This Earth Day, join the Burlington Vermont Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and the Vermont Stands for a World Beyond War Coalition on Saturday, April 22nd from 9 AM to 4:30 PM at Winooski School District, 60 Normand Street in Winooski, for a daylong conference, entitled Building a World Beyond War: What Will It Take? The conference will feature keynote presentations by David Swanson, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and Patricia Hynes, Director of the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice. Twelve Vermont-focused workshops will cover topics from nuclear weapons, activism 101, financing a peace economy, militarism in our lives, Israel and Palestine, the F35s, and the internal and external effects of war on our lives. Every workshop will seek to answer the question: What will it take to build a world beyond war?
The April 22nd conference will focus on resisting militarization and looking for ways to protect ourselves more effectively by directing tax dollars to serve people, peace, and planet instead of profits and war. Workshops will include both educational and action components. By the conference’s conclusion, coalition members and attendees will have developed statewide actions or events that can be worked on together in the coming year.
Pledging to oversee “one of the greatest military buildups in American history,” President Trump is proposing a 10% or 54 billion dollar increase in military spending and a concurrent slash in non-military spending. Many Vermonters are questioning what will happen to education, the environment, science, health care, foreign diplomacy, and entitlement programs, as this new administration’s focus is shifted to what is perceived as heightened national security and to a “nobody’s going to mess with us, folks” mentality. All this while the U.S. already has a military bigger than the next 15 countries combined.
The Vermont Stands for a World Beyond War Coalition includes the Burlington, Vermont, Branch: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF); Peace & Justice Center; Save Our Skies VT/Stop the F35s Coalition; Will Miller Green Mountain Veterans For Peace; Vermont Action for Peace; Great Burlington Multicultural Resource Center; Kunsi Keja Tamakoce; Friends Committee on National Legislation; and Justice for All.
Conference funding has been provided by a Mercy Peace Initiative Grant, a U.S. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) mini-grant, and other underwriters. A registration fee of $25 covers food, but no one will be turned away due to inability to pay. To register, go the Peace & Justice Center website at www.pjcvt.org and look under the “Upcoming PJC Events” tab for conference information and the registration form. The registration deadline is April 18th. For more information, contact the Peace & Justice Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (802) 863-2345 x6.
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David Swanson, a 2017 Noble Prize Nominee, is Director of World Beyond War (www.worldbeyondwar.org/) and author of War Is Never Just, War Is A Lie, War No More: The Case for Abolition, and When the World Outlawed War. He is the host of Talk Nation Radio. He has been a journalist, activist, organizer, educator, and agitator.
Patricia Hynes is the Director of the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice (http://traprock.org/) and a retired Professor of Urban Environmental Health, having worked for decades as an educator, researcher, writer and activist on issues of environmental justice, feminism, and the health effects of war.
Link to conference registration form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdIJe-wQ7eSYXWrJdbfWQ4DDp_0v9efsIKOXBw6t2nGTm4emg/viewform?c=0&w=1
Link to conference information: http://www.pjcvt.org/building-a-world-beyond-war-what-will-it-take/
Vermont Stands for a World Beyond War Coalition spokespersons include:
- John Reuwer, M.D., has been studying and speaking about the medical effects of nuclear weapons since 1980 when Ronald Reagan was talking about winning a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. He currently serves on the Security Committee of Physicians for Social Responsibility (P.S.R.), teaches conflict resolution at St. Michael’s College, and is an emergency medicine doctor in South Burlington. He can be reached at: email@example.com or (540) 267-4317
- Beverly Little Thunder, Kunsi Keya Tamkoce (http://www.kunsikeya.org/contact.html ), is a Lakota womyn from Stand Rock Nation in North Dakota. Viewed as an elder, she has been an activist for Indigenous and Womyn’s Rights since her teen years. Currently a resident of Vermont, she continues to guide Lakota ceremonies for Womyn on land in Huntington, Vermont. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Home Phone: (802) 434-5359 or Cell: (802) 922-6988
- Eileen Andreoli, Save Our Skies VT/Stop the F35s Coalition, is a Winooski resident and UVM Extension Master Gardener who promotes best practices for Vermont’s urban forests. She can be reached at: email@example.com or (802) 655-1741
· Patrick Brown, Director of the Greater Burlington Multicultural Center for over 22 years, is a Burlington resident who is active in many peace and social justice organizations and causes. He is dedicated to advancing the visibility of minorities in the community in a positive and welcoming manner. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 657-4219.
- “Nuclear Weapons: The Current Threat and What We Can Do About It” with John Reuwer, M.D., from Physicians for Social Responsibility (South Burlington). Presentation Description: In order to increase the chances that there will be a world worth living for in the future, we must first eliminate the very real possibility of nuclear annihilation. The more than 15,000 nuclear weapons held by nine nations are capable of destroying any semblance of what we call civilization. This presentation will review the current arsenals, the medical and climatic effects of using nuclear weapons, and how close we have already come to disaster. Participants will learn about current agencies and campaigns that participants may join to decrease the threat of their use.
- “Activism 101 We are ALL Activists!” with Mary Brown-Guillory (Burlington) from Champlain Area NAACP. Presentation Description: Coming soon
- “The Power of Militarism in Our Lives: A Community Discussion” with Joseph Gainza (Plainfield), Dorie Wilsnack (Barre), and Eric Bachman (Barre) from Vermont Action for Peace. Presentation Description: This will be a discussion workshop, a place to explore together the pervasiveness of militarism in our culture and our daily lives. We’ll discuss the ideas and values that militarism embodies. We will look at how militarism is woven into our individual and collective lives such as in our speech, government policies, economy and entertainment. We’ll take some time to discuss alternatives to the manifestations of militarism, such as nonviolence. Where do we see alternatives at work in Vermont? What kind of actions can we take to lessen the power of militarism and build new ways of relating and living?
- “War Without/War Within” & “How Do You Foster Peace? A Community-Based Listening Project” with Barbara Soros (Corinth), a body-mind practitioner and Adrienne Kinne (Bethel) from Will Miller Green Mountain Veterans For Peace. Presentation Description: Coming soon David Ransom (Fair Haven or Waterville)
- “Peaceful Resistence in Ceremony While Facing Violence” with Beverly Little Thunder (Huntington) and Catherine Cadden (Jeffersonville) from Kunsi Keya Tamakoce. Presentation Description: Discussion on recent events in North Dakota around pipeline by Energy Transfer and how nonviolence training assisted in building an awareness that continues beyond the actual pipe line itself. What did we learn from the Indigenous community’s organization of such a massive resistance? How do we as womyn continue to build on this?
- “One State, Two States, Solution or No Solution” with Sandra Baird (Burlington) from The Caroline Fund and Mousa Ishaq (Essex Junction) from the Burlington/Bethlehem/Arad Sister City Program. Presentation Description: The conflict between Israel and Palestine remains one of the main blocks to peace in the Middle East. With the Israeli occupation of the lands of Palestine, the threat of war throughout the region has been and is real and ongoing. Solutions to this seemingly relentless struggle have been considered: should there be two separate and independent states, one for the Israelis and one for the Palestinians? Should there be one state for both peoples in which both Palestinians and Israelis would have equal rights to citizenship and justice? Are there any solutions which would finally end this conflict and bring justice to both peoples? In this workshop the presenters will speak of both the issues dividing Palestinians and Israelis and possible resolutions to the conflict. More important, the workshop will welcome the honest discussion and debate of our community on the problems facing Israelis and Palestinians as they long for peace.
- “What Vermonters Can Do NOW To Do Build a World Without War” with Sophie Quest (South Burlington) and Sandy Fead (South Burlington) from Friends Committee on National Legislation. Presentation Description: In this workshop, we’ll look at President Trump’s proposed budget and huge increase in military spending, as well as the proposed cuts in human services, environment, education, and other areas. We’ll present concrete numbers on what this military budget could buy in terms of the needs of people and the planet. Finally, we’ll look at doable actions that Vermonters can take to protest the military budget.
- “Soldiers of War Helping Each Other Reconnect and Heal” with Jon Turner (Bristol) from Farmer Veteran Coalition of Vermont (https://www.facebook.com/farmerveterancoalitionofvermont/ ). Presentation Description: This program is designed and led by Jon Turner who served tours of duty in Haiti and Iraq. In this workshop he will share how ensuring that combat veterans reconnect and heal from trauma is an important part of the answer of what it will take to build a world beyond war. He will share his story including his introduction to the national office of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. He believes in the value of the organization for assisting veterans in development of meaningful, financially sustainable roles in the agricultural community, and his leadership in the creation of the Vermont chapter in late 2015. The Vermont chapter is the fourth in the nation, following Michigan, Kansas, and Maine. The purpose of the Farmer Veteran Coalition of Vermont is to cultivate a new generation of farmers and food leaders, and develop viable employment and meaningful careers through collaboration with farming and military communities. The chapter recognizes that agriculture offers purpose, opportunity, and physical and psychological benefit to returning veterans as they launch into new career paths. Nearly 7000 veterans are
- “Equity & Accountability: Finance for a Peace Economy” with Gwendolyn Hallsmith (Cabot) and Matthew Cropp (Burlington) from Vermonters for a New Economy (https://sites.google.com/site/vermonterseconomy/home and https://www.facebook.com/VermontCoalitionForANewEconomy/ ). Presentation Description: Driven by the linked imperatives of growth and extraction, the for-profit financial institutions that dominate our economy consistently generate poverty, environmental degradation, social tension, and violent conflict. This session will include an overview of the ways in which dominant existing financial structures cause harm, and presentations on two tested and viable alternatives: Public Banking and Cooperative Finance. The session will conclude with a Q&A about these models and a discussion seeking to connect the ways in which divestment campaigns, local investment, and other systemic changes can contribute to financial systems that would be foundational to a robust and just Peace Economy.
- “Building Empathy and Hope with Kids4Peace” with Jeff Mandell (Burlington) from Kids4Peace Vermont (http://www.k4p.org/chapters/vermont/ ). Presentation Description: Does violent conflict in the world seem like a tangled knot without hope of solution? Kids4Peace (k4p.org) provides that hope and is training our future leaders to be peacemakers. Kids4Peace is a grassroots interfaith youth movement dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hope in Jerusalem and other divided societies around the world. To achieve this mission, our programs build interfaith communities that embody a culture of peace and empower a movement for change. In this hour we will explore immediate learnings to elevate your one-on-one and group peace-building skills and hear directly from Kids4Peace Vermont teen ambassadors who have lived and studied with kids from Israel and Palestine. One component of a world beyond war requires citizens of the world to be able to disagree with their neighbors without taking violent action or depriving them of their human rights. This capability derives from the capacity to empathize and understand opposing points of view. Kids4Peace teaches these skills to understand and problem solve, starting by gathering small groups of people with opposing views together. Participants explore their traditions and customs, share the realities of their daily lives, and work to break down the stereotypes and fears that they have of the ‘other’. Recently in Jerusalem the newest group of 140 Muslim, Christian and Jewish families met for the first time. During the initial meeting, despite their differences, a new culture of unity and bonding was formed. After attending this workshop you have some tangible knowledge and tools for creating a culture of peace in your community.
- “The F35 Basing in Vermont: A Local Example of Expanding Militarism” with Eileen Andreoli (Winooski) from Stop the F35 Coalition / Save Our Skies VT. Presentation Description: The future F35 basing in Burlington VT is the real-time, local manifestation of the consequences of the militarization of our society. The powerful campaign to increase the militarization of our region attempts to rationalize the destruction of Vermonter’s homes and environment, the endangerment of residents’ health and safety, and the loss of property values as acceptable collateral damage necessary to support its mission. In an effort to protect Vermonters from this tragedy, opponents of the basing have entered into lawsuits seeking full disclosure on the true human costs of the F35’s projected negative impacts to over 6,600 Vermonters and their neighborhood communities. This presentation will explore the F35 issue, from the first scoping meetings to the present time, and the status of the current lawsuit. Attendees will learn why this decision will be so harmful, as well as ways to continue to fight this inappropriate basing and protect Vermont, its environment and its people from this planned destruction of our residential communities.
- “Recognizing, Addressing and Working to End White Fragility” with Kyle Silliman-Smith (Burlington) from The Peace & Justice Center. Presentation Description: This group activity is focused on white fragility – the struggle for dominant communities to tolerate discussions on race without feeling shame, guilt, or victimization. In building a world beyond war it is vital to address racism because the way we conduct war is fundamentally based in racism and the propagation of discrimination. In this effort to move beyond war and create a peaceful environment it is critical to ensure that people in white skin understand that the current, widely held idea of what racism is, is inauthentic and incomplete. There will be a group discussion on concrete steps people can take to disrupt the cycle of white fragility in the hopes that people will better understand how the power and privilege of white skin combined with complacency perpetuate racism and other systems of oppression.