Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood. The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists.  In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformists!  – Martin Luther King, Jr.  1963


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“Are you part of the solution, or are you part of the con?”


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Today, Democracy Now! live steamed Amy Goodman moderating a forum from London with WikiLeaks Editor-In-Chief Julian Assange and Slovenian Philosopher Slavoj Žižek. It was incredible and important. I hope they will post the video so that more people can see it. The important takeaways in the words of  Žižek: “you can no longer deny that you know” and the conversation and free exchange of information between all people from Assange. I will post a link here if/when it’s available online.

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“If by ‘Liberal’ they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”– Senator Edward M. Kennedy

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” – Senator Edward M. Kennedy

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For the second year, I intend to honor Earth Hour this Saturday night,
March 28th at 8:30pm local time. The goal this year is 1 billion participants turning off all lights as acknowledgement of the seriousness of Global Warming. Last year I took a moonlit walk that hour. It was a profoundly moving experience and reminder of what we take for granted and what we have to lose.

On March 2nd, I participated in a successful climate action in Washington, DC, to protest and ultimately close down the coal burning power plant powering our own Capitol Hill, walking distance from the National Mall!  More photos here. [My own photos to come soon].

[Much more work to be done! April 1st update:  Climate Bill is All About the Cold Hard Cash  ]

See organizer Joshua Kahn Russell’s blog post about the action here, and another  blog post  Report-Back: Capitol Climate Action on smartmeme.org.


Josh posted 13 related videos about the action on current tv here.

Acting Up #8: Art Attack

[Update: Climate Justice and Coal’s Funeral Procession by Joshua Kahn Russell in Z Magazine]

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c/p BlueMassGroup

“The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns;
the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.” – Kahlil Gibran

Rose Art Museum

Rose Art Museum

I was utterly shocked, furious, heartsick and frankly, ashamed, when, earlier this week, I received a late night alumni email, a letter from Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz (himself a Brandeis alumnus -PhD’72 – so, shame on him, he should know better!) announcing that the Board of Trustees had voted unanimously to close The Rose Art Museum and liquidate the entire art collection in order to “sustain our core academic mission.” This decision seemed to have been made unequivocally, without exploring any other options and without vital input from the wider Brandeis community or the greater Arts community. The next morning, the story was on the front page of the Boston Globe (Ailing Brandeis will shut museum, sell treasured art:No other choice,  says president), the front of the Arts section of The New York Times (Outcry Over a Plan to Sell Museum’s Holdings), coverage on NPR (and a followup the next day)  with many additional articles following as word spread about the decision. I started getting phonecalls and emails from many Brandeis related friends who were as outraged and upset as I have been.

The Board of Trustees and the President do not seem to understand the colorblind implications of their rash decision. As a Brandeis graduate who has chosen to be a full time working artist (although I successfully studied both Academics and Fine Arts equally at Brandeis), and has worked at a museum in the early 1980s (in the Textile Conservation Department of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum which ironically has problems of its own, the article appearing on the very same day (!) as the article about the Rose ), I am still always stunned when the Arts are seen only as a commodity; a way to subsidize other supposedly more important or more valuable programs and commitments, rather than be recognized as the integral, priceless achievements of a civilized society. How can a University such as Brandeis, founded on the heels of the Holocaust fall into this trap? The Board of Trustees and the President have sent a message to the entire student body as well as to the larger community that the culmination of artistic pursuit is only valuable for its financial value, thereby undermining their own educational mission. Even the Nazis understood the symbolic value when they seized and preserved great works of art and Hitler famously said “No state lasts longer than the documents of its culture.”  Too bad he didn’t understand that the artists, the artwork and the culture are all intimately connected and cannot be separated. Historically, it has always been artists and their artwork, along with journalists, that are the first to be suppressed and purged from societies that are closing down and becoming less democratic.

Rose Art Museum

Rose Art Museum

One of my earliest memories is of going to the Museum of Modern Art on weekend mornings with my parents. For years, right inside the entrance, was a huge painting. I stood in front of that powerful painting many times over the years until it was suddenly gone. That painting, which decades earlier had been banned along with its painter, as a symbol of resistance to fascism and war, was returned to Spain, when after the death of Francisco Franco, it threw off the tyranny of fascism and became a democracy once again. That painting is Guernica, by Pablo Picasso. This is the real power of a great work of art, not just its dollar value.

Inside the Rose Art Museum

Inside the Rose Art Museum

FDR implicitly understood the importance of art and artists when he included them as part of the WPA plan for driving the recovery of the economy during the Great Depression. In the current economic crisis, this action by the Brandeis Board of Trustees sends a terrible message, one that I fear will be mimicked by other institutions who decide that the arts can be sacrificed.

If the Brandeis Trustees and Administration go through with this fire sale (which is what it will be in the current economic downturn given reports of plummeting art sales) it will be a tragedy that can never be righted. When I was a Brandeis undergraduate in the 1970’s, in another difficult economy, there were massive student protests, sit-ins and a building takeover to contest the seemingly unmovable budget, program and personnel cuts made by another oblivious Board of Trustees without any consultation with or involvement by the greater Brandeis community, that ultimately drove the University to reconsider and restructure their decisions toward a more creative and less drastic solution. Let’s hope that we can convince them to do the same again.

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk
in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal,
well meaning but without understanding
– Louis D. Brandeis

[Update: There’s a new blog tracking events to Save the Rose:
Speak Clearly: An Intervention for the Rose Art Museum
with videos of Town Hall Meetings, sit-ins, and new information and here’s an interview with the Rose  Chair of the Board of Overseers, Jonathan Lee ]

Sign the Petition In Opposition to the Closing of the Rose Art Museum

Write letters opposing the Closing of the Rose Art Museum:
– Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz <jehudareinharz@brandeis.edu>

-VP of Development, Myles Weisenberg <weisen@brandeis.edu>

Send copies of letters to:
the petition sponsors

students organizing in protest:
Rebeccah Ulm <rulm@brandeis.edu>
Maarit Ostrow <
Brian Friedberg <bfriedbe@brandeis.edu>
Penelope Taylor <penelope@brandeis.edu>

Make a Pledge at SavetheRose.org website

Student Activism/Support – Innermostparts website

Facebook Group to Save the Rose Art Museum

Facebook Group monitoring pledges to Save the Rose

Letter defending decision by Board of Trustees member & president of the Alumni Association Allen Alter ’71

UPDATE: There will be a featured segment about this issue on Thursday morning, February 5th on the Jeff Santos Show on WWZN 1510AM Boston, 6-9am.

More Articles About the Rose Art Museum decision:

Ailing Brandeis will shut museum, sell treasured art, Boston Globe, 1/27/09

Outcry Over a Plan to Sell Museum’s Holdings, New York Times, 1/27/09

Brandeis to Sell All of Its Art, Inside Higher Ed, 1/27/09

Brandeis to close Rose Art Museum, Daily News Tribune, 1/27/09

Rose Art Museum backers seek halt to selloff, Boston Globe, 1/28/09

Hawk this gem? Unconscionable, Boston Globe, 1/28/09

Crisis raises questions on Brandeis campus, Boston Globe, 1/28/09

Brandeis students organize events to save Rose Art Museum, Daily News Tribune, 1/28/09

Brandeis on the Brink, The Daily Beast, 1/28/09

Brandeis Shutters Art Museum, the Boston Phoenix, 1/28/09

Museum Backers Seek Halt to Selloff

Brandeis may keep art, says president: Reaffirms need to close museum, Boston Globe, 1/29/09

Brandeis Woes Put President on the Line

Faced With Economic Troubles, Brandeis to Close Rose Art Museum, PBS, 1/29/09

War of the Rose, Boston Globe Editorial, 1/30/09

A Crime Against the Arts, Daily News Tribune, 1/30/09

A lesson for Brandeis: Include your students, Boston Globe, 1/31/09

A betrayal of trust at Brandeis, Boston Globe editorial, 2/1/09

Campus museums, galleries vow to safeguard collections, 2/12/09

Quick Takes: Brandeis Art Debate Continues

First-timers, old friends visit Rose: As news of closure spreads, many are drawn to modern art collection

Museum Director Assails Brandeis’ Plans

Letter: Brandeis President Apologizes for Handling of Museum Issue

Brandeis President Issues Apology: Laments Museum Announcement

Statement of the Rose Art Museum Board of Overseers

UPDATE : Rose Art Not for Sale, Maybe for Rent 5/27/10

My friend and colleague Richard Rockford ’69 writes, Here are some of the real questions to ask:

1.  What is the role of Brandeis’s endowment?  Is it an emergency fund?  An income earner?  How much of it is used for what?  Is it a part of yearly budget, or is it a fund that is tapped only for capital projects, like new buildings, etc?
2.  Is the school loosing operating money on a regular basis?  In other words, does it yearly spend more than it takes in from tuition and grants, etc?  Can the school operate without a deficit if it adds no facilities or staff in any given year?
3.  What about all this other stuff that was looked at–expanding into summer sessions, less faculty, raising tuition, combining programs/disciplines/departments, etc?  What were the numbers there?  Why would a “slow, careful, and deliberate” sale of art help out? ( NOT that that was the original idea or that that concept reached the media–it was more like “come get all the art–now!).  Did anybody forsee the uproar and bad publicity in the art sale?  What will this situation cost the University?  If all universities are suffering the effects of the economy and scandals in personal fortunes, why is Brandeis the only one known to have an art “fire sale” as a remedy?
4. And, in the irony department, why did the school drop this bomb on the alumni and the public (who seems to have certainly noticed the event!) without floating the reasons and the other choices and discussions beforehand?  If we learned anything at Brandeis in my day, it was that important issues dropped on the relevant bodies by a hierarchy beyond our influence was a recipe for…..well….let’s not be too radical here….”undemocratic, usually unfair, and paternalistic control”.  (And to think I actually was a very conservative student relative to many in my Brandeis days!).
5.  By the way, what exactly is the type, amount, and cost of “aligning” Brandeis with the 21st Century?  Where is the college going, and is it upward in standards and quality?

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c/p Seeing the Forest blog

“Beauty is truth,

truth, beauty,
that is all Ye know on Earth,
And all ye need to know.”



Constitution Avenue, Inauguration Day 1/20/09


I’m looking forward to a new reign of truth, a renewed age of transparency,
reason and reasonableness in Political Affairs, and most importantly, restoration of our full civil liberties. So perhaps it is fitting that while I was an on location radio correspondant for WWZN 1510 AM Boston Tuesday morning, at the Inauguration, the young and vivacious 23 year old college student from Dallas I randomly chose to be interviewed out on the Mall in the shadow of the Washington Monument in the bitter cold an hour or so before the Inauguration was named Truth. Truth had supported Obama since the beginning of his campaign. Truth couldn’t help but feel ecstatic and hopeful about the future under Obama’s leadership. She was in Washington along with her Mom, older Sister and Mom’s dear friend.  


Truth (3rd from left) with mother (R), sister (close L) & family friend (L)

Truth (3rd from left) with mother (R), sister (close L) & family friend (L)



Sunday morning had begun with breakfast at the hotel with Dee, a lovely woman I met in the elevator who traveled here from Alaska to celebrate, and I enjoyed her stories about Alaska politics over scrambled eggs and fruit.  Out on the Mall Sunday afternoon at the star- packed “We Are One” concert, I was moved when, after Obama spoke, in a symbolic gesture that to me signals some of the intentions of the new president, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen led the crowd in singing the original pro-labor version of “This Land Is Your Land.”  [ BTW- a must see – is the uplifting documentary “The Power of Song” about Pete Seeger’s life and work.  There’s a petition online to nominate Seeger for a Nobel Peace Prize, and as I was leaving for Washington, I received an email that Rep. Barbara Lee – 9th District, CA,  has agreed to carry Seeger’s nomination and is soliciting specific examples of his work on Peace, Justice, & Environmental Issues by February First.  ( Send to: 1301 Clay St.   Suite 1000-N    Oakland, CA 94612   510-763-0370 ext. 16/ fax 520-763-6538)]

 Obama Inauguration, Mall, Washington DC 1/20/09

On my way out of the hotel early on Inauguration Day, a family with two little boys rode down on the elevator with me. The five year old suddenly piped up “Aren’t we going to be near the cameras for MSNBC?”  Wow! We’re finally bringing up a brand new generation of liberals! It was great to be in crowds of several million people cheering as the new president was sworn in, ending the nightmare that has been the last 8 years. This country has had a collective case of PTSD.  Washington has been positively bubbling over with emotion, pride and euphoria since I arrived late Saturday night. The streets, restaurants and hotels have been one big roving party.  Complete strangers have been walking up to each other, checking in, sharing these incredible moments, no matter what age, background, race. As someone who lived through the Boston busing crisis while in college, I am so proud of my country and how far it has come in regard to race (I had a first inkling about our progress when Deval Patrick was elected as our Governor.  People think of Massachusetts as a progressive bastion, but it has always had a tug of war between “town and gown,” provincialism vs. urbanity, and despite it’s historical part in the underground railroad and it’s institutions such as the W.E.B DuBois Institute, continued racial polarization and separation.) 


"I/We Are Accounted For"- At the Inaugural on the Mall, Washington, DC 1/20/09











I realize there are still too many pockets of overt racism in this country, but hope that Obama’s presidency will help to further transcend these issues as it has been experienced in Washington this week. The entire Mall area was packed with millions of people, respectfully peaceful, side by side.  I had a Press Pass – graciously thanks to Dave from Seeing the Forest blog but was unable to get anywhere close to a press area as the Mall & environs were already so crowded well before 8 in the morning. I had been invited to stop in at the combined Senators’ Kerry and Kennedy offices Inaugural viewing party at the Dirksen Senate Office Building and another party up Connecticut Avenue above Dupont Circle, but getting around Washington was taking hours by Metro and on foot with many metro stations and roads closed off for security reasons as well as by the Parade, so I never made it to either place. Instead, I sat for a long while over a large cup of coffee warming up after 7 hours outside in the cold. (Thank god for “little hotties” hand and foot warmers that kept us all from freezing out there!) A little bit of sadness interrupted my afternoon when a friend called to tell me that Senator Kennedy had collapsed at the Inaugural luncheon and was taken out to an ambulance on a stretcher having had a seizure. We’re all hoping for our Senator’s health to improve as it is difficult to imagine the Senate without him and know how much he is looking forward to crafting new Universal Health Care Legislation. Later, I celebrated the day again, over dinner and wine with old friends from Cambridge.




Union Banner, Washington DC 1/20/09

Union Banner, Washington DC 1/20/09













It’s been an amazing and emotional experience to be here, to personally witness change to what I hope will be some sort of equilibrium instead of the Orwellian upside-down world we’ve been forced to endure. I realize how enormous the challenges are that we face, particularly the economic meltdown, and I don’t expect overnight miracles, but I am hopeful about Obama’s ability to handle the complexity.  I’m  so thrilled to have a brilliant president who is worthy of the 21st century (and he has just been allowed to keep his beloved blackberry!)



Itzhak Perlman plays at the Inaugural 1/20/09

Itzhak Perlman plays at the Inaugural 1/20/09











More highlights of my DC experience:

Sunday afternoon “We Are One” Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial was all wonderful but was particularly moved by Tom Hank’s recitation of Copeland’s  “Lincoln Portrait” and Pete Seeger, Tao Rodríguez-Seeger & Bruce Sprinsteen singing ‘This Land is Your Land.”


There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
[As they stood there hungry, I stood there whistling,
This land was made for you and me.]



Day of Service in DC, 1/19/09

Day of Service in DC, 1/19/09










Monday afternoon volunteered during the “Day of Service” to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., across town at the RFK Stadium, packing care packages and writing letters to our soldiers overseas, where we just missed seeing Governor Patrick and other members of the MA delegation.



Day of Service, DC, Letters to soldiers overseas 1/19/09

Day of Service, DC, Letters to soldiers overseas 1/19/09



















Monday evening we enjoyed the Netroots Nation Party over sushi, grape leaves and Martinis at the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington keynoted by a rousing speech by Howard Dean about the successful role of the Netroots toward the outcome of the election, and stressing the importance of continued engagement in the process of democracy.



Howard Dean @ Netroots Inaugural Party 1/19/09

Howard Dean @ Netroots Inaugural Party 1/19/09


“…the time has come to set aside childish things.”

 “…As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice               between our safety and our ideals.

Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely           imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.

Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up      for expedience’s sake.”

                        – Obama Inaugural Address



Jeff & Jeff Santos, WWZN 1510 AM Boston @ Netroots Party 1/19/09

Jeff & Jeff Santos, WWZN 1510 AM Boston @ Netroots Party 1/19/09


Tuesday Inaugural, Obama’s address bravely included Muslims and non-believers for the first time in an Inaugural speech. A nice start toward including everyone. There was a bit too much Christian religion in the entire event for my taste, (separation of church and state, anyone?) but I make an exception for the closing benediction by Reverend Joseph E.  Lowery, one of the original Civil Rights leaders – he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Mobile, Alabama and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1950s.  I can only begin to imagine how unbelievable this experience has been for him. He opened with lines from what is considered “The Black National Anthem” (“Lift Every Voice and Sing” – first performed in celebration of Lincoln’s birthday in 1900, so the symbolism is doubly great) and he closed his blessing quoting from an old traditional roots blues song: 

“…we ask you to help us work for that day when
brown can stick around,
when yellow will be mellow,
when the red man can get ahead, man,
and when white will embrace what is right.
Let all those who do justice and love mercy
say Amen.
Say Amen.
And Amen.”


Obama takes Presidential Oath 1/20/09

Obama takes Presidential Oath 1/20/09


Wednesday afternoon, I went to a Roundtable Panel Discussion sponsored by Netroots Nation & Think Progress at the Center For American Progress on “Internet Advocacy” (the role of the Netroots and technology in governance over the next four years) with a booksigning by Mike Lux, one of the five panelists, for his new book, The Progressive Revolution: How the Best In America Came To Be.


Netroots Round Table, Center for American Progress, 1/21/09

L-R: Mike Lux, Cheryl Contee, Amanda Terkel, Sam Graham-Felsen, Ari Melber; Netroots Round Table, Center for American Progress, 1/21/09













That evening I met some friends from Pittsburgh, for dinner at a Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown. I am still savoring the week, both teary and bleary eyed while I get ready to drive back to Massachusetts today. What a fantastic week it has been!


Obama banner @ Carnegie Library, Washington DC

Obama banner @ Carnegie Library, Washington DC


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