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, March 30, 2015

BIW Lenten Vigils - Last Call

George & Maureen from the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm in Hope, Maine keep these vigils at BIW going

The regulars in the snow on a cold day last Saturday
The Navy's new 'stealth' Zumwalt destroyer peeking out from Bath Iron Works.  Reports are that the ship launching will be delayed due to major problems with the complicated and expensive technology on-board.  This warship is costing more than twice as much as past destroyers at the shipyard.

Suzanne and Mary Beth waiting for BIW workers to leave at noon last Saturday.  The message of conversion of the shipyard to building rail, solar, wind and tidal power systems is a regular theme at our vigils.  Sadly our elected officials from Maine, both Democrat and Republican, remain on their bended knees begging for more $$$$ for warships. They talk a good game about sustainability but are doing little to move us from endless war to actually having the ability to deal with climate change by dramatically changing our fossil fuel dependent way of life.  These vigils serve as the conscience of the future generations.

It was cold with blowing snow last Saturday as we again gathered at Bath Iron Works (BIW) for our series of Lenten peace vigils.  Next Saturday will be the final Lenten vigil.  We'll meet from 11:30 am - 12:30.

We must give special thanks to George & Maureen from the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm in Hope, Maine.  For many years they have kept these BIW vigils going through Advent, Lent, Keep Space for Peace Week, and other special occasions including 'christenings'.

I think our conversion of the shipyard message is seeping into the workforce and the community at large.  At our larger than usual vigil two weeks ago at BIW we had one current and one previous shipyard worker in attendance.  Another worker recently took a flyer from Maureen at one of the vigils and said to her, "You need to update this thing."  So yes, some of the workers are paying attention and want even more information about our concerns and proposed solutions.

These vigils are special times for me.  Some folks like to talk to one another during such a vigil but I prefer to stand apart and try to establish eye contact with the people going by.  I want to see where their heads are at.  I want to see their reaction to my sign.... I tend to switch my sign regularly because I want to transmit many different thoughts.

You really get a sense of the core of the nation when you stand outside a military production facility. You hear some nasty comments from some aggressive workers who want to defend their job.  It's understandable, everyone wants to feel great pride in their work.  But we also see some very thoughtful and kind workers who are pleasant, friendly, and appear to appreciate that we are outside the shipyard gates helping to foster a public discussion about what kind of product should be made inside the facility.

How can we ever hope and dream about conversion of the military industrial complex unless and until the peace movement helps create a consistent, lively and dynamic discussion about such a concept?  We've got to make some sparks fly.

Photos by Roger Leisner


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