Cheeseheads show how to build a peace movement

(hope.FULL.ness… – promoted by pfiore8)

If you were looking for excuses for December’s Iraq Moratorium to be smaller than previous ones, there were plenty available. It fell four days before Christmas, on the darkest day of the year, with cold weather in much of the country and campuses closed for winter break.

None of that mattered in Hayward, a city of 2,129 in northwestern Wisconsin, which we’ve reported on previously.  When 40 people turned out there in November, we projected that on a percentage basis that was equivalent to 12,000 people in Milwaukee, 160,000 in New York City, or 6 million nationally.

Puffed up by that kind of publicity here and elsewhere, one of the organizers, Steve Carlson, boldly set a goal of 75 for Iraq Moratorium #4 in December.  He later had some second thoughts, no doubt.

So, what happened? They doubled attendance. Here’s the report:

Just over 80 people turned out in Hayward, Wisconsin Friday afternoon to vigil for peace in observance of the Iraq Moratorium Day #4.  The event was co-sponsored by Peace North and Veterans for Peace Chapter 153.

The crowd was lively, talkative and inspired to come again next month.  There were long time activists, first time vigilers, young and old, veterans, and family members of servicemen and women.

Demonstrators held signs, flags, candles and crosses, waved to passersby, and enjoyed coffee, hot cider and cookies.

Though the mainstream media claims that the war has taken a back seat to the economy as the primary concern of the American people, Friday’s event proved that people want an end to this war and are excited about an opportunity to show their opposition.  

Following an article in our local Sawyer County Record, our event was well filmed and photographed.  WOJB Radio’s Local Morning Edition host Eric Schubring did a live telephone call from the event and the newspaper sent a photographer.

So how does this happen in Hayward, better known for musky fishing than for liberal activism? It turns out it’s all pretty basic. All you need is some motivated people to use some of the basic tools of organizing and ask people, one by one, to get involved.  That, of course, takes some effort, some time, and some courage.

I dare say it’s even harder to be public about your politics, and to stand at a busy intersection with your peace sign, than it is to do the same in a big city.

Yet Hayward doubled its turnout while Milwaukee and some other places — but by no means all — experienced a dropoff in participation.  It was not because people in Milwaukee and elsewhere are more worried now about the economy than they are about Iraq. It’s all about commitment and effort. It can be done.  

Margaret Eggers Krause of Peace North shared these thoughts:

How did we do it? Over 80 people in Hayward, WI, population barely over 2100?

Get some publicity! Network with area groups. The other thing we did to achieve this was to think back to early on, when buses were headed to Washington… where are those protesters?

Check other area groups, what are they doing? They all need to be re-invited… and told that, yes, there is a new urgency and drive to do something…and it starts with getting on the same page, on the same day. We promote that all groups use the Moratorium as their umbrella event.

That is the beauty of the Iraq Moratorium… it is for everyone. We all want the same results; if some groups continue holding their vigils on another day… good, keep that up if you want to …….

BUT UNITE AND BE A FORCE – the only kind that will get politician’s ears – on EVERY THIRD FRIDAY!

Hayward wasn’t the only inspirational report of the day.  You’ll find others, which are trickling in now from around the country, on the Iraq Moratorium website.

Check it out, and think about what you can do. Hayward’s success means we should up the ante:  24,000 in Milwaukee, 320,000 in New York, and 12 million nationally.

They don’t all have to be standing at a vigil.  But they all need to do something on the Third Friday of every month.  Iraq Moratorium #5 is on January 18, right around the corner.  Ready to get started?    


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    • pfiore8 on December 27, 2007 at 18:10


    • Viet71 on December 27, 2007 at 18:23

    One of the chief things to love and admire about the U.S. is how much talent, commitment, leadership and greatness is born out of small hamlets.

  1. …and we’ll keep tryin’ here in Berkeley!

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