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, January 03, 2015

Back Home from South Country

Just got back home from trip to Georgia and Florida for the new year's peace protest and retreat.  After the events I made a stop in Graham, Florida to visit the tree farm where my office was during my time on staff with the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice.  Old friends John & Martina Linnehan are living there now and keeping the organization going with their current focus on sustainable living.

I also went to nearby Gainesville where I lived for 10 years before moving to Maine and had dinner with long-time peacenik friends Julie Netzer, Miriam Elliott, and Eve & Richard MacMaster.  Mary Beth and I used to attend Eve's church where she pastors (Church of the Brethren).  I'm not a big church goer but Eve delivered the best sermons I ever heard from any religious leader on a week-to-week basis - she really did not mince words in her opposition to US endless war making and social justice issues.

Eve is also well known in Gainesville for having done sort of a public cleansing outside the so-called "church" of fundamentalist Terry Jones who wanted to burn stacks of the Holy Quran a few years back.  His church was located outside of Gainesville and Eve and others help drive the racist charlatan out of their community.

So Julie, Miriam, Eve and Richard took me to my favorite Sonny's BBQ in Gainesville (miss that fried okra and beans).  We had a grand time and it was wonderful to see these dear friends.

Then like magic one of my longest time Florida friends, John Hedrick, just happened to call our house in Maine while I was in Florida so he drove down from his home in Tallahassee to the land in Graham and took me back to Jacksonville yesterday.  John and I met in 1980 and organized many campaigns on public transit, low-income issues, anti-war, and opposing coal burning plants over the many years while we both lived in Orlando.  So we had a great unexpected reunion over lunch and the drive to Jacksonville.

I flew in and out of Jacksonville and stayed at the home of Quaker friend Al Geiger and his daughter Wendy.  They live on a farm near the airport that was purchased by his grandfather just after the Civil War (1870's) for less than $5 an acre.  Three generations of Geiger's have held the farm together which is not an easy task.  In the old weathered barns on the farm are old Model T cars and trucks and wagon wheels made by hand.  The family still gathers to cut sugar cane and make cane syrup which I got to taste on some pancakes while in the state.

I don't miss the heat and humidity (nor the reactionary politics) in Florida.  But I do miss my many wonderful friends there as well as the old oak, pecan and cypress trees with Spanish moss hanging from their limbs.

Back home in Maine it is snowing now - a nice welcome to the north land.


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