The Journey

In October 2017, a small group of people will be setting out to explore life at the borderlands. With no defined itinerary, we will be finding our way from town to town along the US/Mexico border to connect with and listen to the everyday experiences of people who live there. What does the border mean? Who lives there? What do folks on either side of the border think about the wall? What does it sound like, smell like, look like? What do they think about the President? How have their families been affected by the border? What changed since the already existing walls were put up? What will change if more walls or fences are built? How does the border divide us in both visible and invisible ways? What are the ties and bridges that connect people despite the border? What do you want people to know about your life here and what’s your vehicle for sharing it?

Do you have a question you think we should be asking? Submit a question here.

Creativity is our vehicle

Art has the power to transform, enliven, inspire, open, recharge and nourish us. We want to share what we see and hear at the border in the most creative way possible — that means our daily transmissions will come in many forms: as stories, songs, poems, blogs, photos, videos and sound clips. For example, the sounds of a soup kitchen where migrants are hanging out, a story about the wall from a kid who lives nearby, someone sharing a favorite song about the border, a local poet reciting a recent poem, photos of graffiti on the wall, a sound clip from the desert or a video of an interview with someone who is doing humanitarian work in the area. We will not be producing polished podcasts or feature length films, but rather transmitting raw fragments of life, threads and tidbits that together, form a woven fabric and felt sense of daily life at the border. These tidbits and threads collected along the way will become part of a full length music album produced after the journey is over, an attempt to bring to life in yet another medium, the many facets of life there.   

Why purple van?

Liza has always been going back and forth between places and has found that meaning for her, in her life, is not found in one place, but somewhere in between. Growing up in the cradle of the pristine Rocky Mountains, as a teenager she was drawn to her Spanish-speaking family in Puerto Rico and later decided she wanted to become fluent in Spanish and live in Latin America. As she became increasingly involved in the Colombian human rights movement, her life evolved as a constant back and forth between Colombia and the US, but also as a back in forth in ways of being: she found herself in between the quiet introspective tradition of Buddhism, the outwardly action-oriented path of activism, and the melancholic expression of song. Going back and forth between these places and ways of being has drawn her to the border as a place to explore and understand, as an artist and as an activist. The image of a purple van is a metaphor for a kind of art-inspired activism on the road that Liza has always dreamt of doing — a medium to explore the back and forth, to weave a narrative between sameness and difference, to search for truth while wandering, journeying, traversing terrain, endlessly in between place and placelessness, same and difference.

Our Team

Liza Smith is an activist, cultural worker and singer/songwriter and has been using her words, actions and songs to fight for social justice ever since she could. Her work has primarily focused on the human rights situation in Colombia, but has included other issues such as homelessness, Free Tibet, racial justice, corporate accountability, the border and the impacts of the drug war on communities in both Colombia and the United States. Liza’s music has been part of the movement in all kinds of ways: on speaking tour across the United States, at the School of the Americas Watch protest in Ft. Benning, at protests, vigils and for fundraisers. She has recorded two albums in Bogotá, Colombia and is working on a third due to come out in 2017. Many of her songs tell stories about her experiences working with all different kinds of people for social justice and change.

Mika Anami is a composer, producer and sound engineer from Tokyo and New Orleans and is currently based in Oakland. She has recorded albums in Bogotá, worked as a sound engineer in San Francisco, and produced a cover album project for a Japanese music company. Additionally, she was an editor for a Japanese online radio station and a sports podcast in San Francisco and has many years of experience marketing and managing cultural work in online and social media platforms.

Candice Camargo: Originally from southern California, Candice graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a degree in philosophy, politics, and economics. Prior to joining Other Worlds in 2016, she spent the previous nine years as an activist and organizer, including working with Witness for Peace in Colombia, Codepink in LA, and most recently as the Executive Director of the international accompaniment organization FOR Peace Presence in Colombia. Candice currently lives in Bogotá and is dedicated to supporting communities, organizations, and movements forming part of the collective process to nonviolently undermine systems of oppression [would also like to know something about what you are building in its place]. Passionate about social and environmental justice, human rights, corporate accountability, and the power of stories to inspire people to action, Candice is thrilled to support the Purple Van Tour.