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

With a new administration in Washington it will be a challenge to get the 'liberals' to hold Biden-Harris to the few 'progressive promises' they made during their campaign. Biden is bringing back many of Bush & Obama's neo-cons to head his foreign policy. I'll be on this case without hesitation.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

HEADING HOME

Gillchun Ko, artist from Jeju Island, suggested we hold a protest at the South Korean consulate yesterday in Seattle

Mike Jacobsen was the VFP member we were finally able to get into Gangjeong village after the first three were denied entry by South Korean authorities.  Mike was there for three weeks and I stayed at his home when I spoke in Bellingham, Washington.  He's wearing a Korean VFP vest and carries the distinct yellow No Navy base flags he brought home from Jeju.

We had 25 people show up yesterday at the 4:00 pm vigil outside of the South Korean consulate in Seattle.  Leonard Eiger, who was the key organizer for my several days in the Seattle area, put that protest together in just a few days after artist Gillchun Ko requested that we get as many people as possible to gather there.  Gillchun, who is from Jeju Island and has been a leader in bringing artists to Gangjeong village, has been in the Seattle area for a few weeks while some of his art work is being displayed at a local gallery.

While we were at the consulate a group of about 10 folks went inside to seek a meeting to express our collective outrage over the Navy base destruction.  The consulate staff keep them waiting for some time but eventually agreed to meet with four of the people.  The consulate handed them a letter which was packed full of lies including a statement that Gangjeong villagers want the Navy base built.  Once I get a copy of the letter I will post it here.  It's a real zinger.

Earlier in the day yesterday I was taken to the University of Washington-Tacoma where I was invited to speak to students and people from the community.  A good crowd turned out and I had one hour to spin my stories.  Being my last talk of the 30-day trip I told them I had promised myself that I'd stay strong the whole way through and save my best for the last. 

On Sunday I did a talk at the University Methodist Church in Seattle and three different video cameras were set up to film the event.  I asked Gillchun Ko to speak as well and he presented an excellent slide show of photos from Gangjeong village after my talk.  During every talk on the trip I have included the Jeju issue and am happy that I was able to help increase the awareness about this strategic campaign with so many activists on the west coast.

After the protest was over at the consulate Leonard drove me the one hour south back to Tacoma where we had dinner at the Catholic Worker House that was created many years ago by the much loved 84-year old Father Bix.  Bix, as he is called, recently got out of jail after doing another civil disobedience action against nuclear weapons and is on house arrest until late summer so he has to wear one of those ankle monitoring devices that the government uses to keep tabs on people.  I had met the legendary Bix once before but it was a pleasure to see the great love that his extended community has for him at the pot luck that celebrated his being honored earlier in the day (just after my talk) at the University of Washington-Tacoma. Bix donated an original Picasso peace drawing to the school.  Japanese activists had given the drawing to Bix and a large delegation he had taken from Tacoma to Hiroshima-Nagasaki a few years back.

I am writing all of this on the airplane as I fly from Seattle to Detroit.  Once in Detroit I have a three hour lay over before flying back to Maine.

It's been a great trip and I am a bit sad though because it is hard to say good-bye to so many fine people I have met along the way.  I'll write more with some reflections in the next few days but I am just so grateful for the great support and hospitality that was offered to me and the Global Network during this experience.  Thanks to all of you.

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