Tom Sturtevant Chapter 1
February 23, 2013
Annual Retreat – Viles Arboretum
Attending: Bud Buzzell, Dovey & Phil Balsam, Vicki Saint Amand, Michael Paul King, Bob Lezer, Clarence Smith, Dud Hendrick, Regis Tremblay, Diane Messer, Peter Woodruff, Robert Clark, Dan Avener, Doug Rawlings, Rita Clement, Dan Ellis, Richard Clement, Tim Blanchette, Tom Whitney, Peggy Akers, Bruce Gagnon
Meditation: We began the meeting with a guided meditation by former Vietnam-vet Priyadarshi.
Jeju Video: Regis Tremblay (new associate member who has son in Army and recently returned from Afghanistan) showed his rough cut video about Jeju Island Navy base fight. Regis went to Jeju for three weeks and came back determined to make the video which reveals the back story of US occupation of Korea following the end of WW II and the massacres on Jeju that killed 80,000. You can see what we watched at http://www.indiegogo.com/savejeju
Regis is working on a feature length documentary and is having to fund alot of the costs out of his pocket. The chapter voted to give $1,000 to Regis for the project with the option for more later on if needed. He told the story of professor Yang-Yoon Mo who was recently sentenced to jail for 18 months for non-violent activities trying to block construction of the base. Yang is on his third jail hunger strike. You can watch an extraordinary interview with Yang at http://savejejunow.org/portfolio/island-of-stone/
Open Discussion: Peggy led us on an open and wide ranging discussion. Here are some key points that members made:
• Thanks to Peggy & Richard for organizing the retreat
• Killing doesn’t go away – it is profoundly immoral
• NDAA indefinite detention already in use in unknown ways
• Kristina (former treasurer) sent us a card thanking us for the VFP jacket, she is wearing it at Dartmouth
• Loukie is doing well following her recent surgery
• Jeju video made me realize how little we really know
• How does change take place?
• We get stronger when we come together
• Mary Sturtevant lives in Augusta and loves visitors
• My son joined the Army and our government has demonized the “enemy”…. my son would use his gun to kill the enemy
• War is deeply imbedded in the churches and culture of the west
• People in Gangjeong village are resisting, they are not passive and we are going to have to become more like them
• We teach non-violent conflict resolution every day to 4-5 year olds but by the 6th grade they have a level of meanness that we didn’t see 15 years ago
• Students in my classes were conditioned with “learned helplessness”….we have to keep the faith and be in it for the long haul
• Young folks are connecting to environmental issues and VFP can bridge to them with ideas like no war on the Mother Earth and the Pentagon has the largest carbon footprint on the planet
• Make better use of alternative media….use your cell phone camera to record short bits and put them on YouTube
• We go to war for our resources….everything we fight for affects our overall VFP mission
• History is important
• Be sure to watch the new eight part TV series by Oliver Stone called the Untold History of the US. You can see several of the first episodes at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6ciIE8HKKU
Protest on Bridge: We took a break and went out to a local bridge in Augusta for 30 minutes to hold signs calling for the release of whistle blower Bradley Manning. Some activists from the local community joined us for the vigil. Photos can be found at https://vfpmaine.org/2013%20retreat.asp
Business Meeting: It was proposed that one way we could begin to liberate our consciousness from the corporate business model would be to begin to call our “Business Meeting” our Membership meeting or something similar. No action was taken.
Secretary report: Last meeting minutes are on our web site and were accepted as written.
Treasurer report: Dovey presented us with her projected budget for 2013 which is a good guide for us. The chapter expressed gratitude for her hard work on it. The chapter reminded Dovey that her job was not to worry too much about how much money we had – everyone must take responsibility for that. Her primary job was to keep good records and make monthly reports. We want to relieve Dovey of any stress about the budget.
Membership report: Currently have 161 members, 87 are currently paid up. Dan’s suggestion we get rid of ‘Calendar Wiz’ and save some money was approved.
Education Committee: No report. Regis suggested that we interview our members about their military experiences and put the videos on YouTube and then on our web site. We could feature a different member each month and spread them around via email and Facebook. Regis and Peter volunteered to do the taping. All the Ed Committee would have to do would be to line up the members for interviewing. Could do several in one day.
Media Committee: Sent out news releases about the retreat to local papers.
Outreach Committee: Reminder about Sept 14-15 Blue Angels airshow in Brunswick. We have a committee to plan which will begin work in early summer. Add Peter to committee too.
PTSD/War Trauma Conference: Set for May 18 at USM in Portland. Doug suggests we begin using words war trauma rather than PTSD. Paula Caplan will be they keynote speaker at the event. Other speakers will include John Baugher and Catherine Ryder. Theme will be How can we in our communities get involved in dealing with war trauma? Peggy asked about including African immigrant community in Portland area as part of conference since they are war trauma victims. What will be cost of tabling fee at conference? How many tables do we need? A scholarship fund has been set up. Regis and Peter volunteered to film the event. On May 17 Paula Caplan would like to do a reading of her play on war trauma. It was suggested that this be done at the Meg Perry Center in Portland which has a small stage and would be the right size for such an event.
Boston Parade: Boston-area VFP chapter invites us all to join them for St. Patrick’s Day parade at 2pm. Several of our members will be attending. Contact Richard for details.
Jeju Speaker: Young Hee Jeong (Chairwoman of Gangjeong Women Villagers’ Committee to Stop the Naval Base) will speak in Brunswick at Curtis Memorial Library on Sunday, April 28 from 3-5 pm. Chapter approved $50 toward her travel costs. Regis will be in charge of this event.
Door Hanger Distribution: The Alliance for the Common Good will be distributing door hangers statewide during the week of April 7-13. Last time we did this we had 20 communities across Maine distribute them door-to-door and we believe they helped in our effort to move Rep. Pingree from neutral to opposing US war spending, which she now regularly does. The cost will be 5 cents each thus if you order 100 door hangers you pay $5. Bruce will send an email around next week taking orders and he will then ship them to you. You can see the door hangers (artwork done by Nora Tryon) at http://www.bringourwardollarshome.org/GN%20Door%20Hanger%202013.pdf
Hancock Drone Base Protest: VFP’s Veteran Peace Team will be gathering at Hancock Air National Guard base near Syracuse, NY for a protest on April 27-28. The airfield has become a major drone base where successive non-violent protests have been met with retraining orders by the base commander. A conference and large protest is planned for that weekend. Bruce has been invited to speak and they will pay for him to rent a car to get there. He is eager to have any of our members join him for the trip. He will leave on April 26.
Richard Wolff: Selma Sternlieb in Brunswick is working to try to get radical economist Richard Wolff to speak in Maine. She hopes to have him at Bowdoin and UMA. She needs help gathering sponsoring groups to cover his costs. No date is yet set. The chapter agreed to send her $100. Contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maine VFP Chapter 3: The Belfast-based chapter has an annual Peace Poetry contest that is very successful and is a major expense. We decided to make a general donation of $1,000 to Chapter 3 to be used in any way they see fit. Doug suggested they borrow our button maker for upcoming tabling they will be doing in Belfast High School as students love to make peace buttons. We are seeking volunteers to help Chapter 3 table at the annual Hope Festival at UMO on April 27.
Non-Violence Training: National VFP is helping to promote non-violence trainings and we agreed to work with national board member Tarak Kauff to schedule a training in Maine for our members and other interested activists. Dud will make contact with Tarak and the media and outreach committees will work jointly to organize the training.
Send Member to Jeju: We decided that we would offer financial support to one of our members (or another Maine activist) to go to Gangjeong village on Jeju Island in South Korea to represent the chapter there for a period of at least three weeks. We would pay up to $1,500 for the travel and the member would need to raise some money for housing. Food would be provided by the village. Our hope is that the person would travel as soon as they could manage to do so. If you are interested please let Bruce know. He can answer any questions you might have. A committee has been appointed to make any decision necessary if more than one person wishes to go. You can find more information about Jeju at this website: http://savejejunow.org/
Next Meeting: Will be held on March 28 at 7:00 pm in McClellan Multipurpose Room, Brunswick.