VPT  Voice

for nonviolent social change & sustainable living

October 2022

Free Screening of Local LGBTQ+ Documentary
VPT Garden Clean-up & Potluck
Cozy Rentals for Fall
A Peace of History: July, August, September

Sustaining Support for VPT
Get Involved

Free Screening of Local LGBTQ+ Documentary
Tuesday, 10/11

New London Landmarks presents:
Holding Space for Each Other: New London’s LGBTQ+ Community
A Film by Constance Kristofik
7:00 pm "sneak peak" film screening
Free and Open to All
New London's early gay bars, the impact of the AIDS/HIV epidemic, queer peace activists, and the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality and religion -- this documentary explores these and other aspects of our LGBTQ+ community from 1960 to the present day. Narrated by Curtis K. Goodwin.

VPT Board Chair Joanne Sheehan and Board Secretary Daz Park appear in the film to tell the stories of Barbara Deming and Bayard Rustin, two important gay peace activists who were involved with VPT's predecessor, the Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA). Both Barbara and Bayard came to New London for Polaris Action with the CNVA in the early 1960s, and both made tremendous impacts on peace and justice movements. We are proud of their connection to us and grateful to be included in the film.

Following the screening, OutCT Interim President Chevelle Moss-Savage will moderate a Q&A with Constance Kristofik and Xavier Day.

Funded by grants from the Connecticut Humanities and the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office. Sponsored by Fiddleheads Food Cooperative, Alliance for Living, OutCT, Blu-Prints Unlimited, Inc., Sawyer Law Firm, Attorney Linda Mariani, Waterhouse Salon, Otto's Barber on Bank, Lise Ciavaglia, Ocean Beach Park, Tom Lescoe and Mark Robel, PFLAG-SECT.

OutCT and Alliance for Living will host two events to celebrate the documentary:
  • Pre-screening Happy Hour at The Social (208 Bank Street) from 4:00-6:00 pm
  • After-party at Dockside (32 Bank Street) from 9:30 pm to closing

RSVP and find the link to get your ticket at the Facebook event
Watch the film trailer here.

VPT Garden Clean-up & Potluck
Saturday, 10/15

The VPT garden has to be closed for the winter, and we could use your help! Come for good company, satisfying work, delicious food, and a little connection with nature. Since we had to cancel our Earth Day spring cleaning event earlier this year, we thought this would be a great opportunity to make up the event and bring members of the community together.

We encourage you to bring:
  • warm, comfortable work clothes
  • thick work gloves
  • a mask for indoors
  • a healthy, seasonal dish to share
  • a friend, perhaps new to VPT
RSVP at our Facebook event or by replying to this email.

Cozy Rentals for Fall

Fall is here, and that means it's time to get cozy! Whether you need space for a large meeting or party, a base-camp for a family weekend, or just a quiet evening to yourself, VPT has a selection of rentals currently available. See below for which facilities are in season.
Since 1969, the A.J. Muste Conference Center has hosted events such as retreats, group meetings, nonviolence trainings, community meals, celebrations, and more. 
Starting at $50 for three hours. See our website for details.
Chuck's Cabin is a cozy, one-room cabin with sleeping space for up to six guests. Amenities include two double beds, a sleeping loft with two single beds, a woodstove, minifridge, microwave, toaster oven, coffeemaker, dishes/glasses/eating utensils, and access to the main Farmhouse bathroom nearby. 
Starts at $45 for one guest. See our website for details.
Ahimsa Lodge was originally built as part of a Finnish resort. Amenities include a complete kitchen, woodstove, beds for up to 14 people, common rooms, and a dining room (shown above) that opens to a large back deck overlooking Bliven Brook.
Starting at $150 for up to four guests. See our website for details.

A Peace of History

Over the decades, VPT has produced, collected, and preserved a rare collection of historical newsletters, ephemera such as leaflets, and limited-series print books from the peace movement. The main newsletters that we use are the Polaris Action Bulletin (1960-1963) and its successor Direct Action for a Nonviolent World (1964-1973). As these newsletters were published by the original VPT founders, the New England Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA), we feel that it is our responsibility to share these stories of nonviolent leftist political activity in our region, and how the organization in Voluntown connected to broader movements across the United States and the world.

At the end of each week, we post a story about past nonviolent resistance from one of these sources  "A Peace of History"  on the VPT Facebook group and on our website. For those not on Facebook, we use this newsletter to send a snippet and a link to the original post on our website. Click on the title of each to read more.


7/9/2022 - “We Try to Enter France Again” (1961)

"On June 13, 1961, amidst hundreds of supporters and bystanders, five international antiwar activists attempted to swim from a boat onto the French shore in defiance of the government’s banning of their presence and censorship of their message: the nuclear arms race is ethically abhorrent, practically suicidal, and the only way out of “mutually assured destruction” was unilateral disarmament. They would have to educate the public to advance their ultimate goal. But first, they would have to meet the people where they were — and to do that, they walked across the span of the United States, and were now making their way through Europe. But not before another attempt to enter France..."
4/25/2022 - “Peace Walkers Cross Belgium; To Enter West Germany Today” (1961)

‘In late June 1961, a small contingent of the San Francisco to Moscow Walk for Peace made multiple attempts to swim from a boat into France to continue the Walk there. They had walked all the way across the continental United States and were now crossing Europe with a simple but radical demand to save humanity: universal disarmament. The Walk team had been thwarted early by French authorities, but they quickly regrouped and planned another attempt. With hundreds of witnesses as well as at least one reporting team with a TV camera present, these water stunts themselves became demonstrations for peace. Millie Gilbertson was one participant whose account we highlighted last time. She noted that, with how everything played out, “I can’t help feeling the French [government] would have been better off letting us walk. I just heard a newscast: ‘The Ban the Bomb Marchers swam to shore and have been returned to the ship...’”’


8/5/2022 - On the Eve of Hiroshima Day

"The following is a slightly modified repost from last year about Hiroshima Day, the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the submarines our community in Southeastern Connecticut builds as part of the US nuclear arsenal. At the time of original posting, few of us could have predicted the imminent Russian invasion into Ukraine. Many, however, have been sounding the warning calls about the combined US-Russia global nuclear threat for years — in fact, opposition to nuclear weapons was a founding principle for VPT. Now, on the one hand, we seem to be hurtling closer to nuclear war every day — but on the other, much of the rest of the world has already agreed to ban nuclear weapons outright. These are the two paths before us, and the choice is clear. All that is needed is the courage to take the right path..."
8/12/2022 - “Survival in Nuclear War: A Vanishing Probability”

"“Could Southeastern Connecticut survive a nuclear attack?
What would be the effects of an atomic weapon dropped within this area?
What conditions would we face if this area was not hit directly but other areas of New England and New York were hit by nuclear weapons?
What defenses are available to us?
What would conditions of post-attack living be like?
Is there anything we could do now to prevent their happening?”

These are the opening lines to Dr. Gordon S. Christiansen’s 1960 pamphlet “Survival in Nuclear War: A Vanishing Probability.” As the chair of the chemistry department at Connecticut College and active participant in the Committee for Nonviolent Action, Dr. Christiansen volunteered much of his time and energy to educate the public about the power of nuclear weapons, the horrific effects of nuclear fallout, and the ultimately suicidal nature of the arms race and MAD (mutually assured destruction). In the pamphlet, Dr. Christiansen addresses all of these questions, the answers for which mostly have not changed in the ensuing decades. Some answers remain the same because there have been only a few major advances in nuclear weapons technology since the 1960s. On the other hand, other answers remain unchanged because of the lack of advances in handling the unavoidable radioactive fallout. In fact, in some cases, a nuclear detonation in a heavily populated area today could be worse than such a detonation in 1960 simply because of how much more reliant we now are on technology and a globalized economy. .."
8/19/2022 - One of the Largest War Resistance Training Programs in US History, Held in SE CT (1961)

"In August 1961, southeastern Connecticut was host to perhaps the biggest war resistance training programs in the United States that year: the 5th Annual Peacemaker Nonviolence Training Program. This month-long program was a collaboration between the Peacemakers, a national community of mostly older war resisters, and the more youthful New England Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA), which had just been established in the past year. In the following newsletter clipping from The Peacemaker, it is reported that 130 adults and children went through the program over the course of 3 weeks. In that time, the participants considered the theme of the “individual and society” from a number of perspectives — among them, theoretical future plans for a “developmental center” to foster a community of individually-motivated war resisters. It is no coincidence that the New England CNVA would acquire the land that became the Voluntown Peace Trust in the following year. But the training program also addressed more immediately tangible issues and plans for actions, including more direct actions at New London-Groton opposing nuclear-armed submarines as well as support work for imprisoned allies near and far..."
8/26/2022 - “Minutemen Attack On New England CNVA: A Report” (1968)

"During the night of August 23-24, 1969, a conservative American terrorist group calling themselves “the Minutemen” (an offshoot of the John Birch Society) conducted an armed attack on the headquarters of the New England Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA) in Voluntown, Connecticut. At the time, the New England CNVA was one of the most active US antiwar groups of the time, and despite FBI and State Police intervention, it has long been suspected that law enforcement purposely allowed the first part of the attack to commence. After all, the FBI had tabs on both the Minutemen and the CNVA, and if as a result of the Minutement attack (even an interrupted one), CNVA morale declined enough to collapse the organization, all the better for the Bureau..."


9/2/2022 - Good Trouble: The Colt 45 (redux)

"Two years ago, we posted the following excerpt from Steve Thornton’s book GOOD TROUBLE: A Shoeleather History of Nonviolent Direct Action. The story tells of the workers of the Colt Firearms factory going on strike starting in January 1986 — almost exactly a hundred years after the Haymarket massacre which inspired the original international Labor Day. Perhaps surprising some, many local nonviolence resistance activists also joined to support the strikers and their families. Indeed, a critical part of the campaign’s success was its wide and diverse network of allied organizations and individuals: local politicians, religious communities, teachers and schools, etc. Notably, despite the violent products that the workers were expected to make, as well as the overwhelming police and private security forces opposing them, the labor campaign was conducted nonviolently, and was ultimately won without a single shot fired..."
9/10/2022 - “Invisible Legacy: Western Shoshone & the Nuclear Era” (2009)

"On September 10, 1992, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which called for an outright ban on nuclear weapons testing involving critical mass (a requirement for the nuclear chain reaction which causes the detonation). Although adopted by the General Assembly, the treaty never came into force due to the refusal of eight key governments. While the United States was one of the eight that refused to ratify the treaty, the US government has since honored the terms of the agreement — however, the United States has continued to perform subcritical tests with regularity, and nothing legally prevents the United States from resuming critical mass tests at any time: a fact of which the rest of the world is all too aware..."
9/22/2022 - Decade of Nonviolence: Through The Years With New England CNVA (c. 1970)

"Almost exactly sixty years ago, in September 1962, the New England Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA) officially changed its headquarters address to a historic farm in Voluntown, Connecticut. At that point, many of the members had been living in Connecticut for just over two years — ever since the first Polaris Action Summer in 1960, which had kicked off a radical new antiwar movement in the region. More were locals who were inspired to join the movement. With the acquisition of the farm in Voluntown, the New England CNVA could feel a little more secure as well as have the space and resources to develop a degree of self-sufficiency. Long before the hippie movement, the rise of the New Left, the environmental movement, or many other progressive groups, the CNVA had recognized the necessity for American society to change to one that works in harmony with the natural ecology, promotes a fair and egalitarian economy, defends human and civil rights, and opposes war. Indeed, the CNVA was one of the first groups in the United States to articulate the connections between all of these seemingly separate issues..."
9/29/2022 - Remembering Chuck Matthei, 1948-2002

"This year, we mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Chuck Matthei, a key member of VPT’s history. Chuck first arrived at VPT the morning after the barn was burned in October 1966. At the time, VPT was known as the CNVA Farm, and Chuck had previously met several people involved in the wider CNVA community through Peacemakers and the Catholic Worker. During his days of itinerant activism, Chuck made the Peace Trust another one of his homes..."

Sustaining Support for VPT

Please consider giving a tax-deductible donation to VPT. Between the lack of rentals due to the pandemic, the cost of the Swann House renovations, and other expenses, we could use the help. Our online donation platform Mightycause is the easiest way to give to us a one-time monetary gift.

Also, please consider becoming a sustaining supporter of VPT on Mightycause. To do that, just set your gift to recur monthly. Donors may cancel or change their giving amount at any time. Click here or on the Mightycause logo above to visit our donation page.

Alternatively, you may mail a tax-deductible check to our address: 539 Beach Pond Road, Voluntown, CT 06384. Past donors who gave by check will receive this appeal in the mail with a return envelope.

Monthly recurring donations especially help us budget and plan ahead, but any and all monetary gifts are appreciated. Thank you.

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