Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Afternoon in the Park: CHARAS to Circus Amok, Bendy Tree to Children’s Magical Garden

The last few weeks have been consumed with the people’s climate march.  Many of us spent the week regrouping, catching up on rest and sleep.  But somehow, something seemed to have moved, some  sense that we can move forward on this issue. Today, the Times posted an editorial about climate week:
The marchers and mayors, the ministers and presidents, have come and gone. So what is the verdict on Climate Week, the summit meeting on global warming convened by the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, in New York?
The meeting was not intended to reach a global agreement or to extract tangible commitments from individual nations to reduce the greenhouse gases that are changing the world’s ecosystems and could well spin out of control. Its purpose was to build momentum for a new global deal to be completed in December 2015, in Paris.
In that respect, it clearly moved the ball forward, not so much in the official speeches but on the streets and in the meeting rooms where corporate leaders, investors, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and state and local officials pressed the case for stronger action.
It was important to put climate change back on the radar screen of world leaders, whose last effort to strike a deal, in Copenhagen five years ago, ended in acrimonious disaster. President Obama, for one, was as eloquent as he has ever been on the subject: “For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week — terrorism, instability, inequality, disease — there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.”
But most of the positive energy at this gathering came from people closer to the ground, like the 300,000 activists who marched last Sunday. They included mayors like New York’s Michael Bloomberg and his successor, Bill de Blasio, who both spoke of the critical role that cities can play in reducing emissions. They included governors like California’s Jerry Brown, who is justly proud of his state’s pathbreaking efforts to control automobile and power plant pollution. And they included institutions like Bank of America, which said it would invest in renewable energy, and companies like Kellogg and Nestle, which pledged to help stem the destruction of tropical forests by changing the way they buy commodities like soybeans and palm oil.
Underlying all these declarations was a palpable conviction that tackling climate change could be an opportunity and not a burden, that the way to approach the task of harnessing greenhouse gas emissions was not to ask how much it would cost but how much nations stood to gain by investing in new technologies and energy efficiency.
[Yet]what might really do the trick — if Climate Week is any guide — is the emergence of a growing bottom-up movement for change.

Many of those of us who marched, made signs, organized, brought friends, and staged civil disobedience, we felt like maybe we were all supporting this “bottom up movement for change.”
Much of social change tends to take place on cultural terms, from years of organizing efforts, plays, performances, art pieces, sweat equity impacting hearts and minds.

We walked to the subway Sunday this sunny Sunday, ready to take in some of the energy that the streets has to offer on Sunday afternoon in New York.  We’d run to Judson Memorial and then to Tompkins Square Park for the afternoon, as CHARAS Activists converged for a press conference, Circus Amok was performing, and Rev. Billy and company were recalling the Bendy Tree, which stretched east, bending toward Ave B, unlike her sister the Gaia Tree who reached up to the sun, straight up to the sky.  We’d take in all of it, looking up at the trees, greeting buddies from the Church Ladies, Rude Mechanical Orchestra, Occupy and other Village Vagabonds, and hanging, taking in some of the distinct neighborhood character all afternoon long.

Leaving Judson, we strolled East down St Marks toward Tompkins Square Park for the CHARAS Press Conference.

Organizers posted the following:
“Gregg Singer's latest scheme to turn CHARAS into a youth 
hostel has been foiled again! The Dept. of Bldgs has issued a 
Stop Work Order and Singer has 15 days to respond.  Now is 
the time to Speak out and expose Singer's plans and demand that 
our community center be returned!  Join us on Sunday!   
Bring your friends, family, pets, costumes, props and instruments, 
as only CHARAS supporters can!   Then stay for Circus Amok's 
last show at 4:00 pm show in Tompkins Square! 
 CHARAS Press Conference!
Sunday, September 28, 1:00 pm
CHARAS/El Bohio Cultural and Community Center
605 East 9th Street (bet. Aves B &C) 
All the CHARAS characters were there, as they have been 
since that January day in 2002 when it lost its last appeal.

We sat on the lawn, had a picnic, looked 
at the trees, and worked on an art project
called the Witness Tree, drawing post cards 
with message about what we fear we’re 
losing  to climate change to send to the EPA. 

By 2 PM, we’d walk over to the Bendy Tree.

There’s nothing wrong with bending 
right as opposed to stretching straight, 
several would suggest.  Stillthis was 
the center of the neighborhood

 “We come here for every ride,” I 

“I don’t know why but we just do this.  
From riots to drag marches to political 
I can only imagine what this tree must 
have seen.”

“I met Eric here at one of your rides, 
the Easter Ride a few years ago here,” 
followed Kim.

 “We had a party for our anniversary 
here in 1967…”recalled Donald,
 sitting up in her branches.
“I have this image of people making
 love under this 
tree and wondering how many 
lives began there,” mused Dragonfly.

Listening to her, I thought of my Dad and I 
really becoming buddies in 1974 after his
 illness.  We walked down the street, stopping 
at our resting tree stump, because he could 
not walk all the way down the street.  
Sometimes we just sat at that old 
giving tree.   Spreading his ashes four 
decades later, they settled among the trees
 in the Sam Houston Forest.  
Seeing the mulch now for the Bendy 
Tree, it was hard not to think of Dad, 
among those old beloved remains 
of Bendy among the mulch, where we
 all come from and 
eventually will return.  

the bendy tree memorial.
Erik Mc Gregor 

Finishing, number two and I walked to get some 
ice cream and wondered back for Circus 
Amok, where our hero Jennifer was to
 perform and it seemed all the 
Village was there to watch what 
she theatrically 
hinted might be her last show in this park.  

Circus Amok
Saturdays and Sundays, September 6-28.
This year, we encounter a heroine at a 
climate change crossroads! After a mystifying 
and bewildering vision of the earth at two 
 disparate ends, our desperate circus performer 
and former operatic contralto must act in haste 
to in order to save the earth from plunging off 
the tight rope of doom into the pit of big box 
capitalism ... or will the Raging Goddesses reach 
their apoplectic hands into the fate of us all?

After the show, we walked down Avenue A 
to the Delaney Subway stop.

Should we go to Children’s Magical?
I asked.  Sure
So, we walked over to Children’s Magical 
Gardenplaying and swinging walking 
with Kate and Aresh.

Been there all my life, number two reflected. 
My whole life they’ve been there for me. 
They’re always there for playing.

Kate and I planted some of the mulch
from the Bendy Tree in the back of the 
garden.And our magical afternoon 
came to an end.  So we walked through 
the always wondrous 
neighborhood on the way home.