Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Activist Me


It's been several weeks of being Farm Woman. Canning, freezing, drying stone fruit. Harvesting peppers and tomatoes and corn and greens. Making my weekly homemade pasta dishes -- I finally got a manual pasta maker! Ravioli are not too bad, tortellinis are a bitch, spaghetti and tagliatelle are a cinch -- on top of my weekly sourdough loaves. Tending all the living and growing things. Trying to avoid dealing with gophers and squirrels. (That's Farm Man's job but there is no Farm Man here. Only Big Dog and he does not think he lives on a farm. "It's a RANCH," he'll correct anyone who might call our place a "farm." When they ask what the difference is, all he says is "A ranch is more macho.")

But somewhere along the way, I got way in over my head on an anti-nuke event.

I was already preparing for another tv program that our local anti-nukers make for public access tv when email traffic brings the issue of a Buddhist monk my way. He's been living in the US for nearly 2 decades but his English is hard for Americans to understand and the other member of my group wanted to help but were not quite sure what is what he wanted to do.

"I'll contact him in Japanese," I volunteer.

Everyone let go. 

Don't let go! Don't trust me to deal with this properly!

As I communicated with him, I began to realize that I was the head and focal point. Oh my god. What am I doing? I hadn't a clue.

The Monk wanted to do a "Peace Walk" from Vandenberg Air Force base to San Luis Obispo, then a 3-day fast and prayer session in front of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

How does this whole thing work? What is the route of The Walk? Where does he stay? Who drives him? Accommodations, food, transportation... There were so many logistical matters.

While I am trying to figure all of this out, a new email comes in. An activist from Fukushima will be on the West Coast around the same time. How about having her and The Monk as speakers for our Hiroshima/Nagasaki Anniversary Event? The logistical details grow both in size and complexity.

I haven't figured anything out and ANOTHER email arrives. The author of Devil's Tango: How I Learned The Fukushima Step by Step also wants to be here around the same time. Cool! Three guest speakers! But now, the planning gets even more complicated.

Hey, this is not the first time I've had to quickly put something together. It's not the first time I've been in charge of a project, I tell myself. But I realize quickly that this is different. In my past life, I've always done things as a JOB. Meaning there was someone with a lot of money and usually it was my job to do it under budget. I had different parameters. I never had to figure out how to organize events with NO MONEY. I never had to go around asking so many people to donate their time, energy, space, etc.

I started freaking out. I started imagining the entire thing unraveling into a huge, un-laughable Spinal Tap sort of nightmare.

I am a terrible planner. I seem to be better at going with the flow. So for tonight, I will just breathe deeply and hope for the best. The Monk arrives tomorrow and the whole Peace Week will begin and then, what happens, happens. If it turns into a disaster, well, I guess I won't ever be doing this again.


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