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....

My Photo
Name:
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Let's Walk Together.......



Thanks to Brunswick, Maine filmmaker Eric Herter for creating this video about our peace walk.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Protests Against THAAD Widen in South Korea



Footage of Seongju and Gimcheon residents during various candlelight vigils against US deployment of THAAD 'missile defense' system that will be aimed at China and Russia.

Peace Walk Day 3 to Unity


This morning we joined the Grandmothers from the area who are still fighting to save this region of Maine from being torn apart by the big industrial development corporations who are itching to build a mega-corridor to move electricity, oil, natural gas, manufactured goods and more.  They were happy that our show of solidarity could help swell their dedicated group at the vigil along side the Cianbro Corporation HQ.

It was a windy and cool day but beautifully sunny as we walked toward Unity where tonight we are sleeping on the floor at the MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers & Growers Association) building that is known for holding events to foster the movement for organic farming across Maine.

When I've been in this particular building in the past it has been loaded with vegetables spread out on tables ready for judging during the annual Common Ground Country Fair at the end of each September.

It is often said that the 3rd day of peace walks is the hardest as the body begins to feel the aches and pains of walking plus the lack of sleep and comfortable accommodations begins to take a toll on the people.  If you can get past the 3rd day you usually are fine.  I can admit that today was a struggle for me as I've been waking up in the middle of the night since we started and my mind is racing through the many tasks that must be done the next day.  Sometimes the mind can be a terrible thing......

Buddhist monks Kato Shonin (left) and Toby Shonin at our house in Bath this afternoon as they headed south back to their temple and peace pagoda in Leverett, MA.  They both were with us the last 4 days and will be replaced by Buddhist nun Jun-san Yasuda when we reach Waterville.  Kato has been dealing the cancer but walked strongly.  He's previously led our walks several times in Maine in the past.  Monk Senji Kanaeda will remain on the walk til we finish in Kittery on October 26.


We walked into the MOFGA building tonight and the smell of a bean soup being prepared for us gave us a lift.  Food always helps make things feel better.

Once again as we walked through rural and conservative Maine today we got many honks and waves from the public.  I keep remarking to fellow walkers that the peace movement rarely comes to these rural parts of the state - we write them off and forget that many people living here agree with our positions against war and corporate domination of the economy and the government.  That is because many people work for these corporations and see how they daily treat the public.

Bruce

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Peace Walk in Pittsfield





  • My Internet connection is touch and go - none last night in Dexter but now that we are in Pittsfield we have it.  The walk is going well - so far we've had about 20 of the same folks with us and another 10 have been coming and going.  We are eating well - sleeping on floors and our first shower today in Pittsfield.
  • In the morning we hold an 8:30 am vigil at Cianbro HQ here in Pittsfield.  Cianbro is the mega-development corporation pushing the unpopular East-West Corridor that would tear up alot of middle Maine's forests, farms and waterways.  Last night three of the Grandmothers Against the E-W Highway came to our potluck supper in Dexter and spoke to us about their campaign.  They were excited that we can join their monthly protest in the morning at the corporate HQ here in town.
  • The economy in this rural part of Maine is devastated.  One kind policeman told us last night that this part of the state is Appalachia. He said there are no jobs and people sell drugs in order to pay their rent and to dull the pain of their hard life. He was very understanding and not judgemental of the people.
  • The yard signs so far on this journey have revealed Donald Trump is popular up here in rural Maine.  I've not seen one Hillary Clinton sign.  My guess is that people know the existing oligarchic order in Washington will not do anything for the people here so they are more than ready to roll-the-dice with Trump who they hope will be anti-establishment and work for them.  Of course Trump is totally an establishment character and won't do anything for the poor and working class but he won't be elected anyway.  Trump's role in this campaign is to make Hillary look better to voters - thus his kamikaze mission.
  • We walk to Unity tomorrow and will stay at the MOFGA facility there where the annual Common Ground Fair is held.
  • We are getting great media coverage so far.  In today's Bangor Daily News they had a three photo spread on the front page of the State section.  We've had three TV spots during the last two days as well.  See the links to all this coverage here
  • Our youngest walker is Bailey who came with his mom and other Nipponzan Myohoji temple community members from the Seattle area.  Bailey, 10 years old, has walked the entire way so far plus being our primary 'runner' to deliver walk flyers to people along the route that stick their heads out of their houses and shops when they hear the drums coming.
  • We've had a ton of honks and waves which surprises me a bit considering all the Trump campaign signs but it just goes to show that you can't easily peg folks into slots and then assume you have them figured out.  One old woman today said "Kittery?! Kittery?!" when she heard we were walking all the way there.  One of our walkers told me, "You know Mainers, they respect hard work."
Bruce

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Peace Walks Begins


Our group of peace walkers gathered on Indian Island today at noon for lunch along the Penobscot River that the native people who live here are trying to protect despite many obstructions from the state of Maine.

Following lunch we walked a few minutes to the Penobscot people's government building where we held our walk orientation and where we received a welcome from Tribal Chief Kirk Francis. 

Then at 6:00 pm we held a pot luck supper which was followed by a wonderful and inspiring talk by Native Rights lawyer Sherri Mitchell who grew up on Indian Island.  She reminded us that we are all connected and that our collective survival on Mother Earth will depend on what we each do to help imagine and create a future where the coming generations have a chance to survive and thrive on our spinning orb.


In the morning we meet at 8:30 am and begin walking toward Dexter where we will be hosted by people who have been engaged in a campaign to stop the East-West Industrial Corridor that would rip through large portions of the state destroying precious farms, forest lands and water bodies.

I am certain that each day along this journey will bring new inspiration and challenges.  Our friend Eric Herter, a filmmaker from Brunswick, was here all day capturing images and sound and will return home tomorrow to put together an initial video about the walk.

Come and walk with us when you can - or come to one of the suppers held near your community.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Why is the Pentagon Painting War Planes to Match Russians?


The U.S appears to be painting some of its war planes to match the color schemes of Russian jets in Syria. What is up here?

Standard training or preparing for monkey business? Hard to know but these days just about anything seems possible as the imperial war machine is in collapse mode.......

I've been around long enough not to be surprised by anything.  While in the Air Force during the Vietnam war I read the 'secret' Pentagon Papers cover-to-cover (released to the public by whistleblower Dan Ellsberg and printed in book form).  Inside that history of the US war in Vietnam I learned that the Pentagon lies to Congress, the media and the public all the time to justify war.

So I'd not be surprised at all to suddenly hear that 'Russian' jets are doing some evil deed in Syria - who would know the difference?

There is a propaganda war underway in the west to sell and justify 'regime change' in Syria, Iran, Russia and China.  Hang onto your hats and don't easily fall for the media hype.

Have we already forgotten George W. Bush's 2003 'shock and awe' on Iraq - looking for WMD?  

Citizen beware!

Bruce  

All Things are Bound Together



Kato Shonin's Dharma talk on technology and war this past Saturday's 23rd anniversary celebration at the Grafton Peace Pagoda in New York.

Kato Shonin is the senior Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist monk in the US and is based in Leverett, Massachusetts where he also has built a pagoda.

Kato Shonin will be at the start of our Maine Peace Walk that begins at Indian Island (Old Town) tomorrow.  Several other monks and nuns from Nipponzan Myohoji will also participate in the peace walk.

Their order was founded by a monk who was a friend of Mahatma Gandhi and created the Nipponzan Myohoji order to do peace walks and build peace pagodas around the world.

'Our Goal is to Overcome NATO'



Over 5,000 people marched at a peace demonstration in Berlin, Saturday, calling for an end to war and denouncing NATO.

Rainbow-flags and white doves were seen throughout the parade that advanced from Alexanderplatz past the US embassy, and to Brandenburg Gate.

It is good to see this protest in Germany.  We need more activity like this throughout Europe to stop the insane US-NATO possible war against Russia.

In any such war Europe would be reduced to ashes.  Now is the time to speak out!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Clinton's Coup in Honduras


Black Marks Against the West's White Helmets



The White Helmets: a heartfelt humanitarian NGO or an elaborate and cynical western PR stunt promoting illegal regime change in Syria?

Does the wearing of white helmets mean they are the good guys supporting a just cause?

5th Maine Peace Walk Begins October 11

Artist Russell Wray from Hancock, Maine

There have been some minor changes to the first day Maine Peace Walk schedule.  Here is the latest:


Day 1 (Penobscot Nation on Indian Island) Tuesday, October 11

  • Meet in Bath (212 Centre St) 9:00 am and drive north to Indian Island via I-95 taking exit 197 to Old Town
  • Over bridge to Indian Island 
  • .3 miles Stop sign turn right to Boat Landing just before the school on Wabanaki Way
  • 12:00 Lunch at boat landing (bring something to share)
  • 2:00 pm Talks by Chief Kirk Francis and Sherri Mitchell followed by Orientation meeting in conference room at the Nicholas Sapiel Building at 27 Wabanaki Way, directly across from the parking lot for High Stakes Bingo. The drive to the building is a left just after the Public Safety Bldg.
  • 6:00 Pot luck supper in Nicholas Sapiel Bldg as well
  • Homestays

Orientation plan:

We’ll first hear from Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis and Sherri Mitchell before beginning the 2:00 pm orientation which will include the following:
  • Introductions
  • Walk theme & messaging (signs, flyers, etc)
  • Daily walk plan & route review
  • Respecting the drums
  • How to integrate new people who join the walk along the route
  • Responsibility of guests at host sites
  • Shuttling plan (Coordinator needed)
  • Van drivers
  • Food & breaks
 See you all soon

Bruce

Arrogant Pentagon Warmongers




American people better wake up before it is too late....these cats want war!

Latest Guest - Phui Yi Kong from Malaysia



Phui Yi Kong, from Malaysia, spent some of her first fall as a student a Bowdoin College living at the Occupy encampment in Portland, Maine learning about American political issues and teaching acting methods from The Theater of the Oppressed.

On graduating from Bowdoin with a Watson Fellowship, she engaged different communities in Maine and elsewhere in the world by means of theater exercises, finding that their strong sense of personal identity (individualism) hinders many Americans from forming strong empathetic and nurturing relationships with those different from themselves.

Peace Pagoda Ceremony: Protect the Mother Earth


Mary Beth and I drove to Albany, New York on Friday arriving there just in time for a dinner at a local restaurant that we just happened to stumble upon.  I had a wonderful eggplant Parmesan - one of the best yet.

We stayed in the home of a local Veterans For Peace member and early Saturday morning drove about an hour more to the Grafton Peace Pagoda 23rd Anniversary Celebration.

I was invited to speak about conversion of the military industrial complex by our dear Buddhist nun friend Jun-san Yasuda who lead the construction of the pagoda when it was built 23 years ago.  Jun-san has walked with us several times across Maine and will be coming again this year for our October 11-26 'Stop the War$ on Mother Earth' walk that starts next week.  Many of the Nipponzan Myohoji monks currently serving their order in the US were at the ceremony and we will have a couple of them join our peace walk as well.

About 150 people attended the beautiful ceremony which also included talks by two Native American legends.  Oren Lyons, faithkeeper from the Onondaga Nation in New York, was there as was Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations from South Dakota.

Both men repeatedly warned that humankind must quickly change the way we are living on our Mother Earth or our species will perish.  Oren said it was like a 15-round boxing match and we are tied in the 14th round - it could go either way.  He called himself a 'runner' for his people - not a chief, not a spiritual leader, just one to carry the messages from his people to the wider culture.  He told us the trees surrounding the beautiful pagoda were listening to us and were glad we were all assembled in prayer and action.

Arvol Looking Horse told us, "To understand the depth of this message you must recognize the importance of Sacred Sites and realize the interconnectedness of what is happening today, in reflection of the continued massacres that are occurring on other lands and our own Americas.



"I have been learning about these important issues since the age of 12 when I received the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle and its teachings. Our people have strived to protect Sacred Sites from the beginning of time. These places have been violated for centuries and have brought us to the predicament that we are in at the global level.

"Look around you. Our Mother Earth is very ill from these violations, and we are on the brink of destroying the possibility of a healthy and nurturing survival for generations to come, our children's children.

"Our ancestors have been trying to protect our Sacred Site called the Sacred Black Hills in South Dakota, 'Heart of Everything That Is,' from continued violations. Our ancestors never saw a satellite view of this site, but now that those pictures are available, we see that it is in the shape of a heart and, when fast-forwarded, it looks like a heart pumping."

Arvol also reported on the struggle now underway at Standing Rock in North Dakota against the oil pipeline that would destroy the Missouri River.  He said "the young people have made a stand" to protect the Mother Earth.

Both Oren and Arvol thanked the Nipponzan Myohoji monks and nuns for their many years of supporting Native Americans across the US.  Each of the men told stories of times when Nipponzan Myohoji walked with them and stood with them in their struggles for justice and protection of the earth.

One of the great joys of the day yesterday was for Mary Beth and I to see our old friends from the southeast - Nipponzan Myohoji monk Utsumi and nun Denise who walked with us many times in Florida over the years.  These days they are building a similar pagoda in the Smokey Mountains and we both are eager to visit them and lend a small hand in that great effort.

Bruce

Sunday Song