Conflict is inevitable. War is not.

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Book discussion

Posted on: April 29th, 2019 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

Drawdown: the most compresensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.

Paul Hawken, editor.

The links between increased global warming and escalated human conflicts are clear. Drawdown outlines the ways we can work to reverse the impending challenges to our survival. We do that by shifting our worldview from an emphasis on competition to one of cooperation and collaboration.

The chapter titled “Reciprocity” by Janine Benyus provides a framework for changing our focus.  Benyus describes how ecologists analyzed plant and animal aggregations from the perspective of competition and predation for decades.  The frame was that the plants and animals were a random collection of individuals dispersed by chance and arranged according to how successfully they competed.  The new outlook is that there is a “Wood Wide Web” in the ground under forests with connections between roots and microbes, a reciprocity that we have only now come to understand. The concept of a forest or prairie as a community is much like the way we would like to think about our communities, working together makes the whole survive. Grasses thrive better when oak trees are there, and tree intercropping improves the survival of agricultural plantations (think shade-grown coffee or cacao for chocolate).

This change, focusing on the whole, the community, can lead us to solutions. As Bill McKibben has written, we cannot reverse global warming as individuals. What individuals can do is form a movement. Paul Hawkins writes “We are surfeited with metaphors of war, such that when we hear the word ‘defense,’ we think attack….Climate solutions depend on community, collaboration and cooperation” (p. 217). More than 250 individuals contributed to Project Drawdown. If peace groups were to come together with environmental and social justice groups, imagine what we could accomplish.

Anne Millhollen

Book discussion

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

Spain in Our Hearts by Adam Hochschild

Throughout history there have been rare moments of moral clarity. The Spanish Civil War was one. In 1936 the Popular Front won the election with a promise of bringing Spain out of a feudal system where 1% of the population held all the wealth of the country and the remaining 99% were no better off than serfs. As equalitarian euphoria swept through Catalonia, normal hierarchies were set on their head. George Orwell, who came to Spain to fight for the new democracy, found himself under the spell of a transformed classless Barcelona.

“Waiters and shop-walkers looked you in the face and treated you as an equal. Servile and even ceremonial forms of speech had disappeared. Nobody said Senor or Don or even usted, everyone called everyone else Comrade and Thou.”

Other reports from Barcelona were equally tantalizing. “The great Liceu opera house had been turned into a people’s theater. . . .pawnshops were forced to give back objects to their poorer customers.  Mansions confiscated from the wealthy had been converted into housing for the homeless; union cooks and waiters at the restaurant of the city’s Hotel Ritz, with its elaborate chandeliers, white linen and monogrammed china, had pushed the tables together into long rows and turned it into a people’s cafeteria for working-class families and the city’s poor.”

For those used to privilege this was a great threat, and it didn’t take long for Francisco Franco to lead a fascist coup against the new democratic government. Franco made it clear that his aim was to turn the country into a military dictatorship. Hitler and Mussolini quickly allied with him and provided the arsenal and forces he needed. Western democracies, the United States, France and Britain, demurred, refusing to help the struggling Republic. With no other options, the Republic accepted arms and aid from Communist Russia. The irony was that “defenders of the Republic were fighting for one of the finest causes beside one of the nastiest of allies.”

Without scruples or hesitation, the Fascists set about to eliminate all those who didn’t think as they did. Political opponents were tortured; people were murdered for belonging to labor unions; hospital wards were machine-gunned; and cities were bombed to rubble as Hitler field-tested his new weapons. The carpet bombing of Guernica represented the first near-total destruction of a European city from the air and inspired the century’s most famous painting by Pablo Picasso.

While the governments of the democracies hesitated, ordinary citizens did not. Volunteers came from more than 50 countries to join the International Brigades. Risking their lives to save Spain’s infant democracy, 2,800 Americans fought there. 750 of them died.

As a last ditch effort to appeal to the conscience of the world, the Prime Minister and his cabinet withdrew the international forces from the battlefields. They hoped to pressure the democracies to insist that Franco withdraw Hitler’s and Mussolini’s forces, which didn’t happen. On October 28, 1938, the Republic held a grand parade as a final tribute to the International Brigades. The volunteer soldiers and medical support marched down Barcelona’s grand avenues past the gutted buildings and peeled away apartment house walls. They walked, sometimes ankle deep in flowers, to receive the thanks of the grateful citizens. “The roar of cheering was continuous.  It was like a wave that never broke, but poured on. . . Women rushed into our lines to kiss us.  Men shook our hands and embraced us. Children rode on our shoulders. . . .We tasted their tears.” The response was very different, however, when the volunteers reached their home countries.

The fledgling Republic lost the war in 1939. Spain was left to endure 36 more years of Franco’s ruthless dictatorship.

What was learned? In January 1939, too late, Franklin Roosevelt told a cabinet meeting that he now felt the arms embargo to have been “a grave mistake.” The French novelist, Albert Camus, wrote “Men of my generation  have had Spain in our hearts. . . . It was there that they learned . . . that one can be right and yet beaten, that force can vanquish spirit, that there are times when courage is not rewarded.”

What can we learn now?  Hochschild’s book allows us to feel the universal sorrow for the human struggle that played out in Spain. From such sorrow, we can nurture the resolve to champion human rights and justice, regardless of the cost and the uncertain outcome.

Dorothy Sampson



The Mind Reels

Posted on: July 22nd, 2018 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

by Winslow Myers

“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

                                                                             —Winston Churchill

Equally enigmatic is how Mr. Trump went about representing the national interest of the United States at Helsinki. Until Mr. Mueller is ready to provide possible clarification, the fog around the president’s motivation persists: narcissistic ineptitude almost surely; perhaps also kompromat, collusion, and/or fear of money laundering becoming exposed.

All the confusion provides an object lesson in the plasticity of enemy-imaging. As someone old enough to remember the lame British-American interference in Iran in the fifties, the hysteria of McCarthyism, Hoover’s clandestine harassment of Martin Luther King Jr., and far greater debacles like the wanton destruction of Vietnam and Cambodia, I persist in my skepticism concerning the degree of competence we can expect from the bureaucrats and generals to whom we reluctantly entrust our safety.

But now, with the executive branch demonstrably willing to gallop bareback off the established foreign policy reservation, the knee-jerk adversary of progressives for decades, the so-called “deep state,” with its reflexive fear of Russian totalitarian infiltration and its perpetuation of military dominance in all earthly spheres, may at least be providing a sorely needed element of restraint and integrity.

The plot is further thickened by an interesting analysis in The Nation magazine by Stephen Cohen, a Princeton professor emeritus and lifetime Russia watcher. He asks us to take a deep breath in the midst of our anxiety about the president’s apparent capitulation to his authoritarian friend in power.

Cohen asserts that when the president states that “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. … And I think we’re all to blame,” he is onto something:

Cohen continues: “For the past 15 years, the virtually unanimous American bipartisan establishment answer has been: Putin, or “Putin’s Russia,” is solely to blame. Washington’s decision to expand NATO to Russia’s border, bomb Russia’s traditional ally Serbia, withdraw unilaterally from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, carry out military regime change in Iraq and Libya, provoke the Ukrainian crisis and back the coup against its legitimate president in 2014, and considerably more—none of these, only “Putin’s aggression,” led to the new Cold War. This explanation has long become a rigid bipartisan orthodoxy tolerating no dissent.”

Tragically, the president’s compulsive willingness to lie, his thin-skinned, possibly guilt-motivated defensiveness, his Kissingeresque lone-cowboy-riding-to-the-rescue style, along with the appallingly short-sighted withdrawal from the Paris Accords, has pretty much destroyed his credibility as a heretical and possibly creative anti-establishment actor. When he assigns blame equally between America and Russia for the new Cold War, all most of us can see is an echo of the false equivalence of his assigning blame equally to the neo-Nazis and the civil rights protesters in Charlottesville.

Where does a citizen go in all this craziness for an authoritative sense of context? One useful perspective is the long-term history of the nuclear arms race, out of which came a bracing truth from another apparent adversary of progressive thinking, Ronald Reagan: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must ever be fought.” In spite of our finding ourselves, more than a half-century beyond the Cuban missile crisis, still building new nuclear weapons on all sides, we humans have not gotten the message: continuing the arms race on the basis of deterrence prophesies not greater security but only inevitable mass death through error, misinterpretation, or miscalculation.

The “establishment” is well aware of this. They are designing new nuclear weapons to be less powerful so that they become strategically more “flexible” and “useful,” and presumably can avoid fatal consequences like nuclear winter. But smaller weapons only make the nuclear threshold easier to cross, and once it is crossed, who will prevent escalation to the larger, world-ending weapons?

As Churchill said, the key to Russia is national self-interest. Planetary self-interest in the nuclear age provides a common-sense context for our contemporary circus. When Mr. Trump convenes an international conference of the military leaders of the nine nuclear powers to discuss joining the 122 nations who have outlawed nuclear weapons as self-destructive and unusable, I will be among the first to commend him as an anti-establishment hero. Meanwhile—the mind reels.

Winslow Myers, the author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide,” serves on the Advisory Board of the War Prevention Initiative and is syndicated by Peacevoice.


Real Security

Posted on: July 17th, 2018 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

by Winslow Myers (submitted May 24, 2018)

So, the summit with North Korea is off, and now pundits will have at it on such themes as overreach, hidden agendas, John Bolton’s ill will, and misinterpretation of the meaning of “denuclearization.”

But the leaders of nuclear nations are like fish making petty threats and counter-threats while they swim in an ocean of reality they ignore to everyone’s peril: “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” (Ronald Reagan, 1984).

What an opportunity our planet is missing!

We all sense that the arms race has reached a fatal level of destructiveness. There is some debate about how many nuclear detonations might be required to bring on nuclear winter, but the number is clearly a small fraction of the total available to the 9 nuclear powers. The meaning of peace through military strength will never be the same again. In recognition, 122 nations signed an agreement outlawing the weapons.

Two doors face us, one leading to death and one to life. We don’t see it, but both are equally easy to open and walk through. There are 80 million fellow humans in Iran, 25 million in North Korea, 1 and a third billion in China, 140-odd million in Russia, all of whom want the same things we want for our children. Are they all our sworn enemies? Only in the insane, launch-on-warning, “surviving”-a-first-strike world where the tail of nuclear strategy wags the dog of common sense.

Everything has changed, and diplomacy must change with it. Diplomacy based in reality rather than double standards and illusion would suggest meeting our adversaries on the common ground of a shared desire not only to survive by gradual, verifiable, reciprocal steps back from the brink, but also to flourish by becoming free to repurpose the money formerly spent upon weapons to life-affirming programs and devices. Imagine governments encouraging the development of decentralized, sustainable power sources such as batteries and solar panels, creating an economic abundance that would reduce the need for war—a virtuous circle.

On this the major powers must lead—especially the United States, the only nation to have actually used a nuclear weapon to kill people. There are so many small, confidence-building measures we could take unilaterally which would not only not compromise our security, but would increase it, beginning with a pledge of no first use of nuclear weapons.

Such alternatives as renewing and miniaturizing our nuclear arsenal or taking the arms race out into space, as military planners in a number of nations are apparently racing to do, are the height of folly. The level of destruction available to nations is far larger than all our political and economic conflicts, and so the destructiveness has become irrelevant to the resolution of such conflicts. Because this is a Gordian knot we all share, we can cut through it on the basis of a common awareness that the arms race offers no way to reach the common security we all desire.

Winslow Myers, the author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide,” serves on the Advisory Board of the War Prevention Initiative and is a syndicated writer for Peacevoice.

Book Discussion

Posted on: April 26th, 2018 by BWNWAdmin No Comments


Need a dose of inspiration? Long for happiness and healthy abundance?  This is not a book about decluttering, per se, but after reading it you might find yourself wanting to remove some of the sludge of consumerism and take more time enjoying nature, art, and fellow humans.

The Abundance of Less: Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan by Andy Couturier follows ten people who have chosen to live sustainable, fulfilling lives. The author includes “an anarchist potter,” a “collector of fragrances,” a “philosopher of the rice fields,” and a mother and activist who believes in “making time to stop and think.” Each person in this book offers a humble, eloquent version of wisdom. In his afterword, Couturier suggests five words that will help us make similar choices: “Gentle. Small. Humble. Slow. Simple.”

According to Bill McKibben, founder of, “This is subversive in the best possible way.” The most compelling thing I can say about the book is that I have dog-eared and highlighted my copy, and given many to family and friends. Do yourself a favor and find time to read about a different definition of richness.

Rebecca Wolle

The Nagasaki-Hanford Bridge Project

Posted on: April 16th, 2018 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

The Nagasaki-Hanford Bridge Project was a conference held in Walla Walla in early March sponsored by Global Studies at Whitman College and Consequences of Radiation Exposure (CORE).  A special guest was a hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) from Nagasaki, Mitsugi Moriguchi, who came to visit Hanford, where the plutonium was produced for Fat Man, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, killing over 70,000 people.  The focus of the conference was on cancer and other radiogenic diseases caused by exposure to radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons production, testing or use in warfare.  Speakers at the conference included a professor studying the radiation effects from the Fukushima disaster, a Hanford downwinder, Mr. Moriguchi, and a man who was in his mother’s womb when the bomb fell on Hiroshima.

A featured film was “Hibakusha at the End of the World”.  It begins in Iraq (before the 2nd war) looking at children who developed diseases from to exposure to depleted uranium.  Traveling to the Hanford area, the film examines victims exposed to plutonium production.   The film concludes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with interviews of hibakusha and doctors who monitored radiation health effects from the bombs, emphasizing how US doctors examined but did not treat victims in the aftermath of the bombing.

On the third day, the conference moved to the Richland area where Tom Baile, a lifelong farmer in the area, welcomed conference visitors to his farm.  He drove participants around the perimeter of his farm, on what he called the “Death Mile”, where in every house he could name at least one person who had become ill or who had died of cancer, leukemia, thyroid disease or  other afflictions associated with radiation exposure.

One stop was to Richland High School, home of the “Bombers”.  The name honors employees at Hanford who had donated one day’s pay to purchase a bomber for the war effort.  A picture of the bomber named “Day’s Pay” is on the side of the gymnasium.   But on the basketball court floor, there is a picture of a mushroom cloud.  This was distressing to Mr. Moriguchi; he said it was if people were walking over the dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.   On a more hopeful note, the principal of the school led the group on a tour of the school, ending in the library where there were artifacts from the war days.   Mr. Moriguchi gave the principal a book of testimonials of Nagasaki bombing victims, which Mr. Moriguchi helped collect and edit stories.  The principal said he would encourage students to read it.

On the final day, Mr. Moriguchi visited the Hanford reactor that produced the plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.  Although impressed by the technology that made the bomb possible, he lamented, “There was nothing — nothing about the suffering,” he said.

During the time of the conference, two articles appeared in the Richland newspaper about Hanford workers and the current nuclear power plant.   Washington just passed a law making it easier for the workers to receive compensation (how much easier is still to be seen).  And the Richland (Fukushima-type) nuclear power plant remains under federal scrutiny for safety reasons.  It continues to pose a danger to all downwind and downstream.  There is currently an effort underway to persuade EWEB to stop using power from the Richland facility.  Currently 7.5% of EWEB’s power is nuclear; it is more expensive than renewals and creates waste for which we have not yet found a satisfactory solution.

For more detailed newspaper coverage and photos

A. Rose

Book Discussion

Posted on: January 11th, 2018 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

I’m Right and You’re an Idiot by James Hoggan with Grania Litwin

I’m Right and You’re an Idiot is the perfect book to read before having an argument — not because it supports that mindset, but because it teaches the opposite. James Hoggan, with Grania Litwin, patiently walks through what is wrong with the way most of us approach discussions with people who disagree with us, and into more productive ways of arriving at solutions to the complex problems facing our world.

The book’s dedication says a lot: “With gratitude and admiration for those who struggle to turn combative shoving matches into healthy public discourse, and as a tribute to the public intellectuals who light their way.” Hoggan divides his material into five sections, informed by interviews with world leaders in numerous disciplines. In Part I: The Polluted Public Square, he reminds us that “smashing heads doesn’t open minds,” that we need to find common ground, and beware self-righteousness.

From there, the reader is led through the reasons that our values trump policy and facts,even though we need both to succeed. Hoggan shows how corporate power and propaganda weaken democracy. He explains why we often become overwhelmed and look for simple solutions, but then he teaches us ways to offer hope.

Part II: Speak the Truth, But Not to Punish, emphasizes the critical need to balance power and love, and to focus on generating possibilities. Including the voices of youth is a way to remain focused on what matters to all of us, and we each need to be aware of nurturing conversation, rather than making a sales pitch.

One of the most uplifting messages of this book for me was the reminder to use stories to show what we care about, to return to a slower way at arriving at possibilities through simple respect and warm-heartedness. The pressing problems facing us will not go away if we yell at them or at each other. They might, though, if we learn to point our faces in the same direction and lean into the future together.

Rebecca Wolle


Posted on: October 19th, 2017 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

“I should sell my tongue and buy a thousand ears.”



Thursday morning — one more day to find and listen to someone I might not agree with.


That challenge had come from a Beyond War group studying Bill Ury’s book, The Third Side. We were practicing a guideline to listen much more than we talked, with an attitude of respectful curiosity. It seemed easy enough, until I imagined being reduced to tears with the clock set back to 1956, when I was required to wear dresses to school and do as I was told without question.

Protesters sat in lawn chairs outside Planned Parenthood, wrapped in blankets and sheltered from the rain by umbrellas. I had already inoculated myself by reading points of view different from my own, but those sources couldn’t answer back. These people could.

“May I join you? I’d like to learn why you are here. I just want to listen, not to persuade you about a different point of view.”

One of the protesters turned toward me; the other turned her back. “I used to think the way you do, that a woman has a right to decide what happens to her body…until I had children of my own. (And, yes, I can tell that’s what you believe, or you wouldn’t be here to listen to an opposing viewpoint.) My kids were too precious for me to even imagine anyone cutting off their lives before they began, and I realized that I needed to stand up for those who could not speak.”

After she talked for a while, I touched the other woman’s arm and asked whether she had been listening and if she had anything she would like to add. “I have and I sure do! Look at the pictures on this poster! What was done to the fetus at the top was child abuse, pure and simple. I want all babies to be healthy and smiling like the one at the bottom.”


She had been a labor and delivery nurse for well over 30 years and knew her argument from the inside out. She had no doubts about her position, and wondered how any feeling person could support abortion. When I asked questions, she answered with statistics and anger at Planned Parenthood’s policies.


The first protester then asked me how I could simply listen. How could I refuse to act, in the face of this evidence? How could I “meet my Maker” knowing that I had allowed such barbarity to continue?

I desperately wanted to have a civil discussion and consider more options than are on the table now. But I kept my mouth closed, other than to remind them that I was there to learn, and to practice listening respectfully. It felt deceitful to shelter my beliefs while asking for theirs, but it also felt important.

Before I left, the first woman complimented me. “We don’t have enough people in the world who are willing to listen. Thank you. Please come back and talk with us again. We’d like to hear about you.”

I learned something important that day. All of us have reasons for our beliefs. We cherish stories that point us toward our convictions. Sometimes, all that is needed to ease the door open for a broader conversation is to first listen.

By Rebecca Wolle

After a Seminar On Nuclear Waste Management

Posted on: June 14th, 2017 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

The dolmens of Tadenfallow

Bedell the apple greylore,

And sharfle starf in lunlit

They bewhile the nightenflow.


Frumunder stoons of dolmens

Grumble sprites and ork-tra-ra

To chortle forth and down the hollow

Leaching out with caustic omens.


A cask of crimson sky

– Born of evil goings –

Streck whild from round the dolmens

Of hinderform from eye.


The cask was set down deep

Far more than coffin goe

Within a granite toom

No slimery wurm can creep.


Dusk was shroud from high

And darkness filled to top

While rancid bubbles burst below

Within the cask of sky.


O’er the site there placed

A minder sign to stay

In coldest marble cuts

In pretty words not laced,


“Rest quiet now

And cease your shifting

Til come a time

Of land up-lifting.”

Mike C.Rose  (2/1973)



As the title states, this poem was written after attending a seminar by a researcher in the field of nuclear waste management.  Pretty grim stuff.  As a result, a nonsense poem texture was used to express the frightening madness of the situation.

The researcher spoke about the state-of-the-art process of “encapsulation by vitrification,” dissolving the nuclear waste in a molten glass and cooling it to form a solid for long term storage.  Besides the enormous problems associated with handling these materials at high temperature and the escape of volatile radioactive isotopes during the heating, there is the unresolved issue that, over a stretch of time, the radiation from nuclear waste likes to destroy any matrix containing the waste.  While initially insoluble in ground water, the glass matrix crumbles.  In the process, it develops an active surface chemistry and BECOMES soluble.  The half-lives of these isotopes are longer than the entire history of human civilization.  The researcher spoke of the need to develop a stable peaceful civilization that will last hundreds of thousands of years –AND- the need for a nuclear priesthood to look after the waste for what seems like an eternity.  In the likely case of the fall of civilization, the burial site should have permanent signage in all known languages.  The lengthy continuing cost of nuclear power will greatly outweigh any short-term profit benefits of nuclear energy, and the weaponry side of nuclear energy makes a stable civilization unlikely.

Silent Space

Posted on: April 22nd, 2017 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

At the Eugene Vocal Arts performance on Friday, April 7, 2017, they sang this exquisite creation by the late Jon Sutton.


Silent Space by Jon Sutton


In the silent space between us,

there are fields of grasses bending,

and they whisper something diff’rently to each of us in time.


In the silent space between us,

there are ripples on the water,

and their echoes bring an image diff’rently to each of us in time.


There are mists on cloudy mornings,

with many shades of blossoms dipped in dew.

And the light unveils the greyness as tho’ we knew each other always.

And as the branches grow apart, so do our mem’ries make us diff’rent.


Still, in the silent space between us we are one.