Vigil and commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day in conjunction with Performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem , Saturday November 10th, at Proctor’s Schenectady from 6:15 to 7:30 PM

After receiving the announcement of the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem as the last of a series of events commemorating the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, Marcia Hopple brought the idea of leafleting and vigiling for peace at that performance to the October meeting of  WAW’s Iran Project.  After a discussion it was decided to vigil and leaflet in the courtyard leading to the back doors of Proctor’s theatre.  We obtained permission from both the Orchestra and Proctors to be there and be a voice for peace. Alexandra Lusak got permission for us to park in the lot of a nearby church so that we could leave the Proctors’ parking to the concert goers. Here are a few details from our outreach flyer to Capitol District peace groups:

Women Against War is planning a peace demonstration on Saturday November 10 to dovetail with a performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem at Proctors Theater in Schenectady.  It will also allow us to stand in spirit with Veterans for Peace and others who will be vigiling on Sunday, 11/11/18 in Washington DC

TIME:  6:15  – 7:30 PM. There will be two groups: arriving for the Pre-concert talk with David  Alan Miller at 6:30 PM, and for the concert at 7:30 PM

LOCATION:  Rear of Proctors, 432 State Street, Schenectady NY 12305 (near State and Jay Streets) We will be standing in the courtyard outside doors to Proctors from rear parking areas

OCCASION:  Albany Symphony Orchestra performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem to commemorate the first Armistice Day 100 years ago, ending World War I (the war that was supposed to end all wars).

The concert is the culmination of several events commemorating the first Armistice Day 100 years ago http://www.albanysymphony.com/armisticecentennialevents/

ACTION:  Handing out leaflets and displaying signs related to the theme End Endless War, as about 2,000 concert goers enter the theater.

We will provide signs.  Please try to carpool and dress for standing outside for the demonstration.  We will leaflet and hold our signs primarily at the rear of Proctors where most patrons arrive from the parking lots.  The Symphony and Proctors welcome us to be present at this Armistice Centennial event.  Proctors even offered to hand out coffee to the vigilers.

Parking available  WAW has permission to park in the lot at the First United Methodist Church of Schenectady.  They are at 603 State Street, about two blocks east of Proctors.  The lot is behind the church.  Another option is to park at Schenectady County library at 99 Clinton Street, at the corner of Liberty St., about three blocks from Proctors.  Please avoid parking in the lots directly behind Proctors to leave room for concert patrons. A parking garage near Proctors is usually free during performances and is accessible from Broadway.  Parking in the lots behind Proctors is not free.

As an update about our action: on a bitterly cold evening with a strong breeze 12 brave vigilers carried signs reading End Endless War and War Is Not The Answer and handed out about 500 leaflets with the theme Working for Peace through Music, Art, Poetry and Policy and ending with the phrase “Together we can make a Peaceful World.”

 

 

Grannies for Peace vigil for an End to Endless War, on September 21, 2018, The International Day of Peace.

On an extremely windy evening 20 Grannies for Peace and their allies held a vigil to call for an end to endless war. We were there on the occasion of The International Day of Peace. A commemorative day that was established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution. As it says on their website: “Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.”    

We stood from a little before 5 PM to 6 PM.  Because of the high winds we were unable to unfurl most of our banners. But we did hold the Women Against War banner. Wendy brought two peace flags of her own. Joan and Harry brought their peace flag. Pete also brought some sturdy plastic signs that he attached to poles at the spot where traffic came off the Northway heading to Central Avenue or Wolf Road.

A small committee of Grannies planned this vigil, including Joan, Doreen and Dot, with help from others on the usual tasks involving outreach. Our numbers were smaller than usual because several of us were out of town or had schedule conflicts. Nevertheless we still made a colorful and passionate group to which commuters responded with honks and peace signs.

Our outreach flyer shared our reasons for being there with these words, written by Maud:

Enough!
End Endless War!

War is not the answer. Let’s declare war on war so that the outcome is peace upon peace.
Let’s work to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs.

And now for the pictures, taken by Harry Thornhill:

Grannies for Peace, SJC contingent, with Tom Ellis. Photo by John Amidon


There is also a short, 2 minute video taken by John Amidon.

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 info@WomenAgainstWar.org, 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 www.humanize.afsc.org 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.