Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year 2017 and Some of the Best Things that Happened in 2016

by Gregg Chadwick

Happy New Year 2017!

It’s raining this New Year’s Eve in Santa Monica. The haunting voice of Gil Scott-Heron singing Winter In America fills our living room. My thoughts trace a circuit from this moment back to an earlier New Year in Japan as 1989 rolled into 1990. I was in Tokyo following the spirit and artworks of Ando Hiroshige. That winter in Japan, I clutched a large volume by Henry D. Smith II and Amy G. Poster on Hiroshige’s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo and trekked on rail, foot and car across the historic core of what was Edo era Tokyo. Sponsored by the Nippon Seiyu-Kai's 30th Anniversary Award, I endeavored to create a series of new paintings inspired by Hiroshige’s woodcuts. Time, place, memory, mystery and lore all mixed in my artworks.

Gregg Chadwick
Passing View of Shohei Bridge 
30"x24" oil on linen 1990

 Today, on the Brooklyn museum’s Tumblr page, Alison Baldassano posted a photo of one of the most mysterious images from Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. She wrote,"People aren’t the only beings who gather together for special celebrations on the night before a new year dawns. In this woodblock print by Hiroshige, foxes come together on New Year’s Eve to receive directions for the upcoming year and emit ghostly flames, the size of which helps predict the next year’s crop…. And, as the foxes could say in the morning, 明けましておめでとうございます (akemashite omedetou gozaimasu) or Happy New Year!"

Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando) (Japanese, 1797-1858)
 New Year’s Eve Foxfires at the Changing Tree, Oji
( No. 118 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo)
 9th month of 1857  Woodblock print
 Brooklyn Museum

And some of the best things that happened in 2016!
(Please scroll to the end for all 51)

Thinking about the past year and inspired by a series of tweets by Canadian Astronaut Commander Hadfield, who is back on Earth after living aboard ISS as Commander of Expedition 35 , I have put together a list of positive achievements from 2016. Yes, it has been a difficult year with the Trumpian circus and the deaths of far too many in Aleppo, Iraq, Turkey, Nice, and Berlin. Not to mention, the untimely passing of artists from David Bowie, to Prince, to Carrie Fisher and so many more. 

1. It’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positive accomplishments. Let’s take a look: 

2. The Colombian government and FARC rebels committed to a lasting peace, ending a war that killed or displaced over 7 million people.

3. Sri Lanka spent five years working to exile the world’s deadliest disease from their borders. As of 2016, they are malaria free.

4. The Giant Panda, arguably the world’s cutest panda, has officially been removed from the endangered species list.

5. @astro_timpeake became the first ESA astronaut from the UK, symbolizing a renewed British commitment to space exploration.

6. Tiger numbers around the world are on the rise for the first time in 100 years, with plans to double by 2022.

7. Juno, a piece of future history, successfully flew over 588 million miles and is now sending back unprecedented data from Jupiter.

8. The number of veterans in the US who are homeless has halved in the past half-decade, with a nearly 20% drop in 2016.
Thank you Michelle Obama and so many more!

Army Sgt. 1st Class Nicole Howell, 8th Theater Sustainment Command public affairs operations noncommissioned officer, talks with a homeless veteran ahead of the annual Veterans Stand-Down in Honolulu, Aug. 5, 2015. 
The stand-down was part of the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness initiative announced by First Lady Michelle Obama as a way to challenge the mayors in major cities to provide services and supplies to homeless veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, medical, dental and benefits counseling with the hope of getting them off the streets. Courtesy photo

9. Malawi lowered its HIV rate by 67%, and in the past decade have seen a shift in public health that has saved over 250,000 lives.

10. Air travel continue to get safer, and 2016 saw the second fewest per capita deaths in aviation of any year on record.

11. India’s dogged commitment to reforestation saw a single day event planting more than 50 million trees, a world record.

Hundreds of thousands of people in India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh planted 50 million trees in 24 hours. 
(AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

12. Measles has been eradicated from the Americas. A 22 year vaccination campaign has led to the elimination of the historic virus.

13. After a century, Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves has been found verifiable, in a ‘moon shot’ scientific achievement.

14. China has announced a firm date for the end of the ivory trade, as public opinion is becoming more staunchly environmentalist.

15. A solar powered airplane flew across the Pacific Ocean for the first time, highlighting a new era of energy possibilities.

16. Costa Rica’s entire electrical grid ran on renewable energy for over half the year, and their capacity continues to grow.

17. Israeli and US researchers believe they are on the brink of being able to cure radiation sickness, after successful tests this year.

18. The ozone layer has shown that through tackling a problem head on, the world can stem environmental disasters, together.

19. A new treatment for melanoma has seen a 40% survival rate, taking a huge step forward towards long-term cancer survivability.

20. An Ebola vaccine was developed by Canadian researchers with 100% efficacy. Humans eradicated horror, together.

21. British Columbia protected 85% of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, in a landmark environmental agreement.

Spirit bears are the best known part of the unique flora and fauna of the Great Bear Rainforest that will be protected under an agreement finalized in B.C. 
Spirit bears, also known as Kermode bears, are black bears with a unique genetic variation that gives them their cream-coloured fur. (Photo by Ian McAllister)

22. 2016 saw the designation of more than 40 new marine sanctuaries in 20 countries, covering an area larger than the United States.

23. These marine reserves include Malaysia’s 13 year struggle to complete a million hectare park, completed this year.

24. This also includes the largest marine reserve in history, created in Antarctica via an unprecedented agreement by 24 nations.

25. Atmospheric acid pollution, once a gloomy reality, has been tackled to the point of being almost back to pre-industrial levels.

26. Major diseases are in decline. The US saw a 50% mortality drop in colon cancer; lower heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.

27. Uruguay won a major case against Philip Morris in a World Bank ruling, setting a precedent for other small countries that want to deter tobacco use.

28. World hunger has reached its lowest point in 25 years, and with poverty levels dropping worldwide, seems likely to continue.

29. The A.U. made strides to become more unified, launching an all-Africa passport meant to allow for visa-free travel for all citizens.

30. Fossil fuel emissions flatlined in 2016, with the Paris agreement becoming the fastest UN treaty to become international law.

31. One third of Dutch prison cells are empty as the crime rate shrank by more than 25% in the last eight years, continuing to drop.

32. Homelessness in the United States declined by 35% since 2007, and Los Angeles committed to $1.2 billion to help get more people off the street. Amanda Hoover in the Christian Science Monitor writes,"The decreases nationwide, especially those involving chronic homelessness, come in part thanks to a push for permanent housing options rather than temporary placements that are no longer seen as a good path to getting people 'back on their feet.' Communities, such as Boston, that have explored supportive, long-term options have seen more of their vulnerable citizens thrive, and some say an expansion of that plan could eradicate the issue of homelessness entirely."

33. @BoyanSlat successfully tested his Ocean Cleanup prototype, and aims to clean up to 40% of ocean-borne plastics starting this year.

34. Israel now produces 55% of its freshwater, turning what is one of the driest countries on earth into an agricultural heartland.

35. The Italian government made it harder to waste food, creating laws that provided impetus to collect, share and donate excess meals.

36. People pouring ice on their head amusingly provided the ALS foundation with enough funding to isolate a genetic cause of the disease in 2016.

37. Manatees, arguably the most enjoyable animal to meet when swimming, are increasing their population.

38. The United States now feeds healthy lunches to more than 30 million children, is about to ban trans fats, and has enacted one of the biggest overhauls of nutrition labels in decades.

39. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau announces ban on transgender discrimination

40. In December, Gambia became the latest African country to show that voting does count, and dictators do fall. 

41. The Gates Foundation announced another 5 billion dollars towards eradicating poverty and disease in Africa.

42. Individual Canadians were so welcoming that the country set a world standard for how to privately sponsor and resettle refugees.

43. Teenage birth rates in the United States have never been lower, while at the same time graduation rates have never been higher.

44. In 2012, the US and Mexico embarked on an unprecedented binational project to revive the Colorado River. By 2016, the results had astonished everyone. 

45. SpaceX made history by landing a rocket upright after returning from space, potentially opening a new era of space exploration.

46. Black incarceration rates fell in the United States. Not fast enough, but certainly something worth celebrating. 

47. The proportion of older US adults with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, declined from 11.6% in 2000 to 8.8% in 2012, a decrease of about a million people.

48. Mobile phones made significant inroads in the fight against rabies, a disease that kills more people annually than all terrorists combined.

49. In November, the Obama administration followed up its March announcements by banning offshore exploration and drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic until 2022.

50. The World Health Organisation released a report showing that, since the year 2000, global malaria deaths have declined by 60%. 

51. Katherine Johnson, 98, was able to see her life's work as a mathematician realized, recognized, and appreciated.  #STEMwomen

There are countless more examples, large and small. If we refocus on the things that are working, our new year will be better than the last.

Thinking of all of you this holiday season! 

We remain hopeful in this dark moment and send healing thoughts your way.

Thank you for your love and support!


This is an update from an earlier letter. I will be sending these out as the situation develops.
It is my goal in these updates to point out the injustice our country faces and actions we can take to find peace and overcome this tide of hate coming from DJT supporters and DJT ideas and policies.
I have posted the content of my first letter without personal details on my blog Speed of Life - 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Advice to Myself 2: Resistance

Directed by Heid E. Erdrich, written and performed by Louise Erdrich, filmed and edited by Elizabeth Day, music by Trevino Brings Plenty (

Shot on the coldest and snowiest day of the year, "Advice to Myself 2: Resistance" presents a visual and verbal collaboration between author Louise Erdrich, her poet sister Heid E. Erdrich, and artist Elizabeth Day. A figure dressed as a bear moves through a frozen yet domestic landscape, at times using a blade to practice martial arts moves, at other times carrying a baby in a woven carrier. The She-bear’s movements juxtapose the voice of Louise Erdrich speaking a poem.

Throughout the "poemeo" as Louise calls the form, the bear gives us clues to her indigenous identity in her jingle dress moves, her beaded mukluks, the willow baby basket she carries. The words of the poem offer a message of personal, political and universal resistance. In the last moments the bear's identity is revealed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thankful for Diversity

by Gregg Chadwick

Hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We touched base with many of you during the past week and got a good dose of holiday cheer. 
When asked what I am thankful for - I of course start with family and friends but just as importantly I am thankful for the wonderful diversity found in my home state of California and across the US.
Childhood memories are entwined in our holiday traditions. Often, I think of my Dad's parents and the time we took a road trip deep into the South during the Civil Rights era. At a road stop somewhere along I95, in Georgia I think, my Grandma Chadwick saw me staring at a crude racist, epithet scrawled on a sign. She put her arm around me and said to me "Don't mind about those words. Those words aren't true. God loves everyone one of us - equally."
It was one of the first and one of the best lessons about civil rights and equality that I have ever learned. 

Watch The Snowy Day

1. The holiday season often brings a sense of nostalgia. For me the Caldecott Medal winning book by Ezra Jack Keats, "The Snowy Day", seems to illustrate my childhood visits to my Grandma Chadwick’s house. My Aunt Margaret and her daughter Barbara called her Nana. Reading Keats, "The Snowy Day", at my Nana's house in Montclair, New Jersey felt like a walk through that multicultural neighborhood on a wintry day. Ezra Jack Keats passed away in 1983, but his art continues to speak to us today. The most recent offering is the Amazon released animated production inspired by Ezra Jack Keats' book. In this wonderfully illuminated world, the young Peter ventures to his Nana's house to help her deliver presents and Mac and Cheese for the extended family's Christmas Eve dinner. Adventures beckon. Plans are sidetracked. Tears are shed. But in the end, as in all good holiday stories, joy prevails. "The Snowy Day" is a new animated holiday classic. A must watch production. Link here:

For more on Keats and his work please visit the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation online at

Post Election Thoughts from the Keats Foundation:
"It’s more important than ever to keep on doing what we do.

• Creating, and promoting, diverse children’s books.
• Teaching the value of the many cultures and differences in our country and world.
• Instilling a love of reading and a desire to learn in our children.
• Raising our boys to respect girls and one another.
• Raising our girls to believe in themselves and what they can achieve.
• Supporting programs that encourage writers and illustrators, teachers and librarians, to give children the tools and opportunity to find their own voices.

We are nurturing each new generation to contribute to a more literate, inclusive and just society. That is what makes America great."

Stand Up for Others

2. I was heartened to hear of the proud Texan holding a sign up in support of the Islamic Community in Irving Texas. It made me thankful for my brother Kent and sister in law Cathy who last year created a similar love action in Bremerton, Washington. Full article at:

Below is Justin Normand’s Facebook Post About His Action

I have had the most extraordinary weekend.
Like most everyone I know, I have been in a malaise and at a loss since Election Day. What to do? With myself? With my time? To make things better, or even just to slog through?
I manage a sign shop, and so I had had the urge for a week or so to do this. Friday, I had a couple of spare hours in the afternoon, so I did.
I made a sign, and I drove to the nearest mosque and stood out on the public sidewalk to share the peace with my neighbors. My marginalized, fearful, decent, targeted, Muslim neighbors.
Someone took a picture and posted it, and as of today it’s been viewed millions of times, and shared across various platforms many hundreds of thousands of times.
This is extraordinary and humbling; mainly because what I did isn’t (or shouldn’t be) all that extraordinary.
For me, this wasn’t about expressing agreement; I remain Presbyterian, not Muslim.
It wasn’t about demonstrating my outrage to right-wing drivers driving down Esters Road in front of the mosque. I can never, and will never, change any of the haters. It’s not about them. Not this time, and not here.
This was about binding up the wounded. About showing compassion and empathy for the hurting and fearful among us. Or, in some Christian traditions, this was about washing my brother’s feet.
This was about my religion, not theirs.
And, it was about what I think I must do as an American when our way of life is threatened. Targeting people for their religion not only threatens our way of life, it is the polar opposite of our way of life.
Find a group marginalized by the haters in this current era we find ourselves in. Then, find a way to express your acceptance to that group in a physically present way, as opposed to a digital one.
I can assure you, from their outpouring of smiles, hugs, tears, hospitality, messages extending God’s love, and a bouquet of flowers, it will mean a lot.
My own religious tradition ascribes these words to my deity:
I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.
It is also in this vein that the words on the Statue of Liberty embrace, with eagerness and mercy, all who come to join us:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
These words bespeak the America we all remember, know, love, and are still called upon to be. Especially now.
Lastly, it worked. I felt better for the impact it had on my neighbors. They genuinely needed this encouragement. They need us.
They need all of us. They need you.
We ARE one America.

Stop the Harassment

3. Cassiel and I had a recent conversation on how to safely intervene in an episode of targeted harassment. 
The illustrated graphic by the artist Maeril is quite good. This is what she recommends:

Graphic by @itsmaeril

Hi everyone! 
This is an illustrated guide I made as part of my co-admining work at The Middle Eastern Feminist on Facebook! It will be published there shortly. The technique that is displayed here is a genuine one used in psychology - I forgot the name and couldn’t find it again so if you know about it, feel free to tell me!Some could say: “Yes but you can use that technique for instances of harassment other than Islamophobic attacks!”, and my reply is: Sure! Please do so, it also works for other “types” of harassment of a lone person in a public space!! However I’m focusing on protecting Muslims here, as they have been very specific targets lately, and as a French Middle Eastern woman, I wanted to try and do something to raise awareness on how to help when such things happen before our eyes - that way one cannot say they “didn’t know what to do”! I’d like to insist on two things: 1) Do not, in any way, interact with the attacker. You must absolutely ignore them and focus entirely on the person being attacked! 2) Please make sure to always respect the wishes of the person you’re helping: whether they want you to leave quickly afterwards, or not! If you’re in a hurry escort them to a place where someone else can take over - call one of their friends, or one of yours, of if they want to, the police. It all depends on how they feel! 
For my fellow French-speakers: I will translate it in French and post it on my page as soon as I can :)
Please don’t hesitate to share this guide as it could push a lot of people to overcome bystander syndrome!!
Lots of love and stay safe!
PS: I you repost this cartoon of mine on twitter or instagram, please add me in the post so I can see it, with @itsmaeril :)

We remain hopeful in this dark moment and send healing thoughts your way.

Thank you for your love and support!