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

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.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

MAKING MORE JOBS WITH RAIL

  • I am at Union Station in Portland, Oregon waiting for my train to Olympia, Washington.  It's been a good couple of days here as my host Celeste Howard has kept me busy speaking at three different churches (two Unitarian and one Presbyterian) and at Pacific University.  In addition I've done a second interview on KBOO radio and an interview on public access TV sponsored by the local chapter of Alliance for Democracy.  So I feel that my message has gone out far and wide here and am grateful for the efforts made by Celeste to schedule a good mix of events.
  • Mike Hastie, one of the three members of Veterans for Peace who we tried to send to Jeju Island but was forced to immediately return home by the South Korean authorities, came to both of my talks yesterday.  In the middle of my speech, where I talk about the Navy base issue on Jeju, I asked Mike to stand and share his story.  It was sad to think he was so close to reaching Jeju.  He was seated on the plane going from Seoul to Jeju but was pulled off just before the plane took off.  He was held in a detention center inside the airport for some time and was never given any reason for his treatment other than, "You are not welcome in Korea."  In a way though it was a supreme complement to all of those who have been working so hard to internationalize resistance to the Navy base on Jeju.
  • They have an extensive public transit system here in Portland.  Many years ago my Florida friend John Hedrick had visited here and noticed they let people ride for free in the downtown area.  He brought this idea back to Orlando were I worked with him for several years organizing the People's Transit Organization that was over time successful in forcing Orlando to double their public transit funding.  Since that time I've always been a devotee of mass transit - and during this speaking tour I've made special effort to compare the jobs created by investing $1 billion in building rail systems (19,675) verses spending the same amount of money on military production which creates far fewer jobs per billion dollars (8,600).  That's a huge difference and I've made the case over and again that such use of our tax dollars not only would benefit labor unions, but would also help the environmental groups in a small way solve for the coming ravages of climate change and reduce the need to go to endless war for oil.  The conversion of the military industrial complex is a unifying theme - a transformative demand that we should be making over and over again.
  • I get a day off tomorrow in Olympia.  I'll be staying at the home of GN board member Holly Gwinn Graham who has arranged for me to speak on April 24 at 6:30 pm inside the popular Traditions Cafe.  Still another nine days to go.  I am having a good time and really enjoying meeting so many great activists along the west coast.  People often ask me where I find my hope and I like to tell them that one key factor is that everywhere you turn wonderful people are working hard to change things.

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