There are heartening signs that people are out and about and supporting local economies again. Here in Kamakura, visitors are touring temples and gardens, gathering in groups at the shore, meeting in restaurants, and even, once again, getting stuck in traffic jams. The coast, of course, remains as gorgeous as ever.
|from Morito Shrine in Hayama|
So far I have donated money online, via auctions and in the ubiquitous donation boxes; I have donated books; I have contributed my writing to benefit anthologies; I have put together my own benefit writing project; I have been working to determine how best to use SCBWI relief grant money. And perhaps most importantly, I have signed up to serve as a volunteer with the NGO Peace Boat (website, blog, Facebook) to help with relief efforts in Ishinomaki (Miyagi Prefecture), a city badly hit by the massive tsunami (and if you need a reminder of the power of that tsunami here's a video).
The past week has been consumed by preparations for my upcoming trip to Ishinomaki. Each Peace Boat volunteer must bring his or her own tent, food, water and supplies for a week, as well as clothes and gear for clean-up work--safety goggles, headlamp, waterproof jacket and pants, steel-toed rubber boots. The aim is to be self-sufficient so as not to add any further burden to the hard-hit communities or consume any of their precious resources.
I have been gathering what I need and have a heap of stuff that must all somehow fit into one large backpack plus a daypack. I've checked the tent, cleaned the sleeping bag, rerolled my mats, and tested the stove. In addition to easy-to-prepare foods and my work gear, I've purchased a radio, a battery charger for my iPhone (they were all out of solar), an extra headlamp, masks for dusty work, insoles for the boots, dry shampoo and shower sheets....and water...one alloted 2-liter bottle at a time from the supermarket. Somehow this heap of stuff plus clothes needs to be organized into two backpacks, more or less.
|heap of just some of the gear for my Ishinomaki trip|
But this clean-up effort is a monumental task that will take not just a week but months and years. I imagine this will be my first trip of many. This is, after all, what we do now, post 3/11.