SPC in Action

From the July-August 2011 PNL #806

compiled by Carol Baum

Eyewitness Afghanistan
Longtime SPC activist Ed Kinane flew to Afghanistan on July 16 to join a four week Voices for Creative Nonviolence delegation. Ed went to learn about the effects of this ten-year-long war on the people there, and in particular about the impact of drone warfare on them. The delegation will meet with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (a group campaigning to rebuild Afghanistan and end the war), other grassroots groups and Afghan civilians. Check out the SPC website for Ed’s reports, and consider inviting him to speak to your faith community, labor group, etc., in the fall. Contact Andy.

County Legislature Passes Onondaga Resolution
On July 5, the Onondaga County Legislature narrowly approved a resolution expressing their intent to return Murphy’s Island, a small piece of land along the south shore of Onondaga Lake, to the Onondaga Nation. Special thanks to Lloyd Withers who initiated this action and worked on it persistently for several years. This is an important first step, but much work remains before Murphy’s Island is returned to the Onondaga. If you’d like to help on this or other efforts to support the Onondaga, contact Andy.

Ground the Drones
The Ground the Drones Committee has been busy since the April 22 action at Hancock Air Base at which 38 people were arrested. Committee members are either personally dealing with the legal system or playing support roles. Most of the Hancock 38 Drone Resisters are going pro se (representing themselves through the legal process), which has involved many court appearances. Motions will be argued in late July and early August; we still don’t know when trial(s) will be. There are several committees doing support work – hospitality, publicity and a tribunal committee (for educational activities during the trial(s)). To help out, contact Carol.

In addition, the local SPC Ground the Drones Committee participated in a regional meeting, inspiring Rochester activists to borrow our drone model for a tableau.

And speaking of tableaus…A tableau is a street theater piece which gains attention through its stillness – the “actors” are completely stationary and silent. Once again we will perform a tableau outside the main entrance of the NY State Fair. We’d love your help. Contact Carol.

Bring the War $ Home
The new Bring the War $ Home Committee is up and running! Our first focus has been to provide informational materials and create interactive activities for SPC outreach tabling. At Jazz Fest, we offered a military spending quiz and a penny poll, in which people showed their federal spending priorities by putting pennies into jars representing different categories (see article).

We will continue both activities through the summer and experiment with other forms of outreach. Also, we’re organizing some “Bring the War $ Home” themed Peace Outreaches.

Please join us to make the problem of military spending a part of the economic discussion. Contact Carol or Jessica.


Bikes 4 Peace: Same Fun, New Look
We’re half-way through our busy summer schedule, having completed three clinics at Northeast Community Center and two at Loguen Park. We also held a special Saturday clinic for youth in the Onondaga Earth Corps to help them fix up bikes to commute to work. We’ll be at the Spanish Action League parking lot at 700 Oswego St. on August 3 and 10 from 5-7 pm.

To increase visibility we are giving those who help with at least two clinics a free Bikes 4 Peace T-shirt,  designed by local graphic artist Adam Rozum. We also have a new banner, additional tools, and 15 bike helmets to distribute, all purchased with funding from the Salt City DISHES grant. We welcome people of all skill levels to post flyers, pick up donated bikes, sign-in youth at clinics, and work with youth to fix bikes. Contact Jessica or Ursula.

Hiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration
SPC and Peace Action are organizing commemorations of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 66 years ago. On Monday, August 1 we’re having a paper crane-making and dessert party at 7 pm at 2013 E. Genesee St.  We’ll teach adults and children how to make the cranes, which will be distributed during the procession the following week. On Thursday, August 4 at 7 pm we’re sponsoring an Interfaith Sharing for Peace and a Lantern Floating at the Everson Museum Plaza (State St. between Harrison and Madison). Feel free to bring children – there will be activities for them. Then on Tuesday, August 9 please join us for our annual dramatic procession to remember the dead and demand the abolition of nuclear power and weapons. We’ll gather at 11:30 am near City Hall (215 E. Washington St.); please join us, wearing white or light-colored clothing. Contact Carol.


Working for a Clean, Green Energy Future

SPC joined a coalition of Upstate NY groups to lobby in Albany against nuclear power in late June. Activists met with Tom Congden, Deputy Secretary for Energy and the Environment, who confirmed that a new nuclear reactor is unlikely to be built in NYS in the near future, given the Fukushima disaster and the financial weakness of the industry.The Attorney General’s (AG) office has asserted the state’s right to intervene in the relicensing of the Indian Point Generating Station (a nuclear power facility 35 miles outside of Manhattan). In a meeting with their office, we encouraged them to join Beyond Nuclear in petitioning the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to suspend operations at the 23 GE Mark I boiling water reactors in the US (including Nine Mile Point I and Fitzpatrick, both near Oswego). All three reactors that melted down at Fukushima were of this design, which has fatal flaws that the NRC has known about since the 1970s. This year, the amount of energy produced by renewables in the US surpassed the production from nuclear power. The Mark I reactors provide 4% of US energy needs. It’s time to turn the page on nuclear power. You can individually support the Beyond Nuclear petition and learn more at beyondnuclear.org.

PeaceSongsCNY: Turning Up the Volume on Peace
SPC is asking Central New Yorkers to tap into the power of music for social change and submit songs related to peace and social justice to be considered for a CD. Entitled PeaceSongsCNY, the CD will be released in honor of SPC’s 75th anniversary. Original submissions are encouraged but traditional (non-copyrighted) songs will also be considered. Submissions are due by October 1. For full details, see peacecouncil.net/songs or call Amber at 315-200-5266 or Jack at 732-266-9016.

SPC Out and About
June was a busy month for the SPC tabling outreach team, with festivals and events every weekend. We marched in the Pride and Juneteenth Parades, partnered with ArtRage at Art on the Porches, braved the rain at JazzFest, and tabled at the Duck Race, the Big Splash and Michael Franti concerts. Thanks to everyone who participated. Our next major event is the Arts and Crafts Festival, July 29-31 in downtown Syracuse. We’ll need lots of people to staff our booth over the three-day festival. It’s fun. Contact Ursula.

Colombia Solidarity
On July 21, a small delegation left CNY to visit our sister community in Cajibío, Colombia. Activist musician Colleen Kattau, SPC staff organizers Jessica Maxwell and Ursula Rozum, and SPC Steering Committee member Sara Watrous spent several days with the Small Farmer’s Movement in southwestern Colombia to work in solidarity against corporate exploitation and in support of human rights and sustainable development. Look for a presentation on our trip in the fall. If you would like to donate towards the expenses of the delegation, please send checks made out to “Syracuse Peace Council” with “Colombia delegation” in the memo line.

Activist appreciation –  Nick Papatonis
SPC has Nick Papatonis to thank for much of what’s posted on our active YouTube channel. Since returning to Syracuse last fall, Nick has become SPC’s steady videographer, not only doing the taping, but uploading the videos almost immediately. Nearly 2,000 people have viewed his videos of Noam Chomsky. Hundreds of others have watched his videos of the Ground the Drones demonstration, Poetry for Peace, the Nakba commemoration and much more. We’re delighted that Nick is part of the SPC team. Express your appreciation to Nick by checking out some of our videos on YouTube and pass on the links to your friends!

If you’ve stopped by the SPC office recently, you might have noticed quite a crowd of young people working at computers, designing posters, fixing props, or participating in meetings. That’s because we have six (!) interns here for the summer. Lena Gluck, Danielle Limer-Nies, Cody Maggi, Burton Schaber, Dania Souid and Matt Whelan have been working on Syracuse Stories, outreach tabling, Hiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration, Bring the War Money Home Committee, the PNL, CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel, video production, Poetry for Peace, hydrofracking and general office work.

We’re excited to have so much activity around the office. Look for a special insert in the September PNL on student activism.

SPC Calling!
Over 20 SPC activists worked on our annual summer phonathon, speaking with or leaving messages for hundreds of SPC supporters. If you received a message, we hope you’ll give as generously as you are able. If you didn’t receive a call, we’d still warmly welcome a check or online donation (peacecouncil.net/donate). SPC accomplishes a great deal with limited finances; the easier the money comes in, the more time can go into educating, agitating and organizing. Thanks to all who participated or donated.

ACTS’ Listening Campaign
SPC is participating in the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS) Listening Campaign to find out what issues are important to constituents of member organizations. In the organizing traditions of Saul Alinksy and Marshall Ganz, SPC activists will conduct one-on-one meetings with other SPC activists and supporters to better understand one another’s desire for social change. Our goal is to conduct 30 interviews by the beginning of September. Contact Ursula to schedule a time to sit down and share your motivation to work for peace and social justice or, better yet, to learn how to help with the one-on-ones.

Coming Up
SPC Summer Picnic. All are invited to SPC’s Summer Picnic, to be held in the lovely backyard of Ann Tiffany, Ed Kinane and Aggie Lane (340 Midland Ave.) on Wednesday, August 24 at 6 pm. Please bring a potluck dish to pass. Contact Carol.

One Person’s Junk…is another’s treasure! It’s time to go through your stuff and save some of those little-used treasures for SPC’s Garage Sale, to be held September 10-11. Watch for details in the September PNL and on the website.

On July 8, the NYS DEC released their draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS). It bans hydrofracking in the Skaneateles Lake watershed (Syracuse’s unfiltered drinking water source) as well as NYC’s watershed, and above 18 “primary aquifers” throughout the state. But this leaves much of the state at risk.

Please write letters to newspapers and the Governor expressing your support for equal protection for ALL New Yorkers. Get on the BAN-wagon! Sign the statewide ban petition at frackaction.com, and join with shaleshockcny.org activists in working to enact local bans. Comment on the SGEIS. The 60-day comment period will likely begin in early August. Go to shaleshockcny.org to learn how to comment. Contact Lindsay Speer,475-2559 x104.