Picture of the Ukraine Flag at an Art Gallery in Tulsa’s Art District

Our journey continues across Oklahoma into Missouri. While in Tulsa, we visited the Bob Dylan Center and the Woodie Guthrie Center in the Tulsa Arts District.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself or finding anything. Life is about creating yourself and creating things.” – Bob Dylan

We also visited the Greenwood Rising Museum in the Greenwood District. The Greenwood Rising Museum tells the story of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street. It was impactful as racial tension was already present. There was a misunderstanding between a black man that bumped a white woman in an elevator and was arrested. White vigilantes came out and started burning businesses and houses to the ground.

For me, I see a level of tension in our society now that any trigger unleashes violence. In some ways, it feels like we have made progress in our society and our laws for people of color. In other ways, it feels like the same old ways and that we are going backward. Voting rights, women’s rights, and anyone that is not white, and male are in the crosshairs of our political institutions. Sad! But I’m glad there are museums like these to tell the unvarnished truths about times that we cannot let stand in the 21st century.

The Greenwood District founders were an inspiration to many Black entrepreneurs.

 

While the Greenwood neighborhood massacre happened in Tulsa in 1921, I can’t help but see correlations to the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine half a world away in 2022. Our humanity cannot let the oppression of any sovereign people go unanswered, then or now.

Update from Ukraine Relief Initiative:

We want to share a story from Piper VanOrd, a volunteer from Ukraine Relief Initiative. She’s a generous soul that has gone twice to help in Poland. Her story shows how linked we are as humans. We all love nature and want a safe place to call home.

“As Michal finished up the last couple hours of the water purification install at the rural refugee center in Ukraine, Tatyana asked Megan, Phoenix, and me if we wanted to take a walk around town. She brought along Masha, who’d been teaching herself English in hopes of becoming an interpreter one day.

What started as a walk quickly turned into a nature tour of sorts. Tatyana took us directly down the road to smell the lilacs. We were shown the elementary and high schools, a small store, and a power plant. The town park was lined with cherry blossoms, now mostly fallen but still displaying a beautiful pink ring around each tree trunk. Megan shared a photo of the cherry blossoms in DC, which they loved. A man with a kind smile rolled through with horses transporting a load of gravel. We stopped at yards fenced with chickens and geese and giggled together at one that held two cows. We found chamomile, and she talked about how she’d make delicious tea with it back home. A streetlight down the road was home to a White Stork nest atop it – the same bird type nesting atop the chimney at their center.

As we made our way to the end of town, we were asked if we’d like to keep going to see the river. Of course, you know my answer. Tatyana and I took off our shoes and socks and waded through the small Vyrva River, minnows scurrying in all directions. They told us stories of a beaver they’d watched while swimming one day, clear signs of its presence on small trees that’d been chewed nearby.

We talked about kayaking, and she shared they had guided tours through a company back near her home in Kramatorsk. She was excited to hear what we do at our small business and that we offer guided tours as well in Pennsylvania, wanting to know more about what our river was like and what animals lived nearby. I shared photos of a couple sunsets and critters along the Allegheny. Tatyana agreed nature was a healing force, with tears in her eyes. We both took a deep breath.

We hiked through a field that ran alongside a farm, equipment sitting under trees. If we hadn’t flown across an ocean to get here, I would’ve thought we were in Lander. We inspected some aging willow trees whose trunks were hollow and split but still standing strong. We all laughed at the constant serenading of “cuckoo, cuckoo” from a nearby cuckoo bird that’d been following us. We grrrrrrr’d at finding stinging nettles; Phoenix added a story of finding them in Pennsylvania when he was little.

The farmland took our conversation into gardens. Tatyana talked about her garden back home, where she grew many vegetables, including cucumbers – her favorite – and I agreed, I love snacking on ’em daily from our garden, too. I showed her pictures of last year’s garden at our house, and we named all the vegetables one by one. She gave me a few pointers when I told her about my brussels sprouts that didn’t make it.

We all shared a laugh while walking when I mistook a small, twisted branch for a snake and then talked about snakes in Ukraine and Pennsylvania.

She shared photos of her family, husband, and son and pictures of herself before the war… so beautiful. She told us stories of her home. About missing family members that she’d been sending messages to every day for three weeks in hopes of getting an answer but hadn’t thus far. Checking every morning and evening in hopes that today might be the day she gets an answer back that they are alive.

As we finished our walk, I told her I wished there were more I could do to help. She stopped, turned to me, and said, “We need only one thing. Peace. When we have peace, we can go home. I just want to go home.”

It was an extremely meaningful walk that will remain in my heart always. It was only one day, but they allowed us to be part of their world, and I will be forever thankful they did. I miss them and constantly wonder how they’re doing. These people are so much more like all of us than most may realize. They are our sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and friends. I hope… pray… wish – with everything I have – that they are able to find peace.” – Piper VanOrd

Piper, Tatyana, and Masha walk in the village.

The town park was lined with Cherry Blossom trees.

Piper, Megan, and Phoenix went home last Thursday, and another group from the relief initiative will take their place. There’s always work to be done and generous volunteers to help. Thank you so much for donating to this humanitarian effort. With your donations, the Ukraine Relief Initiative can continue to help Ukrainians that have been displaced from this senseless war. All volunteers pay their own way in airfare, hotels, and food. And 100% of your donations are going toward the relief efforts. Please consider another donation, big or small…it all makes a difference. And please share the message with your contacts. Thank you so much. Be positive and stay safe…and hope for peace!

Freedom is possible!

Much love,
Cindy and Dana

 

HOW TO MAKE FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS 

These contributions are tax-deductible through HCC, our registered 501(c)(3) pass-through charity.

TO CONTRIBUTE BY CHECK:

Make your check payable to **Hispanic Community Council** (VERY IMPORTANT: not to Ukraine Relief Initiative). After you write your check to the Hispanic Community Council, please mail your check to:

Ukrainian Relief Initiative
c/o Gladys Archer
115 Main Ave
Warren, PA 16365

Please indicate “Ukrainian Relief Initiative” in the check memo and include a note with your contact info (address, phone, email). * See the footnote at the bottom for details on the Hispanic Community Council.

TO CONTRIBUTE ELECTRONICALLY BY PAYPAL:

Use this link:   https://www.paypal.me/UkraineReliefInitiat. PayPal goes through Gladys Archer, serving as a liaison between the “Ukraine Relief Initiative” and “Hispanic Community Council,” our 501(c)3 pass-through organization.

In the memo, please include your name, address, phone #, and email so we can process your tax receipt.

CONTRIBUTE WITH NO TAX RECEIPT

Venmo directly to my personal account now, and I’ll ensure your funds get where they need to be. Make sure to indicate “Ukraine Relief Initiative” in the transfer. Please give me your contact info (phone, email, address). You can Venmo directly to me:

Click this link, https://account.venmo.com/u/Cynthia-Henson-12.

_______

* In light of the emergency needs in Poland/Ukraine and the prohibitively long lead time of months or even years to establish a new charity in the US, the Hispanic Community Council of Chautauqua County (HCC), a local 501(c)(3) charity in the Warren-Jamestown area, has generously stepped forward, slashed the red tape, and agreed to act as the passthrough charity to process payments and issue tax receipts for our Ukraine Relief Initiative, consistent with their broad charitable mandate relating to international community engagement.  HCC is not charging our initiative one single penny to act as our passthrough charity. 100% of your contributions sent to HCC and earmarked for the Ukrainian Relief Initiative will go directly towards our mission of relieving the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

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