Wednesday, February 17, 2016

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.

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, fundraise, and educate people about the encampment.
 

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

WEFPJ 1983 Resource Handbook

SoNG: Beth's Song: Ballad of Greenham

video
Video: Seneca Army Depot truck gate, August 1, 1983 - Women's Video Collective
Music: Helen & Hershe from Peace Camps Sing, produced by Sorrel Hays and Marilyn Ries, 1987

Beth's Song: Ballad of Greenham
Written by Helen Freedwomon aka Helen Friedman, 1984
PeHP Source: Songsheets 1985; Peace Camps Sing, Sorrel Hays & Marilyn Ries, 1987

I wrote this song in 1986 after Beth, a woman at Greenham, stood trial for trespass and destruction of property. Some of the words were based on things she said in the courtroom.
~ Helen

When you rape the earth you rape my body
I can feel her trembling in my soul
As you rip her roots you clog my life's blood
With your poison weapons of control 
 You say you only follow orders -
it's just your job the day's routine
To kill then justify the murder
As you guard and drive your death machines   

Your strength is an illusion
Your lies are an intrusion
on my life, my sacred space.
And the words we've written on your doors to destruction
might be wiped clean but their truth can't be erased.

You'd rip me open like a test site.
Colonize my body like the land
With the law protecting your need for the might
to make sure we know who's in command
You dare to say I damage property
while you destroy and damage lives
You may swear to God I'm guilty
but I say it's you who is being tried. 

The truth is stronger
Women are stronger
than any force that you exert
Ours is the power of the wind and the water
Love for our sisters and our love for the earth.  

You think you're going to stop me
with your laws, your walls, your prison bars
But as I rise up in this struggle to be free
I'll expose your lies for what they are.

I'll be back to cut your fences
Each hole restoring sacred ground
Cut through your lies and pretenses
Until all the walls of fear come down.

The truth is stronger
Women are stronger
Than any force that you exert
Ours is the power of the wind and the water
Love for our sisters and our love for the earth

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
Date:
March 1, 2008
Location:
New York, NY
Present:
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?!?
INTERVIEW 

 
INCIDENT AT THE WATERLOO BRIDGEJuly 30, 1983
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.

WVC 047 July 16-17, 1983

*This video was transferred to miniDV tape from the original 3/4" tape. Although title and credit pages have been added, the content has not been edited.  As with all Women’s Video Collective (WVC) footage, video and sound quality vary greatly due to the age of the material (25 years between original and digital), the quality of the tapes and equipment to begin with (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 peace encampment that summer of 1983 and especially to Judi Kelemen and Nancy Clover for storing, and then making available, WVC's videos and photographs. Many, 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.

Women walking, skipping, and singing along the yellow paint line at the main gate of the depot before enhancing the road and the depot's conditions of entry sign
Women’s Video Collective. Copyright 1983. All Rights Reserved.
Peace Encampment Herstory Project - WVC 047


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

HeRSToRy 106 Rachel Flanigan aka Rachel Bear

     Rachel grew up in Geneva, NY and spent much of her childhood at the peace camp. She is the daughter of one of the Peace Camp's most dedicated organizers, Pam Flanigan.
Interview: Rachel Flanigan
Date:
November 12, 2008
Location:
Carson City, NV
Present:
Estelle Coleman, hershe Michele Kramer 
 
 
CLIP 1: Study War No More
 CLIP 2: Going to elementary school in Geneva, NY
INTERVIEW

HeRSToRy 045 Martha Mollison

   Herstory has Martha to thank for the existence of the Women's Video Collective and its extensive documentation of the Seneca Women's Peace Camp in 1983. As a fledgling videographer in Boston, she hatched the idea, rallied support for it & and made sure it happened. She went on to make a career of teaching video and is the author of Producing Videos: A Complete Guide
Interview: Martha Mollison
Date:
February 8, 2008
Location:
Boston, MA
Present:
Estelle Coleman, hershe Michele Kramer

CLIP 1: It's got to be covered
CLIP 2: We weren't that
INTERVIEW



Photographs of Martha at the peace camp in 1983 taken by Women's Video Collective still photographer, Nancy Clover.
Martha (left), Glynis Loman (right) and a third WVC crew member prepare for the day's shoot at the encampment.
Martha (left), Judi Kelemen (center) and Claire Beach (right) discuss a Women's Video Collective studio show in Cambridge, MA.
Martha (in red) at a Women's Video Collective meeting at the encampment in June, 1983.
Martha with her son on their way to the Peace Camp.