Y12 To The United Nations
As in many instances in my life,when I agreed to help organize the Stop the Bombs International Peace Walk I wasn't really aware of exactly what I was getting myself into. As is the case with most complex organizational projects, there is more involved than meets the eye with an initial glance.
When my old road mate Jim Toren called me in the winter of 2004-2005 and asked me to assist him in organizing a 50 day walking event from Oakridge, Tenn. to the U N in New York city to publicize the need for sucess in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty negociations of 2005, I had a strong heart felt desire to help in any way I could with this critical issue. Enough time passed so that my committment had begun to recede into my memory, when Jim called and said he was going to Oakridge for the weekly Sunday prayer vigil, and would be stopping by on his way south to discuss the event organizing.
Jim Toren walked into my house, said hello, and proceeded to sit down at my computer and install the instructions for organizing 13 overnights along the walk route in 13 different towns in far western Virginia, that would become my responsibility. The total route was divided into four sections that four organizers or groups of organizers would be primarily responsible for. Ralph and Lissa Hutchinson in Knoxville had the section from Oakridge to the Tenn. border, I had the section in far westen Virginia, Jon Blickenstaff had the next section, and Jim would co-ordinate the final section going into New York city. As you can already see, this process takes many folks and a heap of co-ordination. Jim gave me a brief description of my instructions, and as is his style, roared on down the road to his next destination in Oakridge.
After Jim left I got on the computer to study the instructions installed there for me, and this is what I found;
1st: Find phone numbers and email address for Churches, Communitie centers, Colleges, activist groups, Newspapers and TV stations.
2nd: Email all Newspaper and TV stations information to firstname.lastname@example.org
3rd: Jim will email you a cover letter
4th: If your contacts have an email, email the letter and contact them 1 week later.
5th: For those that do not have a email letter start calling.
Hi my name is __(your name)___ with FootPrints for Peace and we are organizing a peace walk from Oakridge TN to the UN in NY called Stop the bomb interniational peace pilgrimage it's a 50 day walk and we have people from all over the world...Australia.....Japan....Africa and of course from the US. The reason why I am calling is one of our overnight locations is____( town your calling)____ we will be there on ___ ( date of arrival)___ and we are looking for a place for the walkers to put down thier sleeping bags for a night and a pot luck in the evening with your community.
The Initial search was conducted using the electronic yellow pages, and resulted in huge amounts of data. Some of the towns had literally hundreds of churches. Jim also sent me the cover letter when he got home from Oakridge;
We would like to notify you of the International Peace Walk that will be traveling through your area on XX date, 2005. This walk is grassroots in nature, and is created in part by the communities we travel through. Please consider participating in this Peace Walk in several ways. You may join the walk for any length of time, however, we would like to offer you the opportunity to host the walk by providing a place to sleep and a community potluck gathering. Our needs are very simple – a room to lay sleeping bags and showers if possible.
Please look over these materials and our web sites for more information on the walk and the various organizations involved with it. I will be following up this email with a phone call, and would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have. I look forward to creating this unique opportunity with you and your community.
Events Organizer, Footprints for Peace
International Peace Walk
In Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima
STOP THE BOMBS
MARCH 12, 2005: Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge TN
MAY 1, 2005: NPT Review, UN Headquarters, New York NY
Moved to carry the Mayor of Hiroshima’s plea for action, and the nuclear free visions of communities world wide, an international group will walk to the United Nations remembering Hiroshima, Maralinga, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, uranium mines, waste sites, depleted uranium weaponry, and the urgent danger we face with increased nuclear proliferation. This walk will visit the mayors of the cities along their route. They will ask these cities to join the "Program to Promote the Solidarity of Cities toward the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. The cities that join this effort will join the ranks of the European Parliament and the U.S. Conference of Mayors both of which have passed resolutions supporting efforts to abolish nuclear weapons
The International Peace Walk is co-sponsored by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA), FootPrints for Peace, Nipponzan Myohoji (an international Buddhist organization), International Peace Pilgrimage, and the Mayors for Peace Campaign.
We will walk approximately 15 to 20 miles per day.
Drug and alcohol use are strictly forbidden.
Everyone is welcome to join the walk for any amount of time they would like.
My first inkling that I was in for more than I had bargained for was when I saw that almost none of the churches were listing email addresses, therefore preventing me from notifying them electronically with our letter of intro. The next thing I noticed as I did my research was the huge number of churches listed in these towns, an almost overwhelming challenge. At this point, after spending literally hours compiling lists of data, I began to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task. What saved me from despair was aquiring lists of past contacts from the 2001 Hiroshima Flame walk through the same area, and contact persons and Peace and Justice organizations from Ralph and Lissa's group - OREPA. I finally got in contact with someone with the Appalachian Peace Education Center in Abingdon Va. that led to aquiring my first successful overnight committment. At this point I decided to network with any and all peace groups or activists groups along my section of the route. As of today (the walk is started and in eastern Tenn.) I still have only 5 solid committments for western Va. out of 13 towns, which brings me to my conclusion.
I was fortunate to attend the gathering of walkers, the rally to the Y - 12 facility at Oakridge, and the stirring opening ceremonies of the walk with a beginning circle of around 70 or so souls creating a vortex of positive prayer energy! What this helped me realize was that the organizing does not stop when the walk starts, it just gets more frantic, as you madly scurry about to make sure that this band of intrepid walkers has the support necessary to move them "DOWN THE ROAD". My further realization was how much effort by how many, many people it takes to accomplish a walk like this. I would encourage any of you out there reading this piece that are inclined or can be of some help to please assist us in pushing this diverse group of souls, putting down "FOOTPRAYERS" for the Earth and all humanity, in reaching their goal of expressing a positive and sane point of view to the important negociations taking place at the UN in New York in May.
Core Group Member FootPrints For Peace