Providence in Singapore!

This is indeed a small world. So many people connected to Providence came to see WaterFire again in Singapore.

Among them was our dear friend Joe Fernandez’s family, including his sister-in-law Naomi Tinklepaugh, and his nieces and nephews, Leah, Benjamin, Ilana, and Jacob, and their gap year students from Venezuela, Carolina and Cameila.

Joe was a good friend of mine. He was originally from the Philippines, but I had the honor of getting to known him in Providence, through Brown University and Leadership Rhode Island. He was active with Brown as a fellow alum and was the very capable Providence City Solicitor for Mayor David Cicilline. Joe was running for RI Attorney General, when we lost him due to a heart attack. Joe was dearly loved and is missed by many of us.

To find so many of his family here in Singapore visiting WaterFire reaffirms how connected Providence is with the entire world. I also had the pleasure of meeting many other Rhode Islanders including Ann Maroni and Michael Greco.

It is a small world indeed.

Barnaby

WaterFire in Buenos Aires?

Lighting the braziers on a boat in Providence tonight with the flames sent there from our first lighting in Asia is a special guest. Isaac is here with our good friend Francisco Noya, the resident conductor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic. Isaac is from the Buenos Aires Ministry of Culture and he is in Providence to take a look at WaterFire for a possible lighting in Buenos Aires.

As I told him just now by phone from the opposite side of the globe, Singapore is 1 degree north of the equator, so we still have to arrange for the first lighting of WaterFire in the Southern Hemisphere.

Isaac did say he was loving Providence and blown away by WaterFire! So stay tuned.

Barnaby

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WaterFire all around the World!

We just came back from our dawn transfer of firelight from here in Singapore, where the day first dawns, back to Providence on the opposite side of the globe. We tended one brazier here throughout the night to unfamiliar stars overhead. We watched the sky slowly turn pink in the east. A crescent moon rose first and then the glow of the rising sun filled the horizon.

The lone WaterFire brazier held forth an answering light to the rising sun in Singapore while Sake communicated with Arik and PK back home in Providence where the sun was just setting. We could hear all the excitement and music from all the way around the world in Providence. As the four Providence lighters, Jim Bennett, and three Providence residents with Singapore connections, Jonathia Ang and freshman students from RISD and Brown University, stood by we went live with the video connection.

Just as the boats entered Waterplace Basin in RI, four WaterFire volunteers from Providence, now in Singapore, Peter Van Erp, Paolo Van Erp, Christine Maino, and Jim Alves, all lit their torches from the Singapore brazier and then lit my torch. With that we passed the flame from Singapore to Providence, connecting two art installations of WaterFire, two thriving cities exactly opposite from each other on the globe, and two warm celebrations of diversity, culture, and arts to symbolize just how intimate a world we live in.

May peace be with you all. Knowing that the beauty of WaterFire will now be continued all night back in Providence with Salsa and glowing fish on the Woonasquatucket, we walked into the Singaporean dawn to encounter one hundred singing song birds twittering away in their gilded cages lifted high overhead in the park above their proud owners. Next a delicious Muslim breakfast of curried chicken with egg Masala and iced coffee!

Many, many thanks to all the thousands of people who have helped us keep WaterFire burning brightly and who have now joined us in connecting Providence to the world by bringing WaterFire entirely around the globe.

Good Night and Good Morning!

Barnaby

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Fire around the world

WaterFire Singapore is officially a rousing success. With only a few glitches, fifty-eight braziers were lit and fed tonight to enormous public acclaim. We’re doing all this one more time, tomorrow night. But in the meantime, here’s a video of one of the local dragon boats making the magic happen. Go WaterFire Singapore!

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Good luck, Providence! See you in a few hours.

And finally, some videos!

Forgive us – we’ve been busy. All blog and no video? How’s anybody going to get a picture painted without footage?

We’ll have some footage of the first WaterFire lighting in Asia in just a bit. Meanwhile, here are a few short clips to give you a sense of the place we’ve been so graciously invited to experience.

First, a quick glance at the marketplace across the street that we’ve visited for one reason or another pretty much every day.

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T-minus….

30 minutes until we light our very first WaterFire in Asia! The braziers are set, the grounds of the park are teeming, nobody can find Barnaby, and the weather outlook is great. All is WaterFire and the world is good.

WaterFire Singapore is happening as a part of an event called Global Community Day. A global village is set up a little bit farther over in the park, with booths for various countries around the world, and we’re currently enjoying performances from a really wonderful assortment of ethnic dancers, musicians, and performers. The lighting is set for eight o’clock! That’s eight on Saturday morning for you guys around Providence, because we’re twelve hours ahead.

We’re still figuring out some equipment issues, but we’ll try to post video or even live video during the event if we’re able.

Old and New

Singapore is a stunningly beautiful city where a walk of a few blocks can take you through centuries of times and scores of cultures.

Here are some interiors and courtyards of the historic Raffles Hotel.

Governor Raffles who first established Singapore and an independent nation port. Raffles eliminated slavery, opened the port to all, welcomed ethnic and cultural difersity and specifcally did not impose an English colonial culture. The result has been its long history of cultural plualism and tolerance, its rich stew of astonishing cuisine (more on this later), and a focus on the practicality of making this a great place for all to live and work.

A short walk away is Marina Bay with its stunning views of the modern, condensed skyline of Singapore. The country has added to its long history as an international port, a new focus on banking, helped no doubt by Singapore’s much famed excellence of government and business ethics.

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Building Braziers, Singapore Style

Today, the work kicked in.

It started with another Asian breakfast (gotta love those spicy noodles!) and a long walk around the reservoir from the university we’re hosted at to the event site, which was buzzing with activity. Fortunately, a lot of that activity involved putting up tents, because the sky immediately opened up for what we now know is a classic Singaporean downpour. The longer you’re in Singapore, the more you realize just how many infrastructural details and architectural quirks are built around the assumption that there will be a flash flood basically every day. At least, I think that’s the reason that sections of every floor abruptly go two inches higher or lower for no obvious reason.

But our new braziers had been delivered! They were carefully constructed in an outdoor fabrication shop in Indonesia – bear in mind that Indonesia is so close that it’s visible – ready to be assembled.

WaterFire Singapore brazier baskets

That’s when the local volunteers arrived. And they made short work of all fifty-eight new braziers. Continue reading