Grantee Profile: Picnics for Peace
John M. Muste, 1927-2002
New Grants, Sep-Oct 2002
For an Acrobat PDF version of the most recent edition of Muste Notes click here
Past editions of Muste Notes are here
November 18, 2002
Here is the question that I hear much too often: where is the U.S. anti-war movement?
It has been in the streets across the country in small nightly vigils, and at rallies that have gathered ten, twenty, forty, two hundred thousand people to call for peace. It is traveling to war torn areas throughout the world to join coalitions, bear witness, and to put bodies in front of arms to say no, this is not the way. It is picketing detention centers, calling for an end to profiling, bringing lawsuits to reverse the chilling results of the "Patriot Act."
The U.S. peace movement is here at the Muste Institute in the piles of requests for funding that grow high on our desks. It is in the flood of literature orders arriving in our mailbox. It is in the strength of the organizations that the Institute has funded over the years and that are once again expanding. It is in the strength of new grantees organizing for peace and social justice, often in areas where they have long been unwelcome. It is in the halls of the Muste building, busy with information seekers and volunteers.
This U.S. movement is in the cry for peace that our government is putting so much extra energy into muffling. The cry is loud and clear here, and we plan to help make it louder. We appreciate all of your past support, and we again ask you to consider the recipients of that support, consider the enclosed request, and let's help make this movement heard.
Adding my voice to yours,
Picnics for Peace: St. Louis Builds a Movement
In September the Muste Institute provided a $1,500 grant to the St. Louis, Missouri-based Catholic Action Network for Social Justice for their "Instead of War" campaign (see New Grants, below). The campaign is described below by co-coordinator Jenny Truax.
The Instead of War project in St. Louis is a coalition-based campaign that formed shortly after the tragic events of September 11th. Our strategies have focused on building a base of community support, articulating a collective voice against war, and challenging the powers that drive war. The Catholic Action Network for Social Justice (CAN), a lead sponsor of the campaign, has recently partnered with the Center for Theology and Social Analysis (CTSA), a grassroots organization that explores social justice issues through theological reflection and social analysis. This new collaboration has resulted in a streamlined organization that addresses issues of justice from a perspective of both action and reflection.
The first stage of the Instead of War campaign reached out to people not normally involved in the peace and justice movement during July, August and September of this year. Picnics for Peace and Justice were hosted by families and individuals throughout the St. Louis area, and provided alternative information and action opportunities to participants. The picnic host invited family members, neighbors, and co-workers to attend, and participants ranged in diversity from a group of 40 Catholic nuns to a small neighborhood group. CAN assisted in publicity, organizing the picnics, and training facilitators.
In an effort to tap personal experience, the picnics included either a video featuring Amber Amundson from the group "September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows" or a personal testimony. Several St. Louisans recently visited Iraq and spoke of their experiences, and Afghani refugees provided personal information at different picnics. The picnics also addressed the question of how to use existing international institutions, including the International Criminal Court, to pursue justice without going to war. Our facilitators offered updated information about recent events related to the "War on Terrorism," concrete alternatives to war, and a variety of action suggestions for participants. Many people entered the picnics feeling admittedly overwhelmed or hopelessly resigned, and left voicing a greater sense of community, possessing concrete information, and expressing a commitment to participating in future actions. We facilitated over 20 picnics, and gathered more than 300 signatures on the national Peace Pledge, which calls for nonviolent civil resistance against war. The Instead of War Coalition's email bulletin list also grew by over 150 names as a result of the picnics.
The Picnics for Peace and Justice culminated in a Town Hall Meeting that was held in conjunction with groups across the country. This September 20th public forum, held on the anniversary of President Bush's declaration of "War on Terrorism," attracted over 425 participants-people spilled into the hallways, and the line of citizens speaking out at the microphone was long. Video testimony from former Iraq weapons inspector Scott Ritter provided an authoritative voice advocating for inspections instead of war, and Representative Lacy Clay and a representative from Senator Jean Carnahan's office presented their offices' positions. The meeting generated an enthusiasm and solidarity among citizens concerned about the rush to war, resulting in numerous op-ed pieces in the local newspaper, and new participants in the movement to stop war.
In the third stage of this campaign, CAN/CTSA assisted in organizing an October 1st nonviolent direct action outside the main gate of the Boeing Missile Plant, just outside of St. Louis. CAN assisted with nonviolent direct action training sessions for participants in this action, as well as logistical and organizational support. Boeing's $500 million contract to produce additional JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), is due in October 2002, and the Boeing Plant is currently producing 1,500 JDAMs a month in round-the-clock shifts. The JDAM was one of the most heavily-used munitions during the war in Afghanistan, and current stockpiles must be replenished before any attack on Iraq begins. In addition to disseminating information about these particular weapons, one coalition member, the St. Louis Economic Conversion Project, has provided statistics about the economic consequences of a possible war with Iraq. Thirty-six people were arrested for civil disobedience in blocking delivery trucks at Boeing's main gate, and the action attracted over 180 participants and national news coverage.
As Congress prepared to vote on a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq, CAN helped coordinate affinity groups that focused on individual Congressional offices. St. Louisans provided a 'prolonged presence' at Representative Dick Gephardt's local office that gained international news coverage. After numerous contacts with aides at Senator Jean Carnahan's office with little response, and as a result of the House vote supporting the war resolution, a 4-day picket was called at the Democratic campaign office. The Instead of War coalition held a presence for 6 hours a day for that period, carrying signs that particularly decried the pro-war votes of Carnahan and Gephardt, and thanked Representative Lacy Clay for his vote against war. Following this presence, over 60 participants protested Senator Carnahan's vote supporting the war resolution in person as she visited the campaign headquarters the following day. Carnahan, a Democrat, was running in a highly-contested race to keep her Senate seat; she described herself in her website as a "strong supporter of the war on terrorism" who "has secured billions of dollars" in contracts for Missouri's defense industry. The following week, another affinity group of St. Louisans addressed Carnahan's challenger in the Senate race, Jim Talent. This group drove to Springfield, Missouri, to join a 400-person strong anti-war rally at President George Bush's campaign stop for Talent on October 18th.
The St. Louis Instead of War project continues to grow. The CAN-sponsored "Justice, Not War" weekly vigil, initiated on September 23, 2001, has consistently attracted over 150 participants a week over the past two months. The coalition is in the process of planning for the coming months. Our plans include working to further diversify our movement and building a series of actions with energy from new groups and participants. With the support of both local and national groups, we will continue to cry out for justice instead of war.
John M. Muste, 1927 - 2002
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute is sorry to report the death of John M. Muste, A.J.'s son, on September 5th. John was 75 years old and lived in Taos, New Mexico. John was the third and youngest child of A.J. and Anna Muste. He had two sisters, Connie and Nancy. He was born in 1927 while the family was in residence at the Brookwood Labor College in Katonah, New York. A.J. served as executive director of Brookwood during the 1920s.
John grew up mostly in New York City. He received degrees from Brown University, Miami University of Ohio and the University of Wisconsin. He was a college professor who spent most of his career teaching at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He published articles in a number of publications and authored a book on the literature of the Spanish Civil War based on his doctoral dissertation. John retired in 1986 and moved to Taos, where he remained active in community groups.
John remained close to his father while not sharing all of A.J.'s political beliefs. One of the better known stories about them involved John's desire to enlist in the US Navy during World War II. He was seventeen at the time and needed his parents' permission to enlist. A.J. asked John to think about his decision and consult with some of A.J.'s associates in the peace movement. After doing as A.J. requested, John remained steadfast in his wish to sign up. A.J. reluctantly signed the papers, noting that his son was making an informed moral choice about his course of action. While he did not agree, he nonetheless had to respect that choice. John served in the Navy and A.J. continued his work supporting conscientious objectors and resisters. John returned home after the war, resumed his studies and got married. A.J. officiated at his wedding.
While not a political activist, John was a supporter of the Muste Memorial Institute from its inception. John was always available with information about A.J.'s life and donated a number of pictures to the Institute for our publications. In addition to making regular financial contributions, John helped write and signed several fund appeals for the Muste Institute.
John is survived by his wife of many years, Jean; his sister, Nancy Muste Baker; his sons Peter and Christopher; their respective spouses Patricia Sexton and Karen Adams; and two grandchildren, John James ("J.J.") and Kate Muste.
New Grants, September-October 2002
CATHOLIC ACTION NETWORK FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
Saint Louis, MO: $1,500
This group was founded in early 2001 to provide a Catholic voice for social justice work in the St. Louis area. Our grant went for the educational work of "Instead of War," a campaign carried out jointly with the Center for Theology and Social Analysis (CTSA), geared at consolidating local opposition to a war against Iraq. The campaign has involved small community gatherings, town hall meetings and nonviolent direct action (see Grantee Profile, p.3).
CENTRAL NEW YORK-CITIZENS AWARENESS NETWORK
Syracuse, NY: $1,500
Citizens Awareness Network (www.nukebusters.org) is a grassroots, all-volunteer group with chapters throughout the northeastern US, helping communities take action to protect themselves from nuclear and other forms of environmental pollution. This grant goes to the Central New York chapter for direct outreach and organizing in Oswego County, raising awareness about the health impact of the county's three nuclear reactors and increasing involvement of community members in opposing nuclear power, corporate domination and environmental racism.
COALITION FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF IMMIGRANTS (CHRI)
New York, NY: $1,500
This all-volunteer organization has been working since 1997 to build public support for immigrant rights. CHRI has been a sponsored project of the Muste Institute since 1998. This grant goes for the Stop the Disappearances! Campaign, seeking justice and due process for immigrant detainees and demanding an end to the immigration detention system. The campaign was initiated in January 2002 by Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Prison Moratorium Project and CHRI.
FREE THE SLAVES
Washington, DC: $1,500
Free the Slaves seeks to end modern-day slavery worldwide by educating the public and encouraging grassroots action, and by supporting local abolitionist groups in countries where slavery persists. This grant goes to update and improve the group's website and email outreach to students and community groups in the US, to encourage them to take action against slavery.
NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD
San Francisco, CA: $1,500
This grant goes for NLG's Post 9-11 Project, based in San Francisco, working to defend the rights of immigrants and activists following Sept. 11, 2001. Specifically, the project involves distributing "Know Your Rights" materials and coordinating educational and media work, resource sharing and other efforts among NLG chapters around the country.
Guayaquil, Ecuador: $5,000 (SFE)
This donor-advised Sheilah's Fund East grant goes to supplement a $10,000 grant made to SER PAZ in July, supporting the peace education group's work with students and high-risk youth in the urban areas of Guayaquil, Ecuador.
SERVICIO PAZ Y JUSTICIA - PARAGUAY
Asuncion, Paraguay: $10,000 (SFE)
This donor-advised Sheilah's Fund East grant goes to help SERPAJ-Paraguay complete construction of the Training Center for Democracy, Human Rights and Peace, which will house the group's own offices and serve as a meeting space and resource center for local peace and human rights work.
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute makes small grants to groups doing nonviolent organizing for social change. Our next deadline for proposals is February 21, 2003. To read our grant guidelines, click here.