My husband, Brian, was and ambassador on the planning committee for the 9/11 Unity Walk, a vibrant sign of interfaith cooperation and dialogue that sprang up in Washington, D.C. When religious tensions were rising, these men and women from various faiths became a voice of solidarity in our city.
It was held yesterday. And it was an uplifting walk, a mile and a half long, with about 700 hundred people, brief speeches, and interesting music. We ended the event in front of the Ghandi Memorial. There’s a bronze statue there that stands in sharp contrast to the many of the landmarks in D.C. While the substantial men usually stand, with military garb, shining medals, and stalwart determination, Ghandi’s thin and walking. Even in memorial, he’s still walking.
The highlight of the day, for me, was sitting next to my six-year-old daughter, and explaining why that statue of that strong thin man with glasses and cane was so important. Then we ended the exhausting Sunday, under a willow tree, laughing together and suddenly hearing a song rise up. We all knew it. So many different voices from all over the world, joining in a rousing chorus: “We shall overcome.”
That’s what happened. On the surface. But, of course, months of planning, hours of discussions, and a swarm of fundraising went into pulling the event off.
I want to tell you about one of the events, because it has important implications for church work. There’s a guy on the planning committee named Dan Tuttle, who’s in his thirties. His day job is working for the Points of Light Foundation in D.C. And during the fundraising and advertising, Dan and Brian realized that they had much different perspective regarding the way that they went about getting the word out for a walk like this.
Dan decided to have a fundraiser, about a week before the event, so he talked to a couple of friends. Kyle had a home across from the National Sikh Gurdwara and agreed to host. Meg had an amazing ability to create wonderful International food. And one of Dan’s computer buddies took an Evite-type application and altered it so that Dan could not only invite all of his contacts, but his contacts could invite their contacts. He connected with a film group in D.C., added a documentary viewing to the event, and BOOM. Within five days, he had RSVP’s from 350 people, each of them contributing to the Walk.
You see, there have been three waves of the Internet. The first was for used for military defense. The second included one-sided websites and commerce. The third wave is interactive. Now we have blogs, rating systems, evites, social networking sites and wiki applications. Dan was riding the third wave, which has incredible power for connecting like-minded activists and spiritual people. (Growing up, surfing in the Florida beaches, I always liked the third wave the best….)
I must say though, the power dynamic is different. It’s more about being connected than in control. When I went around the room and asked my usual party question, “So, how do you know Dan?” The response was a confused question in reply:
the photo’s by fernando graphicos