Plowshare Peace and Justice Center was active again in 2018. We gathered for peace vigils; presented programs and workshops; offered to organize rides to demonstrations outside Roanoke; prepared to hold death penalty vigils; distributed the Virginia Defender, For a Better World and Appalachian Voices; lobbied political officeholders; struggled to get the show Democracy Now! and a valid Citizens Advisory Board at WVTF-FM; and co-sponsored a Climate Change vigil with the Sierra Club. We also raised funds, did outreach and recruited volunteers for Plowshare. Below is a breakdown of our activities by committee and coordinator:
**Peace Vigil Committee: Silent peace vigils gathered every month in front of the Roanoke City Market Building, except September when Hurricane Florence threatened. (Vigils began gathering in April 2005; 160 vigils were held by December 2018).
**Program Committee: Programs and workshops were offered. These included: the Teen Peace Concert and Gallery; The Sultan and the Saint film and “Abrahamic Faiths and Conflict Resolutions” talk; Al Helm (The Dream) film; the Teen Peace Jam; Community Organizing 101; Life in Occupied Palestine film; Just to Live in Peace-Christians of the Holy Land film; Occupation of the American Mind film; Rachel: An American Conscience film; Voices Across the Divide film; Two Blue Lines film; Breaking the Silence film; and With God on Our Side film. The Plowshare Open House also gathered with the eighth Peacemaker of the Year award presented to the Mountain Valley Pipeline resistance. A Plowshare retreat was held to consider where we have been, where we are now and where we are going.
**Death Penalty Committee: No candlelight vigils were held in 2018. The committee gathers for vigils when the state of Virginia kills people. No executions occurred in Virginia, thankfully.
**Carpooling Coordinator: No carpools were organized in 2018. The coordinator did offer to arrange carpools to the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington DC; the rally against the NRA in Fairfax, Virginia; and the Unite the Right Rally 2 in Washington DC; and publicized Blue Ridge Coalition Against Gun Violence’s free buses to Lobby Day in Richmond.
**Newspaper Committee: The newspapers For a Better World; the Virginia Defender; and Appalachian Voices were distributed throughout the year.
**Public Information Committee: Two demonstrations were staged at the WVTF-FM Open House. The committee spoke on Plowshare concerns at the annual Virginia Tech Foundation meeting and attended a WVTF-FM Friends Council. They made contacts with the new WVTF-FM manager and the Friends Council chair and secretary.
**Lobbying Committee: The committee made contacts (letters, emails, Facebook posts, calls, visits) with Representatives Griffith and Goodlatte or their staff and Senators Kaine and Warner or their staff and with the Roanoke and Salem City Council. They brought up concerns that included Palestine, Israel, FISA warrants, ground water protection rule changes, Trump appointees, Mayors for Climate Accord, gun violence, immigration policy, the farm bill, the military budget increase, coal regulation cuts, the Supreme Court, the farm bill, campaign finance, climate change, the EPA, the new NAFTA and National Monument land. A committee member spoke about the Mountain Valley Pipeline on Channel 10. The committee attended the Our Revolution event at Blue Ridge Endorsement Day and the Citizens Climate Lobby in Roanoke and the Senator Kaine townhall in Blacksburg. (Plowshare is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It does not endorse or give money to candidates. It just expresses our concerns to officeholders).
**Outreach Committee: The committee used the Plowshare Facebook page, Facebook group, email list, website and “Plowshare News”, our quarterly newsletter, to share concerns and projects. A calendar containing Plowshare events, Southwestern Virginia Activist events and a Southwestern Virginia activists list was published online monthly. The committee marched in the Women’s March on Roanoke, the Labor Day Parade and the Grandin Road Holiday Parade. They tabled at Pride in the Park, Earth Day and the Henry Street Festival. They attended the Tree of Life Christmas Dinner and the Roanoke National Association for the Advancement of Colored People annual dinner. A Plowshare supporter spoke at the “Perspectives on Peacemaking” panel at North Cross School.
**Finance Committee: The committee recommended (and board agreed) that we discontinue the office phone and move to a less costly office, for considerable savings. Our pledge list increased to 22 individuals and groups.
**Volunteers Committee: The committee tabled at the Roanoke College Intern Fair. The board increased to ten members. The Peace Committee, Outreach Committee and Program Committee all gained new members.
**Other: Plowshare moved to a new office at the Roanoke Friends Meetinghouse. We gave contributions to Radio Free Roanoke and the Virginia Defender. We joined the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights. We hosted the Pastors for Peace. Plowshare publicized other organization’s projects, among them: Support Huddle for Anti-gun violence Students; anti-gun violence bumperstickers; anti-gun violence student walkout; Quaker anti-gun violence demonstration; One Day, One Voice demonstration; Stonewall Jackson Middle School renaming; Clothesline Project and Take Back the Night March and Rally; Standing with People anti-pipeline rally, Students Demand Action; Mothers Demand Action; Mother’s Day Bail; and Faith Climate Change Week. We made a special effort to publicize and encourage our supporters to attend and get involved in the Resistance movement to President Trump. Plowshare wrote a letter to the Roanoke City Schools about guards in the schools. We met with Represent Us members about working more closely with their group as well as with a local non-profit group member about a Plowshare development plan. Efforts were made to revive our Truth-in-Recruitment Committee.
Plowshare had a budget of $13,121 for 2018. We took in $9,421.49 from pledges, contributions, Kroger cards, workshops and merchandise. We spent $12,460 (consultant’s fee, rent, office supplies, copies, postage, phone, post office box, state corporation commission fee, financial support for other groups, committees, programs and workshops expenses). We had $6,959.62 in our checking and saving accounts as of December 2018.
Plowshare Peace and Justice Center thanks all the volunteers who worked so hard and all the supporters who gave financially. You made it all possible!