After the Storm
Two Little Pearls for post-Katrina America:
After the Storm: Compassion, Wisdom, Change (3:13 min)
After the Storm (30 sec)
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The four minute After the Storm compilation, developed for film festivals and presentations, can be downloaded here:
And here is our YouTube version, not uploaded in HD:
Can the devastating power of Hurricane Katrina also share with us the power of compassion and community?
The two After the Storm Little Pearls speak to the need for our nation to reconsider our priorities.
The Story Behind After the Storm
The After the Storm Pearls are inspirational, as all Little Pearls are, yet they are also op-ed pieces, intended to be thought-provoking.
Statue of Liberty
The original concept for After the Storm came to Linda McLean, Executive and Creative Director of Little Pearls, through compelling dreams and intuitions that began three days after the world woke up to the suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina. The words on the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor..”), memorized by many Americans as children, kept going through Linda’s mind. The compassion and grace in these words did not mesh with what we were seeing in the Gulf Coast, so powerfully and relentlessly broadcast in the media.
After the Storm (30 seconds) juxtaposes the Statue of Liberty’s familiar, historic poem of American caring with images of the devastation in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. After the Storm invites the viewer to consider the apparent discrepancy between American ideals and our current reality, and to help create positive change to close the gap. This Pearl does not give answers – those must come from each of us, and from our shared wisdom and efforts.
After the Storm is more challenging and intense than earlier Pearls; one friend calls it a “medicine Pearl”. It seemed to have a will of its own, requiring multiple attempts at ending lines, music and even footage. The ending lines include words that can have more than one meaning. Several friends and professionals served as a loose focus group – their feedback, ideas and even resistance were all part of the process.
Five of Linda’s friends who care deeply about their community and the world – and who can also speak from the heart with power and ease – were asked to look right into the camera. They said those familiar words on the Statue of Liberty, our national symbol of compassion, hope and freedom, from Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus,” written in 1883:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The Statue of Liberty is a wonderful symbol for America at her best. She holds a torch instead of a sword – a light for the masses looking for a new, better life. She lights a way for us through the darkness – but we must find and follow the path ourselves.
After the Storm: Compassion, Wisdom, Change
(3:13 minutes) was unplanned. It arose from the deep empathy, love and wisdom in the spontaneous responses of our five on-camera speakers to three questions, captured while shooting for After the Storm(:30):
- What do you hope will change in the wake of Katrina?
- How have you been changed?
- Why did you choose to help send a message with this Little Pearl?
This is our first BIG Pearl at slightly over 3 minutes. Inspirational and moving, it is more like a traditional Pearl, yet it also challenges the viewer. This one came together easily. The big Pearl is meant to be viewed just before the little Pearl, as it reveals the hearts of our speakers and sets the context. Both After the Storm Pearls are a mix of high definition studio and standard definition news footage – another first for us.
Purpose: The After the Storm Pearls are intended to challenge American viewers to remember who we are and what we cherish at the deepest levels; to consider the bigger issues for ourselves; to participate as citizens in constructive dialogue and change; and to take inspired action. They were created to encourage open thought, dialogue and citizen participation for the daunting challenges and choices ahead.
Our hope is that: America is waking up after the storm. The truth can change us – for good.
Context: The After the Storm Pearls address our post-Katrina country as a whole – not just those most directly affected by the crisis. This hurricane shattered more than lives, property and communities over a huge part of our Gulf Coast. It broke the heart of America open, creating a national “pattern interrupt” – an unexpected point of choice for individual Americans and for our country.
A sense of helplessness from exposure to the unfolding disaster, the prolonged suffering and our once-“invisible” social, economic and environmental problems had a profound impact on so many of us. We are prompted now to look more carefully at what happened and at what we can do to make a difference in the future, in the Gulf Coast and beyond.
Human beings are generous in times of crisis, but how long will the generosity last? Will we address any of the deeper, underlying problems? We have allowed a shift in national priorities that leaves more and more people, animals, communities and natural systems at risk – just one disaster away from ruin. Did “we the people” consciously choose this? Have we been too busy with our own lives to notice or speak out?
We can take this disaster as a catalyst to explore what happened; what might have prevented so much suffering; how we can revitalize the Gulf Coast in sustainable ways; how we might prevent the human-caused aspects of a natural disaster in the future; and how to avoid “business as usual” mistakes. Lofty speeches and short-sighted, “band-aid” repairs for long-standing, complex problems are not the answer. We need a wise, meaningful, comprehensive vision.
We must look at how we deal with national and global issues involved in creating true security for all of us: social and economic justice; fiscal responsibility; race and class equity; reasonable military activity and spending; and sustainable environmental practices. It is time for each of us to participate more actively as citizens and to re-prioritize how we spend our time and money – from personal to national levels – based upon what we truly value. In our own country and in our relationships with the rest of the world, it is time for new choices.
DVDs of After the Storm are being sent to national media contacts, public opinion shapers and key policy makers involved in post-Katrina investigation, debate, choices and action.
The wonderful people featured in the After the Storm Pearls span four decades. In order of appearance on the big Pearl:
Carolyn Wallace spent her early years in Mississippi and came to Asheville, NC in the late 1970’s. She has been deeply involved in the life of this community, contributing to positive change and transformation in many ways. She has worked as Executive Director of Manna Food Bank; as a consultant in strategic planning, problem solving and organizational change with non-profits; in grassroots community action for social and environmental justice issues; and, most recently, as Director of Service Learning at Warren Wilson College. Carolyn has recently returned to work after a medical leave for much of the past year.
Tyrone Greenlee is a native of Asheville, North Carolina and currently works as a church administrator and co-director of Christians for a United Community, a non-profit organization which mobilizes people of faith around issues of social justice. Tyrone is also a community activist, having served on numerous boards, and currently volunteers with the Building Bridges of Asheville anti-racism organization and the Western North Carolina AIDS Project. Tyrone also attends New Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church where he is a member of the Sanctuary Choir and the Men’s Chorus.
Sue Walton is originally from New England and moved to Asheville in 1977 with her husband and six children. She was one of the founders of MAGIC Community Gardens and also of Building Bridges, an inter-racial dialogue process. She is retired from the Asheville Housing Authority where her work with residents promoted and supported personal and family empowerment. These issues continue to be her focus in her current involvement with Help-Mate and Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and she also nurtures her 11 grandchildren!
Daniel Barber’s lives as a social worker, research statistician, video producer and social and environmental justice activist have morphed into a passion for playing music that enlivens, inspires and transforms. Originally from Texas, he now leads the Jubilee! Community World Beat Band, which supplies the musical charge for Sunday morning celebrations in Asheville, NC. Whether for live events, film/video/radio, or workshops and retreats, Daniel uses the universal language of music to smooth the path to personal transformation, community healing and harmony. Visit DanielBMusic.com
Kat Williams is the on-camera person Linda saw in her dream – we later discovered her given name is Katrina! Kat is a gifted, versatile and powerful singer with a big heart and a knack for easily connecting with her audience. Because of her strong presence, she anchors both Pearls and later did the vocals and voiceovers. Kat is a beautiful force of nature! Born in upstate New York, Kat now lives in Asheville. Visit KatWilliamsMusic.com
30 second Pearl + intro screen – 2005
3+ minute Pearl and 4 minute Compilation – 2005/2006
Featuring: Kat Williams, Carolyn Wallace, Tyrone Greenlee, Sue Walton, Daniel Barber
Conceived by Linda McLean
Camera: David Bourne – Bourne Media
Broadcast footage (Hurricane Katrina and Statue of Liberty)
courtesy of WLOS -TV, Asheville, NC
Editing: David Bourne – Bourne Media with Linda McLean
Music for Big Pearl: Amazing Grace
from Arrival: Solo Piano Reflections
arranged and performed by Robert Mari
Studio Lighting: Stewart Andrew Young – Sayworks
Sound Studios: ChrisRosser.com – Hollow Reed Arts
and River Guerguerian
Audio Engineer: David Schmidt – Acapella Audio
with David Bourne – Bourne Media
Special Thanks to the friends and professionals who helped in the formation of these Pearls, including:
Debra Roberts, Kat Williams, Ruth Williams, Shane Peters, Jim Stokoe, Daniel Barber, Mary Olson, Diana McLean, Darlyne Sahara, Tyrone Greenlee, John Charping, Dana Garber, Bill Weaver, Sherry Lepage, Gloria Karpinski, Richard Shulman, Clay Griffith