Vernal Equinox (Spring is here!)

March 21, 2010

The ecliptic path at vernal equinox

Yesterday, at 1:32 p.m., spring arrived in the northern hemisphere, and fall began in the southern. The vernal (spring) equinox marks the time each year when daylight and darkness are exactly equal (in the northern hemisphere; this date marks the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere.

I was privileged to attend the United Nations Earth Day ceremony and the ringing of the peace bell in the rose garden, where I heard the wonderful Tarumi Violinists, directed by Yukako Tarumi, and many interesting speakers on the environment. Among the speakers were Helen Garland, chairperson of the Earth Society Foundation, co-founded with John McConnell and supported by noted anthropologist Margaret Mead; Simon Reeves from New Zealand; Vahan Galoumian, Project Coordinator of UNESCO‘s liason office in New York, and Andres Gomez of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation of Natural History at the American Museum of Natural History.

John McConnell's Earth Flag

We are losing habitat and biodiversity at an alarming rate; 40% of the Amazon rainforest will be lost by 2030 if deforestation continues at present rates; soil and fisheries depletion are accelerating, and 30,000 people per day are dying from lack of access to clean water. These are severe problems that need solutions, and I thank all of yesterday’s speakers for their dedication to these issues.

Yet too often, the multinational corporations and the men and women who run them are portrayed as arch-villains; I find this disturbing for many reasons, chief among them that these men and women are people just like you and me, and no man or woman is my enemy. For better or for worse, these corporations are here to stay, and we need to enlist them as partners to move forward; the way to peace can only be through peace. As Jurrian Kamp, editor-in-chief of Ode magazine states in his article We need to end climate anger: “…environmentalists… need to embrace all the people they fear stand in the way of the progress the planet needs: the politicians and industrial leaders.”

To be sure, corporations must practice corporate responsibility and become good planetary citizens, and their track record on this has been dismal, yet demonizing these corporations and the men and women who run them is the most ineffective means at our disposal of enlisting their cooperation—and we need their cooperation and access to their vast resources if we are to find solutions to the problems we face. We are all in this together.

The above views are my own, and do not necessarily represent the Woodstock Council for World Peace.


The invisible war

January 31, 2010

Photo from Stop Conflict: DR Congo—

Nicholas D. Kristof’s column today concerns the continuing war in the Congo, which, he points out, has claimed 30 times more lives than the Haitian disaster, and is the most devastating conflict the world has seen since World War II. The war has claimed more than 5.4 million lives to date, with no end in sight.

Mr. Kristof notes the pathetic international response to this tragedy, and I thank him for his continuing dedication to the causes of peace and justice. The unspeakable atrocities being committed in the Congo must be stopped; please write your representatives asking that they devote resources to putting an end to this.

You might also write to media outlets, expressing outrage at the lack of media coverage.

Disclaimer: The above views are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Woodstock Council for World Peace.

State of the Union address at Harmony

January 27, 2010

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, January, 27, 2009, which is normally open mic night at Harmony, will be devoted to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, hosted by Father Jack Nelson, and posted on Organizing for America by Elaine Maggiore, who is working hard for the Woodstock Council for World Peace, and whose daughter, Christina Valentine, has represented the Council in Conversano, Italy (Woodstock and Conversano are now sister cities, largely due to the Council’s, and Christina’s efforts), and who is now in Buenos Aires, Argentina, spreading our message of love and peace.

President Barack Obama

So please come out to Harmony, 52 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, NY, and participate in our American democracy; help us rebuild our community spirit, which is so desperately needed, especially in these troubled times. There’s sure to be much lively discussion after our president’s speech, so this is an event you won’t want to miss. Thanks again to Elaine Maggiore, and to Father Jack Nelson for making this event possible. We’ll post the events at Harmony for Thursday, Friday and Saturday tomorrow; and don’t forget, the Woodstock Council for World Peace meets at Harmony every Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

Disclaimer: The above views do not necessarily represent the views of the Woodstock Council for World Peace.

Council Meeting Postponed

December 13, 2009

Due to the extreme inclement weather, tonight’s Council meeting has been postponed; we expect to be meeting next Sunday at the Community Center instead. We will post the time as soon as we have the details.

Letter to the Council

December 13, 2009

To the Council:

Note: Click on the images to view them at actual size. To become an effective non-profit organization that is able to be self-supporting, we need to discuss and decide what sorts of initiatives and programs the Council will support. Simply saying that we all want peace is not enough.

Basic idea for the Home Page

About Us page

Our Programs page

Our Mission page

You’ll note that on the Our Programs page that I’ve listed several ideas. The first, the Clean Water Project, would be directed toward obtaining between 10,000 to 100,000 FirstNeed water filters from General Ecology, the best of their kind. Each FirstNeed water filter can effectively remove bacterial pathogens, viruses, chemicals and pesticides from 150 gallons of even the most contaminated water, providing clean water for many people. The filters can then be backwashed with a bleach solution and be used again, before eventually needing to be replaced.

We could distribute these water filters in concert with Phil Sauers’s Water Not Weapons organization, Pierre Leroy’s Haitian People’s Support Project and the Clinton Foundation, to the Haitian communities where potable water is a scarce commodity—and many people die from contaminated water, not just in Haiti, but around the world. Without water, there is no life—nearly 30,000 people die daily because of lack of access to clean water. Without water, there can be no peace. This would be a worthwhile effort for the Council to pursue. A hundred-thousand of these filters could provide clean water for up to 500,000 people for a year.

You’ll also note that the Student Sponsorship Program on the Our Programs page. It would be possible to send an area student abroad in partnership with Cross Cultural Solutions, a non-profit organization working for the benefit of the poor in 12 different countries around the world. We’d need to work out the details in regards to how best promote this, but CSS spends 91 percent of funds on their programs. This is the same ratio I’d like to see for the Woodstock Council.

The Council could get donations for this purpose. CCS volunteers make meaningful contributions, working side-by-side with local people and sharing in the goals of a community that warmly welcomes them.

The cost to sponsor sending a volunteer abroad (2 to 12 weeks)—ranges from US $2,784 upwards. Volunteers gain college credits through participation in the program.

Cross-Cultural Solutions has volunteer programs in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania and Thailand.

The other programs listed are starting points; I’m sure that you all have ideas about what would be most effective. The World Peace Concerts is Jack’s idea, and he’ll tell you what his plans are in this regard. The main point, though, is that we have to have unique and effective programs if we are to gain people’s interest and donations.

I’ve also sent some banner ads and buttons; these would appear on targeted websites that fit the demographic model for potential donors and members. This is a low-cost and effective means of advertising.

Button Web Ad

The website pages I’ve sent are just a rough idea of how the site might look, obviously, there will be many sub-pages, and hundreds of hours of work required to make this a reality. Please note that anyone can register and sign in, but the Join button at the lower left will take the user to a secure e-commerce page; I suggest that the cost of membership be $10.00; and I think the Council should put this up for a vote tonight.

These are my thoughts, and I thank you for allowing me to share them with you.

Peace and Love,

Cameron Williams

Woodstock Council Meeting

December 13, 2009

Tomorrow, December 13, 2009, the Woodstock Council for World Peace is meeting at the Woodstock Community Center, 56 Rock City Road in Woodstock, NY, from 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m. All are invited; among the subjects for discussion are website development, fund raising, and projects to be taken on/promoted by the Council. We must choose the work we will do that will best sustain the Council and most effectively promote the cause of peace. Please come; we invite and need your input on these important matters.

Rooted in Peace

December 5, 2009

“For a long time people thought you have to have a big organization to do anything, but I’m now convinced its going to be millions of small organizations that will actually do the job of bringing the world together.”
—Pete Seeger, from Greg Reitman’s upcoming film, Rooted in Peace

Rooted in Peace is a film currently in production written and directed by Greg Reitman, a wonderful person who works hard to further the causes of peace and understanding. He braved the cold and rain to walk with us over the Brooklyn Bridge this past Monday, November 30th, 2009. He participated in Universal Peace Day with Phil Sauers, Su Zen, Gloria Waslyn and all the other wonderful people who were involved. His contributions help to make the world a better place. We eagerly await this movie’s release, and extend our thanks to Greg for all that he’s done, and continues to do.