Guest Blog from our Connecticut State Coordinator, Mary Quintas

Fantastic things are happening in the One Million Bones Connecticut chapter, where I am lucky enough to be the state coordinator.  In November, Yale University’s Genocide Action Project hosted two One Million Bones events: a gallery exhibit featuring bones made by CT high school students, and a speaking engagement with our Founder and Director Naomi Natale.

The exhibit included over 200 bones made by students at Common Ground High School and Norwich Technical High School; thank you to the students for creating such beautiful bones, and to art teachers Joan Malerba-Foran and Emily Cole Hayes for facilitating the project at their schools.

Bones were displayed in front of filmed testimonials of genocide survivors and perpetrators; the juxtaposition intensified the impact of the installation.


Quotes from genocide and holocaust survivors were projected onto the opposite wall. 

Opening night attendees also raised funds by making bones from newspaper and masking tape.

At Yale’s Pierson College, Naomi spoke about her personal journey towards founding One Million Bones, the importance of creating a visible movement, and the ways in which communities across the country have adopted the project.  Naomi said that when the issues and the work feel overwhelming, she and the Albuquerque team make bones.  This resonated with me a great deal.  One of the amazing things about this project is that, when you feel helpless in the face of these massive issues, there is a specific action you can take.

I’d like to take this opportunity as guest blogger to say how rewarding it is to work with the One Million Bones team, as well as the participating educators, artists, and students in Connecticut.  If you’re interested in getting involved or learning more about the CT chapter, email me at, visit our Facebook page, and check out this article about Vernon Center School working towards their goal of 1000 bones!




100-Day Fast for Darfur

Our dear friends at i-ACT are sharing a challenge with us, and we'd like to share it with you

From Gabriel Stauring's (co-founder and director of i-ACT) blog:

"2013 is considered the 10th anniversary of the start of the crisis in Darfur. After ten years, millions of people continue to live in internal and refugee camps, with new generations of Darfuri children knowing no other life than the life of a refugee or IDP. Fighting, killing, and displacement continues in Darfur and is also happening in other areas of Sudan."

You can read the rest of the blog post here.  In case you don't read the blog post, please do consider this image of the approximate daily rations of a Darfuri refugee:

We encourage you, if you can, to join some of the OMB staff and sign up to join the fast here. There are many ways to particiapte. And all of them make a difference.


Poets for Poets

As an arts organization, OMB has a special interest in the rights of artists: Ai Wei Wei; Pussy Riot, and many others.  Today, we're thinking about poets and writers in Burma.

Check out this story from SF Gate, which I believe maybe the San Francisco Chronicle's online alter ego...I just lifted it wholesale, so make sure you go to the site at some point and see how overall marvelous it is!

Poet Saw Wai

Rangoon, Burma --

Poet Saw Wai parked himself on the lawn, unfurled a map of Burma with a blob of blood-red paint dripping down from a spot up north and invited people to make poetry with him.

"He's calling for more trouble," said a passer-by.

What the message lacked in subtlety it made up for in brazenness. Government forces have been pounding ethnic rebels in Burma's northern Kachin state, displacing tens of thousands and testing the country's fast-growing friendship with the West. It's the sort of thing you couldn't really talk about here for 50 years.

Nearly two years into reformist President Thein Sein's term, the rush of hope and idealism that greeted many new freedoms - most strikingly freedom of speech - is turning into a measured assessment of the nation's progress. Long accustomed to writing around censorship, Burma's writers are relearning the habits of free thought and testing the boundaries of speech.

Saw Wai, who served 28 months as a political prisoner, grinned as he handed out photocopies of his latest poems.

"I'm not afraid," he said. "I'm just a guinea pig, testing freedom of expression on behalf of the people."

Burma's censorship board, which shut in August, was officially rebranded the Copyrights and Registration Division at the end of January, just in time for Rangoon's first international literary festival, where Saw Wai staged his poetry performance.

The festival, which ended Sunday, brought together around 80 Burmese authors - including exiles and former political prisoners like opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Burma is also known as Myanmar.

For decades Burmese authors were subject to the censor's red pen, which slashed across manuscript pages. Writers bearing gifts of food, clothing and books pleaded with censors not to cut too deep. Authors also had to submit copies of their printed work before distribution. Pages that didn't conform to the government's edit were torn out, undesirable phrases blacked over.

Burma's Constitution enshrines freedom of expression if it doesn't harm "community peace" or "public order and morality." Such sweeping measures can be used for political prosecutions. Burma is working on a new press law, which could address issues such as defamation and the right to access information.

And this article, International Literary Festival Opens in Burma, at Time is an interesting compliment.



First hand account by Bronte Price

One of the OMB state coordinators, Bronte, wrote this account of one of her experiences at a bone making event.

"Last year I read a book called “They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky.” The book describes the plight of three Lost Boys of Sudan, and their eventual journey to San Diego where they were relocated in 2001. I learned that Lost Boys had been relocated to almost all the major cities in the United States including Chicago. I didn’t forget about the stories of the boys in the book, and the impact they had on me.

 From the Lost Boys Chicago website

When I started planning events for One Million Bones at the beginning of the semester, I remembered their stories and decided to find the Lost Boys in Chicago. Their website shows pictures of events they have participated in, and lists many of their achievements since their arrival in Chicago. I began communicating with Abraham Alier who is the secretary for the group and invited him to come see the work we were doing for the One Million Bones project. He was excited to come to Columbia and asked if he could bring his friend James. I learned that he is also a student because in his e-mails he would tell me he was stressed for midterms and would ask if I was stressed out too. After midterms he made sure to ask how my exams went and informed me that he had done well.

The day before they came to speak at Columbia I thought about whether or not I should show them the bone room we have at Columbia. The room is filled with boxes of packed bones, piles of bones that need to be packed, and drying bones that need to be fired. I wasn’t sure if it was a great idea, or a horrible idea. I thought it might be rude and intrusive to show them something that could potentially be an overwhelming and emotional experience. But on the other hand I felt like they would be glad to see the work we are doing and it might give them hope for the future.

I asked them to arrive an hour early so I could chat with them and tell them about the work we are doing. I described the bone room to them and explained my mixed feelings about bringing them up to see it. Abraham said he understood my dilemma, but he would love to see the room. When they stepped into the room they just looked at everything for a few minutes without saying anything. I was nervous that they weren’t saying anything at first so I began explaining what everything was and how many bones we had and telling them about all the other states that were doing the same work. Abraham picked up a bone and smiled and said “They look so real!” James laughed and said he thought the same thing too.

I asked them what they thought about all of this and if they were glad to see the room or not. Abraham’s reaction was very positive! He was so excited about the project and thought that the approach we were taking was something he had never seen before but he thought it was a great idea. They were both moved by the project and thanked me two or three times each.

We had them speak in two sections an hour and a half each so we could have more classes come see them speak. We filled the room with students for both sections and had Abraham and James stand on the stage and speak. Abraham had obviously done this before, as he was a wonderful speaker with lots of enthusiasm. James was a little more timid and would sometimes struggle to find the right words. He was hesitant to talk about anything too graphic, but Abraham would talk about anything. A few times when James was speaking, Abraham would step forward and ask if he could say something quickly and he would end up talking for ten minutes while James stood behind him waiting to get the microphone back.

Students sat at the table making bones and listening to the speakers. Everyone in the room was silent listening to their story. And everyone was making bones. Four or five of us walked around collecting the bones and distributing more clay. We made sure to thank the students as we picked up their bones and packed them into pizza boxes. There were so many bones being made we lost count halfway through and had to recount all of them at the end.

I was so happy that so many students raised their hands and asked questions! People seemed to be engaged with the speakers and asked awesome questions!! When they were done speaking, Abraham and James came and sat at a table with about six students. They all made bones together and talked about school and work and other things. Abraham couldn’t figure out how to make a bone, so everyone at the table showed him what they had made and tried to explain how to do it.

When the event was over and the students left, we brought the bones and extra clay back up to the bone room together. We counted the bones and left them out to dry before firing them. I thanked them for speaking and participating, and they thanked me for having them and for showing them the room. In total we made over 1,000 bones at the event and we had over 80 people participate! It made me so proud to be a part of this amazing project, and to see the impact we are able to have!"


One Million Bones peeps around the country

At the Calhoun School in NYC

In Salt Lake City

Fruita Monument High School in Colorado