Working towards peace and sustainability

Earth Day is Upon Us.

Earth Day 2014 will be celebrated here in CoMo on Sunday, April

27. There’ll be a big Festival going on in Peace Park and on the adjacent streets. You can get all the info on the Festival if you click HERE.
Peaceworks has played a leading role in organizing Columbia’s Earth Day every year since 1990, so this is our 25th consecutive year of Earth Day organizing. It seems to us that having a day devoted to celebrating the home world, the only known habitable planet, Earth, is the least we can do, especially at a time when human activity so acutely threatens the future.

The media generally downplays environmental concerns and they certainly don’t give as much attention as we’d like to Earth Day. When they do cover the event, however, they often focus on “who, what, where and when?” while glossing over, or ignoring entirely, “why?” When they interview us, the most frequently asked question is usually some variant on “So, tell us what’s new or different this year?” when we’d much rather be answering “So, tell us why you think it’s important to have a holiday focused on the Earth?”

The answer to the latter question isn’t terribly complicated. The way we live today is unsustainable. We are polluting the air and the water. We’re using up non-renewable resources. We’re creating vast inventories of toxic and radioactive wastes and we’re failing to isolate these from the biosphere. We’re destroying nature and crowding out other species.

Ongoing human population growth along with rising levels of resource consumption per capita just doesn’t work on a finite planet. Our economy, including all its major systems—food, transportation, industrial production, housing, healthcare, education, etc.—is organized in unsustainable ways.

And, when we get right down to it, there are true existential threats we face—in particular, climate change and nuclear war. These really should be the overarching concerns of our age. The former is happening as you read this and the latter is an ever-present threat.

While Earth Day does not present a single, neat, clean, simple answer to all of the above, it points out the problems we face—loud and clear—and puts forward the message that we all are responsible and we all need to act to address these. Getting this message out is why we do Earth Day. We start with the notion that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. We point out that individual actions matter and collective action is needed as well. And we remind our fellow earthlings, over and over again, “Every day is Earth Day.” Here’s to hoping that message gets through.

Have a great Earth Day 2014 everyone, and let us know if you’d like to volunteer.

Peace Economy? Real Security? Your Ideas?

We're Looking for YOUR Input!

Peaceworks has, for several years now, been working to promote the conversion of our Permanent War Economy into a sustainable and just Peace Economy. We are now seeking your ideas, input, vision and participation.

For more than seven decades our economy has been on a permanent war footing. We’ve been spending far more each year on the military than is required to defend our nation. This has cost us many, many trillions. And then there’s the opportunity cost; that is the things we could have invested in instead. This includes investments in people and infrastructure that would have made our nation healthier, more prosperous and more sustainable.

While politicians talk incessantly about “national security” as they argue for directing our tax dollars to the bloated Pentagon budget, they ignore some of the most important threats to our security, most notably climate change. Prioritizing Real Security we’d make major changes to the U.S. military posture and budget.

We need to do more than simply oppose illegal and counterproductive wars, like those in Iraq or Afghanistan, when they crop up. We need to get to the root of things and challenge the very concept of the United States as a dominating global power—maintaining a military presence on every ocean, on every continent and in the skies everywhere—insisting on Full Spectrum Dominance in all realms. Our government needs to work with others to develop a framework for global security based upon cooperation and mutual, verifiable steps to disarmament, rather than attempting to impose a Pax Americana upon the planet.

We urge our fellow citizens to recognize that throwing billions daily at the Military Industrial Complex not only enriches the owners of these massive, for-profit companies while impoverishing us collectively, it also leads to an interventionist foreign policy that makes enemies and leaves us less secure.

As Dr. King observed, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” Thus, we’re aiming to do more than simply cut military spending while investing in people and infrastructure. Creating a Peace Economy also involves economic justice, domestically and internationally. This includes full employment, fair wages, progressive taxation, financial regulation, fair trade relations as well as meaningful economic democracy.

Your Opportunity for Input—Make Your Voice Heard

How do we get from here to there? Peaceworks invites you to share your ideas on how we can build a Peace Economy and attain Real Security.

We’re asking you to think about what you’d like to propose for concrete actions that could be taken on our behalf by our elected officials at all levels of government, from the President and members of Congress right down to city councils or school boards. 

We’d appreciate it if you could send your ideas our way via e-mail. Please keep each proposal brief (400 words max). It’s fine to submit more than one. We suggest you write these in the form of letters to a specific elected official(s). We’ll also accept proposals directed to NGOs and others. We will, at our discretion, post your thoughts on our website and our Facebook page. We will include your name, unless you request anonymity, and your picture, if you’d like, and if you send us one.

Send to mail@midmopeaceworks.org ASAP and by 3/15/14 at the latest. Peace Nook gift certificates will be awarded to those we judge best. And we’ll consider all proposals for future campaigns as part of our work for Real Security and a Peace Economy.

Say “NO!” to the Trans-Pacific Partnership

If you haven’t yet heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), or aren’t quite sure what it’s all about, you are not alone. The media has given little coverage to what would be, if established, the most far reaching move yet in the direction of corporate-directed global governance. Some have referred to it as “NAFTA on Steroids.”

While billed a “Free Trade Agreement,” only a small portion of the

proposed treaty deals with tariffs or trade. While the actual text of the proposed agreement has been kept under wraps, from what has been released, we know that the treaty would preempt environmental protections, food safety and labeling laws, financial regulations and lots more. It would drive up the price of medicines and lead to the off-shoring of jobs. Overall, the TPP would be a boon to transnational corporations and the 1% and hurt the rest of us in numerous ways.

We encourage you to do two things:

1)  Learn more about the TPP. Access an excellent source of info set up by Global Trade Watch by clicking HERE

2)  Let your elected officials know your thoughts. Please note that there is a move to “Fast Track” passage of the TPP. This would prevent proper debate or amendment in Congress and instead allow very limited discussion followed by a straight up or down vote. If you have concerns about the TPP and/or concerns about Fast Track, this is an excellent time to let your U.S. Rep., your Senators and the President know. You can find contact info by clicking HERE

A Message from our Director Mark Haim

December 27, 2013

Dear friend of Peaceworks,

In these waning days of 2013 I’m writing to personally extend both thanks to those of you actively supporting our work and an urgent call to others to join in and give us the wherewithal to continue moving forward in the New Year. Please consider the times we find ourselves in and the need to come together, thinking globally and acting locally to address these challenges and co-create a workable future.

PRESENT REALITY:  We live in perilous times. Beyond the direct impact of war on
participants and those caught in harm’s way, the Permanent War Economy and its defining mindset, which underlies so many of our public policies, are causing grievous harm to our nation and the planet. We are failing to invest in our youth and in people in general. Far too many are living without the basics, adequate housing, decent nutrition, clean air and water, quality education and healthcare.

We’re seeing an unprecedented skewing of wealth and income and, along with it, the hollowing out of the middle class. Our privacy is being eroded on a wholesale basis, all in the name of “national security.” And direct and indirect military spending is in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars a year, with politicians—many supposedly concerned about deficits—clamoring to feed more tax dollars to the hungry military beast.

Meanwhile, the greatest threats to our security, including Climate Change, are going unaddressed. Real Security concerns and sustainability are largely ignored, or addressed with platitudes, rather than effective policies. And power continues to accrue in the hands of a tiny elite who not only control the major corporations and the bulk of our nation’s wealth, but also are exercising ever greater political influence.

PEACEWORKS’ UNIQUE PERSEPCTIVE:  Unfortunately, this constellation of interconnected issues is seldom addressed by most liberal, environmental, peace or other single-issue groups. Peaceworks, on the other hand, gets to the roots and connects the dots. Sustainability, peace economy, climate action, economic and social justice all are pieces of the same puzzle.

That’s why you’ll consistently find us in the forefront of opposition to wars and militarism and simultaneously organizing Earth Day, and educational events like the Edible Columbia Garden Tour and the Sustainable Living Fair. That’s why we’re the folks who offer classes on climate change and sustainable living while we continue to work for an end to the threat of nuclear annihilation and educate the community on the flaws in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Peaceworks is grassroots. We’ve been around for nearly 32 years and we’ve always been volunteer driven, local, rooted here in mid-Missouri. Peaceworks is made up of more than 400 member households and dozens of volunteers who devote their time and talents to our mission to create a brighter, more just, peaceful and sustainable future for all.

KEEP IT LOCAL—LEND YOUR SUPPORT:  As you may know, this November we embarked on an ambitious campaign to raise needed revenue to fund our ongoing work. While very frugal, it takes some money to keep the doors open, the lights on, the educational materials produced, the supplies procured and the small staff paid their modest wages. Given that so much is done by volunteers, your donated dollars go much further in this grassroots operation than they do when contributed to national groups.

While we have been aiming to raise $30,000 in this, the fourth quarter of 2013, to date we have only raised 60 percent of our goal, and there are only a few days left to the year. We are most appreciative of the 187 of you who’ve donated already during this “Keep it Local” drive. Today, there is an urgent need to hear from more of you.

I’d like to ask each of you who hasn’t given, or hasn’t given lately, to please consider how important it is for the mid-Missouri area to have an organization like Peaceworks. And I’d like for you to understand that we can’t do this without more support. It takes a village, as they say, and if you are a villager, please consider kicking in to the village fund.

NUTS & BOLTS OF GIVING:  I’d like to suggest that you consider becoming a member of Peaceworks’ Peace Core. These are our core supporters who donate at the $100 and above level. This could be by making a one-time contribution. Or you can become a sustainer, making a monthly donation of at least $10. It’s really easy to do this using your credit or debit card or via PayPal so you don’t have to write a check monthly or mail it in.

Our basic household membership is just $60 per year, which is only $5 per month, if done as a monthly sustainer. Perhaps you can give much more than this. Our largest contribution so far in this drive has been $1,200. And others have only been able to afford $5 or $10 in total. Support at any level, generously given, is gratefully received.

MY PERSONAL APPEAL:  I’ve had the privilege of working full-time for Peaceworks since 1985. I’ve seen what we can do, as a community, when we come together with a sense of hope and common purpose. I recognize just how sorely we need such a sense of direction at this time.

I believe that Peaceworks and our allies in the struggle for a livable, shared future have a crucial role to play in educating our community. Likewise, an essential part of our mission is recruiting and training activists who can provide leadership and move us forward in the years to come.

If you share my sense of the importance of this work, I really hope you’ll pitch in and do what you can now, giving as generously as you can.

I thank you in advance. Please see below for the ways in which you can make your tax-deductible contribution.

My best wishes to you and yours for a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable year in 2014.

All the best,

Mark Haim
Director, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks

WAYS TO GIVE:  You can give securely on-line at http://blog.midmopeaceworks.org/p/donate-online.html. You can mail your contributions to Peaceworks, 804-C E. Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201. You can just stop by the Peace Nook at any time we're open and give in person. You can even phone in your contribution on your credit or debit card (573-875-0539). However you do it, it's most appreciated.