Friends, family, activist community, the world.
I am writing this to share with you an opportunity I have been given to experience the journey of a lifetime.
From August 20nd to October 31st the Walk Away From Uranium Mining will take place. It is a walk across Western Australia starting in Wiluna and ending in Perth, a total of over 1200 km, or 745 miles.
The goal of this walk is to create awareness about the dangers of uranium mining and in so doing, reinstate the uranium mining ban in Western Australia.
For ten weeks, activists from across the globe will walk in solidarity with the Aboriginal people opposing uranium mining. These people will fly in from places such as The United States and France.
They will be people of different ethnicity, age, socio-economic background, education level, sexual orientation and religious affiliation. Many of them will meet for the first time when the walk begins.
During this walk, the following principles of non-violence will be adhered to:
- BE NONVIOLENT IN TONE AS WELL AS ACTION
- SHOW RESPECT FOR ALL PEOPLE; EACH PERSON HAS A PIECE OF THE TRUTH
- IN DIFFICULT MOMENTS, BEHAVE AS A FOLLOWER OF NONVIOLENCE
- DO NOT HIDE ANYTHING – TELL THE TRUTH
- BE FIRM AND UNYIELDING IN YOUR COMMITMENT TO NON VIOLENCE AND YOUR ACTION FOR PEACE
- BE COURAGEOUS
- CHOOSE TO LOVE
Over the course of the walk there will be no drinking or drug usage. This is “in solidarity with indigenous and non indigenous […] people from around the world whose communities have been devastated by the effects of drugs and alcohol.”
We will walk between 12 and 18 miles each day.
There will be a one hour lunch break and one ten minute break every hour.
An example of a typical day:
8.00am pack & clean stay place
8.30am morning circle
9.00am begin walking
4.00pm arrive at stay place
free time unless host has schedule an event
media / local greeting
7.00pm public meeting / cultural exchange / free time
10.00pm lights out
At the 2008 Garlic and Arts Festival in the small town of Orange, MA I met Marcus and KA (footprintsforpeace.net), two Australian activists who have spent years doing walks for peace including one 9 month long walk from Auschwitz to Hiroshima^.
By listening to their story and the stories of countless others, I was inspired to begin peace walking. Last month marked the one year anniversary of my first peace walk.
It was a 45 day walk to New York City for the NPT conference.
There were 4 different walks happening simultaneously, which started from all over the country. On May 1st, 2010 all of these walks came together to march to a rally the day before the conference, urging all delegates attending and President Obama to stop uranium mining, stop using nuclear power and forever end the threat of nuclear warfare.
The group I walked with was initiated by the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order and started at the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett, MA. We walked through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont and into New York. Other walks started at the Oak Ridge Nuclear Plant in Tennessee and upstate New York.
Attending this rally were thousands of student activists from France and Japan, the largest number of surviving Hibakusha who survived the A-bomb in 1945, and the former mayor of Hiroshima and leader of Mayors for Peace, Tadakoshi Akiba.
The 2 days after the rally showed several acts of civil disobedience including a demonstration at Grand Central Station by the War Resisters League and an ongoing fast/chanting by the monks and nuns of Nipponzan Myohoji (and a group of their supporters).
Since this walk ended I have gone on 3 more walks throughought New England.
The Walk for Seven Generations (commemorating Hiroshima/Nagasaki day),
The Maine VFP Walk for Human Needs and Veterans Care
The Walk For a New Spring 2011; Walk to End War and Build Community. [pictures and information about these walks can be found at www.peacewalks.tumblr.com]
When not on walks I have divided my time between helping the monks at the New England Peace Pagoda finish building their temple, and attending and presenting at conferences (including the CFSC, New Orleans*) and connecting with the communities I met on the peace walk including U Pyinya Zawta, U Gawsita and U Agga from the All Burma Monks Alliance** I have dedicated the last year to working towards social change.
In order to make the pilgrimage to Australia I need to raise at least 3,000 USD.
My goal is to raise 300 units of 10$ each by July 15 in order to secure my airfare.
On August 8th, fellow peace walker Alexandria Valente and myself will fly out of JFK with a layover in Dubai, and a stop in Perth before we reaching our destination – Wiluna.
We will spend the week and a half before the walk starts traveling with the walk co-ordinators while they speak about the purpose of the walk.
Over the course of the walk we will both we blogging as frequently as time and conditions allow.
This walk promises to change the lives of all who experience it, no matter how large or small their part.
All over the world the cries of the oppressed are finally becoming so loud that they can no longer be ignored. Time and time again we have seen that when people work together towards a common goal in a non-violent fashion it can create positive change.
From the actions of the students in Egypt and Wisconsin to the political prisoners and activists like Aung San Suu Kyi, Myo Myint` and Ai WeiWei*** it has become apparent not only that people will not lay down and accept injustice, but that if they are strong enough stand by their convictions regardless of the consequences, things will change.
When any person or government decides it is acceptable to employ violence against another person then it becomes the job of the people to collectively stand up and demand change. Governments do not start out oppressive and people are not born addicted to violence.
We are taught that there is nothing we can do to change these things. That there has always been war and that people are not genuinely good. These ideas are fostered through life, and yet we are somehow surprised by oppressive regimes who inflict genocide on their own people and turn children into soldiers and slaves. We act as though these problems are simply a symptom of the human condition. They are not. And it is absolutely within our power to change them. The only reason we still have these problems is because people have not yet decided that they are affected by them. The day people realize it is within their power to create change, that is the day we will have peace.
People all over the world have refused this violence as the natural state of life and have dedicated themselves to changing it.
Help me do the same.
Donations can be sent on this website or through:
by selecting “Donate Now” and under
selecting “Vanessa Lynch” under “Nominate”
(donations can also be sent to walk organizers, activists and new parents Marcus Atkinson and Kerri-Ann Garlick through this site)
Checks can be made out and sent to:
Vanessa Lynch – Peace Walk AU
PO Box 585
Donations can be made to my walking partner Alexandria Valente by viewing her fundraiser:
Sincere thanks to everyone who is helping make this journey possible.
For questions, comments etc., you can email me directly at
More information about the walk can be found at: http://www.nuclearfreefuture.com
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=186253508069787 Sacred Run: Run for Freedom for Leonard Pelletier, Prisoner of Conscience
http://space4peace.org/actions/gnconf_2011.htm Global Network 19th Annual Space Organizing Conference
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6805661031950774668&hl=en# Climate of Hope, a short film about Uranium Mining
http://www.peacewalks.tumblr.com – Peace Walk Photo Project
http://www.avidnakedfoot.tumblr.com Alexandria V. Blog
http://footprints.footprintsforpeace.net/nffcampaign/upload/files/Schedule_Wiluna_to_Perth_walk_2011.pdf Walk Schedule
http://www.facebook.com/LNEPP Peace Pagoda Facebook
http://www.peacewalks.wordpress.com Peace Walk Journal
http://footprints.footprintsforpeace.net/nffcampaign/upload/files/Australian_registration_form_distributed.pdf Registration Form
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=139990346065407 Facebook Event
http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/ Mayors for Peace
http://www.the-icsee.org/projects/middleeast/palestine.htm Palesting House of Friendship
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nuclear-Power-No-Thanks/171845399533675 Nucleaire, Non Merci!
http://www.hibakushastories.org/ Hibakusha Stories
http://www.seedsofsolidarity.org/ Seeds of Solidarity, Education Center/Farm
^ http://teeksaphoto.org/Archive/Exhibits/95PilgrF/AshesLightPDFs/00Cover_Contents_Foreword.pdf Auscwitzch Hiroshima Walk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Bunche_Park Ralph Bunche Park
http://www.indypendent.org/2010/05/03/22-arrested-declaring-grand-central-station-a-nuclear-weapons-free-zone/ Grand Central Station
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/u-pyinya-zawta U Pyinya Zawta
http://www.freemumia.com/ Mumia Abu Jamal
http://www.leonardpeltier.net/ Leonard Peltier
* http://www.cfscnola.tumblr.com –New Orleans Presentation
** http://www.allburmamonksalliance.org Burmese Monks
~ http://www.childvoiceintl.org/ Uganda
` http://www.breakthrufilms.org/burma-soldier/ Burma Soldier
*** http://freeaiweiwei.org/ Ai WeiWei
http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Among-Warlords-Extraordinary-Afghan/dp/143910946X Malalai Joya
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nipponzan-My%C5%8Dh%C5%8Dji Nipponzan Myohoji