Monday, November 11, 2013

Documenting A Diaspora: 48 Hours

The war for Laos, often referred to as the Secret War, is one that played a big part in the poems that were included in DEMONSTRA. Back in 2007, the introduction to my book On the Other Side of the Eye summed up the conflict as:
From 1954 to 1975, a bloody civil war was fought for the future of Laos, the Kingdom of a Million Elephants. The US State Department and the CIA raised a clandestine army of over 30,000 guerrillas drawn from highland tribes for the Royal Lao Government's campaign against the communist Pathet Lao supported by the Russians and North Vietnamese. The guerrilla operations soon broke into open warfare. Near the end, children as young as 11 years old were deployed on the battlefields alongside US paramilitary advisors and mercenaries on the mysterious Plain of Jars, the sacred mountain Phou Pha Ti, the Bolovens Plateau, the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and many others. With the US withdrawal from Southeast Asia and the collapse of the Royal Lao Government in 1975, thousands were forced to flee because of their roles in the war. By the beginning of the 21 century, over 400,000 of those refugees work to rebuild their lives in the United States, even as the world struggles to build a new future...
Of course, the war was even more complicated than that, given the supposed neutrality of Laos during the time. More tons of bombs would be dropped on Laos than were dropped on all of Europe during World War 2. The stories go on, because as we are just starting to see, Laos has over 160 cultures living within its borders, and each of them has their own particular take on what happened during this era.

I want to take a quick moment to encourage you to consider supporting the Little Laos on the Prairie project to document the stories of the Lao Diaspora that will conclude on Wednesday, November 13th.

Little Laos on the Prairie is just a little over $900 away from being able to fund a groundbreaking, grassroots photojournalism project that will examine the last 40 years since Lao came to the US.

They found themselves in an all-or-nothing campaign, so if they don't get the last $900 committed by midnight, Wednesday, they see none of the funds they raised. You can support them at:

They are trying to find at least 45 people who can contribute $20, or approximately the cost of a good pizza, to help fund a year's worth of research and preparation to create a community exhibit and website that tells the stories of veterans, their families, and everyone who was affected by the war and where they are now. If you can support them, they'll do an amazing job and you'll be proud of them.

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