Sunday, December 19, 2010

Being Home...

When I finally pulled in to my driveway Wednesday evening, I was incredibly happy to be home. But now that I have been home for a couple days, I can feel my soul starting to wither away.

Last night at dinner, my mom and dad were talking about how all of the people who are on the various state funded systems abuse the system.  They completely refuse to acknowledge the reasons behind why people need to abuse the systems, and that only about ten percent of people abuse the system, it just happens that we only hear about that ten percent of the population -- for example, a man in who lives in one of the Carolinas, sent California a check to repay the state the money that he received in unemployment benefits, plus interest.  When I told my Dad this, the first thing that he assumed is that the man somehow got caught cheating the system. Yet there was nothing about him in my local paper, even though it happened the same day that these other people were caught.

They also do not look at the culture of the United States.  They don't realize that we live in a culture that promotes laziness, and exploitation. Look at our foreign policy, where we send our jobs overseas to exploit foreign labor sources, simply because we do not want to pay any more than we have to for a given product.  But when I explain this to my family, I am clearly the person who knows nothing, even though I spend my days studying how society impacts people. 

My entire family is also against the DREAM act, because they  hate illegal immigrants because they apparently take our jobs (even though the jobs that these immigrants work are ones that no one in my  family would ever even consider working, aka working in the fields for 14 hours a day, or working in US sweatshops), and they also hate them because they do not pay taxes.  But this act would allow minors who came to this country illegally to be citizens after the fulfill certain requirements, such as graduating high school, and then graduating from a 4 year university, or serving two years in the armed forces (although I wholly disagree that the armed forces should be part of the requirement for them to become citizens, because we do not need to exploit anymore innocent people to join our war machine), the fact that these people would be given a chance to attend college, and make their lives better and pull themselves up by the bootstraps, become American citizens, is an excellent idea, because then they will be taxpaying citizens (something I thought would make my parents happy) and besides that, the pulling yourself up by the bootstraps idea is totally the American Dream (even though I know that it totally does not exist in the US, people generally do not change classes here, only enough people make it so that people actually think that the American Dream does still exist). 

Needless to say,
it is going to be a long month here at home.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

the following entry has been taken from my friend Lisa Savage's blog, and I feel like everyone needs to read it and truly think about what she is saying.

the following entry has been taken from my friend Lisa Savage's blog, and I feel like everyone needs to read it and truly think about what she is saying. 


See no evil, hear nothing but NPR, say Merry Xmas! 

By Lisa Savage, of Code Pink

'Tis the season of holiday parties, a chance to see people and relax a bit. Mark and I don't get invited to old friends' dinner parties much anymore; no one would ever say why, but I imagine it's because people are afraid we will talk about politics and bum them out. We did get invited to a neighborhood Christmas party last week, and went and had a good time. Tonight we will drive about an hour to attend the annual holiday gathering of a peace and justice group in the western Maine mountains. I'm sure it will be a very different crowd.

At last week's party I wore what my husband affectionately described as "your Bradley Manning schoolgirl look." I put a festive red cardigan over my Free Bradley t-shirt, and then asked myself what a high school kid would wear with such an ensemble (short skirt over leggings plus boots). I love my Bradley Manning t-shirt but don't get to wear it much. It's too cold outside, and I don't dare bring political messaging to my place of work.

Only one person remarked on my shirt, asking me about its cool graphics. When I said it was Bradley Manning he replied, "Who's that?" I said it was the person who supplied WikiLeaks with the info in the first place. Still no recognition. This person has advanced degrees and teaches at a local college. "I am sorry I asked, please stop. I have been depressed lately," he told me. Wow.

I was careful not to bring up politics because NOBODY WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT! When they ask what I have been up to lately, they do not really want me to tell them. I talked about the weather, holiday plans, people's health, family news, and anything else but. Old friends we have kind of lost touch with avoid us because they are afraid we do not know how to act politely at parties anymore. I was determined to prove them wrong. But I suppose I blew it in advance by wearing my t-shirt.

Anyway, I was in a discussion about the weather for upcoming holiday travel with two people I have known for years. They were wondering if it was snowing in Washington DC that day and I said that it was because I had just seen a video of a snowy scene where "hundreds of people got arrested today for chaining themselves to the White House fence."

The two partygoers turned away from me in unison, as if we were in a dance that had been rehearsed.

Which I suppose we were.

Most of our these local friends started out standing on the bridge with us in '03, '04, maybe '05. Then a lot of people quit coming. I have never challenged anyone on this or asked them to defend their decision, but a ton of them have rushed up to me in the produce department or at the post office to apologize guiltily, mostly explaining either that they were too busy or stopped because "it didn't make any difference -- nothing changed." (The general public in the U.S. has the historical awareness and political sense of very young children.)

Over the years many, many people have thanked Mark and me for continuing to publicly vigil for peace, and to protest the wars. I think the message is: Keep it on the bridge where it belongs, but don't bring it to our parties.

Almost all of these people do charitable works, and a lot of them happen to be artists. Either they do not consider political organizing fun, inspiring, and exciting -- or it's too scary. Maybe some combination of the two.

Maybe there is a lot of guilt for continuing to live well while children in Afghanistan starve and freeze in between air strikes we are financing.

I can't be sure about any of that, but I am pretty sure about this: any literate person with Internet acces who cannot identify Bradley Manning is in a willful state of ignorance.

Bliss? I doubt it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bring Our War Dollars Home planning meeting, and BIW Vigil

Hey everyone.
Here's another update on the shennanigans that I've been up too.

I got an email from my friend Bruce Gagnon when I got back to school from Thanksgiving break, inviting me to go down with my friend Alex to be on his local access tv show called the issue.  We talked for half an hour about our feelings on the walk, on our generation, and what is next for us in terms of activism, mainly working on the BOW$H resolution for the town of Farmington.  It was an amazing experience, and watch for the link on here, and on my Facebook page soon.

Today, we went to the vigil at BIW, urging them to convert to creating items to help us move towards a sustainable future.  It was an interesting experience, its seems as though the men and women driving by were pretty evenly split between being pissed off at us, and supporting us.

We then moved to the Addams-Mellman house, and talked about what was next in terms of the BOW$H campaign.

Some of the highlights that we talked about were
Tom's ideas about doing something at the Blue Angels Air Show in August, raising awareness about military show business and how the taxpayers pay for all of this, and how completely unsustainable they are.  There were some great ideas, including us dressing up at the "Green Angels" but this is definitely an event that I am looking forward to participating in.   

We are also going to be doing something on Tax Day, which I have been charged with creating an awesome handout to give to people, probably at the post offices around the state.  So I will be majorly letting my creative juices flow when I get home for Christmas break. 

Alex and I also got a great deal of input on how to pass the resolution in Farmington.  We were told to stand at the dump and outside the post office and have our petition and handouts to give to people.  And they told us to get to know the politicians before we go into the meeting, so that they know us and they will be less likely to steamroll over us.

Right now, I am completely exhausted, and I realize that I probably forgot some awesome stuff we talked about, so I'm going to end up editing this again tomorrow while I procrastinate on some homework. 

So until tomorrow

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bring Our War Dollars Home.

Last Thursday, PAinT brought two speakers to campus.
Will Hopkins, of VFP, IVAW, and Peace Action NH, and
Lisa Savage of Code Pink

they talked about their stories with activism, and how we as students can get involved.
Along the peace walk, Bruce talked to Alex and I about bringing the Bring Our War Dollars Home resolution to Farmington, and talking with Will and Lisa pushed us over the edge.

Friday, Alex, and my friend TJ and I got together, and started brainstorming ideas on what we needed to do in order to get this resolution off the ground and running smoothly.

Right now I'm working on drafting a resolution, and a petition in time for us to meet with some other people at the Bring Our War Dollars Home planning meeting on the 4th of December.  We don't plan on starting pushing the resolution until after break, because we don't want to start it and then leave it again for a few months.  So we're going to hit the ground running in the middle of January. 

I was supposed to go to a Bring Our War Dollars Home protest in Augusta tomorrow. But as of now, the weather is not looking very promising for me to be able to attend.  Which I am kinda bummed about, but I'll cope. There are going to be plenty of chances for activism in my near future, and I can use the time to do some more BOW$H stuff that I need to get done. 

expect more updates soon.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The War Economy is Not Working for Me, and It's Probably Not Working for You


•The United States spends more than the next 45 highest spending countries in the world combined.
•The United States accounts for 46.5 percent of the world’s total military spending.
•The United States spends on its military 7 times more than China, 13.3 times more than Russia, and 73 times more than Iran.
•The United States and its strongest allies (NATO, Japan, South Korea and Australia) spend close to $1.1 trillion on their militaries combined, representing 72 percent of the world’s total.
•The potential “enemies,” Iran, Russia, and China together account for about $169 billion or 24% of the US military budget.

A war economy is one built on the premise of perpetual war, making things that wear out and blow up, providing short-term employment – as opposed to a peace-time economy that devotes it resources to making things that people can actually use to better their lives, thereby perpetuating employment and prosperity rather than destruction.

Will fighting terrorists “over there” by invasion and occupation and the inevitable “collateral damage” succeed?
General McChrystal called it “insurgent math, for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.”

Non-military spending produces far more bang for the buck:
•Each billion dollars of tax revenue allocated to tax cuts for personal consumption generates approximately 10,800 jobs.
•Investing the same amount in the military creates 8,500 jobs.
•Investing it in health care yields 12,900 jobs; in education, 17,700 jobs; in mass transit, 19,800 jobs; and in construction for home weatherization and infrastructure, 12,800 jobs.

People dropping the banner at the 2010 Veterans For Peace Convention in Portland Maine

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Draw-a-Thon and Parade Pictures

 My picture, courtesy of Rob Shetterly

 People's drawings from the Draw-A-Thon

 Rob Shetterly-- one of my many VFP boyfriends.

 The Start of the Parade. 

 And now we're walking. 

 Code Pink

 My new mom and I <3

Rob and I 

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the Draw-A-Thon at the Space Gallery, and the Veteran's Day Parade on November 11th.

Maine VFP Response to the VFW.

Maine VFP Response to the VFW

Veterans For Peace Chapter 001 President Dud Henderix. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Last Day of the Maine Walk for Peace.

Wednesday night I journeyed down to Portland with some of my favorite people for the last few  hours of the Maine Walk for Peace. After a rather traumatic journey to the church where the dinner was held, things went smoothly.  When we first got there, as soon as Bob saw me, he immediately pulled me over and told me he would rather hold my hand, so I was sandwiched in between him and Dan for the before dinner prayer. 

I spent most of the evening making paper cranes with TJ, MB and one of the nuns. I made 6 all by myself, which I was rather proud of.  But it was a wonderful evening to end the emotional experience that is the walk.  I spent time with KBW, Dovey, TJ, and Annie, and we just relaxed with each other which was something that we all needed after the emotional weeks we have been having.

Yesterday was the parade, that VFP was allowed to march in, after the press got wind of us not being allowed to by the VFW. So we gathered at 10 am at the beginning of the parade route, sandwiched in between the girl scouts and some guys dressed up as clowns. So we walked in the same manner as we did for the last 126 miles, with the banner in front, followed by the monks, and the everyone else.  I of course handed out the green informational cards like I had been doing all along, and those seemed well received. Not many people said no to taking one, and I also did not force people to take one.  There was a great deal of clapping, and there was a large contingent of VFP members there, including some of my dear friends, Peggy Akers, Rita Clemente, and Tim Sturtevant.  After the parade we did not hang around, we veered off, and gathered in our traditional prayer circle, and then we broke and headed to the space gallery for the draw-a-thon.  There I had my picture drawn by Rob Shetterly, and I made some art for myself, which was what I desperately needed.   There was a great deal of passion there, as everyone was creating beautiful things about how our war dollars could have been better spent.

Sadly, we had to leave the Space Gallery around 12:30.  I did not want to leave all of these men and women behind. But I know that our friendships will not end with the walk, they will continue on, and I am sure that we will walk again. 

Last night, I also attended a vigil in my hometown, for lost loved ones, in which the proceeds were donated to a homeless veteran's group that works to give them money for places to stay, and food.  The ceremony focused on talking about the lost loved ones, and not the issues behind where there are hundreds of homeless veterans in Maine and all over the United States.  I attended that with my Grandfather, and my favorite veteran on the face of the earth, so it was an incredibly moving experience for both of us, along with my grandmother. 

I am sure this post will be edited later on, and I plan on adding some pictures to it.
But this is it for now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pictures from Saturday's Walk

 I am so happy to have met some amazing people on this walk

 The group of people we walked with from Bangor to Belfast.

The Walkers again 

 The group right outside of Camden. 
This was taken right before I had to leave

I have taken tons of pictures over the weekend, and some of them came out wonderful.  Walking side by side with all of these people has been a wonderful breathtaking experience, and I do not think anything will compare to it ever again.   The three days that I was with these people was a wonderful experience of solidarity, and I was sad to see my time with them come to an end. 

I will however be in Portland with them on Wednesday and Thursday showing my support for these amazing men and women because they are not allowed to march in the Veteran's Day parade.
-- this is a link to VFP member Bob Lezer's interview that was on the news on Saturday.

Thursday evening I will also be attending a vigil for homeless veterans with my Grandparents in Livermore Falls. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Maine Walk for Peace, Days Four and Five.

Friday afternoon, after my last Kristina Wolff class of the day, I jumped in a car, and headed to Bangor Maine to meet with the walkers with Jade.

The evening was a wonderful experience, I spoke in front of everyone, and almost cried. But I didn't. The next night in Belfast, I wasn't so lucky.  This walk has been a beautiful, yet heartwrenching experience at the same time.

When I joined Veterans For Peace, it was for research, and I did not think that it would be a lasting commitment, and then I was just pulled in, and accepted, and I feel as though I belong, and it is beautiful. They are my crazy Aunts and Uncles, and I love them all dearly.  They have changed me irrevocably, and these men and women have helped me decide what I want to do with my life.

This walk also has literally changed my life.
I feel freer now, and it is wonderful.
Walking, side by side, and sometimes single file with these amazing activists, and human souls has empowered me greatly.

The community response has been wonderful.  Today as we were walking, less than three miles out of Belfast these two little boys, came running out of there house, so I stopped to give them some information, and I talked to them for a few minutes, and they wanted to join us, but their parents wouldn't let them.  It was a beautiful moment for me, knowing that people are listening, and people want to walk and talk with us.  But every single honk, wave, peace sign, and middle finger give me hope, because I know that people are thinking about the wars, and about where our money is being spent.  

Saturday, when I was walking with Bruce Gagnon, I was told that I have passed my organizing test, which was wonderful to hear, especially because I know what a wonderful organizer he is.  I spent a great deal of time walking by his side, and talking to him about my thoughts, and things to do on campus. He brought up the idea of working with Doug to bring the Bring Our War Dollars Home resolution to Farmington, where it would be presented, and hopefully passed.  This is something that I am incredibly excited about, and will begin planning this soon hopefully.

I feel so burnt out, yet empowered at the same time, and I did not want to come back to Farmington tonight. The people along this walk have made me realize why I do what I do. I do not do it all for me. I do it to bring awareness to the public.

I am back in Farmington for two days, where again, I will pack my bags, and drive down to Portland to meet the walkers yet again, and spend the night there with them, to take part in their vigil at the end of the parade route,  because they are not being allowed to march in the  Veteran's Day Parade.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day One of the Maine Walk For Peace.

Yesterday, I awoke at 7 am to begin my 14 mile journey to from Farmington Maine to Skowhegan Maine. Some of my favorite people accompanied me, such as my friends TJ Parker, and Dovey Balsam, along with some of my adopted family, Bob Lezer, Bruce Gagnon and Mary Beth Sullivan, Dan Ellis, and of course Kristina Wolff.

The walk was an incredible experience of solidarity. We walked, in our winter jackets, with our water bottles and backbacks, for 14 miles, reflecting on the human costs of war, and the election results.

It was a beautiful experience, and I am admitting in a public forum that I cried. Twice.
Several different people came up to me, and thanked me for everything that I am doing. And those people are the reasons that I do what I do. They give me hope that what I am not doing is futile.

I was sad to go home last night, I wish I was walking the entire walk, if one day was this powerful, I can only imagine how powerful the entire thing is going to be. 

Although I am sore, blistered, and exhausted, I could not be happier. Although the reasons for the walk are depressing, they are important things to be aware of.

So tonight, I will pop my blisters, pack my snacks, and warm clothing, and get ready to drive Gordon to Bangor to walk another 17 miles in the name of peace, from Bangor to Belfast.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Restoring Sanity

Yesterday, I attended The Rally to Restore Sanity/The March to Keep Fear Alive. Although it gave me faith in my generation with all of the people who gathered there, but I was upset that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not mentioned at all.

I feel like this is one of the most pressing issues facing our nation at this time, and people need to be aware of what is going on over there.  There were 215,000 people there, and not one sign that I saw mentioned ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and bringing our troops home. Something I think is very sane to do.

 When I checked my email this evening, I had an email forwarded to me from Jacqui Deveanau, a member of Peace Action Maine.  It was written by a founder of Code Pink, Madea Benjamin.  She said that the people who were there were slackervists, something that I was deeply offended by.  I am a very passionate activist, but I do  think that sanity needs to be restored to our government.  Apparently that does not make me a legitimate activist? I think there is something deeply wrong with her theory.  I think that sanity is something that we need in Washington if we want to stop the war spending, bring our troops home, and end these terrible wars.  There needs to be sanity in our country before any of those things are going to happen.  Yes, I may do some crazy things for Peace, but that does not mean that I do not want Sanity within my government, and I would think that a founder of such a major peace movement would want the same thing.

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary. The evil it does is permanent—- Ghandi.

On November 3rd, I will be participating in the first day of the Maine Walk for Peace, Human Needs, and Veteran’s Care.

Although I am only walking 16 miles, I know my presence is important. The war is what’s making us poor. The war is the reason for school consolidations, lack of financial aide, and numerous other social problems in the United States. This my generation’s problem, and we need to get involved. We need to step up, and stop being passive citizens.

The goal of this walk is to engage the American public on the true costs of the war, which is costing the US over 8 Billion dollars a month. The average annual cost of the War for the town of Farmington, where I attend school is 1,900,000 dollars. The total war cost over the past nine years is 16,900,000— for a small college town in Western Maine. The War Economy is not working for me, and something needs to be done to stop this spending of our tax dollars that are desperately needed here at home. I can think of a million ways that the the state of Maine could have spent that 2.94 billion dollars on.

I am going to break it down for you-Approximately 289 thousand people live in the 43 communities we will be walking through. That is almost 22 percent of Maine’s population
-The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have cost the people of these towns, approximately 640 million dollars in the past 9 years. That is almost two-thirds of a billion dollars in war costs to just the people of these towns!
-The total cost of these wars averages out to 2300 dollars for every man, woman and child. That is 1000 dollars a year for a 4 person family!

This is why we are walking. We are walking, we are not marching, we are not demonstrating. We will be walking, to raise awareness. We are showing our commitment to ending these wars. I know that our efforts alone will not end these wars, but every movement needs to start somewhere.

For more information on the Peace Walk, visit

It starts on November 3rd, in the Computer Center Parking Lot at the University of Maine at Farmington.
I hope to see you there.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

About Me

Well I do not know truly where to start this.
I guess the beginning of my journey to becoming an activist was in February of last year, with my Professor, and Advisor, Dr. Kristina Wolff was denied tenure at the University of Maine at Farmington.  This women changed my life, and I wanted to do anything that I could to help her, so several students banded together and began a month long journey of working to get the tenure decision reversed.

Although I have been active on issues in the past, this was the first thing that I have been extremely passionate about.

This summer I also worked on a research project with Kristina, about Veterans for Peace, and the female member's history with the organization.  The research culminated with me attending the 2010 convention in Portland Maine, and interviewing and talking to these amazing women, and hearing their stories. I honestly felt as though I was on the verge of tears the entire convention.
I met Ann Wright, who is an amazing women, and if you're reading this, than you probably know who she is, and what she has done.  I also met Ethan McCord, who again, you probably know of.
I was also able to spend time with the amazing men and women of Chapter 001 of Veterans for Peace.  I sincerely feel as though I have inherited an extended family full of crazy Aunts and Uncles. But I also have never felt more at home and welcomed than with this group of people.

I am also involved in an activist group at the University of Maine at Farmington when I go to school.  It is called Peace Activists in Training ( I know you are probably astounded with the witty acronym.  It is a wonderful feeling being the Vice President of this group, because I finally feel like I have found a club that I truly want to belong to on campus.

I hope that I remember to update this frequently about what I am doing in regards to Peace Activism.
If I don't feel free to harass me.