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Picture Perfect 

A book of photos of Jan. 8 shrines benefits the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding

Janet Marcotte remembers the clay pots filled with yellow pansies on the University Medical Center lawn.

There were six of them—one for each of those killed by gunfire on Jan. 8—amid all the candles, teddy bears, photos and other mementos that made up the shrine that grew in the weeks following the shootings.

"I thought about what it took to get those pots to the front of the lawn at UMC," says Marcotte, the executive director of the YWCA Tucson. "It was at that moment that I thought I'd create a collection of images to share with Congresswoman Giffords, because I knew she'd never see this outpouring of love."

Now, many of those images have been collected for Together We Thrive, a slim book that juxtaposes the photographs with selected quotes from the eulogy that President Barack Obama delivered here in the wake of the Jan. 8 shootings.

"Together We Thrive honors all those who were killed and injured on Jan. 8, and it celebrates how we responded as a community," Marcotte says. "I hope that it's going to play a part in how we move forward to be an even better community."

To that end, proceeds from the book will benefit the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding, the nonprofit organization set up by Giffords' district director, Ron Barber, in the weeks after the shooting. Barber, who was shot in the face and the leg on Jan. 8, came up with the idea for the fund while recovering in UMC's intensive-care unit.

"I've said a couple of times: Be careful of what you dream up in the ICU," Barber says. "The fund was really another way of saying to our community that we really appreciate what you're doing, and we want to be able to hold on to and sustain this positive energy."

The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding has raised more than $300,000 so far, according to Barber. That money has come from donations and fundraisers, such as last March's mammoth rock 'n' roll concert at the Tucson Convention Center that featured Jackson Browne, Alice Cooper, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Calexico, Ozomatli and many others.

So far, the nonprofit has launched an anti-bullying campaign at 11 Tucson Unified School District campuses, with hopes of expanding it.

"They've invited us in to do in-depth training for teachers and staff on how to intervene and prevent bullying," Barber says. "If you want civility in adults, you have to work with kids, because that's when they learn how to behave."

He's also working on an effort to reduce the stigma of mental illness and develop programs to help people who suffer from the disease, particularly those between the ages of 16 and 24.

Barber says he is grateful for the counseling that has helped him deal with post-traumatic stress syndrome. While it's easier to get a good night's sleep these days, he still awakens from nightmares around 3 a.m. several times a week.

"I get violent dreams," he says, "people killing each other or shooting each other. Not people I know—just random people."

While he's back at work in Giffords' office for four hours a day, five days a week, his leg remains numb beneath the knee, except when he feels stinging pain. He needs to walk with a brace to support his ankle and continues to use a cane to keep his balance, but he knows it would have been much worse if doctors had amputated his leg.

"I'm just grateful I have a leg," he says.

Barber hasn't let his injuries stop him from spending plenty of time on the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding. While he's not likely to help plan another megaconcert like the one last March, he does have several shows in the works.

On Saturday, Dec. 17, Neshama Carlebach, a Jewish soul singer who often performs in Hebrew, will be performing with a gospel choir at the Fox Tucson Theatre. And on Saturday, Jan. 15, Ben Folds headlines a show at the Fox that will include Calexico, the Silver Thread Trio, Salvador Duran, Mariachi Luz de Luna and other local acts.

Barber sees Together We Thrive as a perfect way to help raise funds for the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding. He remembers visiting the UMC shrine while still in the ICU.

"I was very, very moved," he says. "In fact, I think you couldn't go there without being moved by what was being displayed by our community. ... It was a remarkable showing of community spirit."

More by Jim Nintzel

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