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

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

REACHING THE HEARTS OF EMBASSY WORKERS

Giant "Tetra pods" being set up as Navy base takes shape on Jeju Island
People praying for a miracle as resistance to Navy base grows worldwide

I've heard nothing new today from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island in South Korea. Our GN board member MacGregor Eddy went to visit Sung-Hee Choi who sits in a Jeju City jail but its a long trip from the village to the jail.

Last night I did a 20-minute interview about the Jeju situation on popular progressive WBAI radio in New York City. The show is called Asia Pacific Forum and I had a chance to ask listeners to call the South Korean mission at the United Nations. You can hear the interview here

Friends from New York City to Arkansas to Seattle have been passing on my email appeal that I sent out yesterday to their local email lists. We've heard back from so many people who told us the South Korean embassy or consulate would ask them their name and contact info when they called and then say "We'll have someone contact you" even before the caller had said why they were calling! When the caller would say, "Let me tell you why I am calling" the South Korean representative would quickly add, "You are calling about Jeju. We are getting many, many calls."

I've had some behind the scenes dialogue with one overseas South Korean staffer who told me today in a private email, "The Kangjeong village in which the people try to stop a naval base is designated as one of the most beautiful marine area in the world. What a sad reality! I understand that you feel frustrated when you call the Embassy and receive a cold shoulder for your call. I am sorry about it but please also understand that this is a government entity and the person who answers the phone cannot do anything for such a sensitive issue. I have same dilemma that my personal view and political stance are not in accord with those of my government and the people (in conservative wing) but I just work for the embassy to support my family."

So it is clear that as a result of these calls to various South Korean offices all over the world many of the staffers are in quiet agreement with us and they are very sad about what their government is doing to the people of Gangjeong village. I can promise you that these office workers at these embassies and consulates are indeed passing on our messages up the "chain of command" because they often are in deep sympathy with our calls. So if you haven't yet made a call please do. They are a big help.

Global Network board member Regina Hagen (Germany) arrived at our home yesterday for a short visit before we head south on Thursday to Andover, Massachusetts for our 19th annual space organizing conference. People are still registering and it is looking to be a great event. I took Regina for a kayak paddle in the slight rain today along a tidal estuary that flows into the sea near Georgetown. It was very quiet in this place and only the birds could be heard. I stopped paddling and just drifted with a breeze blowing on my back and my thoughts went to those in Gangjeong village who are fighting so hard to save their sacred coastal community.

At our meeting this weekend I'm going to ask the Global Network board to approve us sending another one of our leaders to Jeju as soon as possible. I think we need to keep encouraging others to go there so they can experience the beauty and sorrow of this special place. For me Jeju Island is a place that connects the space organizing work we do with the important need to protect our natural environment from the evils that come from greed, power, and war.

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