Plowshare Peace and Justice Center was active again in 2020. Despite a hard year of Covid-19 pandemic, economic turmoil and racial unrest, we persevered. We see our mission primarily as being a peace and justice education center but we also hold witnesses; lobby political officeholders; and organize change campaigns. Specifically, we gathered for peace vigils; presented programs and workshops; organized 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; worked 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:
Plowshare Board: The Plowshare board held a mini-retreat in September to consider how Plowshare was doing and ideas for new projects.
Peace Vigil Committee: Silent peace vigils gathered every month in front of the Roanoke City Market Building, except March through June when the Covid-19 pandemic was starting. We resumed in July, requiring masks and social distancing. (Vigils began gathering in April 2005; 178 vigils were held by December 2020). We also participated in and co-sponsored the Sierra Club climate change vigils until they were cancelled due to the pandemic.
Program Committee: Programs and workshops were offered. These included: a Progressives Potluck, which were co-sponsored with the Tree of Life Church and the Roanoke Quakers in January; a “Refugees in Our Community: How We Can Help Them” program in May; a Pastors for Peace program in June; a “What to Do If There’s a Coup” program in October; and a “To Remember the Vietnam War” program in December.
Death Penalty Committee: No candlelight vigils were held in 2020. (The committee gathers for vigils when the state of Virginia kills people but no executions occurred in Virginia).
Carpooling Coordinator: Plowshare supporters carpooled to the Anti-Iran War demonstration at the White House in January.
Newspaper Committee: The newspapers For a Better World; the Virginia Defender; and Appalachian Voices were distributed throughout the year.
Public Information Committee: Committee staged a demonstration at the WVTF-FM Open House in February. They also attended a Friends Council meeting in February. They spoke on Plowshare concerns at the annual Virginia Tech Foundation meeting in June.
Lobbying Committee: The committee made contacts (letters, emails, Facebook posts, calls, visits) with Representatives Griffith and Cline and their staff; Senators Kaine and Warner and their staff; State Senator Suetterlein and his staff; House of Delegates Member McNamara and his staff; and Governor Northam and his staff. They sent out 14 Action Alerts containing legislative items and encouraging Plowshare supporters to contact their officeholders about the items. (Plowshare is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It does not endorse or give money to candidates. It expresses our concerns to officeholders).
Outreach Committee: The committee used our 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 tabled at and marched in the Women’s March on Roanoke in March and attended the George Floyd Protest in May and the Prayer Vigil in June.
Finance Committee: The “Plowshare News” quarterly newsletter continued to bring in contributions. The Plowshare pledge list contained 20 individuals and groups.
Volunteers Committee: The committee contacted several people about joining the board and other committees.
Other: Plowshare gave contributions to Radio Free Roanoke and the Virginia Defender. We sent a card to Martin Gugino, the activist injured by police at a protest in Buffalo. We helped organize a local Honest Election Group to oppose President Trump’s possible effort to steal the 2020 Presidential election. We continued to make a special effort to publicize and encourage our supporters to attend and get involved in the Resistance movement to President Trump.
Plowshare had a budget of $12,557 for 2020. We took in $11,679.88 from pledges, contributions, Kroger cards, workshops and merchandise. We spent $11,158.89 (consultant’s fee; rent; office supplies; copies; postage; post office box; state corporation commission fee; financial support for other groups; and committees, programs and workshops expenses). We had $9,146 in our checking and saving accounts as of December 2020.
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!