It's Tuesday morning 7:30, very hot here in D.C. I wanted to connect with everyone and let you know what I've been doing since I arrived on Sunday.
There are about twenty people here at the Codepink house. Well-known activists Medea, Ann Wright, and Reverend Billy are here, as well as numerous lesser-known-nationally but equally-active women from Virginia, D.C., Missouri, New York State, NYC, Pennsylvania, Maine,Texas, California, Washington State, Arizona, Maryland, and NH. People come daily and others leave. All are committed to changing the status quo in this country and the world. I learn so much from them, just from a ten-minute conversation walking through the halls of Congress or waiting in the halls of the Codepink house to use one of the three bathrooms.
Sunday, shortly after I arrived and settled in, we had a workshop given by the Pachamama Alliance.
The Symposium explored the link between three of humanity's most critical concerns: environmental sustainability, social justice and spiritual fulfillment. The material was good and interesting, although most of it was familiar. The presentation was stilted and would have been perfect for viewing by a middle school class. Those of you who teach would find much useful informa
Sunday evening we shared a supper of eggplant parmesan, cooked by the House Mama, Desiree, pasta
Monday morning we had a meeting around the picnic table in the back yard. We all introduced ourselves and talked briefly about our experiences coming to activism and lobbying. This was led and facilitated by Gael Murphy, one of the co-founders of Codepink, who is the Codepink representative to the UFPJ legislative coalition. Then, Liz, one of the resident D.
I had managed to
I left the house with the intention of joining other activists at a noon action against Gonzales in front of the Justice Department. I walked in the heat, with pink umbrella unfurled, for only a few blocks when Rae, the D.C. Local Chapter Coordinator, stopped in a car and asked me if I wanted a lift. F
I arrived a full half hour early. The office staff offered to let Martin know I had arrived early, but he was not able to see me until our appointed time. I did not expect that he would change his schedule for me and was grateful to sit in the air-conditioned office. I was a bit disconcerted by the constant barrage from the TV tuned to Fox news, but I tried to tune it out.
At exactly 1:30, Martin Bayr showed up and escorted me into a large conference room where the two of us s
I asked Martin how the peace movement could help him and the Senator move to a position of bringing the troops home by the end of 2007. Whenever
At one point, Martin said that he was always reading new information about the situation in Iraq and I asked h
A little after 2:00, we shook hands and parted. I felt it was a productive, useful and necessary start to a dialogue that I hope will continue.
As I walked out of the conference room, I was immediately met by a young woman, Emily Brooks, President of the D.C. Federation of College Democrats, who, seeing my Codepink t-shirt, wanted to talk with me about Codepink. She had spent the last year working on the issue of HPV and availability of the vaccine against this virus. She was now turning her focus to war and the pe
I then left the Russell building and with my new cellphone was able to contact the other activists on the
Some of us al
It's 3:00 p.m., we have returned from the Take Back America Conference. There are some film-makers here talking with Des and Medea. Jodie Evans, the third co-founder of Codepink, has just arrived from St. Louis with big suitcases full of costumes and props, as well as new stock for the Codepin
Leslie, one of my roommates, who started a hunger strike last week in protest against Lieberman's aggressive threats against Iran and stopped her strike after 5 days when a meeting was held between her, Medea and some people from the Iranian community and some of Lieberman's staff, has restarted her hunger strike since he continues to threaten. She has rescheduled her flight home, which she was supposed to take tomorrow, so that she can stay until she feels that she has accomplished something. She hopes to stage another event later this week to call more media attention to the issue.
So, let me tell you a little about the Take Back America Conference. We pulled up out back of the Hotel to
We unloaded the car and headed in through the gym and down the halls to the Exhibition Hall where Codep
This one was a particular favorite as other verses included things like "when all our troops, have left Iraq," "when we have peace, in the middle east," "when we build schools, instead of bombs," "when we have healthcare, instead of warfare," "when all the world, has human rights," plus it had such a catchy up-beat tune that the response was fantastic--much smiling and hand clapping. Cameras were clicking away. The media had turned its attention to us. Most people were pleased, but one woman came over, clearly annoyed with us, and asked us to stop. Others asked us to continue, so we moved to a less central locale and placated both groups.
One of the local D.C. TV stations that was broadcasting asked if we would do a segment for them and we were happy to oblige. They interviewed Medea with us in the background. On cue, we sang the Take Back America song. When the interview was over, Medea noticed Bob Borosage walk by, co-founder of the Campaign for America's Future, the sponsor of the Take Back America Conference, called him over and we did a group picture surrounding him with pink. I later learned that Codepink had been thrown out of last year's event.
We soon moved down the hall to a strategic landing where everyone had to pass who was going to go and listen to Barack Obama. We struck up the chorus again and felt much appreciated. When the crowd thinned out, we entered the ballroom and listened to Barack. Some of us, with louder, more theatrical voices, called out little messages when pertinent issues were brought up. The room was filled, the audience was enthusiastic.
As Barack was winding up, we headed back out to the landing and began another rendition of our songs. We kept this up until the halls had thinned out again, re-entered the now-much-less-filled ballroom and listened to John Edwards give his speech.
As Edward's wound up his remarks, we once again positioned ourselves outside the ballroom, sang and handed out reminders of Codepink's own information session to take place Wednesday on "How Can Progressives Bring the Troops Home in 2007?"-- a conversation with co-founders Medea Benjamin, Gael Murphy and Jodie Evans. We then started heading back to the Exhibition Hall as we handed out flyers entitled "Presidential Candidates and Iran: What are they Saying???" which had been prepared earlier by the D.C. staff.
We regrouped, decided to head over to Congress, grab some lunch on the Hill and go to some hearings. But marshalling thirteen or more Codepink activists is much like herding cats. Someone is always stopping to chat, someone else is being asked for an interview. Waiting, I saw a familiar face and walked up to embrace Marcia Moody. I hadn't seen her for at least a week, when we were both in Concord to try to get the Rules Committee of the State Legislature to allow a Resolution on Impeachment to be brought before the House during this year's session. We talked briefly. She said she had heard us singing. I invited her to the Codepink House for the potluck supper Wednesday night.
Soon several of us had gathered with one of our drivers and proceeded to go upstairs in preparation for our ride to the Hill and some much-needed lunch. Awaiting us at the top of the stairs were tables full of free boxed-lunch sandwich wraps--your choice of veggie, chicken, or turkey, with accompanying pickles, carrot and celery sticks, cookies, apples and bottles of water. Famished we all took a box and a bottle and headed for the lobby to sit down and eat. It was delicious and just the right price!
After eating, several of us, myself included, decided to go back to the house. Shortly after we returned, the house filled up with people. The Codepink staff went to the basement peace room for a staff conference. The rest of us fanned out to do our own things.
Tomorrow is another busy day. Some of us are going back for the final day of the Take Back America Conference. We have an important flyer to leave on all the seats before Hillary's speech. Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to talk as well. There are more hearings and actions on the Hill. Tom Hayden is scheduled to visit. We have our weekly potluck supper with guest Tilly Reed, an NGO worker in Afghanistan. I'll write more soon.