Thursday, February 22, 2018

Out There

NASA's Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. In 1990 when it reached the farthest edge of our solar system, its camera looked back and snapped the first-ever picture of the Earth, the pale blue dot, and the planets from its vantage point beyond Neptune.

To be in the orbit of Frank Locatell and John Casini, pioneers who championed the project at Jet Propulsion Lab, and to see them in the film "The Farthest" was one of the highlights of the Inspire Film Festival. Voyager carries the notorious "Golden Record" of the sounds and pictures of our planet—it's still traveling at 38,000 miles an hour. Houston, can you hear me? JPL is still in contact with Voyager at this writing. Here is Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield covering David Bowie's Space Oddity.  Too bad we can't send Voyager this song but remarkably Dr. Casini said the computer on board has only the power of the computer we carry around in our pockets—not your smart phone, but your key fob.

Film festival founder and director Jane Minarovic with programming assistance from David Holbrooke brought together a stellar lineup of film makers and subjects who are inspiring exemplars of the human spirit. From ping pong whiz Wally Green in "The Tables" to Kevin Pearce in "The Crash Reel" it was a star-studded weekend. And our One Plastic Beach during the opening night festivities sparkled on the big screen to the accompaniment of cello player Ben Sollee "Ditch the Van" with film-inspired fashions by Mindy Fisher.

There is much to be said about the size of Texas and Southern hospitality. All weekend we were in the warm embrace of the festival team with old friend David and his able assistant Hayley Nenadal. Our "minder" Betty gave us a big howdy welcome with drawl so thick some of our cohort were asking for simultaneous translation. And everywhere we went there were people and paparazzi wanting to snap a pic. We could get used to this.

Wally and Kevin became our true inspirational heros. Wally as he said of growing up in Harlem "I should be either dead or in jail" but Ping Pong saved his life. Tables were set up at The Woodland's Market Street Central Park and he took on all comers spotting 15 points and using his cell phone as a paddle. The most fun was to hear his trash talking hip hop banter—infectious and joyous. Kevin's story goes from the highest peaks to death's doorstep. He was regularly beating current snowboard gold medalist Shawn White when a near fatal head injury brought him into a new life of generosity and wide arms of truly loving life. Do we want to be more open hearted? more embracing? Greater appreciators of every second? Yes, Please. Gimme some'o that.

We rolled into the The Woodlands Arts Council with a suitcase full of Kehoe Beach plastic for our hands-on workshop. Patricia Dillon from the Houston Chron filed this report.

We had folks making their own arrangements and photographing the results. Once again, the remarkable truth of every individual's "signature" came shining through. What is that signature? From the most humble materials, that lesson shines through.

Carl Sagan proclaimed, "There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth."

On Monday at Kehoe Beach we were sure the sand was winning the count when the northerly wind had blown away the fog and was whipping up a pelting sandstorm. Although the sand stung their faces, Judith with visionary artist Rebecca DiDomenico, remained undaunted. When the dust settled, they could see nurdles among the tiniest flecks of plastic and sand.

Counting the grains of sand and thinking about the number of galaxies and the number of stars and then the number of nurdles in the sandy firmament, reminds—  

Yes, we are here and we are here.
Come as you are — leave different.

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