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....

My Photo
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Yesterday I needed to go to Brunswick which is about 10 miles from Bath.  I got a ride there with a friend.  After I did my errands I walked to my hitchhiking spot and stuck out my thumb.  Usually it takes about 10-15 minutes before anyone stops.  Yesterday it took me almost 30 minutes and it was as cold as hell out there.  You'd think people would want to help someone get out of the cold.

I can see why women would be reluctant to pick up a male hitchhiker.  So I don't expect that to happen and never do get a ride from women.  But you wouldn't believe how many men just pass me by.  (I take off my shaded glasses so people can see my eyes.)  Even the tough guys, driving the big V-8 zoom-zooming trucks, pass me by.  My ride yesterday was from a man who delivers mail to rural post boxes.  We had a nice chat about climate change and even a laugh. 

We have been taught not to trust anyone - we even fear our neighbors, and sometimes even our own families.  Everyone knows that cars are the 'biggest security blanket' one can have in life.  Homeless people often sleep in their cars.  A person's car is their castle.  The inference then is that anyone without a car must be approached with extreme caution - they are way out of the normal.  And so the people do just that......

When MB, Karen and I moved into the Addams-Melman House in 2007 we had three cars between us.  After a bit I sold mine.  Then two years ago Karen sold her car, so now we are down to one vehicle between us.  It's caused me to walk more, hitch a ride when I can, or pay a cab.  I feel good about this because I hate cars and what they do to the planet and to community building.  I want more public transit.  Bath Iron Works (BIW) here in our city of 10,000 residents should be building commuter rail systems.  We need commuter rail from Bath down to Portland.  If we had that then MB could take the train to work and we could get rid of our last car.  But it won't happen unless and until we demand it.  The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

The conversion process would benefit labor, the environment, peace as well as social justice movements.  Economists have demonstrated that we'd get twice as many jobs building rail than we presently get building destroyers at BIW.  The Machinists Union last year passed a resolution at their national convention calling for conversion of the military industrial complex.  They asked their locals to get involved in the conversion issue.  The state of Connecticut passed a law in 2012 to set up a statewide commission to create a conversion plan since their state economy is heavily dependent on military production.  Other states are now working on this same law.  Here in Bath we have a meeting soon to see if we can bring the conversion issue alive in our community.  Unless we create jobs for military production workers we will never end war.

On my three visits to Cuba, back in the time when I lived in Florida and organized citizen trips to that country, I was always impressed by how people there handled hitchhikers.  Cubanos would gather at a particular place and any vehicle that had an available space would stop.  Cars, motorbikes, trucks, or buses would all stop and load up whoever they could.  People would pull each other aboard and would be smiling and laughing.  The feeling of community and shared life struggle, a fundamentally spiritual notion, was rich in the air.

I want that here in Maine too.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home