Activities / How We Work
Lobbying: PeaceWorks promotes citizen lobbying by phone, letter and personal visits to our legislators and their staffers, as well as letters and calls to the White House.
Letter Writing: Letters and emails to legislators and the media are critical to keeping our legislators and the public aware of our opinions on current issues.
Newsletter: Our newsetter, published 6-8 times per year, keeps members aware of legislative action which invites response.
Networking: We seek to cooperate with other peace groups in Kansas City and around the nation to build critical mass on our issues.
Legislative efforts are accompanied by educational work promoting our goals and objectives.
Community Organization Directory: A comprehensive directory of local peace, justice, human rights, and environmental organizations is published online by PeaceWorks and updated regularly. You may download the COD here.
Tabling: PeaceWorks often tables at local events with information on current issues and petitions on pending legislation.
Rallies and Town Hall Sessions: PeaceWorks members and others attend rallies to seek green jobs, not nuke jobs at the new KC Plant. Members also help sponsor town hall sessions about contaminants at the current KC Plant and ways injured workers can obtain compensation.
We support the Urban Ranger Corps. Please check them out at www.urckc.org. A brief description follows.
The Urban Ranger Corps was founded in July 2003 by the Rev. John Wandless while he was pastor of St. Louis Catholic Church, an inner Kansas City parish (2001 – 2006).
The corporation began operations in June 2005 launching the "Urban Ranger" program, a nine-weeks summer work experience and community service program for at-risk youths (14-18).
In summer 2009, the program was expanded by adding a career planning component which (a) helps each ranger develop an Individual Career Plan (ICP) for post-high school employment, technical training or admission to college and (b) provides an ICP Manager/Coach to help rangers implement their ICP’s.
The Urban Ranger Corps (URC) is an exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) and classified as a "public charity" under section 509(a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Posted February 28, 2017
April 22nd is Earth Day! PeaceWorks, KC, invites you to celebrate "Peace on Earth Day" by coming to our Planting Seeds of Peace party. Join us in celebrating the hard work of many PeaceWorks volunteers. Come to learn about local peace-making opportunities, listen to live music, play games, and eat delicious food. The event is free and family-friendly. Attend the event to get more information about how you can become a local steward of peace by becoming a member of PeaceWorks, KC.
Time: April 22, Saturday, 5:30 – 8 pm
Place: All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, KC, MO 64111
Info: 816-561-1181 and on Facebook at PeaceWorksKC.
Posted March 29, 2017
By Mary Hladky
The PeaceWorks Annual Meeting March 5, a gathering of about 60 persons, progressed—in speakers’ presentations—from the morass of military spending to constructive conversation to hope, shining hope.
PeaceWorks Treasurer Dave Pack addressed the ever-increasing U.S. military budget. Pack shared this powerful quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
Pack called U.S. military spending enormous, saying military spending includes not only the Department of Defense but also nuclear weapons, veteran care, etc. Now the Trump Administration wants to add $54 billion to the budget, bringing the total U.S. military spending, for one year, to $947 billion, said Pack. “When broken down, it would cost every person in America—that’s all 325 million of us—$3,080 each. And that’s just shocking! Our government is choosing to spend our tax dollars on war, power and greed over people’s lives. And that is the work of all of us here today, to take a stand against militarism, focusing our work on the common good, peace, and justice.”
Closing the Annual Meeting, Pack shared this statement King used (originally published in a book by Theodore Parker, Unitarian minister advocating the abolition of slavery, in 1853):
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
With our country and families fervently divided on many issues, constructive conversation is a skill we need to learn and practice. Mikhala Lantz-Simmons, of the Center for Conflict Resolution in KC, MO, presented elements of respectful dialog during the Annual Meeting.
She said we needed to be willing to listen and discuss ideas in a safe and fair environment that opens up dialogue and doesn’t alienate or further anger a person. The goal is not to agree but to gain a deeper understanding of others’ viewpoints. The ability to consider different perspectives is the first step in critical thinking and problem solving—the process of truly communicating and opening ourselves up to considering new ideas.
“When we are in conflict, it can be really hard to hear others’ perspectives,” said Lantz-Simmons. She explained that people may say “the tip of the iceberg” in commenting on a topic such as the Affordable Care Act, and it’s up to us to explore the vast area (under the tip) representing interest and need. Lantz-Simmons discussed de-escalation skills to help us “listen past the position to perceive others’ interest and need. Get past the initial flare-up. Recognize others’ dignity.”
Henry Stoever, the board chairperson of PeaceWorks, KC, shared his hopes:
So that we may better Love the Earth
and all persons we come in contact with,
So that we may have the insight to better know
where others and ourselves hurt and suffer,
So that we may have the courage to do the tasks
of mending and reconciling this world and our relations,
I wish you peace.
I share with you hope
For without hope, our love will never flourish,
For without hope, I cannot let my guard down
and reach for your arms and heart,
For without hope, I cannot set aside my self-centeredness
and walk with you or in your shoes,
For without hope, we cannot aspire to what you and I could be
or fulfill our dreams.
—Mary Hladky serves on the PeaceWorks Board of Directors.
Posted March 29, 2017
By Mary Hladky
During its Annual Meeting March 5, PeaceWorks bestowed two awards and held elections.
Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award
Benedictine Sister Barbara McCracken received the Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award in recognition of her lifetime of service. She led the Kansas City, Kansas, Archdiocese Peace and Justice Office for a decade and brought activists together across racial and other divides. She lived and worked for 10 years at Shalom Catholic Worker House in KCK, a shelter for the homeless. In the 1990s, she wrote a weekly column on peace and social justice for the Catholic newspaper, The Leaven, and often critiqued U.S. foreign policy. She later served at Keeler Women’s Center, assisting low-income women and men, and visiting women in jail each week.
McCracken said she was humbled by the honor of receiving the award. “I especially appreciate your efforts on Botts Road,” she added, referring to PeaceWorks’ work against the new nuclear weapons parts plant at Botts Road and Mo. Hwy. 150. “Let peace be your quest and aim!”
She now lives in Atchison, Kansas, at the Benedictine Monastery, working with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, which calls on the world’s most powerful companies to address their impact on the world’s most vulnerable communities. She regularly ministers to female inmates in Atchison and heads up Benedictines for Peace: a true role model for our work!
Cheatum Community Peace Award
This year, PeaceWorks bestowed the Kris and Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award on Stand Up KC, a powerhouse of hardworking fast-food and retail workers demanding a livable wage and a union. Workers tell their stories so we have a basic understanding of what it’s like to walk in their shoes, reminding us all of the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth in our country. In just four years, this national movement has increased the minimum wage in numerous cities and was a major influence in pressing Andrew Puzder to step down as President Trump’s first Secretary of Labor nominee. This grassroots group is standing up for our community’s future.
The award was accepted on behalf of Stand Up KC by Latoya Caldwell, a fast-food worker inspired by Stand Up KC to take a stand for herself and her five children. She has gone on strike eight times in four years. She declared, “We can win, and we will win!”
PeaceWorks members elected these persons to one-year terms:
board chairperson—Henry Stoever
board vice chair—Lu Mountenay
board treasurer—Dave Pack
board secretary—Sunny Hamrick
Ron Faust and Ann Suellentrop were re-elected to two-year terms on the board. Returning or new board members elected to two-year terms are Spencer Graves, Lauren Hall, Jim Hannah, Leigh Woody, and Joseph Wun. Both Mary Hladky and Tamara Severns are completing their two-year terms on the board.
In addition, Lu Mountenay and Debbie Wallin were re-elected to two-year terms on the Nominating Committee. Completing her two-year term on the committee is Cele Breen.
—Mary Hladky serves on the PeaceWorks, KC, Board of Directors.
Posted February 16, 2017
Join PeaceWorks members at our Annual Meeting Sunday, March 5, 2-4 pm. Fill your afternoon with peace news and help us plan for action as we share snacks and wrestle with peace, justice, and diversity concerns.
We’ll meet, as in the past, at Simpson House, 4509 Walnut, KC, MO.
Get ready to applaud the winners of our two awards: the Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award (for an individual) and the Kris and Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award (for an organization).
Do feel free to bring finger-food to share! We reserve 2-2:30 pm for visiting with friends over refreshments. Our formal meeting begins with reports/awards and moves on to table-talk. With divisions in the KC community and the country heightened by the recent electoral process and the rollout of the new administration, the PeaceWorks Board decided to focus the table-talk time on this topic: Respectful Dialogue and Constructive Conversation. Come and jump into the discussion!
If you have questions, call the PeaceWorks office at 816-561-1181.
Mikhala Lantz-Simmons is the Education Program Strategist at the Center for Conflict Resolution.
She holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Transformation from The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. She has worked in the fields of education and community bridge-building in the U.S. and Canada.
Mikhala has also co-produced a couple of short films focused on truth-telling and building inclusive communities.
PeaceWorks Board Candidate Slate
Vice chair—Lu Mountenay,
Two-year board candidates are Ron Faust and Ann Suellentrop.
Completing two-year terms are Tamara Severns and Mary Hladky.
Returning or new board candidates are Jim Hannah, Lauren Hall, Leigh Woody, Joseph Wun and Spencer Graves. All are welcome!
Nominating Committee Slate
Two-year candidates for the PeaceWorks Nominating Committee are Lu Mountenay and Debbie Wallin. Completing her two-year term on the committee is Cele Breen.
by Jane Stoever
Posted March 28, 2016
The March 6 PeaceWorks Annual Meeting gathered about 60 members for reports, hopes, and awards. See more pictures at flickr.com/photos/peaceworkskc.
"PeaceWorks is in a great position financially," reported Treasurer Dave Pack, accenting the volunteer nature of the organization. Henry Stoever, chair of the PW board, reviewed the past year’s accomplishments and presented "Henry’s Hopes," saying, "We seek a healthy world, where health care for all and clean water and clean air are an inalienable right … and where we take strong stances to counter exploitation, violence, and war in all its forms."
Jackie Utter announced she is now maintaining social media for the organization, including the Facebook page at PeaceWorksKC. Robyn Haas, PeaceWorks web developer, reported, "The PeaceWorksKC.org website gets between 100 and 200 visits per month, but at the time of the UNplaza Art Fair last year, the site got a few thousand visits—probably about the fair."
Lu Mountenay, vice chair of the PW board, while putting on a scarf of many colors, said, "Does anyone like my beautiful, hand-painted scarf? Ask me where I got it!" We asked, only to learn, of course, it came from our annual fundraiser, the UNplaza Art Fair. Mountenay commissioned us to invite new artists to apply now to be in the Sept. 24-25 fair. The application is at PeaceWorksKC.org/unplaza.html.
Georgia Walker, a 2014-2015 member of the PeaceWorks board, received the organization’s highest award, the Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award. Walker has been arrested for civil resistance against the making of nuclear weapon parts in KC, and against drone warfare, and directs Journey to New Life, helping former prisoners find housing, jobs, rehabilitation, and health care.
Mountenay commented, "Heading up Journey to New Life: the perfect job for a jailbird!" Laughing, Walker said, "I’m finally off probation now, and ready for more resistance!" Mountenay continued, "It’s not enough to set captives free. Georgia makes sure they have the chance to live free."
This year’s winner of the Kris and Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award is the Kansas City Chapter of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. MADP State Coordinator Staci Pratt accepted the award, saying, "I believe in the power of the people. Last year, 12 executions were scheduled, but only six occurred. Through the power of the people, those sentences were commuted."
Presenting the award, Mountenay said, "Following closely on the heels of MADP's Lobby Day in Jefferson City last year, and outreach by citizens and MADP members, the Missouri Supreme Court intervened and halted the execution of Mark Christeson and Marcellus Williams. MADP members and supporters have every reason to be proud of their work!"
An execution is scheduled for Earl Forrest on Wednesday, May 11. Try to attend MADP’s 5-6 pm rally against the death penalty that day at 39th Street and Troost Avenue. And please call Gov. Jay Nixon to request a stay of execution, 573-751-3222.
During the March 6 PeaceWorks Annual Meeting, the following persons were elected:
- Board chair Henry Stoever
- Board vice chair Lu Mountenay
- Board treasurer Dave Pack
- Board secretary Jim Hannah
- Board members Mary Hladky (elected) and Tamara Severns (re-elected)
- Nominating Committee member Cele Breen (re-elected)
Notes: Continuing members of the Board, completing their two-year terms, are Ron Faust, Sunny Hamrick, and Ann Suellentrop. Debbie Wallin, executive assistant, serves on the board ex officio. She and Lu Mountenay are continuing members of the Nominating Committee.
We realize that the current system is not working for the benefit of all of the people of this country and the peoples of the world. Change is essential. Jane & I were gratified to be part of the record turnout for the Kansas Democratic Caucus yesterday, and we stood with Bernie Sanders and his supporters. And many good people were there for Hillary. And we had independents and perhaps some Greens. Bernie is not afraid to use the words “political revolution”. I feel that we need a revolution of values, of concerns, of protecting our planet, of re-ordering how our resources are used, a revolution of the heart and mind, a coming together to make a new beginning.
1. WE SEEEK A HEALTHY WORLD:
- Where health care for all is an inalienable right;
- Where clean water and clean air are an inalienable right;
- Where we respect and protect all life, and make no distinctions between persons of various races, religions, ethnic origins, nationalities, sexual orientation, age, etc.;
- Where we take responsibility for pollution, and work to reverse damage to the environment and to protect the climate;
- Where we take strong stances to counter exploitation, violence and war in all its forms;
2. WE SEEK A WORLD OF JUSTICE AND FAIRNESS:
- Where all persons are treated equally before the Law;
- Where FAIRNESS is the hallmark of a just society;
- Where we are active listeners and doers for those in need of help, or suffer injustice;
- Where the wealthy and the powerful are required to play by the same rules that others are required to use, and where the wealthy and powerful are required to be part of a progressive income tax system, without legal schemes and special exemptions;
- Where disputes are handled in as non-violent means as possible;
- Where we take principled stances in order to right the wrongs that are occurring;
- Where the true needs of all peoples are met so that each can receive proper education or job training, or retraining, and live in DIGNITY;
3. WE SEE A WORLD WITHOUT WAR AND ITS WEAPONS:
- Where we advocate for drastic reductions to weapons production, deployment, trade, and possession;
- Where those resources (Move the Money) are shifted to meet the essential needs of all persons that live on this planet;
- Where we put a halt to the continued “killing of our soul, mind, spirituality, ethics, and morals.”
Thank you for your support and activities for peace.
by Jane Stoever
Posted March 28, 2016
Robert Days, a graduate of the Urban Ranger Corps, addressed the PeaceWorks Annual Meeting March 6. Days described the summer experience for selected 14- to 18-year-old young men in KCMO, a time of values development and community assistance, with pay for their work. Corps staff and volunteers also advise the youngsters during the school year.
Introducing Days, PeaceWorks Treasurer Dave Pack said PeaceWorks funds two conflict resolution sessions for the young men each summer. Pack explained, “As Martin Luther King said, ‘Returning violence for violence multiplies violence. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.’ I think PeaceWorks’ involvement with the Urban Ranger Corps is in hopes of reducing violence” and helping the young men find a future.
Days, by now a graduate of the University of Missouri, said, “I’m still involved with the Urban Ranger Corps. I started in 2007 as a Ranger, working on housing (doing clean-up and rehab to help people stay in their homes). I made lifetime friends there. Lots of times, kids don’t have a lot of opportunities for helping the community. In the Urban Ranger Corps, I could see myself giving back” to the community at a young age. Days said the Corps needs volunteers and new ways its members can serve.
Richard Kaufman, a math tutor, asked, “Do the Rangers need help from people like me?” Days replied, “Yes!”
Sharon Lockhart asked, “Can girls be Rangers?” Days answered, “No.”
Mike Murphy asked, “What are your fondest memories” of your time as a Ranger? Days said, “We went to South Dakota to a Native American reservation. We met real Indians—I’m still in contact with one of the people there.” He added, “I’d never seen the stars like that before!”
Kim Sharitz had this question: “Are you interested in office work or primarily manual labor for the Rangers?” Days responded, “Office work would be beneficial to the older Rangers.”
Days’ talk and Q&A session let PeaceWorks members hear how their dues build peace in KC. For more on the Corps, see www.urckc.org.
Photos by Jim Hannah.
Posted April 30, 2015
During its annual meeting in March, PeaceWorks gave its Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award to two long-time champions of the Green Party—Dee Berry and Ben Kjelshus. As PeaceWorks treasurer Dave Pack gave them the award, he noted that in the 1980s, Dee, assisted by Ben, was clearinghouse coordinator of the Green Party’s forerunner that organized local Green groups. Ben led the KC Greens in developing the Organic Connection, later called the KC Food Circle, connecting customers to local food sources. Dave said Dee and Ben “have worked their entire lives to unify peace and justice organizations to increase their impact.”
Earlier, Dave had phoned Ben to let him know that several persons were nominated for the award, including both Ben and Dee. “Dee should get it!” exclaimed Ben. Aged 90 or almost 90, they joked that they represented about 180 years of peace work. Bravo, Ben and Dee!
The award comes in the name of Charles E. Bebb, an ardent proponent of a nuclear weapon-free world and co-founder of PeaceWorks in 1982.
Posted April 30, 2015
PeaceWorks gave the Kris and Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award to KKFI Community Radio—Public Affairs on March 22, during the PeaceWorks Annual Meeting. Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks Board, announced the award, saying, “KKFI gives voice to so many issues and advocates in Kansas City! We are pleased to give this award to KKFI Public Affairs.” Tamara Severns, a member of the PeaceWorks Board and the KKFI Board, added, “Let me make this personal. We’re saying yes, KKFI spreads the message of many human rights groups in the city, many justice groups, but we’re saying we thank you, KKFI Public Affairs, for sharing the message of PeaceWorks! We are so grateful to you!”
Kris and Lynn Cheatum, who died within the last five years, were active supporters of KKFI, co-chairs of PeaceWorks, members of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, and supporters of the LGBT community and of human rights for all. They were quintessential community organizers. The bestowal of this award, in their names, is a “thank you” to KKFI Public Affairs for working for peace and justice in KC.
Representing KKFI—90.1 FM—in receiving the award for KKFI Public Affairs programmers were Sharon Lockhart, Amy Bell, Richard Mabion, MC Richardson, Mike Nickells, and Tamara Severns.
Posted March 30, 2014
A “reader’s theater” performance about the Dec. 13 trial and sentencing of nine nuclear-weapon civil resisters, including several PeaceWorks members, prompted laughter and song from the 60 attendees at the March 9 PeaceWorks-KC Annual Meeting.
The play built up to the KC, Mo., Municipal Court Judge Ardie Bland’s surprise sentence: essays for the defendants, not jail, not community service, not even probation. Bill O’Neill wrote the play, using lines from a National Catholic Reporter article by Megan Fincher and a report by Lu Mountenay. Annual meeting attendees had table-talk time after the play to ponder questions from Sharon and Jim Hannah, including, “How might our lives be changed, if the days of violence were over?”
The annual meeting gave PWKC Treasurer Dave Pack the opportunity to explain the strong financial condition of PWKC, partly due to the 2013 UNplaza Art Fair. The annual PWKC awards were given, with Christian Brother Louis Rodemann, in absentia, receiving the Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award, and with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Kansas City receiving the Kris and Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award. LD Harsin, who retired last year after six years on the PWKC Board, happily accepted a certificate of thanks.
Posted April 28, 2013
Henry Stoever, PeaceWorks-KC Board chair, reflected at the PeaceWorks-KC Annual Meeting on the organization’s journey in search of a peaceable world. “We are all in jeopardy from nuclear weapons and drones, environmental pollution, punishment for truth-tellers, the lack of life-giving resources for all people,” said Stoever at the March 9 meeting. “We are willing to risk more, to be more alive, to be liberated and free. We are on a journey of love, of growth, of courage, of healing.”
Stoever also pondered the Ukraine/Russia conflict: “A global crisis exists with the standoff between Ukraine and Russia, with other world powers involved. I compare this to the 13-day Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. … The U.S. has sent F-15 fighter planes to Lithuania, rallied Baltic countries, sent warships into the Black Sea, placed advisers in Ukraine. … The world’s citizens must demand a stand-down and immediate freeze of all military actions, lest a nuclear exchange occur, even if limited. The world should not tolerate the destructive power politics that endangers our planet.”
Posted April 28, 2013
PeaceWorks-KC members, during the March 9 Annual Meeting, elected these officers and Board members: Henry Stoever, Board chair; Lu Mountenay, vice chair; Dave Pack, treasurer; Jim Hannah, secretary; incumbent Board member Tamara Severns; new Board members Bill O’Neill, Georgia Walker, Rosemarie Woods.
The members also elected Cele Breen to the PWKC Nominating Committee.
Notes: Board members completing their two-year terms—Marc Saviano, Jane Stoever, Ann Suellentrop. Debbie Wallin serves on the Board ex officio as the PWKC administrative assistant. Anne Kwon is a Board member by virtue of receiving a PWKC award as an Avila University peace scholar. Nominating Committee members completing their two-year terms—Lu Mountenay, Debbie Wallin.
By Annette Lantz-Simmons
Posted August 4, 2013
What does the term restorative justice mean to 60 young men in the Kansas City, Mo., urban core, young men whose lives have been affected by crime, violence, arrests and prison? That was one of the questions discussed July 5 at the Wayne Minor Community Center. I and other staff and volunteers from the Community Mediation Center (CMC), with the help of guest facilitator Airick Leonard West from “Community 360,” met with high-school-aged members of the Urban Ranger Corps for exploration and interaction.
Restorative justice is a process in which all parties—including the victim, the offender and the community—engage in a facilitated dialogue with these goals: to listen, talk and co-create a plan to make as right as possible the harm that was done. Restorative justice focuses on relationships and needs, unlike a criminal justice process that focuses on punishment.
For the second half of the session, the young men broke into small groups to explore personal values. Introducing a circle process, using a talking piece and a guideline that one person talk at a time, adult facilitators helped create an atmosphere of open and honest sharing. The young men were engaged and often insightful as they talked about their lives, expectations and goals.
This is the fourth year that CMC has been a part of the Urban Rangers’ summer program. The conflict resolution component, paid for by PeaceWorks-KC, is an important element that we at CMC are privileged to provide. One CMC staff member wrote, “Being with the group for the morning was the highlight of my week. I was impressed with the organization and with the young men.” Improving lives, theirs and ours: nothing is more worthwhile than that!
—Annette Lantz-Simmons is on the staff of the Community Mediation Center in Independence, Mo.; to contact CMC, call 816-461-8255; for info, visit www.communitymediationkc.org. Note: PeaceWorks also provides a nutritious brunch to the Rangers.
by Ron Faust
Posted April 23, 2013
Rocks and water are quite different
For rocks are rocks, so stationary,
Almost immutable, unchanging,
Rising sometimes high in the hills
But only so high to touch the sky.
The snow is melting, so pristine,
Covering the earthy underground
While sinking water into the rocks
And evaporating to rise to the sky,
Mystical, invisible, transformed.
Rock and water, diverse elements,
Living side by side, with civility.
Peace can tolerate the horizontals,
But real peace is still discovering
How to overcome vertical gaps.
The dilemma: water likes its flow,
To change, to rise high like the sky
Only to come down sad like rain,
To try over time to smooth rocks.
For peace to work, we are like water.
(On the occasion of the 2013 PeaceWorks Annual Meeting)
by Lu Mountenay
Posted April 14, 2013
Rachel MacNair, winner of the 2013 Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award, addressed the PeaceWorks Annual Meeting March 10 before learning she had won the group’s highest honor. Offering an overview and pep talk, she explained that after three efforts to get the measure on the ballot—success!
MacNair pointed out the disappointing placement and wording used on the ballot. "Questions 1 and 2 are on the front, and we’re on the back. And there’s no title, so it takes four lines into legalese before you even hit the words ‘nuclear weapons.’ We do have to say ‘yes on Question 3’ over and over again."
MacNair encouraged us to write letters to the editor of The Kansas City Star. We still have a lot of work to do before the vote. It’s an uphill battle, but we can do it!
LD Harson emceed the 2013 annual meeting to a full house, including members of Vets for Peace, Community Mediation Center of KC, American Friends Service Committee, Occupy KC, and KC Peace Planters. LD introduced Samantha Smith, the latest winner of the PeaceWorks Peace Scholar Award. LD then announced that Bill Wickersham, Ph.D., of Columbia, Mo., wrote the best peace letter to the editor of The KC Star in the last year.
Dave Pack, treasurer, presented the financial report which puts us in the black, largely because of income from the UNplaza Art Fair. Dave noted the need to renew efforts to enlarge our membership.
Board chairperson Henry Stoever discussed PeaceWorks’ achievements in the last 12 months and presented his humorous, yet poignant, "10 best" list.
On behalf of the Board, Ann Suellentrop recognized retiring Board members Patti Nelson and Scarlett Swall. Noting that Patti had served on the Board for almost 20 years, Ann expressed gratitude for all Patti and Scarlett have done and regrets about how we will possibly carry on without them.
For a second year, Annual Meeting participants received a visit from the Questionator and the Caped Qsader (Jim and Sharon Hannah). As a follow-up to last year’s Questions for the Nuclear Establishment, this year the dynamic duo focused on ways to more effectively frame the nuclear weapons debate. They used principles from George Lakoff’s book Don’t Think of an Elephant! in leading table group discussions that explored the values and language that would best facilitate movement toward a nuclear weapons-free world.
PeaceWorks honored the Community Mediation Center (CMC) of KC with the Kris and Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award; Lu Mountenay presented the award to Diane Kyser, former director of CMC and now a volunteer there.
—Lu Mountenay, an editor for the Community of Christ, serves on the PeaceWorks Board.
Other photos from the meeting
Posted April 14, 2013
The PeaceWorks election was held during the PeaceWorks Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 10. Congrats to all elected!
Board chairperson: Henry Stoever
Vice chair: LD Harsin
Treasurer: Dave Pack
Secretary: Jim Hannah
Brother Louis Rodemann
(Notes: Board members who are in the middle of their two-year terms on the Board are Lu Mountenay and Tamara Severns. Debbie Wallin, administrative assistant, serves on the Board ex officio.)
by Jim Hannah
You don’t journey far on the path of nuclear weapons resistance before you reach the Valley of the Absurd.
All around loom the jagged peaks of The Nuclear Industry: ponderous escarpments heaved up by $7 trillion dollars of seismic spending since the Manhattan Project. Huge outcroppings of the subsequent Cold War Period add to the formidable barrier.
And here are you, one small person or small group, pitted against the impenetrable—-not particularly knowledgeable, resourced, or capable when matched with the challenge. Welcome to the Valley of the Absurd.
And what could be more absurd than nukes?—-weapons supposedly built so they’ll never need to be used; weapons of self-defense ending in self-destruction; weapons of "peace" designed to intimidate (or annihilate) huge civilian populations; weapons not just homicidal or genocidal, but suicidal, even omnicidal, capable of destroying life on earth.
As the madness of nuclear weapons proliferates, even Cold War warriors like George Shultz and Henry Kissinger are calling for zero nukes. So there’s a growing consensus that nuclear weapons are absurd.
But at the same time, there’s a growing sense that resistance to nuclear weapons is equally absurd. The trillion dollars a year being spent for militarism globally employs millions of people, directly or indirectly. And as anyone who resists the new KC nuclear weapons parts plant knows, "It’s all about jobs." Since the tip of the militaristic spear is armed with nuclear weapons, for a growing number of nations it’s a matter of national security and national pride to join the Nuclear Club.
So what to do when the object of your resistance, and resistance itself, are both absurd? Take absurdity to the streets, of course! My wife, Sharon, and I are developing street theater as a pair of superheroes—The Queries, whose mission is Questioning the Nuclear Establishment. Each of us has a flowing cape emblazoned with a large Q and peace symbol. She is The Caped Qsader, featuring rainbow peace signs and sunflowers; I am The Questionator, with bulging muscles, rippled abs, and a shield to ward off nuclear dangers. Unquestionably absurd.
We unveiled our superhero personas in April at the annual PeaceWorks meeting, enlisting those present to help us compose good questions for the Nuclear Establishment. The response was fantastic! Our Top Eleven:
Questions for The Nuclear Establishment
- Have you told your grandchildren what you’re doing?
- Who will clean up after you?
- Why do nuclear nations build useless bombs and demand that other nations not have them?
- Who profits from nuclear weapons? Who loses?
- How can nuclear weapons be moral if their impact can’t be limited to war combatants?
- When is enough?
- How can you justify spending this kind of money on world destruction?
- Why should I plan for the future when I might be vaporized any second?
- How does this make us safer?
- Have you respected the wisdom of the 100 retired generals and admirals who are calling for the end of nuclear weapons?
- How do you sleep at night?
In time, we want to arrive at 95 Queries we can hand out and symbolically post on the door of The Nuclear Establishment, requesting reformation. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sure, it may be absurd.
But maybe not as absurd as doing nothing.
—Jim Hannah is a columnist and Board member of PeaceWorks, Kansas City. He and his wife, Sharon, have been arrested, detained, and sentenced to community service for nonviolent peace witnesses at the new Kansas City Plant.
Speakers, costumes, table talk, awards—these sparked the PeaceWorks, KC, Annual Meeting March 25.
Mary Jean Eisenhower of People to People International (PPI), headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., talked about the wish of her grandfather, Dwight, that people from various countries would build peace through understanding each other. "I had a 17-year-old student who said, ‘You don’t shoot your friends,’" Eisenhower told the PeaceWorks members, explaining the logic behind PPI.
"My grandfather would have loved to be here," Eisenhower said. "During World War II, Grandpa witnessed atrocities that would curdle your blood. He saw, if given the tools, what mankind would do to annihilate itself." When Ike was building PPI, he went to foundations to seek funding. "This was on the coattails of the McCarthy era," said Eisenhower. "The foundation boards said, ‘No!’ It sounded subversive to them. Then my grandfather visited with J.C. Hall, a longtime friend. I’m not sure if a bottle of scotch was involved. My grandfather told J.C. Hall, ‘You ought to finance our program.’ J.C. said, ‘I don’t do anything outside Kansas City.’"
Ike’s granddaughter concluded her story, "Within a week, we moved from DC to KC."
She read a letter she’s written to Ike: "Do you know the Iron Curtain fell more than 22 years ago? … Sri Lanka was red when I went in, and is now green."
The Annual Meeting also featured the Caped Qsader and The Questionator, who prompted table discussions on questions to pose to The Nuclear Establishment.
LD Harsin, a PeaceWorks Board member, introduced Avila student Luz Ortiz, the new PeaceWorks scholarship winner. Then two awards were given: Jane Stoever, also a PeaceWorks Board member, received the Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award, and the Urban Ranger Corps won the 2012 Kris & Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award. The Corps assists local young men in summer sessions and stays in touch with many Rangers year-round. Father John Wandless, founder and president of the Corps, thanked PeaceWorks for funding conflict resolution workshops for the Rangers. He said, "The back of a piece of embroidery is a mess. We’re on the back side, with all the threads. On the other side is beautiful embroidery or a great tapestry. You can be certain that your work with our Rangers has saved lives-—the lives of Rangers and others—-and will continue to bear fruit long into the future."
PeaceWorks Board Chair Henry Stoever, with a bow to David Letterman and humor, summed up the top 10 accomplishments of PeaceWorks in the past year:
10. Media and outreach success by us shameless agitators
9. UNplaza Art Fair, our mini-Woodstock with the local art community
8. Special events, activism with every breath we take, every move we make
7. Involvement with other groups—-like a ’60s love-in, Sock it to me, Baby!
6. Sponsoring key speakers
5. Supporting local efforts for peace, such as AFSC events
4. Making the Kansas City Plant controversial
3. Working on three initiative petitions—-sounds foolish, but we’ve succeeded!
2. Abiding by our goals and principles—-a substitute for red blood—-we ooze values and principles!
1. 30 years of staying power—-Happy Birthday to us!
Board members, Nominating Committee
PeaceWorks' election, held during the PeaceWorks Annual Meeting on March 25, 2012, determined that all the candidates were winners--congratulations! Here are the new Board, beginning with officers, and the new Nominating Committee.
Board of Directors
Henry Stoever, chairperson
Patricia Nelson, vice chairperson
Dave Pack, treasurer
Scarlett Swall, secretary