The Drones Quilt Exhibit and Drone Replica has moved on and found a new home in the Hudson Valley

The Drones quilts exhibit has found a new home at the congregation of Chris Antal, minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rock Tavern, NY in the Hudson Valley of New York.  The five quilts and the drone replica created by Nick Mottern were all moved to the Hudson Valley on Wednesday night, November 19th  after the annual dinner.

Front of the UUCRT building built in 2010

Front of the UUCRT building built in 2010

Chris Antal and Everett Cox, a Vietnam Veteran for Peace attended the dinner and the performance of Grounded and then loaded their vehicle with the quilts, quilt square making supplies, racks and dowels for exhibiting the quilts and the drone replica parts.

Reverend Chris and his family, some of whom made quilt squares at College of Saint Rose on Novemver 11th.

Reverend Chris and his family, some of whom made quilt squares at College of Saint Rose on November 11th.

Everett had arranged for the quilts to be seen at  the Veteran Arts Showcase [of writers, poets, musicians and performers who are veterans, family members of veterans, or military connected.]  Which was held at the FDR Presidential Library/Wallace Center on Route 9, Hyde Park, New York, November 21, 22 and 23.


Everett Cox, working with the Leaving Theatre Project.

Everett Cox, working with the Leaving Theatre Project.

The quilts and drone replica will be moved to the sanctuary of the UUCRT and will be featured at their December 6th craft fair.  Then Chris will preach a sermon about drones on Sunday, December 7th.

Drone quilt displayed on a table at an earlier drones quilts exhibit by Veterans for Peace

Drone quilt displayed on a table at an earlier drones quilts exhibit by Veterans for Peace

Quilts and drone replica will remain at the UUCRT through January 19, 2015 and will be featured in several events during that time.

Ground the Drones Exhibits of the Drone Quilts was here in the Capital District from October 20th Through November 14th at Three Venues.

See all details at this link:

Ground the Drones brochure- edited

view of the Tableau before the Media Conference at Noon on October 20th at the LOB, photo by Connie Houde

view of the Tableau before the Media Conference at Noon on October 20th at the LOB, photo by Connie Houde


Meeting with David Connors, Regional Director for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand about US weaponized drone killings, October 6, 2014

IMG_9475 Kim, Joan and Mickie, before the official vigil.

This article was delayed by preparations and implementation of our drone quilts exhibit that took place from October 20 through November 19, 2014 but here’s a brief summary of our meeting with David Connors who is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s regional director in the Capital Region.

We originally attempted to meet with Senator Gillibrand herself during the summer recess and early fall break but were unable to do so.  Instead we were able to meet with her regional director, a member of the millennial generation, a husband and father and a long term staff member of hers.  We ended up having a bit more than an hour long meeting with him on Monday, October 6, 2014.

There were six of us doing the presentations about the effects of our weaponized drone policies on civilians and about the need to repeal the AUMF which makes war and drone attacks possible without the advice and consent of Congress.  We also called for a moratorium on military intervention ins Syria and Iraq and the use of drones, bombs, missiles and arming some factions of the current wars.

Here’s a summary of our presentations:

Connie Houde: Why drones do not work;  they are not efficient and they create more violence and anti-USA sentiment. Using Pakistan as an example: the drastic increase in US drone attacks in Pakistan did not decrease the number of “terrorist attacks” in the region. The killings of Taliban Commanders only increased violent attacks and spread such attacks from the Northern tribal area to engulf all of Pakistan with a focus on the country’s economic and political center, Karachi. (Related topic: Why we need to leave Afghanistan to decrease the suffering of women and children).

Mabel Leon:  Drones Kill Civilians; While the US government seldom acknowledges civilian deaths referred to as collateral damage, civilian deaths are real and have been documented. The numbers are hard to comprehend as real people and a sense of numbness takes over. The numbers of civilian deaths clearly dispel the myth that drone strikes are precise or accurate.  (Related topic about domestic policy: Appreciation for Senator Gillibrand’s support of measures against sexual assault in the military)

Hazel Landa: Covert drone attacks are a violation of US and international law; They violate our constitution and democratic principles.  At the moment they are secret with no transparency or accountability and no process for judicial review.

Maureen Aumand: The military Industrial Complex drives drone warfare;  Profit motives and lobbying by defense contractors help drive the drone program and the expansion of drone development.

Mickie Lynn:  Congress needs to pause and debate the bombing of Syria and Iraq; Call for a ceasefire, open debate, a Senate bill requiring authorization and a definite time period. We need to pursue other options that don’t lead to the killing and displacement of Syrian and Iraqi civilians, and that don’t create environmental devastation.

Maud Easter: What Congress can do. What we want Senator Gillibrand to do; Focusing on sunsetting the AUMF and shifting drones out of CIA control. And including requirements for transparency and regular, accurate reporting on civilian deaths.

Here’s a link to our complete set of requests and informational resources sent to Senator Gillibrand’s office and handed in during the meeting.Drone meeting with David Connors in Gillibrand office Oct 6 2014 talking points (2)

Here is a followup email to Senator Gillibrand’s legislative aide about policy towards Iraq and Syria with a few more references:

When David met with the six delegates from the Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Project of Women Against War on Monday, October 6th he was a very attentive listener and promised to forward our written materials to you in Senator Gillibrand’s Washington, D.C. office.

We also engaged in spirited dialogue during the hour long meeting. Now I hope that I can send materials directly to you and receive a response.

At that time  in early October, Congress was about to recess until the mid-term elections were over.  No debate or discussion had taken place about the bombings of Iraq and Syria by US forces that had already been going on for several weeks. At a daily cost of $7.5 million per day for Iraq and $16 million dollars per day for Syria.  I don’t know what the current figures are but they are probably even higher.

Now Congress is about to reconvene on Monday, November 17th.   While we applauded Senator Gillibrand’s refusal to vote for funds to arm Syrian rebels we find Congress facing another decision point.  Earlier this week President Obama said that he was going to ask for authorization to continue the bombing over Syria and Iran and to arm and train what he described as moderate forces, as well as the Iraqi army.  He was also planning to double the number of US advisory and training forces in Iraq.

It seems as if we need to oppose what very much looks like an escalation that is creating more human suffering (especially in Syria) and blocking resources and efforts for humanitarian aid and a negotiated de-escalation of the carnage and new refugee crisis that is currently occurring.

Here are some of the ideas for alternatives and strict limits to new authorizations and continued bombings:

These came from Just Foreign Policy:

I urge you to support the principles of H. Con. Res 114, which calls for Congress to oppose the use of ground troops and says any AUMF on Iraq and Syria should be narrow and limited.

In particular, any AUMF should:

  • prohibit ground troops, as the President has said;
  • be narrowly focused on ISIS and Al Qaeda, as the President has said;
  • have a time limit or sunset provision so that it has to be renewed in the future for war to continue rather than lasting indefinitely by default; and
  • include a provision for regular public reporting on civilian deaths and injuries from U.S. airstrikes, so that the public, Members of Congress, and journalists can better understand reports in the media about civilian casualties.


1. H.Con.Res.114 – Urging Congress to debate and vote on a statutory authorization for any sustained United States combat role in Iraq or Syria,

There are many other requests for alternatives to continued bombing; including the UN Peace Envoy to Syria’s idea of freeze zones where humanitarian aid could actually be delivered and distributed while neither side takes advantage of the pause in fighting and bombing.

This a very important pivotal point where we might possibly avoid the human and financial costs of a three year military war in favor of negotiated settlements and humanitarian aid that could win friends instead of creating more enemies in the Middle East.

I spent several hours summarizing some of the things that we requested during our meeting with David in October. Yesterday I published them in a blog article in our local paper, the Times Union.  Here is the link to that article:

What we asked Senator Gillibrand to do about ISIS in early October.

Women Against War hopes that you will read the article, and share the ideas with Senator Gillibrand when she is considering actions concerning a new AUMF.

Many things have changed since our October meeting.  I’ll be following up with a second article early next week and will send you the link to that one as well.

In the meanwhile I hope that you will both read and comment on our blog article and the requests that we are making and share your thoughts with Senator Gillibrand.

With appreciation for your interest and help with these communications,


Sign by Syrian men in 2011, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote even more true today

Sign by Syrian men in 2011, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote even more true today




Photo essay of Media Conference tableau and the exhibit at the Concourse Monday 10/20 through Friday, 10/24

Publishing this article was a bit delayed, because of the work involved in taking down the quilt exhibit on the Concourse (and the drone replica exhibit inside the Legislative office building on the concourse level), on Friday October 24th.

Thanks to Ed Harris of the Office of Special Events for all of his help and logistical support, and to many helpful and flexible security personnel, and the woman, security guard at the loading dock when we brought the exhibit into the LOB.

Yesterday Connie Houde, Maureen Aumand, Hazel Landa and Mickie Lynn worked on setting up the quilt exhibit at the Chapel +Cultural Center at RPI on Saturday morning, October 25th with the wonderful help and kindness of C+CC director Tom Mattern. It really looks beautiful and is very informative at the same time.

Three  of the photos taken by photojournalist and Women Against War Woman of Peace, Connie Frisbee Houde already appear with the website articles about the opening and closing speeches of the October 20, 2014 Media Conference. A fourth, of the drone replica begins this photo essay.

We want to share some of the  photos taken by Grannie for Peace and Woman Against War, Mabel Leon.

Photos of the tableau arranged on the stairs of the Legislative Office Building,  before the Media Conference began.

Nick Mottern's drone replica 1/5 scale of actual Reaper MQ-9, photo by Connie Houde

Nick Mottern’s drone replica 1/5 scale of actualReaper MQ-9, photo by Connie Houde

IMG_0954 (2) Second Tableau in LOB

Tableau from the right side of the stairs, photo by Mabel Leon

Tableau from the right side of the stairs, photo by Mabel Leon

Focus on the steps of the LOB well before the Media Conference begins, photo by Mabel Leon

Pat Beetle with photo of Mamana Bibi 68 year old grandmother and  drone victim

Pat Beetle with photo of Mamana Bibi 68 year old grandmother and drone victim

Elders Reszin Adams and Cynthia Pooler, photo by Mabel Leon

Elders Reszin Adams and Cynthia Pooler, photo by Mabel Leon

Photos of the first afternoon with all materials set up at the concourse level of the LOB:

Joan, Mari and Trudy with Kim's beautiful yin - yang drone- dove poster

Joan, Mari and Trudy with Kim’s beautiful yin – yang drone- dove poster

Replica next to Mabel's poster featuring the painting "Foreshadowing"

Replica next to Mabel’s poster featuring the painting “Foreshadowing”

Quilt with visitor in LOB concourse

Quilt with visitor in LOB concourse

Exhibit set up in LOB concourse on Monday afternoon, 10/20

Exhibit of quilts on the Empire State Plaza Concourse Tuesday, 10/21 through Friday, 10/24.

We learned that getting the attention of passersby, quickly walking to their destinations on the concourse was not the ideal place to have an informational exhibit. But in spite of that 16 new quilt squares were made that day with a few more still in progress. 

The drone replica that stayed in the LOB with the banner saying that Drones Kill Civilians and several posters and photos and informational placards got more thorough attention and was much talked about at the LOB and the State Capitol. 


Thanks to the three shifts of volunteers who staffed the tables each day.  The photos are only of Thursday afternoon when Mabel happened to be there with her trusty camera.  Each group has their own story to tell and many of the quilt squares were made by the volunteers.  As Mabel and Mickie were packing up the drone replica, on Friday afternoon, a LOB staff member came by to thank us for mounting the exhibit, to ask about Women Against War and to note our website address.

Signing the petition against weaponized drones.

Signing the petition against weaponized drones.





Signing petition against weaponized drones.

Quilt display on the concourse of the Plaza


Quilts on frames at Empire State Plaza exhibit.

Quilts on frames at Empire State Plaza exhibit.

Portrait of a youthful spectator after a long conversation with Mabel.

Portrait of a youthful spectator after a long conversation with Mabel.

Information table at the concourse with quilt table behind it.

Information table at the concourse with quilt table behind it.

Bertha handing out literature at the  the concourse exhibit

Bertha handing out literature at the the concourse exhibit

Father and son at the concourse exhibit on Thursday, 10/24/14

Father and son at the concourse exhibit on Thursday, 10/24/14 This particular father and son happen to be Maureen Aumand’s son and grandson.







Drone Quilts Exhibit at Albany Legislative Office Building, Closing Visualization and Call to Action.

Closing prayer, visualization, and call to action for October 20th Media Conference – Drone Quilts Exhibit at the Legislative Office Building in Albany — delivered by Mickie Lynn

view of the media conference from below, photo by Connie Frisbee Houde

View of the media conference from below, photo by Connie Frisbee Houde

We call on the four directions and the four elements as a focus for the changes that we need here today. Changes from wanton killing, to respect for all people.  Changes from lawlessness, to justice, accountability, understanding and transparency.

Although West is the direction of ending this is where we find ourselves. Here in the well of the Legislative Office Building.  We swim down together to the depths of our emotional connections. Finding the wisdom of our intuition. The waters of life connect all living beings.  Harm done to innocent people anywhere is harm done to us all. West is the direction of the transformational mysteries of birth and death. This is the direction of connection to spirit and connections among spirits.

Standing here we say “Let’s end these needless deaths. Let’s return the gift of unlimited potential to the world’s children. Let’s birth a new way of solving conflicts.  Let’s use our experiences as women to help make this change”.

We absorb the beauty created for the victims of drone killings and we know that we must do more than remember them.  Let’s help to stop the fear. Stop the deaths. Stop the destruction that drones create. Fear and death In Waziristan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Gaza, and now Iraq and Syria.

South is the source of our energy.  Of life sustaining sunlight. Powering muscles, fueling growth.  Of the blood flowing through our veins. Of the beating of our hearts. Of the primal force of drumming. Of the love for other people. Of the passion to protect our world. Of the power to keep working through obstacles. Of Patti Smith’s anthem, “People Have the Power.”  Let us make it so!

East brings us change and new beginnings.  The element of air.  Storms, winds of change, breezes and migrating birds and butterflies that travel all over our world.

But what of the terror now flying in the skies above us?

What of the children who dread blue skies because they bring the clear view that allows drones to target their homes and schools, destroy their loved ones, their communities, their fields, their places of work and play, their places of worship.  Air carries the sound of incessant buzzing telling the children “We’re watching you.” “We can kill you anytime.” “Don’t go out.” “Don’t play.” “Don’t learn.” Don’t expect a safe world.”

But East also provides the direction of laws and traditions.  The place where perhaps we can start to remind our government of our own laws.  And international laws and the laws of war, and the conventions against indiscriminate weapons and criminal murder.

North holds our connection to the Earth.  To our places in the web of life and to the ground which we walk upon, and to which we ultimately return. All the elements and biochemicals that sustain us.  Resources that we need to share and to use wisely.  The materials that can give us shelter, support our human needs and  keep us safe – Or used in a reckless way, contaminate our planet for all time.
This is the place where we must take our stand.  Where we must acknowledge all of the living beings with whom we share the biosphere. Honor the soil, the mountains, the deserts, the oceans, the frozen tundra and all of the climates and ecosystems that the world holds.  And that hold us in turn.

And at the Center we now exist in this time and place. Having come together to address the problems of killer drones and their use in endless war.  This is the time to make a commitment.  To do something to change this behavior.  It could be something small.  Just one action, one letter, one phone call, or one petition.  It could be something larger like setting aside time and energy to lobby, act with others, educate, mobilize direct action.  Or it could be fierce dedication to non-violent civil disobedience, or something else that requires risk or imagination.  Whatever it is – Let’s sink our roots down into the Earth and make the commitment to do something.

In the words of the Canadian Aboriginal Rights Group: Idle No More:

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change.  I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

Let’s gather our collective energy.
Shape it into a force for change.
Let’s bring it into the world!

Media conference taken from above in the well of the legislative office building, Albany NY, photo by Connie Frisbee Houde

Media conference view from above in the well of the Legislative Office Building, Albany NY, photo by Connie Frisbee Houde

The Launch Ceremony for Women Against War’s Ground the Drones

The Launch Ceremony for Women Against War’s Ground the Drones Project: October 20, 2014

Opening Statement by Maureen Baillargeon Aumand

view of the Tableau before the Media Conference at Noon on October 20th at the LOB, photo by Connie Houde

view of the Tableau before the Media Conference at Noon on October 20th at the LOB, photo by Connie Houde

We stand here once again, members of Women Against War, this time surrounded by names.

A person’s name: a fragile vessel of letters and sounds, charged with carrying the precious, unique and mysterious reality which is each individual human who comes to dwell upon this singular, vulnerable planet.

An individual human being wherever born: in life, warm, breathing pulsing: hoping, dreaming, seeking after love, giving love and embrace, resplendent in uniqueness and promise, laughter and tears, joy and pain, always and everywhere precious, irreplaceable, full of possibility.

Each name, surrounding us today, sounding a sister or brother to each of us in our own precious, singular coming to be at this moment in time, in place, in our common humanity.

….Said,…. Mohammod, …Mullah,…. Naveed, ….Nawab,…. Malik, ….Saira, ….Mamana Bibi…

But the names which surround us today in each square of each quilt: are the names of women, children, grandmothers, elders, farmers, teachers…our sisters and brothers in life…whose own life force was snuffed out in an instant from on high….leaving only a name and tears and memory in the wake of burned, charred, dismembered flesh, no longer warm with the mystery of pulsing life, left cold, dead forever to embrace.

For they were, each and all ,victims of recent drone strikes, unmanned aerial vehicle strikes , sanctioned and conducted ( though most often un acknowledged) by our own government and thus in our name.

And for this reason, we must stand.

It is incumbent upon us who pay for these terror inducing unmanned weaponized aerial vehicles and their operation, flown over the blue skies of other people’s lands, other people’s homes, but piloted by fellow citizens from nearby Hancock Air Base in Syracuse as well as other bases around the US , it is imperative to ask:


Why did all of these innocents whose names surround us , who by all evidence were not” bad guys”, ” terrorists” or in the psyche defending awful, parlance of some drone pilots” bug splat” come to find themselves trapped in the sites of a drone which they could not see ….which they, in rightful terror though could perhaps hear, hear for days hovering, menacing, as they went about their ordinary lives, but which they could not flee…why did they die?

We must ask: why are we continuing to invest billions of dollars , fortunes , now unavailable for health care, education, infrastructure development, invest in technologies of death and destruction which signal a commitment to endless war rather than a commitment to seek peace and work towards global coexistence and sustainability.

Who and what drives these choices? Is it mere coincidence that the ” unmanned Aerial Vehicle” Congressional caucus which feeds the information and thus decisions of policy makers, is led by some of the biggest recipients of drone makers largesse? Did the victims who surround us die so that a few could remain in positions of power and a few could continue to amass great profit?

Did the argument which these very names give lie to, that drones make for sterile, antiseptic, precise targeting, and most of all save American lives while eliminating only the ” enemy”, did this misperception lead to their deaths? Did these innocents die at the hands of the political calculation, behind a technology developed so that American citizens will continue to turn a blind eye to our nation’s waging of an endless war because after all our children aren’t dying?

We must also ask how we as a nation, whose very bedrock is the ” rule of law”, laud, employ, continue to defend, develop and expand the weaponized drone program which is premised on the perverse and inherently immoral, illegal and dangerous principles of preemptive war, extrajudicial execution, signature (that is murder by profiling) strikes, and non respect of basic human rights including territoriality?

Did those whose memory surrounds us die, because we as a nation have lost our moral compass in our now more than a decade long embrace of a politic of fear, become in our blind pursuit of ” national security” a nation who is married above all to the principle that ” might makes right” and thus to a blind corner and a dead end?

Why would we employ a technology which objective researchers, policy and military analysts, scholars who look carefully tell us creates greater insecurity and which achieves the opposite effect than what we purport to be seeking: the elimination of “global terror”?

Let me sound the list of these reports.

Human Rights Watch: The Civilian Costs Of US Drone Strikes in Yemen”

The UN Special Rapporteur Report on Counter-terrorism and Drones

Amnesty International’s: Will I Be Next?

The exhaustive Stanford University/NYU Law School Report: “Living Under Drones”

And most recently….

The Stimson Center’s Task Force on Drones ( led by former NATO commander , ret. General John P. Abizaid )

All of these reports speak to the issues of the moral and legal implications of the US use of drones and all conclude that this policy choice is making the world a much more dangerous place, feeding rage and thus paving the way for a cycle of endless terror, endless war, endless ISIS rebirths.

Did those who these quilts remember, lose their lives because strangers, a world away , allowed their government to endanger all out of a fed, inculcated, managed fear induced, terrorism inducing, blindness?

The history of the first use of unmanned aerial weaponry contains a cautionary tale:

In 1849, the Austrian Empire was trying to subdue the rebellious city state of Venice. A young officer came up with what was perceived as a brilliant tactic for striking mayhem and terror into the heart of the Viennese rebels: bomb and shrapnel laden balloons floated and then detonated over the homes of the enemy.

Unfortunately, for the Austrians who were launching these perfidious weapons, the winds blew the weaponized balloons back over the besiegers lines…and the mayhem and death came home to roost.

As drones become internationally ubiquitous, are these names foreshadowing our own, our children’s future?

So, we stand once again in solidarity: Women Against War and longing for Peace.

As citizens we have an obligation to stand here and raise these questions for our now voiceless sisters and brothers named around us….in solidarity we are impelled by the following imperative sounded so powerfully decades ago by the great voice for peace Doctor ML King who reminded us in speaking about an earlier US will to war that :

“We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co annihilation. ….We must find new ways to speak for peace and justice throughout the world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

I invite us all to reflect on these questions as we embrace the memory of those whose names surround.


The Women Against War “Ground the Drones” project which the quilts you see here today are part of, involves bringing these quilts designed and created by folks from around the country for a National Veterans for Peace initiative to the Capital District. They will be exhibited and form the backdrop for discussion here at the LOB and the Concourse for the next week, at the Chapel and Cultural Center at Rensselaer to follow next week and finally at the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary at the College of St. Rose. Specific dates and information about these venues is contained in the project brochure.

Postcard with dates for "Grounded"

Postcard with dates for “Grounded”

Additionally, Women Against War is serving as the producer of a play which is being directed by Leigh Strimbeck from the Theater Institute at Russell Sage College in Troy. The play GROUNDED by American award winning playwright George Brant has been mounted internationally to rave reviews. It follows the emotional trajectory of a woman fighter pilot who becomes a drone pilot. Details about the five public performances of GROUNDED are also in the project brochure.

We encourage you to take a look at that and thank you for coming.

We are happy to respond to questions as best we can.

Grannies for Peace Joined Saratoga Peace Alliance for the third roving anti-drone vigil,on Saturday, October 11th at Noon. Photos by Mabel Leon

IMG_0791 (2) Pat and Kim in the foreground with the vigil in full swing,

On Saturday morning, October 11th,  at about 11:40 am a small group of intrepid Grannies for Peace met in the Woodlawn Avenue municipal parking garage in Saratoga Springs to assemble Nick Mottern’s  impressive 1/5 scale reaper drone replica in preparation for the Saratoga Peace Alliance vigil.  We also had many dramatic photos, two banners (one the Grannies for Peace banner) and other posters brought by Mabel, who was also our photographer.IMG_0784 (3)Saratoga Peace Alliance vigilers with the drone replica and post office in the background. IMG_0782 Granny Joan with some of the SPA vigilers, in Saratoga Springs IMG_0803 (2) Kim and Pat at Long Alley side of the vigil IMG_0796 (2)Two Saratoga friends of Pats joined the vigil holding drone victim photos IMG_0799 Bertha holding up her end of the Grannies for Peace banner in Saratoga Springs IMG_0789 Jim and drone replica in Saratoga, Saturday, October 11, 2014

This time we encountered some difficulty stabilizing the wallboard lifter base that holds the replica – in spite of the best efforts of Kim and Joan, our “mechanical thinkers”  – with the encouragement and physical support of Mabel, Bertha, Pat and Mickie.

So we went with plan B.  We carried the partially assembled replica and the parts for the wheels and lifter, along with the wings, fins, bombs and missiles over to the main Post Office on Broadway..  There some of us worked to get the replica set up while others put up banners and photos to began the vigil.

Towards the end of our assembling process, we were joined by the members of the Saratoga Peace Alliance.  A cheerful and helpful group who welcomed us and began to assist in the fine adjustments to the replica.IMG_0808 (2) Kim and Mickie near the replica with photo of 16 year old Abdul Rahman al Awlaki

They had arrived from Their “Being Peace” discussion group, and came fueled by coffee and energized by a long discussion that evidently also involved politics as well as peace!IMG_0795 Replica side of the vigil with Jeff H. and Beau the dog and lively conversations

Weather-wise it was a very fine afternoon. There was a lot of appreciation by each group for the other. And some of us saw old friends that we hadn’t seen for quite some time.  We also gave out brochures for the upcoming “Ground the Drones” drone quilt exhibits that will be opening in the Capital District on Monday, October 20th with a media conference at the Legislative office Building in Albany.  More details  about this on our home page.

We had some good interactions with pedestrians and one passenger in a passing car applauded us, which was kind of amusing but also nice.

The vigil ended with a closing circle where each person stood in silence for a couple of minutes and then we went around and introduced ourselves.


Grannies for Peace Anti Weaponized Drone vigil held at West Capitol Park, from Noon to 1 PM, Wednesday, September 17, 2014.


IMG_9456 large tableau of vigil at West Capitol Park, September 17, 2014

The early part of our vigil with the Alfred E. Smith building in the background

This was the Grannies major anti-drone vigil of the fall season.  It was fairly elaborate because we had a large variety of props and banners.  Outstanding among these were Mabel’s enlarged photos of drone victims, Kim’s beautiful yin/yang, dove/drone poster, origami drone mobiles put together by Kim and Joan, and a variety of banners and other signs.IMG_9469 Hazel with Drones Kill Civilians signOne of the most striking props was the 1/5 scale MQ-9 Reaper drone replica designed by Nick Mottern.  His replicas are slowly increasing in numbers, as he receives funds and takes time to build them, and are traveling to protests all across the US where they capture the attention of passersby and help educate them to the physical effects of having such weaponized drones flying overhead.IMG_9475 Kim, Joan and Mickie, before the official vigil. To be able to include the replica in our vigil, Mabel and Mickie needed to meet Nick halfway in Newburgh the day before the vigil to get the parts, and receive instructions on assembly.  Then we needed an assembly team with patience and Phillips screwdrivers.  We met early to put the parts together. Our intrepid team consisted of Kim Kennedy, Pete Looker, Joan and Harry Thornhill, Bertha Kriegler and Mabel and Mickie. IMG_9428 Our assembly committee of Kim, Harry, Joan, Peter, Bertha, Mickie and MabelIMG_9482Kim and drone replica, Sept 17, 2014

As soon as we were done assembling the replica we began our vigil about 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. At the Noon hour we had about a dozen vigilers. Many of our signs were still propped up against steps and monuments in the park.IMG_9441 (2) pre noon gathering with photos and posters on stepsBy the halfway point of the vigil we had grown to 21 vigilers and were able to face both the park where the State workers were eating lunch, and the traffic and passersby on Swan Street.IMG_9460 (2) Later vigil with Sue Clark, Elaine, her daughter and others

As soon as Doreen arrived with our leaflets we began leafleting, This resulted in our holding some interesting conversations with passersby, and with people eating lunch in the park where we also leafleted.   IMG_9486 (2) Dot leafleting and in conversation

We were able to document much of the vigil with Mabel’s photos.  We also added one photo of Mari and Mabel, representing three generations of activism.  It’s becoming an annual ritual to have them take photos together.This one photo was the exception to Mabel’s photos.  Being taken by another vigiler and posted on Mari’s Facebook page.10710648_10101361949464312_4533719309039207946_n Mari Matsuo with anti drone signOne disappointing, but not unexpected aspect of the vigil was the lack of media coverage, in spite of careful press releases and phone calls to the TV stations on the morning of the vigil.  We did have a photographer from the Times Union who took several photos, and one of our leaflets, but no photos appeared in the newspaper.IMG_9474 (2) Leafleting while vigiling

In spite of the lack of media to amplify the message, the person to person communication was excellent.  We were able to give out more than 150 leaflets about how weaponized drones kill people.

Dot described one of her conversations with a passerby this way:

“The gentleman I was speaking with said that bombing and killing as a way of solving the Middle Eastern dilemma is futile and counterproductive.”IMG_9461 (2) Grannies for Peace banner Sept. 17, 2014

Those of us leafleting and holding banners had a wide range of responses from supportive, to curious, to unconvinced, but everyone thought about the issue of killing innocent people with drones.IMG_9464Sue Clark, leafletingWe hope that these photos communicate the spirit of the event, which we all enjoyed on a beautiful, sunny day.  Thanks to everyone who took part and to those who helped to prepare for the vigil and were there in spirit.

Presentations of GROUNDED By George Brant

Brochure- Grounding the Drones: A Women Against War Initiative

From the award-winning playwright George Brant, comes the story of an ace fighter pilot whose career in the sky is ended early due to an unexpected pregnancy. Reassigned to operate military drones from a windowless trailer outside Las Vegas, she hunts terrorists by day and returns to her family each night. As the pressure to track a high-profile target mounts, the boundaries begin to blur between the desert in which she lives and the one she patrols half a world away.The Capital region tour of GROUNDED is being produced by Women Against War in conjunction with The Theater Institute at Sage College. It is being directed by Russell Sage College Teaching Artist Leigh Strimbeck and is featuring Katelyn Burrello.
The GROUNDED tour schedule is as follows:
October 30, 2014
7:00 PM
The Chapel + Cultural Center at Rensselaer
2125 Burdett Avenue
Troy, NY
November 13, 2014
The Campus Theater
at The College of St. Rose
November 13, 2014
996A Madison Avenue( behind 1000 Madison)
Albany, NY 12203
November 11, 2014
The Arts Center of the Capital Region
265 River Street
Troy, NY
November 15, 2014
7:00 PM
Old Chatham Quaker Meeting
539 County Route 13
Old Chatham, NY 12136
November 19, 2014
7:30 P.M.
Academy of the Holy Names Upper School
1074 New Scotland Rd.
Albany, NY
GROUNDED is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Grannies joined the Schenectady Neighbors for Peace at their weekly vigil on Friday, June 6th in the first of our “roving anti-drone” vigils

On a truly beautiful, sunny but somewhat windy day, at noon on Friday, June 6, 2014.  A handful of Grannies for Peace joined the Schenectady Neighbors for Peace weekly vigil as a part of our own “Roving anti-drone vigils” planned for this spring and summer.

Early part of the SNP and Grannies vigil on June 6, 2014, photo by Mabel Leon

Early part of the SNP and Grannies vigil on June 6, 2014, photo by Mabel Leon

We brought along our Grannies Against Drones T-shirts, the Grannies for Peace banner and some drone-metal gray paper drone hats [created by Kim Kennedy and folded by Kim and Mickie], based on a template supplied by peace and justice activist Kathy Kelly.

Variety of signs at our vigil. Photo by Mabel Leon

Variety of signs at our vigil. Photo by Mabel Leon

The vigil was lively and spirited,  even though there were only about a dozen of us present. Lots of catching up and sharing the latest news.  Mabel Leon snapping some photos and three vigilers moving to the shady side of the street so that we had people on both sides with our signs and other props.  In honor of the anti-drone theme most chose signs with that message, especially “Diplomacy Not Drones” but there were also signs about closing Guantanamo and ending war and torture.

On the shady side of Liberty Street.  Photo by Mabel Leon

On the shady side of Liberty Street. Photo by Mabel Leon

SNP provided the signs, which Mabel brought to the vigil on the corner of Liberty and Jay streets.  It was a lovely vigil with a combination of updates and comments about current peace and justice issues and political developments and waving of signs and making eye contact with drivers and pedestrians.  6 of our 10 drone hats were worn during the vigil and the combination of signs, banner, shirts and drone hats caught the attention of those passing by.

Drone hats on a windy day! Photo by Mabel Leon

Drone hats on a windy day! Photo by Mabel Leon

A new wrinkle was discovered in the wearing of the drone hats on a windy day.  Peter, Mark, Michael and Greg were all wearing hats with bills and they wore the drone hats over those baseball style caps.  This provided stability and also looked really cool.

Different ways to wear a drone hat, photo by Mabel Leon

Different ways to wear a drone hat, photo by Mabel Leon

Some of the SNP members like Mabel and Bertha were also Grannies for Peace and figuratively wore more than one hat.   Purely representing the Grannies  were Maud, Pat Beetle and Mickie.  Joining us as SNP regular vigilers were Teri, Jackie, Peter, Mark, Michael and Greg.

Schenectady Neighbors for Peace vigil joined by Grannies for Peace, photo by Mabel Leon

Schenectady Neighbors for Peace vigil joined by Grannies for Peace, photo by Mabel Leon

I found out in the course of the vigil that the Schenectady vigil was one of the oldest continuous vigils in the Capital District having started right after the September 11, 2001 attacks.  It certainly was amazing and enthusiastic. They clearly had their regular drivers and passersby who greeted them and engaged in dialogue.  Another thing about the vigil was that it didn’t end at 1 PM sharp but people lingered until about 1:15 PM finishing up conversations and updates.

Multiple messages for Peace while catching up on news.  Photo by Mabel Leon

Multiple messages for Peace while catching up on news. Photo by Mabel Leon

If this first roving anti-drone vigil was any indication — then the Grannies will find their inspiration and enthusiasm enriched by attending the other two vigils that we have planned with Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace and Saratoga Neighbors for Peace.

Jay Street end of the vigil. Photo by Mabel Leon

Jay Street end of the vigil. Photo by Mabel Leon