The Dialogue National Tour in Washington, DC
Today is our first day setting up. It's my birthday and I am feeling a bit tired from being on the road. We arrived last night after a long 9 hour drive from Asheville... and I would have rather relaxed today.
So, when we headed down to our DC location at 7am and the first things I heard from the person greeting us onsite was, "Naked mannequins, no one told me about naked mannequins... I need to check with our lawyer about this." and, "... you need to hide that US Postal bin you are carrying your sound equipement (sic) in, otheriwse (sic) you might get fined." and, "you cannot sell your books here" and, "you need to move your cars from the street, this is the City Council parking area", etc., etc. - I really just wanted to go home after this cold reception! Even though this put me in a bad mood, I remembered we had a wonderful sponsor who brought us here and all the work Frank Giblin, our patron and I had done to get us here, so we continued setting up.
What we found was that, while the space we were setting up in was constricted by a plethora of rules and regulations, the people passing through the space were friendly and understood the importance of the project. Some of the regulations made sense since this building is the second largest Federal building in the United States and only 2 blocks from the White House. Apparently, there have been very few temporary installation projects in this area so we were one of the first.
The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center is an incredibly beautiful, impressive structure. The location could not have been better. We had to skip our second day due to weather conditions, but the weather today is almost perfect. We had scattered showers throughout the day and wind squalls, but talked with hundreds of federal employees that were working in the building. Some of the comments being, "you are in the perfect location for this!" ... meaning that you are such a contrast effect to what's going on in Washington. And, "... we really need to remember what is said here today."
Washington, DC is a beautiful city of monuments and grand public art projects. We had five open days in DC and two Dialogue Project days (should have been 3, but we were rained out one day) so we were able to be tourists and see the sites.
History About How We Got Here: We had been searching for an appropriate venue in Washington for a few months when Frank Giblin, head of the Good Neighbor Program, referred us to the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
The only challenge we encountered logistically, was that we could not afford the facility fee to use the Plaza. But, thankfully, an anonymous donor came to our rescue and covered the entire fee for us! It's support like this that really lifts our spirits and keeps us going.
In Washington, we woke to set up and found Mike exhausted and down. Wanted to abort. Bret and I said we'd go put it up ourselves. Eventually we talked him into it, but once on site, Mike fielded a series of bureaucratic acid tests.
Each time we gave him support, but time after time, we were on the verge of packing up, but finally persevered to learn how to overcome the obstacles and be effective in the next installation at that site. And, the second installation day was successful because we had done that homework.
Susan (our local documentary camera person) was relaxed and personable, and really got into the project. We had some great moments, especially with the CODEPink women who filtered in, after their anti-war demonstration, to laugh and talk politics with us.