On Wed October 17, Jan Miyasaki spoke with Tom McGrath, co-chair on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. The Network, which is a member agency of community share of Wisconsin and founded in 1991 as a coalition of activist groups in Wisconsin, is working towards the creation of a sustainable world free from violence and injustice. The network consists of over 160 groups across Wisconsin that are concerned with social justice issues – from immigration, environmental, anti-war, and more. Tom McGrath, who comes by way of the Northwoods Peace Fellowship, spoke to Jan about the upcoming Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice Awards Reception in Milwaukee and a Press Conference that will be held in Madison tomorrow, October 18.
Tom, a navy veteran who grew disillusioned with US presence in Iraq, decided to get involved with the peace movement and the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. Says Tom, “I’d say I was probably very pro-military when I got out [of service] but over the years I think I’ve evolved… We’ve probably been in some form of war ever since World War II ended, and it seems like we’re always at war.”
The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice Awards Reception will be held on October 27 at the Friends Meeting House in Milwaukee. Reverend Joe and Joyce Ellwanger will be honored for their fifty year commitment to community organizing. Joe, a retired Lutheran minister, was active in the civil rights movement in the south, even marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And Joyce, who served six months in federal prison in 2003 for taking part in a peaceful protest on military grounds, has for a long time protested the US Army School of the Americas. Says Tom, “The School of the Americas trains soldiers to help enforce governments that are in power in [Central America]. They teach immoral tactics such as torture and assassination.”
The “Peacemakers of the Year” awards will also be given out at the ceremony, awarded in three different categories: youth, adult, and senior. In the youth category, the Autonomous Solidarity Organization in Madison will be awarded for their “ongoing nonviolence and civil disobedience in support of the right to peacefully assemble at the State Capital”; in the adult category, Mike Wiggins Jr., from Odana Wisconsin, Chair of the Bad River Tribe of Ojibwe Indians, will be awarded “for his advocacy for the lands water and culture of the Penokee Hills which are threatened by mining proposals”; in the senior category, Mary Jo Berner from Eagle River will be awarded “for her leadership with many ways of peace to educate and promote peace building while building community in north eastern Wisconsin.” The Dennis Bergren LGBT Advocacy Award, will go to Kristina ‘Kiki’ Kosnick from Madison “for founding and facilitating LGBTQ Narratives a queer activist writer’s group and leading ‘are we family’ campus community conversations among many other efforts.”
There will also be a Press Conference tomorrow in Madison on Thursday Oct 18 at the City County Building. “Local and county governments are facing another round of tough choices as they develop their budgets, yet US military spending has nearly doubled since 2001. In response, communities across the country have passed ‘Bring our War Dollars Home’ resolutions calling for the redirection of resources from the Pentagon to domestic needs. Recently, the Milwaukee city council unanimously passed the resolution…there’s going to be four people speaking at this press conference.”
Visit wnpj.org for more details.
Listen to the interview here: