Planning meeting for future Vandenberg Action

30 May 2005

From: Carol Reilley Urner

Santa Barbara, California on May 22, 10 am to 3 pm.

Present: Dennis Apel (Guadalupe Catholic Worker), Sanderson Beck (World Peace Communications), Bud Boothe (Vandenberg Action Coalition), . . . . . Boothe, Judith Evered (WILPF), William Gourley, Jim Haber, Lynn Hendred (WILPF), Don Larkin, Andrew Lichterman (Western States Legal Foundation), Nancy Lynch (Quakers), Frank Nolan, Bill Sulzman (Colorado Springs Citizens for Peace in Space),Carol Urner (WILPF).

Kathy Kelly (Voices in the Wilderness) also attended for about an hour, and Lynn (WILPF) and Howard Classen stopped by briefly.

Dennis Apfel served as facilitator.  Carol Urner was recorder and Judy Evered was time keeper.


Background information:  Bill Sulzman shared background information on the space program with particular reference to the roles of Vandenberg Air Force Base and space oriented bases in Colorado Springs (including Shreiver Air Force Base, Trevor Air Force Base and Peterson Air Force Base – the home of the U.S. Space Command.)  He brought a very helpful chart showing the various elements in the U.S. space system, including military satellites in near space (10-100 miles out), low earth orbit (250-450 miles), middle earth orbit (11,000 miles) and geosynchronous earth orbit (22,300 miles out).  It was pointed out that Vandenberg and Kennedy launch military satellites, and the others focus on tracking, communications and gathering information. A new joint space operations center, bringing together those responsible for space operations in all branches of the military, opened at Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 18. (see ).  Some (including Carol Urner) felt more time should have been given to this part of the discussion.

Action tips: Bill Sulzman also shared from the work of CPS which might prove helpful for action planning at Vandenberg. 

  • Work with college students:  Bill Sulzman spoke about success in work with college students in Colorado Springs. A group from a local liberal arts college identified themselves and Citizens for Peace in Space did a series of panels with them.  Bill is now pondering organizing study groups with them in the fall.  He is wondering if they can sustain a non-violent life style as part of their witness.
  • Work with churches:  The Denver Catholic Church has come out in support of U.S, nuclear weapons policy,  The Catholic Bishop in Colorado Springs is even more rightwing than the  Denver Bishop.  Colorado Springs is also home to a large Protestant evangelical movement that is very supportive of the bases, of free enterprise, and of current military policies. Citizens for Peace in Space is trying to initiate dialogue with these Christian groups. (See Harpers Magazine
  • Reaching out to ordinary citizens:  Bill pointed out that it is importance to provide focus for an action.  In the case of CPS a lot of effort went into support for the three nuns who were arrested for entering the base, and this became a catalyst for further action.
  • Working in coalition:  The CPS works closely with the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space which includes activist groups in Germany, England, Australia and Japan networking with each other on organization and action. (Note: CPS was one of the two original founders of the Global Network.)

Strategy: Andrew Lichterman called for an overall strategy that links space, nuclear, disarmament and anti-war issues and looks for points where we can join together to organize effective action. He asks that we keep in touch and increasingly work together.

Non-violence:  Non-violence was discussed from a variety of angles. Sanderson Beck called for non-violent revolution, for non-payment of taxes, civil disobedience that fills the jails, a simple life style and formation of supportive communities. The peace movement is the second super power and we must take back our country and the world. Bill Sulzman, who also promotes non-violent action and life style, seeks a paradigm shift.  At present the media, corporations and government all treat the immoral as though it were moral. Lynn Hendred called for skills in inter-personal conflict resolution.  “We must learn how to get along with our neighbors if we are to model for peace in the world.”

There was some discussion of more confrontational back country action.  Peter Lunsdaine, a principal advocate, was not present at the organizing meeting but had collected signatures of possible fellow non-violent invaders at the demonstration.  Several commented that they wondered about the effectiveness of this kind of action and also wondered if it reflected adversely on the vigils.  Others believed those who felt called to such action should not be hindered in their witness.

Planning for Space for Peace week:  The week (October 1-8) includes two Saturdays. The group agreed on October 8 as the date for the Vandenberg demonstration since Dennis Apfel can be present then. Dennis felt that the kind of demonstration that occurred this weekend is unsustainable since two thirds of the people came from elsewhere, including Los Angeles and Orange Counties.  He feels we must find ways to reach more people in the three county area surrounding the base.  On the other hand, MacGregor Eddy envisions demonstrations comparable to those that happen at SOA every year, drawing participants from across the country.  She would also like to develop a speakers bureau.  Fact sheets were suggested.  We should continue to promote the video, A Space for Peace.

Proposed Speakers:  MacGregor Eddy has a woman from Kwajaleen in mind whom she would like to invite. Jackie Cabasso was also suggested as a possible speaker.  Andrew Lichterman might also be willing. MacGregor earlier suggested Congressman Kucinich. And Carol asks --Would Bruce Gagnon be a possibility, and especially if some meetings for dialogue could be arranged? And what about a passionate speaker from the Canadian citizens movement that caused the Prime Minister’s refusal to participate in the U.S. Missile Defense program, in part because it includes weapons in space? (Tamara Lorincz would be good but is from Nova Scotia, someone from Vancouver would be closer.)

Detrimental effects, corporate profiteering and economic conversion:  Andy Lichterman suggested research on detrimental effects specific to Vandenberg.  He wondered, for instance, if there are cancer clusters around the base traceable to test firings and toxic emissions.  It would also be possible to investigate the corporations managing research on the base or providing services.  Who is profiting, and how else could that money be spent if there were a conversion process? Western  States Legal Foundation is organizing a useful research guide available on their website at . Carol Urner displayed copies of the WILPF MilCorp ConneXion   Manual which is a more detailed study-research-action guide for the same purpose.  Jim Haber mentioned research by WRL on the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee and asked for help in tracking information which might also prove useful to the Vandenberg watch. Sheila Baker, unable to be present, has campaigned for turning Vandenberg into a giant wind farm for producing electricity.

Organizing the Pacific Rim Network:  MacGregor Eddy wants to move forward on organizing a Pacific Rim Network.  The Vandenberg Action Coalition is already in touch with Stacy Fritz of No Nukes North which is protesting missile defense at Greeley Air Force Base. MacGregor would especially like contacts with Kwajaleen in the Marshall Islands which is targeted in missile defense exercises. Senator Abacca Anjain-Maddison of the Republic of the Marshall Islands indicates interest in helping.  (She was in the United States to plead for just economic compensation for victims of  earlier U.S. nuclear testing in her district on Rongelap Atoll. She is a member of the opposition party in the Marshall Islands Senate). MacGregor is now building additional contacts through Seattle WILPF and their Pacific Rim publication.  She can also build through Global Network contacts in  South Korea, Canada, Japan and Australia.

The meeting adjourned at 3:00.  Carol Urner agreed to find funds to cover Bill Sulzman’s travel expenses. Participants appreciated the literature displays brought by Judy Evered (materials from the Global Network conference April 29-30 in New York), Bill Sulzman (flyers, tee shirts and materials from Citizens for Peace in Space), and Sanderson Beck (colorful copies of his many books on the history of non-violence, and its roots in spiritual teachings through the ages.


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