Come From Away

Every day seems to bring news of another mass shooting or terrorist attack, close to home or across the sea.  And you can be sure there is more violence happening throughout the world that goes unreported.

Colleges, theaters, shopping malls, clinics, schools, temples, mosques, and churches have been targeted by Christian Fundamentalists, White Supremicists, the mentally ill, and Islamic radicals. Even the 1999 New Year’s festivities at the Space Needle were in the crosshairs, but the would-be bomber was apprehended on the Canadian border with a carload of explosives.


It was in 2015, just after the attack in Paris.  The French flag was flying throughout Seattle in solidarity with our grieving friends across the sea, when I first saw “Come From Away,” a musical based on a true story that happened immediately following the attack on the World Trade Center.  

“September 11, 2001 was an ordinary day in Gander, Newfoundland—until it wasn’t.  Thirty-eight planes were diverted to its doorstep on that fateful day, making this small town host to an international community. The camaraderie that followed reminds us all of the power that comes from opening up your heart and your home.”   

In one day the population of Gander, Newfoundland nearly doubled when 7,000 stranded travelers showed up on their airstrip on September 11th, and were invited in to be fed and housed by the residents of Gander.

With the chain of horrific events set in motion in America on 9/11, you might think what happened in a tiny Canadian town wouldn’t matter.  But it did, and it still does.  It’s a reminder that for every senseless act of violence, there are people of all races, religions, and nationalities poised to rush in to give comfort and aid to anyone and everyone who needs it.

In “Come From Away,” you will find laughter and tears, racial prejudice, relationships broken and others forged in the wake of this disaster, and music to pull together all these story threads.

It is the superpower of authors, playwrights, storytellers and screenwriters to create elemental stories that shed light upon the ills and inequities of our society–prejudice, poverty, oppression, and corruption.  Some of them find their way to the stage and screen, and from there, directly into the human heart.  They’ve changed the world, or at least our way of looking at it.  They allow us to walk in another person’s shoes, see through their eyes, and put a human face on the ills of the world.

West Side Story,  Showboat, Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific, The King and I, Hairspray, The Book of Mormon, The Crucible, Allegiance, Angels in America, To Kill a Mockingbird, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, to name only a few.  Groundbreaking, courageous, and timeless.

It is a miracle–no, a blessing–that we can come from away, and after two acts and an intermission, go home with the realization that we are not alone in the world, and maybe even go home with the will to change it.

And that is our superpower.

All words and images c2017 Naomi Baltuck

Click for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Elemental.



    1. Thank you for sharing!

  1. Well done, Naomi, and a good corrective for the paranoia so many people use to propose bigotry rather than love.

    1. Thank you, Cathryn. Trade you presidents?

  2. Judith Black says:

    Naomi, this reminds us all to get back to the drawing board. It does make a difference. As the result of our fossil fuel burning becomes more and more evident, the fear will be greater, but possibly so will the love and unity.

    1. Hi Judith,

      You certainly opened some eyes with your amazing TED talk about the environment and climate change. Thanks so much for the visit. I hope you are well!

  3. Carol says:

    It’s hard for me these days, in our political morass, to feel hopeful. I keep hoping it’s all just a nightmare, and that soon I will wake up. Thank you for reminding hope does still exist and change can happen.

    1. Hi Carol, I know how hard it is. Recently we went traveling and, although the shameful and embarrassing news filtered in, it was still a break from the daily bombardment of the latest outrageous and destructive acts of the GOP and Trump administration. Now I am back, and trying to make a positive impact locally, where I feel I do have something to contribute. It’s important not to give up hope. For someone who lives in a rural area, the internet can be a source of positive thought as well as providing an endless stream of bad news. Your artwork is beautiful, Carol, and I am guessing that is a source of pleasure and an expressive outlet, which we all need, especially in these troubled times. Never give up! Never surrender!

  4. Mary Dessein says:

    Thank you, Naomi. Beautifully said.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Mary, and sharing a kind word. I hope your summer is going well.

  5. I so want to see this production. I hope it comes to Vancouver one day. I’ve long known this story, and I believe it was closer to 10,000 that landed. Can you imagine a little town of a few thousand suddenly having to find beds, tooth brushes, and clean underwear, not to mention food for that many people, most of whom had sat in a plane for many hours. The people of Gander were a testament to all that is good in human beings. I tend to ignore the extremely biased “news” and focus on what’s good in the world. What a different place the world would be if the nightly news was all about all the good things happening in the world. It saddens me that it is not.

    1. Hi Alison,
      I’m sure it will come to Vancouver–this play has wings. It’s good to have something hopeful and inspiring, but we also need to be aware of the bad things that are happening so that we can take action and speak out.
      I hope you and Don are well!

  6. scillagrace says:

    Hey, Global Problems, meet Local Solutions! Is it defiance or freedom or what to simply say, “I will act kindly, compassionately, and try to do no harm – no matter what else goes on”?

    1. Dear Priscilla,
      “To act kindly and compassionately and do no harm”. It’s sad to think that showing goodness to all would be considered an act of defiance, but humankind has been there before, when acts of kindness to the wrong people were punishable, and even capital offenses. But we aren’t there yet, and let’s hope never again.

      Thank you for sharing, as always, a thoughtful and thought-provoking observation. It is always good to hear from you.

  7. Meg says:

    I missed that story, and the musical, Naomi. Fortunately, I have a friend who tells powerful stories and who came from away to right here and now. 😉

    1. Dear Meg,
      I have a feeling it is going to be around for awhile. Maybe on one of your trips to Seattle it will be back this way and we can see it together.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. Lynne Ayers says:

    You brought tears of Canadian pride to my eyes with the reference to Gander, and that horrific day. How are you, Naomi?

    1. Hi Lynne, it’s so good to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’ve been well, although watching your country systematically destroyed by an evil and corrupt government takes it toll. I am much more politically active than I used to be. How are you?

      1. Lynne Ayers says:

        I’m doing OK – my husband passed away last year and so times have been very sad and difficult but I have kept busy taking part in a variety of creative endeavours and that has helped. We, north of the border watch the events in your country with disbelief and concern. Good to know that there are those of you who will not take it lying down. Be well, Naomi.

      2. Dear Lynne,
        I am so so sorry to hear about your husband’s passing. I am sending good thoughts and wishes north.
        Creativity and productivity are good, and we are providing a distraction for everyone in the world with the horrid things that are happening in this country. Please know that more than half the country’s vote did NOT go to the monster in the white house, and that he is only there because of our antiquated Electoral College. If anything good has come of this, it is that many of us have been galvanized into active resistance.

  9. diannegray says:

    Well said, Naomi xxx

    1. Thanks, Dianne. We watch in horror and disgust. We keep thinking it can’t get worse. And then it does. We must speak up and speak out.

  10. Dear Naomi, I love the new meaning you have given to the word “Superpower”. Thank you for your illustrations of human goodness in response to all that badness out there xox

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Thanks so much for stopping by. I have been alternating between the assuming the fetal position, and using my superpower to speak up. Thom and I are much more active politically, and that’s because we must be.
      How are you? Well and humming, I hope.

      1. Yes, I know about alternating between those two positions! Despite the crazy people running this world, I’m doing okay although haven’t been that creative this summer. More in grasshopper than ant mode. Have been doing lots of gardening and learning the noble art of fruit preserving. Writing-wise, I’m sick of the whole self-publishing thing, so have gone back to submitting to publishers and agents for my light literary speculative fiction work. Also, I had a huge lift to my confidence when judges awarded this novel and its synopsis Highly Commended in the First Three Pages of a Novel Competition at this year’s University of Winchester Writers’ Festival. Added to this, the reviewer feedback described my prose as “richly textured and tremendously evocative, with shades of Margaret Atwood and Naomi Alderman”. You can imagine how I felt about that — What, my work? Wow!

      2. OMG! Sarah, that’s what I would definitely call positive reinforcement! With that on your resume, you can surely land an agent. Wishing you all the best!

    1. Dear Michael,
      Thank you for the visit and the kind word. It is always good to hear from you.

  11. Narse says:

    Naomi, Thank you for all you do and for giving us courage. I am always inspired by your blogs. I met you and Catherine Wellner when I lived in Seattle, and visited when your first baby was way little – now all grown.
    Also, I love your photographs. Thanks for your commentary and thoughts.
    Norris Spencer

    1. I don’t know how I missed your message, Norris, but it was lovely to hear from you! I remember you very well, and always enjoyed your company. Thank you for your very kind words. I hope this finds you well.

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