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.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Speaking Tour in Minnesota

I arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Friday and was taken to the community of Red Wing early Saturday morning to attend the 17th annual Peacestock day-long gathering sponsored by a couple different Veterans For Peace chapters in the state.  Over 100 people turned out and my presentation entitled 'US First-Strike & NATO Expansion: Preparing for War with Russia and China' went over well.  The hour-long question and answer period following my Powerpoint was quite stimulating as the very sharp audience came up with many great comments and inquiries.

My host Craig Wood took me for a 2 1/2 hour walk Sunday morning along the Mississippi River and we then headed toward the Dowling Community Gardens (one of two remaining WW II 'Victory Gardens' created in 1943) where local residents get 20 by 20 foot plots.  Craig is a gardener with 37 tomato plants in his back yard (and I now have about 25 of them) so we both spent a good bit of time checking out the various stages of growth of the tomato plants and other plants in these lovely gardens.  The place is quite impressive and we enjoyed talking with various folks who were working in their garden patch.  What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning it was - in our own kind of church.

In the early afternoon I was taken by VFP member Steve McKeown to Mankato which is about an hour drive from Minneapolis where I was scheduled to speak at 4:30 pm.  I was frankly a bit skeptical that anyone would show up on a Sunday at that late hour but was pleasantly surprised when over 30 people walked through the door, including much to my total delight Sr. Gladys Schmitz who frequently writes to me and tells me how much she appreciates my work.  Sr. Gladys turns 92 on Aug 4 and introduced me to the assembled.  She even got the local TV station to come and they interviewed me before we started and then stayed for the entire event filming even more throughout my talk.  In all my years of being an activist I can't ever remember a time when a mainstream TV station came to an event and stayed the whole time (in this case nearly two hours). 

Sr. Gladys became aware of the Global Network in 2008 when she came to our annual space organizing conference in Omaha, Nebraska near Offut AFB where STRATCOM (Strategic Command) has its headquarters.

Steve McKeown and I had some great conversations during the ride to and from Mankato.  He is known as VFP's super petition gathering volunteer and he really impressed me with his tales of traveling across the state to get signatures.  He's even stopped at American Legion halls across Minnesota to ask the guys inside to sign his petitions against nuclear weapons.  Steve was one of the Minneapolis VFP guys that came to our first Huntsville, Alabama space conference in 2001.   He is a farm boy from South Dakota so I enjoyed hearing him talk about my favorite state where I lived for three years as a boy while my dad was stationed at Ellsworth AFB near Rapid City.

This past weekend a 40 year old white woman was gunned down here in Minneapolis by the police.  She had called the cops when she heard something outside her house.  When the cops arrived they shot her.  She is known in the community as a spiritual healer so this is not going down real well here.  This current epidemic of police violence across the nation (mostly targeted against black people) always makes me think that we now have become 'Palestine in America'.

I speak for the last time tonight in Minneapolis at the 'Every church is a peace church' monthly meeting.  I leave for home tomorrow.  It's been a great trip here - about my 4th time in Minneapolis - and I am so grateful to all my kind hosts.



Blogger Unknown said...

We are grateful that Bruce came to Minnesota to share his knowledge, expertise, and dedication with us.

7/17/17, 10:36 PM  

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