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. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Speeches at Bath Iron Works Protest Today

Friday, October 30, 2015

Nearly Blew it all from Okinawa

At the height of the Cold War between the US and Russia, and right in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, US Air Force Captain William Bassett averted crisis – and massive devastation – when an incorrect set of nuclear launch codes was sent to a US base located in Japan. Alexey Yaroshevsky has the story.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Climate Engineering

The US military has studied and worked on 'weather modification' programs for years.  One example can be seen here

Do you ever look up and see the sky filled with these long white chemtrails?  I've seen them where they cross each other back and forth across the horizon - a spider web of sorts.  Not at all natural.  The old days of short contrails from planes are now rare but still visible.  Why these long chemtrails?

What happens to the future generations when they can no longer drink the water or breathe the air?  What happens to our relations in the sea?  What about the bees or the birds?  The entire web of life is being threatened.

Is consumerism, climbing the corporate ladder, the success mythology more important than projecting our children's future?

The 'Deep State' Mask

My heart bursts
on fire
tears well up
but are
walled off
men don't cry

the bombs
are still exploding
Plans for more
on the way
the 'deep state'
digging us
into the hole
of oblivion

the public
largely distracted
little talk
about the imperial
regime change everywhere
except back
in the 'deep state'
where things
roll on
like clockwork

now just another
Hollywood production
non-stop entertainment
the illusion
slight of hand
our way of life
'modus operandi'
in Washington
and throughout
the land

It's Halloween time
masks of deception
'Trick or Treat'
give me what I want
or you will suffer
at the hands
of the dark heart

Stein Speaking in Bath on October 31

Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein will be speaking at BIW Aegis destroyer 'christening' protest on Saturday, October 31 in Bath.  The protest is from 9:00 am til noon and Stein will speak around 10:00 am.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Other Side of the Coin....

Expanding U.S. Military Operations in Asia-Pacific & Beyond

Professor Yang Yoon-Mo (right) alongside former Army Col. Ann Wright while she was visiting Gangjeong village on Jeju Island.  Yang did hunger strikes on each of his three long jail sentences for trying to block Navy base construction vehicles.  As the US 'pivots' into the Asia-Pacific region more ports-of-call are needed for Pentagon warships.  Jeju Island thus has been caught in the middle of this US-China confrontation.

  • The news release we sent out to media outlets across Maine about our Saturday Bath Iron Works (BIW) protest got picked up by the Bangor Daily News.  See their article here.  That story in turn was surprisingly picked up by the military Stars & Stripes newspaper.  Find it here.
  • We are excited that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein will be at our Saturday protest in Bath during the 'Christening' ceremony for the next Aegis destroyer.  Jill is the only candidate for president that is connecting all the dots - calling for the conversion of the military industrial complex so that we have the funds to really deal with climate change by building rail, solar, wind, tidal power and expanded energy conservation programs.  
  • The Bath Police Department called again yesterday about our Saturday BIW protest.  They were concerned that they might have to arrest our delegation that will attempt to deliver letters to Maine's elected officials (US senators and representatives) who will be at the ceremony.  They said BIW will not let our folks enter the ceremony even though the public is invited to attend.  I told them we are not looking to get arrested but just want to hand the letters over to the politicians.  The police said they'd try to see if the letters could be officially received and handed over to our Maine Congressional delegation.  Have not heard back as of yet.  Either way we will still try to deliver the letters.
  • Doctors Without Borders is reporting that another of their hospitals, this time in Yemen, has been bombed. Airstrikes carried out on October 26 by Saudi Arabia in northern Yemen destroyed a hospital supported by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The small hospital, in the Haydan District in Saada Province, was hit by several airstrikes beginning at 10:30 p.m. Hospital staff and two patients managed to escape before subsequent airstrikes occurred over a two-hour period. One staff member was slightly injured while escaping. With the hospital destroyed, at least 200,000 people now have no access to lifesaving medical care. "This attack is another illustration of a complete disregard for civilians in Yemen, where bombings have become a daily routine," said Hassan Boucenine, MSF head of mission in Yemen. Saudi Arabia's airstrikes are being coordinated by US military space satellites.  
  • An online petition has been created to Tell President Obama to Consent to Independent Investigation of Kunduz Hospital Bombing in Afghanistan.  Attacking a protected site such as a hospital is a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Conventions. The precise GPS coordinates of the four-year-old MSF hospital in Kunduz were provided to US and Afghan authorities in Washington and Kabul in the days prior to the bombing, and the hospital contained nearly 200 patients and staff at the time of the attack.   
  • The US, as part of Obama's 'pivot' of 60% of Pentagon forces into the Asia-Pacific, is repeatedly poking China attempting to get a military response that would justify even further American military operations in the region.  The latest attempt by the US Navy to sail close to Chinese naval installations in the South China Sea is hailed as being about supporting free navigation of the oceans and the US trots out the Law of the Sea Treaty as justification for this position.  (This is of course more than hypocritical since the US has refused to sign onto the Law of the Sea Treaty.)  China imports 80% of its resources to run its economy through the South China Sea and has upped its military presence in the region largely as a result of the US 'pivot'.  So we are witnessing the classic case of which came first - the chicken or the egg?

More Navy Danger to Sea Mammals

The US Navy continues to cover the oceans with tens of thousands of sonobuoys to monitor and detect submarine movement around the world. The DoD has allocated $178.5 million to buy an additional 136,000 sonobuoys. 
About a meter-long, a typical sonobuoy device can be passive or active. The first type ‘listens’ to the noises produced by propellers of various kinds of vessels and pick out those made by a submarine. Active sonobuoys, sited in strategic points such as straits and harbors, can also sonar the water space around them to detect submarines.

The sonobuoys are usually positioned in designated areas from the air, typically by using SH-60F Seahawk helicopters.

“The United States Navy maintains a superior global Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability with the ability to detect, localize, identify, and track potential hostile submarines,” Global Security outlet said in 2011.

According to CNN, US sonobuoys are first and foremost aimed at tracking Russian submarines, over concerns they are “taking up positions near critical communication lines.”

Scientists say these sonar "intrusions" are proving deadly to marine wildlife, in particular whales. Sonar devices disrupt them and other sea mammals when nursing and feeding, which leads to injury or death of the animals who rely on sound to communicate and navigate, Elisa Allen, from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told RT.   

Sonars can confuse and disorient them, terrify these animals,” Allen said. “Animals exposed to sonars have been known to rapidly change their depth in an attempt to escape the noise. This causes them to bleed from their ears and eyes,” she said, adding that whales and dolphins often beach themselves in their attempts to escape sonar.

The lucrative $178,565,050 contract has been granted to ERAPSCO, a defense contractor in Columbia City, Indiana. Five types of sonobuoys are set to be delivered by October 2017.

ERAPSCO, a joint venture between the Sparton corporation and Ultra Electronics, has been producing military grade sonobuoys capable of detecting and classifying manmade objects traveling underwater since 1987. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

BIW Protest News Release

The new Navy base on Jeju Island, South Korea that will host US warships including the Aegis destroyers made in Bath, Maine

Peace Delegation to Attempt to Enter BIW 'Christening' Ceremony to Deliver Letter to Elected Officials

October 31 in Bath

For Immediate Release

Representatives from various peace groups will attempt to enter the scheduled BIW ‘Christening’ ceremony of a new Aegis destroyer on Saturday, October 31 with a letter addressed to Maine’s elected officials who will be present at the event to give their ‘blessings’ to another expensive and destabilizing warship.

The groups will hold a legal rally on the corner of Washington and Hinckley Streets in Bath from 9:00 am to noon with speakers and music.  Near the end of the event they will send a delegation from the rally to attempt to enter the shipyard in order to deliver an “Open Letter to Maine Elected Officials” who will be speaking at the event.

The letter will include the following:

    On this day another Navy Aegis destroyer is being ‘christened’ at Bath Iron Works and many of Maine’s elected officials will be present to give their official blessings.  These very expensive warships are outfitted with offensive cruise missiles and so-called ‘missile defense’ interceptors that in fact are key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning.  The Aegis warship program is not about defending our nation but in fact these ships are being used to provocatively encircle the coasts of China and Russia.

    Under the former Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia these ‘missile defense’ interceptors were outlawed because they were highly destabilizing to world peace – they gave one side a clear advantage and an incentive to attack first.  In 2002 Washington unilaterally pulled out of the ABM Treaty which has only resulted in a new arms race.

    Today many of our elected officials will talk about the jobs that come from building warships at BIW.  What they won’t say is that the Navy ship building budget is unsustainable and that very soon the nation will hit the economic wall as aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and destroyers are all over budget.  In fact studies done by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Economics Department have long shown that military spending is the worst way to create jobs – military production is capital intensive.  That means we get fewer jobs building weapons for endless war than any other job creation program.  The studies also reveal that if commuter rail systems were built at BIW we’d nearly double the jobs – something every politician should be demanding.

    We do have a serious problem today and that is to immediately deal with climate change and the growing acidification of the Gulf of Maine.  Increasingly, due to warming oceans, the lobsters and other fish are moving further north to colder temperatures.  That means Maine’s fishing industry will be hit hard.  If Maine is to survive economically we need a crash program to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet.  Building rail systems, solar, wind turbines and tidal power systems would create more jobs and help us deal with the coming reality of climate change.

    It is morally wrong for the US to think it can control the world.  The idea that the US is an ‘exceptional’ nation, better than the rest of the world, must give way to a humility where we see our place in the world as one nation amongst many.  We don’t have a right to control and dominate the world on behalf of corporate interests.

    We call on all of Maine’s elected officials to find the courage to stand up and represent the future generation’s desire for life on our Mother Earth.  Our children and grandchildren cannot survive by us building more destroyers for endless war.  We need a future that is sustainable, practical and peaceful.  We don’t believe that Christ, the Prince of Peace, would come here and give his blessing to more war and violence.

This October 31 peace rally at BIW comes just one week after the conclusion of the 16-day Maine Walk for Peace: Pentagon’s Impact on the Oceans that began in Ellsworth, Maine and followed US Hwy 1 South to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Along the way suppers were held each night in a different community and people were invited to come to BIW to protest the ‘Christening’ of another Navy destroyer on October 31.  Along the journey thousands of people directly witnessed the walking protest that called for an end to the militarization of the oceans.  The public was overwhelmingly supportive of the walk that also demanded the conversion of the weapons industry to sustainable production so that we can deal with our real problem – climate change.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein will be one of the speakers at the BIW protest rally.

The October 31 rally is being sponsored by: Midcoast PeaceWorks; Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm; CodePink Maine; and the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Monday, October 26, 2015

Congresswoman Hits it Out of the Park

Tulsi Gabbard - a Democrat from Hawaii and member of the Armed Services Committee - demonstrates great knowledge and courage to go against the grain in the US as she explains the Syria situation.  She points the finger at the US who is arming ISIS.  Nice to finally see some politician in Washington telling the truth for once.

Final Days of Peace Walk Video

Video by Regis Tremblay on the final days of peace walk along Maine's coastline.....

From Peace Walk to Next Protest: The Work Continues

Japanese peace activists protesting the US deployment of Aegis destroyers (outfitted with provocative 'missile defense' systems onboard) aimed at confronting China. A similar destroyer will be 'Christened' in Bath next Saturday.
Kittery police outside the gates of the Navy shipyard last Saturday spent most of their time taking photos.  The military security team was on the phone during the entire rally likely reporting every move we made back to HQ. One seacoast local newspaper alarmingly reported that the police had to be called when we arrived at the Kittery shipyard but then acknowledged that we remained on the other side of the road and all went well.

I spent today with one foot working in the past (wrapping up our recent 16-day peace walk) and one foot in the future as I began pulling together the protest at Bath Iron Works (BIW) this Saturday, October 31 where another Navy Aegis destroyer will be 'christened'.

I sent out a news release to Maine media letting them know about the scheduled protest.  I drafted an "Open letter to Maine elected officials" that we will try to deliver to them during the 'blessing of Christ' ceremony at BIW. I shared the letter with Maureen Kehoe-Ostensen who is preparing the flyer for the event.  I went up to the attic and sorted through all of our signs and banners choosing the appropriate ones for the protest on Saturday.  Our double theme on that day will be continuing the timely and important message about the Navy's impact on ocean life and the call for the conversion of BIW to sustainable production so that we might have a chance to impact the coming ravages of climate change before it is too late.

Everyone keeps asking me if I am sad that the peace walk is over.  Sixteen days is a long time to stay on task and walk an average of 11-12 miles per day.  So that part of the walk I can easily let go.  Despite sleeping late the last two days I am still a bit groggy and I of course miss the community of walkers.

I went to the chiropractor to get an adjustment today and was only 1/8 inch off between my legs.  One knee was out of whack as was an ankle.  Not too bad for having walked about 150 miles or so.  (I did not walk each and every mile due to having to now and then shuttle the gear car ahead in the morning.  Fortunately Katie Greenman helped me with that task later in the walk.)

I feel really good about what we did on the walk.  Via numerous radio spots, newspaper articles, social media, handing out 1,500 flyers, many spontaneous conversations, and thousands of car drivers reading our messages and seeing the art work on our van we were able to reach a huge audience with our messages.  Because most of the mainstream media is 'off-limits' to our peace and environmental efforts we have to go around that obstacle to find ways to reach the public in a close and direct way.  I think the walk helped us do that.

I spoke to one of the women who hosted us at one church along the journey.  She told me that despite the church priest trying to cancel their pot luck supper for the walk due to its political nature, the women of the church committee hosting us remained strong and refused to cancel the event.  They had such a positive feeling about the event that since our visit there has been discussion at the church about becoming more active in political issues.  That is a good outcome for sure.

Artist Russell Wray who designed the dolphin and incredible banner on our van kept saying toward the end of the walk that he didn't want it to end.  He dedicated himself each day to carrying a whale windsock and his sign that read 'Navy Sonar Kills!' along with a drawing of a beached whale.  I often walked behind Russell and can attest to the fact that many cars honked at his sign along the way.  Images are important.

We've got to repeatedly ask some serious questions about US Navy policy.  Some of them include the following:

  • Where do these Aegis destroyers go when they leave BIW?
  • What kind of environmental impacts result from the deployment of US Navy ships at ports around the world?
  • What is the military mission of these Aegis destroyers that are being sent to encircle the coasts of China and Russia?
  • How much do these ships cost?  Could we use those funds more effectively dealing with climate change?
  • Would we create more jobs building rail systems, solar, wind turbines and tidal power at Bath Iron Works or the Portsmouth Navy shipyard in Kittery?
  • Would the workers, if given the option, prefer to build something other than destroyers?
  • Can we have a successfull conversion of war production effort without the larger community getting engaged?  How can we get the public to think and talk about what we should be doing with their tax dollars - should we continue building for endless war or should we be dealing with climate change?
  • What happens when the US economy finally hits the wall and Congress has to dramatically cut the Pentagon budget?  Shouldn't we begin now trying to convert these war industries before it is too late and then they just close their doors and everyone loses?
  • What kind of future are we leaving for our children by our silence?

The Gaza Slaughter

In this episode of Days of Revolt, host Chris Hedges discusses Israeli military policy in the Gaza Strip with author and journalist Max Blumenthal. Together they recount Palestinian testimonies about Israeli military aggression during Operation Protective Edge as described in Blumenthal’s latest book, and detail the brutal tactics used by the Israeli state in attempt to suppress Palestinian resistance.

Saturday in Bath

Please note: Due to changes to the BIW Aegis destroyer ‘christening’ schedule on Saturday, Oct 31 we have changed the times of our planned protest.
We will now gather at 9:00 am and finish by noon.
We learned today that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein will be one of the speakers at the BIW protest rally on Saturday.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Study War No More
">">Down By The Riverside Leftist Marching Band & June-sanLast day of the Maine Peace Walk: Militarization of the Seas - Pentagon's Impact On The Oceans
Posted by Lisa Savage on Sunday, October 25, 2015

Democracy & Elections?

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., Abby Martin interviews world-renowned philosopher and linguist Professor Noam Chomsky.

More Walk Photos

Our walk sweatshirt front side logo

Nipponzan Myohoji Monk and Nuns in Market Square as we conclude with closing circle
Lisa Savage from CodePink Maine speaks at shipyard gate rally. She is a teacher and couldn't come on the walk until the last day but was ever present on Facebook and Twitter daily promoting the walk.
At the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard gate

At the shipyard gate

Walking along the ocean in York Beach - just like a herd of Elk

Peter Woodruff filming Eric Wasileski at shipyard gate.  Peter came the last couple days with Regis Tremblay to work on a finale walk short video.
Jason Rawn at shipyard gate - he helped with walk organizing from the start and sang at some evening events.

Eric and Jun-san playing stretching games

Our last lunch on the road - by then we'd collected lots of leftovers from pot luck suppers
Mary Beth Sullivan speaking at shipyard gate on Saturday.  She drove to Grafton, New York to bring Jun-san to the walk a week ago.

Amy, holding sign, came every morning for six days during the walk and spent hours running flyers to local businesses and people watching us from the sidelines as we walked.  She was a great help.

At Market Square in downtown Portsmouth before heading to shipyard on Saturday morning

Students from the New School in Kennebunk who cooked for us and walked with us
Boston-area VFP member Al Johnson and Mainer Dixie Searway at York Beach.  Al was on the walk organizing committee and helped raise funds for the walk.

Leftist Marching Band - "Our music is better than it sounds"

On last leg of the walk - back over the bridge on Saturday to the Navy shipyard for the final rally

Assorted photos from the last few days of the Maine Peace Walk: Pentagon's Impact on the Oceans.  They are in no particular order.  They were taken by Lisa Savage, Regis Tremblay, Bob Klotz, Nancy Larson and others.  They give a sense of the life of the walk.

I'm likely to get more photos in coming days.....I might post more later.

Sunday Song

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Dancing Buddhist Nun

Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist nun Jun-san Yasuda grabbed the hat of the cheerleader from the 'Leftist Marching Band' this morning and showed us some of her moves before we began the final leg of the Maine Peace Walk.

Jun-san is a real character and is beloved by all.  We were honored to have her walking with us.

Day 15 & 16 - The Big Finish

Lined up across from the Navy shipyard gate in Kittery this morning
Navy veteran Eric Wasileski tells his story at the Navy shipyard rally

MB and I are home and have unloaded the car and cleaned out the coolers and food crates.  The signs and banners are stowed for next week's (October 31) protest at the Bath Iron Works shipyard where the Navy will 'christen' another Aegis destroyer.

In the video posted just below you find about 50 of us having just come over the bridge from Portsmouth, New Hampshire heading for the Kittery Naval shipyard in Maine.  We held a rally at the gate with several good speakers and the band played some more music which we broadcasted with our sound system deep into the shipyard for their listening pleasure.

One of the speakers at the shipyard gate was Eric Wasileski who served in the Navy on a destroyer during Bill Clinton's attack on Iraq (Operation Desert Fox) in 1998.  Eric's ship fired more than 50 cruise missiles into Iraq and he told the story of one of the missiles that misfired and landed in the ocean just minutes away from the ship.  They steamed to the site of impact and discovered massive kills of ocean life - fish, sea snakes, sea turtles and more.  He also told the story of regularly firing 'depleted uranium' shells from onboard the ship into the ocean to test the guns which would have put huge amounts of the radioactive debris into the sea.

On Friday as we neared Portsmouth we arrived at the Kittery Naval shipyard at 3:00 pm just in time for the start of the worker shift change.  Cars poured out of the gates for more than an hour and we stood on both sides of the narrow exit road holding our signs and banners.  Veterans for Peace member Nate Goldshlag handed out many fliers to drivers as they sat at the traffic light waiting to leave the shipyard.  (In the end we got rid of all of the flyers we made for the walk.)

This morning (Saturday) we gathered at Market Square in the heart of downtown Portsmouth to prepare to walk back to the shipyard for our rally at a second gate.  As we waited on folks to arrive the 'Leftist Marching Band' cranked up the sound which drew attention far and wide.  As we walked the two miles to the shipyard the band kept the songs going.  We were also joined this morning by Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist monk Brother Kato who in the past has led several of our walks through Maine.  It was quite a site seeing our long line of marchers going over the bridge.

After the rally at the shipyard gate we walked back to Market Square for our final closing circle.  I thanked this wonderful community, a family, for their cooperative spirit and for their determined effort to walk so far for such good reasons.  While I am sure everyone will be glad to get back to their own beds tonight I know that we all will miss one another and cherish the bonds we formed during this sacred walk.

My hope is that we all find ways to work and walk together again.

I am still collecting photos from the walk.  Probably tomorrow I'll post many more of them.  Thanks to all who helped make this walk such a great success.

Day - 16 Back to the Navy Shipyard

The Maine Peace Walk marches from Portsmouth, NH to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Posted by Bob Klotz on Saturday, October 24, 2015

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Day - 14 Biggest Walk Day So Far

A few from the 'Leftist Marching Band' greeted us as we arrived in York Beach

Pat Scanlon (right) greets walkers at they arrive at his York Beach home for the night

Students from the New School in Kennebunk walked with us today

We walked 14 miles today from Kennebunk to York Beach.  Thirty people joined the walk giving us our largest turnout since we began on October 9 in Ellsworth. Eight of the students from the New School walked as did seven folks from a senior intentional community near Kennebunk.  It was an impressive line of walkers during the high point of the day.

Early on this morning it began to drizzle a bit but the sun finally broke through the cloudy sky.  The rain held off until we got to York Beach - just as we started to eat supper outside at Pat Scanlon's house the rains came back for about an hour.  Luckily the Smedley Buter Brigade out of Boston has set up the three canopies where we huddled and ate the pizza, chili, and salads provided for us.

About 10 members of the Smedley's were here to greet us as we arrived at Pat's house.  Many of them will join with us tomorrow as we walk into Portsmouth.  There will be a rally at 5:00 pm at Prescott Park after we arrive in Portsmouth and at 6:00 pm there will be a supper and program at St. John's Episcopal Church (100 Chapel St).

As we pulled into York Beach we were photographed by the York Weekly and then a reporter from the paper interviewed several of the walkers.  Our good string of coverage by local weekly papers continues (except for the Bath area where those weeklies don't like to report on protests at the BIW shipyard - although we did get front page coverage in the local daily paper there).  But circulation numbers show that most small weekly papers often have larger distribution than the daily papers due to the fact that many people are canceling their subscriptions to the dailies and relying on the free weekly papers for their news as a way to save money during these hard economic times.

The Leftist Marching Band that greeted us today in York Beach has a slogan that I just adore - "Our music is better than it sounds".  Gotta love these folks. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 13 - Walking to Spark Thinking, Debate and Action

A member of the Portsmouth-based 'Leftist Marching Band' met us on the road today with his saxophone as we approached Kennebunk.  When we arrive in York Beach tomorrow the band will greet us at our night spot.
Peace walker John Morris (on left) playing guitar with some students at the New School in Kennebunk who are hosting us tonight

Twenty-two folks joined the walk today as we did our 10-mile peace strut from Saco to Kennebunk.  I've been joking today, with a great deal of truth in my words, that we are a moving line of senior citizens.  In fact just as we arrived at the New School this afternoon I got a phone call from a woman who lives at a senior citizen home 1.7 miles from here who said that 6-12 folks from their center want to join the walk when we pass by tomorrow morning.  That will be exciting for sure.  Power to the peaceful elders!

We were joined on the walk this morning by Maine Vietnam veteran Preston Hood (a former Navy Seal) who won the Maine Literary Award in 2012 for his poetry.  While waiting for dinner he read a couple of his poems to us.  One was about his Marine son who killed himself and Preston reminded us that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.

We are hosted at the New School by Olive Hight who is a high school senior and coordinated the cooking of our dinner with a group of her fellow students in the school kitchen.  Olive is the daughter of my longtime friend Matt Hight who brought her to Bath last July 4 for the annual parade.  They both helped us carry our political displays in the parade and she agreed then to inquire about hosting us when the peace walk came through Kennebunk.  It's fun to see the excited students preparing food for our group.

We had two different local newspapers take photos and interviews today as we walked. We are told that another paper will catch us tomorrow as we head into York Beach.  One reported asked me what our primary goal was and I answered that we are trying to break through the silence about the Pentagon having the largest carbon bootprint on the planet.  She remarked that she'd never heard that before but that it made alot of sense.  If that gets into her story we will be happy.

York Beach is likely to be our biggest evening event during the walk.  The Boston-area Veterans for Peace Smedley Butler Brigade is going all out to get people to this event.  Pat Scanlon is getting his neighbors involved in housing some of us and he has arranged for the 'Leftist Marching Band' from Portsmouth to greet us as we walk down the street to Pat's house.  Add in the various activists from around the state who will appear there as well and it should be quite a night.  And the pizzas being donated will be a hit I'm sure.

It seems we had more honks from cars and trucks today than previously.  One family stopped their car right in the middle of the busy US Highway 1 while we were taking a break asking for more information.  It's really fun to watch people approaching us and wanting to talk politics - it happened several times today.  You can see there is a hunger amongst many people for community and answers to their questions about why things are so bad across the country.  We've repeatedly seen that this walk is serving to spark thinking, debate, and action.  Can't ask for much more than that.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day 12 - Enjoying the Reactions to Our Walk

Twenty-one of us walked 13 miles into Saco today.  We ended at the First Parish Congregational Church which has hosted us on three or four previous occasions.  When we started out early this morning it was misting but after a couple of hours the sun came out and it turned out to be a gorgeous day to walk.

Tomorrow we have an easy day only going 10 miles into Kennebunk where students at the alternative New School will host us for the night.

While on our lunch break in the parking lot of Lois's Natural Market I went inside the store to use the restroom and when I came out standing in the middle of the establishment was an old friend from Florida, Michael Canney.  What a surprise!  Michael came to Maine to visit him mother who, though 86 years old, walked for a couple miles with us during the last legs of today's journey.  His mom, Connie, came the last day of the walk last year when we reached Berwick for our protest at Pratt-Whitney where they build the engines for the boondoggle F-35 warplane.

Our van driver Jeff shared a story about passing Rudy's Diner in South Portland early on this morning and going inside to hand them some literature.  While there he heard some of the customers in conversation about the walk and it appeared that there were folks on each side of the war/peace issue.  Jeff also reported that when he handed a street construction worker a flyer the man said, "I want to walk next year".  It's exciting to know that people are being moved to think and talk about our walk.

Last year we handed out 1,000 flyers during the walk so this year we printed 1,500.  Our distribution has been steady and it appears we'll run out of them by the time we finish up in Portsmouth on October 24.

Starting to hear from more and more folks saying they will join us for the finale on Saturday, October 24 - we'll meet at Market Square in downtown Portsmouth at 10:00 am.  The plan is to walk back over the bridge into Maine and hold a protest at the gates of the Naval Shipyard in Kittery and then head back to Portsmouth - a total walk of about four miles.  We should be done that day by 1:00 pm. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Day 11 - Walking as Long as I Can

Climate change and militarization of oceans banners lining the walls at Portland pot luck supper

Fourteen of us walked from Freeport into Portland today - a 15 mile journey.  We had the biggest crowd yet for a pot luck supper at the State Street Church in Portland - much thanks to Grace Braley for organizing that event.

Earlier in the day we walked our first 9.4 miles before our lunch which was provided by the Friends School in their beautiful new no-carbon footprint school.  Three of our walkers went there at 10:00 am and spoke to the combined class of 7th and 8th graders.  Russell talked about the Navy's impact on sea life, Eric (Veterans for Peace member) shared what it means to be a war veteran who now opposes US foreign and military policy, and Katie led the group in singing the alternative words to the Star Spangled Banner written by VFP leaders Tarak Kauff and Ellen Davidson.

As we entered Portland I got a phone call from a man I did not know who wanted to bring us some coffee that he got donated from a local company.  He met us during our break as we walked around Back Cove and the group loved his thoughtful sharing.  One of our folks remarked that it was the best coffee he's had on the entire walk.

A young woman also called early this morning wanting to join us.  She had seen a post on the Internet about the walk and recognized the photo of the Buddhist nun Jun-san who is now with us.  So Lynn showed up at our lunch spot and walked the rest of the way.  These are the kind of spontaneous things that keep happening each day.

Just as I started writing this blog I got a call from Pat Scanlon, our local host in York Beach, who said he had mentioned the walk while at his favorite pizza shop today.  The pizza owner offered to bake 12 pizzas for us and add salad as well.  The magic of the walk continues.

It's exciting to see how the peace walk message creeps into layers and layers of our communities across the state - often in small ways but each touching the lives of ordinary people.  This process of creating experiences for people when they make contact with this traveling road show is how people begin to change. 

Try as they might local Portland activists had little success getting the Portland Press Herald or the local TV to cover us as we walked into town.  Breaking into the bigger mainstream media has become increasingly difficult in recent years.  All along the way we've had good success getting coverage from the smaller local papers but the media giants are still proving to be generally out-of-bounds for groups that dare take on the sacred cow of the military industrial complex.  (One of the smaller Portland weekly papers did send a photographer as we crossed the bridge into the city.)

Al Johnson from the Boston-area VFP Smedley Butler Brigade joined us in Freeport early this morning.  He was on our walk planning committee and had made the trek up to Maine a couple times when we had meetings.  He also raised funds to help with walk costs.  After we reached Portland this afternoon he jumped in his car heading back to Boston to pick up a couple more VFP members.  That is real commitment.

I'm tired and at times I find myself getting just a bit disoriented.  While this kind of walking is truly a young person's game I still love it - particularly walking along the highway with my sign trying to make eye contact with the legions of people driving by.  It's an organizers dream to have such a captive audience - all I have to do is just keep walking - and I will as long as I possibly can.

Activist Profile

Video by Regis Tremblay

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Day 10 - Into the Shopping Mecca of Freeport

Video by Eric Herter

Following the end of World War II the US loaded nuclear weapons onto warplanes and flew them just off the coast of China.  Each pilot was assigned a different Chinese city as his target.  Bob Dale flew for the Navy and carried a nuke on his plane along with his assigned target city.  Fortunately Bob never had to drop the bomb.  Years later it dawned on him what he had been assigned to do and for many years he has been an active leader in Maine Veterans for Peace.

Today Bob, at 91 years old, walked half of our 10 mile journey from Brunswick to Freeport.  This time he was only armed with two walking sticks, one in each hand.

When we arrived in Freeport, world famous as the home of L.L. Bean store, we walked all the way through the busy town handing out flyers on both sides of the street.  When we hit the end of the mega corporate shopping strip we crossed the street and went back to the other side of town.  Then we headed to the local church where we are being hosted tonight by the parishioners from the First Parish Church (this is the third time one of our walks has stayed here.)  This was our most productive day of handing out flyers yet.

It is great to have Jun-san Yasuda with us today.  She brings joy and deep inspiration to our walk.  She brought with her an activist from Okinawa.
In the morning we head for Portland with a stop at Friends School where they will feed us lunch and three of our folks will speak and sing to the 7th & 8th grade students.

Here are a couple photos from today......

Sunday Song


Sunday at the Movies

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Day 9 - Buddhist Nun Arrives in Brunswick

Civil war statue at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine

We walked into Brunswick today from Bath and after arriving we looped through the downtown area where we were able to hand out many flyers.  Then we passed through Bowdoin College which was having their annual 'parents day' so more people than normal were around.

Three people unexpectedly showed up just before we began walking this morning - it's always a nice energy boost to have some fresh walkers join in like that.  In all we had 15 people doing the whole 9.5 miles today so it was a colorful group for sure.

Mary Beth drove to Grafton, New York this morning to pick up Buddhist nun Jun-san Yasuda and another Japanese woman who will join the walk on Sunday as we head into Freeport.  Jun-san has previously walked with us here in Maine and is a beloved person who has led walks across the US numerous times over the years.  She is particularly loved by Native American activists who have had walking relationships with her for a long time.

Niponzan Myohoji Buddhist nun Jun-san Yasuda joins the walk in Brunswick on Sunday

On Monday we've been invited to have some of our walkers speak to students at the Friends School near Portland.  This will be one of two schools we will visit - the other at the New School in Kennebunk.

Each night during our programs we've been inviting people to join the 'christening' protest now planned for October 31 in Bath when the newest Aegis destroyer gets the 'blessing of Christ' - remember him, the prince of peace!  (Yeah, the guy who said we should love our enemies and turn the other cheek.) Folks seem very committed to coming and we are looking forward to that event as kind of a walker reunion.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Peace Walker Reunion Planned......

Good coverage in local newspaper in the Midcoast of Maine today.  Article about Peace Walk protest yesterday at Bath Iron Works and they printed our open letter to the president of the shipyard as well.  See them here and here

The Other Debate......

Thursday, October 15, 2015

BIW Protest - Convert the Endless War Machine!

Photos by Peter Woodruff - retired BIW worker.

Peace Walk Arrives in Bath

Video by Regis Tremblay

It's getting late, I'm tired, my eyes are burning.  I didn't sleep much last night on the floor of Quaker Meeting House in Damariscotta, Maine.

We walked just 10 miles today (sunny and cool with vivid fall colors) and arrived in Bath in time to deliver letters to the president of Bath Iron Works and to the local Machinists Union just before several thousand workers came streaming out of the shipyard at 3:30 pm.  We had 19 folks lined up along the sidewalks with cameras, banners, and signs calling for conversion of the shipyard to building rail, solar and wind power instead of weapons of mass destruction.  Our leafletter supreme, Morgana Warner-Evans, broke the record for handing out flyers at any protest I've ever been to at BIW.  She plowed right into the middle of the workers as the rushed out of the yard and it was a pure joy to watch.

Afterwards we went to a local church and had hot apple cider and seasoned popcorn while we discussed the protest.  We all felt the event was made even more special by the presence of two great banners made specifically for this walk - one by Russell Wray that many have seen attached to our walk van and the other by Artists Rapid Response Team (see above post of photos).

At one rest stop today a reporter from the Lincoln County News came and interviewed us.  See it here

Maine VFP web master Dan Ellis tracked down other news reports about the walk from Belfast and Camden - see them here and here.  A reporter from the Brunswick-based Times Record came out to interview us during the BIW protest this afternoon so we are looking forward to seeing it tomorrow.

Walkers get a well deserved day off on Friday and then on Saturday we resume walking from Bath at 9:00 am for Brunswick and a pot luck supper at the home of Selma & Hersch Sternlieb.  All interested human beings are more than welcome to attend.

Some more walkers had to leave today to return home to work and others keep coming on board for the continuing trip south.  We end in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Oct 24 with a march back across the bridge to the Naval shipyard in Kittery for our finale event.

Then we are having a walker reunion protest on Saturday, Oct 31 in Bath during the blasphemous 'christening' of another Aegis destroyer from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.  We are going to have music, poetry, speeches, and more that day under the Halloween theme "Something scary is happening here in Bath." 

Come dressed in custom if you are so inspired. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 6 - Eating for Peace


Food is important on peace walks.  We carry two coolers with us filled with cheese, hummus, carrots and other left overs from the excellent pot luck suppers that are organized on our behalf.  We are still eating from the four large loaves of wonderful bread donated to us by a popular Maine baking company.

It's apple season in Maine so we have several bags of donated apples in the back of our van.  During the suppers we've had apple cakes, applesauce, apple crisp and apple bars on the tables.  And of course apple cider is available every night.

Tonight is our first night on the walk where we did not have a home stay provided for us.  During my home stays we've had oatmeal, eggs, and blueberry pancakes for breakfast so far.  This evening we are sleeping on the floor at the Midcoast Friends Meeting House (Quakers) in Damariscotta.

We walked 8 miles south from Rockland today to a farm house (built in 1850) owned by peace activist Steve Burke who provided us with a wonderful lunch mostly grown in his abundant garden.  Steve also hosted our event last night in Rockland so he served his homemade veggie soup then and again today for lunch.  The vegans in our group appreciated it.

Just south of Rockland we were joined for two miles by a couple visiting Maine on vacation from Montana.  They are both members of Veterans for Peace - the woman, Diane Carlson-Evans, was a nurse in Vietnam and went on to be the driving force behind the Vietnam Women's War Memorial in Washington DC.  They had seen a flyer about the walk inside a coffee shop in Rockland (probably the joint where we took refuge from the rain yesterday) and tracked us down.  More magic on the peace walk.

The weather today was sunny (a bit too warm actually) but overall a lovely day for walking.  It appears to be clouding up now with rain on the way but we are safe inside the Quaker Meeting House.

Tomorrow we head into Bath in time to vigil at Bath Iron Works during the 3:30 pm shift change.  Friday we have a day off and then walk into Brunswick on Saturday.  People keep coming and going but our solid core remains largely in tact - all tired but loving the sense of community and purpose that keeps us moving south.

Photos by Regis Tremblay