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Message from Elizabeth V. Hallett,
Peace House Board Chair
It is with great sorrow that we observe the loss of Taliesian Myrddin Namkai -Meche, 23 of Ashland, and Ricky Best, 53, of Portland and the wounding of Micah Fletcher, 21, also of Portland as the three attempted to shield two women from racial insults directed at them by an avowed white supremacist on the Portland MAX train on May 26th. While Micah Fletcher is recovering from serious wounds, “Tully” Namkai-Meche and Ricky John Best will be sorely missed by their families and communities. Below is the letter of condolence that was sent by Peace House, the Racial Equity Coalition and several other groups that recently conducted workshops on “Interrupting Hate Speech in Public Places.”
The loss of life and the apparent motivation for the violence have indeed “cracked us open,” as Asha Deliverance suggests, challenging us to be alert and diligent in how we go forward as a society, how we choose to understand and respect one another.
Hate Speech appears to be on the rise. Since July of 2016, the Rogue Valley Community Response Team has recorded a minimum of 83 recorded phone calls from forest worker families reporting threats in person in public places as well as threatening texts or phone calls and families seeking advice on how to protect their children.
The Response Team has also received at least 40 calls from Parents of students reporting harassment or bullying based upon race and ethnicity. Students who have been targeted are often refusing to attend school out of fear. Some families report being afraid to go to the grocery store.
To report any similar incident, you can contact StopHateOregon@gmail.com.
Peace House is working to help unpack the attitudes of bias against those who are experiencing hate speech and discrimination. We will be holding one or more workshops using the Race Tool Kit which has been developed by the Racial Equity Coalition. Please email to firstname.lastname@example.org to participate in a Tool Kit Workshop.
Our Condolences to the Families and Friends of Three Heroes
Published in the Ashland Daily Tidings and the Mail Tribune on May 30, 2017
On May 8th and 9th, Resolve, in collaboration with various other community groups hosted an “Interrupting Hate in Public Spaces” Workshop. In this workshop, Rabbi Deborah Kolodny, from Portland’s Resolutions Northwest, took us through the steps of interrupting hatred by securing the safety of the individual(s) being targeted. It is clear that Ricky John Best, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche (an Ashland High School graduate) did just that.
As Elizabeth Hallett from Peace House stated, “The attempt to protect two Muslim girls in public transport played out more grievously than we would have imagined when we did the role plays in these workshops.” In collaboration, Peace House, Unite Oregon, the Multicultural Association of Southern Oregon, Unete, the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, and the Racial Equity Coalition, first and foremost want to express our condolences to the families of the victims.
We are sorry that we live in a world where Islamophobia, racism and hatred of The Other is present and tolerated. We are sorry that people of good will died in what should have been a routine commute. We are sorry about the senselessness of all of this. We are clear that now, more than ever, we need to shift the culture of our cities, regions, states and country to be reflective of the values of inclusion. We call on folks to follow up on what Taliesin Meche’s family has asked that “In honor of his memory, we use this tragedy as an opportunity for reflection and change.”
Alma Rosa Alvarez, Racial Equity Coalition
Elizabeth V. Hallett, Peace House
On behalf of the Racial Equity Coalition, Peace House, Unite Oregon, the Multicultural Association of Southern Oregon, the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, and Unete,
Family Members Honor
“I don’t think my son died in vain…I promise you he did not…He left with a mission
I don’t really know on the other side, but on this side, I can see very clearly. This planet needs to be cracked open.” -Asha Deliverance, mother
We have a platform now to share love and take on the burden of creating change. With the lives lost from hate and Islamophobia, let us pray for grace, humanity and kindness. We have a lot to do. Be strong and share in the brilliance Taliesian brought to this world.” – Ati Nasiah, sister
He was a bright star…He set a fire in me to be kind, humble and more compassionate.” – Cedar Miller, Godfather
As Reported by BuzzFeed News on Saturday, May 27, police identified Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, as the victims who were killed in the attack.
Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was identified as the third passenger who was stabbed. He is currently being treated at a hospital for serious injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening.
Ricky John Best
Asha Deliverance, left, the mother of Taliesin Namkai-Meche, who was murdered while defending two girls in an anti-Muslim attack, at her son’s vigil in Portland on Saturday. Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian
Rachel Macy told The Oregonian that she was on the train when the suspect boarded and began shouting racist remarks. She recalled Best standing close to Christian, trying to calm him down, and Namkai-Meche telling him to leave the train. Macy said the three victims – Best, Namkai-Meche, and Fletcher – appeared to be blocking Christian from the girls, the targets of his rant. She recalled the stunning moment when Christian attacked Namkai-Meche. “It was just a swift, hard hit,” she said. “It was a nightmare.” Macy said that she stayed with Namkai-Meche, who stumbled past her, blood-soaked and pale, until help arrived. She said that she told him to lie down, continued to tell him he wasn’t alone, and prayed. “Tell everyone on this train I love them,” Macy said Namkai-Meche told her, before the medics took him away on a stretcher. Namkai-Meche graduated from Portland’s Reed College in 2016 with a degree in economics. He was interning for the Cadmus Group, a consulting company, at the time of his death.
Ricky John Best, 53,
was a city employee, Army veteran, and father of four, according to The Oregonian. He served 23 years in the military as a platoon sergeant for Corps maintenance, retiring in 2012.
In 2014, he made an unsuccessful attempt to run for Clackamas County commissioner. “I can’t stand by and do nothing,” Best said of his decision to run for local politics, according to The Oregonian’s profile
on his candidacy.
At the time of his death, he was working as supervisor in Portland’s Bureau of Development Services. Best was a lifelong Oregon resident and was heading home to his three teenage sons and 12-year-old daughter in Happy Valley when he was killed.
Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, a student at Portland State University, was also stabbed in the attack but is expected to survive. As of Saturday evening, he was being treated for serious injuries. Friends of the 21-year-old told BuzzFeed News that although they were shocked to learn Fletcher was injured in the attack, they were not surprised he stepped in to stand up for someone else. Fletcher has been deeply involved in poetry and music and currently plays the drums. In 2013, he won a poetry slam contest for a poem condemning prejudice against Muslims. Recently, friends said Fletcher has also gotten involved in marches and protests around Portland, becoming active against what he views as social injustices.
The Unforeseen Miracles at Uncle Food’s Diner
Interview by Maggie McCauley with an Uncle Food’s Diner Member
“Uncle Food’s Diner is a model for what can happen when everyone comes together, pitches in and brings the community together for a healthy, nutritious meal. I also look forward to bringing home leftovers, fresh produce, milk and bread that feeds us throughout the week.” – Alexandra
I had the pleasure of sitting with Alexandra, a beautiful, bright, young mom who has been coming to Uncle Food’s for two-and-a-half years. When she was fifteen her parents were hit hard by the 2008 real estate collapse and lost their business, throwing them into homelessness. They were forced to accept the generosity of friends and family and slept on couches and in spare rooms. This was a huge disruption for Alexandra, who was a teen craving stability and connection. It was during this time that she found camaraderie and comfort within the homeless community.
From sixteen to eighteen she joined the traveler community and eventually found her way to Ashland. After she was ticketed for having her dog off its leash, she was mandated into community service at Uncle Food’s Diner. She was six months pregnant and living with her partner in an RV parked in her mother’s driveway.
Alexandra described Uncle Food’s as the first consistent, healthy community she had ever had. She found a strong connection and much needed stability as she worked along side the volunteers every Tuesday, and she loved all the nurturing and attention given to her by the volunteers throughout her pregnancy. She also reconnected with her partner at Uncle Food’s.
She’s has had some ups and downs and several jobs over the past two years, but she is resilient and knows that things will improve for her beautiful baby girl and her partner. They recently bought a travel trailer and park it temporarily in her mother’s driveway.
She never misses a Tuesday at Uncle Food’s. She feels a strong sense of belonging and meets her group of Uncle Food’s friends here each week.
Uncle Food’s Diner needs donations of: plastic containers so guests can bring home extra food. We also need silverware-spoons and forks. Thank you for all your wonderful help!
|“Tasty Tuesday” Family Meals are Featured
the First and Third Tuesdays Each Month
As a special feature of The Diner, the Methodist Church has been sponsoring a “Family Meal” on every first and third Tuesday. This meal, held in a smaller room in Wesley Hall, affords a quieter space for families to connect as a community while the children interact and eat at a more leisurely pace. Thanks to the Methodist Church community for their hospitality and care!
Empty Bowls Annual Fundraiser
Elizabeth V. Hallett
The annual Empty Bowls event held in Wesley Hall April 29th was a great success. Each year it is organized by an amazing number of artisans who donate bowls they have created from clay; by volunteers who organize the set-up; by restaurants and bakeries that donate soup and bread; and by the community leaders who serve the soup.
We are so pleased to have had the coordinating efforts of Lindy Miller and her cadre of volunteers who are expert at set-up and clean-up each year. They plan the food donations, create flower bouquets for each table, arrange for the bowl pick-up, dessert cookies, publicity and much more!
Major donors provided over $9,000 this year, while community members buying tickets and pottery provided over $6,000 for a total of over $15,000 before expenses.
Funds raised will help to support Uncle Food’s Diner, and some of the local “gleaners” who have been addressing food insufficiency in our community, including the Food Angels, The Ashland Food Bank and the new Ashland Access food pantry.
Major donors included Lloyd Haines; William and Sarah Epstein; the Patie Millen Group; the Earth and Humanity Foundation; Spartan Management; John L. Scott; and True South Solar.
We want to thank the following organizing chairpersons and all their volunteers:
Jack Leishman and Brenda Blair; Julie Wiley; Maren Faye (Chef); Alex Edmonds; Zoe Alowan; Barry Thalden; Deborah Rothschild; and Herb Rothschild.
Thanks as well to our Master of Ceremonies, Jeff Golden, our piano player, Donna Swanson, and to Leslie Dweyer for her fantastic graphics www.design4peace.com
|Grant Funding for Uncle Food’s Diner
Elizabeth V. Hallett
We are pleased to announce the following recent grant awards to Uncle Foods Diner:
Oregon Community Foundation $5,000.
Chaney Family Foundation 2,500.
Ashand Food Coop 1,000.
Anna May Family Foundation 2,500.
| Interrupting Hate in Public Places
Elizabeth V. Hallett
At the beginning of May, Peace House collaborated with Resolve, the Racial Equity Coalition, Unite Oregon, the Multicultural Association and several other organizations to hold two days of trainings and workshops especially designed to look at hate speech and practice ways to deflect aggression directed at people who are being singled out due to ethnic, religious, gender or race differences from those seeking to attack them either verbally or otherwise.
Rabbi Deborah Kolodney, Executive Director of Resolutions Northwest in Portland, led us through some videos and demographic information to frame the current reasons that there has been an increase in hate speech since January 20th of this year.
Twelve local participants were trained in the application of the “Interrupting Hate” materials.
Workshops were held at the Medford Library and on the SOU Campus with approximately 80 and 100 people attending each workshop respectively. The trainings were each three hours long, providing extensive time to absorb the issues and role-play scenarios that may occur.
Peace House sponsored the Train-the Trainer portion of the 2-day events. Resolve Coordinato, Isleen Glatt did an excellent job as the primary organizer of this event!
Rabbi Debra Kolodny Bio 2017
Rabbi Debra Kolodny is a veteran of several social justice movements, bringing a spiritual perspective and activist passion to worker’s rights, racial and economic justice as well as women’s, environmental, peace and LGBTQ causes since 1980.
Before joining Resolutions Northwest as its Executive Director in February of 2016 she served as Executive Director of Nehirim, a national Jewish LGBTQ retreat and advocacy organization committed to a more just and inclusive world. Before that she served as rabbi at Pnai Or in Portland, Oregon and for nine years was Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, the headquarters organization of the Jewish Renewal Movement.
One of the fundamental tenets in Jewish Renewal is Deep Ecumenism: the imperative to connect to the well of truth shared by all traditions. Rabbi Debra has taken this directive to heart. Since 1998 she has worked at the intersection of faith traditions as a teacher, ritual and prayer leader and social justice advocate–a place she considers to be a fulcrum of enormous power and potential.
Rabbi Debra began her work in facilitation, conflict resolution and organization building at 18 as a community organizer. She built on those experiences during her career in the labor movement, negotiating collective bargaining agreements and running labor-management partnerships for organizations as large as 90,000 workers. And though the words have changed, the work has been constant. Throughout her career Debra has led initiatives on multicultural awareness, equity, diversity, racial justice and most recently Black Lives Matter.
Between her work with the labor movement and before establishing her non-profit Executive career, Rabbi Debra ran a successful consulting practice for ten years specializing in workplace democracy, alternative dispute resolution, conflict transformation, interest based negotiations, and non-profit management.
Rabbi Debra has taught and spoken in thousands of venues, organized day-long, weekend and week long retreats for as many as 750 people, and produced ground-breaking conferences. She has published on blog sites, in newspapers, magazines and anthologies, and has interviewed on radio and television. She has also been a leader in the Bi+ movement for over thirty years, serving for five years as a National Coordinator of BiNet USA and publishing Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith in 2000.
She graduated from Cornell in 1981, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985 and from the ALEPH Jewish Renewal Seminary in 2011.
Peace House Sponsors Racial Equity
Coalition Toolkit and Training May 30, 2017
Elizabeth V. Hallet
The Racial Equity Coalition’s formation of special “Tool kits” is a project that Peace House is pleased to have helped sponsor with a donation of $500. The kits are designed to provide “conversation starters” on racial bias or cultural differences that can affect our perceptions.
One goal of workshops using the toolkit format is to help people to notice how language and
Misconceptions can cause prejudice or eronious ideas about people who are from different backgrounds than ourselves. If you are interested in attending please contact Elizabeth Hallett at 541-292-2106.
Peace House Becomes Fiscal Sponsor for Jackson County Fuel Committee
Elizabeth V. Hallet
From time to time, Peace House has had a history of sponsoring grassroots organizations that are in need of a nonprofit umbrella. Once the organization has achieved basic organizational goals, the may “graduate” to their own 501.c3 status. Examples of this would be Southern Oregon PRIDE and Vision Quilt. Currently we are sponsoring the Jackson County Fuel Committee in the exciting acquisition of their new home: a historic building located at 120 West 2nd Street in Phoenix, OR. The JCFC open house was held Sunday, June 11. Below is coordinator Bill Jeanette’s description of the work being done by the JCFC.
“JCFC is a free and voluntary, unincorporated private membership association. This gives us the flexibility to respond to the concerns of the members around their inability, for example, to secure heat in the winter. We are a participatory self-help organization, not a charity. Through constant outreach and on-the-job training we have certified a pool of volunteer advocates, who, in turn, teach those unable to afford their utility bills how to advocate with the power companies to reduce payments and get extensions to prevent shutoffs, or obtain reconnections.
Because of our ability to represent the collective experience of the growing number of people unable to afford basics like utilities, we are frequently asked to speak when matters of policy are discussed. To retain our independence to challenge policies that advance the interests of energy and utility companies at the expense of people and the environment, as a matter of policy, JCFC does not take government funding or any funding with strings attached.
In the last three years we have fought 500 cases in which our members were facing utility shutoffs or had been disconnected. This year we distributed over 400 truckloads of firewood, and have advocated for 140 families who were threatened with having their utilities disconnected – 20% above our historic average. This included 47 families who reside in Ashland. Recently our volunteer advocates prevented the gas company from shutting off service to a patient with advanced cancer.”
We wish the Jackson County Fuel Committee many happy and productive years of service in their new home.
Board Member Profile: Andrew (“Andy”) Seles
I was born in 1947 in Willimantic, CT and raised in Ashford, CT., son of second generation, Eastern Europeans (my grandparents on both sides came over via Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century). I played and worked on an 80 acre family dairy farm until the farm sold when I was 13 years old. My dad, like so many other farmers, was forced out of business by the advent of Big Agriculture. That injustice during my formative years is the foundation of my work for peace and justice on behalf of the working class.
I spent much of my early youth doing manual labor in building construction and highway road work as well as bartending. I completed college at the University of CT with a major in English and a minor is Sociology. After getting my M.A. in English at the University of Rhode Island, I returned home to teach English in grades 6-8 at Ashford Elementary School. With the start of my career also came the start of a marriage that yielded my proudest achievement, my two children, a girl followed two years later by a boy. During my 22 years at Parish Hill I also ran peer counseling and diversity groups in addition to teaching evening courses at Eastern Connecticut State College.
Retiring from public school teaching in 2002, I moved to Long Island, New York to be with my wife Barbara who was a counselor in the Manhasset School District on the North Shore. I taught English at Nassau Community College and English Education at Dowling College for five years prior to moving to Ashland.
Since I arrived in Ashland in 2008, my activism has included involvement with Oregon Action (now Oregon Unite), Ashland Homeless shelter, Occupy Ashland, Move to Amend Jackson County (which I co-founded with Evan Lasley and John Limb), Americans for Amendment (with Linda Sturgeon) Rogue Conversations (with Linda Sturgeon) and the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. I have been a neighborhood coordinator for the Ashland Food Project for the last seven years. I enjoy writing fiction and non-fiction, the latter almost exclusively op-eds that get published with some regularity in The Ashland Tidings.
My ongoing concern has been the obscene wealth disparity (42 people own 50% of the world’s wealth) that exists. Mainstream media’s “kabuki” politics (that avoids real, substantive issues) threatens a truly informed citizenry and causes a polarization of citizens. For these issues, among others I recently formed an affiliate of “Our Revolution,” the successor to the Bernie Sanders campaign, in Southern Oregon. With the acronym “ORSO” (Our Revolution Southern Oregon) we seek with other affiliates in all 50 states to empower communities and transform our political and economic landscape.
Board Member Profile: Maggie McCauley
Maggie has been a resident of Ashland for the past four years. She spent her childhood years in the Boston, Massachusetts area and her adult years in New Hampshire and southern Maine. She is a former elementary school teacher, clinical social worker with a specialty in substance abuse and is a certified life coach. She recently retired and works part time as an educational assistant in the kindergarten at the Helman Elementary School. Last year she began volunteering at the Ashland Community Resource Center which lead her to Uncle Food’s Diner. Her volunteer positions have had a profound impact on how she sees the world and herself, stirring something deep within her. She has become passionate about alleviating hunger and homelessness, restoring dignity for all people and raising awareness around implicit bias.
Board Member Profile: Luis Ibáñez
Luis Ibáñez Dalponte was born in El Salvador and came to the US some 47 years ago. In 1984 Luis moved to Ashland Oregon and helped his former wife Cynthia, raised a daughter and a Son, they are Luis’s greatest accomplishment in life. Luis assisted in the reorganization of Clinica Azteca (now Clinica del Valle) He was the founder and first executive director of the First Farm Worker Cooperative in Southern Oregon, (El Convenio). For the last 25 years Luis has collaborated with the Center for Social Ecology and Public Policy conducting research projects and trainings all over the United States. Luis currently resides in Ashland Oregon, a place he has always considered his Home.
Report from Herb Rothschild on “Empire”
OREGON TOUR BY DISARMAMENT LEADERS
INVIGORATES LOCAL ACTIVISTS
Kevin Martin, of Peace Action, the nation’s largest disarmament group speaking at the Peace House and SOU sponsored event
Kevin Martin, president of Peace Action, the nation’s largest disarmament group, and German-based Reiner Braun, co-president of the International Peace Bureau, toured western Oregon the week of March 13-17, making public presentations about global security under Donald Trump and meeting with activists at each stop. The tour was initiated and coordinated by Peace House, an associate group of Peace Action.
Martin and Braun were in Portland, Corvallis, Eugene and Ashland. The most extensive outreach was here. On Friday morning, they were on Jefferson Exchange for the entire 8-9 drive time (you can hear them on-line by going to the Jefferson Exchange archives), and their presentation to an audience of 50 people at SOU later that day was covered by the Daily Tidings, which ran the story on Saturday. Audiences were smaller elsewhere, but activists in all four cities heeded their message that no progress can be made on the overriding threats of climate change and economic inequality as long as so many of the world’s resources are being devoted to war-making.
The US military budget and Trump’s call to increase it this year by $54 billion-that increase by itself exceeds Russia’s total military budget-was a continuing focus. And Braun emphasized that the NATO nations’ pledge, at Trump’s insistence, to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on the military means deep cuts in social spending, which will be devastating in poorer nations like Greece, Spain and Portugal.
Braun also focused on the provocative expansion of NATO right up to Russia’s eastern border, something Peace House has been educating about for the last six months. He said that the promise of a peaceful Europe at the end of the Cold War was betrayed by Western arrogance vis a vis a weakened Russia, and Putin’s pushback must be understood in that historical context.
A continuing benefit of the Martin-Reiner tour is the creation of the Oregon Disarmament Communications Network. It ties together activists in disparate cities, fostering such useful collaboration as focusing our Congressional lobbying on the same bills. There are two current efforts. One is to get both Merkley and Wyden to sign onto H.R. 669/S. 200 (Rep. Ted Lieu and Sen. Ed Markey), which would ensure that no president can unilaterally launch a nuclear first strike by bringing initiation of nuclear warfare under Congress’s Constitutional power to declare war. The other is to get Wyden to join Merkley as a co-sponsor of the “SANE Act” (Sen. Markey and Rep. Blumenthal-OR). The bill would cut spending on the so-called “modernization” of our nuclear arsenal, which is stimulating a new nuclear arms race.
Report of Speaking Tour Through Oregon By Kevin Martin and Reiner Braun
Herbert Rothschild, Prevent War Working Group
Acting on behalf of Peace House, I arranged for the tour, collaborating with Linda Richards in Corvallis and Michael Carrigan of Community Action for Lane County in Eugene. The dual goals were public education and community organizing. Martin and Braun flew into Portland on Sunday, March 12 and left the Ashland area on Saturday, March 18 by rental car to work in California.
Portland: They met with Al Jubitz, funder of the Jubitz Family Foundation and Patrick Hiller, the foundation’s executive director, as well as Tom Hastings, who teaches peace studies in the Portland State Un. Conflict Resolution program. Jubitz affirmed that nuclear disarmament was one of the foundation’s funding priorities. After much effort, I failed to get Johnell Bell, head of Jeff Merkley’s state office, to respond to a request to participate in the meeting.
Corvallis: Kevin and Reiner arrived Tuesday and spoke at the Unitarian Church. Between 40 & 50 people attended. The following noon they were on campus, but no more than 10 students came.
In the afternoon, there was a planning meeting with Linda Richards, Michael Carrigan (who drove over from Eugene), Leah Bolger of WILPF and vets for Peace (at one time she was national VFP president), and I, as well as Kevin and Reiner. I pressed to get agreement on launching a statewide collaborative campaign, but without success. There was agreement to start an Oregon Disarmament Communications Network if I would establish and manage it, which I agreed to do. It may be the beginning of useful collaboration.
Eugene: I drove Kevin from Corvallis to Eugene in time for an evening talk there. About 25 people attended. Carrigan said it strengthened his ability to concentrate more of CALC’s work on peace instead of a heavy concentration on local issues like homelessness.
Ashland: We drove to my home on Thursday. There was an evening talk at the Bellview Grange. Turnout was disappointing-about 13.
The next day was much better. Reiner and Kevin were on Jefferson Exchange for most of the 8 to 9 a.m. time slot (and it replayed at 8 p.m. that evening). I then took them to the New Day Network breakfast, where they were able to speak for about 10 minutes and emphasize the importance of including a focus on the military budget and peace in the current activism. They then sat down for an hour with Bert Etling, editor of the Daily Tidings. We talked about some ways to get local story angles on peace-especially on military spending. Bert said he would send John Darling to cover the midday talks at SOU, which he did. The story ran in the Tidings the following day. At SOU there we about 50 people who ate lunch and attended the talks. That evening there was a dutch treat dinner at Omar’s. Two of our larger donors-John Barton and Fran and Herb Petchek, came and enjoyed themselves.
It was in Ashland where the public education goal was most successfully pursued. A failure of the organizers in Corvallis and Eugene to do media work meant that few people heard Reiner and Kevin’s messages. On the other hand, they seem to feel that their disarmament work was energized. Several new foci for organizing emerged, especially the convention on banning nuclear weapons that will be negotiated at the UN in June and July.
I too feel that the visit has energized the work here. I’ve been talking with Estelle Voeller of Citizens for Peace & Justice and Hideko Tamura, ambassador from Hiroshima to the U.S., about work in the next few months. We’ll have continuing programming now.
Regis Tremblay Releases New Film: “30 Seconds to Midnight”
Filmmaker Regis Tremblay is traveling with his new production bearing an urgent message regarding the danger we are facing regarding a nuclear war. The Ashland showing was sponsored by the Congregational Church and Peace House April 26 th.
Regis Tremblay, born and raised in Waterville, Maine, is an independent filmmaker. “The Ghosts of Jeju” was his first feature-length documentary in 2013. His recent documentary, Thirty Seconds to Midnight – The Final Wake Up Call was completed in January 2017.
His interest in filmmaking began at an early age with the gift of a Kodak Brownie camera and learning to type on a Smith-Corona manual typewriter. Cameras, typewriters, and the keyboard have been part of his life ever since. Regis began documenting the Occupy Movement in Portland, Augusta, and Brunswick, Maine in 2011 and created the Occupy Maine TV show on Portland’s community access station, CTN5.
In 2012, Regis went to Jeju Island in South Korea to document a 6 year continuous protest against the construction of a massive naval base to accommodate America’s “pivot to Asia.” What he learned there about America’s complicity in horrendous massacres before and during the Korean conflict motivated him to make “The Ghosts of Jeju”, a very troubling, but inspiring film about indigenous people fighting for survival, the protection of the environment, and for a free and transparent democracy.
In 2015, Regis travelled once again to the Pacific with stops in Hawaii, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Okinawa, Jeju Island, and the Marshall Islands to document the effects of US militarism on the people, the culture and the environment.
In 2016, he travelled to Odessa, Ukraine, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Crimea to complete filming for Thirty Seconds to Midnight, that focuses on three imminent, existential threats to life on the planet: a nuclear Armageddon, nuclear power, and climate change.
Long-time peace activists Hideko Kimura Snyder and Estelle Voeller, listen to a discussion after the film “Thirty Seconds to Midnight” on April 26, 2017. A lending copy of this film is available at Peace House.
Israel and The West Bank
A Letter from Deb Polen, artist and activist April 26, 2017
In deep gratitude to all the people who facilitated my safe journey to and from the Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH) in Bethlehem, I returned to the US one week ago! While in the West Bank I had a wonderful time making a large mural at the PMNH, just in time for the museum’s grand opening! (Please see attached pics)
The mural includes animals and plants native to Palestine. Three birds are featured, the common names of which follow: the eagle owl, the bee-eater and the hoopoe. The Palestinian red fox appears at the entrance of a cave, behind native wildflowers, including the anemone, yellow and white stars of Bethlehem and the iris. The mural is about 55 feet long and 12 feet high and appears on a wall at the eastern end of the museum’s property, facing the museum’s two greenhouses.
I will share a little bit about what my time was like on this trip to Palestine. First, as in my previous experience (two months in ’16) volunteering at the PMNH is an adventure in endurance! Most volunteers stay at Mazin Qumseyeh’s house in a guest bedroom or in the guesthouse next door apartment. Mazin, the museum director, leaves his home promptly at 8 am, taking in his car three or four volunteers who are ready to go. His wife Jessie leaves shortly after with any other volunteers. The volunteers work each day from 8:30 am until between 7 and 9 pm, when Mazin and Jessie drive us back to our residencies. Daily I ended my painting at dark, around 7pm.
Throughout the 12 days that I was there I felt energized. I attribute that largely to the friendly community of people, the wonderful Mediterranean climate, and the empty wall waiting for me to fill it with images of amazing animals and plants. I was happy to have the long days of work, this enabled me to get a lot of surface area covered and make the largest painting of my life!
On the day of the grand opening I greeted guests when they walked by the mural on their tour of the museum. I have a fond memory of one particular encounter. I met a woman who in the past had been Palestine’s UN Ambassador to France. As we were viewing the mural, she made this bold statement: “If we can succeed to bring back beauty it will solve most of our problems.” Her words confirmed that my act of travelling across the globe as a conduit for artwork to appear on a Palestinian museum wall is a valuable endeavor! I feel tremendously grateful to have such opportunities.
Of course, living even for a short time in the occupied territories of Palestine has its share of challenges. On two days I experienced tear gas in the air and in my body. This didn’t surprise me because the Israeli military regularly fires off several rounds of tear gas during Palestinian demonstrations. On my last full day there, while I was putting finishing touches on the mural, the tear gas from a demonstration three blocks away caused my nose, eyes and throat to burn too much to stay outside. I waited a couple hours and then resumed painting.
In addition to the tear gas experience, throughout this visit I was reminded that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine continues. During my visits over a span of just few years, I have started to observe the obliteration of Palestinian land and culture first hand. For instance, the Cremison monastery, which also functioned as a winery just outside of Bethlehem, and which I previously visited, was stolen by Israel within this past year when they extended the apartheid wall to enclose the monastery and much of the land surrounding it. (http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/fight-beit-jala-monastery-land-and-history-over-palestinian-christians-1152469636)
I saw many more examples of colonization/occupation/apartheid but I won’t make this email much longer. I would, however, be happy to talk with you more about all of this via phone or tea or dinner or a trip to Palestine! Despite the intense attacks on Palestinian lives and culture, the occupied territories remain a wonderful place to visit because in my experience, the people are consistently very generous, hospitable, courageous, humorous, and accepting.
Thank you so very much for your time, attention, and love! I appreciate you.
|Central American Outreach Nicaragua – Honduras
Honduras Outreach and Outreach and Accompaniment from Ashland, OR
|Lucy Edwards, Elizabeth Hallet, and Jim Phillips
Lucy Edwards has been traveling often to Honduras to accompany Human Rights activist there who are under enormous pressure.
Accompaniment from the United States includes supporting activists there with press releases and networking in the US on behalf of legislation and people who are basically under attack for organizing against illegal resource extraction, assassinations and suppression of information as well as intimidation.
From December 1-8 of 2016, Lucy made an emergency trip to Honduras on a few days notice to accompany two women and their families. The first was Ana Mejia, sister of Carlos Mejia, a manager of Radio Progreso who was murdered in 2014. A legal process in the murder case had gone forward without the knowledge of the family, which created quite a bit of confusion and pain, and deepened the wounds and trauma from Carlos’s murder. Ana asked for accompaniment. At the same time, Bertha Oliva, General Coordinador of the Committee of Families of Disappeared and Detained in Honduras (cofadeh) was the subject of an anonymous online campaign to discredit her and was receiving new threats against her and her family.
She spent four days with Ana’s family and then three days accompanying Bertha Oliva. They were productive and healing visits, and made clear to her both the value of accompaniment and of quick trips on short notice.
This year Lucy made a follow-up trip in January, after a trip to Nicaragua. First she visited with friends in the south of Honduras who have been experiencing a crisis for over a year when their young adult son came under serious threat. He has had to spend many months in hiding. This crisis is still underway and she is working closely with the family to increase security and the possibility of survival of the son and other family members at risk.
I then spent a week with Bertha Oliva and cofadeh, and a long weekend with Ana and family. Bertha continues to be under intimidation and threats.
Lucy and her husband, anthropologist and SOU Professor Jim Phillips, traveled to Honduras in late March for another visit. Lucy stayed on to do more support work as Jim returned for the spring at SOU.
Dr. Phillips and Lucy Edwards as well as SOU Senior Murielalso gave a presentation at SOU March 17 to describe personal experiences in Nicaragua and Honduras.
“Thank you for your support. It has been crucial in the work…Jim and I recently visited Merkley’s field office and when I mentioned Peace House, Amy responded enthusiastically. You represent an important constituency, and I am lucky to be part of it!”
Lucy Josselyn Edwards, Proah Honduras
Lucy Edwards and Jim Phillips are also active members of Acción Esperanza,
which supports student scholarships in Nicaragua:
We have about 20 rural students attending university and we have about 20 vulnerable urban children we support who attend schools in Esteli. For the young ones, we provide tuition, transportation to school, a uniform and shoes. We also provide for medical appointment, medicines and glasses or special equipment for students. For our rural university students, we provide a small stipend to help them cover expenses. our students are joyful and resilient and provide hope for their families, communities and country.
We are a nonprofit based in Ashland, Oregon. Contact us if you want to give or if you want to visit Nicaragua
Lucy Josselyn Edwards
Caceres and Honduras Bill
From: Witness for Peace <email@example.com>
Subject: Honduras Update: ¡Berta Vive, La Lucha Sigue!
Date: May 10, 2016 at 9:44:15 AM PDT
Below is a template for your outreach for endorsements for the newly re-introduced Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, HR1299. The AFL and others have added their support again, and we’ve secured the United Steelworkers (USW) and other new endorsements as well. Please keep Jenny (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I updated as you outreach and secure more endorsements, and she’ll be in touch when we have an official list to circulate.
Endorse the Berta Cáceres Act!
I’m writing to ask for your organizational endorsement for the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act – HR1299. The House bill was just re-introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson on March 2, 2017, the first anniversary of her murder.
Last year’s act, HR 5474, was introduced with immediate and broad support including the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, and over a hundred other faith, labor, environmental, and human rights organizations. Berta’s family and organization, COPINH (the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), immediately applauded the action, and 52 Members of the House of Representatives officially co-sponsored the bill. I’ve attached below the list of HR5474 organizational endorsements. Please help us to expand the list of organizatinal endorsements and build support for the bill. You can see current Congressional co-sponsors and the text of the 2017 bill itself here.
The Berta Cáceres Act calls for the suspension of U.S. military and police aid to Honduras until human rights violations committed by Honduran security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.
The bill states that “The Honduran police are widely established to be deeply corrupt and to commit human rights abuses, including torture, rape, illegal detention, and murder, with impunity” and that the military has committed violations of human rights, and therefore asks that the United States suspend all “…security assistance to Honduran military and police until such time as human rights violations by Honduran state security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.”
The bill features the following demands:
* All U.S. aid to Honduran security forces must cease, and the U.S. must vote no on all loans from multinational development banks to Honduras until the following conditions are met:
– A full investigation and prosecution into the murders of Berta Cáceres, 100 small-farmer activists in the Aguán Valley, Joel Palacios Lino and Elvis Armando García.
– A full investigation and prosecution of the armed attack against Félix Molina.
– A full investigation and prosecution of those members of the Honduran military and police forces who have committed human rights abuses.
– That the Honduran military withdraw from domestic policing, as mandated in the constitution.
– That the rights of “…land rights defenders; trade unionists; journalists; Indigenous, Afro-Indigenous, small farmer and LGBTI activists; human rights defenders; critics of the government; and other civil society activists…” are protected.
– Take steps toward establishing the rule of law and strong democratic systems such as a functioning judiciary branch capable of prosecuting member of the military and police forces.
Please let me know if we can list your organization as an official supporter of the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, HR1299, or if I can provide further information or answer questions.
Thanks so much,
Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI)
Alliance for Global Justice
American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO), Local 3354
American Friends Service Committee
American Jewish World Service
Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition (BALASC)
Center for Constitutional Rights
CIP Americas Program
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
Coloradans For Immigrant Rights, AFSC Colorado Office
Congregational UCC Global Ministries Team, Ashland, Oregon
Cross Border Network
Denver Justice and Peace Committee
Family Farm Defenders
Friendship Office of the Americas
Friends of the Earth
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|Left top row: Luis Ibáñez, Shaun Franks, Connie Saldana, Maggie McCauley, Kathleen Gamer. Left bottom row: Linda Sturgeon, Maren Faye. Elizabeth Hallett, Andrew Seles.
Peace House Board of Directors
Elizabeth Hallett, Chair
Shaun Franks, Secretary
Connie Saldana, Treasurer
Surya Bolom, Acting Office Manager
Maren Faye, UFD Food Coordinator
Linda Sturgeon, Communications Coordinator