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The Better World island exists, in the words of its owner, Riversong Garden, “to network, nurture, and build awareness about groups, individuals and issues that affect our world.” (Quoted from the September edition of PrimPerfect magazine).
There are various different areas on the island, most of them dedicated in one way or another to raising people’s awareness about situations that exist in the real world, and encouraging them to get involved in actions which can help.
For my first day on the island, after taking a stroll to watch the sunrise, I made my way to the Baghdad Streets exhibition.
“Exhibition” is the wrong word. “Immersive experience”, perhaps. Not quite a simulation (though there are elements of that), but more than just a static collection of pictures.
Even before you enter through one of the stone archways, you can see the flames rising from the street, and hear the sounds of guns, of people sobbing…it is a deeply involving experience.
At various places there are notecard providers. One of them, for example, is from an Iraqi student describing her own experience and feelings (bringing an immediate and highly personal note to the exhibition).
At one place there is a rather incongruous tip-jar, above which floats the message “But what can I do?” And this is the other point about this exhibition. It is not there simply to bring home the suffering of the ordinary people in Iraq. It is there to encourage you to do something about it, and to suggest what you could do.
I think I can do no better than to reproduce the contents of the notecard here. For my part, I don’t necessarily agree with all the views of the creators of this exhibit (but that is a complicated area, and this is not a political blog, so I’ll refrain from further comment), but the simplicity and direct practicality of these suggestions certainly wins my support and admiration:
Notecard from Baghdad Streets exhibition
But What Can I Do? So you have opened your heart. So you have felt compassion. So what? Turn your feelings into a simple gesture: Send an email to an Iraqi student and break through the depth of isolation that comes from living in a war zone: 121Contact@bru-mar.com Contribute to 121Contact with a generous donation into the tip jar behind this notice. Help this program continue to heal the trauma engendered by the US occupation of Iraq. Send a check to: Bruce Wallace 121Contact 523 72nd Street Brooklyn NY 11209 Call you political representatives and ask them to move toward withdrawing our troops from Iraq as soon as possible. Be peaceful in your self; with your family; with your friends; with your enemies. It all starts with you. In loving kindness, PT Witte
You will find an album of my pictures from the Better World Island here:
There is an article about the Better World Island in the September edition of Prim Perfect magazine, which gives much more of the background to island:
The owner of the Better World island is Riversong Garden, who has her own website/blog here: