Maine Drone Peace Walk
Preserve our Privacy: No Drone Spying in Maine
From Limestone to Augusta, Maine
Led by Jun-san Yasuda
From: Bruce Gagnon's Blog: Organizing Notes
October 10-19 2013
DRONE WALK UPDATES
I had a call this morning from the Grafton, New York Peace Pagoda where Buddhist nun Jun-san Yasuda is based. They called to say that a dozen Japanese would be coming to our Maine Drone Peace Walk.
We'll have about 20 folks at our house tonight in Bath for dinner and sleeping and then we head off early in the morning for the long drive north to Limestone. We'll stop in Bangor to pick up a couple more people and then some others will meet us at the start point. So far the weather reports look real good. The colors are changing on the trees and as we begin the walk in Maine's potato county it should be beautiful. We'll see the Mars Hill wind farm, the Amish horse drawn buggies and hopefully a friendly reception.
Our hosts in Caribou and Presque Isle are excited and have been alerting the local media. The semi-secret plan to try to turn Aroostook County into a "weaponized drone test bed" is now on the table.
Yesterday Frank Donnelly called to say that last Sunday he made a bunch of copies of our peace walk flyers and stood outside the sold-out WERU Community Radio 25th anniversary concert in Ellsworth and talked to people about the walk. WERU has been promoting the walk quite a bit and they are sending a reporter to walk with us on Oct 12 when we pass thru Bangor.
Come walk with us for a day or more.
You can find the daily details of walk route and schedule
I am writing this on our mini-bus as we head south from Presque
Isle to Bangor. We have nine of our group in this vehicle while
another ten folks are in a couple other vehicles behind us. Our
crew in the bus has five Americans and four Japanese activists and
for the first hour we were singing songs in both languages. It’s
been a lot of fun.
When we arrived on Oct 10 in Limestone to begin the walk we were met by the local TV station that interviewed three of us. We later heard that the coverage that night on the TV was “better than average” which was good to hear. The local paper had a nice article on Oct 9 announcing the walk to the community.
As we began walking that first day we were pleasantly surprised at how warm and friendly the people driving by were to us. One woman stopped her car in the middle of the road and took our picture and I handed her one of our flyers about the walk. This is considered the most conservative part of Maine but the openness of the people has been more than refreshing. (Yesterday one of our walkers crossed the highway to hand a flyer to someone working at a farm equipment dealership. By the time she finished talking to the people there the walk had moved along quite a distance. The next thing we knew a car pulled up and the walker got out – they’d given her a ride to catch back up with us.)
Our first night we were warmly hosted by the Unitarian Congregation in Caribou, which we were informed, has six active members. We slept on the church floor after a wonderful supper that the church members prepared – four different soups and bread with an assortment of homemade pies. Following the meal we asked Maine Veterans for Peace member Dud Hendrick (a US Naval Academy graduate and Vietnam war veteran) to speak about why he was walking.
Following Dud’s moving reflection we invited one of our Japanese friends to speak about their current struggle to project Article 9 in the constitution that outlaws their participation in war. The US is now twisting the arm of the Japanese government to dump Article 9 in order to assist the Pentagon in the military encirclement and control of China.
Just before our program began that first night a young woman from the local community was preparing to leave. I urged her to stick around and listen to Dud’s talk. The next morning, as we were preparing to begin walking from the church, the same young woman drove up and jumped out of her car and approached me. She handed me a pin and told me that her mother had given the pin to her but she wanted me to have it as a thank you for encouraging her to stick around. Later one of the church women told me that the young woman had been tremendously impacted by Dud’s talk the night before.
This morning at breakfast, before leaving Presque Isle, Karen Wainberg, who also lives at the Addams-Melman House in Bath, told me that the walk creates such a sense of “love and caring” that you can’t help but take that spirit with you when you go back into the wild and wooly world.
That is an important observation because that is indeed the experience we are having walking, eating, singing, laughing, and crying together. We’ve been learning about each other and seeing that in our peace work – whether in the US or Japan – we are all working toward the same end. It’s fun to watch the nine Japanese with us discover this new world here in Maine. At the same time they bring us such spiritual centering and a wonderful playfulness to our otherwise often arrogant and uptight American way of being.
Today we’ll walk about 13 miles from Old Town into Bangor. In the evening a potluck supper will be held at a local church and then we’ll be divided up and sent to various local homes. I am promised a house with wireless connection so I can download the hundreds of emails waiting for me and upload this onto my blog.
My foot hurts and I have a blister on one toe but my heart is full. We are reaching a lot of people on this walk. Today (Saturday) I expect we’ll have even more folks join us as we enter Bangor. (Two TV stations covered us as we walked into the city.)
It’s all a blessing.
No to Drones in Maine
We arrived at the Skowhegan Community Center around 4:00 pm today
after a 13 mile walk. We left Bangor with 30 folks and walked 6.3
miles out of the city. Ten folks from Bangor then bid us goodbye and
we shuttled 40 miles ahead on Hwy 2 heading west and had lunch along
the road. Then we walked another six-plus miles into Skowhegan.
GOOD MEDIA COVERAGE
We walked along the Kennebec River yesterday as we approached Skowhegan. The colorful fall leaves on trees overhanging the narrow road made for a picturesque moment. We took a break at a beautiful park on the river and as we were preparing to leave a reporter from the Waterville newspaper stopped to interview us. The same story ran in four papers (Portland, Augusta, Waterville, Brunswick) across the state this morning.
You can find it here.
The Bangor Daily News also has an article today. See it here
We've been doing better than one could expect with the media so far on the walk. Our goal to bring this important issue to the public is being achieved in a good way.
It just goes to show though that if you get out and do the hard work - walking and reaching out to people across the state - that you can in fact make some level of impact.
Last night, just before our pot luck supper began in Skowhegan, I played the video (just below on the blog) from TV coverage we got in Old Town. The Japanese were thrilled to see themselves appearing on American TV so quickly during the walk.
Build it and they will come.
THE MAGIC OF THE WALK
We were walking along today from Mercer to Farmington when a big
green bus zoomed by us. I noticed it said Bread & Puppet on the
back. Then minutes later the bus had turned around and pulled into
a parking lot in front of us. A bunch of young people jumped out
and they immediately began unloading band equipment from the rear
end. Soon we had the Bread & Puppet marching band leading our
walk. They played When the Saints Go Marching In and Down by the
Riverside as we continued walking. Then they apologized saying they
had to get on to do a show someplace and headed back to their bus.
WALKING TO END MILITARY MADNESS
October 17, 2013
ALL DOWN HILL NOW
did 17 miles today from Waterville to Belgrade. We are staying at
the country home of a group of great activists who work on water and
other environmental issues here in Maine. Not long after we arrived
Tarak Kauff and Mike Tork, key leaders in national Veterans for
Peace, pulled up.
The house we are staying at tonight is ripping with energy right now
- crowded but full of excitement as our numbers swell. I've been
hearing all day from folks who plan to join us at the state capital
Hall of Flags tomorrow at 3:00 pm for our closing
ceremony/rally/news conference. I am expecting that it should be a
October 19, 2013
WALKING FOR EACH OTHER & RESTORING OUR FAITH IN HUMANITY
There is a lot to write about from our last two days of the peace
walk. I've yet to get any photos from our wonderful ceremony inside
the state capitol in Augusta. I'll post them when I can. We had an
astonishing entry into Augusta yesterday - cars were honking at us
like crazy - it felt like the circus was coming to town. People
asked me why we had such a great response as we walked to the
capital. I'm not sure, maybe the public thought we'd come to
liberate them from our right-wing Gov. LePage. Maybe they'd heard
about the walk and wanted to let us know they agree with us.
Anything is possible these days.
A hundred folks came to stand in a circle with us inside the Hall
of Flags at the capital. The Buddhist monks (we were joined by two
more monks for the 14 miles walk from Belgrade on Friday) led us in
chanting as we began our final program. Speakers were Kathy Kelly,
Tarak Kauff, Shenna Bellows (former ACLU director in Maine and now
candidate for the Senate against Susan Collins), and Lisa Savage.
Songs from walkers were included in the program as well.