Friday, July 16, 2010

Alice goes on the road: a reflection

Walk for a Nuclear Free Future: As a child, I believed that the world would be destroyed in a nuclear holocaust before I could grow up. As a result, the "what do you want to be when you grow up, dear" questions took on an abstract quality for me.
Well, I am happy to report that, all of these years later, I'm still alive and trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up! I am much less happy to report that the world, which was not destroyed when I was a child, is still in peril. As long as nuclear weapons exist, the possibility that they could be used also exists. Despite my lifelong dread of a nuclear holocaust, I have never protested against nuclear weapons. Until I went to the federal prison camp in Danbury, Connecticut, in April of 2004, for crossing the Fort Benning fence while protesting against the School of the Americas (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), I had never met anyone who had been involved in protesting against nuclear weapons. There, I had the good fortune to meet Sister Ardeth Platte, who was serving a 41-month sentence for a Plowshares action at a nuclear weapons silo in Colorado. Ardeth quickly became a mentor and an inspiration for me. She explained to me that her action was an expression of love and of faith. That faith is also expressed by the World Council of Churches in its statement: "The production and deployment of nuclear weapons, as well as their use, constitute a crime against humanity."
Since becoming friends with Sister Ardeth, I had wanted to do something to express my hope for a nuclear-free world as a way of honoring her determination and her sacrifice. So, when the opportunity presented itself for me to join a Walk for a Nuclear Free Future this year, I was happy to participate. I couldn't do the entire 700-mile walk, but I was able to join this group for a little more than half of the walk. In March, I walked from Buffalo to Rochester, a distance of 100 miles, in one week. From April 11th until the first of May, I walked from Utica to New York City. This was a distance of approximately 265 miles. It took me through the Mohawk Valley and the Hudson River Valley into New Jersey and, finally, over the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan. Part of the mission of this journey was to visit all six nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy). I visited half of the nations: the Tuscaroras in Lewiston, the Senecas in their Tonawanda territory near Akron, and the Mohawks in their Kanatsiohareke community near Fonda.
Also, many of my fellow walkers were from Japan. I learned from them that people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still suffering the effects of the nuclear attacks. These people, called Hibakusha, survived the initial bomb blast but suffered from illnesses due to radiation exposure. Among them, there is a high rate of leukemia and other cancers, as well as thyroid problems. Their children have suffered, too, with birth defects and other health issues.
Similar health problems also plague people in places where nuclear weapons were developed and tested, both during World War II and later, during the "cold war," which was called "cold" only because it didn't involve direct conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. The cold war claimed many victims throughout the world.
I heard terrible stories of birth defects in the Tuscarora territory, where leakage of waste materials from the Manhattan project was found. One of the walkers, Al White, a Cayuga who lives in the Seneca Nation's Cattaraugus territory, talked of a baby who was born in the Tuscarora territory with two rectums. He said that people in the Cattaraugus territory are exposed to toxic materials that have leaked from the West Valley plant. "The biological and chemical warfare done to our people continues today and our people are suffering." 
When I arrived in New York City on May 1st, I went to the Riverside Church, where a conference was being held on the topic of a nuclear-free world prior to the start of talks on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at the United Nations. These talks are held once every five years. I heard a presentation called "Global Hibakusha."
Claudia Peterson, a medical social worker, said that people in her community in Utah drank contaminated water and they ate contaminated meat and vegetables. The contamination, which affected parts of Nevada and Utah, was caused by nuclear weapons tests that had been conducted at the Nevada test site, located in the Nevada desert. Between 1951 and 1962, more than 100 nuclear bombs were detonated at this site.
"The U.S. government assured us that everything was safe. People were living downwind from the tests. We watched loved ones suffer and die." Claudia's father-in-law, a uranium miner, died of cancer at age 63. Claudia talked about the many family members who died of cancer. She said that she remembered holding her six-year-old daughter in her arms when the child died of cancer. She said that her sister died of melanoma at age 36.
"I wished that I could die," Claudia said. "You are changed by loss and suffering. The heartache never goes away. The wound never heals. I never dreamed that I would have to do this. My story never changes."
Abbacca Anjain Madison is a former senator of the Marshall Islands from Rongelap Atoll. She talked about the disastrous results of above-ground testing done by the United States in the Marshall Islands. She said that 67 atomic and hydrogen bombs were tested there. One of the most devastating tests was done over the Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954. "At the crack of dawn, we saw a bright light in the west," the former senator related. The light was accompanied by a loud noise. Small children cried. A strong wind blew. A bitter rain fell on everything. People washed in the rain, thinking that it was soap. Their skin became itchy, and they suffered pain in their eyes. The water was poisoned but the people didn't know. No warnings had been given to them. Their bodies were covered in painful wounds. Their hair fell out. People suffered from lung, thyroid, stomach, and brain cancer.
A few days after the nuclear test, a research study, called Project 4.1 (Study of Response of Human Beings exposed to Significant Beta and Gamma Radiation due to Fall-out from High-Yield Weapons), was organized. It was done so without the consent or knowledge of the "human guinea pigs." According to the final report of Project 4.1, people in the Ailinginae, Utirik, and Rongelap atolls experienced "significant" exposure to radiation, from 14 rads in the Utirik atoll to 175 rads in the Rongelap atoll. After the nuclear testing, "women gave birth to 'jellyfish' and to deformed and dead babies," Abbacca siad.
"People are dying of radiation and cancer," Abbacca explained. "The future is so bleak."
She shared the story of the Marshall Islands as a cautionary tale. "Learn from our experience. Let us help each other."
The United States ended its above-ground nuclear tests in 1962 and its above-ground nuclear tests 30 years later. The nuclear threat, however, still exists. An aging stock of nuclear weapons is maintained by several countries throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Depleted uranium, which is made from nuclear waste products, has been implicated in increased numbers of leukemia cases in Iraqi children.
Grand Island walk: It has now been two months since the Walk for a Nuclear Free Future ended. Since then, I have been walking around my own community. On Friday, July 2nd, I walked along the Niagara River. I picked wild raspberries and I watched boats in the river. After several hours, I reached Beaver Island State Park, where I met a group of archaeology students and their professor, Dr. Lisa Marie Anselmi. They were busily digging for artifacts of the early- to mid woodlands period. I got a tour of the site and an explanation of the project by a student named Jess. She showed me the "test pits" that were dug to determine if there was anything there of interest. If there was, then larger holes, called "units," were dug. Jess showed me how the students sifted the dirt for artifacts. It was a lot like panning for gold! After I left the archaeology site, I walked to the beach, where I saw many people having fun in the sand and in the water.
It was a peaceful and educational walk. But I couldn't forget that even this close to home, I was still affected by the dark legacy of the cold war. The fact that nuclear waste, as well as other waste products from the heavy industry on the Niagara Falls side of the river, has been identified in the Niagara River means that any fish caught there probably is not safe to eat. And, yes, people do go fishing in the river.
My experiences this spring and early summer have taught me that it's long past time to get rid of the nuclear weapons.
Bertrand Russell once said: "War doesn't determine who is right -- only who is left." Nuclear war changes that reality, too. In a nuclear war, it doesn't really matter who is right because, when it's over, no one will be left.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

The Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, located near Buchanan, New York, is a source of much controversy and conflict for people in the Hudson Valley. This power plant is now due to be relicensed for twenty years. Opponents of the plant are hoping that the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission will deny the plant relicensing.
There have been a number of issues surrounding the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant for a number of years, and a wide variety of people and governmental agencies.
The Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant is owned by Entergy Corp., a large New Orleans-based corporation that specializes in electrical power. It owns more than 40 power plants of all varieties: natural gas, nuclear, oil, and hydroelectric power. According to Marilyn Eile of the Westchester Citizens Awareness Network, Entergy owns four nuclear power plants in New York State, in addition to plants in other states. One of its other plants is Vermont Yankee, a 38-year-old plant that has seen numerous leaks of radioactive tritium and other problems. In 2007 and 2008, a cooling tower collapsed.  On February 24th, Vermont's State Senate voted to order the plant to be closed.
People who live near the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant are hoping for the same result.
Recently, Entergy Corp. has suffered some setbacks. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied Entergy's application for a water quality permit for Indian Point. The DEC's criticism of Indian Point was that it was destroying too much marine life.
Marilyn explained the process to create nuclear energy. She said that the process, in simple terms, can be described as "splitting atoms to boil water." It is not especially efficient. Only thirty percent of the energy generated can actually be used. The hot water that gets dumped into the river after the process is over causes havoc to fish. "It's a four to five degree difference in temperature but it can kill fish," Marilyn said.
In addition to hot water, tritium has been leaking from spent fuel rods. Marilyn explained that the amount of leakage has been small so that this is not a big issue. "Not for me but for them, it's OK."
The presence of a nuclear power plant near a highly populated area, which includes metropolitan New York, is a concern both for Marilyn and for Lawrence, another activist who focuses on issues related to nuclear power.
Although it is a federal requirement to have an evacuation plan that would encompass a 50-mile radius of the plant, "it's a joke. This is expensive historical and cultural real estate. It's irreplaceable. There is no evacuation. You'd have a parking lot on major roads," Marilyn said.
Lawrence commented that the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant is "a beast at our backs. It discharges its poison into the blood of the region... the river. The river becomes poison. We live in fear. Catastrophe is our metaphor.... but you (the walkers) remind me that this is not a given destiny. We can change it."
~Alice E. Gerard~

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mohawk Community near Fonda

The Mohawk Community, located about seven miles west of Fonda, New York, near the beautiful Mohawk River, was a peaceful, glorious place to spend a rest day. In the distance, we could see tree-covered hills. We were surrounded by pastures with horses and cows. Not far away was a spring with refreshing cold and very clear water.

We were made to feel very welcome by Tom and Alice Porter and by all of the other members of the community. I even had the opportunity to experience cleaning my laundry in the same way that people in previous generations cleaned theirs, by using a bucket and a washboard. People in previous generations must have been strong! That's much more work that merely throwing the clothes into a washing machine!

At the Mohawk Community, we enjoyed delicious traditional Mohawk foods, including corn soup, fry bread, and mush. I also went to the gift shop while I was there. I enjoyed looking at all of the beautiful crafts that were sold at this store, especially the clothing and jewelry. It was beautiful but, alas, a wee bit beyond my budget. I ended up by purchasing a newspaper that provided a history of the Iroquois Confederacy and a CD of traditional Mohawk music.

I also spent a good deal of time sitting with Alice Porter and her sister Ida Mae. It was interesting to listen to them converse with each other. On the walk, I had become accustomed to hearing people speak in a variety of foreign languages, especially Japanese. I found out that Alice and Ida Mae spoke to each other in Choctaw, a language spoken by approximately 10,000 persons. Most of them live in Oklahoma. Before the Choctaw were forcibly relocated in the 1830s, they lived in the American southeast.

On the morning that we were to leave the Mohawk Community, Tom Porter told us about himself and Alice.

"I'm working for the enemy," Tom said simply and gently. "I never wanted to. My leaders asked me to do it."

Tom is one of two chaplains for Native American inmates in the New York State prison system. The other chaplain is an Onondaga. In the past, Tom said, Indians in jail went to court to try to force the government to provide them with religous services. They pointed out that services were available in penal institutions for Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, but not for inmates who practiced traditional Native American religions. "They had no religious freedom," Tom said. The court mandated that the prisons provide religious services. Hence, Tom's job, providing Native American inmates with hope, support, and a connection to the Creator.

"No one has helped them. They cry. They are frustrated and angry," Tom said of the inmates. "We try to be their uncle, their grandfather. I don't see jail people. I see grandsons, nephews, and nieces. When they get out, a lot of them try to follow traditions."

In the prisons, Tom cooks traditional foods for ceremonies. He cooks corn into such dishes as bread, soup, and mush. The corn is considered sacred. "It came thousands of years ago," Tom said.

Tom can do this work now, traveling to 72 jails and prisons in New York State to tend to the spiritual needs of Native American inmates, because he is strong and healthy enough to do so. It wasn't always this way. Tom and Alice both live with diabetes. Alice was well on her way to going blind from cataracts. She could not have surgery because her diabetes was not under control.

Tom said that a woman named Amanda came to help Alice by teaching her how to change her diet.

"We ate a typical American diet. It was killing us," Tom said. He added that Amanda cried about Alice's plight. She then went to the cupboard and cleared out all of the food that she deemed unhealthy. Some of the food was brand new. It all ended up in the garbage can. Amanda cooked for Tom and Alice for one month. At the end of that time, their diabetes was well under control and Alice was able to have surgery for her blind eye. Three weeks later, the surgeon fixed Alice's other cataract. She can now see.

Tom told us that he was thankful for the dietary change that Amanda introduced that saved Alice's eyesight. He told us also about being thankful. He said that, when he was a small boy, he lived with his grandmother in a house that had no electricity. His grandmother, who spoke only Mohawk, used to get up early to cook the oatmeal. She asked Tom, when he awakened, if he thanked the creator. She told him that, while he was asleep, the creator came through the window and held him in his arms. The creator also hugged the cows and horses and the trees and everything on mother earth.

"He is our father and we are his children. We have a good father and a good mother earth. They are our parents and we must respect them. Say Nya-weh. Thank you. You are the one who made me. I send to you my thank you, greetings, compassion and love. Say it before you get out of bed," Tom related. He added that the rays of sunlight that come through the window are the fingers, hands, and arms of the creator.

"All that the creator wants is to be told thank you with love. He clears obstacles from the road," Tom said.

Tom added that his people have faced many obstacles. They have been colonized for ten generations. "It is the worst thing. It goes into your mind and your heart. You cannot distinguish real life stuff. We can't even help ourselves to eat healthy."

He said that he and others continue to share the message of the Iroqouis Confederacy to counter the violent message of the government and corporations. He told us to tell all people. Go back to your original teachings to find the truth. Do not kill each other. Share one another.

"We are older and tired," Tom said. "We still try to do what we can do. We go as far as our trail takes us. It's OK. We must leave something for our children and grandchildren. Right now, the children are being held by the big power. They have no time to listen to grandpa and grandma."

"We still have lots of work to do yet. America is changing and starting to act more like Mohawks, Lakotas, and Senecas.But they killed the teachers.

"Until America changes and sets a good example, the world will not change," Tom said.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back to the walk

On April 10th, I got on an Amtrak train heading east. I got off at a beautifully restored train station in Utica and rejoined the Walk for a Nuclear Free Future that day.

It has been quite the adventure, rejoining the walk after leaving it in Rochester. The scenery had changed greatly. I was out of Western New York and had entered the Mohawk Valley. Later, we were to walk into the Hudson River valley, which is where we are now. Unlike the Buffalo to Rochester experience, which took me through familiar territory, I had come to a part of the state that I really did not know well.

But there has been one common thread that has linked Western New York with these other parts of the state, which is the rivers. I have always been drawn to water. I remember that,on Saint Patrick's Day, we walked along the shores of the Niagara River to Niagara Falls. We were amazed and intrigued by the enormous volume of water flowing over the falls. Rainbows formed above the falls. It was a stunning sight.

When I rejoined the walk, we were walking along the Mohawk River and the Erie Canal. We crossed and recrossed the river on those bridges that I truly don't like! One of the most wonderful experiences of the walk occurred outside of Fonda, when we stayed at the Mohawk Community with Alice and Tom Porter. We ate traditional corn soup and mush (very yummy) and learned quite a bit about the Mohawk culture.

I was sad to leave the Mohawk Community, where I felt at peace. We were surrounded by the beautiful hills and waters of Central New York. I could see horses and cows and I could walk through the woods to a cold stream. It was good.

I have to admit that one of the reasons that I chose to rejoin the walk after having been away for two and a half weeks was to see the Hudson River. I had seen the Hudson many times through the windows of a train and I very much wanted to see it within touching distance, much as I had the Mississippi River when I participated in the Witness Against War walk in 2008.

The river was beautiful but I have learned that it is full of sorrow, much as the Niagara River is full of sorrow. Radioactive waste has been found in the Niagara River, byproducts of the Manhattan Project of the 1940s. This radioactive waste has been found all over Western New York: in Lewiston, West Valley, Tonawanda. It has resulted in birth defects and all sorts of cancers. In the Hudson River, we were told, there is radioactive waste resulting from the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.

We walked to the western shore of the Hudson River and could see the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the far shore. We all dropped to our knees, praying and crying. We cried for the river and for the children who would inherit this wounded earth. We cried for the victims of depleted uranium. Tears kept flowing for the damage that uranium mining does to the earth. Our tears fell for the harm that the heated water does to the fragile ecosystem of the Hudson River.

Water is life. That is probably why I am so attracted to it.

The walk is about to end. I will write more when I come home.

Bye bye for now.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Niagara Falls

Sunday, April 18, 2010


 6時起床。祈り。今日は土地人が増えてウォーカーは26人。街郊外の海軍原子力研究所へ行く。ここで、原子 力潜水艦の原子炉が研究され、訓練もされる。海軍はもう一つ、ハワイに同様の施設を持ち、計27千人が双方で働いているという。その鉄柵に祈り鶴を下げている と、マッチな私服、そしてサングラスに黒いユニホームの警備員が4名駆けつけた。全員軽機関銃と腰に重いバッグつき。ウォークの現場コーディネイター、73才の白人Jが対応する。この研究所には、200名ほどの優秀な科学者が勤務するというが、物々しい警備の外には、広大な敷 地にビルが点在しているだけだ。

20メートルほどの川に沿った道を歩く。遅れ気味の僕を、やはり遅れ 気味の太ったNが、大きなNuclear Free Futureの旗を肩に下げ、ずっとつきそってくれる。ただ二人で歩いている内に道を間 違ったのではないか、と不安となり、ケイタイを試したら、初めてアメリカで通話できた10キロメートルほど先で、旗をかかげて待っている者に出逢った。それまでは林 の中の小城みたいな住宅ばかりで、日曜なのに人の影ひとつ見なかった。「どんな人が住人でいるのか」と同 行者に聞くと、「Politician」と答えた。彼らは一行の太鼓の音を聞き、窓の内側より旗の進 むのを見ているのだろうか。「ここらの人たちは、市内に住んで金貯めて、郊外にでかい家 を買い、その内子供がさびしいとか言うのでまた市内に移るのさ」と付加えた。

 ウォーカーの止まっていたのは、センスの良い中位のサイズの民家だった太鼓の音を聞いた当家の女性 が、かつて純さんと会い、その後ピースパゴタにも行ったことのある人で、ピンときて家から出ると純さんに 再会。お茶に招いてくれたのだ。昨日コンピューターを借りた民家に次いで、一般家庭にま た入った。広く家具調度品は立派だ。
20人ほどの貧しい人たちが、日曜朝のフリーミールを待っていた。黒 人と白人の老人が多かったが、皆どろ臭かったり、悲しそうだったりした。その差がどこに でもある。
 そして、今日の行進に先住民はまったく消えている。そう言えば、昨夜彼らが「明日は、西の門から東の門に入る」と 言っていた。つまり、首都オルバニー近くは、白人地帯と見なされているのだろうか。モザイク状に、都市内 でも各人種が別れているように、地域でもそのように互いのテリトリーを意識しているのかも知れない。 まだ入国して
8日目だ。判らないことばかりだ。小さな出来事を結びつけて自分な りのアメリカ像を作るしかない。だから、意識的に質問もしておらず、相手が自然に言った ことを元として、この記事も書いている。

 どこの市内も、郊外からの金持ちが戻る現象が起こっているらしく、住宅からして高級マンションか高級住 宅、もう一方は低所得者アパートか、古い互いの壁をくっつけた家。と、見事に分かれている。こんな近くで 互いの差を見ていたら、互いにつらいものがあるだろう。そのギャップを歩いて行く正 面に議事堂らしき両肩のそびえるビルの建つ道の歩道を延々と行く内に、僕の歩みは限界にきた。サポート・カー がそこで待っていた。今日は
2.3キロは歩行距離を延ばしている。たぶん12キロ位か。ずっと曇りっぱなしだったが、雨も降らず、風も弱かった。日曜日 らしく市内の人もゆったりとして、あいさつする若者も何人かいた。

Albanyそこのフリースクールに泊まるが、その手前で車に乗り込んだ。落 伍組のもう一人は林の中の道を延々と二人だけで歩いた時の、太ったNだった。彼は体重がハンディとなっている。12年間ほど海兵隊と空軍に入隊していた元軍人の40才。だが、そういう過去を言った後、「それ以上は聞かないで」とクギを刺た。 運転するのは一昨日と同じ、息子がアフガニスタンで負傷したという母親。車に入ったとたんに、小雨が降っ てきた。

フリースクールは黒人が目立つ古い地区だった。それが堂々とした州会議場や、 モダンなビジネス・ビルのすぐ裏にあった。Amsterdamにもある軒を並べた良い造りの家だ。ウォーカーのひとりがそこ に住んでいた。招かれて中に入ると階段は急だけど、3階にある彼の家 は、ホッとさせられる質素ながら味ある部屋が3つほど。家族で住んでいるようだが、物が本当に少ない。

12階にあり天井も高 かった10数人の子供たちとその親、そして平和活動をしている素朴な男女が 集まったから、サークルは大きくなった。セネカ族から始まる各宗派の祈り、そしてス ピーカー。堂々とした体格のカユガ族のアレンさんが最初。
 「ウェスト・ヴァリーのセネカ・テリトリーに核廃棄物が捨てられた。水や大地が汚染されたことで健康を 損なう者が多くなり、流産、奇形児の問題も重なり、
1990年 代に3カ所の核廃棄物所の1カ所が除去されたが、未だ、2所ある。かつてシックス・ネイションに来たヨー ロッパ人は天国を見つけたと喜び入植したが、我々にとっては苦難の始まりとなった。私も汚染された ことを知らずに子供の頃、その場所で遊んだりした。ここの核廃棄物は原を作った時のものだ。国連に核廃 絶を訴えたい」。

2次大戦中に悲劇の起こった場で断食し、祈ることをしてきました。1987年に、2人の僧がストックホルムからアテネに向かって核凍結を訴えて歩 いているのを見ました。私も1日だけ歩いたのが最初。1980年代、西ドイツに配置された核弾頭は1.400発。その1個だけでも広島原爆の13倍の威力があった。今は240発だが我々の兵士が使うよう訓練を受けている。53日の国連NPT会議で、全 ての核廃絶を訴えよう」。

194586日広島原爆、89日長崎原 爆。815日終戦。私の父 はソ連軍によってシベリアに2年間抑留されました。そこで多くが死にました。母は戦 時中の状態を男一人に対してトラック一杯の女性位の率で、男が少なかったと言いました。父は77才で亡くなる2週間前に舞鶴に行きたいと言いましたが、実現できませんでし た。私はそのとを、今だに悔やんでいます。大陸から引き揚げた日本人は舞鶴に上陸した のです。日本は平和憲法を持ったことにより、私たちは戦争を体験せずにみました。それは戦争で自分たち だけではなく、アジアの多くの人を犠牲にして得た憲法です。私がまずアジアで平和行進に参加のは、この前 の戦争のおわびをしたかったからです。今回は9.11以来のアメ リカで平和を訴えるために参加しました。

1982年に国連軍縮会議のあった時には全国全世界から100万人が集まり、デモをしました。その大群衆の中で偶然ですが、黄色の服を着 て太鼓を叩いている宗団に会いました。車椅子の老人を先頭として。その方が創始者の藤井上人でした。そ の後また偶然にここオルバニーでその音を耳にして会ったのが、純さんです。その時彼女は、カリフォルニアを追われた デニス・バンクスがオノンダカ族のテリトリーに逃げ、ニューヨーク州知に州内を自由に動けるよう請願し ていました。純さんがそこから州都オルバニーまで一週間歩き、州知事庁舎前で1週間断食をすることを、1年間繰り返してい た時のことです。彼女はこのフリースクール前に住むクエーカー教徒の女性の家に泊まっていたので親しくな り、グラフトンに法塔を建てる時にはフリースクールのスタッフが最初に駆けつけ、泥の道を3トンの岩を20人がかりで転がし上げるようなこともしました。52日に向けて、オルバニーからも何台もの大型バスを仕立てて国連に 向かいます」。

 ここはフリースクールだから子供が多く、広い空間で自由に学び遊んでいる。多くの人を泊めることに慣れ ているようだ。男と女別部屋となって、厚いマットが一面に広げられた。都市の中心だというのに、伝統的な 造りの家だけのこの通りは本当に静かである。

100兆円をイラク 戦に、しかもその内の数兆円はわいろやら無駄に使い、現大統領も300億円をアフガニスタンに使うと宣言した国アメリカに、これだけ色々な平和運 動をしている人がいる、という事実に、心が静まってくる。
 そして、このフリースクールの経済基盤もユニークだ。この黒人街の通りで半壊した建物を買い、それを皆 の手で修理してアパートに改造、その家賃でもってフリースクールの運営費をまかない、
40年間続いてきたというアメリカで一番古いフリースクールコミューンの自信がそう安心させるのだろ う。教師は既に2代目3代目だ。ス ピーチをしたクリスさんは既にリタイアしているが、かつて日本の宝島出版社より「学校へ行きたくない子供たちの学 校」という本を出版し一時はかなりの日本人がここを見学に来たとのこと。彼らはグラフトンの仏 舎利塔建設にも、フリースクールから紹介され、訳判らなかったようだが奉仕をしたという。

50人、毎日幾つものカリキュラムがあり、生徒は自由に選べる。3才の保育園児から12才まで。運営については、生徒と教師が同じテーブルを囲んで話 し合い、また生徒だけで話し合うこともあり、その時は教師は後ろに座り、ただ聞いている だけだという。学費は少額、より貧しい者は奨学生として無料。
 夕飯。日常的にこのような団体を収容しているらし く、食事にしても見事に菜食バイキング料理が出てくる。暖房も丁度良い温度。床の小さな穴から温 気が吹き上げる方式だ。マットの上で楽々と寝た。