SPC in Action

From the November-December 2014 #839

Compiled by Carol Baum

Come Together at Plowshares

At this time of year when the night is lengthening, the Plowshares Craftsfair and Peace Festival lights up our hearts and spirits. Plowshares is Central New York’s premier multicultural craftsfair, celebrating a world where people enjoy their work and have control over it. It is a marketplace both of ideas and beautiful handmade items.

It is more than a craftsfair—it is a community gathering of people who hope and work for a better world. It is our annual window into the world we’re working toward—supporting the local economy, promoting work for peace and social justice and just plain having fun.

Spend the day! There is so much to do at Plowshares. It features 130 local craftspeople and community groups. You’ll find clothing, jewelry, ceramics, decorative objects, herbal medicinals and more – you name it and you’ll probably find it there. When you need a shopping break, enjoy the ongoing live entertainment, savor the tasty food for sale from The Mission restaurant, or just hang out with old and new friends.

There’s also the fun of exploring the SPC Marketplace (featuring a wide array of peace and social justice books, calendars, t-shirts, stickers, buttons and more), hoping to win one of the very diverse SPC raffle prizes this year, holding your breath as you bid on one of SPC silent auction donations (including services, tickets to shows, a weekend at a cabin, a house concert by a local musician and more), and checking out the SPC crafts table to purchase crafts donated by participating vendors.

Plowshares is SPC’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Volunteers and the staff collective have been bustling to get ready and the weekend itself needs many more volunteers (hint, hint). You can help even now by getting the word out—post flyers (PNL subscribers have one enclosed), tell your friends (bring a newbie or two), post on social media or put a lawnsign in your yard. Contact Carol if you can help in this way.

So mark your calendars: SPC’s 44th annual Plowshares Craftsfair and Peace Festival is at Nottingham High School (3100 E. Genesee St., Syracuse) from 10 am-5 pm on Saturday, December 6 and 11 am-5 pm on Sunday, December 7.  We’re looking forward to seeing you there!


SPC Supports SU Students’ Activism

On November 3, The General Body, an alliance of Syracuse University student groups and individuals, held the fourth rally since September to protest the current administration’s attacks on diversity, inclusion and transparency. After the rally, students, faculty and community members marched to the administration building to present their 43-page list of grievances and demands. They then sat down in the lobby, stating that they would continue to sit there “until Chancellor Syverd makes a public and written statement to the SU community committing to a plan of action that addresses each item listed in the grievances and demands document.” We have been inspired by them, commend them for their dedication and thoughtful action and stand in solidarity with their organizing work and demands. See www. thegeneralbody.org.


NOON’s Thanksgiving Circle for Peace and Hope

For the seventh year, Onondaga people and Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON) will gather together on the north shore of Onondaga Lake to express thanks for the goodness of the Earth and to each other for our ongoing friendship, as we work side-by-side in peace and hope for healing, justice and environmental restoration. Please join us at 10 am on Thursday, November 27 at Willow Bay. Dress for the weather. We’ll have light refreshments. Contact Carol or Amelia.


Anti-Drone Activists Persist

At 4 pm on Wednesday, December 4, Mark Colville will be sentenced at the Town of DeWitt Court House (5400 Butternut Dr., East Syracuse) for his nonviolent civil resistance action at Hancock Air Base in December, 2013. Before the trial even started, Judge Jokl told Mark that he would be sentenced to the maximum penalty if he were found guilty. Two of his five charges carry a maximum sentence of one year each so we are very concerned as to what the sentence will be. Please come to support Mark at his sentencing. We expect there will be a press conference before court. Check SPC’s website or contact Carol for updates.

Please sign the petition urging Judge Jokl, in sentencing Mark, to recognize international and US Constitutional law and consider Mark’s utter lack of criminal intent for his peacemaking actions at the base. PNL subscribers have a copy enclosed. Otherwise, download it from SPC’s website or pick up a copy at SPC. 

Mark has been making good use of his time while still free. He is on a speaking tour of Upstate NY and was in Syracuse the weekend of October 31. He spoke at St. Lucy’s and Plymouth Churches and also briefly at SPC’s Birthday Dinner.

There are also several trials and hearings scheduled in November and December, all of which are open to the public. See upstatedroneaction.org for specifics. Contact Carol.


Activist Appreciation: Kim McCoy

Kim McCoy is a multitalented SPC activist. She is a regular on the cooking team for the SPC Birthday Dinner and is a creative cook for other events (who can forget the bowling pin cupcakes she made for SPC’s Bowlathon one year). She is a go-to photographer for SPC actions, and many of the photos you have seen of drone-related activism are hers. For the last few years Kim has worked on the SPC Marketplace Committee preparing for Plowshares Craftsfair and then spent much of the weekend with set up, take down and staffing the Marketplace. In addition, she, along with Rose Viviano, make SPC feel very welcome whenever we have events at ArtRage Gallery – which is often.

Kim has been on SPC’s Steering Committee for about six years. When she speaks, people perk up to listen – what she says is always to the point, insightful and useful. Her cooperative nature, reliability, sense of humor and many talents make her a delight to work with. Thanks, Kim, for being such a strong part of SPC!

78 and Going Strong!

SPC Birthday Dinner speakers Paula Johnson and Janis McDonald (left),
founders of SU Law School’s Cold Case Justice Initiative, enjoy soup
with committed SPC activists at our 78th Birthday celebration on
November 1. See page 4 for a full Birthday Dinner report.
Photo: Carol Baum

Over 120 SPC activists and supporters came out to wish us a Happy 78th Birthday on November 1. Guests enjoyed a fine meal followed by a dynamic presentation by Janis MacDonald and Paula Johnson, founders of SU Law School’s Cold Case Justice Initiative. Paula and Janis detailed their motivations to start the program and the first Civil Rights-era murder case they had reopened for investigation. They also shared perspectives on continuing issues of racial justice including police brutality in primarily poor communities of color. 

The Birthday Dinner is both a major educational event and a substantial annual fundraiser for the Peace Council. We’re happy to say the event was successful in raising over $3,000 to support ongoing organizing for peace and social justice. Thank you so much to everyone who made the dinner a success, especially the speakers Janis and Paula; the cooks Marie Summerwood and Carole Resnick (menu coordination), Leslie Bliss, Jess Maxwell, Phil McCarten, Donna Muhs-McCarten, Kim McCoy Mike Miller, Dan Noble and children, Julienne Oldfield and Rose Viviano; Nancy Hallock (table host coordinator) and the table hosts; the coordinating committee of Barbara Humphrey, Amelia Lefevre and Crystal Lau; the advertisers in the written program; and everyone else who attended and volunteered their time and services.


Ring in the New Year with a Vigil for Peace

The New Year will be here before you know it! Start it off right with the New Year’s Eve Vigil for Peace and Social Justice. Gather on New Year’s Eve at 5 pm at Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse. Then gather with friends for soup and bread at 340 Midland Ave., Syracuse. 


ACTS Issues Assembly

SPC is a proud member of the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS), a coalition of faith-based and community organizations working on issues of concern to Syracuse residents. The ACTS Issues Assembly will be held Sunday, November 16 from 3-5 pm at Living Water Church of God in Christ (121 Huron St., Syracuse). Representatives from member organizations are invited to participate in this process to determine what issue areas the ACTS taskforces will focus on for the next two to three years.


Seeking Winter/Spring Interns

It’s time again for students—or anyone who has time and wants a valuable, unpaid work experience—to begin applying for internships. SPC typically takes on three to four interns per season. A priority need is for an intern with very good to excellent knowledge of MS Access to work on improving our database system. In addition, we typically need interns to work on event and issue organizing, including work with Ground the Drones and Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON).


Center’s Parking Lot Done Soon

In a project that took much longer than projected, the renovation of the Center’s parking lot is expected to be completed by mid-November. This means that people coming to SPC’s office will no longer have to park on the side streets. The inconvenience has been worth it; the parking lot will now be porous, allowing water to seep through to the ground instead of running off the pavement. In addition, the improved lot will be level with the back door, making the ground floor of the building completely accessible.

We thank you so much for your patience during this project.


How the Dough Rises

There’s no way around it—SPC has expenses and while we do wonders on a shoestring budget, we need your support in many ways. We recently sent out our Fall Fund Appeal featuring a letter from Barbara Humphrey and highlights of our last six months of work. If you received the mailing, please give now and as generously as you can. For those of you not on the mailing list, the letter is available on our website—where you can also make an online donation.

Fundraising from events such as Plowshares is also a significant source of funds, so please come out, have a good time, and buy a raffle ticket or bid on the silent auction.


BDS for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel

CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel is working on developing a strong and focused BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign, teaming with Ithaca-based Ariel Gold, a regional staffperson for Friends of Sabeel-North America (FOS-NA). Sabeel is an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians to seek a just peace as defined by international law and existing United Nations resolutions. FOS-NA has already developed BDS literature focused on an international contractor that has significant presence in Syracuse, and Ariel will be meeting regularly with us. Members have also recently attended two BDS conferences and done background research on BDS campaigns. We will also continue to hold periodic vigils for peace in Palestine and against US military funding to Israel.

Recently, we were proud to contribute over $800 from the proceeds of our co-sponsored live performance of the play My Name is Rachel Corrie to benefit The Freedom Theater.  Based in Jenin Refugee Camp in the northern West Bank, this professional theatre company works to involve and empower youth and women in the community and to explore the potential of arts as an important catalyst for social change. We’ll continue to promote and sponsor educational events—keep watching SPC’s website, Facebook page, and E-newsletter. To join the committee, contact Michael at SPC.


Wastebed Amphitheater Is a Go

Several members of Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation have spent the summer and fall organizing as part of the Citizens for a Better Plan coalition to prevent the County’s proposed amphitheater from being built atop toxic wastebeds on the western shore of Onondaga Lake.

On November 3, the County Legislature voted to approve the bonding resolution (funding the amphitheater) as well as the Final Environmental Impact Statement. We are deeply disappointed in this result, and especially that a few legislators that we were counting on to vote against the project switched their positions at the last minute.

Despite our  disappointment, members of NOON remain committed to working for a more thorough clean up of Onondaga Lake and surrounding areas. To keep up with our work or to get involved, contact Amelia or Carol.


Jail Oversight Postponed Again

Despite promises of a vote in the County Legislature on the jail oversight bill that United as One has been organizing around for the past five years, the legislation has been postponed once again. The bill, which would create an independent body to review reports of abuse in the Justice Center, needed to be approved by the Public Safety committee at its October meeting in order to be voted on by the full Legislature in November. However the committee meeting was canceled for unknown reasons. We continue to be hopeful that the vote will come in December. Contact Amelia.