Merrimack Valley People for Peace annual report

MVPP Annual Meeting June 24 2016

Merrimack Valley People for Peace’s president, Brian Quirk, presented this report at the MVPP Annual Meeting on June 24.

As the variety of armed conflicts grew more complicated this year, Merrimack Valley People for Peace kept trying to show alternatives.

We had some interesting speakers with discussions.

  • Winslow Myers of “Beyond War” spoke at last year’s Annual Meeting.  He advocates peaceful solutions because war does not work.
  • At our stone soup supper, John and Carrie Schuchardt, described the heroic mission of the House of Peace, caring for war victims.: Haley Kosek added a brief description of the new to Lowell organization, Unite Here
  • At our annual potluck Jan 15, Debbie Grinnell explained how the group C-10 keeps statistics and communicates with nuclear regulators about the Seabrook station. Decaying concrete is a major concern.

We still stand with signs and flags at vigils.

  • Weekly vigils are still held at Shawsheen Square on Sundays at noon, and usually at Raytheon Thursday mornings 7-8.  Alan Sifferlen, Boryana Tacconi,and Phil Noyce stand there now, as Arthur can’t.
  • Niki Rosen, Barbara Haack, and Paul and Clair Paulson keep the Newburyport vigil going.
  • Every third Sunday at 11, we join Quakers at the Textron plant in Wilmington on rt. 129.
  • Last summer we joined the people at the North Andover UU church in vigils for “Black Lives Matter” and endorsing the Pope’s environmental encyclical.
  • Some of us  attended the Veterans for Peace events: Armistice Day, Memorial Day, and a vigil then meeting with the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center near Roxbury Crossing
  • Bobbie Goldman and Mary Kate attended the Maine Walk for Peace and other events in their new home state.
  • We supported the Budhist monks on their Walk for a New Spring. Friday, MVPP and Saturday, the Vietnamese Budhist temple in Lawrence hosted potlucks with interesting conversations. Walkers and monks stayed MVPP homes around Lawrence, then Newburyport. Their main theme was peace through sharing, and some spoke against the proposed pipeline for shipping ‘fracked gas’ through New England.
  • On Good Friday we joined Reading People for Peace in a vigil against the death sentence, and the Quakers in Boston for Black Lives Matter.
  • Lately we have supported vigils at West Parish Church in Andover and Campagnone Common in Lawrence, remembering those killed in Orlando, and asking why.
  • Boryana has set up her table at the August 6 Hiroshima remembrance, and the Mass Peace Action Annual Meeting, Others helped at the Lowell Folk Festival, Bread and Roses, and Andover Days.

We had our share of local victories.

  • One letter writing campaign felt successful last November when governor Baker announced Massachusetts would not welcome Syrian refugees. He backed down some after hearing from us and many others.
  • To our surprise, efforts to run a “fracked” gas pipeline through our towns, especially Andover, met so much resistance that they failed. Many of us were involved, especially Hattie Nestel (whose group of activists in central MA had already helped close down the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.)  
  • At an August Lawrence City Council meeting we saw the council pass two measures that would help undocumented immigrants (and be good for the rest of us). Thanks to the Merrimack Valley Project and Arthur Brien for some intelligent legislation.

We enjoyed the work of our neighbors.

  • The Rolling Ridge Peace Conference series featured Dr. Susannah Heschel, who talked about her rabbi father’s relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King. Some insider stories brought both characters alive for us.
  • At St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, in Andover, many of us were inspired by the play, “Haunted by God: The Life of Dorothy Day” (founder of the Catholic Workers)
  • The Nevins Library in Methuen was crowded at an informative presentation by Lowell’s Imam, Bashir Bilal
  • Niki Rosen went to hear a Syrian refugee speak, at the Unitarian church in Newburyport and her picture was put in the Boston Globe.

In December we donated $1,000 divided between various causes.

We found a home for literature we have collected.  Mary Todd is transferring it to the Salem State University Peace Institute through Hope Benne.