Happy 30th Birthday, WNPJ!

Some highlights for the specific years of 1991, 2001, and 2011:

Frank Boyle, Midge Miller, Fred Risser and Nan Cheney; some of our WNPJ founders

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February 23, 1991 More than 350 people representing over 60 communities throughout the state responded to a call from WI State Representative Frank Boyle and crowded into the Assembly Chambers of the State Capitol to gather strength from one another in their frustration and concern about the Gulf War.

On that day, the ground war in Kuwait began.

As Jeff Pieterick, Waterloo, our first newsletter editor wrote, February 23,1991, “marked the escalation of two initiatives, one for war, the other for peace.”

Out of that gathering arose the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. Since that time, the Network has grown to include over 170 peace, human rights, religious, labor, and environmental organizations throughout the state.

Representative Frank Boyle of Superior said in February, 1991:

"The country's ethical compass has snapped. We're careening through violent military adventures abroad, converting this country into a two-class state of rich and poor, vastly increasing the inequalities in education, health care and employment, all of which feeds a social disintegration creating hopelessness, violence and crime. Instead of awareness and feeling, we're given platitudes and thought control. This country is in deep trouble. Knowledgeable and courageous people joining together can demand a new course and stop this disintegration. That's the definition of patriotism!"

March 16 Steering Committee meeting. Steve Braunginn and Nan Cheney, both from Madison, were elected Co-Chairs. The April 1991 newsletter quoted Joyce Reynolds Kurth, a WNPJ-Marathon County member who wrote reflecting on the Feb. 23 Conference, “My overriding concern is that we once again begin to drift . . . If we always allow the government to define our areas of concentration, we may never get in front of the process . . . Many of us express concern that once the war had ended, we would go back to sleep. That possibility remains real. The choice is up to each of us.”

May 11 The By-laws were adopted after hours and weeks of deliberation and WNPJ was incorporated as a WI non-profit organization.

June 8 A second conference, entitled “The Persian Gulf: Truth and Consequences” was held in the Assembly Chamber. Midge Miller moderated, speakers included Murvet Enc, Roger Quindel, and Robert Kimbrough. Twelve workshops including topics such as the family farm, the Ladysmith mine, energy, communication skills, Arab contributions to the world, educator activists, Father Bob Bossie’s Eyewitness Account from Iraq, calculating military costs, videos, media responsibility, and the economic impact of the military on labor.

October 18 The Energy Taskforce presented 700 signatures on a petition to the Legislature in support of a Clean Energy initiative.

November 13 A WNPJ Conference organized by Jobs With Peace representative Larry Moore entitled “Reinvest in our Communities” was held in the Local Transit Union Hall in Milwaukee. Burt Glass, a staffer with national SANE/Freeze was the keynoter. Workshops centered on a peace economy, energy, campaign reform and effective political action, and a universal health plan. Nick Berigan, Wausau, was elected our new chair.

 

2001

‘Fridays in February’ Corporate Accountability Task Group members Bonnie Block and John Peck do three “Making Corporate Accountability a Reality for WI” workshops in Appleton, La Crosse, and Stevens Point.

April 7 Steering Committee “From Anger to Action—A Consultation for Activists at the UCC Conference Center in De Forest. Three panelists told their stories: Gerhard Fisher, SOA Watch; Bonnie Urfer, Nukewatch and Silence Trident, and Judith Williams, SOA Watch. This was followed by an afternoon of nonviolence training for the organizational representatives present. April Publication of the 4th annual WNPJ Directory with 87 member organizations listed.

May Ilana Caplan succeeds Carol Kiemel as office manager, WNPJ paid staff.

September WNPJ issues “A Call for Peace With Justice in Responding to Terrorism” signed by the Executive Committee, and dozens of member organizations and many individuals.

In October the NETTG publishes a brochure titled “What’s a Peace Maker to Do?”                          Assembly ’01 “Globalization for Peace Not Profit” at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Madison. Keynote speaker was Njoki Njehu of the ‘50 Years is Enough’ Campaign. Two panels were also held. One on “Globalization and War—Case Studies” with Mike Boehm, Peacework Vietnam, Cecilia Zarate-Laun, Colombia Support Network, Dan Rodman, WI Coordinating Council on Nicaragua; and Joe Elder, UW Southeast Asian Studies. The other was “Examples of the People’s Movement for a Just Globalization” with Mary Bottari, Public Citizen’s Trade Watch Campaign, Val Carrol, UW Madison Anti-Sweatshop Coalition; and Bill Lange, Faith Community for Worker Justice. 2001 Wisconsin Peacemakers of the Year are Everett Refior (over 65), Bonnie Urfer (25-65) and Dana Churness (under 25)                                        WI Rep and WNPJ member Mark Miller presented the awards as candles were lit represented each member organization.

 

2011

WNPJ now has 164 member groups and 398 individual members and we have an office at 122 State St., Madison.* Staff • Diane Farsetta – director, Judy Miner - office, Steve Burns – program (staff positions sharing one full-time position); Steve Books (VFP liason) and Ilana Caplan (newsletter layout) continuing in their respective roles, as LTE's. • Chris Reeder has worked on the Solidarity Sing-Along since March, 2011! WNPJ has been able to compensate him for some of his time, from Sing-Along donations, button and T-shirt sales and one grant for the Sing-Along. He's been paid at 10 hours / week July through November, when the group became 'independent', joining WNPJ as a member group. • Work / study - Marie Russo did great work, putting in 5 hours / week (Sept 2010 - May 2011), including updating our media list, helping with our first statewide candidates survey, and designing leaflets for the Carbon Free, Nuclear Free campaign.

In April, we held our annual spring meeting in Mauston, a community neighboring the proposed drone facility. The featured speaker, international human rights activist Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, spoke movingly of her experiences visiting families in Afghanistan and Pakistan who are terrorized by U.S. drone bombings. Coordinated an organizational letter against the drone facility. Forty organizations from across the state signed onto the letter, which we sent to the Governor, all state legislators, the Building Commission and state military leaders. We continue to collect individuals' signatures on online and print petitions against the drone facility, and recently designed a brochure on it and problems with drone warfare in general, for tabling at upcoming events. We also drafted and organized a letter to Representative Ron Kind, whose district includes the proposed facility, encouraging him to oppose federal funding for it.

In May and June, WNPJ supported the "war money home" campaign led by CODEPINK. We alerted our members to a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in June, which urged Congress to end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and direct more resources towards struggling communities at home. We entered into a dialogue with Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, which led to his co-sponsoring and promoting the war money home resolution. Another Wisconsin mayor, John Dickert of Racine, also supported it. On environmental issues, WNPJ continues to engage members of the public and policymakers on the dangers of nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. In April, nuclear power industry executive John Rowe was the keynote speaker at the UW Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies annual Earth Day Conference. WNPJ designed an anti-nuclear leaflet for the event and organized an informational protest outside it.

June Renewable Energy Fair - Pancakes for Peace, Board meeting and info meeting on mining proposal, featuring Frank Koehn of Save the Water's Edge and proposed WNPJ Board member Kelly Westlund • WNPJ is supporting environmentalists in northern Wisconsin, and helping build coalitions statewide, to stop a new push to strip mine iron in the Penokee Hills and Bad River Watershed of Iron and Ashland Counties, which is part of the Lake Superior basin. WNPJ organized an informational session on the mining push at the Midwest Energy Fair, which drew dozens of activists from around the state. WNPJ is also helping establish an anti-mining coalition, called "Madison for the Penokees," to support and complement the good education, research and advocacy by northern Wisconsin activists

In July, we organized media interviews and speaking events for Dr. Tad Daley, a writing fellow with the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the author of "Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear-Free World."

August We helped organize and promoted Lanterns for Peace events across the state, which commemorate the anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in early August. WNPJ is also working with the Carbon Free, Nuclear Free Wisconsin coalition on an informational packet on the dangers of nuclear power, for state legislators.

September - Carl Sack joined the WNPj staff as our intern/work study student  – working on the mining issue. • Volunteers - Regular office volunteers include Fei Ma, who continues to help with website postings, and Sally Paul, who put in 10 hours / week over the past summer, helping greatly during Steve's absence (he spent ~5 weeks in Nicaragua, while on unpaid leave) by putting out WNPJ's action alerts. Kathy Walsh joined in as a regular volunteer in the Fall. Barb Boehme took over as WNPJ's representative to Community Shares of Wisconsin, from Sheila Spear (who continues to serve as our excellent newsletter editor!). • Board officers, Board members and active committees make WNPJ what it is! Active committees over the year include 20th anniversary planning, Fundraising, Steering committee and Member assembly planning. • Board continued its commitment to anti-racism with retreat at Farley Center, discussion led by Groundwork volunteers (and proposed WNPJ Board members) Eva Shulte and Liz Bruno • Program • 20th anniversary included a multi-issue lobby day that addressed nuclear / clean energy, drone facility, earned release prison programs and anti-immigrant Arizona-like bill •

October Fall Assembly in Madison, Oct. 8th which focused on the mining threat.  – with Winona LaDuke as the keynote, and celebration honoring Fred Risser, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. • http://www.wnpj.org/node/6021

Active work groups on anti-militarism, immigrant rights, prison justice, and the environment • Anti-militarism work against proposed drone facility - and vigils for peace supported across the state. • Immigrant rights - meetings with legislators, active member of new Wisconsin Network on Immigrant and Refugee Rights (convened by Voces) • Environment - continuing to educate state legislators on nuclear issues with a September lit drop and coalition-building with Carbon Free, Nuclear Free WI partners; active member of Penokee support group against mining in northern WI, also focus of both Assembly and Awards Reception today • Prison reform - last newsletter focused on prison issues; coordinated a meeting with MUM and Gil Halsted on “earned release” - • Events •

On immigrant rights, WNPJ follows the lead of two strong member groups, Voces de la Frontera and Union de Trabajadores Immigrantes. Sadly, there are four anti-immigrant bills currently before the state legislature, including one based on Arizona's infamous SB1070. WNPJ officially took a stance against this heinous bill, sending a statement to media outlets and activating our membership on the issue. Over the past year, our immigrant rights work group has challenged the disinformation and racism behind such measures via letters to the editor. Since the legislature is likely to take up these bills in the fall, we are currently working with our member groups and allies to educate the public and meet with legislators.

The Solidarity Singalong - To support workers' rights, WNPJ continues to organize and support the Solidarity Sing-Along, a daily protest where up to hundreds of people sing labor, civil rights and new Wisconsin-specific protest songs in the state Capitol over the noon hour. This simple yet powerful protest  is the only regular, ongoing and publicly visible manifestation of resistance to the recent removal of public workers' collective bargaining rights, as well as other extreme policies championed by the governor and many legislators. The Sing-Along has drawn in people beyond the usual suspects, with its participatory, positive and family friendly tone. It's also a gathering and information sharing opportunity for activists, and provides an opportunity for high-profile visitors - including musicians Michelle Shocked and Arlo Guthrie - to express their support for the Wisconsin struggle by joining the Solidarity Sing-Along.

What else we do: These activities are all in addition to WNPJ's role as a grassroots activist communications and resource sharing hub. We send out events bulletin and action alert emails weekly; maintain a frequently-updated website, along with presences on Facebook and Twitter; organize meetings in the spring and fall which are major informational, networking and planning opportunities for activists from across the state; tabled at BobFest, Madison Farmer's Market, Lanterns for Peace, Madison Fair Trade Holiday Fair – selling our Peace Wreaths ; and regularly assist member groups with policy issues and media and public outreach.

Janet Parker Selling Peace Wreaths at the Fair Trade Holiday Fair

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Congratulation, WNPJ, on thirty years of peace, justice and sustainability work!

More photos of WNPJ events available at http://www.wnpj.org/image

More WNPJ history available at http://www.wnpj.org/history-and-mission

Questions? Contact info@wnpj.org

And Join Us - for the decade ahead..... http://www.wnpj.org/Donate-Join

 

WNPJ participants in the zoom Celebration of our 30th - April 24, 2021.