Project Description

On June 8, 2006, I began painting a red line down the middle of the sidewalks of Santa Monica, California to call attention to the ongoing toll of war that has become so commonplace as to go unnoticed. I walked at the rate of the drip heard on this site. After four days, at the request of the Citiy of Santa Monica, I stopped painting, but for the next six months - one hour a day, five days a week - I continued walking as a silent vigil to those killed in violent conflict, weather between nations, religions or on the streets of our cities. After six months, I ended the walking phase of the project, but leave this site and the sound of the drip as reminders.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is that sound I hear on the website?
It is a drip, meant as a constant reminder of the blood wasted in war and violent conflict, and it sets the pace at which to walk for those who wish to participate in any of the ways suggested on this website.

Why did you choose this rate?
Because walking at this rate invites contemplation.

Why did you stop painting?
Although the project was endorsed by the Santa Monica Arts Commission, it did not have City Council approval. After painting one hour a day for four days, I received a phone call from a senior city staff person who asked me to stop. By this time I had gone nearly a mile. He had received complaints from some of the business owners in front of whose businesses I'd painted. Although I had tried to alert everyone in advance, I'd missed a few people, and two of these complained.

What did your walking do? I imagine a lot of people had no idea why you were walking so slowly.
For the hour that I walked, I brought my own sustained attention to the violence that pervades our culture and our world. Walking at the pace of the drip heard on this site allowed me to embody physically the idea of this horrific waste. For those who knew about the project and had been to the website, the walking provided a point from which to orient for contemplation or action. For those who did not know about it, I inserted into the public arena an element of quiet focus and solemnity.

Why did you conduct the project in silence?
So that my actions could speak for themselves. The project was designed to thread a red line, which for me was the bottom line, through the debate. Sometimes words drown out meanings we can know only in silence. Occasionally, particularly as I walked among the homeless, there were people who wished to talk with me as I walked. In these cases I did talk, although I was more often listening. I found that as long as we continued walking while were talking, the conversational content was consistent with the spirit and goals of the project.

What did you do if someone asked you a question while you were walking?
If I was approached and directly asked a question, I offered a handout and suggested going to the website for more information. If the person seemed unable to read the handout, either because of poor eyesight or illiteracy, I read it aloud while continuing to walk. It was my experience that people understood and respected that I was engaged in a concentrated task and did not want to interrupt my concentration for long.

How long did you walk?
An hour a day for six months.

What stimulated you to begin this project?
My persistent awareness of the mounting death toll in Iraq. The fact of this tragedy seemed to be receding into the background of our consciousness like so much wallpaper. I could not and did not wish to forget about it; I felt responsible, as a US citizen, yet helpless to end it. The more I thought about it, the more I saw the omnipresent violence and needed to acknowledge it.

What did you hope to accomplish?
In the more public phases of the project, to keep present an awareness of the tragic and absurd reality of pervasive violence; I did so in the belief that awareness must bring change. I also used the walk as a meditation to learn more about what I must do next.

I understand you viewed the project as non-partisan. Why is that?
Because I believe most people would like to live in a peaceful world.

If we participate and people see us walking at this slow rate, how will they know the meaning?
You can download and print the handout from this website. Each page contains six identical statements which can be cut out and given to anyone who wonders.

Did you choose to start the project on June 8 because it had a special significance for you?
No. It's a day like any other.

Why Santa Monica?
It’s where I work, and where I lived for many years, and it's a city with a social conscience. Had there not been complaints, I believe I would have been permitted to continue painting.

How did you decide where you'd walk from day to day?
I tried to walk in a place where there were lots of people. Because I work in Santa Monica, I generally walked there.

On Friday nights I often walked through Santa Monica Place, a large indoor shopping mall. I walked from the main entrance through the food court. Many people passed by me as they walked from one end of the mall to the other, and I passed by many who were standing ordering food, or seated eating. On other weekdays, and particularly since it started to get dark early, I either walked on the Third Street Promenade, which is a three block long walk street, or on Ocean Avenue. The Third Street Promenade is a very busy street lined with shops, theaters, and restaurants, with many tourists, street vendors, some entertainers, and a community of homeless or near-homeless people. The more I walked in one place, the more the meaning of the walking was understood.

Who are you?
An ordinary person who could not reconcile the reality of the violence around me with a daily existence that ignored it.

When you were painting, what were you painting with?
A water-based tempera paint.

How long did the paint last?
The paint was meant to wear off quickly as an echo of how quickly memory and awareness fade. It
would have lasted a month or two depending upon the weather and the foot traffic, but it was washed off by the city after two weeks, just before the "Main Street Summer SOULSTICE Festival."

How did the business owners react when you painted a red line on the sidewalk in front of their

There was almost universal support.