Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Day 9 - Buddhist Nun Arrives in Brunswick

Civil war statue at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine

We walked into Brunswick today from Bath and after arriving we looped through the downtown area where we were able to hand out many flyers.  Then we passed through Bowdoin College which was having their annual 'parents day' so more people than normal were around.

Three people unexpectedly showed up just before we began walking this morning - it's always a nice energy boost to have some fresh walkers join in like that.  In all we had 15 people doing the whole 9.5 miles today so it was a colorful group for sure.

Mary Beth drove to Grafton, New York this morning to pick up Buddhist nun Jun-san Yasuda and another Japanese woman who will join the walk on Sunday as we head into Freeport.  Jun-san has previously walked with us here in Maine and is a beloved person who has led walks across the US numerous times over the years.  She is particularly loved by Native American activists who have had walking relationships with her for a long time.

Niponzan Myohoji Buddhist nun Jun-san Yasuda joins the walk in Brunswick on Sunday

On Monday we've been invited to have some of our walkers speak to students at the Friends School near Portland.  This will be one of two schools we will visit - the other at the New School in Kennebunk.

Each night during our programs we've been inviting people to join the 'christening' protest now planned for October 31 in Bath when the newest Aegis destroyer gets the 'blessing of Christ' - remember him, the prince of peace!  (Yeah, the guy who said we should love our enemies and turn the other cheek.) Folks seem very committed to coming and we are looking forward to that event as kind of a walker reunion.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Peace Walker Reunion Planned......

Good coverage in local newspaper in the Midcoast of Maine today.  Article about Peace Walk protest yesterday at Bath Iron Works and they printed our open letter to the president of the shipyard as well.  See them here and here

The Other Debate......

Thursday, October 15, 2015

BIW Protest - Convert the Endless War Machine!









Photos by Peter Woodruff - retired BIW worker.

Peace Walk Arrives in Bath

Video by Regis Tremblay

It's getting late, I'm tired, my eyes are burning.  I didn't sleep much last night on the floor of Quaker Meeting House in Damariscotta, Maine.

We walked just 10 miles today (sunny and cool with vivid fall colors) and arrived in Bath in time to deliver letters to the president of Bath Iron Works and to the local Machinists Union just before several thousand workers came streaming out of the shipyard at 3:30 pm.  We had 19 folks lined up along the sidewalks with cameras, banners, and signs calling for conversion of the shipyard to building rail, solar and wind power instead of weapons of mass destruction.  Our leafletter supreme, Morgana Warner-Evans, broke the record for handing out flyers at any protest I've ever been to at BIW.  She plowed right into the middle of the workers as the rushed out of the yard and it was a pure joy to watch.

Afterwards we went to a local church and had hot apple cider and seasoned popcorn while we discussed the protest.  We all felt the event was made even more special by the presence of two great banners made specifically for this walk - one by Russell Wray that many have seen attached to our walk van and the other by Artists Rapid Response Team (see above post of photos).

At one rest stop today a reporter from the Lincoln County News came and interviewed us.  See it here

Maine VFP web master Dan Ellis tracked down other news reports about the walk from Belfast and Camden - see them here and here.  A reporter from the Brunswick-based Times Record came out to interview us during the BIW protest this afternoon so we are looking forward to seeing it tomorrow.

Walkers get a well deserved day off on Friday and then on Saturday we resume walking from Bath at 9:00 am for Brunswick and a pot luck supper at the home of Selma & Hersch Sternlieb.  All interested human beings are more than welcome to attend.

Some more walkers had to leave today to return home to work and others keep coming on board for the continuing trip south.  We end in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Oct 24 with a march back across the bridge to the Naval shipyard in Kittery for our finale event.

Then we are having a walker reunion protest on Saturday, Oct 31 in Bath during the blasphemous 'christening' of another Aegis destroyer from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.  We are going to have music, poetry, speeches, and more that day under the Halloween theme "Something scary is happening here in Bath." 

Come dressed in custom if you are so inspired. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 6 - Eating for Peace


 


Food is important on peace walks.  We carry two coolers with us filled with cheese, hummus, carrots and other left overs from the excellent pot luck suppers that are organized on our behalf.  We are still eating from the four large loaves of wonderful bread donated to us by a popular Maine baking company.

It's apple season in Maine so we have several bags of donated apples in the back of our van.  During the suppers we've had apple cakes, applesauce, apple crisp and apple bars on the tables.  And of course apple cider is available every night.

Tonight is our first night on the walk where we did not have a home stay provided for us.  During my home stays we've had oatmeal, eggs, and blueberry pancakes for breakfast so far.  This evening we are sleeping on the floor at the Midcoast Friends Meeting House (Quakers) in Damariscotta.

We walked 8 miles south from Rockland today to a farm house (built in 1850) owned by peace activist Steve Burke who provided us with a wonderful lunch mostly grown in his abundant garden.  Steve also hosted our event last night in Rockland so he served his homemade veggie soup then and again today for lunch.  The vegans in our group appreciated it.

Just south of Rockland we were joined for two miles by a couple visiting Maine on vacation from Montana.  They are both members of Veterans for Peace - the woman, Diane Carlson-Evans, was a nurse in Vietnam and went on to be the driving force behind the Vietnam Women's War Memorial in Washington DC.  They had seen a flyer about the walk inside a coffee shop in Rockland (probably the joint where we took refuge from the rain yesterday) and tracked us down.  More magic on the peace walk.

The weather today was sunny (a bit too warm actually) but overall a lovely day for walking.  It appears to be clouding up now with rain on the way but we are safe inside the Quaker Meeting House.

Tomorrow we head into Bath in time to vigil at Bath Iron Works during the 3:30 pm shift change.  Friday we have a day off and then walk into Brunswick on Saturday.  People keep coming and going but our solid core remains largely in tact - all tired but loving the sense of community and purpose that keeps us moving south.

Photos by Regis Tremblay

It's a Failure.......

 
US admits it could not find good rebels to train, but can not explain why it now thinks it can find good rebels to arm.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Aiding ISIS


The evidence is growing that the US and its other allies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, UK, Jordan and Israel) are in fact supplying ISIS with weapons and other equipment - including those now famous white Toyota vehicles.

I'm sure ISIS is laughing and saying, "Thanks American taxpayers for equipping us.  How are your pot holes in the roads back home?"

See more on this story here

Day 5 - Fog & Rain in Rockland


The fog was thick when we left Camden this morning for the nine mile walk to Rockland.  After the first three miles the rain started and by about mile six it began to come down much harder.  We took a short break at a park along the water - we couldn't see anything though because of the fog. We decided to skip our lunch and pressed on into the revitalized downtown of Rockland stopping at a book cafe for a hot cup of caffeine.  The owner of the joint told us we could have any dessert for free as a reward for our walking.

Because we pushed into Rockland sooner than expected the Unitarian Church was not going to be immediately available to us so Jason Rawn walked over to the city recreation center and asked if we could have our lunch there.  They kindly said yes so we sat in the basketball court bleachers eating while watching a couple of our folks shoot some hoops.

One older woman joined us today for the walk and I learned she had heard our two speakers on WERU radio the other day.  She wrote down the Maine Veterans for Peace website address given out over the air as the site to find more information.  She went to the website, checked our daily schedule, and came to the supper program in Camden last night and then walked with us today.  She shared with one of the walkers that when her son was in the military he was repeatedly exposed to the use of depleted uranium and has spent recent years battling four different cancers.  She had real incentive to walk with us.

College senior Morgana Warner Evans from West Bath, Maine has been with us the last two days and is specializing in chasing down people as we pass them by to make sure they get one of our flyers.  Everyone remarks about her boundless energy and strong determination to share the message of the walk with as many people as possible.

My favorite part of the day was again hearing the Buddhist chant in four part harmony during the rain performed by the women from Voices for Peace based in Bangor - who I've fondly been calling the McGuire Sisters.

Tomorrow we head south to Damariscotta and will be staying at the Friends Meeting House.

More Space Week

Odisha, India
Kiruna, Sweden
New Haven, CT
Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea

Monday, October 12, 2015

Day 4 - Acupuncture in Camden



We began our day at the UCC Church in Belfast this morning and headed toward Camden.  The minister from the church walked with us the eight miles to our beautiful lunch spot at Lincolnville Beach.  The weather was spectacular (some Mainers are beginning to like climate change which has extended our summer weather into October).

What an amazing group we have - today 22 folks - some have left the walk and been replaced by others.  Veterans for Peace national board member Tarak Kauff (Woodstock, New York) and former national board member Nate Goldshlag (Boston) joined us tonight in Camden.  Glad to have them with us.

When we arrived at the Catholic Church in Camden today around 4:00 pm fellow walk organizer Jason Rawn had arranged for an acupuncturist to give our weary bodies a treatment.  I noticed that everyone looked more refreshed after the needles were taken from their legs, arms, feet and heads.  I could feel the energy moving inside me.

Mary Beth had to return home today as she has to go back to work tomorrow.  We are really going to miss her drumming and the good natured loving care she provided to all of us on the walk.  She will be back this weekend when she brings Buddhist nun Jun-san Yasuda to join us in Freeport.

We had a local newspaper photographer show up this morning to get some pictures of us as we took off from Belfast.  As we were shuttling cars ahead this morning I tuned back into WERU community radio and there on the air were our two walkers who were interviewed by the station on our second day of the walk - so they replayed the interview!  Thanks WERU.

There was a great program after the pot luck supper tonight at the church in Camden.  We were entertained by Mainer singer/songwriter David Dodson and his wife Mary Kate Small.  Each night we are asking a different walker to speak about why we are walking and tonight Connie Jenkins did a fabulous job with that job.  Each night we are also reading an open letter to the president of Bath Iron Works that we will deliver when we arrive in Bath on Thursday this week.  A similar letter, calling for the conversion of the shipyard to peaceful production, will be delivered to the Machinists Union in Bath as well.  When we land in Kittery, Maine at the Portsmouth Naval shipyard on October 23 we'll also deliver a letter to the Navy commander there.

In the morning we head to Rockland where we will be hosted by the Unitarian Church.  Likely going to get some rain again tomorrow.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Day 3 - Arriving in Belfast

Lunch on the walk

We walked into Belfast today and once again (frankly much to my surprise) the response from the public remained excellent.  They seem to understand our concern about the damage to sea life and at this point don't appear to be much put off by our pointing the finger directly at the Navy for causing so much of the harm.

The weather was perfect again today and we had unexpected visits by two different families with their kids who eagerly brought their boundless energy to us.  One of the moms is a former Catholic Worker activist who has moved back home to Maine to raise her family.  She was driving by when she spotted us and the four of them came back to join us for several miles.

While we had lunch at a beautifully scenic area overlooking the Penobscot River one woman pulled up and donated a bunch of bottled water to us.  Then minutes later another woman pulled up who happens to be a leading activist in the state trying to protect our state's underground water supply from the greedy Nestle water bottling corporation (under the trade name of Poland Springs).  As we neared Belfast another family with their young son joined the walk and the boy chanted "Save the fish" all the way across the bridge leading into the city.

After crossing the bridge we walked through the city streets with the booming Native American drum on wheels pulled by longtime Maine activist Peter Baldwin.  This got the attention of the tourists in the seaside business district and we handed them flyers.

Four women from the Bangor-based choral group called Voices for Peace have been with us the whole way so far.  Tonight at the pot luck supper in Belfast they touched our hearts with several songs.  During the walk they have been singing in response as Mary Beth Sullivan has been drumming and chanting the Nipponzan Myohoji "Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo".  This kept us going up the long hills and down the other side as our legs and feet began to hurt.  We were literally lifted up.

A couple people will leave the walk tomorrow but several more new folks have joined us keeping our numbers in the 20-person range.