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, October 19, 2013

WALKING FOR EACH OTHER & RESTORING OUR FAITH IN HUMANITY

Drumming and chanting outside Bath Iron Works (BIW) while waiting for workers to get off work
The peace walk ended today as we visited Bath Iron Works 

We did a walking tour along Bath Iron Works before gathering to vigil

There is alot to write about from our last two days of the peace walk.  I've yet to get any photos from our wonderful ceremony inside the state capitol in Augusta.  I'll post them when I can.  We had an astonishing entry into Augusta yesterday - cars were honking at us like crazy - it felt like the circus was coming to town.  People asked me why we had such a great response as we walked to the capital.  I'm not sure, maybe the public thought we'd come to liberate them from our right-wing Gov. LePage.  Maybe they'd heard about the walk and wanted to let us know they agree with us.  Anything is possible these days.

Artist Natasha Mayers met us at the capital building front door with loads of her big colorful pieces of drone surveillance art props that she used last summer in her local July 4 parade.  Big eyes spying on people inside a shower curtain, laptop keyboard hooked up to the NSA - stuff like that.  The pictures will tell the story.

A hundred folks came to stand in a circle with us inside the Hall of Flags at the capital.  The Buddhist monks (we were joined by two more monks for the 14 miles walk from Belgrade on Friday) led us in chanting as we began our final program.  Speakers were Kathy Kelly, Tarak Kauff, Shenna Bellows (former ACLU director in Maine and now candidate for the Senate against Susan Collins), and Lisa Savage.  Songs from walkers were included in the program as well.

After the event was over we walked to the nearby offices of the Mediation and Resource Center where we had a supper and a time for shared reflections on the walk experience before settling down on the carpeted floor for the night.  Then this morning we were up early and made the drive to Bath to prepare for our final vigil at BIW.  There was supposed to be the "christening" of the new "stealth" destroyer today but it was cancelled due to the government shutdown.

We walked from the Addams-Melman House in Bath down the hill to BIW at 10:00 am this morning.  We walked past the entire shipyard so everyone could have a good look at it and then came half-way back and set up a two-hour vigil outside the BIW administration building.  The monks led us in chanting and drumming until 11:00 and then we began a program of speakers and singing right up until the noon shipyard whistle blew and the weekend shift workers began streaming out in their trucks and cars.  They are used to seeing many vigils there but today was different.  We had alot more people today than usual, we set up on both sides of the road, plus we had these monks dressed in their bright robes. 

Once the BIW workers passed by we walked back to the house and had a wonderful lunch that Karen Wainberg had prepared for everyone.  The house was full of people and we all had mixed feelings (I wasn't the only one a bit sad) as others expressed that they too did not want the walk to end.

I helped clean up the kitchen after everyone had left but then finally had to come up into my office and sit down.  I soon fell asleep in a chair while trying to write this post.  I am dog tired but my heart feels full of love and I feel a great sense of satisfaction.  This is now my eighth such walk (seventh that I have organized) and I'd never been able to walk every step of the way because I usually have many responsibilities that kept me from always walking.  But on this journey I was determined to walk each and every one of the steps.  Miraculously my feet, which usually are in severe pain when I walk long distances, did not give me nearly as much trouble.

I loved this experience for many reasons.  The hard work that so many of the walkers shared to help with all the many tasks of shuttling vehicles, lugging things around, preparing food for breakfast and lunches, speaking and singing during our evening programs, and more made this event a joy to be a part of.  We had no real problems and everyone got along so well.  It was a living and breathing community of love and deep concern and I am certain that the public that saw us along the highways of Maine could feel it as well.

We directly reached many tens of thousands of people.  We handed out hundreds and hundreds of flyers along the way.  One man in a rural area near Belgrade took a flyer I offered him.  He was putting out the trash and shook my hand and thanked us and said, "You are doing a good job.  Keep going."  Maybe he had seen the article in his local paper about the walk or saw us on TV.  It often felt like people did know who we were as we came into their community.

We were walking about drones but the message was bigger than just that and I felt the public understood that too.  We were saying that there is a better way for our nation and the people who honked, or waved, or flashed peace signs seemed hungry to connect with us.  We gave them hope.

One of our walkers, a young man named Jason, told me his faith in humanity was restored by the walk.  So was mine.

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