Idaho was beautiful, and so were the activists in Boise, where we had two great events. Liz Woodruff of Snake River Alliance did an incredible job of planning, promoting and hosting the "Dinner For Disarmament" at the Shangri-La Tea Room (a wonderful event!).
After Boise, we went to West Yellowstone and spent the night with the Buffalo Field Campaign folks before heading through Yellowstone National Park.
The Buffalo Field Campaign was established to protect the buffalo from cattle ranchers who want them killed when they leave the Park. People come from all over the country in the dead of winter to go into the park and not only keep watch, but respectfully (with head lowered and body in a non-threatening pose) turn buffalo around if they're headed in the wrong direction. The young people at the lodge were incredibly healthy! They spent the summer cutting, hauling, and splitting wood to heat the lodge all winter.
We spent the night in Bozeman, Montana, with Jim MacDonald and Genevieve Calmes, and their boy River, hiked up to a waterfall, then took off for Pocatello, Idaho, where (former DC teacher and Statehood activist) Tom Briggs arranged a room at the university and hosted us in his home.
We then rejoined allies Snake River Alliance and HEAL Utah in Salt Lake City for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission "workshop" (hearings) about re-classifying depleted uranium (DU) as a waste stream, affecting whether DU should be brought in massive quantities into Utah. (Vanessa Pierce and Christopher Thomas of HEAL Utah, and Beatrice Brailsford of the SRA, were at the table for the good guys!) Then, with the public allowed only 15 minutes of testimony at the very end of two full days of hearings, Jay managed a quote in the Salt Lake Tribune with his testimony:
"Activist Jay Marx of the Washington-based Proposition 1 Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament likewise told officials he questioned the need to increase production of the waste. Nuclear energy is history and renewables are the future, he said, so there's no reason to expect the quantities that the NRC foresees."
Before we left, we got a glimpse of HEAL's downtown offices as they were busy preparing a follow-up press conference on the Utah state capitol steps, and caught an interview with their newest staff member, brought on specifically to focus the public (and Utah's two red senators) on ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) when it comes up in the spring. Go, HEAL!
From Salt Lake City we drove to Colorado, by way of Canyonlands and Arches national parks, incredibly beautiful places to wake up in the morning.
We drove through Moab, Utah, and visited the site where uranium mine tailings are finally being cleaned up from where they've been resting beside and polluting the Colorado River for the past 50 years, 2 miles from downtown.
It was disturbing to see that the only thing keeping the dust from flying as they dig was a sprinkler. At Idaho National Labs, the contractor has built a structure around where they're working so none of the dust escapes.
In Colorado Jay gave a great talk at the University in Boulder (thanks to Duke Austin of Students for Peace & Justice).
Meanwhile Ellen videotaped a presentation by Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center which was happening simultaneously in another building across campus. Leroy Moore, a co-founder of RMP&J, passed around a petition asking that Rocky Flats not be opened to the public as a nature preserve, as currently planned.
We also visited RMP&J offices and heard about their work. They have a wonderful photograph of some of the 16,000 people who linked hands and surrounded Rocky Flats in 1983, one of the many citizen actions which ultimately led to the temporary shutdown of that plutonium pit four years later, and final shutdown in 1992.
We visited Rocky Flats, and were surprised to discover that there's virtually no security, and perhaps a dozen construction firms have offices right beside or on Rocky Flats.
Today we leave for Oklahoma, where we'll be speaking in Oklahoma City (on the 4th) and Norman (Oct 3rd), where we came through early on our tour back in June.
Then we'll be going to Kansas City, where we have a series of events the 5th - 7th, Columbia (the 8th), and St. Louis, Missouri. In St. Louis we'll be at St. Louis Public Library, Carpenter branch, 3309 S. Grand Ave., on October 10th at 3 pm.
From there we drive to The Farm in Tennessee on the 11th, then to Aiken, South Carolina, then back home to DC.
Ellen will be going on to North Carolina and Florida, Jay will stay in DC.
Meanwhile we're planning our next tours. Ellen will be in Vermont for town hall meetings in February, and hopes to connect with folks who have already expressed interest in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. Jay may go to support the Los Alamos Blockade over spring break (proposed at Think Outside the Bomb by Lisa Fithian), and will join Ellen in New York the first week in May for the NPT review at the UN. Then we'll head north and west and try to get to all the other states we weren't able to visit on this tour.
Please let us know if you want us to visit your town & group!
Ellen, Jay, Troy and Sophia the Peace Dog