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: Brunswick, 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.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

PEACE WALK COMING TO MAINE IN 2010

We just had a visit from the Buddhist monk Rev. Gyoway Kato who is with the Nipponzan Myohoji order that does peace walks all over the world. He is based at Leverett, MA. and is planning a peace walk for a Nuclear Free Future and conversion from a war to a peace economy in the spring of 2010.

The walk will begin in Burlington, Vt on March 20 and come to Maine on March 24. From Maine the walk will head south and arrive in New York City in time for the international protest on May 2 that will call on the nuclear powers to honor the UN's Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that demands nuclear disarmament. Activists are coming from all over the world for the NPT Review Conference events at the UN in early May.

The folks at the Addams-Melman House in Bath have volunteered to be Maine coordinators for the walk as it passes through our state from March 24-April 1.

Our job will be to promote the walk, find local hosts for housing and pot luck suppers each night of the walk, and to organize protest vigils at key military facilities like BIW, BNAS and Saco defense as the walk reaches those communities.

The walk is also inviting peace and church groups in Maine to sign on as co-sponsors. No funds are requested, just a serious commitment to promote and support the walk. Please let us know if your group or church would like to be listed on the walk flyer as a co-sponsor.

Below is the current schedule for the walk (still subject to some minor adjustments).

Arriving into Maine via Bethel with nightly stops in: (Yes it sounds like a peace train....)

- Norway/Paris on March 24
- Lewiston-Auburn on March 25
- Bath on March 26
- Brunswick on March 27
- Freeport on March 28
- Portland on March 29
- Day off on March 30
- Saco-Biddeford on March 31
- Sanford on April 1

The peace walk is expected to travel about 15 miles per day. There will be no cost to walk. Walkers will bring mats and sleeping bags and sleeping on church floors or private homes will be arranged. It is hoped that local host groups will arrange a pot luck supper and program each night and breakfast in the morning for the walkers. It is likely that about 15-25 walkers go the whole distance with others joining the walk along the way for a day or more at a time.

Rev. Kato said that he does not want this to be an "exclusive" Buddhist walk but instead would like to invite people from many faith traditions to be involved. He would also like to invite people from all life paths to feel invited to join this peace walk.

Please contact Karen Wainberg, Mary Beth Sullivan and Bruce Gagnon at the Addams-Melman House in Bath for more information or offers of support. We will need local coordinators in each Maine town along the route. Our phone is 443-9502 or globalnet@mindspring.com

There will be two other walks happening at the same time, also organized by Nipponzan Myohoji. One will start at Oak Ridge Nuclear Laboratory in Tennessee and the other from Buffalo, New York. Each of the three walks will then meet in New York City on May 2.

I have organized many of these peace walks, working with the Nipponzan Myohoji order, when living and working in Florida. They are a wonderful group of people to work with and the walks are life changing experiences for many people.

Please help us spread the word.

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