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'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Friday, October 16, 2009

SEEDING THE MOVEMENTS


Rev. Yoon, In-Jung spent 155 days living in the trees behind me. A platform was erected near the tops of the trees during the period of late 2006 and early 2007. He was protesting the plan to rip the mountain forest on the outskirts of Incheon into shreds so a golf course can be built by the Lotte corporation. Lotte is one of the biggest corporations in South Korea and right-wing president Lee, Myung-bak (2MB) is married into the corporate family. For this, and other disastrous mega-construction projects that will destroy the environment, 2MB has been given an additional nickname - the bulldozer.

Rev. Yoon is a Presbyterian minister who leads a faith community called Christian Solidarity for Life and Peace.

Before Rev. Yoong took his action living in the trees a local woman did the same thing for 56 days. He worked to support her and then picked up the baton after she finished.

I asked him how the 155 day vigil in the trees changed him. He replied, "I was changed alot. All the life is connected to one another. If the forest disappears the human beings will disappear too. The most important thing in life is breathing - the prayer and breathing is not different. The trees give us a lot of good things and human beings are trying to harm them and that is wrong."

He recommended that slow and persistent organizing is what is required to defeat the mega-destruction policies of the bulldozer. A rolling hunger strike is now underway where people go for a night to sleep in the forest without food. Sung-Hee volunteered to do a day soon after I return home on October 25 so I volunteered that I would join the hunger strike for that day in solidarity.

Following our trip to the woods Rev. Yoon took us to an organic restaurant in Incheon where the customer sets the price of the meal depending on what they can best afford to pay. I spoke to members of his faith community in the evening and found it easy to show the connections between ripping trees from forests and space domination. It all comes from a spiritual disconnection from the "right way to live" as the Native Americans would say.

I must say that the genius of this speaking tour, put together by Sung-Hee Choi and her advisers, is that they are introducing me to key leaders in the progressive movement throughout South Korea. I visit their community, learn about their local struggles, and then in the evening share food with them (yes, sometimes twice) and then speak to them about space issues. This organizing strategy is seeding the progressive movement throughout South Korea with the basic understanding of the work of the Global Network. In addition Sung-Hee is handing out copies of two GN videos that she has translated into Korean.

My visit to Rev. Yoon in Incheon was two days ago. Yesterday I was back in Seoul where I sat in the courtroom for two hours watching Global Network board member Wooksik Cheong give testimony on behalf of the three reunification activists who are now facing 3-5 years in jail for calling for the closure of US bases in South Korea and reunification of the nation. Wooksik made the case that the charges facing the three activists, under the extreme National Security Law, are nothing more than mainstream opinion throughout the peace movement in South Korea and beyond. In fact, while at the court I had my signature notarized on a letter I wrote in September at the request of the defendants lawyers saying much the same thing - that activists in the US also are calling for an end to US military deployments in South Korea.

Then last night I was invited to a meeting of the Life and Peace Fellowship, another faith-based peace community. In a delightful format I just answered questions from the assembled for 2 and 1/2 hours about non-violence and the work of the Global Network. Two reporters from major local newspapers covered the event.

The World March for Peace & Nonviolence, that runs from Oct 2-Jan 2, 2010, hits South Korea today for several days of activities. I will be joining this group as they hold events in Seoul and then travels to the DMZ in a call for reunification (something that is "illegal" under the 2MB definition of the National Security Law).

Let's see if they arrest us too.

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