Saturday, April 19, 2008

Peace Island 2008!

Come Stand (And Sing) With Us - As we greet the Republican National Convention!
Twin Cities, Sept. 1-4, 2008
No one will mistake our homemade production of "If I had a banner" for something out of Hollywood.

In Hollywood, you don't have to work around the below zero wind chills and series of snow blizzards we're still getting deluged with in April! In Hollywood, someone would have probably remembered to wash her windshield glass before trying to film that "ribbon of highway" through it.

So even in the lowest-budget category, our recent film effort won't be up for any awards. But it is authentic--right down to the perfectly timed car honk! Amateurish but heartfelt.

The Power of Song

The story of how Pete Seeger's music came to inspire our Minnesota peace vigils--and also some of our preparations for the
all being planned for the Twin Cities, Sept. 1-4, 2008--is itself quite powerful. It was Norman Lear's post on Huffington Post in April 2007 describing the documentary he had just produced about Pete Seeger, that got more than a few of us in the Twin Cities peace community to the theatre during its way-too-short run. The final scene in the movie--of their peace vigil in Beacon, NY, showing Seeger and his friends holding signs while cars honk and his song, Bring 'em Home, playing during the final credits--really connected with us. One of my friends was so inspired, that she took the initiative of finding and putting that song, along with other Seeger favorites onto a special peace CD. So, a couple weeks later, Pete's voice and spirit came out of our boom box and onto our driveway as we and 40 some other peace activists launched our first major banner painting project.

It turned out to be the last nice weekend before winter, still warm enough for paint to dry outside. As we painted, we hummed along and gradually the lyrics of This Land is Your Land, If I had a Hammer and We Shall Overcome got into our souls. No doubt, it was the power of song which helped us produce so many fluorescent orange "Don't Bomb Iran" banners which we displayed a couple days later, on Halloween Eve, from Twin City footbridges scattered over busy highways, reaching over 100,000 main stream motorists.

Our Minnesota peace vigil group decided, at that point, we'd try for more than the spiritual connection with Pete Seeger and the Beacon NY group. It took about a month but ultimately we again proved Stanley Milgram's social psychology theory correct that we're all connected by six degrees. Actually, we bested Milgram's theory and found several avenues had always connected our group to Seeger's even though we didn't know it. One of the connections--only two degrees apart!--was, we discovered, through Minnesota troubadour Larry Long who has collaborated for years with Pete Seeger musically and also, beginning decades ago, on Hudson and Mississippi River clean-ups.

When I finally packed up a couple of our banners and traveled to Beacon in late February, the musical icon fell ill (after standing out in the cold during his weekly peace vigil). So Pete's grandson, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, was forced to do without Grandpa at the public event the next day. He chose his grandfather's classic Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and succeeded in bringing the house down. Naturally we asked Tao to come out and headline our "Peace Island Picnic 2008" for which we were lucky to win the St. Paul Parks' lottery process for Harriet Island on Sept. 4, the final day of the RNC.

As you can see from the video, our group, since blossomed into the "Twin Cities Banner Brigade and Peace Island Picnic Committee 2008" is still benefiting from the power of song. It's totally people-powered as we don't have any other professional expertise or funding source yet involved with our plans. But we DO already have 77 peace banners painted; three precedent-setting marches on the RNC practiced; a schedule published for the Peace Island-Solutions Driven Conference; the aforesaid "Peace Island Picnic" park permit; and commitments from Tao Rodriquez-Seeger, Larry Long, and other local peace musicians.

So Please Come to Minnesota to March, Sing and Stand With Us!

We thought this music video might be a good way to showcase our plans for the RNC and to invite more peace and social- environmental justice themed musicians as well as plain citizen activists (like ourselves) to come participate. So please everyone who's interested, mark Sept. 1- 4 on your calendar and start figuring out how you'll get to Minnesota to help us take a stand. We'll be discussing real solutions to the issues; hoping to hold at least a hundred new banners on surrounding footbridges; marching on the RNC and picnicking for peace. Questions or suggestions can be posted at Twin City Peace Vigils. (We'd love to hear from anyone with real experience organizing such events.)

Norman Lear aptly described Seeger when he said that one person's voice can make a difference. Dare we hope, along these lines, that our collective voices and entreaties for peace might find constructive ways to not only reach RNC goers but to help turn the country around?!

Perhaps the power of song is just what a country needs when it finds itself waist deep in the Big Muddy.

13 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Vigilante said...

Thanks again, for your contribution, Coleen. Your efforts tie in with my 'outreach' program to Republicans. GOP-ers should get no 'peace' until they return to being 'just' conservatives and discard the remnants of the militarist and neo-fascist clothing they have been wearing of late. They should be held as responsible for peace and the American way as the rest of us.

4/19/2008 03:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Skip Sievert said...

The same hand works both of the sock puppets in our Political system. Special Interests Globalism. That hand being the political price system that controls us. There are no political solutions to the current problems facing America. Americans will not protest any thing in great numbers. There is too much fear for ones daily bread. That type of fear destroys a persons character and adds to the current mantra of this society ''every thing for me and nothing for you''. Real social change is coming. For better or worse. Real social change much like what occurred after 1929 in the early 1930's happened because the 'back of the stomach.. began approaching the front of the spine. Rejiggering this current dysfunctional system does no good. Why? Because technology either destroys this 18th. century Adam Smith economic system based on reward in money for labor ... which no longer works ... because productivity is measured now in machine productivity ... or technology brings us to a different social system based on science and not politics.

My suggestion Ms. Rowley is to work that into the message.

4/19/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Coleen Rowley said...

I think I have an idea why Republicans picked St. Paul for their convention—it’s smack dab in the middle of the country and long trek—esp. with high gas prices—for activists from both coasts. So we’re going to need as much help as possible in promoting our various RNC protest events. I’ve made 77 of these banners so far and hope to get at least another 50 or so done by Memorial Day weekend when we’re going to hold another driveway painting party.

4/19/2008 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger MadMike said...

How cool. I am reminded of the '60's. Those who engage in acts of civil disobedience and public discourse to express their dissatisfaction with the shameful policies of the government are to be commended for their commitment and their courage.

4/19/2008 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Coleen Rowley said...

Anyway, we did get a little story here today in our St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper about our upcoming outreach efforts: St. Paul / 'Peace picnic' to tweak RNC-goers

4/19/2008 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Why oh why do people ... well meaning people.. that are intelligent not understand the current dynamic?
The American Political Price System TNAT info.
How is it that people continue the divide and conquer aspect of pitting these so called parties against each other ?
Both groups are controlled by the same people.
For crying out loud...Democracy is a farce ~!~
Is that not evident?
How can any change be expected in the current context ?
Is it a waste of time ?
We need system change.

4/19/2008 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Utah Savage said...

BTW, Vig, when I was seventeen, staying in Middletown, Connecticut, I fixed spaghetti dinner for Pete Seeger. He played a small concert at a church in town which was picketed.

Oh how I'd love to join you. This is the first time since the '60's I felt this kind of excitement, commitment, and passion in this country. I guess we have GWB for that. Thanks George, you rat bastard you.

4/19/2008 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Spoken as only the brainwashed can speak.
There is no difference between Obama and Geo. Bush or Hillary or McCain.
They are put up by the same people to the same purpose.

This ain't the 60's.
This is the dumbed down ... and liking it ... 00's.

I live in Mpls.
Why be part of the ordinary divide and conquer scheme?

4/19/2008 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger Coleen Rowley said...

Skip: I agree with a lot of what you say about the flaws in our two-party, special-interest controlled version of representative democracy right now. As you know, I went through a certain hell in 2006 of being a political candidate so I know of what I (and you) speak.

But with that said, one should not turn the difficulty of obtaining improvement of the currently dark situation into an excuse for doing nothing but bitching and moaning. That's why my efforts at this point are mostly focused on non politically partisan, issue based actions. For instance, our March on the RNC, Peace Island Conference and Peace Island Picnic and bannering is geared towards the general public; the messages are directed at Democrats as much as they are at Republicans (as well as libertarians, greens, independents and everybody else).

Actually our message is directed to a great extent at the public's general apathy itself. Because apathy and hopelessness lead to inaction. Democracy cannot long endure if we all turn into apathetic bystanders. Often people have a difficult time separating the issues from the political parties. Our issues transcend the parties' positions right now.

Note, however, that on the issue of the Iraq War, there is a pretty good split; a real differentiation along party lines exists since McCain's "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" and "stay in Iraq another 100years" statements as well as due to his employment of many of Bush's neo-con advisors on foreign and military policy.

4/20/2008 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

You are wrong on that note.
Quote.. C.R.
"Note, however, that on the issue of the Iraq War, there is a pretty good split; a real differentiation along party lines exists since McCain's "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" and "stay in Iraq another 100years" statements as well as due to his employment of many of Bush's neo-con advisors on foreign and military policy." end quote.

The Dems voted overwhelmingly to give Bush a free hand.
Why ?
Because that is the way this system works to bail itself out and 'make more money'.
Resources must be moved around. A hole must be dug and the contents transferred.. then the whole must be filled up and another dug.
That is how special interest groups make money and that IS what this is about. The invasion. It is not an occupation or a war. Invasion is more like it. We are still invading there.
As far as ''bitching and moaning''.. if you think about it... that is exactly the only thing people are currently doing.
That is because they do not understand the dynamic.
There are viable options available that will create a sustainable and secular humanitarian type of society. Unlike this one.
Unfortunately people are under the spell of thinking that this type of system makes sense for the time we are living in. It does not.

Purchasing power is destroyed by advancing technology.
Exponential job loss ensues.
Machine productivity has displaced human labor for the most part.
Only a certain number of fake jobs can be created to maintain the status quo social system (class/caste system).
At the same time greed is raging to get more debt tokens or money.
'Money' is concentrated into fewer hands.
Class warfare results.

These are the issues in my opinion.

Viable alternatives are available.

Where is this leading ? Probably to a coup against the political system.
Greens, Libertarians, Repubs and Dems are pretty clueless as to the actual dynamic.
It is going to end up as the American people vs. the Whitehouse and Congress.
With any luck the military will be on the side of the American people.

As the collapse of our society as we know it approaches... we may want to ponder that.

4/20/2008 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Coleen Rowley said...

Skip: I will beg to differ that we don't differ much as to our understanding and outlook about the power of the special interests including the Military Industrial Complex's. I've called it a form of legalized corruption altho' if one really investigated, I think you'd find a good bit is actually illegal.

Since you're from this area, I'd like to invite you to the Peace Island Solutions Driven Conference being held at Concordia Sept 2-3. My topic on afternoon of Wednesday Sept 3 is "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy--How To Get the Country Turned Around" and should also feature my VIPS colleague Ray McGovern, former Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright, as well as Doug Thompson, the head of Minnesota Center that deals with torture victims. I don't disagree at all with most of your analysis about the root problem(s) and plan to discuss them at this conference.

4/20/2008 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

Coleen, Skip Sievert is a spamideologist - I guess that's the best way to put it. He wants people to buy into his utopia which does not require any political organization to reach. Most people put him on their personal informal IGNORE status. Vigilante used to keep order by moderating Sievert out of visibility. I guess the cat's away, because the mouse is loose in the house.

4/20/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Spoken like another brainwashed victim.
Food Blogger you ought to think about getting a life outside of being a troll for a dysfunctional blogsite.

It appears that Coleen understands at least part of this.

You do not.

So be it. That goes with the territory of being a cog.

4/20/2008 02:09:00 PM  

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