Our Director, Will
March of 2020 began the Corona pandemic, and we had to quickly relearn how to do our work remotely. By the end of April we had conducted our first remote lobby visits with all four of New Hampshire’s Congressional staff and produced our first completely online program, a Building a Culture of Peace Forum Community Poetry Reading. We also cosponsored with American Friends of Combatants for Peace, a global memorial service for those who have lost their lives in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, attended by over 200,000.
We also began in earnest a strategic planning process guided by Empower Success Corps. A process which maintained much of our organizational focus through the fall. The result is a plan that we hope will help grow and diversify our membership and leadership over the next five years.
Rather than view the inability to gather together as an impediment, we used it as an opportunity to reach out further, and produce educational content that could be engaged with from home. With the exception of our earliest program and a few programs that we were asked by speakers not to make broadly available through social media, all of our live content can be viewed by clicking the “Live Stream” tab ^.
In early June we launched our bi-weekly Monday Night Peace and Justice Conversation series. Our first conversation was hosted on June 8 by board member and events committee chair Amy Antonucci and featured Will, Lila Kohrman-Glaser or 350NH, and Maggie Fogarty of the American Friends Service Committee. We discussed how we were organizing with the new restrictions and what it likely would mean for our work. On June 22 Will hosted Judy Elliott and Sandra Yarne who talked about the work of the NH Nuclear Weapons Working Group.
We held two more of those conversations in July, the first, on the sixth, featured Jennifer Near who talked about what a just transition to a human needs economy would look like.
The second featured NH Friends of Combatants for Peace members Nancy Jo Chabot, Joel Berman, and Scott Dickman, we were joined by Beth Schuman, National Executive Director of American Friends of Combatants for Peace. Unfortunately, we lost the video of this program during an attempt to remove sensitive information about a Palestinian activist whose story was told during the program.
August began with our Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance on the 7th, it had a little less than 200 people watching at the time, but has racked up 199 views on YouTube and had a few hundred views on Facebook, The program went well aside from one language barrier moment, where we were able to translate a question for Masako Wada, but did not have the ability to translate back to English her response. People raved about the contributions of both Wada San and Reverend Theoharis. The night of this event we broke 1000 likes on our FaceBook page.
Sarah Freeman-Woolpert of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a former Peace of Mind Attendee, led a training on how to conduct an effective virtual lobby visit on August 17. Only about ten people participated in the Zoom conference, but 75 have watched it on our Facebook page since.
On August 30, Michael McPhearson, former Executive Director of Veterans For Peace and former Co-Chair of United for Peace and Justice gave a presentation and answered questions, the title was “Race and the War Machine”. About 30 participated in the Zoom, and over 100 people have watched the video on Facebook.
Finally, on August 31, Misty Crompton presented on the Just Schools Initiative, to a group of about 15, the Facebook Video had 50 views after two days.
Our total organic post reach on Facebook (number of individual people who saw something in their feed from us) in August was over 13,000. 1,313 people engaged with our posts (liked, shared, clicked through, or commented).
On September 9, working with Chris Marion and the Southern NH branch of Party for Socialism and Liberation, we showed “Gaza Fights for Freedom”, Will facilitated conversation with Nooran Alhamdan and Producer Mike Prysner. On September 14, Krisan Evenson presented and hosted our bi-weekly conversation talking about Jeremy Gilley and the movement for an international day of peace. We skipped having a conversation on September 28 so that we could focus on the Fall fundraiser.
October 2 marked our fall fundraiser, Stories of Peace and Change, events committee did a great job and we reached our revised budget for the event post-covid. We had lots of positive feedback about the event.
On October 12, Paul and Denise Poulliot explored the myth of Columbus and the movement to replace Columbus day with Indigenous People’s Day. On October 26 Maggie Fogarty and Grace Kindeke spoke about the nightmare of US Immigration Policy and the work being done by the NH immigrant rights coalition.
Will coordinated peacekeepers along with Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty in Concord for a November 4 Protect the Vote rally, and also coordinated peacekeepers for a Manchester rally on the 7th.
On Monday November 9th we hosted Paul Kawika Martin and Lilly Dragnev from National Peace Action, who talked about what our work is likely to look like given the new cast of characters in the US House, Senate, and White House.
We hosted Rev Kendra Ford on November 23, she talked about Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects” we only streamed 17 Minutes of this presentation, as much of it was done in small groups.
On December 7, we hosted former Peace of Mind attendee Jenni Walkup, whose talk, “Perspectives on Antisemitism from the Only Jewish Kid in Town” was very well received. Then Martin Toe and Sarah Jane Knoy introduced the concept of Federal Housing Jubilee (housing debt payment by the Federal Government to help ease financial crisis due to Covid) on December 21.
Janet Zeller hosted Will on January 4 for a talk about what he sees our new priorities and goals to be given the new administration. Deborah Opramolla spoke on Martin Luther King Day about the work of the Poor People’s Campaign in New Hampshire.
On Monday, February 1, BLM Manchester co-sounder Erika Perez stood in for Griffin Sinclaire-Wingate and spoke to us about how and why to organize with youth. On February 15, Professor Eric Cheyfitz spoke about the impact of American exceptionalism on culture and policy, hosted by board member Jeremy Love.
On February 28 we hosted Farzaneh Milani, who spoke about Iran’s reverence for poetry and four women poets who have impacted the world, Dr. Milani asked that her presentation not be shared over social media, but it can be seen on YouTube using a private link which we share with members by request.
March 1, we hosted Kevin Martin, National Peace Action’s President, who gave us an update on national work and policy. On March 15, we hosted Andy David of the World Fellowship Center for a talk on the power of stories for making social change. We again co-sponsored the Israeli/Palestinian remembrance ceremony.
April brought Bruce Gagnon’s “Is Russia Truly our Enemy” had over 80 online for the discussion, but has racked up well over 1000 views on Facebook and YouTube. Michael Ferber’s nine thesis on Nonviolence had about 30 online for the discussion and after a week has had another 40 views online.
Will peace-kept at two BLM rallies in April in response to the killing of Dante Wright and has met with a State Trooper who has been peacekeeping with Kent Street Coalition and the organizer of the armed leftists who have been present at events over the last few months. He hopes to redevelop and update the training standards for peacekeepers in New Hampshire. Thursday night will be our take it to the streets training, and we hope to have a three day retreat on peacekeeping in August.
Fawn Gaudette and Rep. Catherine Sifikitis presented in May on how protecting pollinators intersects with and is tied to our peace work.
All told, our online educational programming has racked up about 2,500 participants.
On Monday, May 24, we hosted Griffin Sinclaire-Wingate who will talked to us about organizing through a multi-generational lens.
This ever-changing chaotic period was one that was hard to make a newsletter about. So for the first year in a very long time, we did not produce a newsletter. It has been a strange and both wonderful and stressful time, that I suspect will change the way we do our work forever.
Thanks for reading!