Coordinator Report - Northwest
6 November 2001
I've just concluded a two week speaking tour of Oregon, Washington and Alaska
that I think went very well.
Michael Carrigan at Oregon Peaceworks ably coordinated my visit to Portland, Florence, Eugene, Hood River, Corvalis, and Salem in that state. I spoke directly to over 450 people in Oregon and did two lengthy radio interviews in Portland (one hour each). In Eugene I did a third one hour radio interview as well. I was able to speak to students at Portland State University, Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Linn-Benton Community College.
From there I went to Olympia, Washington where I was hosted by our dear friend Holly Gwinn Graham (who sings the song "We're Planning a War in Space".) She and I went on the radio for a two hour show at Evergreen State University's public radio where we talked about Star Wars and she sang a couple of peace songs. That evening I spoke to a group in town.
Next I visited Seattle where I spoke at a meeting of people brought together
by members of the Northwest Disarmament Coalition. There I also met with
local leaders Mary Hanson and Geov Parrish as well to discuss the need to
broaden organizing of "missile defense" to include Theatre Missile
Defense (TMD), the space-based laser and the need to defund Star Wars research
The next stage of the trip was to Alaska with stops in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Kodiak island.
In Anchorage I was hosted by Alaska PIRG where Steve Cleary and Stephen Conn kept me busy for the next 48 hours with two TV interviews, four radio interviews, two debates with a GOP candidate for governor (who drives an $80,000 military humvee with a license plate that reads WAR) and an evening presentation at the local library. In addition, Steve Cleary and I had a great 1 1/2 hour meeting with two members of the Anchorage Daily News editorial board. Surprisingly the 10 degrees below zero temperatures were not overwhelming for this thin blooded Floridian.
In Fairbanks, which is the city nearest to the proposed NMD deployment site at Fort Greely, Stacey Fritz and Lynn DiFilippo (No Nukes North) arranged for me to do two more TV interviews and three radio interviews. A large article in the local paper covered my speaking event to the 90 folks who turned out at the University of Alaska to hear my talk. During this visit I also went cross country skiing for the first time since my only other such experience 35 years ago and I was able to tell stories to the assembled at my evening talk about trying to steer tangled skis as I approached large rocks sticking up out of the snow. To avoid them I fell over sideways, twisting my ankle severely, and had a hell of a time trying to get up afterwards. The assembled enjoyed hearing about my Alaskan outdoor adventure.
My last stop was beautiful Kodiak island, the place where the Pentagon will be flight testing Star Wars experiments in coming years. Stacy Studebaker and Carolyn Heitman took me on a four hour drive to the far end of the island to see the Kodiak Rocket Launch Facility that was "sold" to the people of the island as a "civilian" launch facility. Now the truth has emerged and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) will be launching 20 tests from this location during the next 4-5 years. During the drive we saw countless numbers of bald eagles alongside the pristine river banks where salmon run during spawning season. Launching toxic rockets, from what local residents call "Space Pork Kodiak", will seriously jeopardize the environment and the local fishing industry. Several fisherman attended my evening talk as 60 residents turned out, including the mayor and a councilman from the town. The local newspaper ran a large advance interview with me promoting the talk and the local group, called the Kodiak Rocket Launch Information Group, purchased ads in the local paper advertising my talk that featured a cartoon of a Kodiak bear nailing a "Fallout shelter" sign to its cave as a rocket crashes in the background. (See attached photos of me standing in front of the Kodiak launch facility.)
This trip to the northwest, far from the Global Network's home office in Florida, was an important link for our movement to keep space for peace. Once again it is incredibly encouraging to see people in far off places working to stop the nuclearization and weaponization of space. It is also encouraging for them to know of the growing activity around the world as was shown during our recent October 13 day of protest that drew events in 19 countries and at over 115 locations (including actions in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.)
Many thanks to all my hosts. Several of them will joining us in Berkeley, California for our May 10-12, 2002 International Membership Meeting of the GN (our 10th annual event.) My next trip takes me to five cities in France on November 17-24 for a speaking tour sponsored by the Mouvement De La Paix.