From Food Not Bombs
Since it is the time of the year when millions remember history's most famous homeless family and the birth of the prince of peace it might be a good time to review some of the many things our Food Not Bombs volunteers have accomplished this year in the effort to support the rights of the homeless and bring an end to war.
We woke to a beautiful snow fall on this holiday morning in Taos. Horses grazed nearby for bits of grass made visible with a soft movement of one of their front hooves. Turquoise blue sky starts to peek out behind smaller clouds drifting away from the storm still dusting the Taos Mountains. The silence inspires reflection. Not only on the violent mass murders, wars, the impact of the climate crisis and increasing poverty but on the many brave accomplishments the 99% are striving to implement.
The year started after our volunteers helped provide meals at occupations all over the world from Moscow, Russia to Zuccotti Park in New York City. Our St Petersburg volunteers slid past the guards and replaced the Russian flag with an Occu - Pie Jolly Rogers on the historic ship the Aurora on the anniversary of the vessels first shot fired at the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution. Our cooks helped provide meals at Freedom Plaza, Occupy Philadelphia, Tampa, Miami, San Francisco, Rochester, Oakland, Los Angeles and Occupy Boston across the street from the location where Food Not Bombs shared its first meal on March 26, 1981 in protest to the investment policies of the Bank of Boston. While not the first occupations we have prepared meals for they sure were important in reshaping the conversation about the economic and political system.
After four long years working on our new book Hungry For Peace - How you can help end poverty and war with Food Not Bombs we came out with our first edition just in time to donate copies at occupations all over the country. Replacing our original book first published in 1992, this 184 page volume has already had an impact helping volunteers start a wave of new Food Not Bombs groups.
The Food Not Bombs Free Skool was founded on an acre pasture in Taos, New Mexico in March. We finally made progress on drilling a well after several climate change related delays. Our neighbor Art plowed our pasture, we built a stone fire pit, raised our tipi and worked hard in the sun double digging and laying rocks for the raised vegetable beds.
Progress was also made on organizing the curriculum and forming a strategy for the free workshops.
Food Not Bombs volunteers from Poland, the United States and Africa participated in the second Ethiopian Vegan Association Conference. Local volunteers started weekly meal in Addis Ababa providing over 100 meals every week. Activists in Somalia reach out to our Ethiopian volunteers seeking information on how to start a chapter in Mogadishu. New chapters also started in Tbilisi, Singapore, Southwest England, and dozens of other cities.
"Merry X-mas and happy new year. After you came to us and showed us how to feed the needy we'll hit our 21 week on next friday. Guess what? We feed 2000 street people on our 20 weeks. Wow. Thank you!"- Frew Getachew, Addis Ababa Food Not Bombs.
The authorities didn't rest in their campaign to silence progressive voices. Cities in every area of the United States implemented policies to ban or restrict the sharing of free meals and information in public. Philadelphia and Houston were two of nearly 40 cities to announce harsh measures against Food Not Bombs in the wake of the occupations. Pittsburg Police threatened to arrest our volunteers a week before the holidays.
The FBI also set out to entrap a number of our volunteers on serious criminal charges. Two Food Not Bombs volunteers helping cook for Occupy Cleveland, Brandon Baxter and Connor Stevens were entrapped in an FBI bombing plot as part of the Obama administration's campaign to stop the May Day resurgence of the Occupy Movement. The FBI sent an agent and a convicted drug dealer to the kitchen on October 21, 2011 and spent the met half a year truing to involve them in the bombing of a bridge outside Cleveland. Connor was sentenced to 8 years and Brandon was sentenced to nine years and 9 months. Chicago Food Not Bombs volunteer Jeremy Hammond was arrested for sharing information he found with Wikileaks on the illegal surveillance of Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor, a global intelligence firm in Austin, Texas. Jeremy was denied bail and faces life in prison even though his only crime is shedding light on the massive private security web that has been working with government officials to disrupt legal community efforts to protect the environment, seek peace and social justice and implement solutions to poverty and hunger.
Food Not Bombs activists in central Florida spent months preparing for the Food Not Bombs World Gathering in Tampa. Volunteers held workshops and provided meals at Occupy Tampa and provided food at a number protests against the policies of the Republican Party. The Autonomous Playhouse with Dan The Pandarchist preformed both on the streets at benefit events in Ybor city. Dan the Pandarchist set out on tour preforming throughout southeastern United States.
Once again Food Not Bombs groups all over the world provided free vegan meals to the public during our annual Anti-McDonald's day actions on October 16th. We also provided vegan meals at many other animal liberation actions in solidarity with local efforts.
We helped provide food to those participating in the Casserole Revolution in Canada, the student uprising in Chile and protests against austerity in Europe. Our activists also provided food at protests for human rights and in defense of the environment in the Middle East, Asia, Australia and many other areas of the world.
As Hurricane Sandy was rushing past the east coast of Florida volunteers
were calling and emailing offering to help. Long Island Food Not Bombs was
right in the thick of the crisis responding with thousands of pounds of food
and supplies. A kitchen was donated at the Park Slope Community Church and
hundreds of hot meals were shares at the Rockaways, Coney Island and Red
Hook. That kitchen also provided support to the new
Staten Island Food Not Bombs at first bring prepared meals, stoves and other equipment and before long the new group was on the front lines of the Sandy Relief effort.
A few weeks into the crisis Long Island Food Not Bombs was providing the world's largest vegan Thanksgiving Feast with free groceries, clothing and warm meals for the over 1,000 people that came to the Hempstead Station.
The year ended with a tour of Mexico organized by Monterrey Comida No Bombas. We collected food at the downtown Monterrey markets, cooked a great meal and shared it first outside the hospital and than down in the shopping district where we joined a protest against the December 1st arrests in Mexico City during the protests against the Inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto. The activist showed video of the police violence on the outside wall of a hotel and spoke of the corruption of the new government and the charges against their friends.
We traveled all night to Guadalajara and set up a literature table at a
local cafe owned by some of the Food Not Bombs volunteers. We collected
produce and prepared another meal that we shared in the plaza at the
cathedral. That evening we had presentation at cafe "Under." In Mexico City
the tour stopped at the famous squat Chanti Ollin where we presented a short
history of Food Not Bombs before an amazing concert
than off to speak at Bar Tabú in Cuernavaca.
The bus ride to Chiapas was made interesting when workers blockaded the highways south in protest to the new government. A 17 hour trip became a 24 hour ride but we made it only a few hours late to the speaking event at "El Paliacate." The eager audience insisted we start a Food Not Bombs in San Cristobal as soon as possible. The next morning we walked the markets collecting food, prepared a huge meal with the help of not only local volunteers but three activist from France who first cooked with Food Not Bombs in Indonesia. At each presentation the idea of organizing free "Soup Stock" Concerts and a Mexico wide Food Not Bombs gathering for this May was the subject of much conversation. Tips on having the most impact was shared and an interest in encouraging an strong network was discussed. The tour ended with the promos that Food Not Bombs was sure to be much more effective and provide much needed food to many more people in 2013. And the world did not end even though we were in Chiapas on the day that marked the end of the Mayan Calendar.
In the last weeks of 2012 we learned that Food Not Bombs was helping
organize a conference on climate change and the use of direct action to slow
the crisis to be held in March at the University of the Philippines-
Diliman. They invited Food Not Bombs cofounder Keith McHenry to present the
history, principles and current actions to defend
It has never been more important to seek an end to war, poverty and the distraction of the Earth. One in two Americans are struggling to survive and the numbers are increasing. The same crisis of poverty in on the increase world wide at the same time that governments are increasing their military budgets. Food Not Bombs volunteers are out engaging the public in joining us in taking direct action to solve the many crisis we are facing while providing direct support to the increasing number of people that go hungry each day.
In this effort to increase the impact of our movement we are inviting our volunteers to participate in the Food Not Bombs Free Skool with subjects like planting a Food Not Lawns Community Garden, getting the most from your regular Food Not Bombs meal, organizing strategies for effective campaigns of nonviolent direct action, creative writing, puppet making, natural building and improved use of the consensus process to make decisions. This is a small taste of Food Not Bombs in 2012. We could not have done all of this without your help.
One of the most help things you can do is volunteer with one of our local Food Not Bombs groups. If you find your community does not have an active chapter you are invited to help start one. You can help host a Food Not Bombs presentation in your community to help build interest in joining your effort. We would love to give you all the support you may need. If you are not able to volunteer but would like to help you can make an automatic contribution each month or make a one time donation before the end of the year.
Thanks so much again for your support.