Saturday, November 07, 2009

Local Activism

:: sleeping bag fundraiser ::

Last night was the sleeping bag fundraiser at Laughing Horse Books, the kind of event activists attend just to see who else is in the business. This event was promoted all over town.

I thought LW played a great set, to lots of applause (cite recording), but she was mostly focused on the mistakes, plus this new song that's haunting her lately.

Tansy and Tarweed sang some original politically conscious tunes.

Dapper Cadavers
, playing last, turned out to be an authentic Celtic band headed by a talented female vocalist, a mix of originals and covers. Really good.

I'd invited Tara but she had Brenna coming over.

We're in a season of slim pickings where community organizing is concerned. The economy, although reportedly in recovery, has a lot of people bummed.

You'll find people more into watching TV than turning out en mass for those PSR-organized anti-war demonstrations (more or less weekly), even though it's the war that's wrecking the economy, keeping investors from thinking more realistically about their futures, frittering away their limited time aboard Spaceship Earth.

There's a level of fatigue among the civilians, matched only by a sense of unrest and uncertainty. Holiday shopping may not be quite enough to quell that sense of foreboding this year. 100K soldiers in Iraq because why again? Do the troops even know?

The plan was to raise at least $100 to buy 10 bags from Andy & Bax, a special price break just for this event, negotiated by Julia, then deliver 'em to a worthy charity downtown. We came close ($84), then we hit up a party in the suburbs for another $10 (Lindsey played piano forte). I kicked in the final $6. We were on the horn with Andy & Bax bright and early this morning.

Earmarked Donations

I swung by AFSC yesterday afternoon for an exit interview with Dan Stutesman. I was performing in my official capacity as NPYM rep, as well as BCFM liaison.

Quakers are starting to focus on what's going down with their USA-based social action committee, their American Friends Service Committee. I'll spare us the gory details here, save to say several concerned Qs joined in a national conference call the other day, mom included -- for 10 minutes of silence, and that's it (no, I'm not kidding).

Dan had two precious gifts for me, and I'm grateful for both of them.

First, he and Dawn had worked on a labyrinth project that took place in Canby. Tara and I had been present. Stemming from those golden years, was this framed poster, his only wall decoration.

Second, he had this "Quaker guts" poster I've been hankering to find. Nancy Irving of FWCC showed me one in her anteroom. I've seen it at the occasional Quaker bookstore. I'm finally happy to have one on my living room table, however creased and crumpled.

We reminisced about my days working with Paulette Wittwer on Asia-Pacific Issues News. Subsequently, I clerked for the highly successful United Voices (UV) project to cultivate a next generation of youth leader and community organizer. LAAP also produced a Spanish language TV show: Voz Juvenile.

Our paid staff was top notch. I proudly display my two Certificates of Appreciation to this day.

We also talked about Bob Smith, a mentor to many, and Arthur Dye, whom I worked with at both CUE and Ecotrust.

What's unclear, still, is whether Quakers will fork again over this AFSC business. I wouldn't put it past 'em. Or maybe this'll just be the catalyzing issue.

Some saw the writing on the wall quite awhile ago and have this "I told you so" attitude. Like I remember how upset Nadine had been, over AFSC's response to the tsunami in South Asia. Friends Peace Teams had been, for many, an alternative means of expressing Quaker values in the field, along with the Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) which even unprogrammed Friends have seen fit to embrace.

On the other hand, it's difficult to let go of such a prestigious feather in one's cap, that Nobel Peace Prize nothing to sneeze at. Arthur Dye's stories have been inspiring, plus our own Multnomah Meeting's history intertwines with that of AFSC + Silicon Forest: Doug Strain, Ava Helen Pauling... the WILPF connection... also strong. "Turning away" is maybe not an option for some of us, blame Pink Floyd?

Either way, it's clear that this is a time of transformation. I'll be posting more updates as a way opens.

Addendum: speaking of Friends Peace Teams, everyone I've talked to, including Leslie Hickcox, the Abbotts, has given rave reviews of Rene Bove's talk. She had our official endorsement for her a sojourn in Africa recently, took lots of video, has lots of up to date information about what's going on in that region.