Coordinator Trip Report
- N.Y. & N.H.
25 February - 2 March, 2004
From: Bruce Gagnon
This report covers the period of Feb 25 - March 2. During this time I made trips to the Hudson river valley in New York and to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
On Wednesday, Feb 25 I spoke at Bard College in New York. The private liberal arts school is known for its activism and I was able to speak to numerous key leaders on the campus. They shared with me how they have helped to organized about 1/3 of the students on their campus to attend anti-war events before and after the Bush war on Iraq. This same day I did a radio interview for a progressive radio show in the region.
The next day I spoke on the campus of SUNY New Paltz. My talk was hosted by the Synthesis Club and we had a very lively question and answer period afterwards. This club was organized by a young woman who was recently elected to the village council in New Paltz as a Green member. The new mayor, a 26-year old Green, the next day performed controversial gay weddings at the village center. It was the first east coast location to do so. One professor who came to the talk offered to bring any students who wished to come to the GN's annual conference in Maine.
On Friday, Feb 27 I concluded by visit to the beautiful Hudson river (I kept hearing Pete Seeger's song in my ears about cleaning up the Hudson - "Going up, going down...the river is getting cleaner everyday.") with a talk in Saugerties. My three-day visit was organized by Laurie Kirby who lives in Woodstock. Laurie is a professor of Mathematics at Manhattan College in New York City and commutes to the city two days a week. He loves the Woodstock area and took me on lovely walks twice while I visited. Laurie (a British citizen) has been a Global Network supporter for some time (he had a Keep Space for Peace bumpersticker on his car) and shared with me a song he has written. The song is called SNAP 9-A and is about the 1964 U.S. military satellite that fell out of orbit, burned up on reentry and sprayed two pounds of plutonium-238 into the Earth atmosphere. Laurie plays the violin and along with his wife Julie has a band. He said he will be coming to the GN conference in Portland in April and I've asked him to do the song.
I made the five-hour drive back to Maine right after the Friday night talk in Saugerties. I wanted to get back home as quickly as possible because the next day Peace Action Maine was holding its annual peace supper and Mary Beth and I had volunteered to help. The event, which featured William Rivers Pitt as keynote speaker, was attended by 300 people and was a huge success. The pea soup, which is a trade mark of the group, was wonderful as usual.
On March 1-2 I made the short drive to Portsmouth, N.H. where I spoke to a Episcopal Church group the first night and a peace group called Seacoast Response the second night. The meeting of Seacoast Response was particularly exciting as we had a stimulating discussion after my talk about what it will take to change the political situation in the U.S. I made the point that as I travel I find the majority of American citizens still firmly committed to the "success" mythology -- don't rock the boat, keep your nose clean, climb the corporate ladder. As long as people are still running the rat race, especially in this corporate dominated culture, their appetite for political action will be slim. They will vote but will be afraid to step out publicly to oppose the very corporate rule that many of them work for. They know that things are a mess but are frozen because of their commitment to "making it." Until we begin a debate about the true task of being human, the need to sustain life and protect the future generations, as opposed to playing the consumption game, we will make sporadic progress as a movement. I was thrilled to see Guy Chichester, an anti-nuclear legend in these parts, come to the event and he added enormously to the strategy discussion afterward.
My next trip will be to speak at Lyndonville State College in Vermont on March 11.
Best wishes to all.
Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 319-2017 (Cell phone)