Thursday, May 07, 2009

Celebrating Our Common Treasury

In a previous post I shared images of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre’s 35th annual MayDay Parade just as it was “getting started” last Sunday, May 3, 2009.

I noted how the theme of this year’s parade was “Our Common Treasury.” Following are images from the parade accompanied by explanatory text from the parade guide. Enjoy!

Scene 1: Save Our Assets: Dig the Real Economy

Our parade begins on the brink of ruin. The nest egg teeters on a wave of panic with no nest in sight. What happened to all the wealth allegedly created in the last decade? Where did it go? Did we see an increase in wages? In health care? In manufacturing and industry? New jobs? Any part of the real economy? What beyond easy credit (or debt, from our viewpoint) did we invest in?

The assets of a few have been artificially inflated while labor, industry, and the physical infrastructure of our country have been sold off. We have in effect invested in nothing. As a result, what our parents could afford on one salary thirty years ago (shelter, transportation, food, and health care) can hardly be secured today with the combined salary of two.

The unregulated financial agencies that got us into this mess, the king’s men, ride “to the rescue” on the ponies of a negligent government. Their solution is more of the same: financial manipulations that inflate their assets but leave us with huge piles of debt – debt on which our economy teeters like a house of cards.

. . . The nest egg is paraded as Humpty Dumpty on a swaying house of credit cards: our future perched on increasingly ethereal constructs of debt. This economic house is in turn supported by a foundation of waste straight from the horse’s rear end, while all the little flies seek a share of the awful (offal) mess.

– Julian McFaul, Mark Safford, and Alison Heimstead

Does collapse mean the end? Or is there possibility for a different structure, a new beginning in Humpty Dumpty’s cracks?

A herd of shovel-nosed pigs undermines the devastating, deifying, sky-aspiring constructions of the king’s men. The pigs root in the dirt for the simple things they value: healthy poop, living soil. They upturn the earth, leveling the playing field, spreading the wealth, and reconnecting us with the soil and its inherent value.

Though the apocalyptic king’s men try to stop the swine from leveling the House of Credit, a line of laborers protects the work of the pigs. With shovels upraised, these laborers resist the return of the soil into piles of waste. With these same shovels, they turn to the work of leveling and invigorating the soil. By maintaining soil that thrums with life, we invest in a resource that can be shared equitably.

The soil thrives with ecstatic worms and active micro-organisms, which direct our attention to the small, honest actions that create a humane economy. The bugs of the dirt prepare the soil to be a new kind of bank for us all: a place to store the seeds that will grow the bounty of our future. From a transformed economy will emerge a new kind of bank that, rather than hoarding savings, will protect free access to the resources of the earth as our common treasury.

– Janaki Ranpura, Lindsay McCaw, and Harry Kingham

Scene 2: Sprout!

We sprout, we spin. We are green collar workers, shovels ready.

We are employing the Wind. We are employees of the Wind. We spin and shine. We are chia-leaders. We are creating our own currency. We exchange our tenderness for your tenderness.

We are tending our tender green sprouts. We sprout.

We tend to each other. We are growing our own food. We share our food. We share our water. We are employees of the Sun. We are employing the Sun.

We are creating our own new networks. We are dancing. We hear the call. We are spinning our own webs. We pass them with care from hand to hand. We include all who want to join . . .

– Anne Sawyer-Aitch, Bart Buch, Kevin Long,
Masanari Kawahara, and Stacy Lee King

Scene 3: All We Have

In the nest of hands we find the potential of ourselves as human beings on this planet. We celebrate the people and movements who have taught us how to resist, and how to provide for each other. Fragility and strength are in a precarious balance: we must come together with courage to face an uncertain future.

The earth is a gorgeous tapestry, and in every act, every interaction, we are weaving the image of ourselves. To gaze upon the intricate beauty of earth’s vast and splendid body is to also appreciate the rich heritage of form and culture that has shaped every one of us. As we dance around this Turtle Island, linked together through our DNA, may we learn to listen to each other fully – to appreciate the unique and precious gifts that every being has to offer.

– Malia Burkhart

Many of the world’s legends say that humankind was created after many attempts, a circle of failures and amendments. As a result, a circle of wisdom is opened to us when we are humble, barefoot, and vulnerable. Sometimes we mistake our human achievements for the power of creators. We forget to say thank you. We ignore the necessity of balance. But the dried mud on our foot connects us to the Earth, the life provider and mother of the maize. The Quetzalcoatl [feathered serpents] are messengers, connecting the creators in the sky with humans on this ground, reminding us to seek balance.

– Gustavo Boada

Give us a blessing so that our words and actions be one in unity, and that we will be able to listen to each other. In doing so, we shall with good heart walk hand in hand to face the future.

Frank Fools Crow
in prayer before the U.S. Senate, 1975

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Getting Started (MayDay Parade 2009)
May Day and a “New Bridge” (MayDay Parade 2008)
The Time is Now! (MayDay Parade 2006)


Anonymous said...

In truth, "All We Have" is a bunch of paper mache that is going to end up making a big pile in some landfill.

So much for "Saving our Assets"!

Michael J. Bayly said...

Actually, Anonymous, many of the props used in the Mayday Parade are either stored and used again (for future parades and/or plays) or recycled in some way.

Also, if you're going to bitch about waste, I think there are many more areas within our consumerist-driven culture that are more deserving of your attention than the once-a-year MayDay Parade.

I must say that after witnessing all the creative and positive (and very public) energy of this parade, your anonymous comment comes across as particularly tired, mean-spirited and . . . well . . . pathetic.

I cannot align myself with the narrow, negative, and false "truth" that you're pontificating.



Sue Ann said...

Another thing to consider: Most of the materials that HOBT uses are recycled--including the paper bags and newspapers for papier mache, the plastic containers for the paint, materials for costumes, and natural materials!

Naysaying will not solve environmental problems--write to Target and ask them to stop using or start charging for plastic bags!