I confess that the first thing I think of when I think of Texas it is not peace and sustainability. From ABQ to Ft. Stockton the nightmarish glow of freakishly lit oil wells, the black matrix like grinding machinery pummeling hundreds of thousands of desert acres reinforce the idea that Texas is in some ways the iconic symbol of an inevitable ecological holocaust.
But, on the otherhand, there is 100TPC organizer, Viktoria Valenzuela and Catherine Lee, Sheila F. Black of Gemini Ink, Alice Canestro Garcia, Antoinette V Franklin, Martha Tavera, Eduardo Garza, Roberto Garcia and the Southwest Workers Union working together to turn things around. And what an honor to be a part of 100TPC community in San Antonio! It might be a secret to the rest of the world but the folks in San Antonio know they have a creative and activist groove that can help shape the future for all of us. Great artists abound in San Antonio. And the barbacoa we sat down to devour at the kitchen table at Viktoria’s house fueled the inspiration. The conversation and corn tortillas gave us the sense that anything is possible. So many cultures, genres of creativity are at play in San Antonio and the connection between the arts and activism is natural there. It is difficult to summarize, impossible to summarize all the synergy and goodwill coming out of that town. It is a town full of intent and passion for the arts. At least the people we met!
Like Sheila Black, the director of Gemini Ink and her husband Duncan. Sheila is an amazingly engaged poet who truly embodies a global and cross-genre, cross-cultural paradigm for the Arts Center. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheila_Black)
For more on Gemini Ink visit http://geminiink.org:
At Gemini Ink we believe human story in all its diverse and complicated forms and genres — from poetry and fiction to memoir and oral tradition — is essential to developing compassion and richness in both individual and community life. We encourage focused reading, writing, and exchange at every level, from the elementary school student and the incarcerated youth to the polished professional and the elder who has always wanted to record her family stories.
And we finally got to meet the poet Catherine Lee who also organized an event in San Antonio (there were two events in San Antonio this past September) and we met Antoinette Franklin Tavera (poet, educator, librarian, and president of the Friends of the Carver Library), Roberto Garcia (he works with at risk youth and teaches boxing), and Martha Tavera and Eduoardo Garza (famous actor, poet, activist and prime force in The Jazz Poets group) sat around a table at Gemini Ink feasting on fresh tamales prepared by Viktoria and her dad. We ate and planned a future of change. Yay San Antonio!
Bottom line, the meeting at Gemini Ink went so well that Terri and I have planned to return on February 16 on our way back home from 100TPC Santa Rosa on the Road, for a poetry reading, presentation, music, 100TPC party! I am ready now to return and we haven’t event left!
Then Viktoria took Terri and me to Southwest Workers Union. Did I say how amazing Viktoria is? “Viktoria Valenzuela is a Creative Nonfiction Writer, Immigration Rights Activist, poet and mother…. She is involved with The Escuela Project of The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center where she infuses poetry into core curriculum classes as a teaching artist. She was also a poet contributor and banned book reader of the The Librotraficante Events held in San Antonio, Texas. Valenzuela is working on her first book and is the editor of The Arts United Magazine, a multimedia digital magazine (theartsunited.org). Valenzuela’s first book is about the 1940s Hispanic Orquesta, west side San Antonio culture, and her grandfather’s contribution therein.
The Southwest Worker’s Union was super.
Something tells me I am eating too much. More tamales, more chile, more good will. Here’s an article and photo tell you all about the Worker’s Union and the great library of censored books they proudly display as part of their community education and outreach. Every town in the world should have a place like this. Is that Depeche Mode they are dancing to? Texas, You really are so much more than I thought you were. Thank you San Antonio, all our new friends, for showing us the possibilities and the realities.
Peace and sustainability are in the works under the clear and easy Texas stars.