Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Networking for Peace...

Like most nonprofits, the American Friends Service Committee is suffering from a shortage of funds. Fortunately, it is not suffering from a shortage of enthusiasm. During my visit to the office this morning, I was impressed by the commitment and energy of the staff, who are pictured here: Maricela Gusman (a veteran for peace who does counter-recuitment work), Eisha Mason (associate regional director and veteran nonviolence practitioner/educator), and Anthony Marsh, who has worked for a variety of peace organizations ranging from FOR to Interfaith Inventions. I talked with them about the Parliament's upcoming Gandhi event at USC and they agreed to put together a workshop that I'm sure will inspire students to become peace activists.

During our conversation, I handed out my new calling card, of which I am quite proud (if Quakers can be allowed to feel pride). It reads "Quaker peace activist" and lists some of the organizations that I am involved with. Anthony noted that I failed to mention the AFSC, and I was glad to be "eldered" by this young non-Friend. It seems ironic (and yet appropriate somehow) that Anthony, a non-Quaker, would have to remind Anthony, the Quaker, to claim as his own an organization that he has served (and been nurtured by) for over twenty years!

Is it possible that we Quakers take the AFSC for granted? I suspect that many of us do, even we old-timers, and I hope that Friends will be led to rally around the AFSC during a time when every Friendly hand (and dollar) is needed.

Another topic we discussed was the upcoming World March for Peace. On Sunday I attended a meeting of this group, which was led by Phillip Freeman and Mayra Gomez and included such peace notables as Blase and Teresa Bonpane, who started the Office of the Americas to advocate on behalf of the peoples of Latin America. The leaders of many Latin American countries are supporting the World March for Peace, which should make it even more appealing here in LA, with its large Hispanic population. I was pleased to learn that the AFSC staff are very supportive of this March and are exploring ways in which to become actively involved. (For more info, click

Last night I went to the Church in Ocean Park, a hotbed and refuge for progressives on the West Side, and had a spaghetti dinner with two stalwart peace people, Jerry Rubin and Bill McCarthy, the founder and president of the Unity Foundation. Jerry is a tireless activist and unabashed tree hugger who organizes a monthly activist support group at Santa Monica Meeting (to which I have been invited to speak). When we had coffee at Starbucks, Jerry showed a button that said "Make coffee, not war" and asked for a peace sign to be written on his coffee cup. He got into a friendly conversation about peace matters with the employees that made them smile, and think. Jerry never misses an opportunity to promote peace!

Bill produces a TV program called "Positive Spin." Through an organization called "Roots and Shoots" Bill is helping to organize a UN Day of Peace event in the Santa Monica pier on September 20. (See http://www.cultureofpeace.org/ and the information below. )

I was very impressed when Bill told me about the Day of Peace event since I watched a memorable documentary about how this event got started by an inspired rock musician named Jeremy Gilley (see http://www.peaceoneday.org/en/welcome).

I was also intrigued to hear that Jane Goodall will be involved since two years ago Christian, a 13-year-old member of my wife's church who had cancer, went to the "Roots and Shoots" event in Griffith Park expressly to see Jane Goodall whom he admired and aspired to be like. When Goodall heard about Christian, she went over to see him and boosted his spirits by encouraging him to follow his dream of becoming a marine biologist. Christian bought me a peace t-shirt from this event, which I love to wear since it reminds me of him and of his encounter with this amazing woman. (Christian died of cancer a week before my wife, and I am sure the two of them are rejoicing together among the heavenly creatures.)

Click here to see the event in Griffith Park on YouTube.

Roots & Shoots California Celebrates United Nations International Day of Peace

Dr. Jane's Day of Peace Invitation

When: Sunday, September 20, 2009 11 am - 4 pm.
Where: Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California.
Who: All ages, groups and community members are welcome to attend and celebrate the Roots & Shoots International Day of Peace on September 20.
Enjoy arts, crafts, games, Eco-friendly exhibitors and non-profits and much more. Local celebrity appearances and entertainment will add to the celebration. Click here for more information on the history of the Day of Peace.

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