City of Asylum Hosts Monks
When 15 monks came to Pittsburgh in September, 2009, they and their assistants needed a place to stay. Finding beds for some 35 people isn’t an easy task. City of Aslyum/ Pittsburgh opened its doors and hosted them in its four houses along Sampsonia Way on Pittsburgh’s Northside.
The monks were here to march during the G-20 and were supported by Clear View Project, a Buddhist-based American organization that provides resources for relief to monks and for social change in Burma.
Henry Reese, director of COA/P, explained why COA/P was involved: “Our current writer-in-residence is from Burma, which is one of the world’s most repressive and secretive regimes. It is also off the radar for most of us, a place about which we know almost nothing. Having the monks stay on the Northside and talk to our neighbors was a good way to create a heightened awareness of the situation in Burma and to help them better understand why a writer from Burma is so easily endangered and needs our help.”
The night before the march COA/P organized a screening at The Mattress Factory of Burma VJ, Anders Østergaard’s Academy-award nominated documentary about Burmese video journalists.
The monks’ march was seen worldwide in the international press, but they also had a impact on the Northside residents who joined them. Ted Popovich, one of those who marched with the monks said: “I attended Burma VJ the night before the march. Someone asked me if I would be marching the next day. What could be more important than showing a simple form of solidarity with a people who have been suffering for years? It was so powerful to march peacefully with the monks and other supporters.”