Bells for Haiti

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#312 – “The first rough draft” post-Bells for Haiti, January 12, 2011

Friday, January 14th, 2011

I always remember my first visit to the then-brand new Newseum in Arlington VA. It was sometime in the late 90s, and I happened to be at the right place at the right time to catch a shuttle to the new, and then free, Museum to print and visual media.

A prominent quote, there, was this (or words to this effect): “Journalism is the first rough draft of history“. It was a statement full of meaning: any breaking news is fraught with peril, possibly inaccurate, but still news nonetheless.

Wednesday of this week an ad hoc group saw the results of “Bells for Haiti”, a tribute to Haitians on the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake January 12, 2010.

Following is my ‘first rough draft’ of the event, of which I was proud to be a part:

On Wednesday, Cathy and I chose to join a group of eight people on a downtown Minneapolis MN bridge to witness the Bells ringing at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Mark (a block behind us in the photo) and at our own church, the Basilica of St. Mary (in the photo). (Click on photo to enlarge it.)

Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, from the bridge, 3:53 p.m. CST January 12, 2012

Adjacent to the Baslica on the left is a very busy and noisy freeway, then nearing rush hour, but when the immense primary bell began to ring, precisely at 3:53 p.m., I was overcome with not sadness, but elation.

It was about December 9, 2010, that Basilica had signed on as the first place to ring their bells in Bells for Haiti.

Our little project had actually come to pass.

A year earlier, January 10, 2010, in that same Basilica, Fr. Tom Hagan, long-time Priest in Cite Soleil, had given the homily at all Masses at Basilica. January 11, he was back in Port-au-Prince…little did he know….

Like all great things, Bells for Haiti started with an idea in conversation: in this case, Bells for Haiti began with two women in conversation at the American Refugee Committee (ARC) in Minneapolis (whose headquarters is two blocks behind and to the right of Sue, the lady with the camera).

For a month a small ad hoc committee, never exceeding 11 people, initially mostly “strangers” to the rest, came together in a conference room at ARC to make the idea happen. We elected to keep Bells for Haiti simple.

By January 12, as any of you know who visited Facebook, over 3,500 people from who-knows-where had enrolled in the remembrance via Facebook. (Our committee was largely Facebook-illiterate when this project began. No more.)

Bells were ringing all over the United States, and probably other places, all at the same time and for the same reason.

We will never know how many places, how many people, in how many ways, people remembered Haiti on Wednesday, January 12, 2011.

The project gives meaning to the famous quote of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.

Thank you. Extra special thanks to the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network and the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers who co-sponsored the event.

Those who participated on the Bells for Haiti committee: Therese Gales, Jenna Myrland, Lisa Van Dyke, Lisa Rothstein, Bonnie Steele, Dale Snyder, Jacqueline Regis, Ruth Anne Olson, Sue Grundhoffer, Mike Haasl, Rebecca Cramer, Dick Bernard. Jane Peck also deserves much credit, though she could not participate directly. She initiated the idea for gathering groups together last spring to keep working for Haiti. At the moment, there are 25 groups loosely and informally affiliated in what is now known as Konbit [“cone beet”]- Haiti/MN.

For more background, click here.

#297 – Dick Bernard: Bells for Haiti, January 12, 2011

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

UPDATE JANUARY 12, 2011:
My post for today re Haiti.
January 10, 2011 post on Haiti

UPDATE JANUARY 11, 2011:
Twin Cities focus News Release
for the Bells for Haiti Committee:
Honoring Haiti, One Year Later:
Bells to Sound Across Minnesota on Wednesday, January 12th
City Halls, Churches, and Schools to Toll their Bells at 3:53 PM: Honoring Lives Lost in Haiti—and Recognizing Minnesotans who Helped

Contact: Therese Gales, American Refugee Committee
tel 612-221-5161; ThereseG@archq.org

Minneapolis, MN (January 11, 2011)—One year after a massive earthquake devastated Haiti, churches, schools, universities, and city halls across Minnesota will toll their bells in unison on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake—Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 3:53 PM CST—for 35 seconds, the duration of the Haiti quake.

The Bells for Haiti initiative—started by an ad hoc group of Haiti advocates from Minnesota—has garnered participation from around the country and Haiti. With support of Mayors Chris Coleman and R.T. Rybak and the Archdiocese of Minneapolis / St Paul, churches and schools in communities both small and large throughout Minnesota will toll their bells. Some participants include: Minneapolis City Hall, the Cathedral of St Paul, Luther Seminary, St Mark’s Episcopal, the Basilica of St Mary, Hamline University, St Olaf College— as well as small communities like the Visitation Monastery in north Minneapolis which is home to six Visitation sisters. Trinity Lutheran Church in Hovland, MN, on Minnesota’s North Shore is participating—the bells are caked in ice and snow today…if the church bells are unusable tomorrow, participants will bring their own bells to toll. Communities in Oregon, Chicago, Vermont, Florida, and Haiti are also participating. A full list of participants can be accessed here.

“In just 35 seconds, thousands of people in Haiti lost everything,” said Jacqueline Regis, a Haitian-American attorney and author who is also a member of the group organizing the “Bells for Haiti” effort. “Through Bells for Haiti, we want to bring people together a year after the quake to honor those who lost their lives, recognize the millions of people who still struggle to find hope—and also recognize people from all across Minnesota who stepped forward to help the people of Haiti.”

The earthquake took the lives of 250,000 people and left more than 1.3 million people homeless. A hurricane and cholera outbreak have also worsened the situation. At the same time, thousands of Minnesotans—concerned parents, doctors, school children, architects, teachers, nurses, and many more—stepped forward to help.

“We want Bells for Haiti to be a reminder—that we are stronger together than we are alone,” added Regis. “We want to tell the world that we remember… and will not forget.”

The Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network and the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers are co-sponsoring the Bells for Haiti effort.

EVENTS
Two Twin Cities community events are known, which relate directly to Bells for Haiti:
Wednesday evening, Jan 12, at 6:30 p.m., a simple rice and bean memorial dinner will be offered at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 46th and Colfax Ave S in Minneapolis. The dinner will be followed by a memorial service at 7:30 p.m. All are welcome.
Thursday evening, 7 p.m., Ruth Anne Olson will read from her book Images of Haiti: Stories of Strength. The reading is at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1917 Logan Avenue South Minneapolis (north end of Lake of the Isles.)

UPDATE JANUARY 7, 2011: Interest/Momentum is building. Note Facebook entry. Please share with others you know who may have an interest.

UPDATE JANUARY 5, 2011:
A general news release describing Bells for Haiti which can be adapted for use anywhere is accessible here.
Visit the Bells for Haiti Facebook page, here.
Map comparing size of Minnesota and Haiti here.

Nearly a year ago, January 12, 2010, at 4:53 p.m. Haiti time, indescribable horror descended on Port-au-Prince and the mountains south of Haiti. Estimates vary, but as many as 300,000 lives were lost, and more than 1.3 million were, in an instant, left without homes. Government buildings, including the iconic Presidential Palace, were destroyed.

The catastrophe followed a season with four tropical storms which devastated Haiti in 2008; and was succeeded by a Cholera outbreak still raging.

Haitians are an indomitably hopeful people, impossible to defeat. But the events of the past eleven months can seem almost insurmountable.

After the quake, on April 26, 2010, 35 individuals representing 25 organizations with long term interest in assisting Haiti met in a Minneapolis church.

The sole purpose of the meeting was to begin to get to know each other.

Out of that initial event came a simple e-mail contact list. It was agreed to call the group KONBIT-MN/HAITI, essentially, a group whose sole purpose is to keep the conversation going between groups of diverse interests. Konbit-MN/Haiti has no meetings, no Bylaws, no Dues, no Fund Raising. Some would say that means it has no purpose, either. Why “Konbit” (pronounced “cone beet”)? The Kreyol definition Here.

It is through the idea of one member of KONBIT-MN/HAITI, and the joint effort of a working group of a dozen members of the alliance, that an idea, Bells for Haiti, came forth for remembering in some significant way the one year anniversary of the devastating Haiti earthquake, January 12, 2010.

“Bells for Haiti, January 12, 2011″ is now on the web. Fliers in English and Kreyol are below. Click on either flier to enlarge it.

The details as now known are on a Facebook events page, where individuals including you, the reader, are invited to not only indicate your attendance at this virtual event, but also to help make others aware of the event wherever they live. The guest list is beginning to build, and with your help it can build exponentially over the next 28 days.

The Konbit Committee realizes that not every gathering place has bells. There is room for virtual bells; there is room for 33* seconds of silence at church services and other gatherings in the days immediately preceding January 12. Etc.

Different cultures have different traditions. For example, in Haiti an alternative may be beating on pans, bot teneb (defeat darkness). Individual groups can plan their own activities to mark January 12.

But the essential idea is call attention to an anniversary of an awful event in Haiti, and at the same time, enroll the entire community of humankind in working together for our mutual betterment as a world society that cares for each other.

You and/or your group are invited to join with KONBIT-MN/HAITI wherever you live, whatever you do.

Make the 33 seconds on January 12 a personal call to action for yourself.

KONBIT-MN/HAITI IS THE ORIGINATING GROUP FOR THIS ACTIVITY.
THE GROUPS REPRESENTED BY 39 PERSONS ON KONBIT-MN/HAITI. Listing of an organization does not constitute an endorsement by that group of this activity, even though the representatives of Konbit are in agreement with this activity. Other groups are invited to join KONBIT-MN/HAITI. Simply respond to the author of this post (see about page for e-address)

Annunciation Catholic Church, Minneapolis; American Refugee Committee; Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis;Church of the Risen Savior, Burnsville MN; COFHED (Christian Operation for Health, Education and Development); El Milagro Lutheran Church, St. Paul; Fonkoze; Haiti Justice Alliance, Northfield MN; Haiti Justice Committee, Minneapolis; Haiti Outreach; Healing Hands for Haiti; Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, Minneapolis; Messiah Episcopal Church, Minneapolis, No Time for Poverty; Rotary International “City of Lakes” Club, Minneapolis; St. Albans Episcopal Church, Minneapolis; St. Clements Episcopal Church, Minneapolis; St. James Episcopal Church, Minneapolis; St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, St. Louis Park, MN; St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, Maple Grove MN; St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Minneapolis; St. Matthews Episcopal Church, Minneapolis; Spare Hands for Haiti; World Wide Village.

Other initial endorsers (co-sponsors) of this activity:
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN)
Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP)

* – Estimates vary on the duration of the initial shock in the earthquake: 33 seconds is one estimate; 35-40 is another…whatever the actual duration, the devastation happened in hardly more than an instant.