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.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Global Network: 29 years of peace in space activism

 

The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (GN) was created in 1992 by the combined efforts of the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice, Colorado Springs-based Citizens for Peace in Space and journalist Karl Grossman from New York. The group's offices were located in Florida until moved to Maine in 2003.

Below are a series of photos from many years of work on space issues. They are not in order by years due to the fact that moving photos around on this blog is a real challenge. (You can click on any photo for a better view.) Look for the links on each photo entry below for more details about that particular event.

Big thanks must go to GN board chair and webmaster Dave Webb (UK) who has put all of this information on the web site. 


One our most successful campaigns ever was our opposition to NASA's launch of the Cassini space mission that carried 72 pounds of deadly plutonium-238 on-board.  We organized for three years prior to the launch and I traveled to Europe and across parts of the US to build opposition.  After it was successfully launched in 1997 it later swung back toward Earth for a 'gravity assist fly-by' in order to gain speed for its deep space journey. Groups all over the world helped us build a real international campaign of opposition to Cassini . This meeting was held in Bangladesh. In the end global pressure was so great that NASA moved its dangerous Cassini fly-by several hundred miles farther away from Earth in order to make sure it did not get pulled back toward our home planet and burn up on reentry which would have released the toxic plutonium as dust to be spread by the winds around the planet.


In 2004 the GN held its annual space organizing conference in Portland, Maine.  On the first day we went to Bath for a rally at the river park and a march to Bath Iron Works (BIW).  In those days groups like ours could actually get coverage in newspapers and on TV.  Not so much anymore. Just like today, we called for the conversion of BIW to build things that would help us live sustainably on Mother Earth.


We held our annual GN space conference in Washington DC in 2000.  This photo is from our short march from the White House to the Treasury Department.  We held a rally at Treasury in order to make the point that 'Star Wars' will cost the nation an arm-and-a-leg.  Years ago the aerospace industry stated that militarizing space would be the 'most expensive project in human history'. Conference proceedings were held at American University and one of our speakers was then Rep. Dennis Kucinich.


The GN met in New York City in 2005 for our annual meeting.  Our keynote speaker was Dr. Michio Kaku who was at the founding meeting of the GN in 1992.  He's remained an advisory board member ever since.  Michio was extremely helpful in our campaign opposing the Cassini plutonium probe in 1997. Michio is one of my all-time favorite speakers. In 1986 Michio came to speak in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida at an event I organized. Prior to the event we held a news conference and it was magical to watch him handle the media. 
     



Our 2011 GN space confab was held in North Andover, Massachusetts.  Things began with a protest at the Raytheon space weapons manufacturing plant where various 'missile defense' systems are built and then continued with a weekend conference at nearby Merrimack College. The local peace group that hosted us has held a peace vigil in front of the weapons factory every week for many years.

 

GN members protested blind policies (notice the white canes & eye patches) outside the European Space Operation Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany in 2007 during our annual space organizing conference. We held GN meetings in Darmstadt three times over the years.


In 2008 the GN annual space events were held in Omaha, Nebraska. We began the weekend with a Friday rally (in the rain and cold) outside of Offutt AFB where the Strategic Command (STRATCOM) is located. Prior to going to Omaha we met in Colorado Springs to join the annual protest at the Space Foundation's big show.  We then drove from Colorado to Nebraska in a raging blizzard but made it safe and sound. Our member from India had never seen such a snow storm before and was marveling about it the entire ride.
  

The GN was hosted by peace people in Kyoto, Japan for our 2015 annual space conference.  Our first day there was spent touring various magical temples and other historical sites.  It's a wonderful city. After these events were over we traveled by train to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the annual remembrance (of US atomic bombings) meetings and ceremonies in those cities.


Our 2015 conference in Kyoto included a day bus trip to see the 'missile defense' X-band Radar U.S. Army base at Kyogamisaki, Northern part of Kyoto Prefecture. We also had a lunch and discussion with local citizens from the affected communities. We presented our annual 'Peace in Space' award to the local organizing committee resisting the provocative radar base.

Also in 2005, following our GN conference, we joined the international disarmament march through New York City.

Lynda Williams (California) and Lindis Percy (Yorkshire) hold one of the flags that Lindis frequently takes to various US military bases in the United Kingdom.  This protest at the US NSA spy base Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire followed our 2001 annual GN conference that was held in Leeds.  We've gone to Leeds three times over the years for our annual meetings.

In 2013 we were invited to go to Kiruna, Sweden, in the far north of the nation, for our annual space organizing confab.  We began by visiting the Esrange space center located near Kiruna which is currently undergoing major expansion as it increasingly is being brought under control of US-NATO as a space weapons testing region and satellite down-link center.

The leadership of Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea invited the GN to hold our annual meeting there in 2012.  It was a great honor to support the village struggle to oppose the Navy base construction then underway.  The base is currently used by the US Navy to port its warships that are increasingly active in the region harassing Chinese and Russian borders. On the last day of the conference 16 of us crawled under the razor wire along the sacred rocky coastline as we entered the construction area and were arrested. See my video report on this amazing experience at https://archive.org/details/JejuIslandsStruggleForPeace


We met in Oxford, England in 2018 for our annual GN conference.  We also made a side trip to the US's Croughton AFB near Oxford which is a major US-NATO intelligence and war-fighting communications center.  It handles a huge portion of US military communications in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Also used to route vast amounts of data captured by their network of 'disguised' listening posts inside diplomatic premises, back to the US for analysis by the CIA and NSA.


MUOS is a US Navy military communications base in Sicily.  Three of us from the GN went there in 2015 to speak and meet with local activists.  After our visit the No MUOS resistance movement made this wonderful poster for the GN's annual Keep Space for Peace Week.  This has to be one of my all-time favorite posters.


There have been multiple space conferences held in various Indian cities over the years.  Most of them were organized by GN board member J. Narayana Rao who lives in Nagpur.  In 2014 GN board member Tamara Lorincz from Canada (in the pink, front row) represented us as the keynote speaker at the National Youth Conference on “Peace, Disarmament and Development” at Nagpur University.

GN board member Lindis Percy (Yorkshire) speaking at the July 4 protest at the US's Menwith Hill NSA spy base in North Yorkshire, England.  The base intercepts all phone, fax and email communications from across Europe and relays the signals via satellites back to the US for storage and review.  In the past the US was caught doing 'commercial espionage' from this base on behalf of American corporations who were bidding on various European business contracts.



In 2015 prior to our annual space confab in Kyoto, Japan a delegation from the GN went to Okinawa to learn more about massive US military base expansion and to show our support for the peace movement there.  While on the island they toured Oura Bay next to US Marine base called Camp Schwab.  The US is currently building twin-runways on top of the pristine bay for Pentagon warplanes.  Legions of dump truck loads of landfill are being poured into the bay to build the airfields.  Daily protests at the construction site have been going on for years.  This misguided undertaking was as a result of the Obama-Hillary Clinton 'pivot' of US forces into the Asia-Pacific region in order to encircle China, North Korea and Russia.

 
 
Our 2017 GN space conference and protest were held in Huntsville, Alabama where the Nazi rocket scientists/engineers were brought after the end of WW II to create the US space program. On our first day we held this protest outside Redstone Arsenal as workers knocked off for the day.  Surprisingly we got a much better reception from the workers than we had expected. Huntsville is called the 'Pentagon of the South' and the Army 'missile defense' program is headquartered there.



Our 2019 annual meeting was a bit different than normal.  This time we organized a Russia Study Tour and visited Moscow, Crimea and St. Petersburg.  The two-week trip was intended to break down some walls between our nations.  We are tired of the constant demonization of Russia by the west and felt that more people need to visit and see for themselves what Russia is really like.  We had a great experience, learned so much, and made many new friends.  Russia is not our enemy. 

 

                      In 2020 we could not hold an annual gathering due to the virus pandemic.  Thus we held a couple of Webinars & membership meetings.  This is the video for one such meeting and includes GN members from UK, South Korea, US, Australia and Canada.

 

Bruce 

2 Comments:

Blogger John Rachel said...

Absolutely breathtaking!

1/30/21, 3:32 AM  
Blogger aharlib said...

GREAT STUFF! BEEN FOLLOWING FOR YEARS. WISH YOU HAD SHARE BUTTONS TO SPREAD THE WORD ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

2/3/21, 11:40 AM  

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