WWFOR 2020 Spring Assembly Conference
by David Lambert
This year’s WWFOR Spring Assembly, a video-conference, was held on Saturday, May 2 and consisted principally of five workshops. Fifty- Five people attended this video-conference. Planners for the event were: Rick Trombley; Vivi Bartron, Fran Hall, Marti Lambert, Susan Donaldson and David Lambert. David was Host and Co-Host was Carly Brook. Carly has had previous experience with Zoom Webinars and David was grateful to Carly for offering very competent assistance.
Following a brief introduction, David introduced Paul Cheoketen Wagner, a Saanich First Nation Tribal member who has worked extensively in activism with the Puyallup Indian Tribe and who has organized walks from Pierce County to the state Capitol. Paul gave a moving Land Acknowledgment and then moved into his presentation on his activism opposing the Tacoma Liquid Natural Gas Plant and his work in helping to persuade Governor Inslee to declare a state-wide climate emergency. He told how he and others were finally able to meet with the governor and this act was a success even though the governor has not acted to declare a climate emergency. In discussing action people can take against the LNG development, he included a Petition online that one can sign. Paul spoke in a strong, moving, and centered manner about his work and weaving the values and spirituality of his people into his talk in an eloquent, centered manner displaying strong reverence for the earth, elders, and ancestors.
The second workshop was given by Deborah Cruz, manager of Advocates for Immigrants and by Betty Devereux, volunteer with this organization. AID works on behalf of people who are detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. Prior to the pandemic, they visited with recently released people to help assist them with meeting basic needs. Their Welcome Center provided them with clothes, food, transportation to stations, and access to phone calls with loved ones to help them reunite. Volunteers would also meet with detained individuals twice monthly Currently, no visits inside the Detention Center are occurring; however, AID volunteers are assisting family and friends to correspond by letters with people inside. A Hospitality House assists released individuals while waiting to make logistical arrangements to reunite with loved ones. People can help by volunteering to help immigrants directly or with financial donations. Contributions can be made through Karma Payments, Pay Pal, or checks made out to AIDNW, 1915 S. Sheridan Avenue, Tacoma, WA. 98405.
The third workshop was given by Maru Mora Villapando of La Resistencia who told how this organization was started in 2014: “For five years we have fought to close the Northwest Detention Center and we will not stop until the doors are opened and everyone is free.” Maru stated “La Resistencia doesn’t believe in charity and that the people themselves who are detained are the very ones who can lead a movement to Shut Down the NWDC. La Resistencia helps publicize the conditions at the center. Group members show up regularly at the facility to support the people inside who have staged a number of hunger strikes. She told that the detention center staff is clearly violating social distancing orders and that La Resistencia encourages people to fill out a form reporting their illegal activity and ultimately to put on Governor Inslee to use his powers to declare an emergency to free all people detained. Organizations can support La Resistencia in a variety of ways: donate money, supplies, pen pals, and, when it is safe again, to hold rallies at the detention center. See La Resistencia website.
Workshop # 4 was presented by Kwabi Amoah-Forson who talked about his The Peace Bus project, how it was started and has evolved. He told of being inspired by Brian Haw, a lone British peace activist and how later he traveled to Europe to discuss peace with people from many countries. Later, he decided to purchase The Peace Bus. He and friends delivered thick warm socks to homeless people while traveling down the West Coast in 2019, eventually ended up near the U.S./Mexico border where he also interviewed border patrol staff. Kwabi told how he does his best to listen to all people with an open accepting mind. Currently, he is delivering breakfast food, from donations he has garnered, to low-income families and children. Additionally, he is collecting letters from children on what they are doing to create peace. He has learned from many individuals that the most pressing way to create peace in the world is to help people have sufficient food, clothes and shelter. On the horizon, he has plans to create The Peace TV show. Professionally, Kwabi works as a mental health counselor.
The fifth workshop featured Carly Brook, staff at WPSR and coordinator of Washington Against Nuclear Weapons, and Kit Burns. They discussed challenges people from the Marshall Islands who were evacuated from their home island and transferred to other islands as a result of U.S. testing of nuclear bombs have faced, hardships facing the Spokane Tribes in their ordeal with having to manage their land following uranium mining; how the production of Plutonium near Hanford created a “wasteland”, and how many treaties of Native Americans have been broken or weakened in connection with the US. nuclear weapon policies. True national security currently rests more with the critical need for a much greater supply of medical supplies to deal with the pandemic; supplies such as PPE’s, ventilators, and that the $50-60 billion dollars annually spent on nuclear weapons could be transferred to public health needs. Kit told of a number of excellent documentary films on nuclear issues such as: 1. Nuclear Savage: the Islands of Secret Project 4.1 (2009); 2. The Atomic States of America (2012); 3. Countdown to Zero (2010); 4. Uranium Drive-In (2013),
Addendum: Much credit for organizing the information in this write-up goes to Jean Buskin, volunteer staff person of WWFOR.