|Russian Chestnut Tree|
Jim hadn't given it such thought until my recent question. But then he seemed to get excited and asked me to set up a meeting with our core group next week to discuss it. Here is the idea below, which captures my thoughts and some more of Jim's to bring them to the discussion table when our group is scheduled to meet on September 14.
In a discussion of his dream months earlier, Jim described it as a chestnut tree, to which I asked, "Did you know the chestnut tree is the national tree of Ukraine?" He did not. So, I suggest the tree come from Ukraine, perhaps Kiev, as the origin of the "Holy Russian Empire", which had converted to Christianity in 988. I subsequently discovered that the life span of chestnut trees is 100 to 300 years. This suggests that we choose the oldest dead or fallen tree possible (it must not be killed!), which would have witnessed the flowering of Russian and Ukrainian literature beginning with Pushkin and Shevchenko, respectively, in the early 1800s and, of course more recently, seen the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. Russians and Ukrainians will no doubt appreciate the symbolism.
To honor the dream, I believe Jim must make the final selection of the tree, whether from Russia or Ukraine. He may need the help of Russian and/or Ukrainian experts to assess the quality of a particular tree. It should be as long and large as possible in order to contain the images that will be carved into it from First American artisans at its base as well as Hispanic (descendants of the Conquistadors) in its midsection and "Anglos" (representing the Manhattan Project) nearer (but not on) the top. Selecting and importing the tree may be difficult and expensive, unless we secure the approval and endorsement of the governments involved.
Furthermore, I suggest that the blank totem be located on local pueblo sacred land closest to, if not within the boundaries of Los Alamos County, which would require consultation with and approval of local Native American elders and decision-makers. If the blank totem were "planted" first and sculpted later, then the artisans would have to work on it in place as the stories unfold, perhaps working simultaneously at different places. This would require discussion and consensus among all parties involved about the design, values, history, placement, etc. of all images. Jim has suggested that this location become a park containing other significant artwork to represent the history and values of this place. Perhaps the top of the totem would stay blank for the time being as the community comes together on the project and becomes aware of its "Big U" identity and direction. This is where the Los Alamos Deep Democracy Open Forum would be valuable in helping the community raise awareness of itself, its history, its values and its future, including its "potential creative energy".
On September 6, Joseph Dillard wrote:
, Zunis, or other local tribes have any indigenous community art that is meant to accomplish what the totem pole does for the peoples of the NW? You'll make points with those who wish to appear politically correct in your town if you not only honor the natives, but do it with some "authorized" usage of their local tradition. [next sentence deleted 27 Jun 11] Pueblos