Monday, August 28, 2006

Gathering and birthday

A WONDERFUL evening with great people. These are some of the great people I have met at a gathering organised by my host, head of the American Indian study department. That's me on the left and then the woman with the short hair and purple dress is Tsianina, who is the head of the department.The other wonderful women are all successful students celebrating hard work.I am sorry not to know all their names.I just jumped in to get a picture while I could.

The other photo is of my friend Lu and a kind man , Who I met last week.Lu came and picked me up and drove me up to the party.As you can see ,she has a great smile. She is also a film maker and works on a site the university has set up.,( I am sure that is it ), which hosts talks and a series of lectures and various activities on the site. Well worth the look.
The house itself is very close to the Catalina Mountains.I found out that the Catalina's are higher than Kosiosko. Must be amazing in the winter with snow.

The photo with the 2 women and man are new students and friends from South DAKOTA. One of the women , kim ,had been to Byron and so that was a great feeling of home being shared. People from south Dakota seem to talk slow enough for me to understand more easily than most American's.I adopted them as they felt like Australian's and we really got on well.

The night was special , lots of rich conversation and connections . I was surprised by a birthday cake and gift( it was my birthday).How very sweet.
I was so surprised in fact that,I could hardly speak.I am very moved by the generous spirit here .How warmly I have been welcomed. How wise and real people are, and the feeling that learning and knowledge are strong .
It was a wonderful evening.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

glimpses of home -

Just a few shots of life at homein Australia. The ocean , with friends James and Amber about to go for a surf. We do have the best surf and I miss it. My little studio at Ocean shores, on the deck. I had to pack up before I made this trip and let it go , as I just rent.It was a sweet home.
Then a pic of me with my darling dog Tara, a 5 year old kelpie / shephard cross whom I rescued from the dog pound(prison ).She was on death row the day I got her, when she was 9 mths old and we have never looked back ! SHE IS my family. I love her heaps and she is now having a fun farm holiday with my friend Susan. Just wanted to back track and put these up , as a few folks wanted to see how my dog looks.What the ocean looks like , so , THIS IS FOR YOU EDDIE !!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

FULL DAYS in Arizona

Have been so busy , running around meeting all sorts of wonderful people. I have been meeting people involved in human rights, health and wellness and so much more. I am presenting a film evening here in Tucson on the 13th Septempber and will be screening films , courtesy of CAAMA,( Central Australian media Asssocaition ) and Warlpiri media( also from Central Australia), at the university of Arizona. I will post more on this after the event. I am so happy to be able to show films from home by our fantastic talented mob.I am sure we will have great feedback.

I am also running a workshop focusing on "The use of Narrative and creative processes that are being used in developing wellness projects for/with/ Indigenous people."
There has been a huge repsonse and I only wish we had a larger room to offer it in. I am offering this with my good friend Deidre Ikin. Deidre will talk specifically about "Narrative Therapy",( as developed by Michael white ). She is joining me here after spending 3 weeks in Oxaca Mexico at an international training conference. I had an email just now and there is a lot of unrest there and gunshots and so of course this is worrying.I heard it started from some issue of underpaid workers/teachers.I don't know much .

I am so excited Deidre is coming.Whilst she is here, we will have such a busy schedule yet also be travelling some. We plan to hire a car for a few days and head north to Sedonna and the Grande Canyon,( stay tuned ).I will be glad to have a small break.

These photos are of my latest adventures. I had to include one of my sexy foot , I have injured. I had my first hand experience with the USA health system. LET me tell all you Australian's reading this ,I am grateful for what we have! The system here is so complex its crazy!It is so hard to even work out who you can go to , never mind the 8 hours you then have to wait to actually see the Dr.

ANYWAY , none of this is slowing me too much. Though maybe its meant to ? I still have been able to do things. I went to a great blues and roots , bluegrass bar. Listened to the music of Greg Morton and his friends . He is the partner of a woman( Debbie ), who works at the American Indian studies department. I met more of the staff that evening. The staff in this department are all really wonderful and very rich in knowledge and willing to share. I am fortunate to be here.

The bikers were some sweet local guys with very kewl Harley's.The bikes were so perfect ! I would have loved a ride if they had offered !

I then spent the day with some wonderful hosts from the PASQUA Yaqui community. Aleena and Christina. This has been a high light so far. These women are so generous in spirit and so helpful and made me feel so welcome.It was wonderful to meet locals.Truly hospitality at its the best. They both work on Health and wellness and education projects for their community and thus organised for me to go out with them for the day .
We left early and headed for the Pasqua Yaqui community in the south and close to the border.I met with a working group who are in the early stages of setting up a digital story project.
I was able to share with them some work in Australia and stories and ideas. I showed them some great sites from home , one is especially good " US MOB " Which is hosted by ABC message stick. Developed by David Vadeviloo with community, in the Northern territory.
( google and have a look).

I then went to talk for an hour or so with the high school students.The Pasqua Yaqui, have their own HIGH SCHOOL. It was wonderful to see and feel the excitement of this. There was about 100 students maybe more ? The students were very interested in Australia. They all wanted to know if I ate KANGAROOS and if it tasted like chicken and if koala bears were big. I had eaten Alligator the night before , so I commented that it had tasted like chicken , everyone had a good laugh.
It was a great sharing time. I learnt a lot about the school system and how things work.Also how we have similar cultures and stories and ways. The retention rates are great ! so something is working. I was told before the school started the drop out rates were a problem. The school has only been here for 2 years and signals a complete turn around. I am very curious about this. As there is a lot of debate at home comcerning " 2 way education " and mainstreaming.

Later we went to meet with an advisory committee of about 30 people, who are meeting to set up projects that incorporate the use of story and narrative and creative processes to promote wellness.I shared about my work and ideas and showed a few digital stories and answered a lot of questions.It is inspiring for me as I feel my research area is on track with what is current for people on the ground in communties.It was very rich and I feel the conversation will continue.

The photo with the trees and courtyard is where a lot of the services to the community are located,I was very impressed. I took this photo of a very beautiful cacti in flower ! The abundance of cacti of all types is astounding and reminds me of Fitzgerald National park, In Western Australia. I was there one year and climbed the peak of a mountain in the park and the variety of banksia that I saw was incredible.It was at the right time of year during the height of flowering season.
The community also has a very successful alternative health program. Also a project to revitalise native produce/ plants / through garden projects. I am here such a short time and could learn so much more.

The other pictures are of the church here that is famous, St Xavier church. It dates from the 1690's and was part of a whole group of missions built at that time across this area. Part of the mission push to take control in a non military way. There is a whole system that spreads out from here.

Like many buildings here it is made in the traditional mud,adobe and is currently under renovations.I did not take a photo from outside due to the renovations as it was wrapped in cloth. INSIDE is truly incredible, and the pics do not do it justice. The thing that struck me , was how physical the religion here is for people. The clothing on Jesus and the saints.The candles in all the nooks with prayers and wishes and offerings everywhere.The blending of what was here before the waves of settlements and conquest merged with the Christian traditions.
Also the saints often have rows of old and new photos of loved ones beneath them.I found this actually very moving. There was one section with many soldiers pictures, all so young and earnest.I felt the atmosphere was very alive with the smells of the candles and the cloth and peoples hopes and dreams.

The other photo is of a smaller chapel on the way back. This stood out to me, as it was right next to the freeway.Then signs next to it announcing a casino. It seemed so at odds! So much a statement of the cultural juxtapositions and clashes,contested veiws. At the same time everything seems to merge here at the border, like a salsa stew.

Further down the road there are signs saying " stop the invasion NOW .Not a reference to wars in Iraq! This I was told is a reference to the crossing of "undocumented workers " or "illegal aliens". We were only half an hour to the border this day.

I am constantly reminded of this issue and the complexities and the emotions it evokes for everyone here. The mix of histories,stories and cultures ,old and new. The history of repeated conquests and land grabs and religion and culture is layer apon layer.

SO , I am very busy and more could be said , but this will do for now. MORE SOON.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Morning walks

Just a few more pictures of the local environment. These are all places I pass on my morning walk in the neighbourhood. The mountains are in the north, called the Catalina.
It was hard to get a clear photo of from here. I will try again soon.
They are really beautiful and tower above everything. The cactus is a native to this area and is called a sonora cactus , although I think it has another name . It looks like the kind they based "road runner" comics on, remember those, with the coyote !The other spikey one is what Tequila is made from !

My Office is now set up and I am preparing some presentations to offer in the American Indian department. I am excited to be able to share some films and also informtion about Australia in general. Specifically, I will be focusing on Aboriginal issues at home and particularly in reference to my work and research.

I am finally able to find my way around town a bit better and yesterday spent the day in the biggest book store I have ever seen. There is a wonderful muesum here as well and a rich collection of historical resources. Tucson is home to one of the largest American Indian collections in North America outside of the Smithsonian in Washington DC. I am planning a day to go explore Museums and galleries.

The weather here is monsoonal this time of year , really a lot like Darwin( Nth Australia ), in the middle of summer. It is very hot and humid now. In the afternoon it is common to experience flash floods and lots of lightening. The storms are fantastic to watch , but you don't want to get caught on a bike, ( which I was yesterday! ). I arrived back soaking wet and a little scared as well.

Things are going well , after a few glitches and getting lost . These things are expected in a move like this . I am meeting many wonderful people now. I have met people from all over the world and Tucson is a very multi cultural town. The focus on refugees and especially cross border issues , is one thing I am coming across everywhere here . I am going to try find a disk on learning spanish and find some local literature to learn more. On Saturday I have been invited to attend a performance by the" Refugee all stars ", a band from Sierra Leone. There is also a wonderful documentary about them that I hope to see.

Jackie ,One of the other Fulbrights I met in Australia arrived. We have spoken and plan to catch up soon. It was great and a little odd to hear an ozzie accent. I think I am already speaking American !

Friday, August 04, 2006

On the way to the University

"humanitarian aid is never a crime "Today at the university I ran into a woman from Brisbane Australia in STA travel. She told me this story .
Many Mexican's try and cross the desert here Illegally. Due to the heat and conditions , many never make it and DIE!!! Recently 2 Locals drove into the desert area on the USA side. They found 2 people lying in the sand , near unconscious and very weak. They helped them into the car and took them into Tuscon to the nearest medical center( hospital ).At the Hospital they were all arrested and now the Americans face a 15 years sentencein prison for helping the illegals.It is a huge issue here and is a issue debated in the Senate right now.
The woman I spoke with has made a documentary about this and I will find out more about thisand the title of her film. I hope to meet again and get a copy . She works with the university to show films and was interested in the films I have on loan from CAAMA and Walpiri Media ( central Australia Aboriginal Films ).
Anyway , now I understand the context better for these signs. They are literally on every block in peoples yards .

I also pass this adobe, (Mud, painted white )house everyday walking the dogs. It is stunning and this is just one small aspect of it . It is apparantly very old and famous , but as yet I do not know the actual story.I intend to find out .

The other couple of pics are of buildings on the campus.Most of the main Central buildings are old ones that circle a large area where the student services and bank, food places and other services are. The rest of the campus is spread for miles
( and I mean miles and miles ) and the buildings are newer and not as attractive.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Back tracking

Thought to back track and give those who don't know me some history. Here is a photo of myself. I actually have long hair , but its back.


pool photos ( good in 110 f ) weather

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Home in Tuscon

This is just some pics to show you all the luxury I am staying in.It IS GREAT to have a pool , so nice to cool off in after a long day of work. The cacti are everywhere and amazing! One day when I get home to Australia ,I will start a special Arizona Cacti garden. The color and art through and around the home is spectacular . I am very fortunate to be here. I am getting everything to work and finding my way on buses and riding my bike around. You have to do a lot early in the day or otherwise it is way too hot. I am learning to wake up early and get going. I went to the University , it is a half hour by bike or a two hour bus trip
( due to changes and waiting ) . So, I will be biking as much as I can. I have met some of the staff and walked around to see the campus which is huge and has aprox 50,000 students . The city itself is aprox 500,000 people. I will meet more people and have my office set up by next week and then the students all come back. I am looking forward to this and having everything working by then.

more soon. time to walk the dogs and get dinner going.


Here is ZINA , for those who know me , you can see she looks a lot like my girl TARA... more soon.