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

With a new administration in Washington it will be a challenge to get the 'liberals' to hold Biden-Harris to the few 'progressive promises' they made during their campaign. Biden is bringing back many of Bush & Obama's neo-cons to head his foreign policy. I'll be on this case without hesitation.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

VISIT TO NEW YORK CITY

Just back from my trip to New York City. I took the train from Portland to New York. The ride was relaxing and I got a lot of reading done. I'm currently reading a book called Hope Against Hope about Stalin's extermination of legions of Soviet citizens including the poet Osip Mandelstam. The story is written by Mandelstam's wife Nadezhda. One very important message I take from the book is the human ability to ignore reality - to turn away from the evil that is swirling all around us. To pretend that it does not exist. To refuse to take responsibility for the actions of one's government.

I did two talks on May 3 in New York City, the first was organized by Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF) and was held just across the street from the U.N. The U.N. is now hosting a large gathering of NGO's to talk about environment and sustainable development. Edel Havin Beukes, a WILPF member from Norway, wanted to have the space issue considered as part of the environmental portion of the U.N. meeting so asked me to focus on that in my talk. She, and Carol Urner from Oregon and also a WILPF member, organized the meeting and got some of the delegates to the U.N. meeting to come hear my talk. Edel and Carol were both at our Global Network annual meeting in Germany in April and the idea for me to come to New York grew out of that event.

Following that meeting Edel took me across the street to the U.N. and had a BBC World Service reporter interview me. The reporter, from Ethiopia, was assigned to write for a publication called Outreach Issues that is being produced daily during the NGO meeting. It appears the publication was being funded in part by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and thus Edel was connected to it and could make the interview possible. Edel said the publication was being read by all the NGO delegates so our message of space and the environment was able to go out to a larger audience.

Global Network member Sung-Hee Choi from South Korea, who is an artist and teacher now living in New York City, also came to the meeting. [Sung-Hee took the photo above.] She has been coming to our annual GN meetings for the past few years and has been very helpful in getting our space issues translated into Korean and distributed in her country. Sung-Hee accompanied me to all of my talks while I was in New York and looked out for me as best she could, making sure I did not get lost.

My second talk that day was hosted by Code Pink New York at the offices of United for Peace & Justice. Anne Gibbons had become interested in the space issue after watching our video Arsenal of Hypocrisy and apparently is a regular reader of my blog. Anne decided to invite key leaders from her group and other peace groups to a dinner meeting so folks could meet me and hear an outline of our work on space. Her hope was that following that meeting there would then be the energy to create an opportunity for me to speak to a larger gathering of activists in New York. The meeting went really well and after my talk I had a wonderful exchange with the group. We talked about space, Iraq, the coming 2008 elections, political strategy and even organizing philosophy.

The folks had a wonderful spirit and I am hopeful that it will be arranged for me to return to New York with our Global Network message in the near future.

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