Script/Sound: Dorothy Emerson, Mai Craemer
Production/Distribution: Dorothy Emerson, Nancy Clover, Women's Video Collective
*Thanks to Nancy Clover and Judi Kelemen of the Women's Video Collective for making these images and words available.
1. Women are coming.
2. From everywhere.
3. Walking from Boston.
4. Flying from Europe.
5. Bicycling from Wisconsin.
6. Marching from North Carolina.
7. Coming in buses from Minnesota.
8. Coming in vans from New Jersey.
9. In cars from Alaska.
10. Coming however we can.
11. Coming to the Seneca Army Depot.
12. Coming to stop Cruise and Pershing missiles from going to Europe.
13. Here in Seneca County.
14. Here where native women of the Iroquois Nation gathered in 1590 to demand an end to war among tribes. Here where Harriet Tubman lived and aided the underground railroad in the 1800s
15. Here where women's rights activism was born in 1848 at the first Women's Rights Convention.
16. Here at Seneca in 1983, women gather to challenge the nuclear threat at our doorstep and to stop the escalation of the arms race by the planned deployment of first-strike nuclear weapons in Europe in the fall.
17. Here at Seneca, women are coming to power at the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice.
18. We say no to the threat of global holocaust, no to the arms race, no to death. We say yes to a world where people, animals, plants and the earth itself are respected and valued.
19. We come from different parts of the country and world.
20. We come from many different perspectives.
21. Some of us are long-time activists.
22. Some of us have never participated in a protest movement before.
23. Some of us are families.
24. Some of us are differently-abled.
25. Some of us are grandmothers.
26. Some of us are women of color.
27. Some of us are Buddhists.
28. Some of us are Jews.
29. Some of us are Christian.
30. We come in awareness of the imminent danger of deploying first-strike nuclear weapons in Europe.
31. We come in anguish, fearing annihilation by those who can think of no other way to solve problems than to build a bigger bomb.
32. We come with hope that women’s energy can change the world.
33. We come with a vision of a world without war, without nuclear weapons, with a future for our children.
34. We come because a group of American women, inspired by the women’s peace camps in Europe.
35. At Greenham Common, England.
36. And at the NATO-Polaris submarine installation in Scotland, met at the Global Conference on Feminism in 1982 and decided to create a peace camp here.
37. After months of visioning, meetings, investigations and fundraising, a collective decision is reached to purchase a 51-acre farm near the Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, NY, in order to establish a legal space for women to camp and organize.
38. For weeks prior to the July 4 opening, work crews come to prepare the land for the summer’s encampment.
39. While other women, with the help of organizations such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, work to notify women and the press of plans for the Encampment.
40. During the week prior to the July 4 opening, work crews come to prepare the land for the summer’s encampment.
41. As women gather and enter into the collective, meetings become more intense and our evolving process is tested and refined.
42. A major issue arises over the flying of the American flag.
43. Put to a small group process, 15 women struggle through 6 hours of discussion to arrive at a consensus which incorporates the needs and concerns of all positions.
44. Each woman is encouraged to make her own flag, expressing her individual loyalties.
45. Some women choose the America flag as a symbol of their values.
46. On opening day a vast array of flags fly at the Women’s Peace Encampment, reflecting the diversity of women who are here to create peace.
47. And so on the 4th of July, 1983, 500 women gather to officially open the Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice.
48. We share the themes and vision for the summer.
49. We hear reports of the work which has been accomplished thus far to build this Encampment.
50. We bless the land according to Native American tradition, with guidance from a clan mother of the Onodaga nation.
51. We pledge our allegiance to the earth and our commitment to peace.
52. Greetings come from local women and from around the world, with reports of actions at peace camps in England and at Comiso, Italy.
53. We sing our solidarity with our sisters camping at Puget Sound, Washington, and in prison in California for blockading a nuclear installation.
54. Thus inspired with our vision and purpose, we begin our first major walk 1 1/2 miles through the town of Romulus to the Seneca Army Depot.
55. The townspeople sit in their lawn chairs with their American flags to watch the marchers and to express their curiosity and concern.
56. Some wish we would go away and leave their nice little town the way it is. Others defend our right to protest and agree that nuclear war must be stopped.
57. Some doubt the existence of nuclear weapons at the Depot, claiming there is no place to keep them. Still others feel that if they have to be stored somewhere, it might as well be here, so that we’ll be the first to go and won’t have to suffer.
58. Many feel that the problem of war is too big for human beings to solve. But the women march on, knowing that we must do something to stop the destruction of our planet.
59. We know that if we are not effective our only choice is nuclear annihilation. Our commitment grows as we approach the main gate of the Seneca Army Depot – 500 women strong.
60. To dramatize our approach and to focus attention of the seriousness of the situation.
61. Women join in a slow walk, feeling the agony of the potential of nuclear holocaust.
62. We bring our offering of peace to a troubled world.
63. Our first action at the gate is the planting of two rose bushes – symbols of life and peace, affirmations of our resistance to death and destruction.
64. Women tie themselves to the gate, wailing and keening to express the despair that almost overcomes us.
65. Wailing …what will happen if nuclear war comes? We read our statement of resistance.
66. We ask for a revision of the Depot’s motto – “Mission First, People Always.”
67. For a future of peace and justice our motto is, “Our Mission will Always be People First.”
68. We celebrate our vision and our action.
69. We weave our symbols onto the fence and leave them there to remind the army that our resistance is strong and that we shall return daily.
70. Until the Depot is transformed on the inside as well as along the fence.
71. We hope the flag and the Depot are healed and transformed by this proximity to these symbols of peace.
72. As we settle down to daily life at the Encampment, we realize there is much work yet to be done.
73. We develop and learn new skills.
74. We build a pavilion for our meetings.
75. We shovel gravel for our road.
76. We set up sinks for our washing.
77. We build ramps to make our land accessible to differently-abled women.
78. We set up recycling centers and composting.
79. We work in the garden.
80. We create a safe space and activities for children.
1b. Everyone is welcome to visit the Encampment and participate in activities and conversations on the front lawn.
2b. But the camp itself is for women and children only.
3b. As life goes on at the Encampment, we realize the need to forge new ways to live together in harmony.
4b. To reach beyond the boundaries which separate us, to move through the inevitable conflicts that confront us...
5b. …when women of different cultures, different lifestyles, different classes, different races come together.
6b. In so doing we are developing a new feminist model of human interaction and relationship.
7b. …as we live day to day, cooking…
8b. …eating, sleeping…
9b. …joining in workshifts…
10b. …participating in workshops…
11b. …learning the techniques of non-violent civil disobedience…
12b. …planning and conducting vigils and actions at the Depot…
13b. …participating in meetings and in running the Encampment…
14b. …singing and playing together…
15b. …sharing our lives.
16b. Much of our energy is directed toward a major planned day of civil disobedience on August 1st.
17b. To our surprise, however, the townspeople of Waterloo force us into a action a few days early.
18b. On Saturday, July 29, 100 women, many of whom had arrived the night before on a bus from New York City, stage a legal demonstration in Seneca Falls at the National Women’s Hall of Fame…
19b. …to honor our women’s herstory of this country and to connect the past with the future. They then begin a legal march 15 miles to the Encampment.
20b. At the bridge in Waterloo, 350 angry townspeople blockade the march even though we were being escorted by a police car.
21b. The women sit down to diffuse the potential violence of the crowd and to decide what to do.
22b. The sheriff (who had been called in to take over) threatens to arrest the women instead of forcing the crowd to disperse. The women are given time to come to consensus.
23b. Half of them decide to remain seated and be arrested in acknowledgment of our right to be there and to march legally through this town.
24b. The townspeople cheer as the women are arrested and taken to a local school where they are held for 5 days.
25b. Later the charges are completely dropped and women’s photographs and fingerprints are returned, abolishing all official records of the arrest.
26b. Meanwhile back at the Encampment, women are meeting to plan solidarity actions, to devise strategies for ways to deal with local hostility…
27b. …and to finalize preparations for the August 1st march and civil disobedience.
28b. A month of organizing at the Encampment in preparation for this day…
29b. …allows for smooth handling of the thousands of women who arrive for the weekend.
30b. As each woman non-registers and signs up for work shifts...
31b. …she learns about the operation of the Encampment…
32b. …the opportunity for workshops…
33b. …and the plans and preparations for August 1st.
34b. An ecumenical “Celebration of Feminist Re-connection”…
35b. …symbolically converts bombs to bread…
36b. …and helps us center and direct our energies…
37b. …toward the conversion of the Depot to peaceful endeavors.
38b. August 1st begins with intermittent drizzlies as 2000 women assemble with banners and signs at Sampson State Park…
39b. …to prepare for the mile and a half march to the truck gate at the Seneca Army Depot.
40b. The men’s support group, who have started a mens’ peace camp nearby, have organized to provide childcare and food for the women who are marching.
41b. A press conference is held featuring women representing the peace movement in Australia, Germany, Japan, Italy, England and Canada…
42b. …as well as the United States, all joining together in solidarity to protest…
43b. …the deployment of Cruise and Pershing II missiles.
44b. The march to the Depot is stopped numerous times as sheriffs attempt to disperse…
45b. ...another crowd of angry counter demonstrators.
46b. Yet other local citizens show up to give support.
47b. Lawyers and peacekeepers work with the sheriffs and state troopers to keep the townspeople from becoming violent.
48b. As we approach the truck gate, we wail in anger…
49b. …and despair, and shout our determination…
50b. …to stop nuclear destruction.
51b. Affinity groups meet to share inspiration and last minute strategies for going over the fence.
52b. 244 women enter the Depot in a symbolic act of civil disobedience…
53b. …while others sing and decorate the fence…
54b. …with symbols of peace and hope.
55b. After the events at Waterloo and the August 1st demonstration…
56b. …local support continues to grow and many local residents come by the camp to learn more about what they can do.
57b. Work and workshops, vigils and civil disobedience, continue on a daily basis…
58b. …along with meetings to decide the future of this Encampment.
59b. On Labor Day, the scheduled closing of the Encampment, 350 women join in a circle of solidarity with workers around the world who suffer from a military-based, imperialist economy.
60b. Once again we march to the Depot. This time we take symbols of conversion, showing…
61b. …how the Depot could be used to provide jobs and resources in a peaceful world.
62b. Women of color join in a special circle of recognition of their particular oppression by the military.
63b. A dramatic Die-In demonstrates our refusal to perpetuate these destructive values and our commitment to nurturing life and a future for this planet.
64b. Once again women enter the Depot. This time many go under the fence.
65b. We leave pillowcases with our nightmares of war and our dreams of peace on the Depot fence.
66b. And the Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice continues. Weatherization of the land and buildings is underway…
67b. …so that a core group of women can live there through the winter.
68b. Documentation of the summer’s activities is happening at the Encampment and elsewhere to share the events here with others around the world.
69b. In Boston, the Women’s Video Collective is editing videotapes for broadcast on community access…
70b. …cable TV stations and for the Public Broadcasting System.
71b. Books, slide/sound shows, magazine articles and photographic exhibits are being proposed and funding for production being sought.
72b. Extended Encampment meetings are being held to determine future visions and plans.
73b. There are many ways local communities and organizations can help - local actions to demonstrate against the Cruise and Pershing II missiles are continuing as threat of deployment nears.
74b. Some communities are planning local peace camps at sites that contribute to the production and transport of first-strike nuclear weapons.
75b. Fundraising events are being held to support the winterization of the land at Seneca; to enable the production of videotapes, books and other documentation to share the experience of Seneca with others.
76b. …and to develop additional materials to assist other communities in starting peace camps and other peace actions.
77b. Peace camps may become a way of life for women until men stop leading us into annihilation through the continuation of the arms race. Peace camps may provide the models for a new society based on individual freedom, mutual trust and reliance, the value of nature and the importance of the relationship with all life on earth.
78b. Peace camps will continue until the threat of nuclear war has ended and the earth is free.