Network News - May and June 2013

In this issue:

This summer, Madison will have the distinct honor of hosting the annual national convention of Veterans for Peace, from August 7 to 11 at the Concourse Hotel, downtown.

What does it mean to “be the change you wish to see?” We bring you three articles illustrating the ability of individuals and local action to make a real difference, as seen through the journey of one activist and two groups caring for our planet.

In other news, the mining deregulation bill - also called the “Penokee Hills Destruction Act” - has been signed into law, but the Tribes, local residents and others say they are determined to block any new mine.

 


Madison's Climate Change Lobby

by Trudi Jenny350 Madison in Washington DC with Bill McKibben

 

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi

 

After reading Jim Hansen’s book Storms of My Grandchildren while on vacation in 2009, Madeleine Para chose to act on Gandhi’s words. Alarmed by Hansen’s treatise and the imminent threats global warming represents to the very survival of our planet, Madeleine knew she had to find a way to become more active. She recognized that she not only had to reduce her own carbon footprint, but also to change the political will of our nation, given the urgency of the situation.

While researching local and national groups addressing global warming, Madeleine discovered a relatively new group called Citizens Climate Lobby. CCL’s founder, Marshall Saunders, affirms that the climate is in crisis and suggests a solution. “To solve this crisis, ordinary people like you and me have to organize and educate ourselves,” he says. “We have to give up our hopelessness, our powerlessness, and gain the skills to be effective with our government.” CCL’s success in empowering individuals is reflected in its growth from just three groups in 2007 to 88 volunteer chapters in the U.S. and Canada in early 2013.

A grassroots advocacy group, CCL trains citizens about the science, economics and politics of climate and energy policy. Their goal is to pass energy legislation that will effectively lower emissions and thereby curb global warming. They plan to do this by building support for a revenue neutral (not creating new income or expenses) carbon fee. Their member training focuses on communicating with and educating members of the U.S. Congress with the goal of establishing a bipartisan coalition to submit and pass legislation in the current session.

The proposed legislation would place a carbon fee on fossil fuel companies, based on how much carbon would be produced when the fuel is burned. The fee would increase by a small amount each year. While this would make fossil fuels more expensive for consumers, the legislation would ideally return all of the revenues to them, in the form of a per person payment made to each U.S. taxpayer on a monthly or annual basis.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) introduced a bill, the Save Our Climate Act, that closely met CCL’s goals in 2011 with 22 cosponsors. Unfortunately, it failed to move out of the House Ways and Means Committee. Senators Bernie Sanders (IVT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a similar bill - the Climate Protection Act (S.332) - early this year. While the bill doesn’t meet all of CCL’s goals, it is a step in the right direction.

Madeleine Para started the Madison chapter of CCL in 2011 and saw its membership double over its first year. In 2012 she helped five more Wisconsin chapters form, in Milwaukee, Racine/ Kenosha, Stevens Point, Eau Claire and Iowa County. In addition, Joel Charles is now in the process of starting a Green Bay chapter.

The Wisconsin delegation at the national CCL conference in Washington last summer was the largest of any state, with 20 attendees. In 2012, Wisconsin groups were responsible for writing 49 letters to the editor and 12 editorials or guest columns. They also held 14 meetings with legislative staff, five face-toface meetings with members of Congress, and gathered 75 letters of support for the Save Our Climate Act from local business leaders.

In recognition of her strong leadership, Madeleine will be joining the national staff of CCL this coming June. She is “an ordinary person like you and me,” who stepped out of her comfort zone on more than one occasion to have her voice heard on an issue that 77% of Americans feel should be a priority. She inspires others to become active by building friendships, community and mutual support with a bit of fun thrown in for good measure.

Wisconsin CCL groups meet on a monthly basis to discuss progress on a local level and participate in a national conference call. The conference call includes a speaker on a particular facet of climate change, reports from local leaders, summaries of accomplishments and introduction of the planned action for the upcoming month. Speakers over the past year have included James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Dr. Wendy Ring, Physicians for Social Responsibility; Dr. Martin Tresguerres, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Dr. Robb Willer, Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, UC Berkeley; Dr. Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research; Dr. Jonathan Patz, UW Madison, Professor of Environment Studies and Population Health Sciences.

The Madison CCL group meets the first Saturday of each month at Arboretum Co-Housing, 1137 Erin St Madison, WI 53715 from 11 am to 1 pm. To learn about starting a group in your area, contact Madeleine Para at 608-446-4882 or madpara@juno.com.

On February 16th, many members of CCL Wisconsin groups set out on a journey to Washington, DC in support of the Forward on Climate Rally. Three buses carrying about 150 members of 350 Madison Climate Action, the Sierra Club and CCL Wisconsin arrived the morning of February 17th to join forces with close to 50,000 others for the largest U.S. climate rally to date. Rally speakers - including Bill McKibben (350.org), Michael Brune (Sierra Club), Van Jones and Native American women leaders from Canada and Southwestern U.S. - inspired the group prior to their march from the Washington Monument to the White House to urge President Obama to vote no on the Keystone XL pipeline. The large turnout buoyed spirits and enlivened hope that we can limit the devastating impacts of climate change by building the political will to do so.

 

Trudi Jenny is an active member of 350 Madison Climate Action Team and CCL Madison and is on the board of Churches' Center for Land and People.

 


Composting as a Church Commitment

by Bob Radford

 

Have you heard the joke that the afterservices coffee hour for Unitarian Universalists is as close as most of them get to a holy communion? It’s funny because it is so close to reality. I can tell you that the food and drink isn’t the only or even biggest part of our sacrament. We like the chance to connect with our spiritual seekers and to share with our fellow drinkers. The fellowship starts as those who are called to make the coffee arrive and set up the kitchen. They go about their work in a way that is peaceful and transcends most cooking experiences. They are serving the people in a joyful way - making a pot of good coffee and finding something the kids will like.

For some UUs, the most down-to-earth part of the coffee hour is collecting the coffee grounds and food scraps into the church compost bucket. The idea of throwing that precious spent coffee into the trash is abhorrent. We think the filter and grounds are just too wonderfully icky to throw away - no, we want to turn them into dirt! It is the ultimate in recycling. We put those grounds and half-eaten cookies into our compost bin, out back of the church or at home, feeding it to our worms and gardens as a labor of love and ecology that nurtures our earth and our souls.

There is nothing quite like rotating a compost pile - perhaps the closest is doing Tai- Chi or opening holiday presents. The smell is amazing, like an earthy chef’s lasagna cooking at 150 degrees. As the items transform, they become the richest darkest soil on our beautiful planet. No, they don’t rot and no, the neighbors don’t complain about the smell (not if you’re doing it right). Then, weeks later, whether in March or October, the compost is mixed with the earth, maybe extending a flower bed or walk way, and the cycle of spiritual ecology is fulfilled. Don’t put those coffee grounds in the garbage! Re-join them into the interdependent web of all existence. Peace!

Ed note: The FUS of Madison is housed in the historic Unitarian Meeting House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of its members and the son of one of its founders. Wright was commissioned to design the Meeting House in 1946. Construction began in 1949 and was completed in 1951. A recent addition, completed in 2008, was awarded Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

 

Bob Radford is with the First Unitarian Society of Madison

 


PC Foundation

 

QUIZ: What do these WNPJ member groups have in common: Wisconsin Books to Prisoners, Immigrant Workers Union and Madison Area Peace Coalition?

ANSWER: They are all using PC Foundation as their fiscal agent. Other groups using our services are The Salasaca Health Clinic Project, Ecuador and the Helambu Project, Nepal.

HOW DOES THIS WORK? If your group is applying for a grant and the foundation requires a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, or if you get a donation from someone who wants the gift to be tax-deductible, we can help! We are also able to accept donations via PayPal.

WHO CAN DO THIS? Any WNPJ member group can apply to use this service. We charge a 5% handling fee per donation, which is much lower than you’ll find anywhere else in the world of fiscal agents. Non-WNPJ groups are welcome to apply, too.

OUR HISTORY and MISSION: The Press Connection (PC) Foundation, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, established in 1980. Our Board of Directors meets annually: Dan Nordstrom, John Peck, Yvonne Geertz, Judy Miner and Nancy Emmert. We do as much as we can to promote local opportunities for community groups that partner with us on projects. And we’ve been a member group of WNPJ for two years now!

More details about us and how to make a request can be found at www.pcfound.org.

 


Veterans for Peace 2013 National Convention in Madison

by F. Lincoln Grahlfs

 

When I left the U.S. Navy at the end of a six-year enlistment, during and immediately following the second World War, I was firmly committed to two principles. The first was that the best advocates for peace were those who had experienced war first-hand. The second was that having given six years of my life in service to the government gave me both the right and the obligation to protest when I perceived its actions as wrong.

For the past sixty-five years, the above principles have strongly influenced my behavior. So, when a colleague suggested that I should join an organization called Veterans for Peace, I immediately investigated and found the group’s following statement of purpose:

We, having dutifully served our nation, do hereby affirm our greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace. To this end we will work, with others:
(a) To increase public awareness of the costs of war;
(b) To restrain our government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations;
(c) To end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons;
(d) To seek justice for veterans and victims of war;
(e) To abolish war as an instrument of national policy.
To achieve these goals, members of Veterans for Peace pledge to use nonviolent means and to maintain an organization that is both democratic and open with the understanding that all members are trusted to act in the best interests of the group for the larger purpose of world peace.

This was obviously the right organization for me. I joined immediately. For the past twenty-four years, Veterans for Peace (familiarly referred to as VFP) has been a major focus of my activity.

Veterans for Peace was started in 1985 by ten American veterans who were disturbed by the country’s military adventures. Growth was slow but fairly steady over the first fifteen years. But, partly in response to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the organization has experienced substantial growth in the past decade. It now has veteran and associate members in every U.S. state and several countries, with more than 120 chapters across the nation. Its membership has included men of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade who fought with the Spanish Loyalists in their 1930s revolution, as well as veterans of every major American conflict since then. VFP not only holds a permanent non-governmental organization seat at the United Nations, but is also the first military veterans’ organization invited to be a member of the International Peace Bureau based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Veterans for Peace has supported protest actions against the Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning in Georgia, helped rebuild clean water supply facilities in Iraq, and led peace delegations to troubled countries, along with many other actions too numerous to mention.

The Madison Chapter 25 of Veterans for Peace is named after founding member Clarence Kailin, a long-time Madison peace activist and social reformer who served in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade of American volunteers in the Spanish Civil War (1937- 38). Clarence died in late 2009 at the age of 95. We honor him by carrying on his name and continuing efforts to establish a more peaceful and justice nation and world. The chapter, which has grown to about 120 members, includes veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Gulf War I (Desert Storm), the current Iraq War and one veteran of the Israeli army. Its members share the fervent wish of the national organization, that some day it will lose its purpose because there will be no more wars.

 

Lincoln Grahlfs (flg17@caa.columbia.edu) is a member of Veterans for Peace Chapter #25

 

More about the 2013 VFP convention from the local planning committee:

We are working with the national office of VFP, getting ready to host an empowering event in August. WNPJ members John Kinsman and John Peck of Family Farm Defenders will be part of the program. Luke Wilcox will bring an art display from the Iraqi American Reconciliation Project and VFP groups from around the state will be providing volunteers. Many WNPJ members are applying to be part of the 30 to 40 workshops.

But the conference isn’t just presentations. There will be films shown each night, a poetry reading at Room of One’s Own Bookstore, and participants will be encouraged to join in the annual Lanterns for Peace event in Tenney Park, which marks the anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Japan. The Farley Center is opening its doors to VFP campers and the Madison Friends Meeting have offered to look for home-stay options for outof- town participants. The convention is open to the public. For details, see www.veteransforpeace.org.

To get involved, contact the local VFP planning committee and volunteer a place to stay or buy an ad in the conference program. There are many ways for Wisconsin peacemakers to be part of VFP’s convention. Contact Steve Books books24u@aol.com or Judy Miner judeminer@gmail.com or John Carey madcitycarey@aol.com.

 


Care for the Earth at Holy Wisdom Monastery

by Greg Armstrong

 

For 60 years, the Benedictine Women of Madison at Holy Wisdom Monastery have offered their monastery to the community as a spiritual resource and, more recently, as an environmental resource. Throughout their years in Middleton, this pioneering community has seen plenty of change and been part of several firsts. In 1998, they became the first ecumenical Benedictine community in the U.S., by opening membership in their religious community to single Christian women of any denomination. In 2009, they opened a new monastery building that received the highest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating—Platinum— and earned 63 out of a possible 69 points under LEED-New Construction version 2.2, making it the highest-rated building (under this version) in the country.

The mission at the monastery is to weave prayer, hospitality, justice and care for the earth into a shared way of life. Both women and men are invited to come to the monastery for a variety of reasons, including daily prayer and Sunday worship, individual and group retreats, meetings, volunteer opportunities and events. Members and non-members alike are able to use the monastery for weddings, memorial services, meetings and reunions. The sisters also sponsor spirituality programs that are open to the public throughout the year. Forming community is at the heart of the monastery.

In 1953, the Benedictine Women of Madison set down roots on a hill overlooking Lake Mendota and the skyline of Madison. The original 40 acres consisted of farmland cleared in the early 1900s. Today, Holy Wisdom Monastery includes 138 acres with a 10,000-year-old glacial lake, wooded nature trails, restored prairie, gardens and orchards.

Reverence for creation is a deeply-held Benedictine value. The sisters, in partnership with coworkers, hundreds of volunteers, agencies and organizations, do their part to preserve an oasis of quiet beauty where all can come and experience God’s presence.

A small glacial lake, Lost Lake, lies at the western boundary of Holy Wisdom Monastery. Originally more than nine acres in surface area, the basin had been reduced to less than two acres due to sedimentation from surrounding residential development and farms. Now, 85,000 cubic yards of accumulated silt have been removed from the lake and the shoreline restored with native plants. Restored to near its original depth, the lake can once again absorb and filter water that would otherwise wash downstream to neighboring properties and Lake Mendota.

When settlers arrived in Wisconsin in the early 1800s, prairie covered more than two million acres of the state. Today, fewer than 3,500 acres of prairie remain. The sisters are returning much of their land to pre-settlement conditions. They believe this land is a gift of natural beauty to be shared with all who come to Holy Wisdom Monastery.

Prairie restoration activities began in 1996 and continue each year. To date, about 100 acres have been restored to upland prairie with donated seed or seed collected by volunteers and college interns. Each year, 10 to 20 acres are hand-sown with a large variety of native prairie flowers and grasses. These plants have long, deep root systems that prevent soil erosion.

A detention basin was created on the eastern side of the property; a soil berm was built below the natural grass waterway. Prairies can absorb 5–7 inches of rain within an hour. The structure can hold, purify and slowly release 10.5 acre-feet of water, providing key environmental protection of the north shore of Lake Mendota.

As the sisters restored the land, they realized that the buildings also needed attention. After years of study they decided to deconstruct their large, inefficient building and ended up recycling 99.75% of that building as they constructed a smaller, ecofriendly building. The sisters worked with Hoffman LLC to build the current monastery, which is one of the “greenest” buildings in the country.

Aiming for such a high level of sustainability fits perfectly within the values of 1,500 years of Benedictine tradition. Hopefully, the newsworthy nature of these accomplishments will help educate others about care for the earth, increase the public’s awareness of the importance of the monastery, and model the monastic lifestyle as a viable choice to women today. Already, thousands of people, including school and university groups, have toured and volunteered at the monastery.

Volunteers give monthly tours of the monastery where guests learn about geothermal heating and cooling, renewable resources, daylighting, photo voltaic cells, rain gardens, pervious concrete, green roofs, solar tubes and much more!

The sisters hope their environmental efforts will enhance the area surrounding the monastery and the waterways draining through their property. They hope to educate those who visit Holy Wisdom Monastery about care for the earth practices and sustainability.

 

Greg Armstrong is a newly hired development associate at Holy Wisdom Monastery and former director of the UW-Madison Arboretum

 


Ground the Drones Presentations

 

The "Volk Field Seven": Mary Beth Schlagheck, Joyce Ellwanger, Liz Pappalardo, Bonnie block, Joy First, and Roberta and Don TimmermanWould your group like to learn about what you can do to “Ground the Drones”? Bonnie Block and Joy First are longtime peace activists who can talk about drone warfare and why it’s a violation of human rights and international law. They will discuss the human cost of drone warfare. They will share information about the wide variety of activities going on in Wisconsin (including the monthly 4th Tuesday anti-drone vigils at Volk Field in north-central WI) and around the nation.

They can also talk about their experience in nonviolent civil resistance and what happens in the legal system if you decide to do to go that route. They will share their understanding of the principles of nonviolence and their core belief that real social change happens best through the practice of active nonviolence.

Between them, Bonnie and Joy are involved in WNPJ, Madison Pledge of Resistance, Dane County Chapter of the United Nations Association, Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance and Witness Against Torture.

Contact Joy at joyfirst5@gmail.com or 608 437-7581 or Bonnie at bblock@charter.net or 608 256-5088 for more information.

 


News from the WNPJ Office

by Diane Farsetta

 

As I write this, we’re just a few weeks away from WNPJ’s spring meeting in Eau Claire. We’re looking forward to learning more about the impact of frac sand mining from local residents Pat Popple and Heather Andersen, who are active with the Save the Hills Alliance and Concerned Chippewa Citizens. We’re excited to spend time with WNPJ member groups including Many Ways of Peace, Uppity Wisconsin and the Red Cedar Peace Initiative, as well as new friends with Climate Action Now and the Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance. Check our website at wnpj.org for pictures and information from the meeting.

As usual, we have many wonderful volunteers to recognize for donating their time and skills over the past few months. Sheila Spear, Ilana Caplan, Fred Brancel, Judith Klehr, Karma Chavez, Kathy Walsh and Steve Books helped put together and mail out our last newsletter. Karen Pope and Vicki Berenson very graciously responded to our newsletter plea and donated computers to WNPJ!

In January, the Dane County Board considered and overwhelmingly passed our Bring Our War Dollars Home resolution. Thanks to all who contacted their Board supervisors, and to Mary Beth Schlagheck, John Marhoefer, Barbara Smith, Carl Sack, Steve Books, Kathy Walsh and Harry Richardson for attending the Board meeting and speaking or registering in support of the resolution.

WNPJ’s Sowing Seeds Spring Festival (in Madison on April 21) was organized with much help from Annie Dutcher, Liz Bruno, Jessie Read, Carlos Miranda and Tom McGrath. Thanks to new office volunteer Julia Gutierrez for her assistance with a wide range of tasks already, from recording petitions to attending Community Shares meetings. Lastly, kudos to Fred Brancel, Steve Books, Karma Chavez and Kathy Walsh, for tabling on behalf of WNPJ.

As you can tell, it’s our members and volunteers who make the Network work!

 

Do you have five minutes?
That’s all it takes to help WNPJ stay in touch with and support our member groups.
If you haven’t filled out the member group update and survey, please go here: http://wnpj.org/info

 

Diane Farsetta is WNPJ's Executive Director and the coordinator of ETAN-Madison, a WNPJ member group

 


A Watershed Day?

by "Mishomis" Bruce Noble

 

I’m writing in the Assembly Gallery of the Wisconsin State Capitol. After a long day of Republicans repeatedly “tabling” (i.e. voting down) Democratic amendments, the vote on the contentious mining bill (AB1) is underway. Red and green lights are flashing on the big board. The final count is 58 of 59 Republicans voting Aye (Pridemore, R, Hartford, “not voting”) and 39 of 39 Democrats voting Nay.

The Senate version of the mining bill (SB1) had passed the previous week on a 17-16 vote. With Republican majorities in both legislative bodies heavily funded by pro-mining interests, Democratic efforts to defeat AB1 and SB1 could only be viewed as Sisyphus valiantly rolling a huge stone to the top of the governmental mountain only to see it roll back. The “debating” and voting in both bodies was a sad moment in Wisconsin environmental history. Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson must have rolled over in their graves.

The best part of the day was the news conference held by the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa and Madison Action for Mining Alternatives (MAMA). Bad River Band Chairman Mike Wiggins Jr., as well as other tribal leaders from around the state, remain steadfast in their conviction that this incursion on treaty rights and tribal land will be stopped by any means necessary. Wiggins minced no words in naming the taconite mining operation as “genocide” of native people, their land and water. The first course of action will be federal treaty rights litigation that will likely block mining for years to come. Chairman Wiggins made it clear that “active resistance” will be used if Gogebic Taconite lifts one shovel of dirt from the Penokee Hills.

Wherever moral stands are necessary and people are willing to fight there is light to be found. I offer up the beautiful words of Leonard Cohen from his song “Anthem”:

The birds they sang/ at the break of day/ Start again/ I heard them say/ Don’t dwell on what/ has passed away/ or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will/ be fought again/ The holy dove/ She will be caught again/ bought and sold/ and bought again/ the dove is never free.
Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in.

The light is on our side. Let’s use it. “The wars they will be fought again.”

In that spirit, I’ve formed a group called the Last GASP, for Grandparents Against Sulfide Pollution. We are reaching out far beyond grandparents, to all who take the long view of life. It’s about a state of mind, of concern over what will happen to the Seventh Generation. The Iroquoian idea that we should not seek short-term goals of money and expediency but strive for environmental justice for all future inhabitants of the planet. You can reach us at www.gasp-mad.com and gasp.mad@gmail.com.

 

“Mishomis” Bruce Noble is Professor Emeritus, Purdue University and with Grandparents Against Sulfide Pollution – Madison (GASP-Madison)