Monday, 29 July 2013

Charlie's Farewell Post as Director


This will be my last Weekly Update as Interim Exec. Director of the WNY
Peace Center. As some of you know, I am stepping down to lighten the load
on my reduced energy levels and tomorrow I will be undergoing extensive
medical tests  (the allergy theory now occupies the top of the infinite
list having displaced bacterial, viral infections, and more serious stuff 
– so the tests continue and the fee-for-service rate structure continues
to  help  out the doc(s), so at least one of us will feel better at the
conclusion of the tests).

Having zero experience at organizational leadership when Jim Anderson and
Lynda Schneekloth hired me March 2011, I was unsure I would last more than
a few months. I could not have predicted the learning path upon which I
was about to embark. 

Starting in October of 2011,Occupy Buffalo was absolutely terrific! I now know how to order porta potties, and many churches, secular organizations and individuals stepped up to fund that critical infrastructure on Niagara Square. The only person
to get pooped out about the 99%’s  three-month occupation of Niagara Square was Buffalo’s Mayor Byron Brown.

The occupation of Niagara Square represented a perfect reminder  of  the
extreme wealth disparity in this country, and the imperialistic symbolism
expressed by the monument to President McKinley and his foreign

The Peace Center’s credit union account grew 4 fold in 2011 because we did
not pay anyone during that time and because about 400 members continued
expressing hope through their checkbooks and volunteer time – perfectly
happy with a highly inexperienced Executive Director.

We had no task forces in March 2011. During the summer  of 2011, we
mounted an unsuccessful effort to get the Cost of War Clock mounted on
Buffalo City Hall. Mayor Brown never responded to our infinite number of
requests for a meeting with him. Eric Gallion formed the Global Economic
Task Force and Bruce Beyer formed a task force to support military
resistors residing in Canada. Russell Brown formed the Resist Militarism!
Task Force which now focuses on drones and military recruitment.   

During the summer of 2012, Occupy Buffalo and PC members paraded the Peace
Center’s drone in front of Buffalo’s City Hall, much to the dismay of city
hall officials who said they would call the police --- the police were
already double-parked in front of City Hall and they didn’t seem to care
about the drone, so we continued parading the drone in an effort to get
the Common Council to vote on a drone ban ordinance: it remains tabled. 

In the spring of 2013, that task force began anti-drone vigils at Niagara
Falls Air Reserve Station. They also participate in Gandhian anti-drone
efforts at Hancock Field near Syracuse NY. This year, Russell Brown,
Valerie Niederhoffer  and Bonny Mahoney were arrested at the April event:
total bail was $5,000. The Peace Center picked up $4,500 and the Peace and
Education Fund of Riverside Salem UCC/DC picked up $500. Two years ago,
Vicki Ross was arrested at Hancock Field at the same event. Those efforts
will continue.  

LASC came back to the WNY Peace Center, and they began
hosting their monthly talks at Daemen College, in an effort to educate
young people. They will continue that great effort during the fall of 2013.  

In the fall of 2011, Rita Yelda and Frank Gage taught me the evils
of hydrofracking. They then  formed the Anti-Hydrofracking TF, and Rita
organized the effort to force the City of Niagara Falls to ban the
transport of hydrofracking waste water into Niagara Falls NY for
“treatment”  (i.e., send the toxic solids to a landfill and send the toxic
radioactive liquid over Niagara Falls). That victory continues to pay huge
dividends for the environment, because it increased the costs to gas
companies to deal with their waste water and continues to do its part in
delaying hydrofracking in NY State.  

John Washington formed the  Economic Empowerment TF that works to inform homeowners in debt how to deal with banks. Jean Dickson recently formed the Middle East TF and its first meeting was a classic: about 40 people showed up and a spirited discussion on Palestine and Israel ensued –- an excellent catharsis for lots of angst on all sides and the catharsis lasted for several months.

 We now have 7 busy task forces and pay 3 people non-living wages --  all
supported by your continued generosity.

Prompted by Buffalo News articles in the spring of 2012 about drones
coming to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, we created an alternative
vision for that unneeded military base: a gigantic solar array. The United
State’s industrial policy is totally war-related  and we need to extricate
ourselves from the military thinking box, as the world is nearing a point
of no return in terms of global warming: 20-30 years from now the Arctic
sea ice will disappear if we continue burning fossil fuels as we do. 

The melting sea ice will raise sea levels inundating low lands, and  the
warming oceans will power more terrible storms. A recent report indicates
the bacteria that hold the soil structure together are also at risk. 

All this anthropogenic warming will create climate shifts and subsequent
migrations in human populations: if it continues, global warming will
create the perfect conditions for global war  -- and lots more countries
will have nuclear arms and drones by then. WWII will be considered a
temporary skirmish by comparison, if it’s remembered in the history books
at all.

So we need to immediately lower atmospheric and human emotional
temperatures with renewable energy and renewable spirit respectively.

Perhaps the WNY Peace Center should have a new vision statement: Peace
Through Justice, Renewable Energy and Spirit.

Our two Peaceful Conflict Resolution specialists – Vicki Ross and Carlanda
Wilson – continue to do their wonderful work on reducing human emotional
temperatures. And Peggy Matteliano – our office manager – will keep the
Peace Center’s office functioning properly.

I will continue working on the solar array project, and recently testified
at SUNY Fredonia about switching the Dunkirk Coal Plant to natural gas:
Bad idea. Renewable energy is a better idea.

From now on, Board member Eric Gallion will take over the Weekly Update.
If you want to have your event  posted in that extensive listing, send
your event to: Eric and Peggy – our office
manager – will monitor and respond accordingly.

In the absence of a director, it’s not clear how the Peace Center will
handle requests for Peace Center endorsement of events. Most likely your
request will be decided at the Peace Center’s monthly board meeting. So
get your request in 2 months ahead of time to assure adequate timing.

Over the past 2 weeks I received many kind notes and I thank each one of you.


--- Charley

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