The overall theme of the Procession this year is Sky Islands. We will be integrating music, dance, symbolism, and ideas that span Cuba, Colombia, and Southern Arizona. From the literal island of Cuba to our desert sky islands—the land enclosed by water, the mountain environments enclosed by desert—to the isolation that is epidemic in our lives.
Our communities, our lives are cut off from those around us, alienated from our ancestors, distant from our descendants, disconnected from traditional ways of creating meaning. We are force fed instead consumerist goods to purchase plastic meaning. Connected only by what we buy, the brands with which we identify. Human islands.
At root, the Procession has always been about cultivating communalism, cooperation, and creativity—weaving nature, art, and sacred respect throughout daily life, beginning with our relationship to living, dying, grief, love, ancestors, and those who will come after us. It embodies these themes in its organizational structure, in its organic grassroots mode of operation, in its emphasis on creativity as a pathway to process grief, in its radical emphasis on accessibility to all socio-economic levels, in its democratic take-over of our streets, in its dedication to community funding sources, in its insistence that all who participate are responsible for creating the collective experience.
This is not spoon-fed, acquisitive culture. It is a collective grassroots experience where each of us is invited to draw on our own cultural traditions and our own creativity to create something greater than the sum of its parts: a transformational practice that offers possibilities for individual and collective healing.
To survive as a species, we must find our way toward integrated existence. None of us isolated from each other. None of us imagining we can be isolated from the natural world. None of us islands. All of us part of this cosmic island that is Earth.
This is the territory that we will be symbolically exploring in this year’s Sky Island Finale. Digging in to the ways that colonialism and current economic models have created a culture of separation and consumerism—isolating each of us as human islands.
Each volunteer cohort in the Procession explores the theme from a different angle. A few of their approaches are below. More to be added later. You are invited to explore your own approach to the theme, or not to—as you choose.
Urn Ambassadors & Ushers
As Ambassadors and Ushers, we will be holding environmental grief, and the ways in which we all seem to be trapped in our own destruction. Our island is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The detritus of modern lives, full of stuff, things that drift through our hands and into the trash out of our sight, but continue into the world. The objects that are invested with meaning when we hold them as part of our story, but that become meaningless trash once they are outside of our stories. Trash. Debris. Detritus.
We will be embodying the disposable thingness of modern American life. And trying to create something sacred and beautiful out of what we have available to us.
Things we are contemplating as we prepare:
- The ways Americans respond to tragedies—impromptu shrines full of teddy bears, flowers, and candles. At some point, someone either has to dispose of those items (hello Great Pacific Garbage Patch) or archive them. Warehouses full of archived memorial teddy bears. Do we dispose of these items (can we dispose of them, really?) or do we keep them? Meaningful and meaningless at once.
- The particularly American response to disasters—the impulse to send stuff. To unload all our old crap—outdated medications, more teddy bears, clothes—and believe we are helping. When in truth, that stuff is frequently a burden for the service organizations. What is needed is money to purchase the actual food, medication, shelter that is required.
Urn Attendants will be grappling with these questions as they flesh out their response to the theme:
- How does Grief, Tragedy and Loss turn us into separate Islands?
- If we are separate Islands, what connects us?
- What is Independence and what is Interdependence?
- What are your personal Milagros?
- What are the things that you have learned through being part of ASP? Does it shape the rest of your year?
- How does The Sacred show up in your Life? And what is that to you?
- The Social Constructs of our Society, how does it play out upon your Body/ Being?
Finale Ceremony Inspiration
Rumination on the progression of historic economic models such as Feudalism, Capitalism and Communism, as manifested thru enclosure and colonialism. Inspiration towards a path of communalism and cooperation as modeled in modern day Cuba and ancient Columbian “sky island societies,” through the incorporation of nature, art, and sacred respect woven through daily life.
ACT ONE: CHICHA DUST “Speak No Evil”
Reprise of procession, mini procession enactment
ACT TWO: VAMPIRO
In Cuba people hang an enigmatic little sign, sometimes known as the lengua obara, above their doorways (also the symbol on this year’s t-shirts). It can be translated to mean “Don’t Gossip.” It is a reminder that the tenuous balance of human relations and harmony are everyone’s responsibility.
ACT THREE: NENA LINDA “Amazonia”
Greco Roman frescoes of conquered civilizations depicted as slaughtered women–the rebirth of the woman warrior.
ACT FOUR: TOMBSTONE RASHOMON “Feeding”
Transformation of grief and tragedy through community, compassion and ritual embodiment
ACT Five: CUMBIA DEL PALETERO “Babaluaye”
The legacy of colonialism and the ongoing fight for liberation
ACT SIX: HOY “Parthenogenesis”
The female genesis of life honoring the Goddess Yemaya
ACT SEVEN: SHIFT AND SHADOW
ACT NINE: El MILAGRO VERDE “Chikn Selfies” (5:00)
Modern dilemmas of social/sexual engagement
ACT TEN: WORLD GOES AWAY “Sky Islands”
An homage to the Utopian moment reflected thru the mirrored images of Cuba and Tucson.
EGGUN Songs: Closing prayer w/ Manny Aregullin.