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

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Day in Portland: Trains and Film



MB and I went to Portland today to see the tall sailing ships and a movie.  As we were walking toward the port district we passed by the narrow gauge train museum and went inside to have a look.  I've always loved trains and still have my train set that I got for Christmas in 1959.  In fact I still have the turkey box from our holiday turkey that year that I have kept the train in ever since.  In later years I gave the train to my son Julian but it is still stored in our attic with his baseball cards and other such things.

In 1980 I worked with friend John Hedrick in Orlando, Florida to create the People's Transit Organization that worked to get the city and Orange County to upgrade their public transit.  (Our campaign was successful in getting the community to double its funding for public transit.) I am not fond of cars, nor of super highways, but love the idea of public transportation.  It's better for the environment and better for the public - its a common carrier.

Maybe it was living in Wiesbaden, Germany in the mid 1960's - our apartment in the center of the city was just blocks from the rail station and I used to spend alot of time there - and that experience of seeing what a real national rail system was like must have had a big influence on me.

Needless to say I was fascinated by the museum and I remain a huge advocate for building commuter rail systems as one small way to deal with our addiction to the automobile which is a major contributor to the pollution that has helped bring about climate change.

At one time Maine was connected by passenger rail lines that covered most of the state.  Many small towns still have their train stations standing but sadly the coming of the car destroyed that system.

Following our visit to the museum we continued our walk to the port area, had a late breakfast, and then sat in a park while waiting to go the the movie theater.  We went to see "All Eyez On Me" which tells the true story of prolific rapper, actor, poet and activist Tupac Shakur. The film follows Shakur from his early days in New York City to his evolution into being one of the world's most recognized and influential voices before his assassination at the age of 25. Against all odds, Shakur's raw talent, powerful lyrics and revolutionary spirit propelled him into becoming a cultural icon whose legacy continues to grow.

Tupac's mother was a member of the Black Panthers and during her pregnancy she represented herself in a trial and was found not guilty of the charges.  She brought Tupac up to be a revolutionary. His fame brought him much suffering as he was targeted as an enemy of the state at an early age.  I highly recommend the film.

Bruce

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