The 30th reunion at Scattergood is over and it was amazing

Julia Gosztyla Ziobro, Bellevue, WA -- Almost 200 people attended at least some of the 30th reunion celebration at Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, Iowa, including many first-reunion attendees and some people we had hardly heard from in many years... too many to name but the reconnections were delightful. The weather cooperated. The farm work was deeply satisfying and we literally ate the fruits of that labor - baby potatoes, greens, and other fresher-than-fresh food. The food prepared by a GPMer, Irving Treadway, and two able and lovely assistant cooks, Lucy and Lake, was beyond amazing. Dishwashing and cleaning crews formed easily and got the jobs done. (I'm running out of words for "amazing").

The kids played and ran free thanks to strong community sensibility. The bubble machine was cranked up whenever someone thought of it, and circle gatherings varied from serious to hilarious. The Voices of Men and 7 Candles community events were well-attended successful fundraisers, the music (pre-arranged and spontaneous) lifted our hearts and got our feet moving, the talent-no talent show proved that we have enough raw talent for two or three shows, and the remembrance service and peace pole ceremony were deeply meaningful for many.

And you can't overlook the walk to Iowa City... 12.9 miles with several rest breaks, great peace officer support (one officer was heard to play "Imagine" by John Lennon through his car's loudspeaker), Laura went right back into DMAC mode... and we walked into the vigil tired and happy and two minutes early. After the vigil, the school bus got us home in time for another delicious dinner, and for many, a day spent getting back on the road brought the whole thing full circle.

Thomas Weber, the head of Scattergood, was thrilled to have a GPM Reunion nametag and was seen grinning and helping and easing the way all over campus. Many of the teachers participated in our activities and they clearly loved hosting our group. The feeling was mutual! Many attendees - about 25% have responded to a post-reunion survey - said that we should ALWAYS have reunions at Scattergood. We'll see what the next organizing committee wants to do.

I'm sure I'm missing some things - there were too many activities, group hugs, memorabilia displays, acts of kindness, presentations, massages, deep love (re)connections, unrequested generosity - to even start to take them all in. The glow from the Saturday night group photo, organized hastily but lovely anyway, sums it up.

Group Photo, Saturday, July 2, 2016

Great Peace March 30th Reunion Group Photo, Scattergood Friends School, July 2, 2016

Photo by David Baumgarten

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There are many, many more photos from the reunion in the Great Peace March Facebook group. We'll be working to organize them and store them off Facebook, along with your stories of the reunion, over the next six months. Email if you want more information or want to contribute. (Note: that email address is sometimes not checked every day, so please be patient.)

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We're Still Here!

Can you believe it's been 30 years since we walked for peace? Can you believe that just a season ago, we marked our 30th anniversary of leaving Los Angeles, 1200 strong? Wonder where we were 30 years ago today?

July 18-19

From "A Strange Place Called Home" by Laura Monagan: Our walk into Des Moines was a lively march down wide streets through shady residential neighborhoods. The day was warm and sunny and everyone seemed energized. I brought my guitar along, slung over my shoulder. Now that I had a strap, I could carry it anywhere. At one point I passed a yard sale where someone was selling various articles of clothing, among them a sleeveless, white t-shirt with big, black block letters that said, "NO WAR."

"How much?" I asked, assuming it would be out of my price range.

"Five bucks," came the reply.

"I'll take it," I said, digging in my pocket for a fiver.

I stood right there, pulled the new shirt on and deftly wriggled out of the old one, a lifelong skill every girl learns in junior high school. In my new shirt, I felt like Superman-ready to knock some heads together; not very peaceful, but righteous. I pulled my guitar into position and walked along playing every song I knew that had anything to do with peace or justice or walking. I had recently adapted Ruthie Gorton's union solidarity song, "Step by Step" to a reggae beat. The lyrics, taken from the preamble of the constitution of the United Mine Workers of America, suited our purpose, too: "Step by step, the longest march can be won; many stones form an arch, singly none; and by union, what we will can be accomplished still; drops of water turn a mill, singly none." An entourage of harmonizing singers, dancers, and Bruce with his hand drum, gathered around and we boogied our way through downtown Des Moines.

Evan Conroy is updating GPM InfoComm 2.0 on Facebook — go there to contribute your memories and photos!

How Did We Get Started?

After gathering in February, on March 1, 1986, about 1200 of us left Los Angeles to begin a nine-month march for disarmament—our destination Washington DC. PRO-Peace, a group formed by David Mixner, had planned the march, but expected 5,000 people to show. About two weeks into the march, PRO-Peace went bankrupt. Most folks went home, and the equipment was repossessed as we fought the cold spring weather of the Mojave Desert. The remaining 300-400 of us regrouped, with lots of help, in the town of Barstow. Two weeks later we left Barstow, a new, humbler march, but a march nonetheless.

In November 15, 1986, we marched into Washington, DC, despite predictions of our failure, almost 1200 strong again. About 15,000 people were there to greet us—many of those had helped the march or were inspired by it as we walked through their towns. What happened between leaving LA and arriving in DC is the real story, and it is different for each of the marchers who made that journey.

The Silver Thread

The Silver Thread is now accessible on these pages. VIEW IT ON YOUR DESKTOP COMPUTER! The pages are scanned images and the files are quite large. It will use approximately 1 GB of bandwidth to view all the pages, so use on a smartphone is not recommended.

GPM gear vehicles along the road to Scattergood July 28, 1986


The line of GPM vehicles stretches along the road to Scattergood Friends School, July 28, 1986