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 10, 2015

Day 2 Up in Down East Maine



It was a good day as we walked from Ellsworth to Orland, Maine.  The weather was sunny though a bit windy and cold - perfect walking weather but not so great when we stopped for breaks and lunch along the road.  It was a largely rural route today but many cars saw us since we were on the primary North-South coastal highway US 1.  I'd say the support from the passing motorists was generally excellent considering the fact that we are taking on the Navy in a very direct way. I only heard one negative holler at us all day - "Get a job"!

We had 24 people for most of the 11.6 miles.  We ended up at the WERU community radio station where at 4:00 pm two of our folks (Russell Wray and Starr Gilmartin) were interviewed about the purpose of the walk.  They even got in a plug about the October 31 Bath Iron Works shipyard protest we will be organizing during the 'christening' of a new Aegis destroyer that day.

Following the radio show we drove a couple miles to the H.O.M.E. center that helps the poor and homeless.  I'd never been there before and the sprawling campus was quite impressive as this well respected place helps provide jobs for many local folks who are out of work.  One woman who makes quilts at the center told me it is the biggest employer in the area hiring up to 40 workers.  We had an excellent pot luck supper there thanks to local activists who brought food and then we dispersed to our various local home hosts for the night.

MB and I are back in Starr's home where we stayed last night - a fire is in the wood stove as I type this.

In the morning we head off toward Belfast - another 11.5 mile walking day.

It's a really fine group of folks - they have a great spirit and are very determined peace walkers.  Walks are all about building community and we certainly are feeling that up here in what they call Down East Maine.

Space Week at Menwith Hill in UK


It was a wet night to say the least up at Menwith Hill, we had a real grand Yorkshire attendance. The amazing Dave and Yorkshire CND came with wonderful banners and signs, as always beautiful and peaceful support from the Quakers. We had enough in attendance to protest at both gates, often on a Tuesday when we protest, and stop vehicles leaving, they use another exit, however, we got that one covered. Many vehicles were stopped peacefully and were able to read our messages of peace and that we oppose what is happening in Space and how we want no part of the cluttering and taking up of the beautiful space ... We shared food of soup and rolls, the MDP with Mike at the helm were amazing and facilitated our peaceful vigil.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Walk Day One


After our pot luck supper tonight in Ellsworth folks posed for a group photo.   

We walked four miles in the pouring rain today through Ellsworth just to get a bit of a tune up.  Everyone was soaking wet.  Had nice response from the public - one guy came out of a auto dealership and told me he was impressed that we were walking in the rain.  I handed him one of our flyers.

In the morning we are expecting nice weather for our 11.6 mile walk.

After walking, and drying out a bit, we had a 90-minute orientation to go over the whole walk plan.  People shared why they were walking which was a very moving thing to hear.  We have a very solid group of folks with us.

Happy Sailing


Thursday, October 08, 2015

Final Prep for Maine Peace Walk


Artist Russell Wray has been working non-stop this week to get his dolphin (Maka) ready for our Maine Peace Walk which starts tomorrow in Ellsworth.

We heard on Monday that the mini-school bus we were going to use as our walk shuttle recently broke down so we were in scramble mode.  Russell found a rental 15-seat van in Bangor for our 16-day walk at the rate of $1,200.  He took it home and had to quickly redesign Maka's mounting device to fit the new dimensions of the van - as well as having to weld a borrowed roof rack for it to sit on.  He still has yet to figure out how to hang the banner he made to fit the mini-bus onto the van. (And now as you can see above he has completed his mission.)

Years ago Russell dragged Maka across the entire continent on a walk he participated in - so he has a special relationship with this beautiful dolphin.  He's been the leader of a group here in Maine called Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST) for many years.  For Russell this walk is personal and he has given his heart and soul to making sure we have captivating visuals to grab public attention as people zoom by along Highway 1 while we walk south toward Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

I spent the day yesterday going through my 'To Do' list packing up peanut butter, kitchen supplies, flyers, signs, banners, sweatshirts (with the dolphin logo made by Russell), and alot more.  Today I have to make hummus and cut carrots from the garden for our lunches. I called the Borealis bread company this morning asking for a donation of several loaves and will pick them up at their bakery as we drive north in the morning. 

Two walkers come to our house tonight and then we leave early in the morning picking up three others as we head to Ellsworth.  (One of those arriving here tonight is a post-911 Iraq war veteran from western Massachusetts who plans on walking the whole way with us.)

We've got at least 11 folks walking the entire route (about 175 miles) with many more joining in as we pass through their local communities.  We heard from a young man today who is part of a group called Maine Students for Climate Justice.  He is urging his fellow students across the state to participate in the walk.

The Pentagon has the largest carbon bootprint on our Mother Earth.  The US spends more than one trillion dollars each year on the military and very little when it comes to dealing with the reality of climate change.   Our oceans, the life source of the planet, are in grave danger from climate change and out-of-control global militarism.  Our walk is aimed at trying to get folks to see these important deadly connections.

Hope to see you along this journey.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Some 'Deep Background' on Syria


In Al Jazeera’s latest Head to Head episode, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn confirms to Mehdi Hasan that not only had he studied the DIA memo predicting the West’s backing of an Islamic State in Syria when it came across his desk in 2012, but even asserts that the White House’s sponsoring of radical jihadists (that would emerge as ISIL and Nusra) against the Syrian regime was “a willful decision.” 

This young reporter Mehdi Hasan does a tough interview.  I wish the mainstream media in the US could watch this and learn how to put these war mongers to the test.

Maine Peace Walk Daily Schedule

Sacred Gureombi coastline on Jeju Island, South Korea before it was blasted to build the Navy base that will port Aegis destroyers made in Bath, Maine.  The peace walk will be connecting all these dots.  



  • Day 1 (Ellsworth) Friday, October 9 -   Ellsworth Unitarian Church (121 Bucksport Rd) Evening potluck and kick-off program at 6:00 pm. Homestays needed.    Host: Starr Gilmartin 667-2421
  • Day 2 (Orland) Saturday, October 10 - Potluck supper 6:00 pm and program at H.O.M.E (90 School House Rd.) Sleep at H.O.M.E.  Host: Starr Gilmartin 667-2421 or Lawrence 415-565-9867
  • Day 3 (Belfast) Sunday, October 11 - First Church UCC (104 Church St) Pot luck supper (unadvertised) 6:00 pm, public program 7:00 pm.    Home stays needed & sleep at church: Cathy Mink 323-5160 & Bev Roxby 669-2903.      Host: Joel 338-2282 or 323-0940 at the UCC Church
  • Day 4 (Camden) Monday, October 12 - Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church (7 Union St) Pot luck supper and program at 6:00 pm. Home stays needed. Host: Maureen Kehoe-Ostensen 763-4062
  • Day 5 (Rockland) Tuesday, October 13 - Potluck supper and program at Unitarian church (345 Broadway) at 6:00 pm. Homestays needed.  Host: Midcoast Citizens for P & J (Steve Burke 691-0322)
  • Day 6 (Damariscotta) Wednesday, October 14 - Friends Meeting House (77 Belvedere Rd) Potluck Supper and program at 6:00 pm. Sleep at Meeting House.  Host: Friends Meeting (Sue Rockwood 570-854-4458)
  • Day 7 (Bath) Thursday, October 15 - UCC Neighborhood Church (corner of Washington & Centre) Potluck supper and program at 6:00 pm. Homestays needed.  Host: Bruce Gagnon 904-501-4494 & Karen Wainberg 371-8190
  • Day 8 (Day off) in Bath Friday, October 16 - Stay at same homestays again this night. Potluck supper at Addams-Melman House (212 Centre St) at 6:00 pm. Host: Bruce Gagnon 904-501-4494 & Karen Wainberg 371-8190
  • Day 9 (Brunswick) Saturday, October 17 - Pot luck supper at Sternlieb home (21 McKeen St) at 6:00 pm. Walker music program. Home stays needed in Brunswick. Host: Selma Sternlieb 725-7675
  • Day 10 (Freeport) Sunday, October 18 - Pot luck supper at First Parish Congregation Church (on US 1) at 6:00 pm and program. Sleep at church. Host: Paula O’Brien 865-6022 & Sukie Rice 318-8531 & Cheryl Avery 865-0916
  • Day 11 ( Portland) Monday, October 19 - State Street Church-UCC (159 State St.) Pot luck supper & program at 6:00 pm.  Homestays needed. Host: Grace Braley 774-1995
  • Day 12 (Saco) Tuesday, October 20 - First Parish Congregation Church on corner of Beech & Maine. Pot luck supper and program at 6:00 pm. Home stays needed.  Host: Tom Kircher 282-7530
  • Day 13 (Kennebunk) Wednesday, Oct 21 - New School (38 York Street). Pot luck supper and program at 6:00 pm. Sleep at school.  Host: Olive Hight 207-590-9505
  • Day 14  (York Beach) Thursday, October 22 - York Beach (52 Freeman St) Supper, music program & sleeping spot at 6:00 pm. Host: Pat Scanlon 978-474-9195 & Smedley Butler Brigade of Boston-area VFP
  • Day 15 (Portsmouth) Friday, October 23 - Supper and program at St. John’s Episcopal Church (100 Chapel St) at 6:00 pm.  Home stays needed, Host: Doug Bogen 603-617-6243
  • Day 16 (Finale in Portsmouth) Saturday, October 24 - Meet at Market Square 10:00 am. Walk thru downtown and back over bridge to Kittery. Rally & speakers at shipyard gate (deliver letter). Walk back to Market Square for final closing circle around noon. Host: Doug Bogen 603-617-6243
 
~ The walk is being sponsored by: Maine Veterans for Peace; PeaceWorks; CodePink Maine; Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST); Peace Action Maine; Veterans for Peace Smedley Butler Brigade (Greater Boston); Seacoast Peace Response (Portsmouth); Maine Green Independent Party; and Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.
 
For full walk route schedule details see http://vfpmaine.org/walk%20for%20peace%202015.html

More Space Week Events



Felice Cohen-Joppa writes from Arizona:

As workers arrived, five Tucson peace activists held signs early this morning outside the Raytheon missile factory during Keep Space for Peace Week. The Raytheon Peacemakers group demonstrates there monthly against war and those who profit from it. Star Wars "kill vehicles”, surveillance drones, weapons for armed drones, cruise missiles, Mavericks, AMRAAMs, microwave crowd control beams, cluster bomb and much more are manufactured here. No Weapons in Space or on Earth!

 

Our newest Global Network board member JV Prabhakar really organized a great event in Visakhapatnam, India! Prabhakar (2nd from left in this picture just above with sun glasses) writes:

The call given by Global Network Keep Space for Peace Week across the world, is well received in India, many youth are demanding, Govt of India to reduce military expenditure and to provide that budget for employment. Youth are against purchasing weapons and military helicopters from USA worth 120 Billion dollars. Weaponisation space means preparing for war on earth to destroy our mother earth, together we have to fight to stop. Prabhakar JV with Ksn Raju principal of Matrix technical college students. Demanding no to war. Support peace. Support Global Network.

U.S. Attempts to Control the Global Economy

A must watch on global trade issues - the geo-political war.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

It is a War Crime to Bomb Hospitals


Today in a Senate hearing in Washington about Afghanistan with General John Campbell (who oversees all US military operations in Afghanistan), CODEPINK went dressed as "bloodied" doctors and nurses, demanding accountability and an independent investigation for the hospital bombed in Kunduz, Afghanistan over the weekend. 

Physician Dr. Margaret Flowers was arrested at the hearing for speaking out and she is still being held by police!

Sign the CodePink petition to General Campbell here: http://www.codepink.org/campbell_kunduz

Was a great witness for truth - it is a war crime to bomb hospitals - but especially despicable for the Pentagon to try to weasel out of it by blaming others.......

US 'exceptionalism' takes another hit.



For the record:  The US puppet regime in Kiev often targets hospitals, clinics, schools and churches as they shell their own citizens in eastern Ukraine.  That doesn't make the news.

At the Pentagon


Art Laffin is one of my favorite activists on the planet Earth. Years ago when I was regularly organizing protests in Florida at the space center Art would often come and lend an experienced hand.  He has lived at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington DC for many, many moons.

Art and others from the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker have been holding weekly protest vigils at the Pentagon (very early in the morning as the military personnel arrive via the subway) and the White House for as long as I can remember.  Each year during Keep Space for Peace Week he pulls out his space related signs and takes them to the Pentagon and White House. 

Here is his brief message that came along with the above photo this morning:

Yesterday, we were four strong at our weekly Pentagon vigil. During the vigil we held signs saying: "Keep Space for Peace" and "No Weapons in Space." An Air Force major upon seeing the "No Weapons in Space" sign replied: "I hope so!"

In the Pentagon metro station there are numerous slick panel size ads showing Northrup Grumman's latest weapons. My friend, Andrés Thomas Conteris, took the enclosed photos of me holding the "Keep Space for Peace" sign in front of one of the photos, which I thought you might like to see.

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Public Relations War

 
It didn’t take long, after Russia began its anti-terrorist bombing campaign, for social media to be flooded with ‘evidence’ of civilian casualties. The claims were readily repeated by Western mainstream media - and even some peaceniks.

It turns out the reports were false and fabricated.

Space Week Events Underway

We are starting to get some feedback from folks around the world who are organizing Keep Space for Peace Week events during October 3-10. 
The video above is from the protest at the US space surveillance and communications base at Croughton in Northamptonshire, England.


This photo is from the first of several events planned in Nagpur, India during space week.  Other events are also scheduled in several other cities throughout India as well.
 

Following our October 3 event at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Maine we gathered in front of the shipyard administration building for a photo.  We'll be back here for another vigil again on Thursday, Oct 15 as the Maine Peace Walk passes through Bath at the time of the 3:30 pm shift change.

Then we also plan to return on Saturday, October 31 at the time of the next 'christening' of another Aegis destroyer from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Thousands of people come for the ceremony so there will be a huge crowd for us to communicate with on that day.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Latest Show

 
Len Yannielli, a retired biology teacher, is interviewed by Bruce Gagnon on "This Issue" about his new book "The Shares -- A Story of Revolutionary War History in a Connecticut Community," where Len in more recent times organized a campaign to preserve a sensitive tract of land. In addition, they discuss climate change and other sensitive issues.

Sunday Song