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

Monday, October 20, 2014

Images of the People

The core walkers

One of our best lunch spots during the walk

I am home now after our big finish at Pratt-Whitney in North Berwick.  We walked from the UCC church in Saco where we were hosted last night in a supper of more than 50 by church members, great food, words and music from walkers.  Then this morning the church minister and his staff (about 7 in all) walked nine miles with us.  Walking with us too were a good bunch of Veterans For Peace (VFP) members from Massachusetts so our walking line was impressive - particularly with the white VFP flags. 

As we walked the last two miles to Pratt-Whitney (where they are building the expensive F-35 fighter jet engines) the many cars going by were more supportive than I would have expected so close to a military industrial facility. One local man rode up on his bicycle to join us - he lives next door to the weapons production plant.

The wayward boondoggle at Pratt-Whitney will cost the taxpayers more than $1 trillion (I can't imagine that sum.) 

Overall I feel that Mainers are fed up with war.  They just don't see any way out - they don't trust that the politicians will do a damn thing about it. 

I don't yet have photos from the last two days so pulled out these above from a couple of days ago.  The top picture is of our core walking group. Here are a few other mental images from the walk:

  • Don from New Jersey drove a truck for a living and since he retired is doing some peace walks.  His best moments were when he carried our red warning flag ahead of us on country roads and would bow to truckers with hat in hand.  He got us alot of honks.

  • We handed out 1,000 flyers along the walk.  It was a working community - people carried signs and helped with the extra walking it took to take flyers to people we passed along the way.  Morgana from Maine was an incredible help in this distribution.  She worked on her fear of rejection in the process and got better at it as we went along.

  • Sally from Maine helped host us in Portland and then showed up today in North Berwick for the protest at Pratt-Whitney.  She has been fighting cancer for several years and pushed her walker across the street in front of the weapons plant several times - once stopping the guys in monster trucks as they left work in a hurry during the 3:30 pm shift change.  There is fierce love and determination in this woman who originally hails from the lone star state (Texas).

  • It was an honor to have several of the young vets from VFP in Massachusetts who walked with us today.  One read two poems last night at the church in Saco. They say they want to come back next year.

  • Music every night helped unite us and inspire us.

  • Lots of donations of apples along the way.  Our lunches were simple peanut butter, bread, cheese, and any left overs from the night before.

  • Two little girls outside of Saco as we approached town yesterday inspired me with their enthusiasm and love.  It's like they were watching the circus come into town and they were jumping for joy and cheering us on.

  • A woman tourist from Montana joined us for two days and threw in like she was part of the family.  She gave a massage to Jun-san the Buddhist nun, handed out flyers on the opposite side of the street in Biddeford, and carried the lead banner for a few miles.  She kept saying, "If I'd only known....."

  • The former mayor of Biddeford heard the drumming this morning as we walked past her house and came running out to cheer us on.  A few years ago while mayor she invited our whole walking group into her office to talk politics.

  • Many of the faces inside the cars, stopped at traffic lights, who refused to take a flyer still appear in my mind.  They watched us walk by and their mental gears were turning.  I wonder what they were thinking?

  • The many honks, cheers, thumbs up, waves, and peace signs from folks driving by was always like a warm mug of cider on a cold night. The largest percentage of them were younger folks.

  • If you want to have contact with the people of America trying walking across the highways.  They are in their cars.

  • The guys at a hard, dirty job site this morning that I approached as they sat outside at picnic tables during their break time touched my heart.  They looked worn out, poor, forlorn, but took the flyers I offered them and said, "Rangeley to Berwick....that's a long way."  Many people said that to us and I knew they would read the flyer and talk to each other about it....and they would understand.

  • Up and down the highway for 125 miles some folks took a ride with us - even for a brief moment - they were swept away in the moving Occupy movement.  It was fun and satisfying.  And I even gained one pound.
Photos by Peter Woodruff


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