Witness For Peace retreat

3-5 April 2009
All photos credit: Jaclyn
Captions: Rich Gardner
Location: Bear Creek Camp, PA

deep in the woods

Bear Creek Camp is set pretty deeply in the woods, about four miles off the road, I'd guess. It certainly helped get me in the mood for a  rustic experience when I arrived late on Friday night and we were running on just emergency power. Turned out that the problem was spread over a pretty large chunk of the town, so electricity was restored a few hours after I got there. Witness For Peace was founded in the early 1980s, when a group of Americans visiting El Salvador decided that it would be a good idea for some Americans to have an up-close and personal idea of what the wars down in Central America actually meant in real-life, human terms.

Ben Beachy

A few folks gathered in the central room late at night. The fellow is our group leader, Ben Beachy.

As a member of a peace group (PRAWN), my major takeaway from the teachings and lectures and conversations of the weekend was that if we want to expand beyond being a more-or-less all-white group, it would help us to adopt issues like NAFTA and "Free Trade" (As opposed to "Fair Trade") and immigration. There are other issues that WFP works on, but those two are issues that PRAWN already has concerns about. WFP also advocates closing the School of the Americas and ending the Cuba travel ban. Latin America is hobbled by decades of debt, which WFP is determined to end. Reversing course in Colombia is also a priority. US aid towards Colombia is far too heavily weighted towards their military and no nearly enough towards other needs.

kitchen in background

Fireplace in central room with kitchen in background.

bunk room

In the women's bunk room, just before they all turned in. A minority of us slept at home and/or arrived Saturday morning.

dining room

Chowing down.

meeting room

Nice big, spacious meeting room. We filled it up pretty good. The speaker is Patty Kupfer from America's Voice.

Mark Engler

Mark, a member of Foreign Policy in Focus, talking about his latest book "How to Rule the World" and his experiences reporting about and from Latin America.

Tom Driver

Our final speaker, Tom, insisted we all pull in really, really close. He rallied us to the idea that we weren't just there to have a good time (We of course all had a great time), but to go back and to be active in our communities and to get our friends and neighbors to pitch in.

More photos from Ray Torres