I spent July 3 through July 6 as a Friends of William Stafford Scholar at the "Speak Truth to Power" FOR (Fellowship of Reconciliation) Seabeck Conference on Hood Canal in Washington. I wanted to go because poet William Stafford and his wife Dorothy were FOR members since the 1940s.
A favorite part of the conference for me was a song Iceland, 2008, by David Rovics. Regarding background of the song, March 6, 2010, Sarah Lyall of the New York Times reported "With all but 2,500 of the 143,784 votes counted, the authorities said,
93 percent voted 'no' [on the Icesave "Repayment Plan"] and 1.8 percent voted 'yes' in the first public
referendum ever held on any subject in Iceland. [ . . . .] The vote shows the depth of Icelanders’ rage. They are angry at the
British and Dutch, who they say are mistreating them; angry at the
regulators and government officials who failed to properly oversee the
Icelandic financial system; and angry at the bankers whose recklessness
helped the economy grow at a headspinning rate and then caused it to
self-destruct in days." The news story quoted Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson who reportedly said on Bloomberg Television, "Ordinary people, farmers and fishermen, taxpayers, doctors, nurses,
teachers, are being asked to shoulder through their taxes a burden that
was created by irresponsible greedy bankers." Sound familiar?
The bravery of Icelandic people who refused to be cowed by many threats caused significant challenges for the global banking system. Fearing a run on European banks, it was reported the United Kingdom and the Netherlands compensated their Icesave customers. A news story in The Guardian by Simon Bowers amended January 29, 2013, noted " UK taxpayers are expected to recoup all of the £4.3bn owed, though the recoveries will come from priority claims against the estate of Landsbanki [instead of from Icelandic fishermen and other citizens]."
If you are looking for a community of truth-seekers and activists with vast awareness of history, social justice and ecological issues on a global scale, peace-strategies and healthy nonviolent ways to respond, you may want to consider FOR. At the 2014 Conference near Hood Canal, I heard wonderful presentations from Steve Richmond of Garden Cycles on native plantings and invasive weed removal; Dr. Michael Nagler, winner of the 2002 American Book Award, on the power of nonviolence; Dr. Peter Phillps, former Director of Project Censored , which reports the top 25 censored stories each year; and Tim Barnes, Ilka Kuznik, and Joanie McClellan on William Stafford's poems and experience as a conscientious objector during WWII. I helped out with two sessions called "Peace of Art" which combined Stafford's poetry with collages from nature scenes, historical events, and villains or activists. I enjoyed breakfast one morning with the social justice activist/muralist Roberto Oran whose work was inspired by great Mexican muralists like Rivera, Siquieros, and Orozco.
Watch for the next FOR Seabeck Conference near July 4, 2015.