Tuesday, May 29, 2018

What was the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice (WEFPJ)?

    The Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice (WEFPJ) was an all-women’s community of protest and challenge to violence and militarism housed on 52 acres bordering the Seneca Army Depot in upstate New York. 

    Commonly known as the Seneca Women’s Peace Camp or Seneca, WEFPJ was modeled after the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in England (1981-2000) where thousands of British sisters were engaged in nonviolent protest in the face of the scheduled deployment of U.S. Cruise and Pershing II nuclear missiles.

    Though the United States military steadfastly refused at the time to either confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons at the Seneca Depot, it has since been revealed that the base was a storage site and departure point for nuclear weapons bound for Europe. Additionally, the Depot housed radioactive material for the Manhattan Project.

    In the summer of 1983, 12,000 women from around the world came to the encampment to participate in nonviolence training, direct action, and civil disobedience at the Seneca Army Depot resulting in 950 arrests. Actions continued throughout the 1980s with an ongoing peace presence until 2006.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

FooTaGe 1[006]

   Michelle Crone takes talks about plans for the summer as she and Women's Video Collective members tour the newly (nearly) purchased encampment land

*This video was transferred to miniDV tape from the original 3/4" tape. The content has not been edited. As with all Women’s Video Collective (WVC) footage from the summers of 1983 and 1984, video and sound quality vary greatly due to the age of the material, the quality of the original tapes and equipment (used and borrowed), and the setting itself (outdoors in the heat and wind on uneven ground). Herstory owes a large debt of gratitude to all the women who helped in ways great and small to document the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice and especially to Judi Kelemen and Nancy Clover for storing, and then making available, WVC's videos and photographs. Many thanks as well to filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal who graciously donated their equipment, expertise, and Brooklyn studio so the Peace Encampment Herstory Project could digitize WVC’s 130-tape collection.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

SoNG: Can't Kill the Spirit

Women's Video Collective. Copyright 1983. All Rights Reserved.  

Can't Kill the Spirit
Written by Naomi Littlebear Morena
PeHP Source: WVC ; Songbook 1983; Songsheet 1984 (a)

From Songsheet 1984 (a)

From Naomi Morena Little Bear:
“I wrote this song when I was in the group Izquierda Ensemble. We were active in the women's music scene in the '70s and the song was performed at various university gigs but most heard at the Michigan Womyn's Music festival and the Champaign-Urban Women's music festival. In the early '80's I learned that the song was one of many adopted by the women's international peace movement, mostly notabley sung at the Greenham Common Women's Peace camp. In 1984 I went to the UK and was fortunate to meet some women to record the song on the "We Have a Dream" lp. I am humbled by the stories I have heard regarding the singing of my song at the various protests, peace and healing gatherings through out the world. It (the chorus) has been used by many singers, writers etc and unfortunately many people believe the song is anonymous. I would love to hear more stories of how and when my song has been sung. I am an older mom of a soon to be 8 year old boy and would love to someday share these stories with my son."

From The Mudcat Cafe website, March 2012

PeHP Source: Songbook for Seneca Falls Wimmin's Peace Encampment, compiled by Oak & Amethyst of Wimmin In Collective Community Action, 1983

Friday, July 22, 2016

ViDeo: WEFPJ Slide/Tape Presentation

   Produced by the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice Media Collective in the late summer of 1983 to help publicize, fund raise, and educate people about the encampment.

See WEFPJ media collective member Dorothy Emerson's PeHP interview here.

WEFPJ 1983 Resource Handbook

HeRSToRY 039 & 040 Quinn Dilkes & Rosalie Regal

    Quinn and Rosalie are longtime friends who were among those arrested at the bridge in Waterloo, NY in the summer of 1983. Both women were members of the New York City Women's Pentagon Action and had spent months planning a festive 15-mile walk from Seneca Falls to the peace camp but ended up spending five days in jail instead. Quinn arrived at the encampment a day before the incident via a 270-mile peace walk from NYC.

Interview: Quinn Dilkes & Rosalie Regal
March 1, 2008
New York, NY
Estelle Coleman, hershe Michele Kramer & Alice O'Malley
CLIP 1: I can't believe what I'm seeing
CLIP 2: What are these women doing?!?

Photo by Deb Mandel.

Photo by Deb Mandel.

Photo by Catherine Allport.

Photo by Deb Mandel.

Photo by Catherine Allport.

Photo by Deb Mandel.

Photo by Deb Mandel.

Photo by Nancy Clover.

ViDeo: Every Woman Here: Remnants of Seneca 1982-2006

Produced by the Peace Encampment Herstory Project 2007; revised 2015.

Front cover of DVD case
Back cover of DVD case

SoNG: Liberty Chain

September 4, 1983 footage from the Women's Video Collective. 
Copyright 1983. All Rights Reserved.

Liberty Chain
Alternative lyrics written by Seneca Chain Gang affinity group?
Original songwriter unknown
PeHP Source: WVC 023

It's time for the liberty chain
And it's time to let our souls sing out again
And it's time for the liberty chain
Brothers and sisters, come on, get out of the rain

Pardon me, Brother, do you have a dime?
We'll reach out and call to talk to you just one more time
Well, I'm tired and hungry just like you
It's going to take all of us and then
We're going to see it through 

It's time for the liberty chain
And it's time to let your souls sing out again
And it's time for the liberty chain
Brothers and sisters, come on, get out of the rain

Headed for changes that are coming through
And we don't want to have to make it this time without you
It don't matter where you come from
It don't matter what you do
It's going to take all of us

It's time for the liberty chain
And it's time to let our souls sing out again
And it's time for the liberty chain
Brothers and sisters, come on, get out of the rain
Brothers and sisters, come on, get out of the rain

"Six Minutes to Midnight" 1985

March and Civil Disobedience Action
Q-Zone, McGrane Road gate of the Seneca Army Depot
July 6, 1985 

All photos, flyers & articles provided by Linda Field

Flyer attached to WEFPJ regional meeting minutes, April 28, 1985.

Four-day plans given to women as they came on the land that long weekend.

Plan for the action itself.

One of the articles that ran in the paper the next morning. This is from the Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY. Monday, July 7, 1985.

WVC Interview: Barbara Deming

    Barbara Deming (July 23, 1917 - August 2, 1984) is one of the most significant nonviolent theorists in U.S. history. Her writings and activism chronicle the civil rights movement, the Vietnam anti-war movement, the women's movement and the gay and lesbian rights movement. She published many books, including Prison Notes (1966) and Remembering Who We Are (1981). Prisons That Could Not Hold (1995) contains the essay she wrote about Seneca the summer of 1983 and the incident in Waterloo. It also includes a chronology of events by Blue Lunden and photographs by Dorothy Marder, Catherine Allport, Catherine DeMaria, Ellen Shub & Joan E. Biren, shown below.
Barbara being interviewed at the encampment several days after being released from jail.

Barbara raises her flag/bouquet of wildflowers. Photo by Dorothy Marder, 1983.
above: As she is being arrested, Barbara blows a kiss to a tearful Jun Song. Photo by Catherine Allport, 1983. below: Barbara is handcuffed. Photo by Catherine DeMaria, 1983.
above: The Jane Does testify during the arraignment at the Seneca County Fairgrounds. below: The group waits in the courtroom for the decision. Photos by Joan E. Biren (JEB), 1983.
above: Grace Paley (center) and other women at the school/jail in Interlaken, NY, circle in support of the fifty-four arrested women. below: Jane Gaupin (left) talks with townspeople at the jail. Photos by Joan E. Biren (JEB), 1983.
above: Back at the encampment, Barbara holds the flagpole point. below: One of the all-women circles at the peace camp in front of the barn. Photos by Joan E. Biren (JEB), 1983.
1983 Chronology of Waterloo 54

JULY 25: Barbara arrived with Rhea at Northwoods in upstate New York. They joined Blue and Quinn on the 21st day of their walk from New York City to Seneca.

JULY 26: Barbara walked from Trumansburg to Ovid Center, N.Y. with Blue, Quinn, Rhea, and Donna.

JULY 28: Walk was joined by Jun Song, Terri, Lisa, and Kitrinka. The entire group reached the Encampment that afternoon.

JULY 29: We spent most of the day at camp and joined Jun Song for part of her daily walk around the Army depot.

JULY 30: We joined with 75 other women in New York City Women’s Pentagon Action’s Feminist Walk, from Seneca Falls to the Encampment. In the town of Waterloo, a mob blocked our way at the bridge. We sat to diffuse potential violence and to insist on our constitutional right to pass. Fifty-four were arrested and taken to the local jail.

JULY 31: We were transported at 5 a.m. from jai to the Interlaken Junior High School and were held in the cafeteria for five days, as we refused to give our names or cooperate in any way with this illegal arrest. Women from the Encampment began vigiling outside the school and were harassed by local townspeople. The governor declared a “state of emergency” and state police were brought in.

AUGUST 3: We were taken to the Seneca County Fair Grounds to a barn that had been converted to a courtroom. After processing 14 of us individually, each of whom refused to give her name and most of whom refused to walk, the judge finally yielded to our demand to be heard as a group. We were all brought in and allowed to make our statement. Charges were dismissed and even our fingerprints and mug shots were returned to us. We returned to the Encampment, where Barbara spent another week before returning home.

HeRSToRy 038 Laura Flanders

   Laura toured the U.S. in the spring of 1983 as a spokeswoman from Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp to help raise money for the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice. She lived on the land at Seneca for six weeks in the summer of 1983.

Interview: Laura Flanders 
Date: February 29, 2008
Location: New York, NY
Present: Estelle Coleman, hershe Michele Kramer, Alice O'Malley

CLIP 1: A river of social change

CLIP 2: I wish we had camps on a regular basis


Back in the day...

Seneca Army Depot Fact Sheet

Pamphlet distributed by the Finger Lakes Peace Alliance - Geneva, NY ca. 1983

What is the Seneca Army Depot?

The Seneca Army Depot (SEAD) is one of several facilities used to store nuclear weapons for the Department of Defense. It is located on 11,000 acres of rural land in upstate New York and is operated by the U.S. Army. The earliest known use of SEAD for nuclear weapons-related work was in 1944 when uranium was stored at the depot for the Manhattan Project (the government project which developed the first atomic bomb). Eleven of the storage bunkers used were found to be radioactive n 1980. These bunkers have since been sealed off.

In 1957 the Seneca Army Depot began storing tactical (short range) nuclear weapons and in 1961 began distributing “special weapons” items and repair parts both here and overseas. Nuclear weapons are routinely referred to as “special weapons” in Department of Defense documents.

Evidence that SEAD is a Nuclear Storage Facility

It is the policy of the Department of Defense (DOD) neither to confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at a particular location. However, evidence shows that SEAD is a major nuclear weapons facility and is the on East Coast “transshipment point” receiving nuclear weapons from the Department of Energy (DOE), the manufacturer of the weapons, for eventual deployment in Europe.
Evidence includes:

Seneca Army Depot has a storage area essential for the housing on nuclear weapons. It consists of 60 to 70 reinforced earth-covered bunkers as well as a 28,000 square foot earth-covered, temperature controlled building essential for plutonium maintenance. (Plutonium is the explosive element common to most nuclear weapons.)

This nuclear storage area is guarded by 200 to 250 military police who are authorized to use deadly force in order to prevent intruders from approaching the bunkers. These police officers have received anti-terrorist training. The 1982 military construction hearing included a request to increase the number of military police at SEAD.

Included in a 1967 SEAD employees’ handbook is a list of four “occupational skills”: “nuclear weapons officer,” “nuclear weapons assembly technician,” “nuclear weapons maintenance technician,” and “nuclear weapons electronics specialist.”

A 1975 technical manual includes SEAD in a list of “military first destinations” for the receipt of nuclear weapons and ‘limited life components” (this refers to tritium, an element used to trigger nuclear warheads).

A July 1980 DOD/DOE planning document identifies SEAD as the East Coast transshipment point for nuclear munitions.

Economic Impact of SEAD and Jobs

The Seneca Army Depot’s 1982-1983 operating budget exceeds 30 million dollars. Over 80 percent goes to pay the wages of civilian and military personnel.

The depot provides nearly 1,400 jobs; 800 of the jobs are held by civilians while the remaining 600 jobs require a high level of skill or security clearance and are filled by persons who are brought to the depot form outside the Finger Lakes region. Many of the low skills jobs are filled by family members of military personnel stationed at the depot. The end result of this employment situation is that only a small percentage of all the jobs at the depot are open to local people.

The Tax Impact of SEAD

SEAD is a federal facility and therefore pays no sales or property-related taxes. The depot occupies about 4% of Seneca County’s land area. The depot’s land and buildings are reported to have an assessed value of $250 million and could be paying over $8,000,000 per year in property-related taxes in Seneca County. A private enterprise would also be paying millions of dollars in sales taxes on the material it would be buying for its operations. The depot has within its boundaries a department store, restaurant, two bars, a luncheonette, a grocery store, liquor store, bowling alley and gas station. These nine enterprises are included in the depot’s property tax assessment of over $250 million and are for the use of military personnel and their families. Sales made in these businesses are not subject to sales taxes.

Less than 1% of the military personnel at the depot own homes in the community and pay any property-related taxes. 67% of the military personnel and their families live on the depot in military housing. These person do not contribute rent or sales tax revenues from utility bills to the local economy.

SoNG: Dance Spirit

PeHP Source: Songbook for Seneca Falls Wimmin's Peace Encampment, compiled by Oak & Amethyst of Wimmin In Collective Community Action, 1983

NeWSPaPeR May 30, 1983

From: Ithaca Journal, May 30, 1983

Women-only Anti-Nuclear Encampment Set for July 4
ROCHESTER (AP) – Women by the leaderless thousands hope to give a new complexion to America’s anti-nuclear movement when they camp this summer on a farm hard by the barbed-wire fence of Seneca Army Depot. The summerlong watch at the suspected nuclear weapons storehouse, starting July 4, will be the first women-only anti-nuclear encampment in the United States the women say. Their inspiration is the 21-month vigil, often muddy and bedraggled, of British women camped outside the Greenham Common U.S. Air Force base, 50 miles west of London, England.
   Women from Greenham Common, Continental Europe and across the United States have pledged support and inquired about joining the 52-acre camp on a scrubby rural flatland between Cayuga and Seneca lakes in upstate New York. The Seneca women hope to use what the call a female style of communal, consensus decision-making by operating without a president, a board of directors, an executive committee or even a designated spokeswoman.“This way of doing it is every bit as important as the event itself,” said Marcia Craig of Rochester, a clinical instructor in psychiatry.
  After a year of communicating by what their British counter parts call “bush telegraph,” the women held a news conference Monday to announce the purchase of an abandoned farm in the Seneca County of Varick, 45 miles southwest of Rochester.
The farm, which sold for $37,500, backs onto a 6-foot-high fence topped by there strands of barbed wire – the outer perimeter of the depot. 

   The lack of a distinct voice of authority has led to conflicting reports about what exactly is planned for the Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice.
Seneca Army Depot spokesman Robert Zemanek said he had seen newspaper reports that 30,000 women were expected and had heard of a Florida radio report that the women intended to link hands and circle the 11,000-acre base, which has an 18-mile perimeter.

   A Women’s Encampment flyer says in capital letters that “August 1st has been chose for a large action, including a non-violent civil disobedience action.”
But a camp delegation that met with Zemanek last week told him they expected no more than a few hundred women at any one time. “There are some obvious discrepancies,” Zemanek said. The base has hired an extra 45 civilian guards and erected a new fence by the east gate so a parking lot and grassy mall can be blocked of it necessary, he said.

   According to the Center for Defense Information, a Washington-based organization of retired military officers, the Seneca Army Depot is probable the Army’s East Coast storehouse for neutron warheads and nuclear landmines. The depot might also be a storage site for the Army’s Pershing II missile warheads, which are scheduled for deployment in Europe in December, according to Robert Norris, a senior analyst for the research group. The most likely storage site for the Pershing II warheads is Fort Still, Okla., where the Army is training a Pershing battalion, Norris said.
The Department of Defense refuses to confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons at any site.

   Marcia Craig of Rochester, a member of the Women’s Encampment, said the camp will be a haven “so that women who did not want to take part in the civil disobedience could have a safe place to stay.” She and others say that they cannot predict what form the civil disobedience might take, only saying that women will be trained in non-violent techniques.
   At Greenham Common, 50 miles west of London, 300,000 women surrounded the air base in December in what they called a “celebration of life.” Since then they have danced on top of a missile silo, sat on the roof of a prison where some their members were detained, obstructed construction on the base and blockaded a highway to it. Greenham Common is a major base for the U.S. Air Force and is expected to house the cruise missile beginning in December.
   Greenham Common and the Seneca encampment have already spawned a second U.S. women’s peace camp. The newly formed Puget Sound Women’s Peace Camp plans to pitch tents by the fence of a Boeing Aerospace Crop. plant in the Seattle suburb of Kent where, it says, cruise missiles are manufactured. Carl Kiiskila, a member of that group, said the Puget Sound camp was inspired in part by the Seneca women. She said the camp will begin with a major demonstration June 18 and continue indefinitely – “until they stop the cruise missile.”
   This weekend the Seneca women began building 200 camp sites, each of which is designed for five or six people. Craig said member hope to keep the number of women staying overnight at not much more than 1,000 people. Women will be expected to take turns staying on the encampment, and those who can’t find room will be informed of nearby state parks and motels where they can stay, she said. Men will be invited to provide child care, medical care, transportation, vegetables and possible fundraising help.
   By keeping number down on the encampment, the women say they hope to prevent the soil from being trampled. They plant to grow vegetables this summer and possible turn the farm back to its original purpose when the summer is over, member Patricia Dorland of Rochester said. The camp might also be turned over to the townspeople or made into a permanent center for study of the effects of militarism, members said.
   The Women’s Encampment has offices in Geneva, 15 miles to the north, and New York City. About five women are working full-time on the encampment and being supported through donations, according to member Karen Kirchoff.
   Established women’s groups, like the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, have helped with publicity. Jobs are handled by ad hoc committees that dissolve when their work is done, the members say. About 40 women have been most actively involved in the organization. Planning meetings with an ever-changing group of participants have been held in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Syracuse, Rochester and Albany, members say.
   According to their operating style, one person can block consensus and thwart a decision. “It generates a lot of trust among people,” Dorland said. “The person who blocks consensus is taking a very heavy responsibility on themselves,” Craig said. “That’s why it doesn’t happen very often.”

GaLLeRy 2015: HeRSToRy HaPPeNiNG!


Friday, May 8 - Cambridge, MA 
Signing of the Schlesinger Library Gift of Deed with comments by Schlesinger Executive Director Marilyn Dunn and Peace Encampment Herstory Project co-founders Estelle Coleman & hershe Michele Kramer. Presentation by former Women's Video Collective members Nancy Clover (PeHP  035), Judi Kelemen (PeHP 012 ), & Claire Beach (PeHP 011). NYC artist and ecofeminist Helene Aylon (PeHP 043) will present "Dis-arming Metaphors," multimedia imagery of the performance-based work that led to her Seneca Army Depot installation.


GaLLeRy 1983: Ann Arbor Women's Peace Camp

   Several groups of women from Ann Arbor, MI visited the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice in July and August of 1983. In October, they organized a sister peace camp with daily actions, street theater, films and presentations in back in their hometown.

Photographs by Penny Batelli

 The week-long camp was housed (and lawned) at the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting House.
Slow Walk action across the University of Michigan campus.
Greta and Merf (2nd and 3rd in line) from the Seneca Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice lead the way.

"Ann Arbor Women's Peace Camp = 
Courage, Creativity and the pursuit of PEACE
Ronald Reagan = Profit, Poverty and the Pursuit of WAR"

March to the University of Michigan.
Preparing for a Die-In on the Diag.
MX missile takes center stage as the Die-In begins.
Dropping flowers.
Dorothy and Hershe outline the bodies in chalk as Ursula looks on.
Mourning the dead.
Circling the dead to end the Die-In.