The 5th Maine Peace Walk arrived in my area in the late afternoon yesterday. It was great for members of my old peace and justice community around Waterville to come together and enjoy the privilege of feeding the walkers and hearing their stories.
We are older, tireder and grayer these days but our group was enlivened by the presence of 10 year old boy who is on his 5th walk (!), my 20 month-old granddaughter, and a 22 year old musician walking for the first time. Given that the oldest walker is nearly 80, it was a lovely range of humanity that sat down together to be nourished.
Chanting and drumming led by monks of the Nipponzan Myohoji order signaled the walkers' arrival in a quiet residential neighborhood amid the blaze of color that is October in Maine.
The stops planned to connect with the theme "Stop the war$ on Mother Earth" have been rich with connections between corporate profiteering and disrespect for life.
The walk began on Indian Island in the Penobscot Nation in solidarity with the Justice for the River campaign, recognizing the wisdom of Maine's original people advocating for the Penobscot River which has been severely polluted by industrial use.
Walkers then stood in solidarity outside the Cianbro Corporation in a vigil organized by grandmothers opposed to the East-West Corridor. Cianbro stands to make a lot of money if this private highway and fossil fuel pipeline project ever succeed in slashing through some of Maine's most pristine forests and waterways.
Just prior to Waterville the walk reached Unity where Maine's environmental school Unity College is found, spending the night on the grounds of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). Maine has a long tradition of growing local food communities who recognize that life depends on defending the soil, water and seeds from corporate control.
Today the walkers make their way to vigil outside Poland Spring, the site of international water thief Nestle's faux-Maine brand bottled water plant.
Nestle pumps out aquifers around the planet and sells the water back to people in little plastic bottles. Even though Maine has been in an historic drought all summer, the pumping goes on. An executive of the company has commented on record that he does not consider access to water a human right. Penobscots and peace walkers disagree with the absurd notion that profits have a higher value than human life.
U.S. militarization has enshrined the notion that profits trump human life, and the walk will end at the southern border of Maine outside the Kittery naval shipyard. Here obscene profits are made building weapons of mass destruction. Walkers will call on the Maine community to recognize that basing our livelihood on "defense" contracts is a dead end street. Advocating for the conversion of our industrial capacity to build for sustainable energy solutions, walkers will uphold a vision of Mother Earth as sacred, her health fundamental to the survival of human life.
If you want to join the walk, details may be found here on the website of Maine Veterans for Peace.