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, July 24, 2017

To Serve the Present Age


Late Sunday afternoon Mary Beth and I drove with Regis Tremblay about 15 miles from our house to Reid State Park for a picnic along the ocean.  This beautiful place happens to be a sacred spot for Regis who began coming here as an eight-year old Catholic alter boy when his Waterville, Maine parish would sponsor annual trips for the kids and their parents.

I met Regis some years back at a protest event and immediately saw strong similarities between him and my step-dad who my mom married when I was about three years old.  My step-father Wes was from Rumford, in western Maine, and was the son of a paper mill worker.  Wes was wild and independent minded and joined the Air Force in order to escape Rumford and we spent our life moving around the world to various Air Force bases.

Regis is friendly, smart, direct, and does not suffer fools lightly.  It's been quite amazing to watch him travel to South Korea and make the excellent documentary called Ghosts of Jeju and then follow that up with his new truth telling film called Thirty Seconds to Midnight.  In between these films he's traveled the world and made many shorter videos on various subjects including the one from Odessa, Ukraine when we both went there for the May 2, 2016 event to stand with the mothers of those massacred by the Nazis two years before at the Trades Union Hall.

He's got quite an amazing back catalog - see it here.

Here is Regis standing in front of the spot where as a kid he and other alter boys would catch crabs under the bridge.  He says it has not changed one bit in the last 60 years.


MB and I always love to go to this state park either to walk along the beach or sit upon the rocks where we can lose ourselves as the waves crash up against the shore line. So when Regis invited us to join him in a picnic at his favorite spot we jumped at the chance.


We brought along our little propane grill to do some cooking and ate way more than we should have but enjoyed every moment.  We always have very stimulating conversations when the three of us get together about politics, sports, people, the 'movement' (or lack of one), our personal futures and the futures for our own children.  Like most parents these days we worry about how our kids will fare in this world as we all face climate change and the growing economic divide between the rich and the poor.  We struggle with the question what more should we each be doing?

Being around nature helps us keep things in perspective as we know that humans are just one of many life forms on this beautiful planet and certainly not the most important.  But we agree that humans have to take responsibility for the mess we've made here on Mother Earth and we are frustrated that people are not more engaged in pushing for fundamental and needed change.  We have lots of theories why people don't do more to help but have fewer ideas how to get them to wake up and act.

Regis is working on some exciting upcoming travel and film projects while MB and I lately have been doing alot to help friends who have lost love ones.  MB is a social worker with a homeless agency in Portland (now just working three days a week) but her four days off are nearly always spent doing volunteer social work in our local community with various folks who are in need of a caring and devoted listener, companion and helper.

My vegetable gardening keeps me occupied when I am not on the computer doing organizing work or traveling.  I love nothing more than playing with my tomato plants and trying to get stubborn pole beans to climb their appointed paths.

In the end we each agreed last evening that we are lucky to live in this beautiful part of Maine and to have found the good work we are each doing. 

Years ago while working in Florida I used to organize an annual peace retreat at a camp that had a slogan painted on the wall that read 'To serve the present age'. I'd say that in the end each of the three of us are doing our best to remain faithful to that sacred calling.

Bruce

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