Peace Vigil Report-back and Thoughts about the Boycott

Let's Stop Killing People!
Friday 6 August 2010
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Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation weekly Peace Vigil at Percival Landing

This photograph doesn't really capture the spirit of the vigil, because it was a very festive affair today. Dancing and singing in the street to the music of the Artesian Rumble Arkestra—the music was a lot of fun!

The Friday evening vigil has been ongoing since November 1998. It happens every week.

It's a great opportunity to express your desire for a peaceful, just, and nonviolent world. Whether you're angry, sad, frustrated, in despair, confused, confident, hopeful, joyous, just plain happy, or any mixture of the above—or other (minus homicidal!)—you are welcome at the vigil. So please don't hesitate to stop by. Signs are provided or please feel welcome to bring your own!

p.s. We who vigil for peace love it when people wave and say hello and give us the peace sign (and sometimes I even like it when people object!), but what we would really like would be for passer by to stop and join us. Consider it. Consider joining us sometime. Line the streets. For peace.

Now my thoughts turn to the situation with the co-op.

Boycott Protest at the Co-op
Thursday 5 August 2010
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Westside Food Co-op, Olympia—There were a couple people tabling to gather signatures for a co-op member initiative to rescind the decision Board of Directors' decision to boycott Israeli product.

I have been thinking about the decision more. I fully support the decision to boycott Israel, because the need for change is urgent. The situation is unacceptable, and the way the state of Israel treats Palestinians is wrong under any system of moral or legal measure.

I am very glad to be a member of the co-op, and I am thankful for the board's courageous decision.

I have heard people's concerns over the process of the decision, that there wasn't adequate space for people to register their concerns or objections.

And while I support the boycott, whole-heartedly, I also acknowledge that people need to be heard, and their concerns need to be aired and responded to in a respectful and inclusive manner.

With that in mind, there are two important upcoming events relating to the boycott that everyone in the community is welcome to attend.

One is this Sunday, the 8th, 7pm at First Christian Church, where Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, who has been working for peace in Israel/Palestine for many years, will speak about the potential for BDS to deliver the social change that is so necessary. more info

The other is a co-op member forum (open to members of the co-op) on Thursday the 12th of August. I have some thoughts and concerns about this forum.

I am concerned, after previous experiences, in Olympia, surrounding the issue of conflict in Israel/Palestine, that people will bring a lot of emotion to this event, and that may interfere with peoples needs to be heard and treated with respect.

In the wake of certain community disagreements, for example the public hearing that happened a few years ago at City Hall regarding a proposal to establish a Sister City relationship between Olympia and Rafah, Gaza, Palestine, I am concerned about a forum that would essentially allow people to stand up in front of everyone else and say things that essentially aren't constructive toward a mutually beneficial resolution of conflict (neither locally, nor in Israel/Palestine.)

Therefore, rather than a traditional public hearing, I think I favor a "community conversation" approach to this disagreement.

That being the case, I am also additionally concerned, because I have also had somewhat negative experiences with community conversations in the past. I participated in one regarding the Olympia Port Militarization Resistance efforts to prohibit the tools of immoral and illegal occupation to pass through our community. And while this series of community conversations were beneficial in some ways, I had some serious problems with the way they took place. My biggest complaint is that the conversations were not open. They were closed, they were not inclusive.

So if the co-op could organize conversations that were open, I think that would be good. I think the co-op working model would really lend itself to a functional and effective, and open community conversation.

My idea right now for the forum on the 12th, and I have not discussed this yet with anyone at the co-op, including the board, would be to have a series of tables that would include a variety of people with varying perspectives, and then after conversations at the tables, to have a space for each group to report back to the whole.

I don't know what the details would look like in specific, but the idea of a public forum where people stand up before the board, and before everyone else, and get to speak their piece of mind for two or three minutes, doesn't sound good to me.


Bonus photo!

Summer Sunshine on Dead Leaves
Wednesday 4 August 2010
Watershed Park

There is beauty in decay. There is beauty in death.

May all beings have happy lives, and deaths.


more thoughts

After thinking more about this (a lot more), I am not so convinced that community conversation approach is the best for the upcoming meeting, although that might be valuable at some point in the future. I am hopeful that a "public hearing" before the co-op board wouldn't devolve into the same type of hateful, racist, and Islamophobic diatribe that I witnessed during the Oly-Rafah Sister City hearing before City Council.

I trust the co-op to do right by it's membership.

Peace is Possible!