From the November-December 2015 PNL #847

Compiled by Carol Baum

Come Together at Plowshares
At this time of year when the night is lengthening, the Plowshares Craftsfair and Peace Festival lights up our hearts and spirits. Plowshares is Central New York’s premier multicultural craftsfair, celebrating a world where people enjoy their work and have control over it. It is a marketplace both of ideas and beautiful handmade items, a community gathering of people who hope and work for a better world.
Spend the day! There is so much to do at Plowshares. It features 125 local craftspeople and community groups. You’ll find clothing, jewelry, ceramics, decorative objects, herbal medicinals and more. When you need a break from shopping, enjoy the ongoing live entertainment, savor the tasty food from The Mission restaurant, or just hang out with old and new friends.
There’s also the fun of exploring the SPC Marketplace (featuring a wide array of peace and social justice books, calendars, t-shirts, stickers, buttons and more), buying raffle tickets and bidding on SPC silent auction items.
Plowshares is SPC’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Volunteers and the staff collective have been bustling to get ready and the weekend itself needs many more volunteers (hint, hint). You can help even now by getting the word out—post flyers (PNL subscribers have one enclosed), tell your friends (bring a newbie or two), post on social media or put a lawn sign in your yard. Contact Carol if you can help in any way.
So mark your calendars: SPC’s 45th annual Plowshares Craftsfair and Peace Festival is at Nottingham High School (3100 E. Genesee St., Syracuse) from 10 am-5 pm on Saturday, December 5 and 11 am-5 pm on Sunday, December 6.  We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Rev Up for the REV
Governor Cuomo and the New York Public Service Commission have undertaken a major overhaul of New York’s energy policy called Reforming the Energy Vision (REV). The Public Service Commission is holding hearings about these issues.
REV could lead to dramatic increases in renewables and energy efficiency. But this is not a guaranteed outcome—we need to participate. Please come to the Syracuse hearing on Wednesday, November 18 at Clary Middle School Auditorium (100 Amidon Drive); 6-7 pm information session and 7 pm public statement hearing. For talking points go to http://tinyurl.com/ox3asqe.
Contact Jessica Azulay at Jessica@agreenewyork.org of Alliance for a Green Economy (SPC is a coalition member).

Thanksgiving Circle of Peace and Hope
Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON) will gather with friends from Onondaga and the broader community at 10 am on Thursday, November 26 at Willow Bay (north shore of Onondaga Lake) to express thanks for the Onondaga Nation’s important work to protect Mother Earth and offer inspiration for justice and healing between our peoples. Dress for the weather. We’ll provide light refreshments. Contact Andy.mager@gmail.com, 315-559-7058.

Anti-Racism Study Groups
Poverty & Segregation Study Group: In recent years the Post-Standard has printed articles about two studies of interest—one showing that Syracuse is one of the top ten most racially segregated cities in the US and another showing Syracuse has one of the highest rates nationwide of poverty in communities of color. Activists are in the beginning stages of organizing a study group to help inform and develop future organizing strategies to break down barriers of segregation and poverty in Syracuse. This group is projected to start meeting in January 2016.
The Anti-Racism & White Privilege Study Group has just completed its fall session. Over the course of six meetings, participants read articles, discussed and shared personal experiences about becoming aware of white privilege, white people’s role in organizing to end racism, and handling common challenges that get in the way of us working effectively against racism. There will be a second session of this study group starting in spring 2016.
Contact Amelia.

Walking to Ground Drones
From October 7-21, activists from the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars walked the 165 miles from Syracuse’s Hancock Air Base to Buffalo’s Niagara Falls Air Base.
Carrying a banner stating “Imagine NO Drones: Undrone Upstate and Disrupt the Death Squadrons,” the walkers were seen by thousands of people and spoke with hundreds.
SPC was responsible for the Syracuse to Clyde portion of the walk. The kick-off event was a talk by Kathy Kelly, who had just returned from Afghanistan (video at http://tinyurl.com/p9jqfgr). The next morning, a group of about 20 started walking at Hancock Air Base, stopping at St. Joseph’s Hospital to protest the October 3rd US bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
The walk concluded with a demonstration at Niagara Falls AFB followed by a talk by CODEPINK organizer Medea Benjamin.
To work against weaponized drones, contact Carol.

ACTS Successful in Prison Campaign
In response to a demand from the Criminal Justice Task Force of the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (of which SPC is a part), County Executive Joanie Mahoney agreed to move all 16-17 year olds currently held in Jamesville Prison to the Justice Center in downtown Syracuse.
Onondaga County had a policy of placing 16 and 17 year olds into solitary confinement at Jamesville, sometimes with no human contact for 23 hours a day. At the Justice Center, the young people will not be routinely subjected to solitary confinement. To participate with ACTS as an SPC representative, contact Carol.

Donate to SPC
As the Peace Council approaches our 80th year, we ask your help to sustain grassroots, local peace activism and solidarity with peace-loving people around the world by donating to the Peace Council this fall.
Daily news reports of hospital bombings, police brutality, and a never-ending refugee crisis are disheartening. Despite terrifying circumstances, activists around the world are resisting and organizing for peace, justice, and a dignified life. If you read the Peace Newsletter or attend SPC educational events, you’ve heard the voices of these activists.
When you donate to the Peace Council, you are supporting persistent and principled activism and organizing carried out by a community of grassroots activists. You can give online at www.peacecouncil.net/donate or via check or credit card. Donations of $50 or more are tax deductible when made out to the “Syracuse Center for Peace and Social Justice” with SPC in the memo line. Contact Ursula.

Farewell, not Goodbye,
to Brian
The SPC staff collective is bidding farewell to our de facto fourth member, Brian Escobar, who has been working as an intern since last winter. Brian quickly and easily slipped into many roles at SPC over his months of involvement. Initially he focused on anti-corporate organizing and education. Approaching summer, Brian joined the PNL editorial committee and organized weekly tabling at the Downtown Farmer’s Market. He has been an active participant in SPC’s Anti-Racism & White Privilege Study Group as well as internal meetings about becoming an anti-racist organization. As fall approached, Brian took on more duties related to fundraising, data management, and the Nuclear Free World.
The staff cannot emphasize enough our gratitude for Brian’s excellent work and how sad we are to see him leave his internship position. However, we are grateful for his continuing commitments to the Steering Committee, PNL editorial committee, and to helping SPC get a new database.
We are lucky to have Brian in our community. To every task he brings thoughtfulness and thoroughness; to every discussion, critical thinking backed up by a vast body of knowledge; and to every conversation a kind laugh at the right moment. We’re looking forward to many more years of rolling up our sleeves together, Brian!

Activist Appreciation:
Sue Nuccio
A professional roofer by trade, Sue Nuccio has been involved with the Peace Council for a few decades. She is one of the many behind-the-scenes activists who help SPC events succeed. Every Plowshares, Sue is part of setting up the raffle table and the Sunday evening cleanup team. At the Birthday Dinner, she won’t hesitate to pick up a mop after most guests have left and insists on leaving the kitchen cleaner than before we started. Recently, Sue spent hours volunteering with Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation at the World Indoors Lacrosse Championship. Sue is super sweet and friendly, the kind of activist who helps fosters a sense of camaraderie in every effort she is a part of. Thank you Sue for being a consistent and uplifting presence in our community!

Justice for Palestine
The Justice for Palestine Committee, formerly known as CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel, organizes frequent educational events about the human costs of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. In late October we hosted Palestinian author AbdulKarim Al Makadma, author of Tears of Olive Trees (www,thetearsofolivetrees.com). In early November we screened Ghost Town: A Hebron Story, a documentary about the rise of Israeli settlements in the West Bank city of Hebron and the major role the settlements play in destroying the peace process in the Mideast. Palestinian activist Basma Bahram of the Holy Land Fair Trade Cooperative (www.hlhc.org) also spoke.
The next meeting of the Justice for Palestine committee is Monday, November 16 at 6pm. We will discuss developing local BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigns focused on international companies with operations in Central New York. which profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine.  For more information contact Ann, 315-478-4571.

Nuclear Free World
The Nuclear Free World Committee held a screening of the winners and finalists of the Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Nuke Busters Short Film Competition. The short films offer powerful reframings of the threat posed by nuclear weapons and their high costs today. Interspersed between the five shorts were activities designed by local artist Sally Safadi, which prompted participants to imagine alternatives. The success of the event convinced the committee that taking it on the road would be a fun and powerful form of outreach.

Birthday Dinner Success!
Thank you to everyone who helped make SPC’s 79th Birthday Dinner a smashing success. Local poet/artist Mic tha Poet opened with two moving poems. Our featured guest Remi Kanazi received a standing ovation at the end of his performance, clips of which can be found online at www.peacecoucil.net/remi.
Attendees enjoyed delicious seasonal cuisine prepared by Shana Williams and featuring produce from Grindstone Farm, Freedom Reigns Early Morning Farm and Owens Orchard. Thank you to our kitchen volunteers, table hosts, door staffers, set-up and clean-up crews, videographers and more. You are all our heroes.
To join the organizing committee for SPC’s 80th Birthday, contact Ursula.