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

Saturday, November 03, 2012

THE SACRED PLACE


I left the Black Hills on Thursday morning and made the eight-hour drive to northwest Iowa (corn and pig country) to visit my sister.  As I was hitting the interstate highway in Rapid City there was a homeless man hitchhiking so I picked him up.  He was a fascinating guy and I listened to him tell me his story for the five hours it took to get to Sioux Falls, South Dakota where he got out to head south to his home town in Missouri.  He had just spent two weeks on the Pine Ridge reservation and was taken in by an 84 year old Indian man and his son.  They treated him like family.  They fed him even though they had virtually nothing of their own.  The homeless man told me the Indians had no running water or refrigeration in their run down home.

I heard on KILI radio that 75% of Indians in South Dakota are unemployed.  In many beat up trailers on the reservations three families are living together.  Drug and alcohol addiction is rampant.  The federal government is cutting back on programs to help people with addictions, housing programs are being cut, food stamps are being cut, Indian health service is being cut.

This is a sign of the future in America and in places like Greece, Spain and other nations around the world.  Corporate capital is pushing hard to get rid of social spending so they can continue to accumulate all resources into their greedy hands.  It is indeed a war on the poor and the middle class - a reordering of the social structure - a return to feudalism.

My time away was truly a gift - I needed some separation from my work so my head could clear a bit.  The walks in the woods, drives through the mountain roads, and sitting by the campfire outside my cabin were good therapy.  On my last day in South Dakota I went north of the Black Hills to Bear Butte State Park (photo above) and followed the switch-back trail to the top of the 4,400 foot sacred mountain.  All along the narrow and rocky path there were pieces of colorful prayer cloth, many holding tobacco, that had been tied to trees and bushes by Lakota and Cheyenne who come for ceremonies to this sacred place.  From the top you can see for miles in every direction and it was a moving experience to view the open prairie from this mountain.  Only two other people, both Indians, were on the mountain while I was there.  On the way down I gathered some sage to take home.

Tomorrow I head back to Sioux Falls and fly home from the airport there early on Monday morning. Part of my heart always stays behind when I leave South Dakota.  It keeps me coming back.

Friday, November 02, 2012

POWER TO THE PEOPLE


Ryan Nelsen, right, and Fields Harrington, in white shirt, ride a tandem bicycle to generate power for cellphones on Avenue C in the East Village, New York. East Village, part of Manhattan, is without electrical power because of Superstorm Sandy.

The Occupy movement is swinging into gear all over the hurricane devastated areas to bring aid and organizing savvy to the people.  The Occupy folks know how to feed and take care of folks living on the streets.  You are going to see lots of people turn to these bright and creative Occupy folks in the coming days.

See an example here

DAVE CLINE REMEMBERED



Documentary about much beloved activist Dave Cline, former President of Veterans For Peace.

Permission to upload given by filmmaker Andrew Courtney of Red Hill Films.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

JILL STEIN BUSTED AGAIN

 
Green Party Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein went to Winnsboro, Texas and spoke about environmental issues just before she tried to hand supplies up to blockaders sitting in the trees. She was arrested by local police officers hired as TransCanada security.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

MOTHER NATURE CALLS THE SHOTS


Monday, October 29, 2012

EXPENSIVE POLITICAL PAYOFF



Hurricane Sandy has caused chaos to the U.S. presidential election, with rallies cancelled and early voting disrupted. But it's the economic storm over the last few years which is worrying the electorate. RT's Marina Portnaya looks at criticism thrown at the two major candidates over their links to the rich who are still hogging the wealth of the nation.

 

FEELING THE CONNECTIONS


I am laying on my bed inside my simple tiny log cabin on the edge of Black Hills national forest. My cabin has no heat (except for a space heater), is not insulated (I stuffed newspaper in the cracks in the door jam), and the toilet and shower house is 1/2 mile away.  But amazingly the cabin has Wifi....go figure.

From my window, through the trees, I can see the tops of one of those jagged rocky eruptions that make this place so wondrous and special.  When you look closely at them you see images of people - and when you look at the faces of the old Lakota they often look like the rocks.

Each day I've been driving to different parts of the Black Hills, paved mountain roads and dirt logging roads. Yesterday I saw prairie dogs, coyotes, buffalo, deer, wild turkeys, various birds, a hawk, and antelope.  I love to go walking through the woods collecting firewood - I feel like it is my spiritual practice. 

I brought along a small hot water maker and have been eating instant oatmeal and tea for breakfast each morning.  (I am getting tired of oatmeal.)  For lunch it has been bread and peanut butter and a couple times canned sardines.  For supper I've been going out to local restaurants but the pickings are slim.  I've eaten buffalo three times.  Most places are shut down as the tourist season is over.  The roads are largely deserted.  This is my favorite time of year to come here.

My rental car is covered with dust from the many gravel roads I've been on.  The snow we had the day after I arrived when I drove to the Russell Means memorial is now mostly melted.  The colder temps are now gone too and today it will hit 62 degrees.  Climate change for sure.  Not the usual weather for fall.

I'm reading alot and thinking alot too about the disintegrating condition of our politics and environment.  I just watched a video of postal workers protesting against the coming privatization of the post office.  I noticed it was just postal workers - every group on their own - every person for themselves - dog eat dog culture - the business model of organizing.  We can never win anything as long as we are all separated and isolated, each doing our own thing.

As I drive around I've been listening to the Lakota KILI radio station.  The first words out of every Lakota's mouth are always Mitakuye Oyasin which mean All My Relations or We are All Related. It is a simple but profound Lakota prayer. To pray this prayer is to petition God on behalf of everyone and everything on Earth.

Mitakuye Oyasin honors the sacredness of each person's individual spiritual path, acknowledges the sacredness of all life (human, animal, plant, etc.) and creates an energy of awareness which strengthens not only the person who prays but the entire planet.

I wish our organizing model could reflect this powerful truth.  Alone we are nothing....what happens to one will surely happen to another.....we need each other.....victory in our struggle for life, fairness, truth, justice, peace, environmental sustainability can only come from a deep unity.

We have to come together like never before - locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.  Mitakuye Oyasin.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

SUNDAY SONG