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

Saturday, January 05, 2008

BUZZING IN CLEARWATER

Just a quick one here as I pop out for a breakfast meeting with one friend and then a lunch meeting with another set of friends. I will eat my way south from Clearwater to St. Pete and then supper in Naples tonight.

Hopefully I will get a couple of minutes time to walk today as the exercise will be much needed after all the food.

My talk last night in Clearwater was very well attended, half the people there raising their hand when asked how many of the more than 80 present had come after hearing me on the fabulous alternative local WMNF radio station.

Half the crowd literally stayed around for one hour after the talk and had to be thrown out of the church and when I finally left at least 25 were still buzzing around under the awning outside the church. It reminded me of a scene from the movie Reds (Warren Beatty) right before the Russian revolution when people were out on the streets arguing politics in the dead of winter, huddled around fires.

The people were alive and very outraged at both parties and the corporate dominated media.

My host for the talk, Samm Simpson, is running for Congress again and is a real leader.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

DEMOCRACY NEEDS MORE THAN VOTING

The Iowa primary horse race takes place today. We are told by the corporate dominated media that voting every two years in national elections makes us special. In fact you can't have democracy by just voting. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

I turned on C-SPAN yesterday and saw Kathy Kelly (Voices for Creative Nonviolence) being interviewed as a result of an action she took part in two days ago in Iowa. Kathy, and a couple others, were arrested standing in the campaign office of Mike Huckabee (Republican candidate for president) holding a banner that read "Who would Jesus bomb?"

(There were more arrests today in Barack Obama's Iowa campaign in Des Moines when eight folks read the names of Iraq war dead.)

Last night's event in Jacksonville turned out well with about 50 folks attending the Wage Peace meeting. They had a great finger food spread before I spoke and the question and answer period was quite stimulating as folks were really focused on how we engage with those in the public who don't agree with us or who lack access to the same information that alot of us have.

My bottom line is that we need to help create public discussion and we can only do that by being visible in the community. That can mean letters to the editor, public demonstrations, going door-to-door and more. The fact Kathy Kelly got arrested in a campaign office and then the next day was on national TV talking about why, is an indication that public protest activity can pay off.

Tonight I speak in St Augustine. It is quite cold here, very windy, not your typical Florida weather. The sun is shining though and the palm trees are swaying in the heavy breeze.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

COAST TO COAST IN SUNNY FLORIDA

The photo above is from the annual, end of the year, Christian peace witness that is held at Offutt AFB in Omaha, Nebraska where the Strategic Command (StratCom) is headquartered. The Global Network will be holding our annual space organizing conference there next April 11-13. StratCom is now in charge of U.S. first-strike planning, the U.S. nuclear arsenal, NSA warrantless wiretapping, and all Space Command planning.

I am in St Augustine (Atlantic ocean side of the state) this morning at the home of dear friend Peg McIntire who I recently wrote about on this blog. Peg is a 97 year old activist who is still as busy as ever.

I spoke yesterday at a Peace Day event in Sarasota (on the Gulf coast side) and my message was well received. It was a day long event and I got to speak to the 150 people there early on and then after lunch they gave me a two-hour block of time for a more in depth discussion with questions.

The day before I was the speaker at the Bradenton Unitarian Church service and again was well received. Over the years I've been black-balled from a few Unitarian Churches for being too radical but the folks at the Bradenton church were probably the most enthusiastic Unitarian group I'd ever met with. Don and Jane Thompson, old friends from my days at the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice, made the arrangements for the Bradenton and Sarasota talks. Don is a retired minister.

Tonight I drive an hour north to Jacksonville to speak at the meeting of Wage Peace, the local peace group in that community. I have many old friends there and it will be a pleasure to see them all. On Thursday night I will be back here in St Augustine to speak at a meeting organized by Peg.

On Friday I head back west again and speak in Clearwater at an event being organized by Samm Simpson who was a candidate for Congress two years ago. She has stayed very active and is working hard to educate and mobilize the public in her district.

On Saturday I will be lucky to have lunch with old friend Karl Grossman who is on vacation in the state with his wife. Karl was one of the co-founders of the Global Network when we created it in 1992. Karl is a journalist and was the one who introduced me to the nuclear power in space issue all the way back in 1988. Without a doubt he is the father of the "no nukes in space" message.

On Sunday I will drive further south along the Gulf (golf) Coast to Naples where I will speak at the Unitarian Church. So I will be getting to talk to many Unitarians on this trip.

I return to Maine on Sunday evening. It's been snowing quite a bit in Maine the last few days. It seems that every time I leave Maine they have a big snow storm. I miss doing my share of the shoveling which I really enjoy.

Monday, December 31, 2007

NEW YEAR'S PRAYER

Picking the photo for my blog is always fun for me. I like to pick things that have an impact on me and hopefully they help illustrate my point.

So for my end of year blog, and start of a new year, why this one above?

It’s called perspective.

A friend has been writing to me about her deep sadness in seeing the competition among some peace activists for control of the movement. On the national level some of the people/groups don’t work so well with each other. She tried to get in the middle of it and came away frustrated. My response was: Some progressive movement activists have adopted the business model. Competition with each other instead of cooperation - competition for money, for media, for a sense of personal and political power – access to the politicians and thus some perceived influence. Some folks spout the good rhetoric but then try to control things. We won’t ever get anywhere as long as we internalize the ideology of domination.

Our tiny Mother Earth is a spinning orb racing through space surrounded by much greater stars and planets. We are just a tiny dot in the sky. Each of us down here on tierra firma is nothing but a speck of sand at the bottom of the ocean. We are a part of nature, a part of the Earth, and a part of the universe. We take ourselves much to seriously at times.

Not to say we don’t have major issues here on the Mothership. We do - endless war, mindless hate, growing poverty, climate change and more. But the way out of this madness is not working one against the other. Our only hope is to follow the ways of nature.

In the natural world each living system – water, air, sky, land, plants, animals, humans – is linked to one another. We are part of an interconnecting web. The impact on one is an impact on the other.

The business model has indoctrinated us to believe that humans are dominant, or somehow outside of and superior to the rest of the web of life. The business model teaches us that money, power, fame is what can control and change the world. Thus many people (right wing or left wing and in between) think if they just amass those material powers they can stand above the rest. This is the death mythology at work.

My news year’s resolution is a prayer. It goes like this.

Please help me keep a sharing heart. Help me know my place in this great mystery of life. Help me remember that when I speak, I speak not just for me but also those that have no voice. Let me remember that I must work with everyone that I can to help make changes for all. Help me keep my ego in check. Help me listen better and speak less. Let me remember that I am just passing through this life. Let me have the strength to stay humble and to stay focused. Help me keep my feet on the ground.

Let the new year be a good one. Help me do my part to make it so. Help me honor all life. Let that be enough for me.