A Long-Time Community healer and Activist
WNY Peace Center – Interfaith Peace Network —- Victoria Ross VICTORIA ROSS is a Justice and Peace Activist and a Social Worker. Formerly the Executive Director of the WNY Peace Center, she’s now the WNYPC’s Community Coordinator and consults for the Interfaith Peace Network of WNY as well. Longstanding involvement in the Latino Community, and with WNYPC’s Latin American Solidarity Committee. Vicki has been a lifelong helper and healer. Her upbringing confirms the theory that social workers and activists are born growing into the role. Her dad was a German Jew who, in Munich in 1933, was a radical justice activist (e.g., publicly refusing to say “Heil Hitler” when receiving a prize at his school and trouncing the leader of the Hitler Youth, etc.) that he was told he’d better leave, or they would “take care of” him. Her mother was a natural peacemaker, making early application at the age of 14 to Swarthmore College, a Quaker school known for its firm support for peace. And as Vicki was a middle child with a paraplegic older sister, and a younger brother and sister, attending to people’s needs was second nature.
PEACE IN UKRAINE AND WORLDWIDE!
No hay camino hacia la paz – La Paz es el camino.
– A. J. Muste
As people on this and other continents are aware, the USA started as an invasion/occupation, with aggression, racism, and violence paving the way to “Manifest Destiny” from “sea to shining sea.” As the years have gone by, the push and pull both toward and away from peace, justice, and democracy has continued.
After the tragedy of 9/11, then-President Bush used the terrible event to get Congress to pass a War Powers Act that ushered in the current era of the “Forever Wars;” Congress gave up the requirement that the President/Executive branch needs their approval for entering the war. The new War Powers Act enabled the president to take military action anywhere in the world, at any time.
Thus, US militarism has ramped up even more! US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq went on for decades (neither country was involved with Al Qaida or 9/11); and US drones have also struck Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, and more. This rampant military activity, approximately 900 US military bases worldwide, our military spending almost as much as the entire rest of the world put together, and our being the #1 arms merchants worldwide (sometimes arming both sides of a conflict), make us continue to be what Rev. Dr. King called “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”
Throughout the Forever Wars of the past two decades, the US military-industrial-Congressional-media complex has shown an insatiable appetite for war and ignores the wreckage left behind. Meanwhile, business is booming for weapons manufacturers and war profiteers; while people’s needs for health care, education, infrastructure, etc. go unmet (worldwide). In the last year alone, the United States sent $27.5 billion in military assistance to Ukraine. The war in Ukraine takes us deep into a proxy war with Russia, with nuclear arms on both sides, as well as nuclear power plants in the war zone – potential nuclear weapons all by themselves!!
The danger of nuclear war was emphasized when scientists set the Doomsday Clock for 2023 to “ninety seconds before midnight.” They also warned of the Russia-Ukraine war’s undermining global efforts to combat climate change. While Russia’s arrogance and violent land grab is a huge problem, it is clear that the US’s reneging on its pledge to stop expanding NATO eastward towards Russia was a key element precipitating the Russian aggression.
We have got to stop the madness. Shero activist and author Medea Benjamin has been sounding the alarm since co-founding CodePink (and before): fighting for peace, telling the truth about the war machine and the war economy. Medea is not pro-Russian; rather she is pro-truth, pro-diplomacy, and pro-negotiations. Come hear her at 1 pm, on April 23 at Fitz Books & Waffles, 431 Ellicott St, Buffalo; or April 24 (4:30 pm) at Niagara University.
Her book, War In Ukraine – Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, shares the history and analysis of this dangerous conflict. For more info, check wnypeace.org or our Facebook page.
“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”
Ijoema Oluo (Nigerian American writer)
RACISM IN THE BUFFALO POLICE DEPARTMENT (BPD)?
There’s racism in the air we breathe, in our history, legacies, and current reality. Three Black plaintiffs will tell you, not only is there racism in the BPD, but there is denial, preferential treatment, harassment, and neither accountability nor transparency. The three are two police officers – Brandon Hawkins (a BPD officer for 16 years), Katelynn Bolden; and Erica Seymour, mental health professional. They are suing after their experiences on BPD’s Behavioral Health Team.
The suit was brought after months of failure to address issues of racism in the department. Captain Amber Beyer, head of the Behavioral Health Team, went on a rant in front of Officer Bolden and others in early May 2022, saying: black officers need to understand racism; white officers get PTSD working in black communities; black officers are not traumatized “because they usually grow up in those areas” (showing no awareness of historical trauma [also just before the 5/14 Massacre]); black officers cheat on their wives; she’d be suspicious if she saw a black person in her neighborhood; etc.
As she never apologized, nor took remedial action, the officers finally filed an Internal Affairs complaint. In September, after no consequences, the captain read aloud an email, loudly emphasizing the n-word (though she’d been asked to at least say “N-word”).
As the Captain still had no repercussions, the group initiated a suit against the BPD and the city. Cpt. Beyer was finally put on paid leave. The officers went to their union for support but were told they were on their own. The three felt unsafe in the department due to the ignoring of blatant racism and disrespect. Requests for paid leave were denied. They have used their vacation, sick and personal days. Ms. Seymour was fired. Officers Hawkins and Bolden have suffered anxiety and depression, with extreme weight loss, sleeplessness, and migraines.
Racism is alive in our institutions and ourselves, in various ways and varying amounts. The authorities’ actions and inaction attest to its presence. Officers say they’ve never heard or seen anything indicating any training to deal with implicit bias, racism, cultural competency, etc. in the BPD. The problems of racism in policing with guns and impunity are obvious, as is having BPD in charge of mental health calls.
Please call 311 and urge that Officers Bolden and Hawkins be put on paid leave until the Mayor and BPD have taken concrete steps to create a safe working environment for officers of color.
NOTE: Please consider, if you can, donating to the WNY Peace Center’s Whistleblowers Fund (at gofundme.com). Created after Cariol Horne’s firing (her idea), it’s to support police suffering financially for doing the right thing. Help us help them more. Solidaridad!!!
We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives, and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Rev. Dr. King would be heartbroken but not surprised at the Buffalo blizzard response. As of January 23, at least 47 have died in WNY from December’s blizzard. Thousands suffered tremendously, with damage yet to be determined. Until we have a revolution of values and priorities in Buffalo/WNY, our racism, materialism, and militarism will persist. Events abound honoring the blizzard’s heroes. The first was GC Global Event Center (4279 Delaware Ave, Tonawanda). We all honor them: everyday citizens whose love, courage, and compassion drove them to selfless action. They should be proud and resoundingly praised.
Our government officials are a different story. They failed to keep us safe. Their mistakes include:
Extremely poor planning. They knew this blizzard would be terrible, yet the County travel ban was only announced 8 am, after the blizzard had started, under 2 hours from activation.
Inadequate equipment. While top city officials deny this, rank-and-file employees have attested to it. Historically slow plowing in Buffalo indicates that we have inadequate snow equipment. And only 2 warming stations operated in Buffalo: others – without generators – lost power.
Delayed action. National Guard and other people and equipment only came afterward for cleanup; they were not on hand to help in an emergency. ignoring social determinants of the ability to prepare. Those living with poverty, disability, etc., are often unable to get provisions nor to keep themselves warm and safe for a sufficient time.
Worst of all: choosing things over people: Rather than rescuing people freezing in snowbanks, cars, and homes; or providing emergency medical transport; police were mobilized on Monday or Tuesday, 12/26-27, for the “Anti-Looting Taskforce.”
Its opportunity cost was more deaths, choosing punishment over support: Rather than helping individuals working to protect or save family/friends/strangers whose predicaments they’d heard about, the police were ticketing people at checkpoints for ignoring the driving ban. While some people may not have needed to go out, many did it to Protect and Serve the most vulnerable. We don’t condone looting. However, some were mere survival – not called looting elsewhere, and video cams enable deferring such investigations. Amplifying the “looting story” distracted the media, drawing attention away from the government’s lethal failings. Of note, public utilities’ equipment was clearly inadequate. Corporations should have plowed earnings into equipment upgrades and weatherizing rather than profits.
FYI, you can report storm damage at 211 WNY Disaster Damage Reporting Form:
Climate Catastrophe means we can expect more ferocious storms. We’ve yet to hear acknowledgment from officials that their efforts fell short. Failure to admit to mistakes is a real impediment to improving performance. Do our leaders put people before property and profits?
The WNY Peace Center had a great 55th Annual Dinner — A follow-up:
Algunas personas preguntan, “Como estaba, la Cena Annual?” The WNY Peace Center 55th Annual Dinner uplifted us all. We were enlightened and inspired by the speaker, the renowned Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm, and her keynote, “Planting Seeds of Justice, Harvesting Peace.” Leah was humble and wise, telling her story, delving into our histories and actualities, and exploring ways to work for social change. She shared four solidarity strategies for pursuing such change, all of which are used by WNYPC, as follows:
RESIST: Protest, marches, civil disobedience/civil resistance, litigation, boycotts, etc. The WNYPC is often known for our work in this area, including many marches and protests, especially recent Women’s Marches, which were the best-attended protests in Buffalo/WNY in memory, with ~4K and ~5K respectively in 2017/18.
REFORM: Public education/awareness, lobbying, petitions, speeches, teach-ins, etc. The WNYPC holds panels and shares info to increase the public’s political education and awareness, lobbies our elected officials, and petitions our government for the redress of grievances (re war, criminal (in)justice, economic oppression, environmental destruction, and more).
BUILD: People’s assemblies, freedom schools, creating just institutions, etc. The WNYPC offers PeaceJam and Camp Peaceprints to foster our youth and works to build the Beloved Community by amplifying the voices of those most heavily affected, and supporting alternatives (e.g., restorative justice).
HEAL: Ceremony, ritual, prayer, vigil, art, story, therapy, community building. Embracing Buffalo is a project of the WNYPC with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine and UB School of Social Work for supporting Buffalo’s Black community and those who serve them, and frank discussions for communities’ reciprocity/solidarity. The 2022 Women’s March was all about healing as the community was reeling from the trauma of 5/14 the previous day.
The Dinner’s Awards were timely. Yanenowi Logan, Seneca, Emerging Leader Awardee, subsequently was elected Co-President of the National Congress of American Indians’ Youth Commission; and was a guest at the White House three days after the dinner! Charley Bowman, Lifetime Achievement Awardee, emphasized the importance of Civil Disobedience (e.g., We Are Seneca Lake). The Phoenix Award to the Families of Victims, and Survivors, of the May 14 Massacre, was presented by our renowned Jim Anderson. It was received by Ebony White, Heyward Patterson’s niece; Garnell Whitfield, Ruth Whitfield’s son; and Fragrance “of Yah” Harris Stanfield, Tops employee survivor of the massacre. John Spear, Director of Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System, accepted the award for the May 14 Community Collecting Initiative. Ebony and Fragrance will distribute to the other 11 Families and 29 Tops employee survivors respectively. Fragrance “of Yah” Harris Stanfield’s song expressed with heart-wrenching beauty her traumatic experience and unconditional love.
Queenia AsheeMa’at represented Latino Village beautifully. The room was packed, the crowd large (170-180) and diverse by every measure. The food was terrific, from Sunshine Vegan. Niagara University and UB’s Food Lab (co-sponsor) came out, with more collaboration to follow!
We’ll pursue economic, racial, and environmental justice in food systems, land, usage, and more! Si, se puede – juntos!!
COLUMBIA, EL BUEN AMIGO, LATIN AMERICAN
Hola! Pasan mucho cosas, y cada mes unas es del Comité de Solidaridad Latinoamericana! The Latin American Solidarity Committee of the WNY Peace Center is a stalwart part of our history and a steadfast and key part of our current work.
The Latin American Solidarity Committee of the WNY Peace Center (LASC) was started during the 1980s when US interference in Latin America was reaching a fever pitch. Concerned citizens of WNY banded together at the WNY Peace Center (WNYPC) to collaborate to assist refugees from South and especially Central America and formed affinity groups for solidarity as people risked arrest through their efforts. LASC has monthly Peace Coffeehouses on current topics with a special focus on Latin American and related justice issues. November’s session at 7-9 pm Monday, Nov. 28, is on Colombia’s Future: Optimism & Realism. The speaker, Camilo Romero, is co-founder of ReGeneracion, a peace-building initiative launched in Colombia and working globally. Camilo organized student and consumer campaigns as a union organizer for Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores. He also leads Story-Healing Workshops, including a recent one in Buffalo co-organized by local activist Esperanza Altazar.
The Coffeehouses are held every 4th Monday of the month, in the Lounge of the Canisius College Science Hall, near Main and Delavan Station/ intersection of Jefferson @ Main. (While the adjacent parking lot is closed during construction, you can use street parking along Main Street or in the parking lot at the M&T bank.). Light refreshments (yes, including coffee!) are on hand, and the event is free. Many previous speakers are well known to Latino Village readers – e.g., Alberto Cappas and Christian Parra re Puerto Rico’s justice struggles; José and Nadia Pizarro re efforts to support climate disaster refugees/family/friends in Buffalo; Talia Rodriquez re Herstory and Latina/youth leadership; Rev. Nancy Rosas, re immigration and sanctuary – as well as speakers from farther away, including Luz Rivera, Consejo Nacional Urbano y Campesino, Mexico; Grahame Russell, director of Rights Action working in Guatemala; and Karen Spring, Honduras Solidarity Network.
While the Coffeehouses are usually at Canisius College, in December we have the special treat of meeting at El Buen Amigo. The collaboration between the two groups is longstanding, and it’s always great to be in that wonderful space before the holidays, so beautiful gifts at the fair exchange are readily available! Family members benefit (and so do we!).
Join us on December 19, 7 pm, at El Buen Amigo (144 Elmwood) for a (potluck) holiday celebration, and an opportunity to hear from LASC members about the activities of the past year. These include the group’s support and involvement in a dental clinic in Chiapas, Mexico; in a Mayan Weaving Collective; Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravans to Cuba; and so much more. We’ll also talk about prospects for the upcoming year. Please come share your own perspectives!
If you’re interested in helping with planning, please contact Terry Bisson at email@example.com or 716-838-2962.
Feliz Dia del Acción de Gracias!! Solidaridad, Victory, Healing for #PeopleAndPlanet, and Peace and Love!! Si, se puede!! Juntos!!
WNYPC Dinner Nov 11:
NOVEMBER 11TH: “JUSTICE & SUSTAINABILITY”
The WNY Peace Center’s 55th Annual Dinner, Nov. 11, is not only an opportunity to connect with Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farms and hear her keynote on “Planting Seeds of Justice, Harvesting Peace,” about Farms/Food/Racial/Environmental Justice – it’s also a time to gather as a community and recognize just a few of the many exceptional people striving for justice and sustainability!
So many are deserving of awards – it was hard to limit it. However, we want to recognize at least a few of the many.
The Emerging Leader Award will go to Yanenowi Logan, a Seneca Deer Clan youth studying Environment and Sustainability at Cornell University. She’s re-activated the Seneca Youth Council; served on the Cornell Student Council; is on the Native American Student Council; and shows real leadership. You can hear more from her in the Talking Peace video from March 23, 2022, on the WNY Peace Center’s YouTube channel. (Or just come to the dinner!)
The Phoenix Award seems a fitting way to recognize the huge justice and healing work that the families of victims and the survivors, of the 5/14 Massacre have undertaken. “Out of the ashes” of the devastating, horrific, racist, brutal murders and attacks, the families and survivors have taken their grief and outrage and used it in service of the community: speaking truth to power, exposing the longstanding problems, working to fill community needs. Garnell Whitfield, the former Buffalo Fire Commissioner, has agreed to accept the award on behalf of the families and survivors group, who’ll also receive the award.
We’ll also provide it to the Buffalo & Erie County Library, and the Buffalo History Museum, for their collection telling the truth of the event for posterity. The families and survivors are truly inspiring and deserve much more than we can ever give them.
Lastly, the Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Dr. Charley Bowman, activist extraordinaire. As a scientist and a truly persistent advocate, Charley has worked for Environmental Justice in more ways than we can name, chairing the WNYPC Environmental Taskforce, serving on the Sierra Club’s steering committee, consulting, campaigning, protesting (holding down two weekly protests for years – indeed the Women In Black vigil for 20 years!), organizing bomb train watches, getting arrested at We Are Seneca Lake protests and more. He also served as Director at the WNY Peace Center from 2011-13. Charley, we salute you!
Please join us on November 11, 5-9 pm, at Hayes Hall, on UB’s South Campus on Main St (by Kenmore Ave). Enjoy a delicious and healthy meal (catered by Sunshine Vegan, plus…), and great inspiration from an outstanding gathering.
This event, a collaboration with UB Food Systems Planning & Health Communities lab, is also the WNYPC’s main fundraiser of the year, and donations will be matched by the Fr. Joe Bissonette Foundation. Please help support the WNY Peace Center and its service to the Beloved Community!! More info and tickets are available at wnypeace.org.
Solidaridad, Victory, Healing for #PeopleAndPlanet, and Peace and Love!! Si, se puede!! Juntos!!
ECONOMICS, JUSTICE, LABOR, AND DEMOCRACY!
This country’s economic prosperity was – and still is – built on the backs of workers. That included people enslaved and those barely paid or unpaid (e.g., farm workers, home health and domestic workers, caregivers); as well as those whose land was taken through violence and/or trickery. Without workers, there is no economic engine.
It’s possible to live in a world where people’s work is justly compensated, their needs are being met; where resources are shared fairly, and activities are undertaken sustainably. That’s not the world we live in – yet.
In Capitalism, the means of production are largely privately owned and run to make a profit.
In Socialism, the means of production, their administration, and the distribution of goods and services are owned collectively and/or by the government.
The US has facets of both systems. Yet do you sometimes feel you’re watching “Capitalism Gone Wild”? Per the conservative Rand Corporation, US government policies have shifted $50 Trillion from the bottom 90% to the top 1% since 1975. While wages and subsidies to workers have increased lately due to the pandemic, this has been a drop in the bucket compared to the egregious situation of workers since 1975.
It seems reasonable that the capital invested in the means of production requires enough of a return to cover set-up, maintenance, and replacement of assets plus a fair return for the use of the money. However, squeezing out as much profit as possible, and using those profits to ensure still more profits, has resulted in both the extreme concentration of wealth – worldwide as well as in the US – and an extreme concentration of political power. Thus lobbying, political contributions, and close-knit relationships between the politicians and the wealthy/capitalists (with overlap), all results in the elected and appointed decision-makers catering to the largest corporations and capitalists. It’s been called “Government of, for, and by the Corporations.”
Labor is vital. During the pandemic, our much-lauded “essential workers”- OFTEN VERY POORLY COMPENSATED – risked their lives to do their jobs. Others care for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities without any pay. Meanwhile, a CEO today makes 300 times (you read that right) more than a worker. This is the reason for unions.
Dolores Huerta said, “I think organized labor is a necessary part of democracy. Organized labor is the only way to have a fair distribution of wealth.”
Labor unions enlist our shared power! That power brought us the 40-hour work week, social security, the New Deal (Works Progress Administration, Rural Electrification Act, etc.), fairer wages, benefits, certain environmental and worker safety protections, and more, as well as a push-back against privatization of public goods/needs/services. It also models the power we need to enlist together as people –Democracy – to make sure that people’s needs are covered before billionaires’ excess profits to use in political donations and lobbying campaigns soliciting corporate welfare (aka tax breaks) and favorable legislation for the corporation(s).
Many thanks to working people!! Solidaridad, Victory, Healing, Peace, and Love!! And Happy Labor Day!!
Embracing Buffalo is a collaborative effort between two trios of women healers – three who live in Buffalo, and three who simply love the place that you call, “Home.” It is not only a response to the May 14th shooting– it is an attempt to address the horrors that preceded it, and to serve in addressing the myriad of symptoms that will continue to emerge in the massacre’s painful aftermath.
The three in Buffalo are Deidra EmEl, Executive Director of the WNY Peace Center, Buffalonian, doulah, COI; Kathleen Heim, Director of Continuing Education at UB School of Social Work; and Victoria (Vicki, or Victory) Ross, WNY Peace Center Board Chair.
The three who love Buffalo and are coming to help in this time of special need are Dena Adler, a Family and Art Therapist who works in Rochester as well as Buffalo; Dr. Sabrina N’Diaye, a healer, storyteller, and peacemaker; and Dr. Carol Penn, medical doctor and movement, meditation, and mindset coach who has also danced and choreographed with Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. The trio has specialized in facilitating healing work after mass shootings, including Las Vegas, Houston, the Pine Ridge Reservation, New York City, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and the Capitol insurrection.
The Embracing Buffalo team understands the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll of service on the servants, survivors, and community. We intend to replenish the community, especially those most heavily impacted; and the leaders and healers serving them, contributing to expanding their capacity for continued service to humanity.
Please join the WNYPC and our guest healers at a session or sessions that fit for you from Wednesday, August 3rd – Saturday, August 6th!
Wednesday, August 3: First responders plus (police, fire, and healthcare professionals, community) 12-3 pm, Frank E Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave, Buffalo 14208
Survivors of the shooting (victims’ families, Tops employees and shoppers, and neighbors) 5-8 pm
Thursday, August 4: Individuals and members of the multiple communities and faith-based groups who have responded to the massacre 10 am-3 pm, Unity of Buffalo, 1243 Delaware Ave, Buffalo 14209
Friday and Saturday, August 5th, and 6th: A 2-day retreat for Black healers/leaders 10 am-4 pm, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, 955 Main St, Buffalo 14203
The Embracing Buffalo experience lies at the intersection of spirituality, science, and service. Our curriculum is largely based on the research and application of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s model for community healing and growth. Meditation, mindfulness, and living in the present moment lie at the root of our teaching.
Please go to bit.ly/EmbracingBuffalo for more info and/or the link to register for a session. We hope to see you there, where we can be #BuffaloHonest with ourselves and each other and find real comfort and relief and we continue to grow and nurture the #BelovedCommunity, in Truth and Love.
CAMP PEACE PRINTS: JUSTICE FOR ALL!!
“Si queremos tener paz, debemos empezar por los niños” — Mahatma Gandhi
“Darles a los niños ropa y comida es una cosa, pero es mucho más importante enseñarles que otras personas además de ellos son importantes y
que lo mejor que pueden hacer con sus vidas es usarlas al servicio de otras personas.” — Dolores Huerta
We are excited to offer our 15th annual Camp Peaceprints to the community – a tremendous opportunity for our children and youth to learn and explore social justice in a diverse group – to work and play to Be The Change we want (and need) to see in the world, and to have fun!! Camp Peaceprints, a collaboration between the SSJ Sr. Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence (SKC) and the WNY Peace Center (WNYPC), offers campers aged 8-13 an alternative day camp focused on Justice, Peaceful Conflict Resolution, and the Arts. It will run July 18-29, Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (except for two or three of the field trip days!). It’ll take place at SS. Columba-Brigid Church, at 75 Hickory Street, Buffalo 14204 (opposite the JFK Recreation Center).
We have exciting field trips – to Niagara Falls where we’ll go on Maid of the Mist, and explore the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Museum; and to Ganondagan, Seneca center with Longhouse and Haudenosaunee teachings. We’re also planning a trip to the beach, and three trips to the pool! We have opportunities for adult volunteers. Parents and community members are especially welcome to help with transportation needs – both in getting children to Camp, as well as to field trips and/or swimming trips. (Unfortunately, the City won’t be opening the JFK pool, apparently due to a lifeguard shortage.) We provide gas money for servicing camp transportation needs. Many parents have found this a wonderful way to share more fully in their children’s camp experiences.
The children and youth who attend will get to explore justice issues with community leaders, including Citizenship; the Law and Law Enforcement; the Justice System (as it is called) – “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” and especially How to Work for Change.
Cariol Horne – local shero and a nationally known former police officer who was fired for stopping a fellow officer from choking a community member; proponent of the City-adopted #CariolsLaw – will facilitate a session on Law and Law Enforcement.
WNYPC’s Executive Director, Deidra EmEl, will facilitate numerous portions of the programs, which include Mindfulness, Movement, and Music. SKC’s Director, Vivian Waltz, will lead experiential learning exercises from the Alternatives to Violence Project. Art Educator Jan Burns, Director of the Focus on Consequences for Adolescents (a program of the Prevention Council of Erie County). will facilitate art sessions related to the themes, including an art session at the beach. —- For more information, including online registration, please go to the Camp Peaceprints page on sisterkarencenter.org. For questions, contact Vivian by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 716.982.6501.
KEEPING OUR BALANCE IN THE WHIRLWIND!
EN ESTE TIEMPO DIFICIL, NECESITAMOS UN MOMENTO JUSTO POR LA PAZ…
After the #BuffaloMassacre – we are flattened, angry, overwhelmed, fearful, grieving, and enraged! After so many have suffered centuries of trauma from White Supremacy, Patriarchy, economic oppression, war, violence, and more, comes another shooter, comes another tragedy, comes another assault on our children, our beloveds, and our safety. How can we continue functioning, parenting, nurturing, and caring for each other?
Of course, how can we not? We know our beloved children, families, friends, neighbors, and all our relations – need our support. So we must continue to Stay Strong!
We must act for real change regarding gun violence, White Supremacy, hatemongering, and more… — topics we’ll pursue!! However, to make any progress, we must also practice self-care.
Remember, in an airplane, the flight attendant says, “If you are traveling with children or other dependents, please take care of your needs first, so you are better able to assist.” If we struggle to get another’s mask on while losing oxygen ourselves, disaster looms.
The Wonderful and the Terrible are so very present in our world and indelibly intertwined. We have seen – and continue to see – the Terrible. However, the responses include the wonderfully loving generous, and even heroic actions of so many. The s/heroes on the scene, the s/heros in the back rooms, organizing community support – in crises as well as in attending to everyday often desperate needs. The natural community leaders; the natural nurturers, comforters, and defenders…. They persist. Often in shifts, spelling each other off – sharing inspiration, energy, and strategies for coping and acting for the community.
We must pace ourselves, take breaks when feasible, and above all put some joy and beauty in every day. We each know what renews our strength – music, laughter, children, community, nature, the Creation, the Creator – and we owe ourselves – and each other – those activities and sources of renewal!! That’s how we can continue, stronger together, Juntos – Si, Se Puede!
Don’t forget to: Deep Slow Breathing. It brings more oxygen into our bodies, a known and proven stress reducer. Even mere conscious breathing relaxes us – just the mention of our breath puts us on a different wavelength. (Didn’t it?)
And if we develop a certain comfort with focusing on our breathing, we can pick our saying, akin to a mantra – a short prayer, affirmation, or saying that makes us feel the way we want to feel – and use it to time our breathing. We repeat it to ourselves as we breathe in; again, as we hold our breath; and then twice as we breathe out (sometimes called square breathing).
The repetition allows us to feed our spirit, as we are feeding extra oxygen to our bodies. And the more we practice it, the more it helps. It can be practiced virtually anytime, anywhere.
Above all, we must turn to the sources of our strength, our faith: Truth and Love, as Rev. Dr. King said. And the Beloved Community. Siempre: Juntos – Si, se puede!
WOMEN’S MARCH, & MORE!
The WNY Peace Center (WNYPC) is working – together with others – on our mission of Peace Through Justice at home and abroad.
The organization started in 1967 as a part of Rev. Dr. King’s Clergy & Laity Concerned (about Vietnam), under the umbrella of the progressive church Riverside Salem UCC/DC. Riverside Salem (3449 West River Rd, Grand Island; gatherings Sundays 4 PM) continues to partner with the WNYPC and strives for the Creation of Justice and a Just Peace.
The WNYPC is busy working for the common good. In May, for example, we have:
—The Women’s March 2022: Solidarity, Victory, and Healing! On Sunday, May 15, 1 PM—3 PM. With Executive Director Deidra Emil and Gender Justice Taskforce Chair Talia Rodriguez, the March will come down Niagara Street from Lafayette and gather at Broderick Park (foot of Ferry) for the main event; with speakers, music, a family area, and a comfortable environment for all to stand in solidarity, celebrate Victorious Women’s Month, and experience some community healing – so desperately needed! [Your group can still become a Cosponsor (signing on to associate and promote) or a Friend (partnering to offer attendees a WM-promoted discount). Contact email@example.com or visit bit.ly/WMwny2022.]
—35-year-anniversary fundraising party for the Chiapas Dental Project, Monday, May 23, 7-9 PM; at Hallwalls (341 Delaware Ave, Buffalo). Please help us continue this long-term project sponsored by WNYPC’s Latin American Solidarity Committee and celebrate Dr. Tom Potts’s 35 years of making it happen!! With music provided by La Marimba. Free Will Offering ($20 suggested). The monthly LASC Peace Coffeehouses special session is held at the Canisius College Science Hall lobby on the 4th Monday of the month.
—PeaceJam Buffalo – for children eight and up; Thursdays 3 PM-5 PM thru May 19, at the Merriweather Library (Jefferson & E Utica, Buffalo). Youth-led adult-assisted Inspiration, Education, & Action! Nobel Peace Laureates studied include Guatemala’s Rigoberta Menchu, Argentina’s Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Costa Rica’s Oscar Arias, and others worldwide. The youth have selected Ending Racism & Hate as their Global Call to Action (service learning) project and will present it at the Women’s March.
—Talking Peace with the WNYPC is live-streamed on Facebook every Weds (2 shows: 7:15 PM; and 8:30 PM) while being taped at Think Twice Radio; then audio-broadcast on Buff State’s WBNY 91.3FM every Monday 1-3 PM. Episodes are kept on the WNYPC’s YouTube Channel.
The WNY Peace Center also holds vigils, workshops, Camp Peaceprints (with the Sr. Karen Center), and special events and campaigns, independently collaborating with local, regional, and national groups.
Every month is a busy month. We try to Be the Change, working for the “Unarmed Truth and Unconditional Love” that will have “the final word,” per Rev. Dr. King. We pursue the #MoralIntegrity and #UniversalSolidarity that our beloved brother Dr. Cornel West emulated at our 2020 Annual Event. Join us!! Wnypeace.org For #PeopleAndPlanet, Juntos – Si, se puede!!
WHY WE SHOULD CARE ABOUT UKRAINE
Hola, Nuestro Amigos! – Every time you check out today’s news, you likely hear about Ukraine: the devastation, people being killed/injured/displaced, and the villainy of Putin.
Why should you care?
Not because the people being killed/injured/displaced are white. Though many are. People in conflicts in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia have suffered just as much (or more)!!
Not just because Russia violently invaded. The US has done similarly in so many places (in Central and South America, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and more), and has turned a blind eye toward –even enabled – other military aggression e.g., Saudis in Yemen.
The reason the war in Ukraine is so deeply concerning is that two of the mightiest military powers’ interests are involved: the US/NATO and Russia; and both sides have nuclear weapons!
The US and Russia together account for 90% of the existing nuclear weapons in the world. NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an intergovernmental military alliance) and Russia’s military spending together accounted for $1.3 Trillion of the $2 Trillion (about 2/3) of military spending worldwide in 2021. (The other two major military spenders are China and India, together 16% of world military spending.) The US military spending at $778 Billion in 2021, is 39% of total worldwide military spending, as much as the next 10 countries put together.
If you remember our January column on nuclear weapons – or even if you don’t! – you know nuclear war is an existential threat to life on this planet. Nuclear winter would pre-empt climate catastrophe: it would kill us off much faster. Also, Ukraine depends on nuclear power. There are 15 – yes, 15 – nuclear power plants in Ukraine. Each one is a potential nuclear bomb. The biggest nuclear plant there already caught fire during the fighting, but thank God, people somehow managed to extinguish it quickly. An explosion there would be 10 times as bad as the Chornobyl (Ukraine) nuclear explosion, which was the worst nuclear explosion ever. (It is now a large “exclusion zone,” where people cannot live.)
Besides the nuclear dangers, as Rev. Dr. King said, the bombs over there are exploding over here. The resources we need for #PeopleAndPlanet are being squandered on war once again. (War profiteers Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, BAE Systems, and Northrup Grumman are sure to be cashing in though!!)
The US and NATO set the stage for Russia’s aggression by ignoring a 1992 promise not to expand NATO. Instead, NATO took in more members – 30 mostly small countries, formerly allied with Russia – causing severe Russian concern re its border security.
This war threatens to become World War III, something we cannot afford. We must go the opposite direction, using diplomacy and international law, IN TRUTH AND LOVE, or we are truly playing “Russian Roulette.” #AnotherWayIsPossible!!! We must communicate, negotiate, and offer all parties ways to save face!
Please call our President and representatives (info at wnypeace.org/wp/organizing-in-WNY) and urge them to USE DIPLOMACY!!
#NegotiationNotEscalation!! For #PeopleAndPlanet, Juntos – Si, se puede!!
MOMENTO JUSTO: El Pueblo de CUBA
Many of you will already know the strength, hard work, and communal spirit of the Cuban People. You’ll know of U.S. brutal economic sanctions against Cuba. You may also know that Cuba is the only country the US government requires its citizens to get a license to travel. You are likely to know that despite the vengeful tack the US has maintained against Cuba after the revolution in 1958, the Cuban people have been at the forefront of medical advances and have generously helped countries around the globe deal with health emergencies, which led to nominations for a Nobel Peace Prize.
You may know about IFCO/Pastors for Peace, and the opportunity to visit Cuba this summer July 16-30, which includes orientation. IFCO is a multi-issue national ecumenical agency, founded in 1967 — the same year as the WNY Peace Center, and (like the WNYPC) by progressive church leaders and activists. One of IFCO’s most vibrant efforts is its support of the People of Cuba. Indeed, the group has organized 31 Friend shipment Caravans to Cuba – with Caravanistas bringing medical, technical, and other tools and resources. Each trip is a lesson in solidarity, including the fact that all traveling in the “Caravan” is committing civil disobedience by not getting a license to travel there, despite the US government’s requiring the same. I was one of those Caravanistas in the 30th Friend shipment Caravan in 2019. It was a wonderful eye-opening, inspiring experience. Our group was diverse in every way – age, race/ethnicity, gender(s), and more. What we had in common was a sincere interest in learning and sharing: about Cuba; the compassion and collective action of the Cuban people; and the deep suffering the US extreme sanctions/effective blockade has caused.
When we arrived in Cuba, President Miguel Diez-Canel invited us to meet with him! His humility and generous spirit were impressive. We went on (as front-page news) to meet with countless individuals and groups eager to thank us (for our solidarity and civil disobedience), and to convey to us the harsh toll the US sanctions take on them and their efforts to care for all. At a school for children with autism, the parallel bars there resembled those used by my sister (a paraplegic) in the late 1950s/60s – and probably dated back to that time. The frank, expansive adventure included a wide array of experiences – interfaith, the arts, housing, museums, government, street fairs – a broad expanse that, for me, included a peak experience at the sacred Ceiba tree! The trip was tremendously uplifting and illuminating! Don’t miss the opportunity! Apply by April 1. The trip starts in Miami with orientation 7/16-18, leaving 7/19, returning 7/30, all for $1800. Fundraising help may be available as well.
Info: IFCOnews.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WNY Peace Center – Interfaith Peace Network
UN MOMENTO JUSTO POR LA PAZ
Feliz Cumpleaños, TPNW! – Happy Birthday, Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons! Que importante este tratado!! It’s now one year since the 1/22/21 activation date for this important treaty! So – yes, nuclear weapons are now illegal worldwide, due to the TPNW, signed by 122 countries and activated on 1/22/21 upon 50 countries have ratified it (now 59). However, we must still work to put TPNW into effect!!
Among the signers are Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela – Latin American countries represent 26% of the signatories!
Nuclear weapons couldn’t be less undemocratic. You may have no desire for nuclear weapons, but you will live with their threat anyway. That goes for every country that doesn’t have nuclear weapons (every country but the US, Russia, China, France, UK, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea).
None of the Latin American countries have nuclear weapons (neither do any African countries). Yet they all have the threat of nuclear war hanging over their heads – imposed by the above list.
Likewise, most citizens in countries with nuclear weapons – such as here in the US – have not to be asked, nor have we been given a vote on whether we want our country to have nuclear weapons (or nuclear power for that matter). Nuclear materials are also with us for the longest time – the most potent nuclear material needs “safe storage” (whatever that means – difficult to impossible) for one million years.
Nuclear waste is stored at the West Valley Nuclear Site, on unstable ground. It has been leaking into Cattaraugus Creek, which leads to Lake Erie, Buffalo, our water filtration facilities, and 20% of the world’s freshwater supply. The West Valley clean-up is inching forward but neither covered nor adequately monitored. We also have nuclear waste in Niagara Falls and on the Tuscarora Reservation; transported on our highways, and liquid nuclear waste coming over the Peace Bridge (WNYPC vigil Fridays 2-3pm at Vermont & Busti). Please go to Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS.org) for more info, especially on this local issue.
Nuclear weapons take resources away from humanity and the planet’s other needs (from health, education, infrastructure, and basic human needs; to the costs of changing to renewable energy to mitigate climate catastrophe). The planned cost of a new generation of US nuclear weapons is $100,000 per minute for the next ten years. That would cover a college education for all qualified students over 16 years!
For more info, see the Talking Peace session on this issue at WNY Peace Center’s Youtube channel; and/or go to PeaceAction.org; BackFromtheBrink (preventnuclearwar.org), or ICAN.org.
Time’s up!! To help abolish nuclear weapons, including working together locally, please contact me at email@example.com. Think globally, act locally – this issue, again, is too big not to tackle. For #PeopleAndPlanet, Juntos – Si, se puede!!
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