Since August 2005 I've been organizing an anti-war vigil near our home in Seattle. The original vigil was called by MoveOn, in solidarity with Cindy Sheehan. We then continued to have a weekly vigil in that busy intersection for about 8 months. We were only 3-4 regulars there, plus my two school-age kids and their friends who loved making wax sculptures on the sidewalk with the candles.
The vigil fell apart due to fatigue and a new baby, and was resurrected every once in a while, usually upon MoveOn's call. One thing that bothered me throughout, was the apparent lack of any effective local network of anti-war activism, that can set up stuff more independently of big outside bodies (this rant continues below the fold for lack of space).
If a deep-blue city like Seattle can't sustain a single-issue antiwar network, capable of getting thousands out to the streets like the Latinos did so admirably last year over immigration - how can we ever end this war?
Well, while organizing for yet-another-MoveOn-vigil tonight (see their website for the one near you!), I got an email containing some hopeful signs of life.
Little Rant of the day: The problem with outside bodies
Outside bodies always have their own agenda.
MoveOn, to my taste takes a line a bit too close to the Dem party agenda du jour (alas, similarly to DailyKos; sorry, fellow Kossacks, had to say it!).
United for Peace and Justice, has taken a bolder and more coherent stand on the war, which has been validated with time. It tends however to piggyback every progressive cause on Earth, onto the Iraq issue - instead of building a broad coalition. And I'm saying that as someone well aware of the regional and global connections between Iraq and other troubles. (see my blogroll!)
More fundamentally, big, centralized organizations are top-down by nature. In almost 5 years' dealing with MoveOn, I have yet to figure out how to get any meaningful two-sided debate with their core organizers. They are as opaque as a political party - and perhaps more, because members of Congress must have aides that are required to reply to you.
(MoveOn has their hearts in the right place, of course, but for a movement that owes its great clout to that single issue of Iraq more than to anything else, they have done relatively little.)
To quick-tempered readers, a further clarification: the big bodies are important and good, but we must have local independent activism to complement them and counterbalance them. Right now, with regards to Iraq, this seems to be the missing piece preventing a massive nationwide movement from forming.
To sum it up: we need to be able to organize locally if we want to do more stuff than the outside bodies are willing to do. And in due time, energy from local activism helps build pressure on the bigger bodies to do more.
I just got a list of 20 weekly antiwar vigils around Seattle, with organizer details.
This can serve as a seed. You have here a list of 20 local activist groups who are already doing stuff, and probably willing to help organize other activities.
The list was compiled by
Jean Buskin, telephone 206-784-9988, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org,
who also wrote:
Please let me know of any other [vigil]s, and let me know about any needed updates.
This is an easy way to make your opposition to the US wars known. I
believe that every vigil, every button on t-shirt opposing war that is
worn, every letter to media and politicians, every public act of
opposition, helps us empower one another and new people to express
opposition to war and to question the "spin".
noon-1 pm, Intersection of South 320th Street and Pacific Hwy South in
Federal Way; info http://www.FederalWayMatters.org
noon to 1 pm, at Junction of California Ave SW and SW Alaska, West
Seattle; West Seattle Neighbors for Peace and Justice. info
12:30-1:30 pm, at 17 5th St and Meridian Ave, Shoreline; Shoreline
Neighbors for Peace. info 206-546-186
12:30 -1:30 pm, at the Brackett's Landing sign, Main Street and Railroad
Avenue, Edmonds; Snohomish County Women In Black Silent Vigil. info
2-3 pm, at Greenlake, East Greenlake Way N near N 63rd St near the
crosswalk, Seattle; Greenlake Vigil
7:30-8:30 am, north overpass in Woodland Park just S of N 59th St.,
Seattle; Phinney Neighbors for Peace & Justice, email@example.com
11 am -1 pm, at Federal Building, 2nd & Marion, Seattle; Stand with Joe
Colgan and Military Families Speak Out. info 206-824-5368
5-7 pm, at Tolt Ave. and Bird St in Carnation; Peace Vigil. info Mary
7-8:30 am, at 100th Street pedestrian overpass on I-405, Kirkland;
Evergreen Peace & Justice Community, info 425-827-3107
12:30-1:30 pm, at 104th Ave (The Benson) and the Kent Kangley Rd, 256th
St, Kent; South King County Peace Vigil. 253-631-5789
3-4 pm, at 15th & Roxbury, White Center neighborhood; West Seattle
Neighbors for Peace and Justice, info 206-932-9522
6-7 pm, at NW Market St and 22nd NW, Seattle; BallardPeaceActivists.
5-6 pm, at Westlake Park near 4th and Pine, Seattle; silent visible
presence by Women in Black, info 206-282-6107
7:30-8:30 am, at 23rd and Union, Seattle; Madrona-Leschi Citizens
against the War. info 206-328-2804
4:30-6:30 pm, at Lake Street and Kirkland Ave, Kirkland; Kirkland Peace
Vigil. info 425-485-7030
6-7 pm, at Anderson Park, Redmond Road at 168th, Redmond; Evergreen
Peace and Justice, info 425-788-5292
11 am-noon, at Bothell & Ballinger, N. of LFP mall, Lake Forest Park;
Lake Forest Park for Peace vigil. info firstname.lastname@example.org
noon-1 pm, SW corner Bellevue Way and NE 8th, Bellevue; Women In Black
peace vigil. info 425-455-4048
2-4 pm, at Westlake Park near 4th and Pine, Seattle; started by 911
Peace Coalition, info email@example.com