Friday, April 26, 2013

Vietnam can bring Answers for Ashtabula

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

The Paris Peace Accords, ending the War in Vietnam, were signed on January 27, 1973. The four parties to this conflict agreed to the unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam and to “support the healing of the wounds of war.”

Despite that Agreement, the war continued until April 1975.

The promises efforts for healing would not begin for decades. Third generation Vietnamese, born today, enter the world with deformities because their grandfathers were exposed to chemical agent orange. Children are losing life and limbs because they live in a village where a buried unexploded ordinance is unearthed during an ordinary play day.

When these buried bombs explode, a lifetime of new suffering is created. For these victims, the war has continued.

Rennie Davis, one of the Chicago Seven, an organizer of the Anti-War Movement of the 60's and 70's, flew to Vietnam this last January to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. He landed in a Vietnam which still faces the impact of a war two generations ended. The 40th Anniversary commemoration of the signing of the Paris Peace Accord in Vietnam was a national ceremony that included past and present political and military leadership. Their nation-wide moment for rememberance was not covered in the United States.

But here in Ashtabula, and across our country, we face many of the same problems which still confront Vietnam and the solutions now being applied there to the continuing presence of toxic waste can also solve problems here.

Vietnam's land and water was impacted by toxic waste, Agent Orange among these. The dioxin-contaminated soil persists, but ways have been identified for remediation which leave the soil cleansed of contaminants, fertile, and renewed. This gift for peace brings blessings which can change our lives, too.

The same process identified and now in use in Vietnam provides the means for dealing with all the toxic waste left here in Ashtabula from World War II and the War in Vietnam. Our soil and water, once treated, can also be left clean and fertile.

After Vietnam ended Rennie moved on to very different work in corporate America. Understanding the problems he had begun looking for answers. Today, the technologies he identified are proven, tested and being used in Vietnam. These same tools can serve us as well.

Ashtabula can recover and find new prosperity from places none of us imagined.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Shot Heard 'Round the World – April 19, 1775

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster 
As the harsh storms of winter subside we approach the 238th anniversary of an event in American history which provides insight and direction badly needed today. On April 19, 1775 a musket was discharged, beginning a clash of arms over a small bridge standing astride the stream at Concord, Massachusetts. We have all seen the statues and, perhaps, remember the poems.

To this day no one knows who fired the shot. But the unfolding clash shocked the British Crown and set the stage for the first nation on Earth who proclaimed the principle of universal freedom in July of the next year.

This was not a government operation. These were a people who recognized the power was within them.

Perhaps the best lesson to be drawn from those events, which we have allowed to be obscured through the misted lens of time, is that this marked a moment when the people did it themselves. By so doing, they confounded the greatest power then existing on Earth.

The people had come together to determine their course thorough the Committees of Correspondence. In most towns across the colonies small groups met and discussed all of the reasons for action and their options. Today, the parallel method would be the Internet.

The British had been emboldened by their success in seizing the colonist's powder, read this 'ammunition,' held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire the year before. With their supply of munitions cut off from capture of the Fort William And Mary, the colonists were determined to be prepared. Town folk armed themselves and turned out to practice.

The British Empire had 8,000 men under arms across the globe. A far smaller number were serving the Crown in New England. That, the Crown felt, was entirely sufficient.

At the close of day, April 19, 1775, 10,000 Americans were marching towards Lexington and Concord, muskets, knives, and hammers in hand, prepared to die to win their freedom.

Women who helped their husbands, fathers, grandfathers and sons ready themselves, packing their pouches with food, filling containers with water, understood the danger they, too, faced. This was not a war fought far away, but one which would shatter families, homes and destroy their businesses and the food they relied on for winter.

They were a people who understood the value of freedom to each, as part of their nature granted, not by a king, but by God.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mary's Mosaic – Loss of Innocence.

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Did you ever stop to wonder what it was like to grow up with a father who worked for the CIA?

Peter Janney answers this question in his book, “Mary's Mosaic,” which begins with his memories of being told of the murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer, the mother of his best friend, Michael Meyer, whose first thought was to comfort him when Michael was killed December 18, 1956, while crossing the street in front of the Meyer home in McLean, Virginia.

Peter's father was Wistar Janney, a former prominent advocate for peace, who went to work for the agency at its inception. This decision eventually ended his marriage to Mary, who remained an advocate for ending war.

The two boys, then nine years old had been inseparable. Cord Meyer, Michael's father, was also highly placed in the CIA.

Mary's murder was first characterized by police as a failed sexual assault and blamed on a meek black man who was near the site. Ray Crump. As the evidence falls apart the prosecution of Crump continues, ending in a verdict of innocent but providing, years later, additional facts Janney uses to piece together a mosaic which includes evidence the CIA, directly including Meyer and Peter's father, Wistar Janney, were involved in both the assassination of John F. Kenney and the murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer.

Mary and Jack had been well-acquainted since their college years and became lovers.

Kennedy, impacted by the outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis, had unilaterally announced the end of atmospheric nuclear testing in June 1963 with his speech, Strategy of Peace, given as the commencement address at American University, June 10, 1963, in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 14 – 28, 1962, an event which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

The Warren Commission Report, made public September 27, 1964 contradicted what Mary, herself, knew, focusing her on understanding what had really happened. This caused her to confront her former husband, bringing about her carefully orchestrated death because she would not be silent.

The book takes you through Peter's journey, beginning as an attempt to cope with the lies he realizes his parents told him surrounding the loss of Mary Pinchot Meyer. His story takes you through the inner world of the CIA from the perspective of a child who, needs answers. In Peter's words, that world emerges into our sight.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Meeting About Ashtabula, and Jobs

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

The number of homes in Ashtabula which have been demolished because they were abandoned and, in the course of time, became too damaged to be saved, is astonishing and heartrending. I was emailed a list, by address, after a meeting held at the Municipal Building on Main Street. Later that evening, I entered the addresses on a Google Map.

Sometimes, there was only one little blue marker on a block, sometimes there were several. Each one marked the end of a house where people lived, raised their family, and dreamed of better things.

I went into the meeting knowing the loss of homes to the downward spiral of job loss had been going on for decades. Seeing it on the map made it seem more immediate and real. Everyone in the meeting shared the same concerns and wanted solutions, ways to save homes from what Ashtabula, and America, is facing.

Levette Hennigan, Ann Stranman, Rick Balog, Jim Trisket, and Earl B Tucker and I sat around a table, talking about how Ashtabula had once been. We talked about bringing commerce back. My partner, Nathan MacPherson, and I have been working on this for some time now. Nathan lives in San Diego. Now, he knows a lot about Ashtabula.

Jim mentioned a call which was received from a resident in Ashtabula, telling the city to take their home. They were leaving and would not even attempt to sell it. Both the husband and wife had jobs lined up in Oregon.

The meeting had begun with discussion of Deep Green Passive building. Rapidly, the subject turned to the need for jobs. Ashtabula needs jobs – and qualified investors need someplace to put their money which is safe from the predators haunting the stock exchange and the threats hanging over our banks today. We want them to invest here, in Ashtabula, producing clean technologies.

After the meeting Earl told us about his ancestor, a Civil War officer who wrote Taps. He has been in Ashtabula all of his life.

The Industrial Revolution began in Ohio after the Erie Canal was built, connecting Ashtabula to New York and Great Lakes through its deep harbor of Ashtabula. Once the third largest port in the world, it was alive with ships moving cargo around the world.

This time, the cargoes will be different, including solar power arrays, and building materials which will last for generations.