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 29, 2016

Bits & Pieces from the Peace Walk


  • I've still yet to recover from the peace walk.  Sore legs and low energy.  Others I've spoken with have similar ailments.  When I went to the chiropractor yesterday he found one leg was 1/2 inch shorter than the other which indicates my body was really out of whack.  

  • Yesterday I worked on the walk budget report and it appears after all bills are paid we will have just over $800 left.  That would not have been possible without substantial in-kind donations from several of the walkers.  My considerable staff time spent on the walk essentially donated by the Global Network is impossible to calculate.  Several others from our organizing committee also gave huge amounts of their time in preparation for the event - particularly Russell Wray who painted the incredible banner that hung on our van.

  • Last night I heard from a second person who told me she thought the reason we got such strong support in the most conservative parts of the state (where Trump campaign signs were dominant) is because working class Mainers really honor hard work and they respected our walk that took us through major portions of the state.  So that must confirm it.  The truth is in the urban areas like Portland and southern Maine the support was much less demonstrative.

  • On our second day of the walk as we were leaving the town of Dexter (former shoe manufacturing community now in big trouble because the jobs went overseas) a woman came running after us.  Her name was Debra Burdin and she was so excited to see us and share a project she is working on to build an Eco Village for the homeless, hungry and those in poverty.  She handed us a flyer for the Eco-Village Sustainable Community ('A New We') and I promised to write something here about it.  Her email is bwartsplants@hotmail.com  We wished her luck with the project as she introduces this important idea into a community that really needs alot of help these days.

  • There were so many thoughtful people who came in and out of the walk along the journey.  Some brought food, others brought needed toilet paper, some music, some new walking energy, healing words, acupuncture, and generous donations.  We could never thank anyone enough but we tried.  Our many hosts at pot luck suppers and churches where we slept (and the occasional home stays with showers) all made us feel so welcome.

  • We got decent media coverage along the walk and Dan Ellis kept updating the Maine Veterans for Peace web site with all the links to the stories.  You can find that here

  • The Buddhist monks and nun from Nipponzan Myohoji really made the walk special as did those who are associated with this remarkable order that does peace walks around the world.  It's amazing how much the drumming and chanting help keep your feet moving during a 15-mile day.  We bow to Nipponzan Myohoji and say Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo.

  • We also thank our friends that came from other states to walk with us - Massachusetts, Delaware, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Washington state.  They all brought alot of joy and were good walkers.  I think everyone would agree that 10-year old Bailey from Bainbridge Island, Washington who walked every day - all day - and never complained was a star of the walk.  We love and miss Bailey.

  • We handed out 1,000 flyers along the journey and again we have to give credit to Bailey who handed out a high percentage of them.  We called him our runner.

  • This was my 10th walk that I had a hand in organizing and each time I tell everyone it will be my last.  The monk Senji Kanaeda told me that there was a Nipponzan Myohoji monk in Japan who organized 35 peace walks over the years and each time he said it was his last.  Senji smiled at me when he told me that story.  We'll see......

  • The police now and then stopped us to find out where we were heading and mostly ended up being quite friendly.  One policeman from Kittery on the last day wanted to shake my hand after he learned we had walked all the way from Old Town. 

  • I was rather picky about what sign I carried as I walked.  My goal was to have every passing car and every person on foot read it so I was always turning it toward on-coming traffic.  I tried to make eye contact with every car coming our way.  That meant I was not interested in talking alot during the walk.  I called it the 'quiet car' like on the Amtrak train.  Walks are work for me and I have a mission while I am walking.  A couple times my sign got left in the van when it went off to shuttle cars forward and I was not a happy camper.  In those moments I had to control my grumpiness.  I appreciate those who were patient with me in those moments....
  • Lastly I want to thank Mary Beth for taking good care of me when I came home sick for a day during the walk.  She drove four nights to join pot luck suppers along the way and her smile always helped me deal with my tiredness.  MB brought our young neighbor Leann with her each time and it was exciting to see her get a good dose of what peace walks are all about.

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