Posts Tagged ‘iraq’

In “Resurrecting the Book Market of Baghdad” at Narratively, Aditi Sriram writes that Baghdad’s Al-Mutanabbi Street once “appeared to be made of books: they littered the sidewalks, waved from tables and carts, sat on shelves inside bookstores, and peeped at passersby through the windows.”

In 2007, a bomb destroyed the street, and far away in San Francisco, bookseller Beau Beausoleil read about it.

“My bookstore would have been on that street,” he says.

He didn’t raise money. Instead he energized his contacts and their contacts in the literary and artist community to make broadsides and art about what had happened, give poetry readings, and spread awareness.

In addition, writes Sriram, “after several years of trying, Beausoleil finally got through to the director of Baghdad’s national library—which he described as a ‘gigantic moat around a public figure’—and was delighted when Dr. Saad Eskander immediately understood his hope to take the Iraqi people’s suffering ‘into ourselves and acknowledge it, and respond to it.’

“Beausoleil’s voice lightens as he recalls Eskander’s positive reaction. ‘He said, “I want these broadsides for the national library, for the archive. I think it’s important that the Iraqi people see this work.” ‘ …

“The 130 broadsides [will] start to be exhibited at the national library in Baghdad in late 2016 and anniversary readings [will] take place every year all over the U.S. and U.K.”

More here.

Photo: AP/Khalid Mohammed
Iraqi men look at books displayed on Al-Mutanabbi Street in December 2007, nine months after a bombing.

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Maria Di Mento writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy about a new fund to help military families.

“Three affluent families are forming a fund with the purpose of raising $30 million to support programs that serve military veterans, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America announced [in July].

“The families have donated more than $1 million and plan to seek contributions especially from other wealthy people, including those without personal connections to any service members.

“Philip Green, president of PDG Consulting, a health-care consultancy,  and his wife, Elizabeth Cobbs, chief of geriatrics at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C., joined with their friends Glenn and Laurie Garland and with the Jim Stimmel family to create the fund, Mr. Green said in an interview with The Chronicle.

“The money raised for the new Veterans Support Fund will be funneled to five nonprofits that help returning service members and their families.” Read more.

I think it’s interesting that the donors are reaching out to those who have not been personally touched by the wars to solicit funds. On a blog at work we were just discussing the fact that so many men and women were risking their lives, their families’ stability, and their mental health for the last ten years while so many of the rest of us were mostly untouched.

Hats off to these philanthropists! It’s one thing to see the unequal contributions of Americans. It’s another to do something about it.

Photograph: Sarah Conard/Reuters/File
Sgt. Audrey Johnsey (left) greets Sfc. Joshua Herbig (right), who she served with in Afghanistan, during the Welcome Home Heroes Parade in St. Louis in January.

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The happy faces say it all. The circus is good for Baghdad.

An article by Michael S. Schmidt and Zaid Thaker in today’s NY Times describes the scene. “There were not any tigers because the animals were stuck in Egypt. There were dogs, however, but they were not [the promised] poodles. And the big snake, well, the snake had become sick and had to be evacuated …

“A circus coming to town may be a routine event in most cities. But in battered Baghdad, even if it was not the Greatest Show on Earth, the arrival of the circus was yet another small step in this city’s efforts at building a more normal life. …

“There is not a commanding ringmaster. What it does have, though, are dancers jumping rope, a woman swinging from a trapeze (without a net, but with a harness), and a grand finale of a man clad in an Iraqi flag plunging swords down his throat.  …

“Faisil Falleh, 56, who took his family to the circus on a recent night, said, ‘I haven’t seen anything in my life like this.’  …

“Promoter Jasim Mohammed Saeed said,  ‘Nobody is working in this business in Iraq. It is just us.’ ” Read more here.

If you want to go, it’s $12 for adults, $6 for teens, and free for children. The cotton candy — “lady’s hair” in Arabic — is $1.


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