Celebrate Life's Blessings - Janette MacKinlay February 27, 2011
Let us remember Janette and think of her especially on her birthday, which is on Saturday, February 26th, by synchronicity a day in 2011 which might go down in history as “the day Americans woke up,” following the example of numerous other countries, rallies and demonstrations have been called for throughout the US to challenge the policies which enrich the few and impoverish the many. We will gather together the following day, on Sunday, February 27, 2011 to celebrate Janette’s life-- some of us in New York, and some in California--to share mementos, memories, food, drink, and stories about our dear friend, her life, her wake up call, which merits our attention, love, and appreciation.
The Celebrations will be webcast on Sunday-
We will start off the Celebration at 12:00 Noon PST (3:00pm EST) with a Skype call with James Lecce. This will be between him and the California crowd (If Ed has a second computer, NY may be able to see it) and will only last a few minutes. Then we will interact with NY for about 1.5 - 2 hours. Then we will continue to broadcast our respective local events.
IMPORTANT: When starting the Ustream Broadcast, also hit the Record buttton. If you do not do this, there will be no video archive available later.
The California Celebration will be broadcasted from this link
The New York Celebration will be broadcasted from this link
Janette MacKinlay was born on February 26, 1948, and raised in Montana. She was drawn to the arts in high school and became involved in the San Francisco art scene when she relocated to the Bay Area in the late ’60s. She married, and had two sons, but her passion for art continued to grow. She attended the California College of Arts and Crafts and received a certificate in Gallery Management in 1981. She worked as the gallery director at Gregory Ghent Fine Arts for several years before running two of her own galleries, G'nette Gardens Gallery in Montclair and the Art Club in Oakland. She also served as Cultural Affairs Commissioner for the City of Oakland. It was during this time that she began a long-term relationship with Jim Lecce, a renaissance man who had retired from a distinguished career in science to follow his dream to be a sculptor.
In 1996 she began studying her new passion, Ikebana, with Sensei, Soho Sakai. She closed her galleries, and in September 1997, she and Jim set their sights on New York City where they rented an art loft directly across the street from the World Trade Center. They loved New York, with all the richness of experiences, art, and cultural activities at their fingertips and within earshot. When the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council provided free cultural events in the plaza of the World Trade Center, some at noontime and some in the evenings, Janette and Jim could hear the band music from their loft.
Just prior to September 11th, Janette was aware that there was a trial going on in New York and that there was concern over the possibility of a terrorist attack in connection with the trial. Years after the event she showed me a “pre-cognitive painting” that she had received from another artist which seem to depict the nightmare that became real on that date. She told me that she and Jim had had a hard time sleeping the night before, as if the atmosphere itself were charged with dread and warning.
Fortunate - A Personal Diary of 9/11 is Janette’s story in her own words, combined with photos dedicated to Janette’s family, friends, fellow survivors, rescue workers, volunteers, the people of New York City, and all those who lovingly helped her with the book project. The title reflected her deep sense of appreciation for the sheer miracle of surviving in the midst of so much violent destruction, her profound amazement and appreciation for life, beauty, friendships, and the love that bridges complete strangers when one’s world is falling apart. She was arranging flowers when the South Tower came down, and her book is filled with her floral interpretations of 9/11. She continued her Ikebana studies and received her Teaching Certificate in 2001. She combined Ikebana with other art forms, including writing, to help her and others heal from the trauma of that day.
Janette had a rare form of courage that enabled her to break some of society’s taboos to explore realms undreamed of by many. As an artist and a writer she opened herself, her experiences, and her point of view to the world, which made her famous in many circles but vulnerable to sharp criticism and rebuke in others. The most courageous challenge she undertook was to seek and champion the truth about 9/11.
Her understanding of the events evolved over time. In her “Question 9/11: A Call to Action” slide show presentation, she eloquently and bluntly described her own transformation and why there was so much resistance to looking into the events. Everyone in the United States, but particularly the people in Manhattan closest to ground zero, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Janette described how she initially wanted to save her country, to fight back, and even to join the army! She created a sculpture with a big gun and Bin Laden in the crosshairs of the rifle sight. She was caught up in the wave of patriotism and flag waving that swept the nation. She joined the Commonwealth Club to gain a deeper understanding of the political events that spawned 9/11, and she was looking forward to hearing the 9/11 Commissioners explain their findings.
On August 17th 2004, the way in which 9/11 Commissioners Slade Gorton and Richard Ben-Veniste spoke and answered audience questions at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco convinced Janette that they were obviously engaged in a cover-up. That was the afternoon that I first met Janette, and we exchanged books. I gave her a copy of David Ray Griffin’s book, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11. On the very same day, my partner in activism, Blaine Machan, the Deception Dollar artist, told me about Janette and gave me her phone number.
2004 was a significant year in many ways. Several citizens’ inquiries into 9/11 were held, a presidential election was underway, and there was rising opposition to the war and the construction of a police state in the US under the guise of “fighting terrorism.” As the Truth movement began to coalesce, our local group, the Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance, went under the umbrella of Agape Foundation, and I persuaded Janette to become our treasurer. She soon became a pillar of strength for our group. She was an organizer, she kept records and did the paperwork. She hosted mailing parties, the retreat and parties. When speakers came from far away, Janette would host them. She organized the Question 9/11 A Call to Action event at the Grand Lake Theater which raised a couple of thousand dollars for the group to buy a fancy DVD duplicator, in addition to inspiring and empowering more people to take action and get involved.
On a later visit to New York, she discovered that her old New York art loft had become available again, and she decided to move back to New York. We missed her, but she began working with the activists in New York City, and she trained to become a guide at ground zero. During that time she served as a vital hub for the movement, connecting survivors and family members of victims involved in the local struggle with national efforts, and provided precious information about the political psychological pressures that were present in New York. Her skills, knowledge, relationships were invaluable in helping to organize subsequent conferences, events and campaigns. She spoke at events across the country. Her experiences drew the press and the media to her, and she gave many, many television, radio, print, and documentary film interviews.
Janette’s own sensitivity and pain, which sometimes triggered outbursts of tears and depression, also helped her to understand the individual and collective psychic trauma that the entire country was experiencing, which she identified as an “identity crisis.” Her own way of coping, surviving, healing, and working through the pain and trauma was through art and beauty--creating, taking action, loving, and simply being.
She had a great deal of energy and many gifts and talents, including a tenacious ability to discipline herself to take on enormous tasks, including numerous events. She held wonderful parties and was the most gracious and warm hostess imaginable. She could bring people together and win them over to supporting her cause, her vision, or to simply celebrate life, art, and friendship and enjoy being together. She decided to return to her family and friends in California, but she continued to visit and work with the activists in New York City.She also was extremely loyal and supportive of other people’s efforts, inspiring, encouraging, and generously giving of her time and talent to help others do more, be more, and accomplish their hopes and dreams. In turn, she inspired loyalty in others who trusted her passion and commitment, and who were inspired by her righteous wrath about injustice and things she felt needed to change. At one point she lost patience with the Truth movement’s focus on continuous research and compilation of evidence. “We know enough. What we need is accountability!” That was the theme of the conference she helped spearhead in Arizona and a reason she joined forces with the New York City Coalition for Accountability Now (NYCCAN), which gathered over 80,000 signatures to put an initiative on the ballot for a new investigation of 9/11. On her own, she would occupy the office of then Attorney General Jerry Brown to try to bring him around to championing 9/11 Truth. She lobbied Senator Barbara Boxer, never faltering in her efforts to draw attention to the discoveries about what really happened on 9/11 that have been covered up by the corporate media and the government.
In June 2007, the Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance honored Janette--along with Bob Bowman, Richard Gage, Cosmos, Jim Hoffman, and Aaron Dames--as Citizen Heroes for 9/11 Truth, and we honored her again in November 2007 when we held an event to bring together the truth movement with the peace and justice movement. Janette was often the bridge between various groups, being able to transcend differences through her deep empathic ability to listen to and understand other points of view.
Janette wasn’t afraid of taking on leadership responsibilities and forging new paths forward within the labyrinth of the American judicial system. Before her brain cancer impaired her ability to speak, she was holding meetings at her home, trying to figure out a legal strategy to gather national support and move us closer to accountability.
The dust that permeated Janette’s apartment permeated her life. When she heard Professor Steven Jones ask for dust samples, she sent him some right away. She knew where the evidence was, who else had it, and what it contained. In August of 2010, I chauffeured Janette to a dinner with Maggie and Bob Bowman, and afterwards to hear Bob speak at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Fellowship Hall. Her aphasia had worsened by that time, and she tried over and over to tell me something as I drove her home from the event. Finally, when we arrived she took me into her home to point out to me “the evidence” that she still had on her wall a branch still impregnated with WTC dust, another envelope filled with dust… her own body fighting cancer which was caused, she was sure, by the World Trade Center dust.
Janette’s proximity to the World Trade Center, and her ingestion of the substances that caused the World Trade Center buildings to disintegrate into ultrafine particles of dust shortened her life. In 2009 at the Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance’s 5th annual film festival, Janette created undoubtedly her most ambitious and enormous Ikebana sculpture, entitled “Wake Up Call,” which consisted of two blue towers swathed in explosive red and white leaves and branches. The event was also a fundraiser for NYCCAN and Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, in addition to our own local group, and featured the world premiere of “Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup,” which included a cameo portrait of Janette, as well as a talk by David Ray Griffin on the topic of his latest book, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 Is Unscientific and False. The whole effort behind the film festival was an attempt to break Americans from the hypnotic trance traumatically forced upon the American psyche on September 11, 2001, that continues to be used to goose step Americans on the endless warpath towards expansionist conquest, environmental destruction, bankruptcy, and moral and spiritual death.
When Janette was diagnosed with brain cancer, she trusted in her beloved family to take care of her, and she began to place her attention on that which brought her joy--the beauty of flowers and life itself, the beauty of art, her family and friends, and cherishing each moment, each day.
As might be expected, it was difficult for her family to transition from being recipients of Janette’s loving care to becoming providers of loving care for her. She was very proud of her sons. Her son Mark and his wife had just had a newborn baby, and before her first stroke Janette had been excited at the prospect of taking care of Huxley two days a week. Her other son, Brian, had been living downstairs in Janette’s home and was able to spend more time with her, but he also had to travel to Mexico to be with his wife who was having difficulties returning to the US. Both of her sons believed in the traditional medical system, and Janette decided to follow their advice to receive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Tragically, an overdose of medication caused a stroke that paralyzed Janette’s right side and limited her mobility to a wheelchair, after which she could no longer take care of herself. With her speech impaired as well as her body, Janette was deeply frustrated by her situation--but she continued to appreciate the thoughts, best wishes, visits, and loving attention from family and friends.
An old friend of Janette’s, Melissa, became one of her caretakers in the final months. Melissa helped Janette complete one of her art projects, the Ikebana cards, and drew friends together for “healing circles” that were conducted by Heidi Page, an old art friend of Janette. Heidi, who is married to one of the pillars of the Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance, Scott Page, and a bridge between Janette’s art friends and activist friends.
I cannot imagine that Janette is actually dead; I believe that her spirit sought freedom from her failing body, seeking more space to move, dance, run, swim, and grow in an endless voyage of self- discovery. I still feel her loving presence and energy encouraging me, inspiring me to not just “do more” but to “be more” and to “celebrate and love more than ever.” Her real gift was her capacity to love which knew no boundaries.
Janette officially died on December 9, 2010. Those who loved Janette naturally grieve our loss and miss her, but we also know that Janette hated mourning and would rather that we celebrate her life, our own lives, and our efforts to bring truth, peace, justice, beauty, and joy to the world.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6wY5ZjiQ34 - May 1, 2009 on WTC Dust Davis, with Professor Steven Jones
http://www.communitycurrency.org/Feb23.html - Question 9/11- A Call to Action, Grand Lake Theater Feb 23, 2006
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWmhJ51WPyA&feature=player_embedded May 2009, Speaking out for NYCCAN
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2912791646250753577# - Lifting the Fog Conference UC Berkeley, 11/11/2006
articles about Janette-
http://plumdreams.com/2010/04/16/dangerous-debris/#more-419 Dangerous Debris by Joyce Lynn, April 2010
http://oaklandnorth.net/2009/09/09/911-film-festival-brings-truthers-to-... 9/11 film festival brings “truthers” to Grand Lake 9/2009 by Laura Callahan
http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wamc/news.newsmain/article/2706/0/1536... NYC-CAN Pushes For New 9-11 Probe, Susan Barnett (2009-07-30)
http://abmp3.com/download/4754311-janette-mackinlay-interview.html Truth Revolution Radio July 9, 2007
http://questioningwar-organizingresistance.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archi... Questioning War- Organizing Resistance, March 31, 2008
P.S. I tried and failed to send invitations to the Memorial Celebration to all of the activist community that knew and loved Janette, but Janette was a far better organizer than I am, and I ran out of time, and couldn't find everyone's addresses, emails and phone numbers. Space is limited, but if you knew and loved Janette and feel you really want to physically come to the celebration, please contact me for an invitation with the details, and pray for good weather.