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  • A few days ago a friend sent me a set of maps showing, with red dots, the proliferating foreclosures in a number of states. Perhaps you have seen them.

    You can zoom in closer and closer to see neighborhoods which are almost filled up now with these red dots.The dots look like an angry rash over the landscape. A break out on the skin of the land, like a reaction to some poison or toxins in the soil. But they represent a new kind of poison, a new kind of toxin.

    As I looked at these maps, and there were many of them, I knew what they represented. They showed in impersonal graphics broken homes, lives destroyed, children having to leave friends and familiar rooms behind. They represent one of the greatest population displacements in our history.

    I wondered: Where will these millions of people go now? Will they have to live in their cars? For many of them, there is nowhere to go, period. So then what happens? And this is now all neatly mapped out so housing speculators can see where to move in and pick up valuable properties for pennies.

    I am all questions, with no answers. I am haunted by this rash of red dots over the land, like a Biblical plague. All I can think about is that the ghastly maps, and what they represent, are a kind of digital cry for help, from the displaced, from the now homeless, and from the land itself.

    Is there a role for Art and Artists in all of this? Poet Maya Angelou writes: “In today's climate in our country, which is sickened with the pollution of pollution, riddled with burgeoning racism, rife with growing huddles of the homeless, we need art and we need art in all forms. We need all methods of art to be present, everywhere present, and all the time present.”

    I would like to think that we Writers and Artists can be part of the solution.
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