Fifth Maine Peace Walk

October 11-26  2016

Taken from: Bruce Gagnon's Blog: Organizing Notes

Stop the War$ on Mother Earth
October 11-26, 2016
(see also

Indian Island (Penobscot Nation) to Kittery

News Release

Peace and environmental activists from Maine and beyond will walk through large portions of our state from October 11-26 in order to bring the issues of endless war, environmental degradation, and climate change to the public’s attention.  The walk will begin on Indian Island (with a supper and ceremony hosted by the Penobscot Nation) and end in Kittery.

“We come together out of our deep concern about the many different wars being waged on Mother Earth, ranging from over-fishing, deforestation, and human-caused extinctions, to climate disruption and endless war,” said Russell Wray of Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST) in Hancock.

According to walk co-organizer Connie Jenkins from Orono, “Close to home we support the Penobscot Nation’s struggle for Justice for the River, opposition to the East/West Corridor, and conversion of war production to alternative energy at Maine shipyards.  We know from past experience of walking through rural and urban Maine that many people will be reached with our messages. We hope this spiritual act of walking and sharing conversation and food will help people in our state feel less isolated and despairing about the future.” 

The peace walk begins on Indian Island October 11 and will pass through Dexter, Pittsfield, Unity, Waterville, Augusta, Norway, Lewiston, Brunswick, Bath, Freeport, Portland, Saco, Kennebunk, York Beach, and Kittery.  The walk will average about 12 walking miles per day. (Some driving will be necessary between some of these communities.) In the evenings walkers will be fed at local churches and will often stay in local homes.)

The walkers will hold a protest at Bath Iron Works on October 20 at 3:00 pm and conclude on October 26 with a protest at the naval submarine yard in Kittery.  Both protests will call for the conversion of the Maine shipyards to alternative energy production such as public rail systems, solar power, wind turbines and tidal power systems.  Studies at UMASS-Amherst Economics Department reveal that building needed alternative energy rather than military production would create more jobs.  See the study here

Buddhist monks and nuns from the Nipponzan Myohoji order will lead the non-violent peace walk.  Their order does peace walks all over the world.

Maine Walk for Peace is sponsored by:  Penobscot Nation; Smedley D. Butler Brigade Veterans For Peace (Boston area); Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space; Maine Veterans For Peace; Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST); Veterans For Peace (National); Peninsula Peace and Justice; Maine Natural Guard; Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks; Maine War Tax Resistance Resource Center; Veterans For Peace, Jim Harney Chapter 003; Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine; Alliance for the Common Good; Grandmothers Against the East/West Corridor; Resources for Organizing and Social Change (ROSC); Pax Christi Maine; Friends of the Piscataquis Valley; Concord Massachusetts Peace Vigil; Peace Action Maine; ESTIA Maine; Stop the East-West Corridor (STEWC); Maine Green Independent Party; Mission Board of State Street Church (Portland); Reversing Falls Sanctuary; Peace to All Beings; Waldo County Peace & Justice

The daily schedule and entire walk route can be found at Maine Veterans For Peace here


5th Maine Peace Walk Begins October 11, 2016

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

Peace Walk Begins - October 11, 2016

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.

Peace Walk in Pittsfield - October 13, 2016

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."

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.

October 15, 2016
Let's Walk Together ...

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

October 18, 2016
Some Walk Photos

As we headed to Norway, Maine yesterday we stopped at the Poland Spring bottled water plant (owned by Nestle) to protest their extraction of water from our state without paying anything for it. They buy up the land over a well field and then pump it to their hearts content. The taxpayers of Maine get nothing but a few jobs in the bottling and trucking departments. Once we arrived at the entrance to Poland Spring we walked deep into the production facilities area and were eventually stopped by a surprised manager who called the police to chase us away. Before leaving we made sure to express our disgust with the greedy Nestle corporation that cares about nothing except $$$$$$$.

A supporter made an amazing Indian dinner for us two nights ago when we arrived in Augusta. It was restaurant quality.

October 19, 2016
No THAAD Peace Walk Event in Brunswick

It's been hard to keep up with the blog during the walk. Not only have there been days, especially in rural Maine, with no Internet connection but I also got sick. I found it almost impossible to sleep more than 3-4 hours each night despite being exhausted from walking all day. Then one night I got a fever and sweated buckets. So on Tuesday I walked in the morning and then came home and slept 13 hours. I missed the walk into Brunswick on Wednesday and just stayed in bed most of the day although I did post a couple videos below. Then last night I attended the pot luck supper in Brunswick since I was responsible for the program.

This week there has been a call for No THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) protests across the nation against the Pentagon plan to deploy the 'missile defense' (MD) system in South Korea. Last night I gave some background on the controversy, also included the Aegis MD equipped warships built here in Bath, and then we showed the six-minute video compilation (see posted in menu a couple days ago) of the candlelight vigils in South Korea opposing THAAD. We took the photo above of those in attendance in our meager effort to show solidarity and denounce these provocative first-strike attack systems.

When I got home from the walk I found last Friday's local newspaper sitting on my desk and inside was a large article entitled: Clinton said U.S. would 'ring China with missile defense'. I clipped the story and took it to the event last night and read these remarks from Clinton that were revealed by WikiLeaks. "We're going to ring China with missile defense. We're going to put more of our fleet in the area."

Clinton is of course referring to the US Navy's Aegis destroyers with MD interceptors on-board and I made sure to point that clear fact out to the group last night. So South Korean people are directly fighting against ground-based THAAD deployments on the mainland and against MD at the new Navy base on Jeju Island where these ships will be ported. Both of these places thus become prime targets in a war with Russia and China and the people know it. Protest and survive is their operating message now.

Today is a peace walk day off and our fantastic team of walkers surely need and deserve it. But of course we can't pass up such a great chance with so many activists being around to pay a visit to Bath Iron Works. We'll go from 3:00-4:00 pm during the shift change for a vigil highlighting our demand to convert the shipyard to sustainable technology production that would in fact create more jobs than making warships.

We get started again on Friday walking from Brunswick to Freeport and from there our route will be directly south on US Hwy 1 to the Navy Submarine shipyard in Kittery where we will end the walk on October 26 with another protest calling for the conversion of that yard. More walkers join every day and people come and go - some even come back for a second or third try at it. The sense of community building is quite lovely. We are grateful to all those across the state who have supported the peace walk helping to make it a special event.

October 21, 2016
Freeport in the Rain

It was a dreary day here in Maine today with mist and rain. But after all the good weather we have had along the way I can't really complain and we sure need the rain.

We met in Brunswick this morning and the group walked 10 miles to Freeport. I drove the van and then helped set up lunch and walked the last four miles. It felt good to be back on the road behind the drums and it felt like what ever ailment I've had might be on its way out of my body. At least I hope so.

We were hosted tonight at the Durham Quaker Meeting House about 12 miles from Freeport. They organized dinner and home stays for us.

In the morning we shuttle back to Freeport and then walk about 15 miles to Portland where we will be hosted by the State Street Church.

VFP member Ken Jones from North Carolina (who used to live here in Maine) arrived today. Ken was with Will Griffin and I for the Grand March for Life and Peace on Jeju Island, South Korea last August. It is fun to have him along. Another VFP member Nate Goldshlag is back for his second round of walking - he lives near Boston.

A couple of our key walk organizers have to leave - one to return to prior commitments at home and the other because her knee gave out. We will miss Katie Greenman and Connie Jenkins a bunch. We are so grateful to both for their outstanding efforts to help make this whole event happen.

The Times Record (our local midcoast paper) ran an excellent front page story about the walk today. You can see it here and a story from our visit to Norway, Maine which was also published today here.

October 22, 2016
Portland & Wet for 2nd Day

It rained the entire 16 miles into Portland today but our spirits remained high with the addition of new walkers.

The Friends School was luckily available to us for a sheltered lunch stop just half way to Portland and thanks to Sukie Rice and Leslie Manning for providing us with a lovely meal.  We sat at the desks of the 7th grade class to eat and were asked to leave each of the students a note about each of us.  A nice surprise will be waiting for the students when they return to school on Monday.

Grace Braley organized a fine program at the State Street UCC Church in Portland after the evening pot luck supper.  Just before things got started our Korean-American friend Juyeon Rhee from New York City walked into the church.  She'll walk with us on Sunday before heading back to NYC on Monday.  Last summer when our VFP delegation went to South Korea for three weeks in August it was Juyeon and Hyun Lee that were going to be our guides and translators. When they arrived in the Seoul airport they were kicked out of the country.  They recovered quickly and continued to direct our tour long-distance and successfully found others to do the needed translations.

It was obvious that the right-wing South Korean government feared Juyeon and Hyun being inside the country of their birth as they have become major activists for peace and reunification of Korea - something that neither the US nor its puppet regime in Seoul wants to happen.  The US gets alot of mileage out of the continued division of Korea - particularly Washington uses North Korea as an excuse to kept building up its military operations in South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Guam and other places in the Asia-Pacific region.  While this 'pivot' of 60% of US forces into the region is really aimed at China and Russia, North Korea is the perfect foil.

In the morning the sky is supposed to clear up but the temperature will drop to the kind of cold one would normally expect to see in Maine during this time of year.  So we'll all bundle up and keep heading south toward Saco where we'll be hosted by the First Congregational Church.

October 23, 2016
Windy Saco to Kennebunk

(left) Acupuncture in our ears today for the 4th time during the walk.


Yesterday was a 15-mile walk from Portland to Saco in a 20 mph wind.  The flags were flappin and the signs were hard to hold on to.  Several times we were pushed sidewards or backwards as the wind hit our signs.  But our band of 23 folks made it.

Today we have an easier day as the wind should calm down and we only have a 10 mile walk to Kennebunk.  We'll be staying at the New School - an alternative high school that hosted us last year.  The students cooked for us and many of them walked with us the next day.

During past walks I've written about the car culture.  Yesterday I was thinking about it again as we passed by a bunch of car sales lots - one of them flying the biggest American flag I've ever seen.  What do American flags have to do with auto sales - especially when the cars are made overseas?  Over compensation I suppose....

One of the email list serves I monitor is blowing up with a couple people coming out of the woodwork calling for US 'no fly zones' in Syria and unleashing weapons sales to the US-NATO-Israeli-Saudi Arabia-Qatar funded and directed so-called 'rebels' who are now on the losing end in Aleppo.

I am convinced that the military machine has placed operatives inside some peace groups and key list serves in order to create confusion so that real peace movement opposition to the Obama-Clinton war on Syria can be neutralized.  So far they have been successful but I think the tide is turning toward some clarity and sanity. Thanks to those with the courage to push back against the war tide.

One of these operatives this morning had posted that the US lies and deception in Syria were 'different' than the 2003 'shock and awe' game in Iraq.  Hardly!

Beware of those selling endless war - especially when they claim to be peaceniks.

October 27, 2016
Walk Over and Home Again

I got home last night about 8:00 pm after the peace walk concluded with our protest at the Kittery Naval Submarine shipyard.  For 90 minutes we vigiled as the workers poured out in cars, trucks, vans, buses and it was mind-blowing to see how many people work there.  We had about 40 folks join us for that last event at the shipyard gate.  Our Brunswick friend Eric Herter (who made a video at the start of the walk) showed up again yesterday to make one of the final day.  Will post it once he gets it done.

Our last night on the walk (Oct 25) we were hosted by Veterans for Peace member Pat Scanlon at his summer house on York Beach.  He made contact with a local Catholic Church peace and social justice committee that hosted our supper at their church.  Pat got about a dozen pizzas and three huge salads donated so it was quite a meal.  Then yesterday as we walked toward the Kittery shipyard we stopped at the restaurant that donated the food for a photo with the owner.

After our vigil concluded at 4:00 pm about 20 of us went back to the restaurant for an early supper party as a way to thank the owner for being so kind to us two years in a row.  Our bill came to just over $300 so I'm sure he appreciated our support as well.

This morning I've begun the task of cleaning things up after the walk since all the left over food, crates full of recycling and trash as well as lost and found items all got brought to my house last night.  So far I am half way done but I've run out of energy.

Instead of finishing that job I went outside for almost three hours and finished stacking wood inside our new wood shed that got built while I was on the walk.  I've been wanting a good wood shed for years and was thrilled to get to finish stacking the wood (thanks to the shed building crew for getting a good start on the stacking process) that has been sitting in our drive way for the last seven months.

In the coming days I'll write more about the walk but for now a nap is calling me.

October 29, 2016
Bits & Pieces from the Peace Walk

I've still yet to recover from the peace walk. Sore legs and low energy. Others I've spoken with have similar ailments. When I went to the chiropractor yesterday he found one leg was 1/2 inch shorter than the other which indicates my body was really out of whack.

Yesterday I worked on the walk budget report and it appears after all bills are paid we will have just over $800 left. That would not have been possible without substantial in-kind donations from several of the walkers. My considerable staff time spent on the walk essentially donated by the Global Network is impossible to calculate. Several others from our organizing committee also gave huge amounts of their time in preparation for the event - particularly Russell Wray who painted the incredible banner that hung on our van.

Last night I heard from a second person who told me she thought the reason we got such strong support in the most conservative parts of the state (where Trump campaign signs were dominant) is because working class Mainers really honor hard work and they respected our walk that took us through major portions of the state. So that must confirm it. The truth is in the urban areas like Portland and southern Maine the support was much less demonstrative.

On our second day of the walk as we were leaving the town of Dexter (former shoe manufacturing community now in big trouble because the jobs went overseas) a woman came running after us. Her name was Debra Burdin and she was so excited to see us and share a project she is working on to build an Eco Village for the homeless, hungry and those in poverty. She handed us a flyer for the Eco-Village Sustainable Community ('A New We') and I promised to write something here about it. Her email is We wished her luck with the project as she introduces this important idea into a community that really needs alot of help these days.

There were so many thoughtful people who came in and out of the walk along the journey. Some brought food, others brought needed toilet paper, some music, some new walking energy, healing words, acupuncture, and generous donations. We could never thank anyone enough but we tried. Our many hosts at pot luck suppers and churches where we slept (and the occasional home stays with showers) all made us feel so welcome.

We got decent media coverage along the walk and Dan Ellis kept updating the Maine Veterans for Peace web site with all the links to the stories. You can find that here

The Buddhist monks and nun from Nipponzan Myohoji really made the walk special as did those who are associated with this remarkable order that does peace walks around the world. It's amazing how much the drumming and chanting help keep your feet moving during a 15-mile day. We bow to Nipponzan Myohoji and say Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo.

We also thank our friends that came from other states to walk with us - Massachusetts, Delaware, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Washington state. They all brought a lot of joy and were good walkers. I think everyone would agree that 10-year old Bailey from Bainbridge Island, Washington who walked every day - all day - and never complained was a star of the walk. We love and miss Bailey.

We handed out 1,000 flyers along the journey and again we have to give credit to Bailey who handed out a high percentage of them. We called him our runner.

This was my 10th walk that I had a hand in organizing and each time I tell everyone it will be my last. The monk Senji Kanaeda told me that there was a Nipponzan Myohoji monk in Japan who organized 35 peace walks over the years and each time he said it was his last. Senji smiled at me when he told me that story. We'll see......

The police now and then stopped us to find out where we were heading and mostly ended up being quite friendly. One policeman from Kittery on the last day wanted to shake my hand after he learned we had walked all the way from Old Town.

I was rather picky about what sign I carried as I walked. My goal was to have every passing car and every person on foot read it so I was always turning it toward on-coming traffic. I tried to make eye contact with every car coming our way. That meant I was not interested in talking alot during the walk. I called it the 'quiet car' like on the Amtrak train. Walks are work for me and I have a mission while I am walking. A couple times my sign got left in the van when it went off to shuttle cars forward and I was not a happy camper. In those moments I had to control my grumpiness. I appreciate those who were patient with me in those moments....

Lastly I want to thank Mary Beth for taking good care of me when I came home sick for a day during the walk. She drove four nights to join pot luck suppers along the way and her smile always helped me deal with my tiredness. MB brought our young neighbor Leann with her each time and it was exciting to see her get a good dose of what peace walks are all about.

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