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

Thursday, May 05, 2005

REPORT ON GLOBAL NETWORK CONFERENCE

The 13th annual Global Network (GN) space organizing conference was held in New York City on April 29-30. Over 200 people attended the weekend GN event that concluded with participation in the No Nukes! No War! march by the United Nations and rally in Central Park. Crowd estimates for the demonstration ranged from 30,000-40,000 and was organized by Abolition Now and United for Peace & Justice.

The GN business meeting was held on April 29. Following a series of reports, Dave Knight, the GN United Nations Representative, led a strategy discussion. Here are some of the ideas people came up with:

* Hold public debates with those who say they oppose space weaponization but who support the use of space technology to direct warfare on earth. (The GN is opposed to this "militarization" of space that uses space satellites to implement "shock and awe" war like the invasion of Iraq).
* Keep making the moral and ethical arguments against the nuclearization and weaponization of space.
* Expand outreach to student groups.
* Make more effort to reach teacher organizations.
* Continue making the connections between budget cuts for human needs programs and an expanding Star Wars program.
* Keep publicly identifying the aerospace corporations involved in Star Wars.
* Talk more about how the U.S. is addicted to war and how military spending creates fewer jobs than if our tax dollars were invested in alternative job creation.
* Find ways to reach out to popular culture.
* Produce a guide for home study groups on this issue.
* Expand outreach to churches.
* Utilize art more often to express our concerns. (Peace Action Maine recently held an art opening called "War Flowers: Swords into Plowshares" to introduce the economic conversion issue in the state. The art show will travel around the state throughout 2005-2006).
* Learn more about framing of issues.
* Send word about the GN's speakers bureau out more often.
* Make connections with those who talk to people in their jobs (bartenders, taxi drivers, hair dressers...)
* Connect with the movement called "De-cap," the global call against poverty.
During this meeting the GN also committed to hosting a program at the World Peace Forum 2006 in Vancouver, Canada. (The director of the forum attended our April 30 conference as well).

The meeting concluded with discussion about where the GN's 2006 annual space organizing conference would be held. No decisions were made and it was agreed that we would put out a call to our affiliates for proposals. Some locations were suggested such as Vancouver, Japan, Eastern Europe, and the United Kingdom. It was agreed that our next meeting should be held outside of the United States.

On April 30 a standing room only crowd of 200 packed into the Musicians Union hall for the day long GN space organizing conference called Full Spectrum Resistance. GN board convener Dave Webb, from Yorkshire CND in England, welcomed people who had come from all over the U.S. and from around the world. Mixing music by Holly Gwinn Graham and Tom Neilson throughout the day, the conference heard local reports from key activists around the world and then listened to a panel discuss strategy.

Karl Grossman reported that Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) had called the GN office to say she intends to lead a fight to defund Project Prometheus, the nuclear rocket that is being funded at over $400 million in 2005. Rep. McKinney is sending a "Dear Colleague" letter to Congress inviting them to join her in the effort. (We urge all of our supporters to contact their congressperson urging them to join her.)

The Sisters of Loretto brought a group of high school students from a rural Missouri community and one of them read a beautiful essay he had written about the impact of nuclear war on nature. A second group of students, organized by GN board member Wolfgang Schlupp-Hauck in Germany, made a fine presentation outlining a more positive vision for 2020 than the current Space Command vision of control and domination of the heavens.

During one session it was reported that 12 of our friends in Australia had organized a solidarity action at an Australian space facility on April 29. A second announcement was given about students at the University of Hawaii occupying the office of the university president in protest of the military industrial complex takeover of the institution.

A wonderful buffet dinner was catered and a fine group of kitchen volunteers, led by Carole Abrahams from New York City, kept the crowd eating and drinking all day long.

Dr. Michio Kaku, a GN founding member, was the first of two keynote speakers. As usual, Michio received a rousing reception. He was followed by Jenny Jones, the former deputy mayor of London who had come to New York as part of the Mayors for Peace delegation.

Each year the GN gives out a "Peace in Space" award to a person who has made extraordinary effort on behalf of the movement. This year we gave two awards, both to Canadian activists, for their tireless and successful efforts to keep Canada from joining the U.S. Star Wars program. The award went to Tamara Lorincz (Halifax Peace Coalition) and Steven Staples (Polaris Institute in Ottawa). They each also made outstanding presentations during the conference.

Dave Webb presented a moving photo memorial of GN board member Satomi Oba who recently unexpectedly died. Satomi, a past recipient of our Peace in Space award, lived in Hiroshima, Japan and we have created our 2005 Keep Space for Peace Week poster in her honor.

On Sunday, May 1 many of us from the conference gathered to march from the United Nations to Central Park. We carried several GN space banners and were quite moved at the beautiful and creative line of march. When we arrived at Central Park for the rally a huge peace sign was being created with the bodies of the marchers. I had the honor of being invited to speak to the crowd and made good use of my time explaining how space satellites were used to coordinate the invasion of Iraq. I also mentioned Bush's plans for deployment of anti-satellite weapons and the nuclear rocket.

The GN conference was truly a wonderful gathering of our global family of space for peace activists. Once again we heard many people remarking about the loving and generous spirit that filled the conference. We are grateful for all the work each of you do and look forward to many more gatherings in the years ahead.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I also mentioned Bush's plans for deployment of anti-satellite weapons ...."

Would you share with us what you believe to be the factual basis for the existence of such a plan?

5/5/05, 7:56 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Well, there's the Army's new field manual called 'Space Support to Army Operations,' which says 'Space control negation is
accomplished by denying, disrupting, deceiving, degrading, or destroying enemy space systems, including ground assets, orbiting assets, and communications links between the two.'

Destroying orbiting assets sounds like a willingness to use an anti-satellite weapon to me. The capability may not be there yet, but the intentions are quite clear.

5/6/05, 3:34 PM  
Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

"Karl Grossman reported that Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) had called the GN office to say she intends to lead a fight to defund Project Prometheus, the nuclear rocket that is being funded at over $400 million in 2005.

Given that the lady in question is racist and anit-semtic, ya'll might be advised to find another champion

5/7/05, 4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephen: "Destroying orbiting assets sounds like a willingness to use an anti-satellite weapon to me. The capability may not be there yet, but the intentions are quite clear. "

We've seen these kinds of macho space-cadet ravings for decades. Mostly from people who sure would LIKE to be able to do so, but never seem to get funding or approval to do so.

Repeat question -- is there any evidence that actual steps are being taken to implement such ideas?

Jim O
www.jamesoberg.com

5/8/05, 7:45 AM  

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