My Films

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

An org to check out: People for Social Change

There comes a time in our lives where we feel that our lives are spiritual rich enough that a desire to 'give back' wells up inside. The challenge then comes in making a decision in which way can we give back. For some, there's always been sometime we've cared for: whether it's the environment or children. But for others finding that extra special cause can be challenging. One organization in Tokyo, People for Social Change, has taken on that challenge by organizing events to help people "move beyond issue awareness to actualize social change."

Once every two months, PSC holds workshops in which you can learn skills such as fundraising, letter writing and developing social justice lesson plans. Panel discussions and presentations are given by local NGOs.
So if you are looking to "give back" in 2007, perhaps attending an upcoming workshop or checking out their blog will give you some good ideas.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Anthropology of Violence

One particular class that I am excited about this term is "The Anthropology of Violence." I think in my quest to create peace, it is important to understand what thoughts already exist on the reasons for violence. This class intendes to look at violence cross culturally, exmaining whether violence is unpredictable and inexplicable or its opposite. Anyways, I am hoping to do a better a job of writing my class notes/reflections in my blog. I've realized recently that I have done very little processing of the ideas and experiences I am having. This needs to be change. Anyways, here's what we covered from my first class:

So to begin, we started with some definitions:

"to commit the first act of hostility'

"hostitlity of attack upon another, whether overt, verbal or gestural."
"overt behavior with the intention of inflicting damage or other unpleasentness on another individual."

"rough or injurious force, action or treatment, an unjust or unwarented exertion of force and power."
"the inf liction on people of physical injury or death or the threat to do so."
"any attitude, word, action that treatens or destorys the human dignity of a human person or groups of persons"
"any act of agreesion of abuse which causes or intends to cuase injury. IN some cases criminal, or harm to a person, and to a lesser extnet animals or property."

So when harm takes a step further to injury and is goal oriented this is an act of violence.
How does human diginity factor into this? Do we include the injury/harm of human diginity in violence?
What are the methods of violent conduct?
Unlike other animals, humans have developed intra-species killing. Human have the inention to harm, to negate and destroy its own species. When animals attack other animals for food, that is considered predation and not violence.

This class will look at the possible deeper patterns of violene through examination of case studies from around the world. Its nice to be excited about a class, maybe a thesis idea will come from this.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Flat Stanley

A couple of weeks ago my second grade cousin sent me Flat Stanley in the mail. Stanley used to be a regular kid who is flattened by a falling bulletin board. Now that Stanley is flat, he is mailed across the globe to learn about other people and cultures. My cousin, Ana Sophia, in New Jersey, sent Flat Stanley to me and I took him around to see the more traditional side of Japan.
As a huge proponent for international experience, I believe that this is a fun way to give children a taste of other cultures when they can't get on a plane themselves. Anyways, I had to give him an outfit change so I made him a Hapi coat and Hakama pants. We took Stanley to a local Shinto Shrine where he met with kids dressed up for the Sichi-Go-San festival, a festival that is celebrates the health and happinness of kids 7, 5, and 3 years old.

If you are interested in starting a Flat Stanley project in your school, click here.

The Goi Peace Forum

On Thursday, November 23th, I attended the Goi Foundation Peace Forum held in Tokyo. The Forum was the culmination of a three day conference that brought 80 youth (16-35) from 28 countries to meet and discuss this year's theme: Creating a New Civilization.
The forum itself was divided into three parts. First, an award ceremony giving the 2006 Goi Peace Foundation award to Simple Velocity author Duane Elgin. Secondly, winners of the Goi Foundations annual speech contest presented their speeches. Thirdly, the youth participating in the conference gave presentations of their work and joined in a panel discussion with Masami Saionji (Chairperson, Goi Peace Foundation) and Hiroo Saionji (President, Goi Peace Foundation).
Unfortunately, I lost my notebook filled with notes of the forum itself but I had a friend participating in the three day conference and she snuck me into the reception afterwards. At the reception, I met with youth all consciously creating a more peaceful vision of the world. To find more about the Goi Peace Foundaiton check out this link.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Reflecting on my first term at ICU

Wow, it’s hard to believe that a whole term has passed already in two and half months. I’m not quite use to terms being over so quickly, it feels like I’ve barely gotten into the subject and now it’s time for something new but perhaps it’s appropriate for graduate school. I’m looking into possible ideas for my thesis. One idea I am considering is about the meaning of home when it comes to refugees.

Particularly, I was interested in looking at the Palestinian refugee issue. When I visited Jordan this past spring, I met with people who had never been to Palestine yet called it there home? Why are they so attached to this place they've never set foot on? Is it so deep within the psyche of the palestinian that they must return to this "home" and not really build roots in Jordan or wherever else they have settled?

I also was interested in looking at the conflict in the Balkans. This last year I worked on a documentary that highlighted the still current ethnic conflict in Kosovo. I observed how much these people were attached to their "home" because they ancestors had live there for 200 years or so. they were unwilling to start their new lives and accept their circumstances even if it meant that their children would get stoned on the way to school or that they lived in constant fear for their lives.

Very interesting. I can see a whole film coming out of this project, which is exciting but one thing I can observed that this film would only make a statement and offer no solution. And I ask myself why am I in this program? I believe that my hope is to offer some kind of solution, or to highlight some work that is being done.

Maybe there is some NGO working to reduce the identity/attachment with home?
Alright, I’m going to do some research on that. If you have any suggestions let me know

Rotary Weekend Retreat

Hey, these are photos from the Rotary Weekend retreat taken in the begining of October. It was a wondeful experience to connect with people in my program dedicated to creating peace.

click on the photo for more photos.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sometimes we need reminders..

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory ofGod that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,

we unconsciously give other peoplepermission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,

Our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson

Thursday, October 19, 2006

October 25th- Rotary Peace Forum

I am helping to organize the upcoming Rotary Peace Forum at ICU on the Oct. 25th.

Watch the Film:
The Last Atomic Bomb (92 min)

The Last Atomic Bomb interweaves the still controversial U.S. decision to use the bomb, censorship in the U.S. and Japan of the bomb or its effects, discrimination against survivors by other Japanese, buildup of nuclear weapons during the Cold War, the anti-nuclear movement, and today’s nuclear proliferation issues.

Meet the Filmmaker:
Kathleen Sullivan Ph.D

Co-Producer and Nuclear Disarmament Educator who has been engaged in the nuclear issue for the last 20 years.

Date: Wednesday, October 25th
Time: 7pm-9:30pm
Place: ERB II Room 301

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Peace Begins with Me and You" at the Artivist Film Festival

Hi, my film will be screening on November 10th @ around 4pm at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

“ARTIVIST” is the 1st international Film Festival dedicated to addressing Human Rights, Children's Advocacy, Environmental Preservation, and Animal Rights. Its mission is to strengthen the voice of international activist artists - "Artivists" - while raising public awareness for social global causes.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Peace Studies 101

Woah! The workload for class is getting pretty intense. I hope to be able at the very least share with you the presentation/papers that I will be working on.
As for now, I'd like to introduce you to my Peace Studies I Class:

As the basics of Peace Studies, most of our reading will come from "Approaches to Peace" Edited by David P. Barash. The book is divided into six chapters that we will be covering through the course of the fall term.

1. Approaches to War

2. Building "Negative Peace"

3. Building "Positive Peace"

4. Nonviolence

5. Religious Inspiration

6.Peace Movements

In the books introduction, Barash writes,
" Despite the enormous ills of our planet, there is reason to believe that our most pressing problem is not hunger, disease, poverty, social inequity, overpopulation, or environmental degradation, but rather he violence that human beings commit and threaten to commit against others... ...Consider the deep irony of a planet, beset with desperate crises, whose inhabitants nonetheless spend their time and energies fighting with each other, thereby making things even worse... ...It is indeed paradoxical that in a time of unique danger and difficulty, the inhabitants of planet Earth waste their time, resources, and energy--as well as their lives--fighting among themselves and/or preparing to do so."

Friday, September 29, 2006

Becoming Obsessed with Documenting and Media

Well, perhaps I have always been obsessed with media. Why else would I got to a really expensive film school?
It just gets clearer and clearer to me how important media and documenting is. I have always said that if I do nothing else in life at least I will document the peace movement.

Here's a quote I saw on on Peace Journalism

Peace Journalism consciously adopts an agenda for peace believing it to be the only genuine alternative to an--unacknowledged or otherwise--agenda for war. It maps the pre-violence conflict, identifying many parties and more causes, thereby opening up unexpected paths towards dialogue and peace making. Peace journalism humanizes all sides of conflict and is prepared to document, both deceit and suffering as well as peace initiative from all parties.

I also would really like to have a dialgoue with you that are reading my blog. I'd like to hear your thoughts/opinions because I believe that at the very basis peace begins with communication. Let's have a discussion!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Graduate Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution

As you can tell from my blog below that I am currently in graduate school. I received a two-year scholarship from the Rotary Foundation to obtain a Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution from the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan.
I feel blessed to have the opportunity to really get down and dirty to study what I have been so passionate about for the past three years.
Anyways, I hope to share what I'm learning in my upcoming blogs.

Here's a photo of the beautiful campus in the cherry blossom season:

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Rotary World Peace Fellowship

My statement at a Rotary Luncheon last March:

I am honored to be the recipient of the World Peace Fellowship and I am excited to be joining the 5th class of fellows at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan this fall. From the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you for giving me this wonderful life changing opportunity.

Rotary’s other scholarships programs, the Ambassadorial and Student Exchange programs were created in order to promote greater understanding and foster dialogue between different cultures. I believe that Rotary’s newest scholarship program, the World Peace Fellowship, takes this a step farther. It is building leadership resources designed to resolve future conflicts by training fellows in the latest techniques of mediation and conflict resolution by giving them a greater comprehension of peace and cooperation in the world. And in today’s climate, I believe that programs like this are need more than ever. Collectively, I think we are beginning to recognize the important role that mediators and peacemakers play at all levels of conflict, from our local communities to international relations.

The Rotary World Peace Fellowship is a two years master’s program in international peace and conflict resolution. And each year approximately 70 scholars are chosen from the around the world to attend of one of the eight leading universities chosen as Rotary centers. I have been selected to study at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. ICU was started after World War II by American and Japanese missionaries, who acknowledged that new bridges were needed to be built between the two nations in post-war Japan. And for someone who is both of Japanese and Irish-American ethnicity, it seems like the perfect place for me to receive my education from. At ICU, I will be able to take classes in both English and Japanese. And I really look forward to learning not only from my professors but from my fellow scholars as well. They will be coming from all across the globe and will be bringing with them a diverse background of experiences in fields of government, business, and education. I’m sure that they will aid expanding my perspective on these issues.

My interest in peace and conflict resolution has been largely influenced by my international upbringing. From an early age, my father, who was a foreign correspondent journalist, instilled me in the importance of global awareness and role that media plays in shaping it. I grew up traveling through out Asia, and outside of living in Japan and the US, I have lived in China, the Philippines, and the UK as well. It is because of these experiences that I have a great appreciation of cultural diversity and at the same time recognize how interconnected and interdependent we all are. An understanding that I believe is key to facilitating peace in the world.

Here in Los Angeles, I work in the film industry on social issue and human rights documentaries. Most recently I have been worked as an assistant editor on a feature documentary that examines the current situation in Kosovo. My own personal short films have gone on to be screened at various film festivals, have traveled with an art exhibit to the 2004 World Social Forum in Mumbai, India. They have aired on independent and cable television channels, and is currently on exhibit at Whitney Museum as part of the 2006 Bienniel in New York City.

I have also been actively involved in volunteering with local peace organizations: California Peace Action and the Department of Peace Campaign. And starting in April, I will be joining the Japanese NGO Peace boat as their on-board photo-journalist. Peace Boat is a cruise ship that docks in areas of conflict world wide, and organizes peace-building activities between the boat participants and the local organizations of the country.

I applied to this fellowship because I am dedicated to finding alternative solutions to conflict. I was undergraduate film student at New York University, when September 11th happened. And like many, I was profoundly affected by the event and I began to ask myself what am I going to do with my life when I graduate the following spring? I made a commitment to myself that with the skills that I gained from film school that I would create media that would bring awareness to issues of peace and justice, and foster greater tolerance and cooperation among people.

I see myself as an educator who gives lectures and workshops on conflict resolution while utilizing media to assist in people’s understanding of these issues. In order for me to help facilitate media that will truly create positive impact, I know that I need to further my education to understand the challenges that we are facing as a world society.

I also do part time work with inner city teens in East LA, teaching them filmmaking in after school arts programs. Being able to connect with the younger generation and giving them skills of creative self expression gives me immense joy. And so in particular I am interested in creating peace educational media that empowers youth in conflict whether it is here at home or abroad. I want to create a documentary series for high school and college students that focus on the different levels of peace: from achieving inner peace to understanding international peace relations. And by working with other educators, possibly the other scholars that I will meet through this program, and I envision this series being shown on PBS and used in classrooms across America. I also believe that it is important to highlight the valiant lives of individuals who are working for peace. Because on today’s television where violence is often glorified, I believe it is necessary to have an equal balance of positive stories and role models for our youth to look up to.

When I was growing up, I was told by adults over and over again that “you are our future” that “children are our future” Well, I’m no longer a child. And the future is now the present moment. It is now my turn to help create a safer and more peaceful world for the next generation. And I believe that this fellowship will give me the tools to do just that.
Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My dream for September 11th

I had just begun my semester abroad in London a week earlier. I was excited to be in a new city, making new international friends and interning for the BBC. On September 11th, at around 2pm, as our class began our teacher announced to us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We were surprised, thinking that it was a horrible accident but decided to continue on with our lesson.
When class finished, the secretary at the entrance to the building had breaking-news photos on her computer screen. “A second plane hit the other tower,” she said. My heart beating, I ran home turning on the television unable to believe what had happened.

A few days later I wrote in my journal:

The world has changed, it will never be the same again. I can not go back to New York and be the same. I cannot go back and live the same life I did… …I have always wanted to change the world. I want to make films that ask people to examine their lives, ask them if they are really doing what they want, if they are living their dreams. My life seems so trivial. It’s like what can I do? How can I keep on doing the same things that I’ve always done?

It has now been five years since that event. After returning to New York, I kept on asking myself, What can I do? what can I do? When I look back on that day, I realized how much it not only changed the world but change me as well. I wouldn’t be who I am today, someone committed to creating peace in the world.

I just recently discovered that on September 11th, 1906, Gandhi began the Satyagraha non-violent movement. So as we remember the 5th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, we can also commemorate one of the greatest achievements of the world-- the power of his movement to change the world and the hearts of man through non-violent direct action. Perhaps as he made his commitment 100 years ago, we can make our own commitment to ourselves today.

So what is my dream for September 11th? It’s my dream that it becomes a day of peace. So as we remember the tragedy of five years ago and say prayers for the lives lost, we can also see it as a call for peace. Not a call for war. Not call for revenge, but a call of people from around the world for peace.

Each of us can contribute to peace today and every day. Pray for peace, meditate for peace, talk about peace, join a peace activism group, or watch the film Gandhi.
Gandhi probably had little idea of how far his satyagraha movement would go, so you never know how far the commitment we make to peace will go either.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Walking for Peace from Kobe to Hiroshima

Hey, I copied this verbatim from what I wrote for the Peace Boat website about the walk I participated in August. It's already September, craziness! September is a very special month for Peace and I'll be updating my blog frequently over the next thirty days.

okay here goes:

On July 16th, the remaining participants of the 53rd voyage disembarked from the TSS Topaz at the Port of Kobe. Having sailed around the world for the past 102 days, their bags overflowed with gifts from unusual places and their digital cameras were jammed with the photos of their new international friends. The voyage took them to places previously unheard of and exposed them to diverse cultures, languages and global issues. While many of them were ready to return to their familiar lives and begin to look for work, a handful of them were ready to take the tools and skills they had acquired and put them into action.

A week later, six eager souls began a 320 km peace walk from Kobe to Hiroshima. Beginning their walk from the Port of Kobe as the 54th Global Voyage departed, they aimed to arrive to the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome by August 5th, one day before the 61st anniversary of the Atomic Bomb dropping. Miki Tatsuya, from Yokohama, joined the walk because he not only saw the walk as overcoming a personal challenge but also because, “I thought that if people could see us persevering in the heat of the summer, the message would reach their hearts that much more.”
Peace walk leader Shunsuke Hirai from Osaka, who began organizing the walk a week before Peace Boat arrived back in Japan, said, “we learned about so many issues while at sea. I asked myself what will I do with what I learned when I get back to Japan?”

The photo exhibit of the Depleted Uranium victims in Iraq.
Six walkers began the 15 day journey, averaging 25 kilometers a day under grueling temperatures of up to 35° Celsius. The walkers carried with them gruesome poster images of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima hibakusha. They also brought along photos of Depleted Uranium victims in Iraq taken by photojournalist Naomi Toyoda. Ji Hae Song, from Korea, said, “On the ship, we learned that there are many other “hibakusha,” not just the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. People in Korea, Iraq and elsewhere are suffering from the effects of radiation.” The participants have helped the public to make the connection, by setting up photo exhibitions at heavily trafficked train stations and shopping areas.

Walking through the city of Hiroshima escorted by the police.
The walkers have not only been speaking publicly about their experiences around the world but have made stops along their journey to learn about Japan’s imperialist military past. They visited the island of Okunojima, also called Doku Gas Jima (Poisonous Gas Island) that defied the 1925 Geneva Protocol to produce mustard seed gas from the 20s through 40s. At the Poisonous Gas Museum, they learned that to keep the gas production a secret, the island was erased from many maps at the time. Now, the island that has been converted into a resort. “The kids were swimming in the pools... they said they changed the soil but you have to wonder…” said Yuka Asada from Akashi.

The walkers pose in front of the A-bomb Dome.
As they got closer to their destination, more and more participants joined the walk. At local convenience stores and restaurants, words of encouragement came from the local community. “Keep on trucking along,” “Wow, you’ve walked all that?” have been a few of people’s reactions. Shunsuke said that an older man he met at a bath house reminded him that the hibakusha had walked the same route fleeing the bombing in much more dire conditions—higher temperatures and without water. “We should remember this as we walk,” he told the group in one of their nightly meetings.

On August 5th, 30 participants completed the last leg of the walk to the Atomic Bomb Dome. They carried the 13m banner “Pieces of Peace,” made out of messages of peace they collected from around the world. Along with it they carried a banner they had received from the World Peace Forum in Vancouver in late June. As they walked through the city streets of Hiroshima, escorted by police, Shunsuke and Peace Boat staff member Mika Hasegawa loudly announced on a megaphone, “We have just traveled around the world. We want a world without war and so we support Article 9 of the constitution. We hope that Article 9 will be adopted by constitutions of the world.” When they arrived at the Atomic Bomb Dome in the Peace Park, the six original walkers delivered the banners to the Peace Promotion Office at the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. A 15 day, 320km journey through both city and country had come to an end. That evening, they celebrated with other peace activists from Japan anticipating the memorial event the following day.

The “die-in” held at 8:15 on August 6th.
While many thousands gathered in the Peace Park for the main memorial event, many of the peace walk participants choose to participate in an alternative event by the Atomic Bomb Dome. At 8:15 am, the moment the bomb exploded 61 years ago, several hundred people lay down in front of the atomic bomb in a “die-in.” Shunsuke felt that in reaching Hiroshima, he saw the potential to change Japan. “This is just one journey we have accomplished, I’m sure we will continue on many more.”

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Processing Peace Boat

It's been three weeks or more since I disembarked the TSS Topaz in Yokohama. My voyage around the world is quickly becoming a dream: some scenes I can forward and rewind in my mind and somethings clearer while other memories quickly becoming fuzzy. I remember the port hole being open in my three bunk cabin in New York, where else it remained pretty much closed for the rest of the journey. I remember the halls in where guest educators lectured and the neon lighting in the Topaz dining area. More importantly, I remember standing out on the front deck and watching the glorious sunsets. I remember thinking how I had never seen the ocean so blue before. I originally wanted to go through and write brief blogs on each port of interest but I'm finding that my life moving forward and my desire to write about others things emerging. So as my journey on the 53rd Global Voyage of Peace Boat fades into the background, ideas and new understanding begin to surface.
In our last week at sea between Seward, Alaska and Yokohama so much changed in the world. My job as the web writer has me more obsessed with media than ever. That week North Korea launched missiles over Japan, Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, and thing in Iraq looked grim as ever. While we visited 19 ports around the world, most of our time was spent at sea. And while at sea, we learned about issues concerning the regions we were traveling to. We learned about the effects of Agent Orange of the Vietnamese people, the Sri Lankan civil conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian issues, fair trade, small arms trade, nuclear weapons proliferation, and Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. The ones that I have highlighted have left a discernible impression on me.
As far as the ports, the one other port that stood out to me is Jamaica. Jamaica, of course of it's warm weather and people. I participated in an eco-tour and it was refreshing to think about caring for the environing and take a break from the heavy conflict issues that I had been writing and thinking about. In Jamaica, I drifted on catamaran through a protected lagoon learning about the mangrove trees (probably the most important plant to the world's ecosystem ) and the endangered sea life. I remembered how much I love the tropical ocean, how easy it is for me to call it home. In my search to create peace, I had forgotten how important our environment is and how vital it is to sustaining peace. It reminded me how so many conflicts have been caused due to lack of resources and how our carelessness is rapidly depleting those resources. It showed me how in every person is the capacity to be in tune with nature and easily connect with the one. I leave you with a photo of my journey there. (Pic up soon)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A refugee camp in Jordan

Jordan. I have barely begun to understand the depths of the Palestinian Israeli conflict and I am no position to say who is right or who is wrong. But my time in Jordan has given me first had experience of the life of a Palestinian refugee and I cannot deny that my heart goes out to them. I visited a refugee camp called Baqa'a just outside of Jordan's capital city Amman. The camp began in 1968, after the second wave of refugees fled Palestine in the Israeli-Arab conflict in 1967. About 80 participants from Peace Boat stayed overnight in the camp with host families to experience the daily life of a Palestinian refugee.I felt welcomed and comfortable from the moment I met my family. Five participants and I stayed together in a three story concrete dwelling.
Since I've come back to Japan, I went to see the film Ghada about a Palestinian woman. What the film showed me was that how in my short time in that refugee camp, I had experienced so much. I met with extended family member after family member ( I certainly lost count and how everone was connected rather quickly) The immediate family that I lived with had 13 kids, the youngest being 23 and the oldest 40. With exception to the 23 year old, all of the siblings already had three to five very young kids. They spoke little English and we spoke zilch Arabic and so we mostly played with their kids. They served a huge plate of rice with whole chickens (there must have been a dozen or so chickens) at nine, and we dug in hungry. After dinner, a family friend and the two eldest brothers took us up a mountain to see the nightlights of the camp. We shared a traditional sweet tea with them, customary to be given to guests before saying goodbye, as well as trying the Arabic coffee. We slept in the guest room, the large space next of the bedrooms, on coushons propped agains the wall that we had earlier sat on.
I think I got a real sense of their situation when I met Ismail Suboh while I was walking around the camp. He was an English teacher at one of the schools in the refugee camp and spoke at ease with me. He shared that his daughter had married a man who lived in Palestinian, and left the camp to live with him in Palestine seven yeasr ago. After the seond intifada and border control tightened, he has been unable to visit them. He showed me pictures of his grandchildren, four of them, on his cell phone. That's all he know of them since he has never met them. He wasn't angry or a suicide bomber plotting a revenge, just a concerened grandfather. He told me that he desired a free Palestine, like the one he remembered from his youth, and all he wanted to do was play with his grandkids. You can't deny the pain.
One of the first generation refugees spoke the following day. He said, " If someone came into your home and took it away from you, wouldn't you try to defend it?"

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ky La, Vietnam

I've dreamt of visiting Vietnam for a long, long time. There is something captivating about it. Perhaps, it's the traditional women's dress the Ao Dai or the tangy and crisp cuisine. Perhaps, it's because the war in Iraq is often compared to the war in Vietnam and I wanted to desperately understand what happened here 30 years ago. I wanted to see what the US had done to Vietnam. If it was possible to still see the traces of the war in the way people lived.

If you have ever seen the Oliver Stone film Heaven and Earth then you've seen these rice paddies before. La Lee Haslip, the woman’s whose life story is depicted in the film, came from this village. Now, living in the US, she has raised money to build health clinics, schools, and vocational training centers for her people. We visited one of the health clinics and met with children suffering from birth defects because of Agent Orange. I have to say it was completely heartbreaking to see these beautiful innocent children who wouldn’t grow up to be healthy adults one day. Their grandparents been affected directly from the toxic sprays of dioxin, yet they had to suffer through the consequences through no fault of their own.

The beauty of the land and the people are undeniable. I didn’t feel any anger or resentment amongst the people. We were welcomed into the homes of the villagers, shared meal with them, played games with their children. We slept on straw mats strewn across the floor, avoided huge crawly insects and sweat through 38 C degree heat. I’d like to one day do a backpacking trip through Vietnam.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Back from the boat!

Hey I just completed 102 days of sailing around the world. I am back in Tokyo, Japan for now. I will start posting photos here and on fliker in the next couple of days. Come back soon!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Check out the Peace Boat website

Unfortunately, I have no time to update my blog because I am busy busy writing for Peace Boat.
Please go to, and click on Reports from the 53rd Voyage to see what I and Peace Boat are up to.
Hope to see you somewhere around the world soon!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Setting Sail for Peace

On April 5th, I will be departing on a three and a half month journey around the world on the Japanese cruise ship Peace Boat. Starting from Yokohama, Japan, the boat will travel east through South East Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North American, the Caribbean, and Central American before returning to Japan in July. I have been invited on-board as the web reporter and will be regularly updating their website ( with photos and reports from the 53rd voyage.

The Peace Boat organization began in the 1980’s when Japanese students became outraged at their government for hiding war crimes from their national textbooks. They then commissioned a boat to travel through Northeast Asia, so that they could gain first hand experience of the autrocities caused by the Japanese government during World War II. Today, Peace Boat is a thousand passenger cruise ship that promotes responsible tourism and educational cultural activities between boat participants and local organizations of the country.

I am looking forward to gaining an in-depth knowledge of the many issues that Peace Boat will address as it sails around the globe. The themes for the 53rd voyage include: recent controversy regarding Article #9 of the Japanese constitution, the challenges of violence in the Middle East, and creating an action plan to live in nuclear free world.

Part of the reason why I actively pursued the web reporter position was because by having to write a regular schedule of articles, I will push myself to reflect and research on the many ways in which activist, scholars, and journalists are working to create peace. Perhaps there will be a documentary film idea among them, but most definitely I will come away with a far greater understanding of peace and conflict resolution and an articulate vocabulary to back me up.

In particular I am excited to visit Da Nang, Vietnam, the largest former US military base during the Vietnam War. This voyage will also be making three stops through the Middle East: to Jordan, Egypt and Libya. In Jordan, I will have the opportunity to visit a Palestinian refugee camp and in Libya I will gain a better understanding of the changing role of women in Islam. I have often been told that my optimism and passion of nonviolence knows nothing of the fundamental fanatics and violence of the Middle East and so it’s so important for me to gain first hand experience in that part of the world. I maybe wrong, but I think my trip there will only put an even more human face to the Arab world.

I really want to make the most of this trip. I hope that the more I experience, the more my heart will grow.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

My short film "March 22" at the Whitney museum

“March 22” is currently a part of a six-hour video compilation created by Deep Dish TV called “Shocking and Awful” that is playing at theWhitney Museum in New York City.
If you do make it to the Biennial, the video compilation is playing on the bottom floor by the museum store. “Shocking and Awful” is comprised of 12 Half hour segments and “March 22” is included in Segment 4 entitled "The Art of Resistance". If you want to catch it, I would recommend getting to the Whitney within the first hour of opening. I am credited at the end of the segment as well as on the info flyer available next to the screens. The Biennial continues till the end of May.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oscar Nominated Short Docs

It’s Oscar time again! This year I have been making concerted effort to see the films up in the best documentary category. Last Saturday, t I went to a screening of the Oscar nominated short documentaries. Since I’m inclined to create shorter films, I wanted to see the caliber of the nominated shorts.

Three of the four that have been nominated this year are:

“God Sleep in Rwanda” by Kimberly Acquaro and Stacy Sherman. In a country where 70% of the population is women, this documentary looks at the challenges that five Rwandan women face as they try to rebuild what’s left of their lives in this war torn country. During the 1994 genocide, they witnessed their sons and husbands brutally killed before their own eyes. Some were raped countless times and are now having to deal with gruesome consequences of contracting HIV. This documentary examines the newfound responsibilities, empowerment, dreams that these women are now facing..

“The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club” by Dan Krauss, is a portrait of war photographer Kevin Carter. Interviews with friends, family and colleagues, retell his disturbing experience photo documenting the killings and corpses during the Apartheid in South Africa. His experiences begin to haunt him and eventually lead him to take his own life.

“The Mushroom Club” by Steven Okazaki, looks at modern-day Japanese society as it honors the 60th anniversary of the Atomic Bomb dropping on Hiroshima. The characters portrayed in the documentary span from some of the oldest survivors to the babies that were affected radioactively while still inside their mother’s womb, now 60 year old adults with disabilities. The documentary begs the question: As the generation of survivors pass away, will the atrocities of one of the greatest crime against humanity be forgotten by the pop-culture obsessed youth?

I find it interesting that as the US lead war in Iraq drags on, three of nominated films touch on the subject of war. (In fact you might say that the fourth film, A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, does as well.) Though none of them are specifically about current US foreign policy, (perhaps an issue that is much to sensitive for the Academy ala Michael Moore’s 2003 speech “Shame on you Mr. President”,) they all show the horrors that we often forget when conflict in that region ceases to dominate news headlines.

Looking at past war genre films, Hollywood mass-produced films that glorified the American hero, played upon the ramped patriotic spirit, and glamorized the latest technological weapon/tactic during World War II. When Vietnam came along, films like Apocalypse Now and Catch-22 reflected the public's disillusionment of war as they revealed the true insanities and horrors of violence.

So what do these three films say about conflict today? They are showing a much larger array of issues; it's not just about the American war or the American experience any longer. It is recognition of conflict on a global scale. We are no longer hearing solely from the solider, now we get to hear the civilian's and journalists' perspectives. There is recognition that war doesn't end when congress calls the troops home, that people spend the rest of their lives rebuilding their homes and hoping for a better future for children. If art does reflect life, as the old adage goes, then I take refuge in the films that are being produced today are reflections of the rising consciousness among us.

Anyways, if you get a chance to go to see a screening, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the films.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

My first Non-violence Workshop

Today I participated in a non-violence workshop held at the Holman United Methodist Church. Once a month, Reverend James Lawson, a leading non-violence theorist, gives a three hour workshop that examines the philosophies and methodology of past non-violent movements.

The Season of Non-violence begins this Monday Jan 30th, the day Gandhi died and continues to the day April 4 when MILK was assassinated. So this workshop focused on the philosophy of Mohandis Gandhi.
The workshop began at 9 am with around 50 people in attendance. It seemed that many of the participants were quite active in the Los Angeles area with different peace and justice organizations. I met several members of the Interfaith Communities United for Peace and Justice and The Center for the Advancement of Nonviolence . Rev. Lawson began with an introduction of Gandhi's life and supplemented it with a segment of the PBS documentary A Force More Powerful and began to discuss how we could apply his methodology to today.

An interesting discussion ensued regarding right to self defense vs non-violence philosophy. This is something that I as an individual have tried to wrap my head around many times before. I have asked myself, if I were physically attacked whether I would retaliate physically in defense or not. And what I had unstably arrived at was that even though ideally I would like to have an openness to spirit that would not allow me to act in such away, when it came down to it I would probably attempt to defend myself. (Though I don't think I would be capable of seriously harming anyone, I would just create a space for my escape) This then cast a doubt on whether I was really capable of non-violence.

Rev. Lawson clarified that there is a difference between self-defense and nonviolence, (and I hope I don't butcher what he attempted to convey) that one can still self defend on the individual level but nonviolence was actually applicable to level of movement. During the civil rights movement, African American activists would sleep upright with a shot gun in their hands to defend their family in case of intrusion, but out on the streets among many they were able to uphold the force of nonviolence. That the movement itself was about going into the community and challenging the system.

Another important idea that I real gleaned on was regarding the success of a nonviolent movement. Rev. Lawson stated that a nonviolent movement will not succeed if there is fragmentation within, if there is still any debate of the efficacy of arms. For me personally this is such a interesting observation of human nature. Immediately his statement evoked a militant frame mind, and in fact he compared it to how when soldiers are trained they all are unified under one goal. I'm wondering if that I am just pre-conditioned to think this, and if it is just changing my perspective that I'll be able to see it in a positive light.

Anyways these are some of the thoughts that I walked away with. I knew within the first fifteen minutes of the workshop that I wished I had come many moons ago. With whatever time I may have left in LA, I definitely hope to make the most of this workshop and mentors of Rev. Lawson.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Season of Non Violence

The Season of Non-violence kicks off this weekend in Los Angles at Agape Church!

Sunday January 211:00 pm"A Season of Non-Violence" Kickoff
Please join Ron Lapointe & his Drum Circle,
Rev. Michael Beckwith, The Agape Choir, and Children's Choir, Eisha Mason, members of Americans for a Dept. of Peace, the Spoken Word Ministry, Isaiah McGee, and host Arlene Campbell to recognize "A Season of Non-Violence" and the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

Learn more about the new legislation that has been presented in both the House and the Senate to create a Dept. of Peace that would include a Cabinet-level Secretary of Peace, and how we at Agape can help to make that a reality. Location: Parking LotAgape International Spiritual Center5700 Buckingham ParkwayCulver City, CA 90230

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Vlog: Walk for Peace

October 8th
McCarthur Park, Los Angeles, CA

Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hahn gave a talk on "Being Peace" and lead a walk and around McCarthur Park.

A follow up to this even it planned for Jan 22,
2006 in Santa Monica.
For details on the event click the links below

Click image to watch Video. I co-directed this video Sebastian Hernandez of Califas Journals .

Monday, January 02, 2006

2006 Intention

I intend to let go of my impatience.
I often find myself asking why things aren't happening soon enough on my time table and this causes me to be stressed. Life is not a race. There is not stop watch staring me down.

I intend to let go of my need to be constantly "doing".
instead I will work on "being."

I let go of my attachments to outcomes.
instead I give my life away in service.

I align myself with the divine universe.
Knowing that I am apart of this universe.
I allow the universe's intention to flow through me.