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: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Sung-Hee Choi writes about this video:

Director Cho says he had to make this 30min. long video hurriedly so that it can be watched upon need, soon. However, you will be never bored. The video is a wonderful record of people’s strong resistance against unjust police crack-down in the Gangjeong village on Aug. 24 and Sept. 2. Since Aug. 24, near forty people including mayor, Kang Dong-Kyun have been arrested and seven people have been imprisoned unjustly under the charges of such as obstruction of business or special obstruction on government affairs etc. A second 4. 3, indeed. What they have wanted was to save the Peace Island, Jeju, in peaceful way, from the Government’s inhuman and violent policies that would eventually bring war base in the Island.

This heartbreaking and inspiring video was shown in people’s candle light vigil in the Gangjeong village tonight, reminding people both days’ intense emotion and heightening their will to win the struggle.


Gangjeong village artist and activist Gillchun Koh with Noam Chomsky at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) yesterday discussing the current fight on Jeju Island to stop construction of Navy base

  • Matt Hoey in Boston yesterday arranged to have Gillchun Koh meet with Noam Chomsky to brief him on the current situation in Gangjeong village. Matt also set up a speaking event for Koh the night before at Boston College. Good work Matt.
  • MB and I arrived in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday after two uneventful flights from Portland, Maine. Things began last night with a dinner and then talks by David Swanson and Ann Wright who courageously had just come from major skin cancer operations three days before. Several old friends from Florida days (Clare Hanrahan and Ruth Zalph) are also at the conference and it was fun to see Lisa Savage and Mark Roman from Maine walk in the door sporting their usual Code Pink attire. This morning the venue changed and we are sitting in a huge auditorium at the Piedmont Virginia Community College. I speak later this afternoon and MB does her talk tomorrow morning.
  • Virginia is the #1 recipient of Pentagon funding in the nation. Charlottesville has 161 military contractors in the community bringing in $919,914,918 during the last 10 years. There can be no doubt that the culture of this state, and increasingly the entire nation, has become militarized. When militarism is your #1 industrial export product, as is the case in the U.S., you've got to turn a steady stream of conflicts into hot wars in order to justify these kinds of levels of military spending. We have become a killing culture.....morally and ethically America is bankrupt. It's moral corruption at its highest level. It's an issue that most Americans choose to ignore.
  • Two of the Jeju Island protest leaders were released from jail yesterday. People in the Gangjeong village worried they both were going to be salted away for some long jail time so this came as a surprise. Is it a sign of the impact of the growing global awareness about the Jeju Navy base issue? Last night when Ann Wright spoke she mentioned the Jeju struggle and I will do so today in my talk as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2011



The world's largest arms fair offers any number of ways to kill, destroy, and conquer, by land, sea, and air. Yet this year's event, held in London, is a little different, given how easily it has been discovered that many of these companies have been supplying equipment to countries which used them against their own populations during the Arab Spring. Liam Fox, Britain's most senior defence minister, arrived at the fair to reassure any nervous manufacturers that despite all the controversy they need not worry about a lack of political backing. Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee reports from London, UK.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


  • I did a live TV interview this afternoon via Skype with Russia Today (RT). Just waiting to see the clip posted on their web site. We talked about the new deal that Hillary Clinton signed with Romania to allow U.S. "missile defense" interceptors to be deployed in their country. The U.S. has also recently signed a deal with Turkey to put a "missile defense" radar in that country. Previously the Pentagon agreed to a deal with Poland to deploy a PAC-3 (3rd generation Patriot) missile interceptor system there. So with these deployments, and NATO expansion eastward, the Russians are finding themselves being boxed in. Why? It's important to remember that Russia has the world's largest supply of natural gas and significant stocks of oil........

  • Our new Bring Our War $$ Home radio ads will start next week on five radio stations in Maine. Supporters of the Maine campaign have donated $1,600 toward the one-minute radio spots that will run on conservative talk show stations from Portland to Presque Island. The ad was recorded by legendary Maine media personality and story teller Robert Skoglund (The Humble Farmer). You can listen to the ad here

  • MB and I head to Charlottesville, Virginia early Friday morning where we both have been invited to speak at a conference called Military Industrial Complex at 50: A National Conference. MB will talk about economic conversion and I will talk about the global military agenda of the US. CodePink Maine coordinator Lisa Savage will also be a speaker at the event. A slew of other great activists will be speaking as well. Should be an exciting conference.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Activists at a peace festival this past weekend in Denmark were read a statement from the Global Network

  • I was recently contacted by Andre Emile Brochu who lives in Malmo, Sweden. I met Andre when I went to Sweden as part of a speaking tour to Scandinavia in September 2008. Andre was born in Farmington, Maine and spent summers in Livermore Falls but escaped to Sweden during the Vietnam War as a draft resister and he decided to stay there. He led a group of us through a long peace march and rally in Malmo that was a part of the European Social Forum and then made sure to find a great restaurant for our hungry Global Network team that he was escorting around.
A week or so ago Andre contacted me and asked for a statement from the Global Network that could be read at an upcoming peace festival in Denmark that he was going to be attending. So I wrote it and sent it to him and today got back a link to an article that included my statement. You can see it here

Andre wrote to me, "So you have been published in Danish just like Kirkegaard and Hans Christian Andersen."

  • I had a wonderful day yesterday in Biddeford and Saco as I rejoined the Walk for Fukushima. I met the walkers at a park in Biddeford where Richard Rhames and I taped an interview with Mia and Steve Athearn about why they are walking for both our public access TV shows. Then we went to city hall for a meeting with Mayor Joanne Twomey who took us into her office. There on the wall, right by her desk, was a sketching of Gandhi, MLK, and Dorothy Day. She spent an hour with us asking questions about the purpose of the walk and also talked about how much she appreciates the work of the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home. About six months ago, when we held our last rally in the state capital in Augusta, I invited Mayor Twomey to speak and her golden words went out across the state over public radio. She said, "I'm tired of firing people because of budget cuts. I challenge every mayor in the state of Maine to say Bring Our War $$ Home!" Perfect.

After we finished with our meeting at city hall we went to the nearby town of Saco where a pot luck supper was to be held at the First Parish Congregational Church. Since we had some time on our hands before the dinner, and the church sits right on U.S. Hwy 1, I got one of the other walkers (Alex) to join me across the street by the war memorial where we held the Bring Our War $$ Home banner for about an hour. As the rush hour traffic wizzed by I held out a leaflet for anyone to grab - I had about 7-8 takers. One woman passed by in her car and then approached us on foot and asked if she could interview me. Come to find out it was the editor of the local Biddeford Courier newspaper so she took some pictures and asked me some questions. Another reporter had earlier spotted us outside city hall when we arrived for the meeting with the mayor and she invited him to come up with us to her office. So that got covered as well.

The supper at the church was great (some really good macaroni and cheese) and then there was an excellent sharing circle afterwards with the church folks who came to feed the walkers. Church member Tom Kircher invited me to say a few words about the connection between the Walk for Fukushima and the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign. I told the story about the years of dangerous NASA plutonium space launches and how the nuclear industry views space as a new market for their deadly product. I suggested that if we could convert the military industrial complex to building solar, wind, mass transit and the like we could decentralize power production, get rid of the nuclear industry, and have some impact on the coming ravages of climate change. But we're going to have to make strong demands on the political system if we hope to make that happen.


In order to keep the fear campaign humming along, former Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld is out beating the drum for more Pentagon spending.

"The Department of Defense is not what's causing the debt and the deficit. It's the entitlement programs," he told Human Events in an exclusive interview. "If we make that mistake, we're doomed to suffer another attack of some kind, and our intelligence will be less strong and less effective."

Rumsfeld also said that Obama's decision to keep many of the tools and tactics President Bush implemented to fight terrorism is reassuring. Even though Obama spent his entire 2008 presidential campaign promising to roll back those same terror-fighting policies, the President has discovered that they've "contributed to the protection of the American people these past 10 years."

This is just the beginning of the scare campaign from the military industrial complex that we will now witness. Their public relations effort will be intense and is intended to ensure that Congress buckles under their fierce pressure.

Our efforts to call on all elected officials to Bring Our War $$ Home is now more important than ever. Be sure to write a letter to your local newspaper immediately to help counter this right-wing public fear campaign.

This attack on social progress in America must be resisted by all of us. Find ways each day to help stop the lords of feudalism from taking us back to the 17-18th centuries.

Monday, September 12, 2011


We all must support the call for a real independent investigation


My friend Starr Gilmartin (Trenton, Maine) vigils on the bridge near her home every Sunday. I saw her at the grassroots media confab on Saturday and she said she needed a good 9-11 themed sign for yesterday's vigil. So I suggested "Call 911 - End the wars". She wrote it down and last night I got an email with the photo above - so she used it. Came out good.

I drove a van load of seven of us from around here to Portland last night. We had dinner together and then went out to the Back Cove for the vigil of light once it got dark. I was quite impressed with the numbers of people who showed up. (I'd guess 500) The cove is at least four miles round and there were people around large sections of it. There was a church group next to where we were standing and they had at least 50 people with them.

I handed out Bring Our War $$ Home flyers I made for the month long Care-a-Van and ran into lots of people I know. Not everyone who came seemed clear as to why they were there.....I think the organizers kept it a bit vague in order to draw a larger crowd. So our banner and the flyers helped give some focus, at least on our part of the cove.

Today I drive south to Biddeford where I will meet up with the Walk for Fukushima at 2:00 pm and interview them while my buddy (and fellow public access TV activist) Richard Rhames films it for his show called "Out in Left Field". Then at 3:00 pm we have a meeting with the mayor of Biddeford and after that I want to hold our banner and hand out Bring Our War $$ Home flyers on a busy street.

In the evening will be a pot luck supper at the First Parish Congregational Church, 12 Beach Street, 6:00 pm in Saco that Tom Kircher has organized for the walkers and the Care-a-Van.


A beautiful story about humans living in harmony with the natural world.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I posted this video a couple weeks ago but it seems appropriate to re-post today.

Bring the truth forward.


Lisa Savage and Steve Burke print Bring Our War $$ Home T-shirts during the WERU Radio's Maine Grassroots Media Conference

I drove north early yesterday morning so I could make it in time to hear artist Robert Shetterly (Americans Who Tell the Truth) speak at the opening of the WERU community radio sponsored Grassroots Media Conference in Unity.

It was a full day of workshops and talks about how to expand the growing network of alternative media throughout our state. It appeared that at least 75 people were there and I was happy to be amongst some of the best organizers and activists in the state. The food was also really good - most of it donated by local organic farmers.

One workshop I attended was "Why we need a regular news/analysis publication in Maine and how we can create one" lead by Larry Dansinger. About 30 people came to this workshop so it was clear that the subject was one that was high on people's priority list. I suggested a statewide Internet vehicle was needed where people representing many of our disparate groups could post articles about their work or calendar events. But for it to work we'd all have to promote it widely. One woman suggested a cooperative be organized to run it. I volunteered to serve on a committee to explore the idea.

CodePink Maine's coordinator Lisa Savage, Mark Roman and Steve Burke set up a Bring Our War $$ Home T-shirt making operation in the lobby of the conference where all day they banged out four different designs onto T-shirts. Steve used to be in the T-shirt business and had a bunch of left-over shirts that he sold for $1 each. It was great to see so many people taking a shirt home with one of the four different Bring Our War $$ Home designs that were available.

Today I do a radio interview after lunch and then we are driving our first Care-a-Van load of people from here down to Portland for the "It's time for light" gathering around Back Cove to call for an end to war. It begins at dark (6:30 pm) so we'll all turn our flashlights on and hopefully have enough people show up so we can circle all the way around the cove.

For the next month I'll be traveling around the state from local event-to-event in a van loaned to us by Maine Veterans for Peace leader Peggy Akers. I imagine I'll be blogging about many of the events and I'll be wearing one of my two new T-shirts from yesterday.

See you down the road.