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

Sunday, February 14, 2010

ARTISTS, POETS, FOOD, JOY, AND INSPIRATION

Students from Unity College created this piece
Former Navy Lt. Becky Farley reads her poem about driving the Aegis cruiser that fired the first cruise missile at Baghdad during "shock and awe"

About 100 folks turned out for the pot luck and poetry reading to end the day

One artist creates "what they really think & what they really say" piece about one Maine Congressman's position on war spending

Lisa Savage (CodePink) helps load the art into computer for eventual production of booklets to hand to state legislators in Augusta on February 18


It was about a 13-hour day of hard work, inspiration, and joy for me and the many others who gathered in Bath yesterday for the draw-a-thon to create images and words about bringing our war $$ home.

Things began just after 9:00 am as about 40 artists and poets from all over Maine (and even an artist from Canada) came for the event. Natasha Mayers and Kenny Cole (two artists who do alot of political art) organized via their Union of Maine Visual Artists to get the creative folks there. Included in the group were five students from Unity College.

My job was to organize the kitchen, make sure the artists had coffee, tea, snacks and then lunch. I also was responsible for getting folks from throughout the community and state to come to the evening potluck supper to honor and celebrate the work done throughout the day by the artists and poets.

The art was hung on the wall for all to see as they arrived for the supper and following the bountiful meal we heard music, poetry, and words about the three-month long Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home.

One new poet that I was particularly proud of was Becky Farley. She was a Navy Lieutenant at the time of the March, 2003 launch of Bush's "shock and awe" of Baghdad. Becky was assigned to an Aegis Cruiser that fired the first cruise missile in the attack and at that moment she was the officer on the deck who was actually driving the ship. In her poem she talked about the "dark, dark night" and the dark forces of power and greed behind the attack. Since getting out of the Navy she has struggled with depression but has joined the Iraq Veterans Against the War and wrote her poem just for the event last night.

It was an inspiring day and evening and a wonderful testimony as to what happens when activists all across the state come together for a short-term campaign to focus energy and attention on a particular subject. In the case of war $$ we are already seeing much organizing activity spring up around the state. Resolutions will be taken to town hall meetings and city councils. People are speaking up at school board meetings about making the links to cuts in education and funding for war. Lots of letters to the editor are being written to newspapers across Maine.

Vigils at the offices
of our two Maine Congressional representatives will be held February 17 in conjunction with similar actions across the country. On February 18 the artists will head to the state capitol in Augusta for a draw-in where they plan to give their images to state legislators and encourage them to call for an end to war funding as one important way to deal with Maine's current fiscal crisis.

One man brought his wheelchair bound wife to the event last night who suffers from multiple sclerosis and now faces cutbacks in her home treatment program. When I got home last night I had an email from her husband saying he wants to help us during our statewide action weekend (April 10-11) when we will drop pizza-style doorhanger literature across the state urging people to let the politicians know we want our war $$ brought home to Maine. This morning he wrote me again saying he wanted to order 150 of the doorhangers to pass out in his neighborhood.

This is how we build real movements. We link the war spending issue to the real life concerns people have and we help find ways for a broader segment of the population to express their outrage over war and social dissolution. This is the job of all good hearted folks (what a Seminole Indian spiritual leader in Florida used to call the "special people").

Our task is now to keep reaching out beyond our normal boxes in which we typically do our political work. As we each stretch ourselves we expand our base and build a real fire under this call to Bring Our War $$ Home.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, VSP Bruce!

2/14/10, 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

such a great idea! And I loved the art. Keep on rolling Bravo!

2/16/10, 10:22 PM  

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