Monday, October 27, 2008

Letter sent to peace and religious organizations

Dear members,

We are members of the Dutchess Peace Coalition, a small group of citizen activists who care deeply about peace and social justice issues affecting both our community and our world. We hold our meetings the first Monday of every month at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie. The Fellowship offers us a room to use for our meetings, but we are not affiliated with them in any other way.

The Dutchess Peace Coalition shows monthly screenings of the best anti-war, pro-peace and social justice films made within the last several decades. Each film is shown free of charge at the Muddy Cup Coffee House, 305 Main Street, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 on the first Friday of every month at 7:30 p.m. Our films are followed by a lively group discussion initiated by one of our members. We've had many insightful and thought-provoking discussions in the past.

We offer these free films to encourage communities to talk about peace issues, exchange ideas and foster independent thinking. We believe that small group meetings are the best way to reassert our country's basic commitment to human rights and international law. Individually, we cannot change the direction of our country, but we believe by working together with focused intention, we are able to cultivate optimism and initiate change.
We hope that you will post this movie flyer on your community bulletin board, and perhaps even mention our group and movies to those people who might be interested. We invite your comments, suggestions and welcome you to any of our meetings. Please feel free to visit our website to find out about additional social justice activities we are involved with:

At this time of great change and uncertainty it is important to reach out to our brothers and sisters to let them know we are in this together. When small groups gather with other small groups to watch a thought-provoking film and have a lively discussion over a cup of coffee or tea, it reinforces the concept of unity and goodwill. We hope to see you at one of our films! Thank you.

Very Sincerely,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dutchess CC denies peace and vets table

I talked to Mike Weida (845 431-8054) today and he relayed Dean Sandra Holtz's position that only colleges and military recruiters are allowed on campus. The reason? Both types of organizations are employment related. A table by the Dutchess County Peace Coalition and the Veterans For Peace would only be seeking unpaid recruits. Therefore, it will not be allowed.

We talked briefly about the need to have two points of view on campus. I reviewed the fact that almost 70% of the population is now against the Iraq occupation, and that parents might not be happy to learn that Dutchess Community College provides free access to military recruiters while eliminating any other point of view. As a veteran, I consider that a dangerous environment for students. As a parent, I wouldn't put up with it.

In fact, a number of local high schools now allow us to table inside schools. It is hard to believe that Dutchess Community College offers less exposure to intellectual diversity than the average high school.

We hope that Dean Holtz will reconsider her decision. Ideas can be threatening. But the absence of ideas in an institution of higher learning is downright dangerous, both to students and to our democracy.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Once a month the Dutchess Peace Coalition will offer a free film at the Muddy Cup Coffee House, 305 Main St. in Poughkeepsie.

Pete Seeger: The Power of Song -Film Screening-
Friday, October 3 at 7:30 pm
The Muddy Cup, 305 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

"Famous as he is, Mr. Seeger seems to exist outside of, and in opposition to, the commercial machinery of celebrity. His sensibility is cosmopolitan but also agrarian, devoted to land, family and community x to traditional American values, you might say.

In two years he'll be 90. He is an institution and a monument, but also a living presence whose best songs grow less quaint and more urgent every day, and who can drive some listeners crazy even as he moves others to tears. If you watch the video (included in this film) of him singing "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" on CBS in 1968, you'll know just what I mean."
A. O. SCOTT, New York Times

Friday, October 3, 2008

Vassar Newspaper Covers Movie Night

The Poughkeepsie Page

Dutchess Peace Coalition to pay tribute to activist Pete Seeger

Ruby Cramer

Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Updated: Wednesday, October 1, 2008

As he makes his way through his late 80s, renowned folk singer and peace activist Pete Seeger is anything but idle: He has a new album set to be released this month, he was on tour this summer throughout the United States and in Canada and, as a Dutchess County resident, he protests the Iraq War every Saturday at the intersection of Route 9 and 9D.
On Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Muddy Cup in downtown Poughkeepsie, the Dutchess Peace Coalition will pay tribute to the singer by screening the documentary Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, a film that shows that Seeger is still full of spirit, vigor and hope.

The Dutchess Peace Coalition is a group of Dutchess County residents whose aim is to promote peace, justice and an end to the war in Iraq. Group member Carolann Koehler explained that the group was founded just before the war broke out in 2003.

“It was just a few people getting together to try to stop the war,” said Koehler. “Now, we continue to work on our mission to end the Iraq War. We plan different peace activities, we have demonstrations, protest, vigils and rallies.” With what the group calls the “Give Peace a Film Series,” the coalition screens a film at the Muddy Cup once every month. Each screening is followed by an open discussion.

Group member Pat Lamanna explained why the Coalition chose the Seeger documentary. “It is a very inspiring film because it tells the story of a very inspiring human being. We want to inspire people to activism and to show them how much of a difference just one person can make,” she said.

“We also want to honor Seeger for a number of reasons,” Lamanna explained. “He is a local person who vigils with us quite frequently. He’s one of the Dutchess County activists and essentially an honorary member of Dutchess Peace.”

The film, directed by Jim Brown, premiered in October 2007 and features interviews and testimonials from Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Arlo Guthrie and other notable artists.
Seeger, who lives 30 miles south of Poughkeepsie in Beacon, N.Y., won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993, was honored at the Kennedy Center by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and received the Living Legends award from the Library of Congress in 2000.

“He has traveled around the world as an ambassador for the causes of peace and justice,” Lamanna explained. “His songs have been sung all over the world. He spreads the message of peace.”

Though undeniably successful, Seeger remains a man of humble values and noble ideals. In his review of the documentary, New York Times film critic A.O. Scott wrote, “Famous as he is, Seeger seems to exist outside of, and in opposition to, the commercial machinery of celebrity. His sensibility is cosmopolitan but also agrarian, devoted to land, family and community—to traditional American values, you might say.”

Because of the character and integrity of the great man who is the subject of this documentary—and also because of the quality of the film itself—Vassar students would enjoy and appreciate the screening and the discussion to follow, explained Muddy Cup owner Jim Svetz.

“If this film were being shown on campus, you would be surrounded by other Vassar students,” he said. “I think it is good to go and meet the Peace Coalition and have an open discussion with older people, younger people, people that may have met Seeger and been there when he was fighting in the Vietnam War or been there when he was an activist.”
Svetz added, “At the Muddy Cup, we are a coffee house, and I feel that that is a place that you can go and get an opinion about everything and be exposed to all different views of the community. Vassar students should expose themselves to all venues and all points of view in general—that is part of what being a college student is all about.”

Koehler agreed, saying, “The discussion after the films is often the highlight of the evening.”

This is not the first event of its kind at the Muddy Cup. The coffee house often hosts events in response to the interest and demand of the public.
“All the events that we do, including the Seeger events, are all driven by the demand of the community,” Svetz explained. “People come in and they say we would like to do this. And then we do it.”

Both Svetz and Koehler hope that Seeger himself will be able to attend the Oct. 3 screening. “There is a chance he will be there. We hope so,” Koehler said.
Koehler is eager to see students’ reactions to the film. “I hope Vassar students will be interested in what is going on in their community. We are always trying to build bridges and work together with young people. It would be great if students came.”