the Digital Storytelling Festival, Zero Divide Digital Storytelling Institute (a partnership between the Community Technology Foundation and BAVC) and the Digital Storytelling Association.Some of the people who shared digital stories were:

  • Amy Hill, who works with Silence Speaks, digital storytelling in support of healing and violence prevention
  • Joe Lambert, of the Center of Digital Storytelling
  • Gary Nale and Sunny Ross, who will be starting the Digital Literature Institute in Santa Barbara
  • Tamara, who teaches digital storytelling in an after-school program to middle school students in Oakland (her students use PowerPoint to create the digital stories!)

Feeding a Need

He held his bowl close to his mouth and with his chopsticks held together, quickly flicked the contents into his mouth without stopping until his bowl was empty. Then he filled it again, and started eating in the same manner. His eyes did not look at anything, not even the bowl. He made no attempt to make conversation, or even eye contact with his dining companions.

Watching him eat, I felt an inexorable sadness. I still think of him now, eight days later, and I still feel sad.

What was it about this man, in a restaurant full of patrons, that caught my heart? Clearly, he could afford to eat at a restaurant, so he must have some money. And he was probably with family, so did not feel the need to socialize. And I have seen other people eat like he did, with the rice bowl close to his mouth, shoveling the food in. But they had seemed to enjoy their food, or were simply filling an empty stomach.

I have felt like this on several occasions in my adult life, upon catching a glimpse of someone eating. Sadness. Pity. A desire to give the person something… They seemed to be feeding a need that will never be satisfied. I wonder – are they always hungry? Always, I sense some kind of loss.

I have never experienced the kind of hunger, or want, that I imagine these people to have experienced. I know my father has, when he was a prisoner of war during the Korean War. Imprisoned by the Americans, even though he was a South Korean medical officer, in a case of mistaken identity that was not resolved for many years. I don’t know how many. He rarely talks about his experiences as a POW.

Once, as we watched huge portions of food pass our table at one of the Italian waterfront restaurants on City Island, he said that people who have been poor and have known hunger must want to go to restaurants that serve large portions – they must want an abundance of food. We used to go to one of those restaurants whenever we went to City Island.

Another time, on one of the rare occasions that he accompanied me and my mom grocery shopping, he put a can of sardines in the shopping cart. “Gross”, I probably said. “Canned sardines?” He said he really had a taste for it. That evening, when my mom had doctored it up a bit and served it, he said that when he was a POW, one of the American soldiers had thrown him a can over the fence. He had never tasted anything so good.

In Mourning

I am still in denial about the results of the elections yesterday.

I didn’t want to listen to the news while we were having dinner to celebrate Tib’s birthday early yesterday evening.  And I was really happy to be listening to Tinariwen at the Great American Music Hall instead of election results later that evening.  When we finally got home after 11pm, I turned on my computer to see that NBC had announced Ohio for Bush, which sealed the election.  At which point I went to bed.

I did not want to get up this morning – I stayed in bed until almost 10am.

I’m in mourning for the people who will continue to die in Iraq.  Hell, for the people who will continue to suffer in THIS country.  For the kids who ARE going to get left behind.  For the people who are un- or under-insured.  For the jobless, the homeless, the hungry.  For the air, water, forests, and animals.  For the contamination and genetic modification of our food.  For the continuing erosion of our civil liberties…

Yikes – how many Supreme Court justices will Bush get to appoint?!?

Who are these people that voted for him?  What are they thinking?!?


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