Friday, November 12, 2010

We did it!

It was an amazing day! Thanks to all the artists who participated, all the volunteers who helped set up, take down and feed us (Grazie Local Sprouts!!!), the fantastic sponsors (see the links) & Space Gallery for your immense generosity!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

March message focuses on the cost of war

Maine Veterans for Peace marchers in the midst of a 10-day trek from Farmington to Portland are carrying with them a list of dollar amounts. The numbers represent each town or city’s share of the country’s cost, so far, to fight the ongoing war in Afghanistan since 2001. The cost for the state of Maine over that time is $2.9 billion.

Bruce Gagnon, a longtime peace advocate who helped lead the walkers into his hometown of Bath on Monday afternoon, has been among those trying to draw attention to those figures through various events and activities for months. The number of marchers trekking from Farmington to Portland has fluctuated along the way, Gagnon said, but Monday’s contingent was around 40 people.

“We’re talking about the cost of war and going through 43 Maine communities,” he told a reporter from The Times Record as the group paused along the way in Woolwich. “We’re trying to get people to connect the dots between these wars and the economic problems this country is facing.

“We’re spending $8 billion a month in Afghanistan today,” he continued. “How can there be any economic recovery if we’re spending that much a month on a war? We’re trying to ask people how their communities might have been able to better spend that money locally.”
read more

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


These were last February's participants:

Barb Sullivan
Brian Reeves
Bud Swenson
Carolyn Coe
Corliss Chastain
Diane Dahlke
Elizabeth Kelley
Jean Noon
Joan Braun
Kenny Cole
Lynn Harwood
Marji Greenhut
Martin Steingesser
Natasha Mayers
Nora Tryon
Rob Shetterly (pictured)
Robin Brooks
Shanna Wheelock
Dana Trattner
James Douglas
Lucinda Bliss
Tess Hickey Cleary
Paula Dougherty
Heather O'Reilly
Jim Macdonald
Kate Brown
Ed McCartan
Hannah Kreitzer
Sarah Austin
Chelsea Ardle
Olivia Hanson

Poets include Betsy Sholl (Maine’s poet laureate), Henry Braun, Chris Crittenden, Jim Mello, Moi-meme, and Doug Rawlings and others, music by Hana Maris

They're getting closer!

Veterans cross state for peace
By Shlomit Auciello and Dagney C. Ernest | Nov 08, 2010


Rockland — As rain fell on Rockland, Monday morning Nov. 8, a group of slicker-clad men and women stepped outside of the First Universalist Church in Rockland and, to the thrumming cadence of Buddhist drums, stepped along the Broadway sidewalk to continue a journey that began Nov. 2 in Farmington and will end in Portland on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

Bob Dale of Brunswick served in the military during World War II. He and his wife split the more than 150-mile route planned for Veterans for Peace members and supporters. "I think we have to wake people up to the situation," Dale said at the start of the walk's seventh day.

"Everyone's complaining about not enough money for schools and other necessities, and here we are spending billions on the military every month," he said.

According to the website at, the war in Afghanistan has cost more than $360 billion since it began. That translates to more than $9,000 per household. The combined cost of both the Afghan and Iraq wars totals more than $1.1 trillion to date.

Peace walkers have varied reasons

South Thomaston artist Lyn Snow was walking on behalf of her husband, a World War II pilot. She said she wanted to promote the idea of people putting energy into peaceful activities such as farming and teaching.

Alex Valente of Windham is a freshman at the University of Maine at Farmington, where she studies cultural economics, a discipline that uses knowledge of people's cultures to develop working economic systems. More than 20 other UMF students participated in the walk's first day and many have continued to check in for parts of the event.

"If I can walk, and it's the only thing I can do to promote peace, I'll walk," Valente said as she prepared to join about 16 others on the rainy Warren-to-Brunswick leg of the journey. Vietnam veteran and Peace Walk organizer Bruce Gagnon said Valente had been doing homework as she walked.

The night before leaving from Rockland, about 20 walkers were hosted in 12 local homes.

"You come prepared to sleep on a floor with a sleeping bag and a pillow, but that's not all you get," Valente said. "There's a bond with the families. We exchange e-mail addresses."

"This experience teaches you so much about humanity," she said. "People want to do their part. They're loving and giving. It's an incredible experience."

Cost of war overshadows state and local budgets

Gagnon said the primary purpose of the walk was to raise awareness of the connection between the cost of war and the current state of the U.S. economy.

"Since 2001 the people of Maine have paid $2.9 billion as our share of the wars," Gagnon said. "Imagine how that money could have been used here in this state at a time when we're cutting back like crazy." Gagnon said Rockland's share of that cost was more than $17 million.

"I'd venture to guess that the Rockland City Council has been in a real quandary about what they're going to cut," he said. "We think there is an important relationship between endless war and the economic collapse at home."

Buddhist nun Jen-San has been walking for peace since 1978. She is a member of the Nipponzan Myohoji order of Japanese Buddhist monks and nuns, whose vocation is, primarily, walking for peace and other social causes. They have walked in Maine twice before, in 1982 and 1988.

"I'm a lucky person," she said. "Basically people are beautiful everywhere. This society is so isolated because of lifestyle and material [concerns]." She said that people who are materially comfortable sometimes fail to think of helping others.

Gagnon said post-traumatic stress disorder was also a huge issue. He said more veterans committed suicide last year than had died in Afghanistan during the same period.

"Their psyches are stretched like a rubber band and they're snapping," Gagnon said. "Families are being destroyed." He said that most of those in the military were working class and poor people who joined because they needed a well-paying job.

"It's really an economic draft," he said.

Valente agreed, saying that many of her peers gave the need for a steady income as their reason for joining the military.

"I don't know what type of world it's become when the only option you have is to lay down your humanity and pick up a gun," Valente said.

Gagnon said it was no coincidence that the top U.S. export is weapons. He said a policy of corporate globalization, with the U.S. being placed in the role of security service provider, was part of the Pentagon's stated agenda.

"They're turning my generation into killers," Valente said.

Personal experience turns warrior to peace

Gagnon said he had to get a waiver in order to serve in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

"I was a Young Republican for Nixon," he said. He was stationed at an airlift base in California, assisting those who were boarding planes for the Southeast Asian conflict.

"When the planes would return they'd bring the body bags of dead soldiers," Gagnon said. He said the public protests held during that period taught him that such actions could change lives.

Valente said she wanted to wake up her generation.

"They don't link the war to their lives," she said. "They're too immersed in Facebook."

A dinner program at First Universalist Church in Rockland on Nov. 7 was well attended, with walkers and supporters packing the Griffith Room downstairs among food tables loaded with homemade fare.

Rockland City Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson spoke on behalf of the council to thank marchers "for your efforts on behalf of peace."

Area residents Nancy Button, Carney McRae and Hannah Batley led the gathering in a sing-along that included "Ain't Gonna Study War No More."

On Monday morning, the group planned to walk eight-and-a-half miles to Steve Burke's home in Warren for lunch, before continuing on their journey.

The pilgrimage is scheduled to culminate Thursday, Nov. 11 when participants in the Maine Walk for Peace, Human Needs, and Veterans’ Care join others at Portland's Space Gallery for what is being billed as "a day of arts activism."

The event in Portland is sponsored by the Union of Maine Visual Artists, CODEPINK Maine, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, and Maine Veterans For Peace. Participation is open to members of the public, who are invited to bring creative energies and ideas to help envision how war dollars could be otherwise spent.

For more information about the Peace Walk and related activities, visit the website at

The Herald Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by e-mail at

Monday, November 8, 2010

Getting Ready!

Here is a picture outside the Meg Perry Center last Friday where we held a mini draw-a-thon warm-up session during Portland's First Friday Art-Walk. There is a great display inside of pictures and art from the last Draw-A-Thon that we had in February of 2010. Stop in and tell Jacqui hello from me! Meg Perry Center 644 Congress in Portland, Maine.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Skowhegan permit at issue for peace walk

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer
SKOWHEGAN -- One of the organizers of the Sunday vigils for peace in Skowhegan and a supporter of a planned peace march next month left Skowhegan selectmen with more questions than answers Tuesday night.
University students and Buddhist monks, along with local activists and members of Veterans for Peace, are scheduled to march across the state in November to draw attention to the affects of war and war spending on the economy, Mark Roman of Solon said Tuesday.
Veterans for Peace, in conjunction with Waterville Area Bridges for Peace and Justice, are set to walk through central Maine beginning Nov. 2 -- Election Day. The Maine Walk for Peace, Human Needs and Veterans Care is slated to start in Farmington, Roman said.
The questions raised Tuesday were if the vigils and the march will need permits in Skowhegan.
Selectmen Tuesday night were about to approve an application for Bridges for Peace to hold silent vigils on the Margaret Chase Smith Bridges each Sunday, when Roman stood to withdraw the group's application.
Roman said he objected to needing a permit for the Sunday vigils on the bridge, which he said have been happening every Sunday for the past eight years. He said it was a matter of free speech, not municipal ordinance.
He said his Sunday group does not block the sidewalk, does not solicit donations or initiate response from passersby.
"To me it's an issue of Skowhegan supporting free speech," he said.
Selectmen accepted Roman's application withdrawal, but wondered aloud what to do about the peace march, which under town ordinance might be considered a "parade or procession," but was not included in Roman's original application. Chairwoman Joy Mase added that she did not know what will happen this Sunday when the Bridges for Peace group assembles for its silent vigil at noon.
Town Manager John Doucette Jr. said town officials will discuss both matters this week.
"The peace walk is to put a spotlight on what the war economy is doing to our country and is a walk for human needs and veterans' care," Roman said of the peace march earlier in the day Tuesday.
He said there is a core group of 15-20 people who will march, along with a contingent of Buddhist monks, led by Rev. Gyoway Kato, and nuns from the Nipponzan Myohoji order, with headquarters in western Massachusetts.
"The peace walk will average 16 miles of actual walking each day," he said. "Because of the great distances between stops, occasional shuttling will be necessary. Some people will walk the entire distance and others will join the walk for an hour, or a day, or several days."
The nation currently is spending billions on the Afghanistan war, Roman said, reducing funds for education, health care, infrastructure and social spending. Citing published reports, Roman said there is suicide in the military, as well as soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and sexual trauma.
Roman said the peace walk also will concentrate on the environmental costs of war with oil fires, unexploded weapons, polluted rivers, contaminated soil, and damaged landscapes.
He said anyone who cares to join the march and the public gathers each day of the walk is encouraged to do so.
Waterville Area Bridges for Peace and Justice and its sister organization Code Pink have held vigils on bridges in Skowhegan, Waterville and other Maine locations since 2002.
Doucette said the group never applied for an assembly permit, but when he saw an announcement on the Veterans For Peace walk, he contacted Roman.
"I saw that and I said I want to make sure they're covered so they don't have a problem when they get to town," Doucette said. "We do have a parades and processions ordinance."
The walk each day:
* Farmington program on Nov. 2 to kick-off the peace walk
* Farmington to Skowhegan on Nov. 3
* Skowhegan to Waterville on Nov. 4
* Waterville to Bangor on Nov. 5
* Bangor to Belfast on Nov. 6
* Belfast to Rockland on Nov. 7
* Rockland to Bath on Nov. 8
* Bath to Freeport on Nov. 9
* Freeport to Portland on Nov. 10
* Veterans for Peace will participate in the Veterans Day parade on Nov. 11 in Portland.
Community potluck dinners are scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Skowhegan Community Center and at 6 p.m. the following day in Waterville at the United Methodist Church on Pleasant Street.
Doug Harlow -- 474-9534

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Too much of Maine's money going to war

No matter who voters send to Blaine House, our next governor will be faced with a $800 million budget shortfall.
Last year, I listened to testimony in a joint session of the Appropriations and the Education & Cultural Affairs committees of our Legislature. Each agency head came forward to testify about cutting important programs in order to deal with last year's budget crisis. It struck me that every agency contributed in some way to the education of Maine's children: the state library, the Maine State Museum, the arts commission.
In the coming year, we will hear about more cuts on top of those imposed last year.
Where is all Maine's money going? In fiscal year 2009, 51 percent of income taxes paid by our state's citizens went to military spending by the federal government. This year it is 54 percent.
And if the proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 passes (Congress tabled it until after elections), military spending will climb to 57 percent of the total discretionary budget.
This is an alarming trend, leaving our communities and our states in dire circumstances.
We cannot afford to go on spending more than half of federal income tax revenue on destruction, while schools, libraries and other education resources are reduced. The path we are on is unsustainable.
No matter who is elected, join me in calling on Congress to bring our war dollars home (www.bringourwardol where they are needed. State legislators and governors have a role to play in making this demand.
Lisa Savage

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The stage is set!

Well, I just finished three days of installing my art at Space Gallery where we will be holding the was great fun! I reserved a section of my wall drawing for our event...looking forward to meeting all who attend and am very excited to see some great drawings posted into my exhibit!