United States

CHICAGO: Remembering Claire Evans

Claire_Evans_portrait-color[Note: CPTer Claire Evans died on the morning of 9 February  2012, five weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She spent her last days with her twin sister, Sue, in Lansing, Michigan.]

Claire Evans was not the most public personality in the wider CPT organization, but she was one of its most influential workers.  As the Delegations Coordinator, she was often the first person that people who were interested in exploring involvement with CPT met.  Her handling of finances brought her into contact with all of the full-time CPTers who submitted their expenses to her.  Her commitment to Undoing Oppressions within CPT changed not only how delegations were conducted, but also how support team and all the teams in the field functioned.  CPT Reservist Jerry Stein wrote of her,  â€œShe epitomized for me, as I was entering the CPT world, what a member could be and become…”

CPT INTERNATIONAL: Link to Sylvia Morrison's Peacemaker Congress Presentation

The link to the 15 November 2011 Peacemaker Congress release about Sylvia Morrison's presentation did not come through in the e-mail.  You may access herpresentation at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV8BEdhvLyI.

JONESEBOROUGH, TN: Encountering Appalachia

 [NOTE: The following reflection by Schallert, who was part of the October Depleted Uranium delegation to Jonesborough, has been edited for length.  The original version is available here.]

On the morning of 28 October, the day before our “Occupy Aerojet” action, I spent a couple hours in the neighborhoods around Aerojet Ordnance—which manufactures depleted uranium weapons—handing out fliers about the storytelling and soil and water sampling we were to do the following day to expose the dangers of depleted uranium.  

My first stop was Davy Crockett High School, about a mile from Aerojet Ordnance on State Route 34.  The school was closed for holiday, but I happened to meet three janitors on break.  I mentioned the event to them, and that some of the soil and water samples around the plant had come back positive for depleted uranium (DU), the toxic and radioactive waste product from extracting highly enriched uranium for fuel.

CPT INTERNATIONAL: Sylvia Morrison on Honoring Story—Peacemaker Congress Video

[Note: Over the coming weeks CPTnet will be sharing videos of presentations at the "Re-imagining Partnerships for Peace: A 25th Anniversary Celebration."  Readers are encouraged to share these videos widely so that the ripples from our Peacemaker Congress may continue far beyond the gathering.]

Sylvia Morrison, Undoing Racism Coordinator for CPT, welcomed Congress participants during the opening worship on Thursday, 13 October 2011.  She spoke on the significance and power of stories, emphasizing how words can be used as a tool for social action.  “Stories have the power to transport us to places we do not know.  Stories have the power to introduce us to people we never met," she said.  "Stories can make us laugh; they can make us cry.  Stories cause us to feel all kinds of emotions.  Stories inform, stories educate and stories entertain.”

CHICAGO: Peacemaker Congress celebrates CPT’s 25 Years

“Re-Imagining Partnerships for Peacemaking - A 25th Anniversary Celebration” was the theme of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Peacemaker Congress XI, that took place October 13-16, 2011 in Evanston, Illinois.

Sylvia Morrison, CPT’s Undoing Racism Coordinator, gave the opening teaching Thursday evening on “Honoring Story”, urging CPTers to incorporate the neglected stories of oppressed people, while not hesitating to tell their own stories as well.  Elce Redmond, organizer of the Austin Peaceforce spoke about how his experience accompanying Palestinian children to school on a CPT delegation influenced him to organize a group of volunteers in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago to accompany the children there to school, because fights regularly break out among the students.

SULEIMANIYA/CHICAGO: Building peace for the next generation.

Mohammad Salah Mahdi came to Chicago from Suleimaniya in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to give a keynote address at the CPT Congress 13-16 October 2011.  Besides working as the translator, advisor, and driver for the CPT Iraq team, Mahdi teaches English to sixth and seventh grade teachers at Seventh Azar Basic School in Suleimaniya.  Before he left Suleimaniya, he asked his students to write letters to students in Chicago and videotaped them singing songs of greeting and friendship in English.

WASHINGTON, DC REFLECTION: History is knocking.

A friend sent me an email with this subject heading: "History Is Knocking, Stop The Machine!  Create A New World!"

The first paragraph hooked me: 

 There comes a time when efforts to avoid the truth begin to fail, when one can no longer go about daily life and pretend that all is okay.  If you are like most of us, you are experiencing this.  There comes a time when one can no longer shut out the atrocities of U.S. foreign and military policy: trade agreements that destroy farming; mass unemployment; especially among communities of color; illegal detention and torture; increasing drone attacks resulting in mass civilian deaths; and once again a President who lies the United States into another war for oil and bankers.

 I immediately signed up to be at Freedom Plaza in Washington DC on October 6.  

JONESBOROUGH, TN: CPT conducts ‘Occupy Aerojet’ action.

 On 29 October, outside of the Aerojet Ordnance plant.  CPT delegates and members of the local community, wearing “Decontaminate Jonesborough” shirts, set up tents in an effort to publicly imagine a new Aerojet.  Participants split into groups and surveyed the perimeter of the company grounds, documenting notable buildings and materials.  Each group then had a chance to re-imagine what the grounds and buildings could be used for once the plant is no longer producing depleted uranium.  One group suggested that the venues could be come a museum depicting the past horrors inflicted by nuclear weapons, along with ways to work toward a more peaceful future.  Another group suggested Aerojet could become a retreat center or a gathering place for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.  Some participants suggested planting climbing vines like Virginia Creeper that pull heavy metals from the environment as part of a cleanup process.

JONESBOROUGH, TN: Depleted Uranium delegation collects samples to be examined for DU contamination, participates in press conference.

Aerojet Ordnance, Inc. in Jonesborough, TN is a Depleted Uranium (DU) processing plant with an unsavory history of handling toxic waste.  The CPT DU delegation in Jonesborough has helped Dr. Michael Ketterer—professor at Northern Arizona State University—collect soil, water, and sediment samples in the area to be examined for DU deposits.  Previous samples taken by Dr. Ketterer confirm DU contamination in areas around the plant and also in the Little Limestone Creek.  CPT delegates accompanied Dr. Ketterer to three different homes in the area on Saturday, 22 October, collecting new samples, serendipitously gaining access to a home that backs up to Aerojet's fence line.

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Walking with God in a fragile world

 In the summer of 2007, I traveled to Colombia for a reservist stint with Christian Peacemaker Teams.  On the flight, I was reading a book of essays about 9-11 titled Walking with God in a Fragile World.  At first it seemed strange to be reading about this act of violence committed in the United States when I was on my way to confront violence in Colombia.  But the more I read, the more relevant the essays seemed.   While violence in Colombia appears in many forms—fumigations, threats against community leaders, displacement—it is no less catastrophic than the attack on the Twin Towers in its impact on human lives.