About The Women’s International League for Peace and Justice (WILPF)
WILPF was founded in 1915 during WWI, with Jane Addams as its first president. WILPF works to achieve disarmament, full rights for women, racial and economic justice, and an end to all forms of violence. The Burlington VT Branch of WILPF has been active for 30+ years. We serve all Vermonters, working to create the political, social, and psychological conditions which can assure peace, freedom, and justice for all.Our Branch meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 5:30 PM at the Peace & Justice Center in Burlington. Meetings are free and open to all.
Activities of the Burlington, Vermont Branch of WILPF
The Burlington VT Branch of WILPF is an allied member of the Peace & Justice Center and an affiliate of WILPF US. The Burlington Branch’s goal is to work toward peace with other social justice and peace groups. Members have sponsored events and networking activities with many VT peace, environmental, and social justice groups, including:
- Coordinating a coalition to sponsor events in Commemoration of the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
- Producing a staged-reading of The Gods of the Hills, which addressed the “hot button” topic of energy production, from tar sands oil to industrial ridgeline wind tower, and raised issues of environmental justice;
- Sponsoring an educational program, entitled Building Bridges or New Cold War? Demystifying the Stereotypes of Russia and her People;
- Inviting local peace groups to hear Carol Urner on her Nuclear Free Tour; and
- Producing a staged-reading of Most Dangerous Women to educate Vermonters about a century of the women’s peace movement.
The Burlington Vermont Branch of WILPF, together with a coalition of peace, social justice, and environmental groups (i.e., Vermont Stands for a World Beyond War Coalition: Peace & Justice Center, Veterans for Peace, Save Our Skies VT, Vermont Action for Peace, Stop the F35s Coalition, etc.) is sponsoring a coalition-building and action-oriented conference on Saturday, April 22, 2017, entitled–Building A World Beyond War: What Will It Take?–at Winooski High School, Winooski, VT. The free conference will engage 300 to 400+ Vermonters in a wider campaign and effort to revitalize the Vermont peace movement by focusing on the intersectionality of the many issues–financial, social, and environmental costs of war and militarism–that can unite us and help us work together on possible solutions.
The April 22nd conference, to be held on Earth Day, will bring together coalition members and interested Vermonters through workshops, panels, and actions that answer the conference’s key question: what it will take to build a world beyond war? Keynote speaker, David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War (www. worldbeyondwar.org) will kick-off the day, focusing on the financial, social, and environmental costs of war and militarism. Nine workshops/panels will answer the conference’s key question: what it will take to build a world beyond war? The final session of the day will bring everyone together with Patricia Hynes, Director of the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice (http://traprock.org), to develop joint actions/activities that our coalition can engage in together after the conference is over. All coalition members—including Burlington WILPF—will have information and recruitment tables at the conference.
Call for Presenters
The newly-formed coalition–Vermont Stands for a World Beyond War–is looking for presenters/presentations for the April 22nd conference (see above) that will answer the conference’s main question by focusing on solutions that will help to revitalize the peace movement in Vermont and finding the common ground between our various groups so that we can develop an action agenda for the future. The Call for Presenters is due by February 28th. More information about the conference and the online Call for Presenters can be found at: https://goo.gl/forms/oo0d0DAXaZfmgUV52
Most Dangerous Women
In January of 1990 Sylvia Lundt, a long-time member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in Seattle, asked Nikki Nojima Louis to put together “a little something” to celebrate WILPF’s upcoming 75th Anniversary. Nikki invited me to work with her on the project. Nine months later, with the help of many others, including our first music director Joan Szymko, Most Dangerous Women was born. It was planned as a single-performance benefit, but that was not to be. The enthusiasm generated by that performance led to another in Bryn Mawr, PA, then another in Athens, WV, and so on through the years. In Seattle, and across the country, each performance begat another, and so we now find ourselves in the 25th year of Most Dangerous Women, preparing to celebrate a full century of WILPF.
Researching the first production in 1990 was both inspiring and unsettling. When you review headlines through the decades, you see patterns emerging. Before major wars, there are escalating threats, insults, and incursions as nations posture, position, prepare for war. In September 1990 those same sorts of headlines were again appearing, and by the second performance of Most Dangerous Women in June 1991, we were looking back on what some now call The First Gulf War. The pattern repeated post 9/11, ushering in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The tension between that which inspires and that which threatens despair continues. Through the news of war and violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, Israel, Palestine, Ukraine, Syria, Nigeria, and countless other conflicts and incidents of terrorism, we are sustained by bursts of hope, of what Emily Greene Balch – a founder of WILPF – called “evidence of sheer human goodness.” In the quarter century since Most Dangerous Women was first written, Nelson Mandela is freed and becomes the first democratically elected president of South Africa. Voices of resistance cannot be silenced: In 1995, Aung San Suu Kyi smuggles a tape from Burma where she is under house arrest to a massive gathering of women from around the world that meets in China. In 2010, she is finally released. In the face of unspeakable sorrow, families of 911 victims form Peaceful Tomorrows, devoting themselves to working for a world that prefers compassion to vengeance. Cindy Sheehan transforms her grief over her son’s death in Iraq into a campaign that revitalizes the anti-war movement in the 21st century. Defying anyone to stop her from seeking an education, Malala Yousafzai survives an attempt on her life, recovers, and becomes the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate.
The words of the courageous women (and men) who speak truth to power and say no to injustice inspire us and form the through line of Most Dangerous Women, punctuated by the songs that accompany all social movements. Remembering Nazi atrocities, we sing Die Gedanken Sind Frei, – my thoughts are free. Mairead Corrigan Maguire, a peacemaker in Northern Ireland, counsels her infant son to “refuse to hate, refuse to have enemies.” We sing As a Woman, Joan Szymko’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s simple declaration that as women, our country is the whole world. US Congresswoman Barbara Lee warns us that the authorization to use force in response to the attacks on 9/11 is a “blank check” for United States aggression. We sing Linda Allen’s Ashes and Smoke to assert, “We will rise, higher and higher, on the wings of compassion, justice and hope.” The gap between haves and have nots reaches outrageous dimension, spawning the Occupy Movement. We call upon an old song with new words. Which Side Are You On?
There may never be an end to the story of struggle for peace and justice on planet Earth, but as long as the struggle continues there is hope. Hope is a song, and we are, in Holly Near’s wonderful words comprising the finale of Most Dangerous Women, “singing for our lives.”