The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

WILPF BUSINESS MEETING
December  22, Thursday, starting at 7PM at Fresno Center for Nonviolence, 1584 N Van Ness.  This meeting is open to all members.

WOMEN IN BLACK
December 7, noon to 1PM at the Fresno County Courthouse.  (first Wednesday of each month; come on the month in which your birthday falls!)  Wear black, bring a sign if you wish, and stand in silence for peace.

STIR IT UP – WILPF – ON KFCF 88.1 FM (LISTENER-SUPPORTED FREE SPEECH RADIO FOR CENTRAL CALIFORNIA)
December 21 (4th Wednesday of each month) Jean Hays does outstanding interviews on subjects involving WILPF interests and activities.  Let Jean know if you have ideas for a program.  Listen!

Also on KFCF 88.1: WILPF member Dr Jean Kennedy’s show changed to first and third Tuesdays. Check out December 6 & 20 at 8PM for Keeping It Real.

RAGING GRANNIES
Meetings on selected Mondays at 7PM.  Call Ellie at 229-9807 for details.

OCCUPY
WILPF members are very involved in support for OWSF (Occupy Wall Street Fresno). Our three interns are putting in much time there as well.  Nancy Waidtlow is there every day and evening and has taken over the food supply organization at first doing much of it herself, then soliciting contributions from others; now many are bringing food each night. In addition to supplying food, WILPF members have joined the occupiers at crucial times when police action is threatened and support is needed.  WILPF members have contributed many needed items—blankets and sleeping bags, warm clothing, ice chests, etc. as well as cash.

CRAFT FAIRE DECEMBER 3
All this and Nancy is also chairing the WILPF Craft Fair Committee.

Let’s make that a huge success. Bring lots of friends and relatives.

WILPF’s annual big fund-raising holiday crafts faire is the first Saturday of December, December 3 at the Big Red, First Congregational Church, 2131 N Van Ness Blvd, NE of McKinley and Palm .  “Signature” soups, donated by great WILPF cooks, will be served, with bread and desserts. Come for the food, music, and friends even if you don’t think you need to buy anything giftie for the holidays. But beware, you may find you can’t resist our vendors’ handcrafted work or something donated to the silent auction. Admission is still free. We’ll open at 10AM, close at 3:30.

 HOMELESS EVICTIONS
The eviction of the homeless people from their refuges and destruction of their property has also mobilized many WILPF members  to witness and protest what the city is doing.

The Bee’s front page photo of Rose standing in front of the tank (excuse me, bulldozer) was pretty strong. Jean Kennedy has also put much time and effort into trying to help and support the people in the camps, where she has been working. Of course Camille and Dan from Peace Fresno, members of ACLU,  Reverend Harris, and the incredible Mike Rhodes are part of our strong community who are protesting what is being done to people and also addressing the Board of Supervisors and City Council and seeking legal action. It’s been a busy time, and people are really coming through with support. Good response to the day of bank withdrawals, too.                                                 ——— Ellie Bluestein

PALESTINE
Maureen Walsh traveled to Palestine recently and will make a presentation about this experience for a Learning Circle on January 15 at 11:30 at the Fellowship Hall at the Big Red Church. I had the opportunity to hear her at the Mennonite Church in Fresno on October 28, and this is an eye-witness report, with photos, that will inform and move you.    ——–  Leni)

The Middle East Committee of the Fresno WILPF Branch has formed a partnership with a Women Owned Cooperative in Hebron, Palestine.  “Women in Hebron” is the only women owned business in the Old City of Hebron.  Nawal Slemiah founded the cooperative in 2005 as a way to empower women from the rural areas surrounding Hebron. The women make embroidery items using traditional Palestinian techniques. The shop in the old city, run by Nawal and her sister Layla, now sells items from 120 women from surrounding villages. The cooperative also offers English and computer classes as well as support for the women and their families.
Hebron suffers tremendously from the economic hardships due to the Israeli Occupation as well as settler violence. Hebron is the only city in the West Bank where settlers live in the middle of the city in confiscated Palestinian homes. The Old City is under 24 hour military control to protect the settlers. Current statistics state there are 800 settlers within the city with approximately 2000 Israeli soilders .

Fresno WILPF began this partnership in 2010 and have been able to sell the women’s products along with other fair trade Palestinian made products at various community events and speaking engagements. As 2011 comes to a close and marks our first year of partnership, we will have been able to support the cooperative with approximately $2000.00.

This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Palestine for three weeks and was able to spend time with the wonderful women of the cooperative as well as spend time with Nawal and her family in the village of Idna. I am hoping to return summer of 2012.

——– Maureen Walsh

WONDERFUL INTERNS
Our interns, Rose Arellano, Paul Pardo, and Alfredo de Leon have been on the front lines.  They are involved with Occupy, passionate about the homeless, doing counter-recruitment, and much more.  We’re extremely happy to have them working with us.

WOMEN IN BLACK
Please come, even if only once a year – perhaps on the month in which you were born.  We honor the regulars:  Joan Poss, Eric Parsons, Jean Hays, Ann Carruthers, and Sue Kern.   (a correction: October’s WILPF page omitted Joan Poss’s byline on the Women in Black story.  It is she who has been there, bearing witness and interacting with the community.

  • Mike Rhodes is the executive director of theCommunity Alliance newspaper and author of the book Dispatches from the War Zone, about homelessness in Fresno. www.mikerhodes.us is his website. Contact him at mikerhodes@comcast.net.

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