Dock of the Bay
Volume VII Number 42
October 21-27, 1999
From Ocean City to the Pacific, Unity Walked America
The Long and Winding Road Paul Callens and Ajax Joe Drayton traveled 3,186 miles, most of it on blistered feet, from coast to coast. Brian Hilmes joined up with the Unity walkers mid-way.
When Paul Callens' blistering feet swelled from size 11 to 13, he kept walking. He lost six toenails over the six months, 18 days he and friend Ajax Joe Drayton footed their way across country.
Beginning at the Atlantic Ocean in the east in March and ending at the Pacific in the west Sunday, Oct. 10, they pushed on through snow, extreme rain and asphalt reaching 120 degrees.
Why? "Thirteen years ago I had a near-death experience," explained Callens, 38, of Riva. "I came away with a vision that I was supposed to walk across the country and talk about unity."
Unity, as defined in Webster's New World Dictionary, implies the oneness as in spirit, aims, interests and feelings of what is made up of diverse elements or individuals.
For Callens and Drayton it's more than that. "Unity for me is staying at the table," said Drayton, 38, of Mount Rainier. And they did.
The ultimate goal was to establish an annual unity day, the second Sunday of October, to celebrate peace, justice and social harmony for all, everywhere.
The road sure wasn't all roses. "We were smelly and dirty," recalled Callens. "At times we were sleeping next to cow patties by farmer fields."
Of the seven original walkers vowing to complete the journey - crossing such states as Maryland, Washington, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California - only Callens and Drayton persevered.
"When you spend six months, 18 days, 24-7 with anybody, even Santa Claus, you're going to feel like they're stepping on your toes," reflected Drayton. "There were times everybody was a little hot under the collar. There's no bar where everybody knows your name," he continued. "But it makes it more of a testament getting through it."
Kristie Wisniewski and her child, Ben Thompson and Judy Rogers left the group during the first week. The seventh original member, Barbara Hale, was on the road all the way out to Missouri. She left late June when finances were scarce and the group decided it was over. "At that juncture all had seemed lost," said Drayton. "That was the point it seemed like we were heading back." Hale packed up before the rest - just before the board of directors managed some last minute gas money.
"The first thing you're going to run into is the barriers to unity," said Callens. "If you push through, you eventually get to the other side."
Along the way, they picked up walkers like 22-year-old Brian Hilmes of Carlyle, Illinois.
"I quit my job and sold my car and joined the walk as driver of the support bus," said Hilmes who, after hearing of the walk, invited Callens and Drayton to his home for a party.
Ron and Gloria Kohls, 67, of Grand Junction, Colorado, came aboard in Hutchinson, Kansas and Grand Junction. All three newcomers stuck it out until the end.
"We had hundreds join us at different communities where they would walk with us for a couple miles," said Callens. "The most moving part was the interaction with people."
There were unity celebrations in cities like Vallejo, California where, when the walkers arrived, legislation was passed celebrating Unity Day this year. People took the walkers in, sometimes when they weren't sure where their next meal was coming from.
"These were people willing to let two strangers into their homes and lives," said Drayton. "They would feed our starving bellies." Bearded truck drivers would pull over and offer a bite to eat.
The mental journey was just as hard. During the not-quite seven month journey, the walkers were tested on many levels. Drayton said he felt like giving up regularly. "Our funding would dry up periodically, and you get tired of eating peanut butter and tuna, but you have to plow on through and keep on walking," Drayton said.
After months of drudging through mountain ranges and long lonely highways, even paddling across the Chesapeake, the journey ended. Dozens of people, including California Congressman Pete Stark, waited to meet the walkers in San Francisco.
"If the walk were setting my soul on fire, the Pacific would quench it," said Drayton.
Back home in Annapolis, where the plan was hatched, Marylanders united for a little party of their own.
The Unity Day Celebration, held at Anne Arundel Community College, had a mix of live entertainment, from Jack Quigley's Full Contact Folk to the Baha'i Youth Dance Workshop to the smooth sound of reggae by Jah Works. The rain moved the crowd indoors, but that didn't keep more than 200 locals from stopping by to nibble on delicious food and visit multicultural displays while grooving in unity.
As for making Unity Day a national holiday, 3,186 miles away at the Pacific Ocean Drayton said "It's just the beginning of the road in that long trip."
Read the journal of the journey on the Web at www.unityday.org.
Bits & Pieces: Volunteer Detectives
Cover the Herring Bay Watershed
By foot, by boat and by plane, 50 volunteers swarmed a Southern Anne Arundel County watershed during Oct. 16th's Herring Bay Shore and Stream Survey. Some, like the Sisks of Holland Point, came as whole families, with children Dougie, Anna and B.J. joining parents Terri and Doug.
Volunteers combed their assigned turf, noting on maps and keying by number all their discoveries of pollution, including shoreline erosion, overflow points and unusual stream conditions. Derelict boats on Rockhold Creek and a large stand of phragmites, a non-native, extremely invasive grass that chokes out beneficial grasses, were among the problems they found.
"This is a good first step for volunteers, to know where pollution begins or where they might plant trees as a buffer. This small but important community-based effort involves them in their watershed, so they can find out how they can help," said Save Our Streams community organizer Maggie Craig.
Save our Streams will compile the volunteers' findings and present them at a public meeting next month. Then there'll be enough cleaning up to do to give everybody in the watershed a job, whether large or small. To learn more this or other area watershed surveys, call SOS at 410/969-0084 or 800/448-5826.
De-Greasing the Bay
When you go fast food, you go greasy. In gritty pits behind restaurants throughout Chesapeake Country gather fat, oil and grease waste that ultimately spill into the Bay.
Now, thanks to Virginia-based Envirogenesis, there's a safe way to cut the grease. In "Bio-augmentation," natural biological organisms are added to reduce common waste products. Three hundred restaurants, including Red Lobster and Piccadilly's in Annapolis, are doing it.
"Every restaurant will have a grease pit. The grease is pumped into landfills or chemicals are used to break it down," explains Envirogenesis spokesman George Beiter. "Our process is a non-chemical way where it's actually gotten rid of."
How does it work?
For that answer, we turn to former deputy surgeon general Robert Whitney, now with Envirogenesis. "A mixture of natural bacteria strains are concentrated to a level thousands of times higher than normally found in nature," Whitney says. "These ultra-concentrated organisms digest the fat and grease and convert it to water and trace amounts of CO2."
It works, confirms a 20-week study of Taco Bell, KFC and Red Lobster food chains. The Henrico County Virginia Public Works Department study was published by the Water Environment Federation.
"Thirty-six of the top 100 chains in the Baltimore-Washington area are using this," boasts Envirogenesis founder Doug Anderson.
Maryland Film Fest Plays Maryland Hall
Tired of hiking across the mall lot just to get 90 minutes of watching stuff explode? For truer-to-life movie experience, try the Maryland Film Festival, coming this month to a city near you.
"You definitely won't see this fare at the multiplex," filmmaker Paul Zinder says. Zinder's documentary, Mom Mom loves Herbert, appears with Elizabeth Holder's short subject Weekend Getaway in Annapolis on October 25.
Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts is one of four stops on the new festival's outreach tour. Based in Baltimore, the festival makes October stops at theaters in Frederick, Columbia and Easton. "We stress this is the Maryland Film Festival. We don't want this to just be a Baltimore thing," says tour organizer Gabe Wardell. "The smaller cities have some great venues, like Maryland Hall and the Avalon Theater in Easton, that are perfect for events like this."
"We're bringing films people are sure to like but can't see anywhere," adds Wardell. "These films are what independent filmmaking is about."
In Mom Mom loves Herbert, Zinder sorts out his own failed romance by looking at the enduring marriages of his parents and four grandparents. Zinder trains his camera on each grandparent in turn as they share lively tales of their youth. Life-long Baltimore residents, they also reflect on the city that has transformed around them.
"I was thrilled with how they did on camera," says Zinder. "I prefer long takes with deep focus, as opposed to the MTV style of fast cutting. So many films today are cut so quickly audiences are forced into the frenetic vision of the filmmaker. I want the audience to get to know the characters, and it would be hard with a bunch of quick shots flying back and forth." Witty and perceptive, Zinder's folks are worth getting to know.
Baltimore City stars equally with Zinder's relatives. "My maternal grandparents have lived in the same South Baltimore rowhouse for almost the entire century, two minutes from the Harbor. I include many shots of their neighborhood. To me that's what Baltimore is all about, these little neighborhoods no one knows about," says Zinder.
Also from Baltimore, Elizabeth Holder got her start on John Waters' Hairspray as a production assistant. While Zinder learned filmmaking at Syracuse, where he earned a Master's of Fine Arts degree, Holder says, "working production was my version of film school." She has since worked on a series of mainstream features, including Guarding Tess and Her Alibi, both shot in and around Anne Arundel County and Baltimore.
"I'd love to come back and shoot in my hometown," says Holder, who now works in New York. "The community really comes out and supports you in a way that is unjaded and excited. They respect hard work."
Holder works hard squeezing a feature film's worth of action into her 15-minute short, Weekend Getaway, in which fed-up paralegal Chuck takes off for the unknown and winds up in a rural bar where he meets Ms. Right. Obstacle: the bartender, who knows way too much about Chuck already. "The film is about believing in yourself and in seeing the possibilities of your life," Holder explains. "To get the woman of his dreams, Chuck must believe in himself. It's kind of sad."
The Maryland Film Festival tests the water with this first tour. "If the response is good, we'll do it more, and with more films," promises Wardell.
"It's a shame the smaller Maryland cities don't get more independent work," adds Zinder. "The festival tour is a way to show people work they wouldn't otherwise get to see."
See for yourself at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts on Monday, October 25 at 7:30pm. The price of admission is $7.
Way Downstream ...
In Montgomery County, it wasn't the idea but the dollar signs that jumped out. The county announced last week that it wants to spend $100 million over the next decade as part of its Legacy Open Space program to acquire thousands of acres for permanent preservation ...
In California, football fan Alan Rondi became enraged when a screeching barn owl interrupted his viewing of the Monday night pro game. So he grabbed his slingshot and knocked the owl out of a palm tree, the Contra Costa Times reports. The fan may be spending some of his Monday nights at the animal shelter fulfilling his sentence of 100 hours of community service, on top of his $10,000 fine ...
The San Diego Audubon Society has joined critics of the Navy's new $350 million sonar system, which uses low-frequency, high-decibel sound waves to detect enemy submarines. Environmental advocates contend that it poses a threat to whales and marine life and should be turned on only when necessary. The Navy disagrees ...
In Oregon, the Meadow Lakes Golf Course in Prineville is trying to conserve by watering its links at night from the municipal sewage treatment plant. But some people aren't pleased. "I've gotten calls at 2am from people shouting: 'Your golf course stinks'," observed city manager Henry Hartley ...
Our Creature Feature comes to us from the state of Washington, where the Department of Fish and Wildlife may not get invited to many weddings now that it wants to put an end to the practice of releasing butterflies at nuptial gatherings.
"It's definitely not good for the environment," a state official said, warning people of "unintended consequences" if the wedding butterflies mate with native species, compete for shrinking habitat and perhaps even introduce disease to other butterflies.
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Volume VII Number 42
October 21-27 1999
New Bay Times
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