Working towards peace and sustainability

Get Ready to Walk for the Climate!

This lovely Walk logo will appear on our 2017 Walk T-shirts. Get yours by raising, or contributing $50 or more.

 Peaceworks invites you to rally and walk with us on Sunday, Sept. 24. Walk for the Climate is both a community awareness-raiser and a fundraiser. We will be walking five kilometers (approximately three miles) and urge you to walk the whole distance or whatever portion works for you.

We also encourage you to walk with us whether or not you raise funds. This said, our goal this year is to have at least 100 people raise at least $50 each to reach our goal of raising an additional $5K needed for Peaceworks’ climate action efforts. So, if you can help raise some of these funds it would be super.

All are invited to participate. Invite friends to walk. You can sponsor yourself. You can ask friends and family to sponsor you. There will be prizes for those who raise the most money and those who get the most donations. All contributions are tax-deductible. Checks should be made to Peaceworks. You can access a sponsor sheet by clicking HERE. Or you can pick one up at the Peace Nook.

All participants who come to the walk on Sept. 24 with at least $50 in contributions will receive a free “Walk for the Climate” T-shirt (see design above). The shirts will be printed ASAP after the walk, when we know how many we need, and in what sizes.

We will gather at Courthouse Plaza (8th & Walnut) for sign-in between 1:00-1:45. Excellent music during the gathering time provided by Pippa and the Straw Men. We rally at 1:45. The Walk begins at 2 p.m. Event is rain or shine. Bring raingear if needed. In the event of rain, sign-in will be in the Commission Chambers of the Boone Government Ctr. We’ll have some signs and banners, but more are welcome.

Walk 5K. Help us raise $5K!

Peaceworks to CoMo Council: Bold Climate Action Now--Zero Emissions by 2050

Peaceworks Sustainability Coordinator, Laura Wacker, addresses the City Council.

Peaceworks and our climate action allies scored a significant victory on June 19 when the Columbia City Council approved a resolution calling for the development of a Climate Action Plan (CAP). Columbia joined cities across the nation in embracing the Paris Accord and a resolution was unanimously adopted calling for a CAP, including a call for citizen input in the process.

Now we are working to make sure a strong CAP is adopted and implemented. As a first step, we’re asking Columbia citizens to please reach out to our City Council to urge them to support a Climate Action Plan that includes going to zero carbon fuel use by 2050. It would be very helpful if you could let your Councilperson and the Mayor know your support for bold climate action. You can contact Council members by clicking Here.

On September 7, 2017, Peaceworks activist Laura Wacker spoke before the City Council urging them to take strong action. Here is the text of her prepared remarks:

Good evening. My name is Laura Wacker. I am the Sustainability Coordinator for Peaceworks and am here to talk about development of the Climate Action Plan that the Council approved in June.

First of all, “THANK YOU” for the decision to create the Climate Action Plan and to the Mayor for joining the Mayors Climate Action Network.   We are excited you are willing to start following through on Columbia’s commitment to reduce our production of Greenhouse Gases.  As you know, the Council in 2006 voted to do that, but didn’t follow through with action.  This is obvious in the Emissions Inventory Report that was presented to Council at your last meeting. 

Our overall emissions have gone up.  Per capita emissions have gone down, but honestly, if it wasn’t for Water and Light’s energy efficiency programs and renewable energy programs (some of which are on the chopping block in the current budget plan), we probably would have seen the per capita emissions go up as well.  WE, as a community, need to do better.  When we compare our per capita Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Lawrence Kansas, Madison Wisconsin, Urbana Illinois, St Louis and Kansas City we score worse than all except St Louis.  

We can do better than that, but we need to act in a decisive and bold manner.  Climate Change is upon us and we need to reverse course.  Hurricane Harvey is the shape of things to come if we don’t take drastic measures to reduce our carbon emissions.  How will Columbia handle torrential downpours at increasing intervals?  If you are not paying attention, you may not realize that the American media is hardly mentioning the severe monsoon season in Asia with over1200 dead from flooding, or that the drought in Italy is crippling their food production, or that a half a million acres of trees have burned in Montana due to wildfires, or that more trees that have died in the Pacific Northwest due to climate induced plagues.  The recent epic flooding in Southern Missouri is an example of how climate change can affect our area. These changes require bold and swift action to protect our citizens from further climate chaos.

Prior to Columbia’s recent resolution, groups in Columbia were meeting on this very subject. We thought we had started down the right road in 2006 when that Council said they were going to create an action plan but we didn’t make sure it happened.  So, now, we intend to stay focused on this, and make sure that the follow-through occurs.   

We hope that you will agree with our vision of Columbia becoming a leader in the Midwest in carbon footprint reduction.  A city like Georgetown, TX, which already fully powers its municipal power plant from renewable sources, sees its energy policy as an economic development tool and I think Columbia could do the same.  Recently, even Kansas City resolved to procure 100% of the electricity for municipal operations from renewables within only three years!  Ten US states have set goals of 50-80% reduction of carbon emissions by 2050.  Those are entire states!  We have so many advantages in Columbia that can help us be better than that, be at the forefront of energy conservation – we would like to see this city commit to 100% reduction by 2050.  We have great minds at the University, we have a well-educated public and we have the benefit of having our own utilities at both the city and the university.  We really have the perfect scenario to make this thing work!

We also have a committed group of people who are members of organizations in the community who are willing to help you do the work.  I want to introduce some of the groups here tonight who are concerned about what Columbia is doing for Climate Change and I’ll ask them to stand as I acknowledge their affiliation.  Sierra Club, Renew Missouri, Citizens Climate Lobby, Show-Me Solar, Protectors of Water & Land, People’s Visioning and Peoples' Visioning lead co-sponsor: Columbia Climate Change Coalition, and Interfaith Care for Creation.  Among these groups there are several who would desire to be on the planning committee for this project who have been working or studying in the areas of energy efficiency for many years.

We stand together in expressing a deep desire to see the Climate Action Plan developed as expeditiously as possible.  We represent thousands of citizens in Columbia.  We are here tonight to express gratitude that you have started the ball rolling to move our city forward in Climate Action. And we are not going to go away. We expect, for instance, that the City will have a Consultant on-board by the end of October.   

As our elected council, you have the very important role of setting goals for this climate action plan.  We are hoping that you will be putting this goal setting on your October calendar.  We hope you set the goal of 100% reduction by 2050 and begin working toward this as we move forward.  Ways to get the ball rolling would be by setting new building codes that mandate efficiency, continuing the incentives for PV rebates (which could actually save the city money in the long run), creating electric car charging stations and getting all city energy use moving toward zero emissions.  It is a very exciting time to be working on projects that are not only good for the health of the planet, but good for the health, safety and sustainability of our city.  We are here to help you,  and we hope that this process can get moving as soon as possible.

Thank you, and I am happy to answer questions.  

Why Gather?

This Saturday evening, August 5, there will be a Peace Gathering at Stephens Lake Park marking the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (details below). Here are some reasons we hope you might decide to attend:

·        Because we empower ourselves when we come together. When we gather we build community and strengthen our shared resolve to address challenges including war, militarism, climate change, injustice, the entire misguided Trump Agenda and more.

·        Because there are still thousands of nuclear warheads threatening the future of humanity.

·        Because our nation is a highly militarized behemoth engaged in military action in many nations around the world, and, due to the fact that relatively few Americans are dying, the media and our fellow citizens are paying scant attention to the Permanent War.

·        Because the trillions of dollars squandered on war and militarism are not being invested or spent where they could and should be; to enhance our quality of life, invest in our people/education, revamp our aging infrastructure, clean up the environment, address the climate crisis and more.

·        Because we cannot afford to allow ourselves to become numb to the fact that hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians were slaughtered in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945. Mass incineration of human beings, like the Holocaust, must never be forgotten. And in response to this horror we must reply, “Never Again!” and take action to prevent nuclear war.

·        Because the weapons used in Japan in 1945, as horrific as they were, are diminutive compared to those that could be used today, nuclear war truly represents an existential threat that must be addressed.

·        Because Donald Trump is calling for major increases in military spending, in general, and nuclear weapons spending, in particular; because he has said he would welcome a new arms race; because he does not seem to understand just how dangerous and destructive nuclear weapons are; and because his temperament and mental state do not seem compatible with the responsibility of averting nuclear war.

·        Because it feels good to break bread with others. Because it is good to share their company. Because the music to be shared will be uplifting. Because the lanterns we will make and float will inspire us.

For all these reasons and more we will gather as a community committed to peace and justice this Saturday evening. We invite you to join us.

Here are the details from our Facebook event:

Join us at the Gordon Shelter of Stephens Lake Park beginning at 6 p.m. for an evening of solidarity including a potluck dinner, music, lantern-making, speakers and the annual lantern float.

During the event, you will have the opportunity to create your own lantern. We provide the supplies and show you how. All you need is a wish for peace that you would like to send out at the evening lantern float. The float is a beautiful tribute to those who lost their lives in Hiroshima & Nagasaki, as well as our heart-felt wish for a peaceful future.

The event starts at 6. We potluck ~6:30. Lantern making and music follow. The formal program starts at 8 and we float the lanterns at 9. Speakers include Andrew Hutchinson and Mark Haim. Poetry will be performed by T'Keyah Thomas. Music will be provided by Robin Anderson and Marissa Wood and Friends.

Trump, Russia & the Movement

President Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller

For months now, Trump-Russia has dominated the media, crowding out coverage of many substantial public policy concerns. How should we in the progressive community relate to this issue?

The Case Against Focusing on “Trump-Russia”

We hear from many respected friends, allies and progressive icons that we need to keep our eyes on the prize, not be distracted by the allegations of Russia connections or collusion, when the real and pressing concerns are the incredible harm the Trump administration is doing, or trying to do, on multiple fronts.

This includes, of course, everything from massive budgetary cuts that will grievously harm the least among us, attacks on human rights and public education, a full-throttle assault on the climate, deregulation right and left, the assault on healthcare that threatens to take away coverage from tens of millions of people, attempts to redistribute wealth and income upward through massive tax cuts for the already wealthy, huge increases in military spending and escalation of U.S. wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan, etc., attacks on freedom of the press and an open internet, and, of course, the lifetime appointment of radical-right justices and judges to our federal courts.

These critics have some very valid points. We cannot allow these hugely destructive attacks to go unanswered or un-resisted. These critics make another very valid point that is often overlooked. The penultimate thing the world needs right now is a new, intensified Cold War II and a new arms race with Russia. And the very last thing we need is an actual war between the two nuclear titans, something that an aggressive U.S. foreign policy in Eastern Europe, and especially in Syria, is making more likely.

The focus on Trump-Russia fits well in the anti-Russia agenda of the hawkish neo-cons—including prominent politicians on both sides of the aisle—as well as their allies in the Military Industrial Complex. It really has no place on the progressive agenda. We need to make clear that, whatever we might think of Putin, the Russian nation and its people are not our “enemies,” and, in fact, we should be working, as we did during the many decades of Cold War I, to support and promote d├ętente.

Those who argue against focusing on Trump-Russia take this a step further, however. They maintain, first, that there is no smoking gun proving collusion, and, that, second, even if one was found and Trump was impeached, we might be no better off with Mike Pence in the Oval Office. They also point out how hard it would be to get the GOP-controlled Congress to vote with a super-majority, to remove Donald Trump from office, and some say that it would be worse to have Pence at the helm. Their bottom line is: let’s move on and address what’s really important, not what MSNBC, CNN, WaPo or NYT tell us it is.

The Case in Favor

But, of course, there is a flip side to this story—a case to be made that Trump-Russia should, indeed, concern us. Those in this camp point out that it’s not simply the huge number of contacts between key Team Trump players and various Russian officials and operatives throughout the campaign. Nor is it just the fact that many of these were not reported, or denied, when required to be disclosed, in confirmation processes, or in applying for security clearances.

Many who feel we should press forward with the investigations point to what they see as circumstantial evidence suggestive of collusion, like Trump’s campaign-trail announcement that he’d soon be revealing damning information regarding Hillary Clinton, made between the time that Don Junior’s meeting with Russian operatives—ones he believed were representing the Russian state and their declared interest to aid his father’s bid for the White House—was arranged and when it was held. Or the fact that said information release unexplainedly never happened, when apparently the promised info was not produced.

Those who make the case for pursuing Trump-Russia also point to a much larger pattern of secrecy and obfuscation. It seems that Donald Trump is desperately trying to avoid scrutiny, and this “smoke” is likely indicative of some “fire.” They point to the obvious efforts to derail the FBI investigation, including the pressure placed on James Comey, and his subsequent firing, an action which Trump, himself, acknowledged to NBC was taken due to Trump-Russia.

They also point to the dismissal of Sally Yates, apparently to derail her testimony before a Congressional committee. And red flags go up in regard to the canning of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, who had been assured by the administration that he was going to keep his position. Bharara has a stunning track record of pursing financial malfeasance, obtaining a record number of convictions of Wall St. insiders. 

And then there is the current round of attacks on his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, focused on his recusal from Trump-Russia, something the POTUS says he should not have done, despite the fact that Justice Dept. rules required him to do this. There is serious speculation in the news daily as to whether Trump will fire Sessions and whether he is contemplating doing this in order to remove Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Where this all gets really interesting is that it seems Mueller is investigating more than simply possible electoral collusion. We all recall clearly how Trump refused to release any of his tax returns; how he falsely claimed he couldn’t, due to being under audit; how he promised he would release them later, and then did a U-turn, saying no one but the “fake-news” media was interested.

Well, now it turns out that Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation is apparently looking into Trump’s finances, including said tax returns. Adam Serwer, in a July 21 Atlantic article writes “President Trump is reportedly apoplectic over the possibility that Special Counsel Robert Mueller might look into his finances—specifically his tax returns . . . .” Trump indicated in an interview with the New York Times that such an investigation might be a “violation,” although it is unclear what the President thinks is being violated.

There have been numerous allegations. Some accuse Trump of connections to Russian “mob figures.” Others say real estate deals with the Trump organization have been a vehicle for money laundering, done in the service of Russian oligarchs and crime figures. Whether or not any of this is true is, at this point, unclear. What is clear as day, however, is that Donald Trump, like Nixon during Watergate, gives the appearance of someone who’s got something to hide.

Peaceworks’ Take on This

Moving forward an investigation of Trump and his associates, including their contacts during the campaign and, more broadly, their finances, seems eminently in the public interest. So too, does continuing to push back on the multiple assaults mentioned above. These are not mutually exclusive. While we, most assuredly must focus public attention and concern on issues of substance—climate, war and militarism, healthcare, budget cuts, etc.—we should also support the Mueller investigation. And we should certainly be prepared to rally behind it, should there be an attempt to fire the Special Counsel or otherwise derail the process.

Regarding the claims that should Pence replace Trump things would be no better and even possibly worse, here are a few things to consider. First, Trump is an erratic and unpredictable figure. His mental health seems to many to be in question and who knows how he would react in a crisis? It certainly would behoove us to do what we can to remove his fingers from the nuclear “button.”

Impeachment presents a high bar. Trump will not be removed from office by a GOP-controlled Congress unless it turns out that there is clear and unequivocal evidence of serious criminal wrongdoing. This coming out would discredit more than Donald Trump. There would be a serious cloud over his movement and their agenda. It would likely lead at least some of his ardent base to rethink their loyalty and lead many more centrist voters who supported him to question their allegiance to the Trump agenda (as the polls seem to indicate many are already doing). It would also undermine the credibility of the administration officials Trump has put in place and lead some in the Congressional majority to feel the need, as a matter of political survival, to create some distance between themselves and the MAGA (Make America Great Again) agenda.

We need to recognize that impeachment is relatively unlikely, and would not solve all our problems, in any case. Rather, we must work as hard as we can to stop the pernicious Trump program wherever we can. We need to reach out to our neighbors and all our fellow citizens sharing with them our perspectives as to why the Trump prescription for this country is the wrong one, and sharing our own vision as to what would lead to “greatness” and how we might get there. Along the way, we should not vilify Russia. But we certainly should support efforts to find out what connections the President and his associates have had to Russian officials and financial figures.

Ultimately, we will create a more just, peaceful and sustainable future if, and only if, we can win the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens and garner their strong support for an agenda that calls for more than a rejection of Trump. We need to win support, too, for a rejection of the failed neo-liberal policies that made Trump’s appeal to voters possible. And, most importantly, we need to find common ground upon which we can come together to build a truly workable, progressive future.