Peacework's Final Printed Issue: Testimonials and Reflections
Peacework asked a number of frequent contributors to reflect on its 37 year print run.
Peacework Chronicled the History of Nonviolence in the US
Michael True is the author, most recently, of People Power: Fifty Peacemakers and Their Communities.
Peacework has been such a part of my life since Pat Farren launched it almost four decades ago that I cannot imagine being without it. I count on it as a continual challenge and inspiration to build, in the words of Elise Boulding, "a global civic culture."
Locally and regionally, Peacework has been crucial to keeping the work of activists visible, in extending the movement to a larger community, and in offering an alternative to the war-making State. I have long maintained that it anticipated New York Times reporting by five years, Noam Chomsky's articles on East Timor and Indonesia being the most dramatic example.
My favorite Peacework stories involve my experience distributing it locally, nationally, and internationally, at meetings of the International Peace Research Association, conferences, workshops, and community centers in Argentina, Colombia, throughout India and the US. It told nonviolent activists in far-flung locations: Yes, there is a peace movement in the US. When members of the audience picked up every copy of Peacework, I knew I had succeeded in my modest effort to bring the good news.
For all these memories, I am forever grateful to Pat Farren, Patricia Watson, Sarah Burke, Sam Diener, AFSC/NERO, and the many volunteers who brought Peacework into being and sustained it over the years. It takes its place in the history of nonviolence in the US, with Isaiah Thomas's Massachusetts Spy, Debs's Appeal To Reason, And Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker.
Peacework dramatized again and again how crucial investigative journalism is in sustaining basic democratic governance. It sustained our hope of getting at the truth among the many competing narratives, including the lies, misinformation, and propaganda that pass for news and commentary in the popular press. Many thanks for and congratulations on the success of Peacework.
Racial Justice: Slow Road to White Accountability
Louise Dunlap is author of Undoing the Silence: Six Tools for Social Change Writing, www.undoingsilence.org. She thanks Loretta Williams for suggestions and encouragement in this article (and this work).
In a transition of my own, I recently sorted through an enormous Peacework folder, thinking about what it's meant for me to write for these pages. At the time I had no idea that Peacework was also in transition. I found that my work had a theme - racial justice - and that, over our twenty-plus years together, Peacework and I have been deepening our consciousness of what it means for white people to undertake this work.
Pat Farren, who cared deeply, got me started in 1992 with an assignment to write about how activists could express solidarity with indigenous people while the country celebrated Columbus. He meant "white activists. " At the time I don't think we saw the ethnocentricity in using the "activist" term in that exclusive way. I plunged in and tried to express what I was learning from people of color I worked with - in Mel King's program at MIT and women's groups like the Women's Theological Center that strove to build shared leadership across the color line. I said we had to educate and deprogram ourselves as individuals, but we also had to undertake collective action - changing institutions - including the ones that felt most familiar.
At the time it was so many words, but since then, I have worked hard to do the kind of thing I wrote about. I made mistakes and learned from them. Peacework editor Patricia Watson was an ally in this, and we talked about our slow, sometimes painful process of changing ourselves and our work. With her encouragement, I used the lens of race for many Peacework stories. Slowly I have been growing into the words I wrote in 1992.
Peacework has been growing too. Years ago, I remember showing a copy to an African American friend. He skimmed the pages, looking askance at the graphics (all of which showed white activists at rallies) and told me as kindly as he could that this wouldn't be a magazine he'd read. I hope he would see something different in 2009, and I hope that when we look back at Peacework archives years down the road, we'll recognize our work as part of the slow collective healing that leads to white accountability and only then to beloved community.
For Peacework & The Liberator
Horace Seldon is a long-term white anti-racist activist and co-founder of Community Change.
A glance at the July/August Peacework tells me that Pat Farren would be pleased. In those few pages I am inspired by evidence which gives hope and provides examples of current movements for nonviolent social change. I can learn how to provide books which prisoners want, how to use children's literature to teach adults, how to draw power from a UN declaration, how to train youthful community organizers. It is an example of the "empowerment journalism" exemplified in Pat's dedication.
William Lloyd Garrison's spirit applauds also. In 1832 he called for a National Anti-Slavery Society which "shall concentrate the moral energies of the nation." Within six years he could count over 230 such local "societies" in Massachusetts alone.
With the passing of the 13th amendment Garrison was criticized for his choice to end the publication of his Liberator newspaper; many thought his decision implied that the anti-slavery work was done. Garrison knew better; but he also knew that a new time wanted new efforts.
Pat Farren would agree. In that spirit I celebrate inspired young hearts-minds who are informed, in ways mysterious to me, about how to continue the hard struggles ahead.
The Legacy Continues
Paula Rayman is a professor of Regional Economic and Social Development at University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
Over thirty years ago my late husband Rob Read and I met Pat Farren through joint efforts on The Peoples Yellow Pages, the Nonviolent Direct Action Committee, and AFSC work on peace in the Middle East. On the personal side Pat's dear family and ours shared child care, men's groups, and joyful times at many actions on behalf of social justice - including protesting at Seabrook and marching together in New York against nuclear power.
Through the decades Peacework has been a beacon of reason, information, and light in dark times. After Pat's and then Robby's untimely deaths, Peacework provided me comfort in knowing that their good work and spiritual vision was being carried on. May the legacy never end.
At Peacework I Found A New Life
Alyson Lie is a freelance writer.
In August of 2005 I left a psychiatric treatment program and began volunteering for Peacework Magazine. My life had collapsed around me. I was living in a camper on the street. I suffered from anxiety attacks and severe depression. I was profoundly lonely in the thriving community of Cambridge.
I remember the Peacework office in the AFSC building bathed in light through the second story windows. Sam and Sara were there like two gentle greeters from the other side of mental illness and homelessness. They coaxed me out of my existential stupor, giving me research to do, a story to write, and unbeknownst to them, a reason to live. They helped me focus my intellect on worlds thousands of miles away from my own: an internet summit in Tunisia, a country well known for cracking down on free speech; the massive strike in Nepal where hundreds of thousands marched in the streets calling for the ouster of their autocratic king; a women's sewing cooperative spawned from the devastation of a hurricane in Nicaragua. Each of these stories was like therapy for me - giving me respite from the mental drudgery of depression. These stories brought me back after twelve years to my avocation: writing. Never mind that my degree was in creative writing, now, social justice journalism would be my new bailiwick.
Sam and Sara would never take credit for this, but working with them turned my life around. I will sincerely miss the sense of security I felt knowing Peacework Magazine was there, if and whenever I felt inspired to write a story.
Peacework Launched My Social Change Career
Ruby Chorbajian works in the Research and Communications Department at the Kurdish Human Rights Project in London.
I am saddened to read of the budget cutbacks at AFSC.
I am sorry to receive this news because the AFSC headquarters in Cambridge served as my first internship when I was a sophomore in college, nearly ten years ago.
Working in a small office with Patricia and
Sara, I edited the Pieces section of Peacework and helped
out with envelope stuffing and other typical non-profit activities.
It was a brilliant introduction for me, although at the time I
had no idea that I was embarking on what has come to be nearly
a decade's work in the non-profit and NGO sector.
Peacework Shined A Light
Randy Kehler is a long-term war tax resister.
As a longtime Peacework reader and occasional contributor, I was deeply saddened to hear that it, too, has become a victim of the current economic meltdown.
Although I see a number of other useful and informative publications, none is quite as good as Peacework in terms of supporting and reporting on such a broad and inspiring range of nonviolent, grassroots, "people power" actions and efforts around the US and the world.
What's more, Peacework has benefited enormously from an unbroken sequence of amazingly talented and committed editors - Pat Farren, Patricia Watson, Sara Burke, and Sam Diener - whose personal caring and attention have injected a kind of hopeful "soul" into the magazine that has made it shine brightly through all the darkness of our time.
I feel enormously grateful for the treasure that they and the whole Peacework team of writers and volunteers have provided to us all these years. We'll all still carry on, but at least for awhile there will be a big, empty space that Peacework faithfully filled for so long.
Peacework Is Justicework Too
Roberta Spivek is an economic justice program analyst in the AFSC national office.
"Peacework" was "Justicework" as well, educating readers about welfare policy, budget priorities, and other economic justice issues. Publications like Peacework help create a sense of community, and this loss is that community's loss.
Keep On Keepin' On
Fred Marchant is a teaching affiliate at the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
I met Pat Farren sometime in the mid 1980's, partly because we shared a past experience of conscientious objection to the Viet Nam War. While he had resisted the draft and been prosecuted for it, I had been a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, stationed on Okinawa, when a crisis of conscience led me to my stance.
Perhaps it was because our experiences were very different that Pat was so interested in every detail of my story. Why did I enlist? What happened to change my mind? Pat was also eager to know the inner-life aspects of this experience, the doubts and uncertainties, and the stern, mustering clarities that were forced upon us by the ongoing war.
He had a great appreciation of the myriad and heterodox ways of peace-work. In a personal sense, I could see this was a man who cast a wide net of affirmation, acceptance, and solidarity.
Peacework has always had the same wide-open "feel" to it. I have always loved the way in which the writers and editors positively relished the many different manifestations of peace activism.
Not only from global to local, but from political to cultural, from the bustle of the social world to the privacy of the soul, from famous figures to obscure laborers in the vineyard, from fearsome situations to inspiring responses, Peacework, under the editorship of Pat, and then Patricia Watson, and more recently Sara Burke and Sam Diener, always embodied the idea that the paths of peace were many, finely woven, and utterly interesting.
We will all, in the words of Pat Farren toward the end of his life, "keep on keepin' on," but we will have to do so now - sadly -- without this invaluable journal.
Peacework Nourishes Hope
Tony Mullaney was one of the Milwaukee 14 who burned draft card files in 1968, and lives in the Work for Peace community in "downeast" Maine.
Peacework helps us to perceive local and regional issues and projects within the context of our need for solidarity with the peoples of the world.
For well over 30 years it has been a source of strength for me and my nonviolent community as we struggle with the question of what is an appropriate response to war, racism, sexism, and systemic economic/political injustice - a response that not only says "no," but also heals.
has consistently placed before us a "cloud of witnesses"
to help us reinforce the belief/experience that no human institution
can overcome the power of people united in nonviolent struggle.
Peacework nourishes hope as a way of being-in-the-world,
the hope that makes visible our deeply rooted will-to-struggle.
It does so much more than merely highlight "what's wrong."
Peacework's legacy? Never give in, give up, or give out.