Annual Meeting 2015: Workshop Descriptions


The following workshops will be offered at the Massachusetts Peace Action annual meeting, Feburary 7, 2015.

Why Renewable Energy is a Peace Issue

The move to renewable energy will undercut what has been a central plank of US actions abroad since world war two: control over the world’s oil supplies. Such a shift will therefore create a major opening to reshape US foreign policy. The workshop will conclude with an exploration of the possibilities for moving to renewables both in Massachusetts and across the United States.

Conveners: Prasannan Parthasarathi, peace economy working group co-chair and Professor of History, Boston College;  Rosalie Anders, peace economy working group co-chair and activist with 350 Massachusetts

Resource: Frank Ackerman  is an economist known for his work in environmental economics, particularly in the areas of climate change and development. He has written extensively for academic and popular presses and directed numerous studies for government agencies and nongovernmental organizations.   He is a senior economist at Synapse Energy Economics, a public interest-oriented consulting firm in Cambridge, and has held research positions at the Stockholm Environment Institute, Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute, and the Tellus Institute. 

Middle East: ISIS War and Iran Sanctions

Beginning with current Syria and Iraq:  With firsthand information from Terry Rockefeller, we will give an overview of the condition of both the Syrian rebels and refugees, and Iraqi non-combatants and refugees.  We will then look at the US/ Allied response to ISIS in Iraq, and Syria, Obama’s turn around, and his request for Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF} and the Congressional response.  We will touch on the roles of Iran and Russia in possible solutions.

We will then move from Iran’s military and political roles in Iraq and Syria to the Iran nuclear negotiations, focusing on ways to push back against the Congressional challenges to successful negotiations. 

Middle East Study Action Working Group:  we will announce the plans and scheduled meetings of our new working group, look at the role of grassroots activists in complex  Middle East situations.  We will propose an immediate action for all attending MAPA’s Annual Meeting.

Convener: Shelagh Foreman, program director 

Resource: Terry Rockefeller, 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Peace and Planet: Mobilization for a Nuclear-Free, Just, and Sustainable World

The workshop will offer a discussion of some of the steepest challenges facing our world, and what we can do to address them. Nuclear weapons have been reduced from 66,000 to 16,000, after much pushing from the anti-nuclear movement. We are now needed to push against the $1 trillion effort to modernize our nuclear arsenal, and for negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons, as we committed to doing in the 1970 NPT. 

The Mobilization, consisting of a huge rally, march, and festival in NYC on Sunday, April 26, 2015, plus a conference on April 24 and 25, is timed to be just prior to the NPT Review Conference at the UN.

The conferences and rally will also highlight issues of global warming, environmental justice, and a just, sustainable world.

Convener: Guntram Mueller, Nuclear Abolition working group co-chair

Resource:  Jonathan King, Professor of Biology, MIT ; active with Cambridge Residents Alliance and with Peace & Planet.

Palestine/Israel: David vs. Goliath – The Art of Asymmetric Advocacy on Capitol Hill

As grassroots activists, it can often feel overwhelming to challenge what seems like intractable Congressional support for Israel’s violations of Palestinians human rights.  In this workshop, we’ll explore a number of the legislative vehicles that congress has sought to use to deny Palestinians the right of self determination, and also talk about some of the ways in which grassroots are increasingly mounting successful challenges to these efforts. 

We’ll take a look at how underfunded but well organized activists are effectively challenging the opposition on Capitol Hill — and winning.  This workshop will look at a number of recent case studies, including one in which a diverse group of organizations stalled the passage of AIPAC’s top legislative priority for last 18 months and successfully altered key parts of the legislation.

We will also discuss the status of the US a the leader of the “peace process,” a number of recently released polls, evidence of shifting stances withing the parties, and other indicators that significant shifts are occurring within the institutions that underpin unconditional support for Israel/Palestine.

Featured Presenter: Mike Coogan, Legislative Coordinator, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Convener: Dr. Susan Massad, Palestine/Israel working group member

Economic Justice and Peace: People’s Budget, Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Movement Building

The Foreign Policy for All document speaks to the need for peace to link up with other progressive struggles to undermine inequality and build capacity among the people to participate in the shaping of a foreign policy in the interest of all the people. 

This workshop will look at ways to use the federal budget, which is a moral document containing the priorities of our society, as an organizing tool to build unity among the movements engaged in popular struggles for survival, economic justice, peace, and progress in the world of politics and developing the practical answers to our domestic and foreign policy.   

We will also look at the struggle over trade policy using the current example of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Convener: John Ratliff, Peace Economy working group co-convener

Resource: Lindsay Koshgarian, Research Director, National Priorities Project; Paul Shannon, American Friends Service Committee; steering committee member, Budget for All campaign

Racial Justice and Peace:  Black Lives Matter, Mass Incarceration, Police Militarization, and Inequality

Convener: Claire Gosselin, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom – Boston Branch

Resource: Lizzy Jean Padgett, of Deep Abiding Love and Fellowship of Reconciliation

Lizzy will share insights from her experience in nonviolence training and collaborative work in the context of Black Lives Matter from Ferguson to Boston. We will draw on Rev. Sekou’s keynote as we engage in a participatory manner to foster understanding and action for racial justice and peace.