Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Well, I finally have a chance to blog because Julia and Andrew are taking a nap. Whew! This has been an interesting week. I don't have the proper equipment to include pictures here, so I'll have to play catch up when I get back to Syracuse, but I'll start by saying the Peace Action National Congress in Detroit was really interesting. There were a couple of really engaging speakers, most notably Tom Hayden and John Conyers, and my new hero, Greg Speeter, who is the founder and executive director of National Priorities Project. Tom Hayden and John Conyers had a lot of great ideas about strategies for the peace movement, but Greg Speeter impressed me because he has been working for 25 years now to develop great *tools* for the peace movement -- facts and figures about how our government spends our money -- details for every state, many big cities, and soon every congressional district. For example, someone who is insistent that our nation spend money on defense is hard to sway, but when you tell them, for example, that the city of Detroit spends more money on the Iraq war than on its own fire department* (*I can't remember the specific numbers, but both are in the 200 million range -- the total amount of money Detroit sends the Pentagon is something like 975 million), they start to realize that the defense budget is not really designed to defend them. Anyway, more on that later. The best part of the conference was definitely meeting the people who run SPAN, the Student Peace Action Network. First of all, I didn't realize that the people who run SPAN are in the same office and also work for Peace Action National. This inspires me to make SPAN more a part of my job -- or at least suggest to our board that that's what should happen. SPAN is run by some really terrific young people with really great ideas and terrific materials. It was great to get a chance to vent about our frustration in working with older peace activists who don't see the same connections between issues as younger activists do. It was great to meet other peace activists who are equally interested in labor issues, environmental issues, and animal rights, and that we need to work a lot on coalition building and less on strengthening the ways in which we are different. It was also great to hear others acknowledge that young peace activists are not necessarily getting jobs or working as "peace activists", but are living in a way that reflects their values or are choosing professions that they feel are for the common good -- and that that is something really important that we bring to the movement as a whole.

I have to admit it was a little bit of a culture shock to go from Peace Action to Kalamazoo suburbia, but it has been good to have time to think and write. Julia and Edwin's new house is great and I counted fifteen oak trees surrounding it -- I finally saw three squirrels today. I was starting to wonder, but I think maybe the heat kept them in the shade. It's cooler today -- maybe in the 80s. I have much sympathy for all mothers of two year olds. Whew! Andrew is something else to keep up with! He is learning all sorts of words that he likes to repeat over and over. His favorites seem to be, "Big tree", "Crane", "Big truck", "Bug", and of course "Mommy" and "Daddy". He calls me "Pa-la". Andrew's second birthday is coming up on Friday, so today we went to Toys-R-Us. I picked out 3 books that seemed appropriate for him -- one about numbers, one on letters, and the other about trucks. Julia picked out some parts of a train set, a game called "Lucky Ducks" and a bubble mower. Hopefully the trip to Maine won't be too traumatic. Julia says that he is still getting used to the adjustment to the new house. Must be tough to be 2. I'm finding it challenging to break out of my usual habits, especially in finding space that isn't air conditioned, but in some ways it's good (and educational) to get a feel for how things go in suburbia.

I will be here until Saturday, when we drive as far as Syracuse. I'll have to work on taking more pictures of adorable Andrew so I can include them in my next post.

Peace, friends!

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