Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"A Rose by any other name..."

New South Network of War Resisters' eclectic table of literature and info.
Dateline Johnson City, Tenn.
September 14, 2013

"A rose by any other name would smell 
as sweet."

Shakespeare's Juliet argues that the names of things do not matter, only what things "are."

The folks in Johnson City are demonstrating the truth of that adage.  They are keeping the best of the Occupy movement alive, building friendships throughout the mountain region, strengthening activism and  "promoting healthy communities through mutual aid."

Everyone Acting Together in Solidarity (EATS). put out the call to all comers for a "Free To You BBQ" on Saturday afternoon. And eat we did!  As a line up of talented mountain musicians kept the music flowing, a team of volunteers cooked up a feast seasoned with wide smiles and hearty hellos.

EATS organizer Lou P. on task at the BBQ
The picnic was held at the Old Kiwanis Park, a block or so from the James H Quillen V.A. Medical Center, so our assortment of literature from our Veterans for Peace 099 Chapter in Asheville was well received. 

Smiling servers at the "Free to You BBQ"
Many folks picked up copies of the War Crimes Times! which we distribute throughout the region, and keychains with the GI Rights Hotline Number. In the Volunteer State of Tennessee, there are many, many veterans struggling with the emotional and physical consequences of going to war.

Johnson City is just over the mountains from Asheville, NC. We crossed over the Appalachian Trail and past beautiful farmland and breathtaking mountain scenery.

"Mr. Paintman" mixing up colors
The beauty of Atomic Appalachia belies the nuclear dangers: We passed Erwin and the Nuclear Fuel Services Uranium enrichment facility that supplies fuel for the first-strike Trident Nuclear Submarines. We also drove  past the nearby road leading to the story-telling city of  Jonesborough, where one story is kept far too quiet: the presence of the Aero-Jet Ordnance weaponized uranium bullet factory, components of the widespread Military Industrial Complex that has such a devastating impact in the South.
Kevin, the Irish Balladeer

There were nice people everywhere in the park, sharing information, mountain music and art.

Coleman, who the kids came to call "Mr. Paint man"  brought cardboard and paint and set up a poster making table.  The kids loved it!
Something for Everyone at the EATS picnic

Clare was happy to see her old friend and fellow Irish traveller Retha Ferrell, who entertained us with mountain music under a shade tree, followed by Irish balladeer Kevin.   Inside, as folks shared the meal, two more lovely mountain musicians added their lilting voices to the day.

Thanks to  Everyone Acting Together in Solidarity( EATS!) and all who had a hand in making the gathering so fun.

Story and photos by Clare Hanrahan
On the Ground in the Southeast

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Weaving the Fabric of Resistance in Southeast

We've been asserting First Amendment rights in Asheville and throughout the Southeast this year, building relationships and alliances across issues and campaigns - working to stimulate strategic discussion on the environmental, economic, and cultural impacts of the Military Industrial Complex on the Southeast.

Backbone Campaign's Bill Moyers: Arrest  Rumsfeld!
In April we traveled to Dallas to join others who brought some truth telling to the ceremonial opening of the G.W. Bush "Lie-bury" at Southern Methodist University. It was good to be with such a feisty group of committed and capable organizers in Dallas. It was especially fun to have the opportunity to play in the streets and practice the craft of projection art with tactical arts master Bill Moyer of the  Backbone Campaign.

Clare and and her friend Kit Jones, a Fort Worth activist on the Move-On council and a sister SMU alumna, shared some luminous direct action, projecting "Arrest Bush" messages on the side of a downtown Dallas building.

New South Network's presentation War On Earth! Atomic Appalachia and the Militarized Southeast: Environmental Impact was well received,  both in Dallas and later back in Asheville at the National War Tax Resisters May gathering. As members of the local planning group, we organized and hosted this four day national convergence, providing local hospitality and program for scores of long-time war tax refusing activists, those just beginning war tax refusal and other interested persons.
NWTRCC Activists take to the streets in Asheville: Resisting War and Redirecting Resources

Linda Modica, Jerry Condon, Helen Jaccard & Coleman Smith
Following the NWTRCC gathering we welcomed to Asheville, Jerry Condon and Helen Jaccard, of VFP's Environmental Costs of War & Militarism National Working Group.  Linda Modica of nearby Jonesborough, Tenn. came to Asheville to talk about the work to expose Aero-Jet Ordnance DU weapons making and its environmental impacts in the tiny mountain community of Jonesborough.

As veteran peace activists and associate VFP members, we are collaborating with the VFP working group and others as we continue our travels in the militarized Southeast presenting on militarism's environmental impact. We are always appreciative of any help to keep us on the road.

 Asheville rally against Genetically Engineered Trees.
In May we participated as Legal Observers supporting a rally and week long series of events protesting Genetically Engineered Trees. The week of education and resistance, energized by  Earth First!, Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign, took place in conjunction with the International Tree Biotechnology 2013 Conference.

In mid July, we joined with Linda Modica, and other members of Erwin Citizens' Awareness Network to welcome the Chicago-based Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT ) Jonesborough, Tenn. for a week of research, canvassing, and action to draw attention to the environmental costs of depleted uranium weapons production at Aero-Jet Ordnance. CPT places teams at the invitation of local communities that are confronting situations of conflict, often in war zones. The DU munitions factory is located in the small mountain town of Jonesborough, Tennessee, known as the Storytelling Capital of the World. 
CPT: Telling the story: Weaponized Uranium in Jonesborough

There is a very dark story unfolding in Jonesborough. It is disconcerting to realize that this lovely, peaceful community  not only has DU contaminated water and soil within it's limits, and contributes to 95 miles of downstream and multi-state downwind radioactive contamination, but is also the site of an ongoing War Crime due to the nature of Depleted Uranium weapons' radioactive contamination of battlefields around the globe. Some of this radiation persists for billions of years affecting future generations with a silent killer. This is in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions which prohibit the use of weapons with Inter-generational impact.  

With so many current sabres rattling to carry on the War Mongering Profiteering, where does a war resister turn next? 

Bro. Utsumi helps launch Peace Lanterns on Nagasaki Day
We remembered Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance in early August. On the same day we could have been at a related Vigil at the gates of the Kings Bay Trident Nuclear Submarine Base in St. Mary's, Georgia. We had to miss the 30th year remembrance of the actions against the School of the Americas at the Gates of Fort Benning, Georgia on the same day.      
With Sr. Megan Rice at Courthouse

Sentencing in Knoxville is September 30th for the three Disarm Now Plowshares who took bold action to reveal the inherent insecurity of the Oak Ridge Nuclear Weapons Y-12 complex. 

Now there's Syria .... Please look us up again for more reports from the militarized Southeast and all the people rising to End This Perpetual War.

Report and Photos by Hanrahan & Smith: On the Ground in the Southeast