Newsletter-December 2016




Plowshare Peace Center * Mail: P0 Box 4367, Roanoke VA 24015 * 540-989-0393 * * * Facebook page at “plowshare peace & justice center” * Facebook group at “plowshare peace center” * Office: 1719 Grandin Rd, Roanoke VA 24015



Jan 4, 8 PM: Steering Committee meeting at Plowshare office, 1719 Grandin Rd.
Jan 7, 11 AM -Noon: Climate Change vigil at City Market building, Campbell Av. & Market St.
Jan 14, 10 AM: Teen Peace Jam planning meeting at Plowshare office, 1719 Grandin Rd.
Jan 18 at 7 PM: “1971” film at Grandin Theater, 1371 Grandin Rd.
Jan 18, following “1971” film: Candlelight death penalty vigil near Grandin Theater
Jan 20 & 21: Carpooling to Washington DC inauguration demonstrations
Jan 21, Noon-1 PM: Peace Vigil, City Market Building, Campbell Av. & Market St.
Jan 23, 7:30 PM: Outreach Committee & Program Committee meetings at Carolyn Winbome’s home, 376
Woods Av.

Feb 1, 8 PM: Steering Committee meeting at Plowshare office, 1719 Grandin Rd
Feb 4, 11 AM-Noon: Climate Change vigil at City Market building, Campbell Av. & Market St.
Feb 18, Noon-1 PM: Peace Vigil, City Market Building, Campbell Av. & Market St.

Mar 1, 8 PM: Steering Committee meeting at Plowshare office, 1719 Grandin Rd.
Mar 4, 11 AM-Noon: Climate Change vigil at City Market building, Campbell Av. & Market St.
Mar 18, Noon-1 PM: Peace Vigil, City Market Building, Campbell Av. & Market St.

Apr 8, 9 AM-5 PM: Teen Peace Jam at Roanoke Unitarian-Universalist Church, 2015 Grandin Rd.



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Americans have been through frightening days recently. Plowshare Peace Center, meanwhile, in its quiet, positive way, has continued its commitment to peace and justice. We try to keep the light on. Tough times may lay ahead for Americans, too. But Plowshare will be working on its projects. We will continue to try to keep the light on.

Since the last newsletter, Plowshare has gathered for peace vigils at the City Market Building in October, November and December. A climate change vigil, organized by the Sierra Club and co-sponsored by Plowshare, also gathered monthly. The annual Open House was held, at which the Dances of Universal Peace was honored with the Peacemaker of the Year award. Programs on Witness for Peace, Amnesty International, and Ukraine and Shockoe Bottom were offered. Appalachian Voices and the Virginia Defender were distributed. Plowshare people attended demonstrations at Rep. Goodlatte’s office and were present at the FERC hearings for the Mountain Valley pipeline. Visits were made to the offices of Rep. Goodlatte, Sen. Kaine and Sen. Warner about Plowshare issues. We went to WVTF-FM Friends Council meetings to speak about our concerns. Statements on police violence and ISIS were issued. Plowshare tabled at the Latino Festival and marched in the Grandin Road Thanksgiving Parade. We continued to support the Justice for Kionte group, and the Impact & Amplify group.

Plowshare will be offering a free showing of the film “l97l” at the Grandin Theater, along with the Roanoke City Library, on January 18. We will hold a candlelight vigil on January 18, the evening during which the state of Virginia will kill Ricky Gray. We will be staging a demonstration in Roanoke against the President-elect on January 20, Inaugural Day, and we will offer to coordinate carpools to the protests January 20 and 21 in Washington DC. Another demonstration will be held at the WVTF-FM Open House in January. Plowshare is planning another Teen Peace Jam, our annual youth conference, on April 8. We hope to organize a fundraising concert sometime next spring. Plowshare plans to support the Pastors for Peace caravans when they come through southwestern Virginia next spring and summer. We will be creating Spanish versions of our brochures. We are looking at reviving our Truth-in-Recruitment Committee. We are discussing a long-term response to the incoming President.

Would you consider supporting Plowshare financially? Financial contributions to Plowshare have declined this year, so we may have to cut back on our projects. In the hard years that may be ahead it is more important than ever to support local, grassroots organizations like Plowshare. This issue of “Plowshare News” lists ways you can do this.

Plowshare also encourages you to become involved in our projects. A list of our committees and coordinators is also contained in this issue. We are also open to new projects. Contact me, and we’ll talk. Join our community so as not to feel overwhelmed.

And keep the light on!
Gary Sandman
Plowshare Director


Any excuse will serve a tyrant.



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by Jorgen Johansen

What was done to counter the rise of Adolf Hitler, fascist German leader, in the 1930’s? What could have been done? This is one of the most frequent questions I get when l lecture on nonviolence. And it is a good one.

When the first shocks and military defeats of war were over, we saw the first attempts of resistance in occupied countries. Sabotage, underground newspapers, and use of oppositional symbols were early examples of resistance movements. Resistance took place in most countries under German rule as well as inside Germany itself. All of that was unprepared and badly organised. Later in the war we saw a wider spectrum of actions of nonviolent resistance and the movements improved their organising and co-ordination.

The German army was well-prepared to meet armed resistance, but less able to cope with strikes, civil disobedience, boycotts and other forms of nonviolent action. A famous example is when the Norwegian teachers were told to join the Nazi party and teach Nazism in schools or face the consequences. When 12,000 teachers signed a declaration against the new law, 1000 were arrested and sent to prison camps. But the strike continued and after some months the order was cancelled and they were allowed to continue their work. In a speech, Quisling summarised: ”You teachers have destroyed everything for me!”

Independent news is crucial for any opposition movement. That is why censorship is enforced when a regime wants to control the masses. Despite threats of brutal punishment, illegal newspapers were published by many clandestine groups in occupied territories during WWII. In France the first leaflet was published as early as September 1940. In Munich, the ”White Rose” students initiated a leaflet campaign from June 1942 to February the following year calling for active opposition to Hitler’s regime. The original group was arrested and executed but later their manifesto was distributed in Scandinavia and the UK and even dropped over Germany from Allied planes.

Despite massive propaganda and brutal punishment for those who refused to take part, many opposed Nazi genocide. In Denmark almost all Jews survived because they were helped by the resistance movement to escape to Sweden and avoid the gas chambers.

In Bulgaria most of the country’s 48,000 Jews were saved when leaders of the Orthodox Church and farmers in the northern stretches of the country threatened to lie across railroad tracks to prevent Jews from being deported. This pressure encouraged the Bulgarian parliament to resist the Nazis, who eventually rescinded the deportation order, saving almost all of the country’s 48,000 Jews.

Even in Germany itself people opposed the arrests. In one famous example 6000 ”Aryan” German women took part in a nonviolent protest in February and March 1943, outside the prison in Rosenstrasse in Berlin, to get their Jewish husbands and friends released. Thanks to these brave women 1700 prisoners were indeed released. These examples illustrate that some groups have more impact than others. It was difficult for the Nazis to attack German women.

The illegal distribution of reliable news, organisation of clandestine sporting events, celebration of independence days, carrying symbols of resistance and organisation of secret trade unions are typical examples of building alternatives. By replacing parts of the society run by the occupation forces with alternative activities, the nonviolent resistance kept their spirits up and proved that they could function without the German troops. It was both a part of the struggle and important preparation for the day when the Germans left.

But what more could have been expected from strategies that had no recognition prior to the war, no training or preparation whatsoever, and absolutely no budget? Ask yourself, what would military means have been able to achieve under such conditions? For nonviolent resistance to be really effective, it needs the same level of preparation and training as a military army. Is it ever too early to begin?



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Maximilian Kolbe (1894-l94l) was a Polish Franciscan friar, who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the German death camp of Auschwitz, located in German-occupied Poland during World War Two.
Kolbe was canonized on 10 October 1982 by Pope John Paul Il, and declared a martyr of charity. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, and the pro-life movement. John Paul ll declared him “The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century”.

After the outbreak of World War II, which started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe was one of the few brothers who remained in the monastery, where he organized a temporary hospital. After the town was captured by the Germans, he was briefly arrested by them on 19 September 1939 but released on 8 December. He refused to sign the Deutsche Volksliste, which would have given him rights similar to those of German citizens in exchange for recognizing his German ancestry. Upon his release he continued work at his monastery, where he and other monks provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from German persecution in their friary in Niepokalanow. Kolbe also received permission to continue publishing religious works, though significantly reduced in scope. The monastery thus continued to act as a publishing house, issuing a number of anti-Nazi German publications. On 17 February 1941, the monastery was shut down by the German authorities. That day Kolbe and four others were arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison. On 28 May, he was transferred to Auschwitz as prisoner #16670.

Continuing to act as a priest, Kolbe was subjected to violent harassment, including beating and lashings, and once had to be smuggled to a prison hospital by friendly inmates. At the end of July 1941, three prisoners disappeared from the camp, prompting SS-Hauptsturmfiihrer Karl Fritzsch, the deputy camp commander, to pick 10 men to be starved to death in an underground bunker to deter further escape attempts. When one of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, “My wife! My children!”, Kolbe volunteered to take his place, saying “I want to die for that man”.

According to an eye witness, an assistant janitor at that time, in his prison cell, Kolbe led the prisoners in prayer to Our Lady. Each time the guards checked on him, he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered. After two weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe remained alive. “The guards wanted the bunker emptied, so they gave Kolbe a lethal injection of carbolic acid. Kolbe is said to have raised his left arm and calmly waited for the deadly injection. His remains were cremated on 15 August, the feast day of the Assumption of Mary.



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Action Committees & Coordinators

Carpooling Coordinator: rides to out-of-town demonstrations; contact Herb Beskar, 540-989-6875 or

Death Penalty Committee: death penalty vigils, occasionally other events; contact Gene Edmunds, 540-343-3100 or or Manuel Dotson, 540-314-3454.

Lobbying Committee: meetings with local politicians about Plowshare concerns; contact Mike Bentley at 540-389-3752 or

Newspaper Coordinator: Virginia Defender & Appalachian Voices newspaper distribution; contact Ben Bristoll, 540-685-7267 or

Peace Vigil Committee: monthly silent peace vigil; contact Mike Bentley, 540-389-3752 or mbentle1@verizon. net.

Program Committee: occasional speakers, workshops, etc.; contact Gary Sandman, 540-989-0393 or

Public Information Committee: Democracy Now show & valid Citizens Advisory Board on WVTF-FM; contact Mike Bentley, 540-389-3752 or mbentle1@verizon,net.

Infrastructure Committees

Finance Committee: fundraising for Plowshare (grants, contributions, pledges, Kroger cards, merchandise, Google donation, etc); contact Gary Sandman, 540-989-0393 or

Other: Pastors for Peace visit; Springwood Burial Park clean-up; Witness Against Torture fast; etc.; contact Gary Sandman, 540-989-0393 or

Outreach Committee: letting people know about Plowshare (quarterly newsletter, email list, Facebook page, website, visits, inquiries, tabling, WVTF-FM announcements, press releases, Virginia People’s Assembly, etc.); contact Gary Sandman, 540-989-0393 or

Steering Committee: board that oversees Plowshare (also office, interns, new committees and coordinators, etc); contact Manuel Dotson, 540-344-3997.

Volunteers Committee: recruiting and supporting volunteers; contact Gary Sandman, 989-0393 or



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Dear friend,
Would you consider supporting Plowshare financially? Financial contributions to Plowshare have declined this year, so we may have to cut back on our projects. In the tough times that may be ahead it is more important than ever to support local, grassroots organizations like Plowshare.

Plowshare Peace Center continues to be very active. Currently we have eleven committee and coordinators. Our action committees and coordinators include Peace Vigil, Programs, Newspaper Distribution, Carpooling to Demonstrations, Death Penalty, Lobbying, and Public Information. Our infrastructure committees include Outreach, Financial and Volunteers. And the Steering Committee, our board, gives oversight to Plowshare. You can find our current projects on our Facebook group and page and on our website. We are a real presence for peace in southwestern Virginia.

*Plowshare supporters can make a contribution. You can mail it or you can make a contribution through the donation button on our website at

*Plowshare supporters can participate in the Kroger Community Rewards program. Go to the service desk at your local Kroger to join the program.

*Plowshare supporters can join our pledge list. This can be made monthly, quarterly, twice- yearly or yearly, for however much you are led. You can mail it to us.

*Plowshare supporters can make Legacy Gifts. These include mandatory Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAS) distributions; bequests; annuities; stocks and bonds; pensions; and matching gifts. Tom Nasta, a financial planner, is available for consultation.

Gary Sandman
Plowshare Director


Plowshare News is a publication of the Plowshare Peace Center, which is committed to the creation of a just world peace by connecting with our local community. We are peace facilitators and social justice advocates, who nurture educational opportunities that engage and inspire actions for a culture of peace.