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One Billion Rising, and I Almost Missed It

Posted Feb 14 2013 4:20pm

Wait, what? One billion people were going to be rising, all over the world, by flash mobbing the exact same choreography (by Debbie Allen) to the exact same song (written by Tena Clark)? 

And this wasn't just for kicks, such as when I was five months pregnant with my second daughter and I participated in Macy's Tap-o-Mania on 34th Street in New York City (which was its annual attempt at a Guinness Book of World Records for largest mass of people performing the same choreography in the same place). One Billion Rising was actually going to be a celebration of the 15th anniversary of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls (estimated at one billion who are raped or beaten in their lifetime). 

I had tapped in (so to speak) to the On e Billion Rising website after seeing it mentioned in social media and there was that little search field where I could put my zip code to see what was going on near me. A bunch of hits came up. Apparently, while I've been busy with s cience fairs , hospital visits , MOOCs , and looking at turnip roots under microscopes (um, yeah), people have been learning the choreography to the One Billion Rising dance at places all over Atlanta. And they would be gathering in Woodruff Park, in downtown Atlanta, at noon on Valentine's Day.

At 11 AM, I was still at my home 18 miles and many side streets away (I avoid highways when I drive). There was definitely not time for public transportation (known as MARTA here), and barely time for driving, parking, and walking. As the minutes ticked away in my car, I found myself muttering, "C'mon, one billion people are rising and I'm gonna' miss it." But I didn't.

There were far more people than I expected--women, men, and children of all ages and ethnicities, lots of bikes, a few wheelchairs, many folks with recording devices of all kinds (including this guy, pictured, who planted himself smack dab in front of me right when it all started) plus a scattering of news media members (although I didn't see any mention of this event on the home pages of any major media yesterday--but I did find the headline-making story of a woman named Reeva Steencamp who campaigned against rape and violence against women and was murdered on Valentine's Day at the home of her boyfriend, Olympic parapalegic superstar Oscar Pistorius, who was arrested as the prime suspect).

An abundance of red t-shirts were given out freely and worn for a very different reason than the "red shirt movement" in my metro-Atlanta city, where they are worn as a sign of protest against many local changes happening.

And that fountain with the pink water shooting up high in the sky--rising, rising--and cascading over the edges? It looked at first glance like the bubblegum color often associated with all things "female" but somehow morphed in my mind's eye into the blood of our collective sisters, daughters, mothers, wives, neighbors, friends, and community leaders around the world that has been (and continues to be) spilled for no good reason. Notice a chair is missing. How many people are missing in our society because of violence to women? One Billing Rising aims to raise awareness globally. And end it. I also love this shot of the fountain up against the Equitable building. That building ends up in a lot of my photos and videos from downtown Atlanta (it looms over Rashid's urban farm at Wheat Street Gardens and I also mention it in my video from Centennial Olympic Park ), and just seems like the perfect social commentary to me.

Okay, here goes.  Here's the un-edited video. Four minutes. Twice as long as I like my videos to be. But it took me three solid hours to bring you these four minutes. And a whole lot of people dancing their hearts out on Valentine's Day. So I let it run. If you hang in (or fast forward) to the end, I turn the camera on the crowd.

One Billion Rising Flash Mob in Atlanta, GA February 14, 2013 from Pattie Baker on Vimeo .

See "One Billion Rising" flash mobs from all over the world here , from Khartoum, Sudan to San Francisco. From Jerusalum to the City of Joy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. From Manila, Phillipines to Mumbai, India. I particularly like the Green School Flash Mob from Bali, Indonesia. 

Here's my photo collage from the day. Let's hope that little girl's path is different, and she doesn't live in a world where 1 out of 3 women are raped during their lifetime. Let's hope that, just as the "phoenix rising from flames of destruction" serves as the symbol of renewal in Atlanta (which was burned to the ground in Sherman's March to the Sea during the United States' Civil War, and eventually rebuilt), One Billion Rising will bring a new era to our global society's history-in-the-making as well.


Keep FoodShed Planet coming. See here .
eclectic food-for-thought for a changing world
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