Asni: Multimedia Art & Design
Hell Has No Fury
DIGITAL PRINTS now available on Ebay • Greeting card selection now available on Etsy • ASNI'S GARDEN: Original Watercolour paintings available on Etsy
SHEET MUSIC: Diego Fernandez de Huete: Compendio numeroso — original music for harp from baroque Spain
TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME MUSIC: Harp sheet music store * Travels in Middle Earth CD • 700 Years of Pop CD
Asni the Harper digital downloads: CD Baby ** Amazon MP3 * iTunes
NOW AVAILABLE: New Zealand Film Locations map: A3 poster * Snowflake Christmas/seasonal card * Queen Galadriel holiday card * Easter greeting cards
The Women's March in Wellington, along with the New Zealand sister marches in Auckland, Christchurch, and Dunedin, kicked the whole thing off.
I was in Wellington. Of course I was there. With my photo camera. Rocking my one and only pantsuit.
It was an indication of things to come. The Facebook event for Wellington had some 300 odd people registering their attendance, when last I looked. When I arrived at parliament with some 10 minutes to go for the official start of the event, there was already a sizeable crowd — considering this is sleepy Wellington, during the holiday season, in generally fairly apolitical New Zealand, where there is no political culture of street protest to speak of.
It kept swelling. By the time the speeches started, most of the lawn in front of parliament was full of people, and when we marched off toward Civic Square, we covered most of the length of Lambton Quay. Bus drivers driving past honked at us enthusiastically, and the crowd cheered back. Some shop employees were making wistful faces, clearly bummed that they had to work and could not join. I'm sure there were people who joined in spontaneously.
We passed a total of seven people begging on Lambton Quay. An old Asian couple looking for steady employment. Someone who honestly hadn't eaten. A young woman sitting under an advertising sign, trying to disappear, holding a cat on her lap. Her sign said please help me buy cat food. I wanted to ask her if she finds that people are more generous when they think they are helping to feed a cat, rather than helping to feed a human. I saw her later on Civic Square, still cuddling the cat. She looked happy to be there.
Two buskers were also there, and I think I spotted a couple of Deplorables in some attempt at an anti-demo. They were dressed in undershirts to best show off their budding beer bellies, and one guy was holding a sign saying Hi I'm Jay. The other looked unconvinced about being there. Maybe they were on an assignment from the local acting school. There were two of them.
According to the organizers, up to 1,500 people came to the march in Wellington, while the official spreadsheet that is still being collated gives a more conservative number of 700 to 1,000. Even the lowest figure is twice the expected attendance. To me it looked like the first number is closer to the mark — I estimated well over a 1,000 by the end of the march, though I have to admit my eye for audience sizes is a little out of practice. The march in Auckland attracted at least 2,000 people, and there were about 400 each in Christchurch and Dunedin. A few people held spontaneous marches in some smaller places around the country.
By the time I got home and hooked on to Facebook to upload my photos, other marches were underway and images started to come in. A friend from Wellington was on holiday and had marched in Melbourne instead. A crowd of between 3,500 and 5,000 people. In Sydney, 10,000. Another friend was just on her way to Trafalgar Square, 100,000 people in London.
There were marches in Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Hanoi, Singapore, New Delhi and Kolkata. In Capetown and Durban, Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam, Kinshasa, Lusaka, Harare, Antananarivo, Monrovia, Botswana. Jos in Nigeria, Kigali in Rwanda, Blantyre and Lilongwe in Malawi, and Accra in Ghana. On Saint Kitts and Nevis, on Guam, and in the Cayman Islands. In Tel Aviv, Beirut and Erbil, Iraq. In Riyadh in Saudi Arabia — though their website got hacked and it is unclear if the march actually took place. In Minsk and Tbilisi, Vilnius and Riga, Sofia, Belgrade, and yes, also in Moscow. And in Macau. There was no march in China.
Most major European cities had their march, from Gdansk and Prague and Budapest to Dublin and Lisbon and Reykjavik, from Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo to Athens, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Granada and Madrid. Canada, Mexico and the UK had the most international sister marches, followed by France and Germany, Portugal and Costa Rica. Lima, Medellin, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago turned out. So did what must have been the entire human population of Antarctica, bringing the count up to seven continents.
The exact number and location of all the sister marches is still a bit unclear. A couple of political scientists have started a spreadsheet collating the information, which is still very much a work in progress. It lists far more marches than were originally registered — in places like Bahrain and Morocco, Fiji and Laos and Myanmar. In Stavanger in Norway, where eight people got together to show their support, and in Kolonia on Pohnpei in Micronesia, where there were four. A very respectable 300 or so came in Doha in Qatar. My former hometown Bremen organized its own march, and so did various cities and towns in Germany besides the ones that are listed on the official website. One country which is conspicuous in its absence is Estonia, which surprises and saddens me a bit.
If you were at one of the marches, please go check if they have what seems like an accurate number. When the project got underway, a couple of friends pointed out that their numbers were quite conservative and lower than what has been reported in their local media — they listed 600 for Wellington, which is definitely not correct. That number has been corrected since (I was one of the people who saw to that). It's quite likely that there will be trolls trying to tamper with the information. Minimizing, minimizing, minimizing. It's always a danger with public sourced information, especially on the internet.
The Women's march website is asking for photo and video submissions, and the Wikipedia article is still in the works. Hint: The whole idea of Wikipedia is that anyone who has relevant information can contribute. Museums in the US and internationally have started collecting signs and other memorabilia — including Te Papa here in Wellington. If you have something, please contribute it. Let's not allow the trolls to take this narrative away from us, or erase the significance of this historic event.
Women's Marches :: Melbourne, Australia (© Judith Jones) :: London, UK (© ShzrEe Tan) :: New York, USA (© Dongsok Shin) :: Seattle, USA (© Maxine Eilander). Additional photographs © The New York Times
And the USA hadn't even started. Toward evening, photos appeared on my Facebook feed. A friend in New York reported that there were what looked like several parallel marches through the street grid of the city, because people wouldn't fit on just one street. He hadn't seen anything like it in his 30 odd years of living in Manhattan. A friend in Seattle posted photos. One showed an old lady on a walker next to a toddler in a stroller. That's dedication.
Eventually, a friend who had taken the trip to Washington from Texas, uploaded her pictures from the central march. You will have seen the images on the net and on TV by now. The low estimate for Washington is 470,000 people. That's more than came to Woodstock, back in the day. This may have counted only people in the Mall. Aerial pictures show people in pink hats stuck in parallel streets and in overflow areas, less conservative numbers say 680,000. Washington transport say they lodged more than a million individual trips that day.
In Chicago, the march had to be turned into a rally, because people were packing the entire proposed march route and there was nowhere to move to. Los Angeles was expecting 80,000 people and got up to 750,000 — nearly ten times the expected turnout. In Anchorage, Alaska — a staunchly Republican state — an estimated 3,500 people turned up in driving snow and temperatures below —20º C. There were several other marches in this state. In Antarctica, at least it's the middle of summer, but marches in northern regions certainly weren't aided by the weather.
Good thing everyone had a nice warm pink pussyhat.
"There is one aspect of the pattern we can still change. The biggest problem in Germany were the Bystanders. People who did not agree with Hitler's agenda but did nothing to oppose him.", I wrote in my last newsletter.
I think we just did that. Change the pattern.
"So let's keep talking and tweeting and getting together and brainstorm and organise, let's create our own reality where Donald has no power."
They say some victories are so hard bought, they are really a loss. A Greek general by the name of Pyrrhus once said, after winning a battle but losing large numbers of his men, "If we are victorious in one more battle, we shall be utterly ruined".
Hillary Clinton's election loss, on the other hand, is starting to look like a victory. On a whole different level.
*** Women's March on Washington Facebook page ::: Facebook pages are also available for many of the individual sister marches, search Facebook for your location. They are continuing to coordinate activism at this point.
*** Women's Marches the world over :: photo essay on New York Times ::: well worth scrolling through, keep some tissues handy. A selection of images is posted below.
*** And while we're at it: if you are not familiar with the concept of gaslighting and how it works, now is an excellent time to read up on it.
This is my one hundredth newsletter. When I set out with the first one, back in 2006, I never dreamed I would reach that number.
And I couldn't have asked for this issue to be more special.
I have had my doubts lately if I still wanted to continue writing it. The internet has become so toxic, with all the fake news and misinformation swirling around, and the trolling, and the propaganda and deliberate distortion of facts. I suppose it was naive to think we would never see this again after the Cold War ended.
At the end of the day, this blog is also part of it. I can't claim the resources and access and time, the sources and the fact checking, that professional, trained journalists have. I add my opinion to the swirling vortex of opinion that is out there, and I try to make it clear that what I write is just that, an opinion — but do I not also contribute to the undermining of hard fact and objective reality that we are currently witnessing?
On the other hand, I think occupying this space on the net has become more important than ever. I should be more cautious with what I write about. Stick to eyewitness accounts or the testimony of people I know personally and trust, rather than making myself a megaphone for other people's agendas.
There is also the time investment. Posting my private rants on the net no longer feels like an adequate response to what is going on in the world. The Women's March will be pointless if it doesn't become the starting point for more people getting involved in hands-on activism, and the various local groups are setting out to become hubs for doing just that. I plan to be involved.
I have my own work to do, too. I am just rediscovering how to make my pencil dance across the page, after being sidetracked with other things these past two years. I will have to make these missives shorter, cover one topic at a time. Write about my own projects more.
But, this seems entirely the wrong moment to give up.
Meanwhile, life goes on even while all this turmoil is happening, and here in Featherston, it is summer.
I am writing this newsletter from my newly done up studio space, with garden view, and I have moved back into my bedroom, too. I still need to move all the furniture back in. This coming month, I hope to finally tackle my back entry, which has been serving as an animal stable for way too long, and kick all the rabbits finally out of the house. But first I need to make my verandah chicken proof, and set up an area where I can perhaps still plant some belated summer vegetables.
And yes, I was going to publish a picture book! Wouldn't my 50th birthday be an excellent date to tackle that. It is a bit of a tradition. I was in the studio recording Travels in Middle Earth on my 40th birthday.
The money I had assiduously squirreled aside over this past year, thinking I could celebrate my significant birthday with that long postponed Pacific Island holiday, has mostly gone to cover the bills, but at the moment, I don't quite see myself packing a suitcase and heading off to the islands anyway. Maybe I'll drive up north in early March and do some camping. I haven't been to the Coromandel in more than a decade.
There is still plenty of work to do around the house: do up the big front room which will probably become my gallery and salesroom, the front entry, and the kitchen. Fix the garden pond, which has been leaking since the ducks and geese claimed it. Set up a proper chicken enclosure and a proper veggie patch, and an area to do my nursery work, so I can grow some things next season. Find new homes for some of my rabbits, and proper accommodation for the rest of them. Clean the shed. Paint the shed. Fix the fence. The list goes on.
Once in a while, I get to hook off the computer and tie the sheep to a tree — Tiny Tim now has grazing on a neighbour's backyard, where he can sometimes stay over the night — and head out into the great outdoors. Even driving out to the beach has become a luxury I can't allow myself very often — re-decorating your home does that to you — but heck, I live smack in the middle of one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Here are some photos from a summer afternoon spent reading a good book by the nearby stream. Take a breather, relax. Then be alert, and stay strong. And good luck.
All the best for the new year 2017, and happy Year of the Rooster! We can handle this. Love to you all.
Arohanui, from Asni