Women bare all in West Marin protest
By Richard Halstead
Marin Independent-Journal, January 5, 2003

As late afternoon clouds moved in yesterday and the light began to fade, 40 women quickly stripped off their clothes and lay down in a West Marin cattle pasture - careful to miss the cow pies.

The women - of all ages, some lithesome and some less so - were painstakingly arranged by Anne Sheree Greenbaum, a Point Reyes Station massage therapist, who communicated by headset with a photographer positioned a few hundred feet away from the hill where the women lay.

From his vantage point, the photographer could see that the women's interwoven bodies were acting as human calligraphy to form the message: NO WAR.

"No war," they chanted in unison, as the photographer snapped the photo. Then with a cheer they leaped to their feet and began dressing.

"Check for ticks!" someone reminded.

Looking on with a wry smile was the project's progenitor, 72-year-old Donna Sheehan, a tall, willowy blond. Sheehan, a Marshall resident and self-described eco-artist, has gained instant notoriety by asking people to pose for peace with their clothes off.

The photo taken yesterday at the Borello Ranch north of Point Reyes Station was the third in what Sheehan says will be an on-going series.

The first photo - 50 naked women spread across Love Field in Point Reyes Station to spell "peace" - was taken on Nov. 12 and attracted national and international media attention.

Following Sheehan's lead on their own initiative, 69 people were photographed forming a peace sign in Missoula, Mont. during a blizzard on Nov. 23, albeit with their clothes on.

Not to be outdone by copycats, Sheehan staged two more photos last Sunday at Drake's Beach.

While rain drizzled down, 100 women lay in the sand to form the word "peace," and separately 25 nude men posed in the form of a peace sign.

Sheehan already has announced that she and her volunteer models for peace will march naked down Market Street in San Francisco on Jan. 18 to protest the feared war against Iraq.

"It's literally suicide for this country," Sheehan said.

Sheehan says her newfound artistic activism - she never protested the Vietnam War - was inspired by a group of Nigerian women who this summer won economic concessions from U.S. oil companies by threatening to take their clothes off.

"We're asking the women of the world to withhold sex," Sheehan said, hearkening back to Aristophanes' play "Lysistrata." "We've reached that point. War is not healthy for men of war."

Sheehan also says the idea of posing people in the nude came to her in a dream.

"Have you ever dreamed that you were naked? I think everybody has. It's a very primal statement, and it's something we can all do," Sheehan said.

"We are trying to seduce our leaders and bring them off their ego path of killing and destruction. No blood for oil," she said.

Sheehan has plenty of spirited cohorts.

"I don't want to be the country that starts off Armageddon," Judy Borello said.

Besides owning the 864-acre cattle ranch where yesterday's photo was taken, Borello, 58, operates the Western Saloon in Point Reyes Station.

"I'm legally blind and had an aneurysm - no problem," Borello said, as she puffed on a cigarette. Borello said she had to move the bulls in her herd to another pasture to make yesterday's photo shoot safe.

Posing yesterday were seven waitresses, two doctors, one librarian, three singers, two teachers, one nurse, nine artists, six radio personalities, two bartenders, four social workers and 20 mothers.

Some of the women had joined Sheehan's previous protest against the California Department of Transportation's spraying of roadside wildflowers with herbicides.

Mary Chapman, 53, of Woodacre, who posed last Sunday on Drake's Breach, recruited her daughter Alexis Powell, 23, of San Rafael, who brought along her 7-month-old daughter Malika.

"I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to speak out," Chapman said, "because they aren't listening to us otherwise."

It was like old times for Elizabeth Whitney, 60, of Malibu and Melinda Leithold, 65, of Inverness, who were jailed in the early '80s while protesting the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

"I think we need to get wilder and even more coyote-ish," Leithold said.

Contact Richard Halstead via e-mail at rhalstead@marinij.com

Originally published at http://www.marinij.com/news/stories/news4002552.shtml