Hikers stopping at the bridge to take in the beauty of the Gorge. Photo by Jean Hays.

WILPF – December 2017

ANNUAL PEACE CRAFTS FAIRE!

Saturday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., in the Fresno City College cafeteria complex, near Weldon and Van Ness avenues. Support local crafters and WILPF!

WILPF BUSINESS MEETING

Jan. 11 (2nd Thursday of each month), 7 p.m.–9 p.m. at the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, 1584 N. Van Ness Ave. Meetings are open to all members and those interested in WILPF membership.

WOMEN IN BLACK

Dec. 6 (1st Wednesday of each month except July/August) at noon at the Fresno County Courthouse. Come at least once during this critical year, perhaps during the month in which your birthday falls. Wear black, bring a sign if you wish, and stand in silence, in solidarity with a worldwide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to war, militarism, and other forms of violence.

STIR IT UP–WILPF ON KFCF 88.1 FM

(listener-supported free speech radio for Central California)

Dec. 27 (4th Wednesday of each month) at 3 p.m. Jean Hays conducts outstanding interviews on subjects involving WILPF interests and activities. Let Jean know if you have ideas for a program. Tune in to 88.1!

RAGING GRANNIES

Meetings on selected Mondays at 7 p.m. Call Patty at 559-999-9709 for details.

TAKE A HIKE!

By Jean Hays, with contributions from Anita Lodge

On Saturday, Nov. 11, several WILPF Earth Democracy committee members were part of a group that literally “took a hike” down the San Joaquin River Gorge and experienced the beauty of this breathtaking landscape carved out by Mother Nature and the San Joaquin River. The group, ages 3 to 91, hiked the well-maintained one-mile trail from the main trail entrance on Smalley Road down to the beautiful footbridge leading to other trails along the Gorge. The hike, organized by Friends of the San Joaquin River Gorge (see more photos on their Facebook page), was led by the group’s founder, Anita Lodge, whose family has lived along the Gorge for the last 150 years. She is an expert on the geology, landscape and ecosystems along the Gorge, which could totally disappear if Temperance Flat Dam is built.

To heighten awareness of the beauty of this place, the Friends of the San Joaquin River Gorge are leading hikes on the second Saturday of every month from various starting points and different ability levels on the various trails in and above the Gorge. Don’t forget to check the Friends of the San Joaquin River Gorge Facebook page for the time and specific place of the next hike, which will be on Dec. 9. All this is just about 38 miles from Fresno. Don’t forget: If a dam is built at Temperance Flat, all this will be under water.

Did you know:

  • We can capture more water by increasing groundwater banking, reusing/recycling water and harnessing flood flows into natural flood basins.
  • There will be less water for local users at a higher price if the dam is built.
  • The Temperance Flat Dam would reduce hydropower production.
  • We, the taxpayers, would shoulder most of the economic burden of building the $2.6 billion dam.
  • The Temperance Flat Dam would flood important ecological, recreational, cultural and community sites along the San Joaquin River Gorge
Hikers stopping at the bridge to take in the beauty of the Gorge. Photo by Jean Hays.

If you need more convincing, take a hike to the Gorge. You will fall in love with its beauty! A dam would destroy that.


 

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE GOING LOCAL

By Bev Fitzpatrick

The Legislative Committee met on the first Friday in November at the Woodward Park Library and was joined by WILPF member Nancy Waidtlow. Nancy is an advocate for homeless people and the founder of the Dakota EcoGarden (DEG). DEG is Fresno’s unique, all-volunteer transitional homeless housing.

Nancy came to the Legislative Committee to ask that the Committee consider making its next action a local one. Nancy suggested that the Legislative Committee’s next letter to representatives be addressed to the members of the Fresno City Council. The content of the letter would state our concerns with the passing of a No Camping ordinance. The committee agreed that it was time to address this local issue.

The committee will deliver our letter to Fresno Mayor Lee Brand and to individual City Council members at scheduled appointment times. Interestingly, members of the Legislative Committee live in four different City Council districts, which means that all Council members will be hearing from their constituents.

The committee members will also be thanking Fresno City Council Member Esmeralda Soria for voting against this ordinance.


 

EXPERIENCING A NONVIOLENT ACTION WORKSHOP

By Jean Hays, WILPF member

“A good nonviolent action is like a great work of art.”—Gene Stoltzfus

Some WILPF members and one of our interns had the opportunity to be a part of this great work of art on Nov. 3 and 4 in Reedley and at Fresno Pacific University. Our thanks to the Reedley Peace Center for bringing this Nonviolent Action Workshop to the Fresno area and for bringing Sarah Thompson to lead it. A 2006 graduate of Spelman College, Sarah has been training people in nonviolent direct-action preparation. She has been executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams and is now at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Besides hearing about the different aspects of nonviolent direct action (affinity groups, public witness checklists, to name a few), our group actually became part of a hypothetical situation where we had to decide whether to stay in the workshop room and possibly get “arrested” or leave by order of the “police.” The amazing thing we experienced was how quickly the whole group of about 40 people developed a sense of community, looking out for one another and realizing the strength in their solidarity. By doing this exercise, we learned how to put to work the outlines listed in our packet. This whole exercise was powerful.

Also, we discussed important qualities of authentic relationships across differences. This is very, very helpful when interacting with a person with which one strongly disagrees. Instead of building a communication wall, we were given tools to use in developing authentic relationships across racial, political and gender differences.

We were so very grateful to the Reedley Peace Center, to Sarah Thompson, and to the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., for this nonviolent action experience.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


 

Nonviolent Workshop

By Guruveer Chahal, WILPF Student Intern

Attending a workshop related to resolving conflict and creating peace is something that is needed in today’s time. This is because with so much going on, a time to reunite with people to solve conflict helps us think about the world differently; in a way, it releases tension. This nonviolent workshop took place on a Saturday at Fresno Pacific University by Sarah Thompson. The goal of this workshop was to create peace. It deals with healthy ecosystems and recognizing them when they exist, and when they do not to do something about it.

As human beings, we tend to think that there is more and that we belong to something bigger than ourselves, however, we already are enough. That, in fact, releases so much tension because people sometimes think that they don’t love themselves, however, just by being alive in this time love is all around the world. The fact is that we are all connected and related to each other, and this alone destroys most of the conflict. However, many times that can be difficult because people have different viewpoints and learning how to listen to them, without fighting back and respecting what they say, takes practice. Often when a disagreement takes place, the person tries to prove that she/he is right, however, no one is ever right or wrong. We all have our own morals, and it’s important to not overcome a person but rather to make her/him feel safe and not attacked.

We did many activities to work on this issue of conflict. One activity that meant the most to me was when we walked around as if we were busy, not paying attention to anyone, busy making money. Then we walked slowly noticing but not too much. Finally, we stopped and were to look into a random person’s soul, deep into the eyes of this person, held the person’s hand, and Sarah talked about how this person has struggles of her/his own but is still here. A feeling that gives a sense of beauty is the fact that nothing in this world can break down a person but rather we can build from all these conflicts around us. Money is a huge factor as to why there is conflict in the first place, and it’s important to recognize that one is truly nonviolent when she/he can’t buy something but understand in a way that respects the other person and to learn how to talk to people with different viewpoints, without feeling attacked or simply look into the person’s eyes for a while, it’s peaceful.

Sometimes when we have different viewpoints, we tend to just think about it and feel like it doesn’t really matter. When this happens, it’s easy to feel like nothing really matters. During this workshop, different sections were present and Sarah said something like if someone were to destroy a statue would people do it, different situations where we go and stand if that scenario would cause violence, wouldn’t cause violence and if we would do it we would stand up and put our hands in the air and if not we would squat. Hearing different people’s responses was interesting. This is when having different viewpoints and understanding that was tested. We successfully did this as a group. It was nice to notice that many times people had similar viewpoints. If there was one that had a different viewpoint, it was because of a moral reason, it just takes good listening skills.

As a group called ocean, we were to recognize that every other group was a water name. This was done intentionally to emphasize the fact that we all matter and we are all related. The groups are called affinity groups, and all six of us have different roles. These roles include facilitation, notetaker, timekeeper, liaison, communications, logistics coordinator and media spokesperson. The conflict that was given to us was that we were going to be evacuated because of water contamination issues within an hour but we decided to not evacuate. What to do when in disagreement is another skill that takes practice to learn as well.

 

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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