The message of the local Peace Community remains the same, but our strategy is changing. In 2011, the focus of attention will be Congressional lobbying, letter writing and education/research.
Congress has the power to fund or defund war. This year, we will undertake a structured approach to watching the legislative process and interacting with our three local U.S. Representatives. Because members of the U.S. House of Representatives stand for election every two years, they are closer to and more easily influenced by constituents than the President or our senators. David Swanson, author of War Is a Lie and Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, and Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence advocate this strategy.
Judy Hess, an experienced, successful peace lobbyist from San Diego and a Peace Fresno member, has volunteered to co-chair the Peace Community Political Action Committee with Peace Fresno Secretary Ken Hudson. In 2006, Hess founded the San Diego Metro Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and led it until moving to Fresno. She continues to be active in PDA.
On January 26, Hess started the Yosemite Gateway Chapter of PDA. One need not be a registered Democrat to join. PDA is a national organization with a comprehensive progressive agenda and many resources. Peace Fresno has agreed to partner with PDA on the antiwar component of its work.
Key components of the PDA lobbying program are
- scheduled meetings with Congressional members in their local offices or in Washington, D.C.
- monthly brown bag lunches outside local Congressional offices to publicize messages to the community.
- community responses to action alerts—phone calls or
e-mails to elected officials.
Usually, each event or action is focused on pending legislation.
Steve Sacks, who is frequently published on the Fresno Bee’s op-ed page, will lead a letter writing team. This group will try to establish a systematic presence in the Fresno Bee with letters and Valley Voices articles as well as weighing in frequently with our legislators.
Lobby Training: Tuesday, February 8, 7 p.m., Fresno Center for Nonviolence, 1584 N. Van Ness Ave. (corner Van Ness and McKinley across from Fresno City College).
Letter Writing Team Meeting: Tuesday, February 15, 7:30 p.m., Fresno Center for Nonviolence, 1584 N. Van Ness Ave.
PDA Meeting: Wednesday, February 23, 6 p.m. supper social, meeting 7 p.m.–9 p.m., Denny’s Restaurant Meeting Room, 1110 E. Shaw Ave. (just east of N. First St.).
Stay informed about upcoming events and meetings. Sign up for e-mail from Peace Fresno (www.peacefresno.org) and Progressive Democrats of America (www.pdamerica.org) at their Web sites. For more information, contact Ken Hudson at email@example.com, Judy Hess at firstname.lastname@example.org or Steve Sacks at email@example.com.
Our message remains: End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the drone attacks in Pakistan. Bring the troops home.