Report on the many venues that hosted Humanize Not Militarize during the spring of 2017 [March 10th through June 30th]

Sometimes I imagine it’s a bit of a mystery what makes Women Against War projects happen. But in the case of our 6-months’ work on hosting AFSC’s powerful poster exhibit, Humanize, not Militarize, we can learn below how this project emerged and kept expanding, all the wonderful new community partners we made, and the terrific teamwork of the large number of WAW members involved. If you might like to be part of our next effort, please e-mail, and we will let you know what’s next!

The report below was written by Anita Stanley who coordinated this project – with cheerful patience and marvelous organizational skills. Thank you from us all, Anita! You made it possible for us to bring to new audiences the powerful message of the exhibit:  the interconnection between the US militarized foreign policy, our racist and increasingly militarized criminal justice system and our increasingly militarized borders – all sadly needing much thought and advocacy these days.

Humanize, not Militarize Exhibition Project:

Report by Anita Stanley

The idea to bring the Humanize, not Militarize project to the Capital District was first conceived by Maud Easter in January of 2016.  She spotted it on the website of the American Friends Service Committee and wrote to Mary Zerkel, the AFSC staff member in charge. At that time it was titled All of Us or None, but had just been changed to Humanize, not Militarize.  Mary was delighted to work with Women Against War again, and the seed was planted.

Anita with Raul Vazquez's poster "Borders Don't Stop Dreams." Photo by Mabel Leon

Anita with Raul Vazquez’s poster “Borders Don’t Stop Dreams.” Photo by Mabel Leon

Maud brought the idea to the Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Committee in February, and the group decided to move forward with it.  Initially the plan was to display it in the summer of 2016, but planning for the election primaries became a priority, so it was pushed out to the fall.  Mabel Leon began a thorough study of the posters, and made suggestions of how we could divide them up for different sites.

Posters at UAlbany Performing Arts. Photo by Maud Easter

Posters at UAlbany Performing Arts. Photo by Maud Easter

Finding Display Sites:  The rest of the committee began exploring different venues for the display, and whether/what kinds of events we might want to accompany the exhibit.  Since planning for the annual meeting was underway by then, the committee changed the target date to late winter or early spring of 2017.  Connie LaPorta was asked to create a brochure to accompany the posters at each venue, which would contain a current schedule of the different display sites, information about AFSC, information about WAW, and a poem from the AFSC website about militarization.   Mabel then drafted a letter to be sent to potential venues, and Mickie Lynn edited it for release.  We divided up the list of possible sites to contact, and began the contacts.  Even though Maureen Aumand wasn’t able to attend our committee meetings, she continued to contribute ideas for venues, and make contacts herself.

Progress!  The Unitarian-Universalist Church in Albany was the first site to agree to host the exhibit, and plans began for an accompanying event, such as a speaker or movie.  Maureen was making solid progress with Capital Repertory Theatre to schedule a showing during the run of An Iliad in March of 2017.  Anita Stanley agreed to be the scheduler for the display, and post online the dates, information about each site, and the WAW members responsible for hanging and tabling.
Anita attended the meeting of the Social Responsibility Council at the UU Church, where they requested that we show Jon Stewart’s film “After Spring”,a movie about Syrian refugees, when the “Humanize” posters were up.  They decided to have a church potluck on the evening when the film was shown, and asked that we plan a small panel to discuss the movie after the showing. Maureen agreed to facilitate the discussion.  They also agreed to allow us to put out the WAW tabling materials on that night, and to host Dahlia Herring for a short presentation about the Capital District’s plans to address the influx of refugees to the region.

Dahlia Herring telling Maureen about refugees in the Capital District at FUUSA exhibit, photo by Mabel Leon

Dahlia Herring telling Maureen about refugees in the Capital District at FUUSA exhibit, photo by Mabel Leon

They also decided to make a donation toward the cost of the film and the exhibit, depending on how much money was taken in from donations on the night of the film.  WAW and FUUSA would share publicity tasks for the local listserves and newsletters.

   More sites: Maureen continued to explore new possibilities, and received a positive response from the UAlbany Performing Arts Department, to host the display during the run of REBEL/Sister in April.  We were given permission to table at three of their themed “talk backs” after the performances.  Alexandra Lusak from the Oakwood Community Center in Troy accepted our request to hang Humanize there.  They decided to plan an opening reception for it, at one of their Monday night Soul Cafe dinners for the community.

Anita began to plan for put-up and take-down “crews” for each venue, as well as people to table on the nights designated.  Mickie, Maud, and Hazel Landa teamed up to do all the publicity for the showings, as well as for the events associated with each venue.  They included the WAW Facebook page, the website, the new Capital Region Progressive Calendar, newspapers and TV, the Friends Meeting newsletter, and e-mail postings of the various peace and justice-related listserves.  Anita sent progress updates to Mary Zerkel at the American Friends Service Committee, and asked for frequent extensions to accommodate the growing list of sites.Humanize3poster

Maureen contacted Rex Smith at Albany Pro Musica, to explore the possibility of hanging the exhibit at EMPAC on the night of their performance of The Armed Man in May of 2017.  The board of APM was encouraging local organizations to plan peace-related activities in the weeks leading up to the performance of this anti-war composition. The posters of Humanize fit perfectly with that effort, and WAW was glad to join in by tabling on the night of the concert.  WAW was allowed to display three of the posters as well, and accepted the many donations that audience members offered. In addition, the exhibit was featured on a weekly television show called AHA!, broadcast on our local PBS station, WMHT.  In order to illustrate the themes of The Armed Man”, the posters were woven in among the different segments of the program.

War is  Failure, poster by Phillip Zuchman

War is Failure, poster by Phillip Zuchman

With the cost of shipping the exhibit, the fee to rent After Spring, and the charges for printing, ink, and Velcro strips for hanging, we realized that we needed an additional supply of money to cover our costs.  Maud sent out a request for donors, and people responded with generosity.  We also began to plan for refreshments for our reception on the night of the An Iliad performance, and a number of WAW members offered to help.

Humanize at Cap Rep with WAW crew for opening media event, photo by Mabel Leon

Humanize at Cap Rep with WAW crew for opening media event, photo by Mabel Leon

Maureen was busy making contact with the directors of Soldier’s Heart, an organization

In War There Are No Unwounded Soldiers, poster from Humanize Not Militarize

In War There Are No Unwounded Soldiers, poster from Humanize Not Militarize

addressing the mental health needs of returning veterans.  She was planning an after-performance talkback, which included Dan Wilcox, our local anti-war poet, Dr.Ed Tick and Kate Dahlstedt, the founders of Soldier’s Heart, a participant in their program, and the actor and the cellist in An Iliad.  She also arranged for a photographer from the Times-Union to come out and take pictures of the display, in preparation for a short article in the newspaper.

Posters at Capital Rep for the anti-war play,  An Iliad

Posters at Capital Rep for the anti-war play, An Iliad

  Viewers Made Posters:
We asked AFSC to include art materials with the poster shipment, which people could use to make their own posters, inspired by the exhibit.  We also requested plastic sleeves in which to put information about each artist and their specific posters.  At some sites this information was put in a notebook for persons to look through, and in others, the information was hung under the posters.

Viewers making posters. Photo by Mabel Leon

Viewers making posters. Photo by Mabel Leon

  More Sites!  The Upton Women’s Center at Russell Sage College was the next venue to accept our invitation, and Shealeen Meany, the director of the Center, planned a reception for their opening night.  WAW arranged for Dr. Mussarat Chaudry, a local Muslim interfaith leader, to give two short presentations on women and Islam on the night of the reception.  Many of the Sage students made posters, and took WAW flyers and our brochures about the exhibit.

Maureen also contacted Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace about hosting our Humanize display during their annual meeting. They agreed to exhibit the posters, and put on a staged reading of the anti-drone play Predator on that night as well.  There were many instances of overlap between the runs of the posters at the different venues, and WAW allowed each venue to choose the works that they wanted. This splitting of the exhibit worked well, and whatever posters were not being used were stored in a WAW member’s home.

Project extended again!   WAW members split up the list for thank-you notes to the different sites, and began to make plans for packing up the posters to send back.  Soon afterward we were contacted by Aili Lopez of C.R.E.A.T.E., a new organization with art studios in Saratoga and Schenectady, with a mission of addressing mental health needs through the visual arts. They felt that Humanize would be a good fit for their participants. We agreed, and CREATE began to plan three workshops entitled Activism and the Art of Poster-Making.  WAW members from Saratoga were asked to help with the exhibit, and attended the workshops as well.

Posters displayed at CREATE, photo by Kim Kennedy

Posters displayed at CREATE, photo by Kim Kennedy

Wrapping up: The Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Committee of WAW pitched in for a pack-up party for mailing the exhibit back to AFSC.  After this, the committee gave a mid-summer “thank-you” party for all the volunteers involved with the six-month project.  Members agreed that Humanize had reached a wide variety of audiences, especially in the arts, that had not been aware of WAW and the issues we address before this.  Our collaborations with local groups were successful, and served to strengthen our bonds with other organizations in the peace and justice community.  We are appreciative of the donations given by individuals and organizations involved with the display.  Members feel that our goals as an organization were well-represented by the issues raised by the Humanize posters, and that the people who came to see the display are likely to be much better informed now than they had been before.

Diplomacy with Iran sets the example for a change in US foreign policy, Iran Project Vigil at Albany Food Fest, August 10, 2016 from 12:30 to 1:45 PM

Women Against War: Diplomacy Saves Lives and Money, We Can’t Afford Any More War

  Women Against War demonstrated and leafleted with full numbers from 12:30-1:30 PM, Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at the annual Empire State Plaza Food Festival. But some of us actually stayed a bit longer to continue to leaflet and take photos.

Close of the Iran Project Vigil at Empire State Plaza Food Fest, missing Leila, Priscilla and Sue Clark, photo by Priscilla Fairbank

Close of the Iran Project Vigil at Empire State Plaza Food Fest. Not in photo: Dinah, Leila, Priscilla and Sue Clark.  Photo by Priscilla Fairbank

Our props consisted of our banner, signs, a Women Against War Sandwich Board  (worn for the full hour on a windy afternoon by Alexandra), and some of Diane Reiner’s  beautiful enlarged photos of Iranian people. There were a baker’s dozen of us; standing with expressive signs, including a homemade, two sided sign that ally and anti nuclear weapons activist, Tom Ellis held. . One side read, “We can build a vastly better world;” the other, “We are tired of endless war, foreign and domestic.”

Iran Project Vigil at the end of the demonstration, missing Sue, Mabel and Leila.  Photo by Mabel Leon

Iran Project Vigil at the end of the demonstration. Not in photo: Sue, Mabel, Leila and Dinah. Photo by Mabel Leon

One of the highlights of this particular annual vigil has always been the number of leaflets that we can distribute to people flocking to the I Love NY Food Fest as they come to buy prepared foods and produce. To walk and meet and lunch and munch.

With rain threatening there were fewer passersby than usual but more leafleters took turns giving out the beautiful leaflets with a color photo of the international negotiators of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran.

Negotiators of the Iran nuclear deal from China, France, Germany, The European Union, Iran, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, April 2, 2015

Negotiators of the Iran nuclear deal from China, France, Germany, The European Union, Iran, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, April 2, 2015

In the media release, demonstration organizer Marcia Hopple explained, “Women Against War is asking citizens to insist that candidates for presidential and congressional elections this November will say NO to endless war and say YES to diplomacy as the first and most powerful tool in international relations.”

Another long term concern of Women Against War has been arms sales, which WAW considers a huge contributor to the problems in the Middle East. As well as an obstacle to negotiated settlements of regional conflicts.  As long term Women Against War activist Pat Beetle has succinctly said: “Let’s not let arms contractors determine our foreign policy.”

Iranleaflet2016, two sided.Women Against War’s leaflet also asked readers to really look at the US military budget, which continues to be larger than all other aspects of the US discretionary budget combined.  It suggested asking candidates to pledge to reduce military spending.

This year’s leaflet came about through a creative and interactive first draft crafted by Iran Project member Kate Cavanaugh. It was then edited by some of the other key vigil planners.  Marcia took responsibility for printing the striking,  two sided leaflets with their attention getting color photo.

The result was a leaflet that we plan to continue distributing during the entire political campaign season – with its action suggestions and basic facts.  One person (a booth holder) came up to us and thanked us for including actual ways that people could act on the requests for policy changes. In general the responses to our leaflets were more positive than ever before. People who took leaflets read them carefully, leading to several long conversations and commitments to doing more research to develop better understanding.

Although there wasn’t official media coverage, one of the Times Union photographers (Jasmine Robinson) included a picture of Leila and Mickie with their signs in a “were you seen” feature about the Food Festival.

"Spread Love Not Hate!" Leila and Mickie at the NY State Food Festival, August 10, 2016.  Photo by Jasmine Robinson of the TU

“Spread Love Not Hate!”
Leila and Mickie at the NY State Food Festival, August 10, 2016. Photo by Jasmine Robinson of the TU

Thanks to Marcia, Priscilla, Alexandra, Kate, Fran, Sue C., Pat, Tom, Leila, Sue D.,, Dinah, Hazel,  Mabel, Mickie, and all of those behind the scenes who supported this action in various ways. Including a local church that allowed us to park nearby,

Walking back to our cars after the Iran Project Vigil, photo by Priscilla Fairbank

Walking back to our cars after the Iran Project Vigil, photo by Priscilla Fairbank

In the face of political threats, multiple, cruel, continuing wars, and uncertainties about future US military actions we can only continue to act in the interests of peace, human rights, nuclear weapons reduction, compassion for those on the ground, and analysis of who stands to gain – in power and profit – from continued war.

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.


On Wednesday January 15, 2014, Women Against War Iran Project and other local peace and justice activists protested Schumer and Gillibrand’s co-sponsorship of S1881 which would impose more sanctions and commit the US to go to war if Israel attacks Iran.

IMG_7490 Speak out about the dangers of S1881This Wednesday, January 15, 2014, Thirty of us descended on the Federal Building in Albany to protest the fact that our senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, co-sponsored  a bill that would impose more sanctions on Iran — which threatens to torpedo President Obama’s progress in nuclear negotiations. Outside the building, our signs and banners praised diplomacy as a path to making the Middle East more secure and said a loud “no to war with Iran”.

Inside, meeting with the directors of IMG_7516 Speak out against S 1881Schumer and Gillibrand’s Albany offices, we enumerated all the bad outcomes this bill, S.1881, would bring. We told them how S.1881 breaks a promise the US made as part of the 6 party interim peace agreement with Iran.

We reminded them that one of the conditions of the six month interim peace agreement just finalized this week was that there would be no more sanctions added during the negotiating process for a final agreement.  And spelled out how destructive it would be to go backwards in a process that is working. We encouraged them to say no to Iran sanctions bill S. 1881. Encourage the promotion of peace through diplomacy!

  • We told them how valuable this interim agreement already is – it will stop Iran’s enriching uranium beyond 5%, Iran will dilute or convert its stockpile of uranium already enriched to 20%, and Iran will allow IAEA inspectors unprecedented access to it nuclear sites.
  • We told them how US and Israeli intelligence and military leaders have said that the other option for relating to Iran, going to war, would be ineffective in eliminating any nuclear threat and would be disastrous for the whole Middle East region.
  • We asked them – do you think the American people want to pay for another war?  We talked about the lives that would be lost and money taken away from education and jobs and health care.

    vigil at the federal building before delivering the petitions

    vigil at the federal building before delivering the petitions

Our protest on January 15th , called by Women Against War, was part of the National Day 1530593_10152149779204695_1233809616_n Say No to Iran Sanctionsof Action against Iran Sanctions organized by the National Iranian American Council. We delivered 160 letters from New Yorkers that they had collected. The senate bill has been withdrawn in February but we need to be watchful for a new version that could be introduced.

**This post was partially based on a blog post written by Maud Easter on January 17th on our blog, Waging Peace

Truth in Recruiting

Sample “Opt Out” Petition For High School Recruiting Information

If you are a part of the Bethlehem School District, you can help circulate this petition to the Bethlehem Central School District that asks them to make it easier for students to prevent their personal contact information from being automatically shared with military recruiters. If you live in another school district then you can use it as a template for your own campaign to make opting out easier.

Iraq Veterans Against the War
‘Truth in Recruiting’

“We are soldiers and veterans and we have all at one time been recruited. We know that recruiters need to distort the truth and lie in order to get people to enlist in the military. Please consider our experience before making your decision about whether or not to enlist in the military. If you should still decide to enlist, know that we will be there for you if you need us. As you join their ranks, join the ranks of IVAW to stop the war from the inside.”

Click here to read the entire flier.

It’s My Life! – A Book Report
edited by Janine Schwab and published by the American Friends Service Committee

If you are looking for a conventional manual to give to your growing daughter or son on “why you should go to college right after high school,” or “what are the best paying jobs,” then don’t bother buying It’s My Life! If, on the other hand, you want to support your children through that difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood, there is much in this readable book that could be useful.

Click here to read a longer description of this book along with ordering information.

Click here to access the Youth and Militarism section of the American Friends Service Committee website for more resources and information about this topic.