Many thanks to Rena Max for her wonderful story about Border-Ball, Sick-Amour, and doing what we can to improve the world. The story, “Tikkun Olam: Improving The World Through Creativity. An interview with Joel Tauber inspires change”, went live on March 4 in Fresh Ink For Teens and can be read here.
Many thanks to Will May as well for his excellent story about Border-Ball. The story, “Deacon Profile: Joel Tauber”, was published on December 7 (2019) in the Old Gold And Black: Wake Forest Student Paper and can be read here.
I’m continually confronted by the Border Wall. I walk alongside it everyday, while making my 40-Day Pilgrimage from the Otay Mesa Port of Entry to the Otay Mesa Detention Center, and then back again.
The Wall seems most imposing to me from the easternmost point of my 7 mile route before I head north towards the Detention Center. The towering metal barricade marches seemingly forever east, past the horizon line. I stare at the Wall, but I cannot touch it. I face it behind a second shorter metal fence and a restricted buffer zone of highly patrolled land.
I stand at this spot, tossing a ball and thinking about the Wall. I interview people about the border and about baseball, and I toss a ball with them. I talk to Border Patrol agents nearby. Then, I toss a ball to myself some more.
And I wonder. What does the Wall do to us? Psychologically? Ethically? Spiritually? What happens when we emphasize, so clearly, the boundaries between us? When we heighten them with steel, rebar, and concrete? Does the Wall make it harder to recognize that we’re all connected to each other? That we’re all on the same team?
I continue to toss a ball, over and over again. As a ritual. As a meditation. As a prayer. I think about our teammates who are suffering. The hungry. The homeless. The refugees who we turn away. And all those we lock up in detention centers.
Then, I declare:
Walk with me along the border. Play catch with me in front of the Wall. I don’t care what part of the world you’re from. Let’s root, root, root for teamwork. If we don’t find some, it’s a shame. For it’s one, two, three strikes, we’re out at the old ball game.
I’m very excited about my new project Border-Ball: a 40-day pilgrimage along the U.S. – Mexico border. If you’re in the area, I would love to walk with you. Info below.
Nos vemos luego!
Joel Tauber is undertaking a 40-day pilgrimage along the U.S.-Mexico border to build community through baseball.
Growing up, Tauber went to Fenway Park to watch baseball. He dreamed of playing professionally. Baseball, for him, stands for openness and a belief in a welcoming, diverse America. He hopes to encourage conversation and togetherness rather than division and separation.
The journey will begin on Oct. 29. Tauber will start at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California, and will walk along the border wall before heading north two miles to the Otay Mesa Detention Center. He will travel there and back again each day – a seven mile journey that connects legal entry to the U.S. with the Border Wall and the Detention Center holding those who might be in the country without all legal permits. While walking, he will be declaring, in English as well as some Spanish, an adaptation of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”:
Walk with me along the border. Play catch with me in front of the wall. I don’t care what part of the world you’re from. Let’s root, root, root for teamwork. If we don’t find some, it’s a shame. For it’s one, two, three strikes, we’re out at the old ball game.
He is also proclaiming, as an adaptation of “The Star Spangled Banner”:
Oh, say, can you see, our country’s gorgeous dream: an endless field of green, where everyone can live and play? Our star-spangled banner yet waves, over the land of immigrants and the home of us all!
Tauber will be wearing a custom vintage baseball uniform and backpack in blue, white and red. He will be tossing a baseball as he walks along and inviting people who walk along with him to play catch.
As part of the border walk, Tauber will be filming people he meets and gathering personal reflections and stories related to baseball and the border. He will produce a film and art installation, called Border-Ball, about the experience.
Tauber was born in 1972 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA and comes from a long line of rabbis. His work focuses on generating conversation and facilitating change. Most recently, the Vintage International Film Festival in Kolhapur, India, named Tauber’s “The Sharing Project” movie “Best International Documentary Film.” He lives and works in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; where he is Associate Professor of Art at Wake Forest University.