Walking the Talk of Peace
Buddhist Monks lead Activists on a Journey of Transformation
Beginning February 21, the Monks and Nun of the New England Peace Pagoda will lead their annual “Walk for a New Spring”, from Leverett, Massachusetts to Washington, DC. The walk is 47 days long and will end on April 8th. It is the 13th annual Walk for a New Spring, which began in 2002 in response to the tragedy on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York City. This year is the third time the Walk for a New Spring has brought its message to the nation’s capital.
From the harsh frozenness of mid-winter to the warm burst of spring, we walk for the understanding that our life-and-death challenges affecting our beautiful, common home, the earth, affect us all. We have brought ourselves to a time where we are undeniably in the same boat. Money cannot, in the end, buy safety from the catastrophic earth changes of climate change, cannot protect us from the radioactive potential of the nuclear chain to annihilate life. These and other present day realities affect us all.
The destructive policies kept in place by very powerful interests, may seem untouchable, but, truly the limitless spiritual/moral force within each one of us for the good, is more powerful. The Black Freedom Movement facing the entrenched power of Jim Crow is a shining example on our own soil of the unarmed, spiritual power of soul force over physical force.
Yet, when we look at our society we do not yet see the human community of the country coming together.
So, we walk believing that, as never before, we are called to come together and find the genuine path to acknowledge and heal our social wounds and divisions. Starting with the renunciation of war making and killing, let us find ways to transform the old legacy of racism and fear of the other. Let us build genuine relationship with new and old friends, and work to implement social policies based on the acknowledgement of unassailable human dignity.
As President Kennedy said in 1963 “… For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
We walk to Washington, DC bringing the aspirations of people in over 50 communities in nine states and the District of Columbia.
Some concrete laws and policies we invite support for are:
2013 Walk Reaches the White House
For more information regarding the walk, contact Tim Bullock at 413-485-8469 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Full video of Charmaine White Face’s presentation “America’s Chernobyl” on the Walk for a New Spring last March.
For ten days people walked against drones in Maine as part of a Keep Space for Peace Week organized by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.
“Keep Space for Peace Week” (October 5-12 this year) is an annual event put on by the Global Network. From Sweden to Jeju Island, people are encouraged to organize events in their local communities working to stop the militarization of space – plutonium rockets and drones…does that seem safe to you?
The US currently has over 100 active military satellites and well over 2,000 people have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan alone in the last decade; a number is steadily rising by the day(Reuters).
With access to healthcare, education, housing, fuel assistance and food benefits being slashed across the board you’d imagine that the US could cut simply a portion of their $680 billion dollar military budget and direct the funds from killing innocent children in Pakistan to feeding the ones that they claim to vehemently protect in the United States.
This years peace walk lasted for 10 days beginning in Limestone on the 10th and ending today in Augusta. Tomorrow the walkers will gather for a vigil in front of Bath Iron Works, home of the Aegis Destroyer.
For years Bruce Gagnon, (organizer and founder of the Global Network), local chapters of Veterans For Peace, Nipponzan Myohoji monastics, and other peace and justice oriented citizens have gathered outside of Bath Iron Works to call for an end to creating these ballistic missile systems and an end to war.
Tomorrow was initially supposed to be the christening of the USS Zumwalt Destroyer at BIW. This “great warship” christening has been postponed due to the government shut down. This may be the case, but one has to wonder if there’s a chance that the actual reason for postponing the christening is because a group of peace walkers have just walked all across the state to gather at this site and the Navy does not want to be confronted with non-violent peace makers because these people raise questions that they themselves don’t quite know how to answer and the christening of a new warship will surely bring media attention and this is most likely an event that the Navy would like to present to the public as a military triumph without leaving space for another option to be discussed.
Regardless, tomorrow the group will gather outside of Bath Iron Works at 10am for a vigil to remind the community that the factory could be creating something much more beautiful and less fatal than warships.
Support the walkers!
To support the work of the walkers please first and foremost read their stories!
Organizer Bruce Gagnon has been faithfully blogging their journey from the start – you can read all of his updates at keepspace4peace.blogspot.com
Lisa Savage, another incredible Maine activist with CodePink has been keeping online records as well, read her words at went2thebridge.blogspot.com
Hiroshima Day Ceremony at Grafton Peace Pagoda
Yesterday evening close to 100 people gathered in the town of Grafton to commemorate the 68th anniversary of when the US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
The ceremony started with a 4 mile walk from Grafton Center up to the Grafton Peace Pagoda.
Speakers included Hattie Nestel to talk about Vermont Yankee and nuclear power, Bruce Gagnon to speak about the upcoming Drone Walk in Maine, and Allan Brandt who shared the story of the Peacemaker and a prayer from the Mohawk tradition.
Other prayers included prayers from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.
We heard music from a Taiko group out of Western Mass and guitar and songs from Roberto Muller.
Hiroshima Day Ceremony
Journey for Justice.
Lynne Jackson of Project Salam will walk for 10 days from Albany to Binghamton, NY to hand deliver petitions calling for the release of Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, two falsely imprisoned Muslim men targeted after 9/11.
For more photos from the first two days visit:
Follow the journey & sign the petition at
Well the Walk in France has started and it has been a hectic schedule with Press conferences, public meetings and walking 30km’s a day…
La Marche Internationale 2013 (The International Walk 2013), is a 4 week walk through one of Europe’s most nuclear intensive regions – The Rhone valley in Frances South East. The Australian wakers have come to witness first hand the effects of the nuclear industry in France which Australia supplies Uranium too.
Mitch an Aranda Woman from Alice Springs and the Co-chair of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) joined the walk for the beginning and spoke at the press launch in Paris before the walk, which was organised by the largest anti nuclear group in France, Reseau Sortie du Nucleare. Mitch and Marcus Atkinson from the Anti Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia (ANAWA) spoke about the impacts of uranium mining and the pending nuclear waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory, on Aboriginal communities and the radioactive racism of the industry.
The contingent also had the opportunity to visit the resistance house at Bure about 200km east of Paris, where the French government are planning a huge high level underground nuclear waste dump to store waste from the French nuclear industry. The proposal is still in its investigation stage with a test mine and facility on site but no waste has yet to be buried. If it becomes operational it will consist of a 500-meter shaft with a 10km tunnel and many side tunnels to store the waste. Once full it will be backfilled and all traces of the project (accept for some warning signs) will be removed.
In a meeting with French activists at the Bure resistance house Mitch spoke about the Muckaty nuclear waste dump in the northern territory and the Australian nuclear industry. Both the French and Australian Governments are using the same tactics of divide and conquer by throwing millions and in the French case, billions of dollars at poor communities in order to win them over.
In a statement after the visit to Bure, Mitch released a statement saying:
“ I came to see for myself what we are told is worlds best practice, but what I have seen, heard and witnessed in France is that governments and the nuclear industry Lie.
We request that the French people and their government, demand that the reprocessed nuclear waste from Lucas Heights, remain in France until the Australian Government guarantees not to dump it on Aboriginal land and store it at Lucas Heights, where there is ample storage and can be safely monitored.”
The walk started officially on the 1st of July with a walk to the town of Narbonne where we held a press conference and heard from local man Michel Leclerc, who developed Leukaemia after working at the AREVA owned Comurhex Facility, 10km from Narbonne, in the early eighties. He has been in an eighteen-year legal battle with the French nuclear giant, finally wining this year.
AREVA has appealed the decision, however, there is not much chance they can win, as the specific type of Leukaemia Michel developed can only be contracted through exposure to radiation. He explained that the company tried to stop him from obtaining his medical records in order to derail the legal action, so he had to resort to stealing them in order to reveal the truth. Even after he released the medical records AREVA lawyers tried to discredit them by saying the results where flawed, claiming that his blood and urine samples where fine and that the containers they where collected in where contaminated by radiation.
The Comurhex facility, receives 100% of all yellow cake that enters France. It processes the Uranium into UF4, the first step in the nuclear fuel chain to nuclear fuel rods. We walked to the plant the day after Narbonne to hold a community rally and I was surprised to hear that even today the plant isn’t considered a nuclear facility, which is why there are no radiation signs anywhere on the fences or the plant.
About 100 meters from the fence line there are yellow 44-gallon drums, stacked three high and two deep and filled with sand. They disguise the thousands of drums of yellowcake that are stored on site and are supposed to stop gamma radiation from escaping, which according to CRIIRAD (a scientific NGO) don’t work. Comurhex has been plagued with breaches of safety with one of the worst being a Tailings dam breach, spewing thousand of tonnes of radioactive water and mud into the surrounding area. Local people unaware of the radioactivity due to the secrecy surrounding the plant operation used the mud in their garden to grow food.
This is just one of the many stories, backed up by independent studies, of the many and frequent breaches of safety from the secretive nuclear industry in France, lead by the French nuclear giant AREVA.
Public Meetings where held in the Towns of Beziers and Montpellier (from where I write) which where well attended, with 50 and over 100 people respectively. Bilbo Taylor from the Western Australian based, Ban Uranium Mining Permanently collective (BUMP) and Marcus Atkinson from ANAWA spoke to French people about Uranium mining and the proposed nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory. Both speeches where well received with many people asking questions about the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance and the impacts of the nuclear industry on Aboriginal peoples. They where astounded to here about the 3rd world conditions forced upon Aboriginal people and the many impacts they face from the nuclear industry.
AREVA has now set its sights on Australia, with 120 uranium exploration leases and exploring under the name AFMECO. From what we have learnt so far in France this is a frightening prospect.
The walk will continue tomorrow and on Saturday we will arrive at another nuclear facility in Marcoule.
Libby Carmody from Tjuma Pulka Aboriginal media in Kalgoorlie is travelling with us and has been doing recordings and photographs that she has been putting out through Tjuma Pulka which has been broadcast national through indigenous media.
Make a tax deductible donation to the walkhttps://give.everydayhero.com/au/walkabout
Peace & Solidarity
July 26: Interfaith Peace Walk Gathering Portland, OR
7pm Gathering & Symposium *Atomic West*
Augustant Lutheran Church, 2710 NE 14th Ave
full walk schedule here
July 30: Hanford Nuclear Site
1pm: from John Dam Plaza [1815 George Washington Wy, Richland, WA] to the gate of Hanford Site (5.7mi)
full walk schedule here
August 3rd: Vandenberg AFB to Diablo Canyon
August 9th: Nagasaki Remembrance Day Ceremony
7pm: Steynberg Gallery 1531 Monterey St San Luis Obispo, CA
Speakers will include Chikako Nishiyama, Nipponzan Myohoji Reverend Sawada Shonin and Cecile Pineda, author of “Devil’s Tango: How I learned the Fukushima Step by Step”
Event is free but donations are welcome
To join any of these events, make a donation or learn more about Chikako Nishiyama’s work please leave your contact information below:
Updates from the 2013 Walkatjurra Walkabout
A Poem from Winiata 14th May 2013-05-15
Well, here we are Walking for Country with Ayjindi, a 13 year old boy from Costa Rica, and resting on this Red Earth.
Overcast day but a child skipping along a muddy path.
Wind gently urging him forward.
Flags dancing on shoulders that have strengthened by each day.
And a fire that burns in hearts that have been ignited by love and pain – passion and wonderment.
One step at a time – maybe this cool breeze will respect our inner wish and carry our message of a nuclear-free future to Toro, and the Land will be preserved for these children’s children.
For there’s a song that the ancestors have passed on to some
So the little ones will listen and be warmed by the past. For the future may not be as fragile as we think.
We are huddled…
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