Women's International League for Peace and Freedom St. Louis Branch

Abortion Ban

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by Lynn Sableman

Texas, Alabama and Missouri take heed!
Banning abortion creates a dystopian world. Romanian dictator Nicolas Ceausescu banned contraception and abortions to increase the population. A woman could not
inform her husband or family or friends of her desire for an abortion because any accomplice would face many years in prison.
From 1965 to 1989 an estimated 10,000 women died in back ally abortions in communist Romania. Another consequence of this abortion ban was that hundreds of thousands of children were turned over to state orphanages. When communism collapsed in Romania in 1989, an estimated 170,000 children were found warehoused in filthy orphanages. Having previously been hidden from the world, images emerged of stick-thin children, many of whom had been beaten and abused. Some were left shackled to metal bed frames.
Maternal deaths occurred in low income populations mainly because wealthy women could pay to get an IUD smuggled from Germany. Trump allowed the religious exemption for employers covering healthcare insurance, this has consequences. Stop the war on women.

WILPF at Women’s Rally for #StopTheBan

by Lynn Sableman

Michelle, Connie and I met Helen and Rich Race at the Rally . They attended the International Women’s Day fund raiser and concert we held several years ago, and Rich joined out Tax Day demonstration in Clayton when we last had it. Here is Helen’s reflection on the rally yesterday.

“Planned Parenthood had a strong presence at yesterday’s Women’s Rally for Stop the Ban in St Louis. It brought back some memories for me when I worked at the Planned Parenthood in Worcester MA in the mid 1980’s just a decade after the Roe V Wade decision.

 In 1983, I was in nursing school and chose Planned Parenthood for my Women’s Health rotation. I stayed on after graduation as a staff RN for another year or so. My role there included escorting patients, assisting with office visits for well women check ups, birth control, STD treatment, abortion procedures and aftercare. I provided counseling, took phone calls and helped with follow up visits.

I remember being an escort and having to walk around a few demonstrators. One man in particular was always there. He was dressed like a monk and dragged a wooden cross back and forth on the sidewalk. There would also be a couple people yelling at us and holding signs with graphic images meant to intimidate our clients. This was a very small group compared to the larger pro-life groups I see these days in St Louis outside Planned Parenthood as they protest loudly and harass people on the sidewalk.

Our staff included the nurses, physicians, social workers, medical assistants and volunteers. We had very strict protocols to follow to make sure each woman received the best care we could offer.  Counseling women who had an unwanted pregnancy was a huge part of the visit. We helped each woman talk through her individual situation and provided accurate information to assist her in making a decision so that whatever her decision was, she needed to feel it was the right one for her. I never felt like we “pushed” abortion. It was a service we offered if the woman chose it. We also had a list of other area organizations that could help her if she wanted to look into adoption or a center that provided inhome care for pregnant women.

I continue to be a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood and for the right for all women to have safe affordable healthcare including abortion. Missouri has a powerful pro-life movement that threatens this right. It is therefore our responsibility and our obligation for ourselves, our daughters and granddaughters to stand up , show up and do what we need to do to Stop the Ban.  ” — Helen Race

So, What Is Public Banking?

bank banking banknotes business

by Judy Davis; Women, Money & Democracy

     October marks one year since Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced the Public Banking Act of 2020 (H.R. 8721).  And …“while the bill doesn’t directly create new public banks, it solves a number of problems faced by public banking advocates:

  • Legitimizing the idea of public banking to moderates/conservatives/skeptics as an institutional option
  • Providing substantial technical, legal, and financial assistance to start up public banks, currently undertaken largely by volunteer organizers
  • Carving out privileged access to federal finance tools for public banks
  • Leapfrogs the siloed efforts of changing individual state banking regulations with mixed success”

Presented to Congress in the middle of our federal government’s emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is an attempt to guarantee financial recovery for smaller businesses, local governments, and individuals—those without access to Wall Street funds (where banking neglects working people).  Additionally, these federally supported public banks would be prohibited from “investing in or doing business with the fossil fuel industry.”  

The idea of public or ‘state-owned’ banking is not new.  In the US, colonial governments established “land banks” to finance farming and development and generate revenue.  Globally public banks facilitated the industrial revolution of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in both socialist and capitalist countries.  But gradually, institution by institution, our public banks have been privatized (a familiar theme).  

However, often cited as an exemplary example of a state-owned, state-run (public) financial institution, the Bank of North Dakota (BND) is still going strong.  Established in 1919 as a populist response to wildly fluctuating agricultural conditions and lines of credit, their “mission is to ‘promote agriculture, commerce, and industry’ and ‘be helpful to and assist in the development of …financial institutions…within the State.”  Initially struggling to meet their economic goals, they received little help from competing private Minnesota and east coast banks.  Today BND stands relatively unaffected by the 2008 financial crisis; in fact, in 2017, “recording record profits for the 14th year in a row.”

This accomplishment has not gone unnoticed and public banking initiatives abound.  All of them envision public banks as, among many things, tools for shared prosperity.  As recently as 2017/2018 cities and states around the country were forming task forces to study the feasibility of and proposing ballot initiatives to authorize the formation of public banks.  Indeed, in her 2017 book SCREWNOMICS, Ricky Gard Diamond builds eloquently to the need for women especially to become involved in this issue… Enter the pandemic. 

By 2019/2020 most of these studies and initiatives met with daunting results—the costs and risks of setup could not be supported by the relatively limited means of “community-centric alternatives to corporate banks”.  (Sigh!)  But you do not tell Rashida or Alexandria or Ricky no:  HB8721 is steadily gaining sponsors (all Democrats), and WILPF has launched the Women’s PUBLIC BANKING LEARNING CIRCLE.  Current subscriptions to the Learning Circle are full (hopefully there will be a Winter offering), but you can still lend your support to HB8721 (you know the drill). 






Plastic Problem

by Lynn Sableman, Earth Democracy

Our ally from MO mentum Environs, Margaret Hermes, had a regular monthly meeting to write cards and letters to companies and legislators relevant to a particular environmental problem at each meeting. I was so impressed by the dedication of this group. The night I attended prepandemic we wrote to Coke and Prairie Farms about their needless use of plastic. I received a response from corporate and a ten dollar product coupon, from Prairie Farms. This kind of badgering can bring change.

Margaret continues to send emails with actions during the pandemic. Recently she chose the plastic pod issue. The use of plastic pods in laundry and dishwasher detergent does not dissolve as the marketers would have consumers believe Margaret discovered. So I have been experimenting with alternatives to these pods, also seeking compostable packaging. Here is what I’ve found so far.

The cardboard box full of Arm&Hammer Laundry soap. I pour the dry powder into the compartment for soap in the washing machine.

Lynn’s Corner – Fall issue

From “The Conversation”Benjamin Neimark Senior Lecturer Lancaster University in consultation with Sustainability researcher Cara Kennelly say shrinking this US war machine is a must for climate mitigation. Studies show that action on climate change demands shuttering vast sections of the military machine. There are few activities on Earth as environmentally catastrophic as waging war. Significant reductions to the Pentagon’s budget and shrinking its capacity to wage war would cause a huge drop in demand from the biggest consumer of liquid fuels in the world. In 2017 the US military bought 269,230 barrels of oil a day and emitted more than 25,000 kilotonnes of CO2 by burning those fuels.

Remember Green House Gases heating the planet and killing coral reefs and reeking climate havoc with all life? Why isn’t our foreign policy stepping up? Those wars everywhere? Let’s cut these wars out and work on our democracy here at home. You can’t bring democracy at the point of a gun or bomb your way to peace. That’s proven. Close the 800 bases worldwide, decommission all the nuclear missiles and let’s use the savings for humanitarian needs. Yemen is suffering terrible hunger, Afghanistan has extreme hunger too, address this everywhere since we can afford to since $3Trillion is not going to rebuild the entire nuclear Arsenal. Nukes are illegal.

Have you found yourself singing lines from Peter, Paul and Mary? Jefferson Airplane, Cat Stevens’, Peace Train? I hear, “ when will they ever learn , when will they ever learn” and on a hopeful note, “People, get together now, smile on each other,” These 60/70’s era ballads and Peace songs express my feelings of futility and desire for peace on earth.

The deep sense of betrayal among allied Afghanis abandoned during the hasty departure of our military from Kabul, is grievous. No conclusion to twenty years of Afghanistan war, as Biden says, spying and drone war will continue by way of “Over the Horizon” operations. That’s a continuation of random bombings of civilians. That randomness is the vary definition of terrorism. The September 13, New Yorker article by Anand Gopal is a fascinating set of interviews of Afghan locals. The 70 percent of the population that is rural suffered terribly under drone attacks. That constant threat of random death that could befall families driving to a sister’s wedding, or having tea in a sunlit field-is torture. They may be better off with Taliban rule if these drone attacks stop. They’re main income, a cash crop, was destroyed under the US coalition which left locals to starve.

The recent senate hearing brought out a frank ‘general’s review’ of the twenty years war. It was a disaster of bloodletting and wasted taxpayer investment. That is borne out again. Still no official will admit our ‘over the top’ military revenge for 9/11 was about accessing the vast Middle Eastern oil reserves. These military intrusions in the Middle East were about protecting and delivering pipeline oil, says Charlotte Dennett author of The Crash of Flight 3804. A thrilling story of CIA activity from the early days of oil discovery to now. There are pipeline maps and maps of military skirmishes that fit perfectly together. The US hired the Taliban when it was a Soviet Russian war, to guard the TAPI pipelines.

Why would a country flunking their own democracy test “move to dominate entirely incomprehensible countries with their entire military might” After the 2011 killing of 9/11 instigator Osama Bin Laden, what was the reason to stay except for plunder? It was certainly not for women’s rights.

In 2015 the Department of Defense built “ the worlds most expensive gas station $43Million in Afghanistan. It should not have cost more that $500,000. The idea was to use plentiful Afghan natural gas instead of importing fuels. The cost of converting a car to be able to use natural gas was $600 -equal to a years wages for the locals. The project failed. Who enables the pentagon to throw money away in far away countries? We need checks and balances.

Will voters elect to office legislators who will cut back on pentagon larges? The poor DOD performance requires accountability, we must tighten the purse strings.

Our military is the biggest consumer of fossil fuels on earth, yet they are not accountable for their own carbon pollution? This would be a good time to commit DOD to net zero carbon like countries everywhere must do. It’s nonsense to let the military be exempt from pollution measures when they are the main polluters.
Just how confused and lost our military approach was, is made clear in the Gopal New Yorker article. Massive amounts of money went to paying off Taliban. In one case Gopal reports, it was the uncle of an Afghan army member who was Talib and regularly bombed an essential bridge, soon the uncle was on the payroll, paid to not bomb this essential bridge. There was little to no comprehension of what makes this culture tick.
When will we ever learn to stop the lavish taxpayer larges to the Pentagon? Those who invested in Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamics etc etc won a handsome stock profit off the war. Our legislators benefitted hugely though-the lobbyists for the Merchants of death, Raytheon garnered over $310 billion in weapons contracts since 9/11, while spending $2.5 billion to buy influence. Raytheon’s lobbyists, campaign contributions and personnel in high government offices.

From WILPF disarm/end wars, the biggest weapons profiteers in the world should get public shaming, divestiture campaigns and moral condemnation. Here are some contacts for the worst offenders:

Lockheed Martin,6801 Rockledge Dr. Bethesda, MD 20817 ; 972-603-9818

Boeing Defense, Space and Security, PO Box 516, St.Louis, MO 63166; 314-232-0232

Bechtel National, 50 Beale St. , San Francisco, CA 94105; 415-768-1234

Honeywell/ Kansas City Plant: 14520 Botts Rd. Kansas City MO 64147; 816-488-2000

Introducing Kamryn Moore our WILPF St Louis Intern

black laptop computer on white plastic armchair

by Lynn Sableman

 WILPFstlouis members, Judy Davis and Lynn Sableman, met Kamryn Moore at the Garden Cafe in Webster Groves for the long awaited meeting with our prospective WILPFstlouis intern.

She is a senior at Webster University with a major in Human Rights. Judy and I chatted a bit about how to explain the task we proposed to the intern: distributing 100 Peace Essay Contest flyers electronically, to 100 Missouri high school junior classes. We were sitting outside at a table with an inadequate umbrella shading parts of our meeting space. Judy impressed me with the statement that strongly advocates for WILPF , “People need hope.” We read every day about challenges to human existence globally and at home and no one, no leaders are adequately focusing on these dire problems, many of which are caused by the United States. It raises the blood pressure and causes sleepless nights. Big oil is getting subsidized, the Saudi’s and OPEC are pumping away. We are oil independent now but still not demanding polluters clean up after themselves. While we should be pouring dollars into researching and developing clean green energy.

Still early for Kamryn’s arrival, I mentioned to Judy that she should stop me from explaining what WILPF does in my “ fire hose” fashion. Judy agreed to lead the conversation. Just before Kamryn arrived we were discussing Judy’s template system of grading the essays impartially, when Judy jumped out of her seat as if stung by a bee and muttered “figs!”figs”several times pointing to a planter behind me. Sure enough the small fig tree was heavy laden with huge racquetball size ripe red brown figs and quite a few had already dropped onto the pavement below. She gathered a few. This portends well for our meeting, I thought.

Kamryn cheerily joined us for coffee and kept us enthralled with her life’s story. She comes from a small town, called Pontiac, an hour south of Chicago. She is the first in her family to attend college. Her parents are blue collar, mother a cafeteria worker and father cuts down trees. Kamryn’s journey to Human Rights scholar began when she was 12 years old and discovered CNN. Then in high school she took an interest in Tuesday’s Rotarian Lunches and learned about their world traveler program. She worked two years on applications to take a year abroad. Her larger challenge came from surmounting opposition at home. Her competitors all desired a familiar English speaking country assignment. They all were given 40 countries from which to select Kamryn indicated the more exotic the better and won a spot either in Brazil or in Istanbul. Turkey was her choice. Brazil was ruled out because their school year was opposite ours and would result in her losing a year of high school and having to make up in the fifth year. Two weeks before leaving she learned the July 2016 coup had erupted in Turkey and back she went to the drawing board. She ended up in Thailand, she was able to stay conveniently with the same host family for 12 months and could walk to school and hitch a ride weekends to teach English in the mountains near Chang Rie, the smaller of the big cities.

Last year Kamryn volunteered at the International Institute in the “teen” department. Kamryn’s insight after working with immigrants, knowing how uncomfortable foreign things can be awkward at first, set the stage for revising the Peace Essay. Kamryn knows about some teens feeling passionately about peace but not feeling comfortable writing an essay. She offered to retype the contest flyer with the following corrections: essays are submitted by email and postal mail, can take the widest of forms, video, graphic novel style, any art form as well as natural essay writing.

The contest starts November 1,2021 World Peace Day and ends March 8, International Women’s Day 2022.

There may be an exhibit in the Hall of Nations at the International Institute. Who knows what could grow from this endeavor as Kamryn is a university marketing and social media titan. Good Luck and God Speed.

Tabling at Farmer’s Markets

by Cara Jensen

Connie and I were at the University City farmer’s market on Saturday, 17 July to raise awareness of our branch and provide information about WILPF. It was a beautiful overcast, slightly breezy day so we were pleased to find a peach tree nearby that provided some appropriate weights for our materials! We chose generalist brochures and sheets that emphasized the perspective of women, but thought we could easily have something more direct action/petition about state or national issues when needed. We had our “elevator speech” taped to our side of the table for easy reference <smile>. As we were set up near the entrance, we were able to greet everyone who walked by. We met someone from the St. Louis Food Bank who wanted our information to connect us into an effort she mentioned, and we also visited with a woman who was a member during the 1980s!! We hope to contact her for our centennial birthday party.

Overall it was successful, with people taking our cards and wanting to see our new website – if you see us at your next farmer’s market, please stop by to say hello!

Can you really love your enemy?

people reaching hands to each other

by Cara Jensen

This is the name of a podcast I listened to recently from the 2013 Greenbelt Festival, given by Sami Awad. He is the executive director of Holy Land Trust, a Palestinian nonprofit organisation that works at both the grassroots and leadership levels in developing nonviolent approaches that aim to end the Israeli occupation and build a future founded on the principles of nonviolence, equality, justice, and peaceful coexistence.

A dear friend forwarded this to me after we were discussing my studies of nonviolence principles and the work towards justice, human rights and equality. It was spot on. What I really liked about his talk, was the steps that he took in his own life to liberate himself from the deep seated hatred and distrust of the Israeli occupiers. He told the audience that he had learned to look within himself to ask what he might do to change his relationship to the enemy, identifying the greater, all encompassing identity as humans beings.

Then he had to let go of the past, honoring it and learning from it, but not letting it control his present. Challenging himself to ask what is factual and what is opinion/generalization and freeing himself from the victim mentality was the next step. Breaking through both sides of those hardened identities is key to not seeing ourselves as a victim. He liberated himself from this mentality by ceasing to judge others and allowing their actions to control his reactions. Seeing the human underneath the actions, not demonizing and dehumanizing them.

Getting to know your enemy’s story was a next step, he doesn’t use this to excuse or condone their actions, but simply as a realization that each of us has experiences that shape how we react to situations. In a conflict, the enemy is the situation not the person. He said that it was only when he visited a concentration camp in Poland that he finally could understand the zeal behind “never again letting this happen” and how it has shaped the current Isreali sentiment. Listing without prejudice, you don’t have to agree, but just hearing the story allows for a development of trust and understanding.

He then spoke about healing the past, reconciliation, forgiveness; the need for healing the traumas of the past and how that is critical for building a future with the enemy that is not just one of compassion or charity, but mutual liberation, freedom and equality. Only by building a new unity of human oneness can the work succeed. Change doesn’t come from the action, or from above – the root of the conflict has to change, amd that he says happens through the spirit of love and compassion. Loving the enemy is a means to achieve goals and we must trust the power of love.

Listening to this has certainly challenged me to identify my “enemies”, or those who would be in conflict with me, and reflect on their story , not to excuse or condone their behavior,or to view them through the lens of judgement, but to see them as fully human, just as I am. I am working towards entering every interaction with a intentional approach of nonviolence, in the way I speak, think and even resist. I am working.

Hiroshima & Nagasaki Memorial 2021


Ally Spotlight – Erica Williams, Healthy Flavor Community Garden and A Red Circle

by Lynn Sableman

Today, I had a lovely lunch, on a protected porch, at the bustling Ferguson Brewing Company. It was a short ride from the “Healthy Flavor Community Garden”, where Erica Williams and Louise Collins and I had just completed two hours of gardening like we do every Tuesday morning. The garden, located in the Village of Riverview, in north St. Louis County, is one of two gardens Erica devotes herself to as part of the mission of her non profit, which she is the director of, A Red Circle.  A Red Circle’s mission statement is, “The holistic betterment of our community; reversing the effects of racism one person and cause at a time.”  A Red Circle’s current work is to help disinvested areas move from food deserts and food swamps, to healthy wholesome fresh food havens with activities that she hosts at the gardens. Father’s Day will feature four hours of live music. There is Art in the garden, too. The last Saturday of the month A Red Circle hosts the “Healthy Community Market” when cooking demonstrations and recipes using the bountiful fresh flavors close at hand draw crowds.  There is laughter and singing around the grill. This garden production coincides with the nearby Zion Travelers Missionary Baptist Church groceries give away.

  Louise, is Erica’s mother and an avid volunteer for all of the important community strengthening programs Erica takes on. I enjoyed Louise’s account of the 8 week program “Transitioning Well”, which is a life skills course Erica and guest instructors provided at St.Vincent’s Home for Children in Normandy, for those Foster Care people aging out of the program. The Job Coach was employed at Citi Group and doing the hiring there. Louise said, he taught them how to carry and conduct themselves when interviewing and applying for work. Other skills: balancing the checkbook, paying taxes, cooking easy nutritional meals, and all about the vote, is what Erica made sure they grasped. Erica has a tender spot in her heart for working with young people.

  Erica has this ability to do the work of ten people at once. Mother of five, wife, former full time para-legal, student, both her Master Gardener certificate and doctoral program in Public Policy with an emphasis on Policy Analysis. The  Dissertation will take on the problem of disadvantaged children having an appropriate environment for learning at school. The school to prison pipeline starts in those early years. A child without good nutrition or music lessons or time climbing a tree or hiking in the woods is not prepared to sit still in class. The teacher reacts with a shout, the child feels badly and when it happens again is content to stay away from school when suspended. What would a school look like that meets these students fundamental, essential needs? Erica is in the research stage. I suggest she visit Finland, and take me along!

  Erica has three employees and scads of volunteers working for A Red Circle. She has  an office with earthworms in bins that need feeding to produce that most excellent compost. The office has grow lights where she started pans of peppers and several types of basil seedlings. In the office,  there is Drew, a Social worker with Community Health expertise. Grant writing is carried out by talented volunteers. But Gardening will stay in Erica’s hands. The trips to Jefferson City Erica makes, and Columbia are about the budget set by rural folks. She must argue for agency funds to go to Urban Agriculture entities.

  Back at home in north St. Louis County, Erica and Louis drive through familiar communities, they are insiders.  The STEM teaching garden called the North County Agriculture Education Center in Pine Lawn, Missouri has power provided by solar cells, has a vast spread of row upon row of potato plants in bloom as well as orchard trees and herbs and much more to come.
 I asked Erica when the ‘doing good for others,’ that she enjoyed while growing up in church and Girl Scouts turned into throwing herself, full throttle, into racial justice activism.

   The week of protests and disruption following Michael Brown Jr.’s death kept the schools from opening and Erica’s children had to wait to start school. Erica and her family made signs and stood across from the Ferguson police station. Her sign read- Give us the Truth. A parent named Melissa started a group called “Parents for Peace”. The parents group created welcome back signs for the children of each school, elementary, middle and high school. Walnut Grove Elementary and Ferguson Middle School are where Erica’s children attended. The Parents for Peace created pinwheels to decorate the entry doors in these schools. 

   A pair of friends of Erica’s, one, Lauren who is Black  joined forces with another friend who was Jewish. Together they created a program with a curriculum that covered the Tulsa Massacre, Red Lining and Jim Crow. All new history to most. The point was to teach parents so that the parents could teach their children about racism. Erica received the instruction and founded A Red Circle in 2017 to carry out the dream of racial equity, attract investment to create local jobs, in the area. 

Thank you for the tour of St. Vincent’s Home for Children and the North County Agricultural Education Center!