Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Peter and the wolf

My old friend Peter Edmunds is living far from his Minnesota roots, where he used to run a log building restoration company. He's now down in Deming, New Mexico. How sweet. Another snowbird, retired to bask in the sun.

But Peter's story has no such ending. He and his wife, Polly, have started Border Partners, a cross-border Deming-Palomas, US-Mexico initiative operating to help facilitate appropriate technology, food sharing and schoolchildren empowerment. They have also wandered into a dangerous drug and border war with their nonviolent programs.

From Peter's notes earlier this week, on 2 December:

After several months of comparative calm the savagery in Palomas returned to the front of everyone’s consciousness this week.

When I arrived on Monday morning for my Wind Power Class with the Palomas high school students, Luis, one of our key Palomas facilitators, immediately advised me, saying:

"I want you to go home, back to Deming. No one is on the streets, and we are all being very cautious.”

His hurried explanation revealed the latest horror:

Over the weekend the Mexican Federal Police and the military--equipped with helicopters and armored trucks--raided the town, arresting 25 people. Then, acting on a tip, they began to excavate an area located about ten minutes south of town. The army unearthed twenty victims at a clandestine mass grave site there. The seventeen men and three women have been buried there within the past year. The victims included two people from Deming who went missing in October.

Reading about all this from a distance is one thing; having wonderful friends in the thick of it is another. I can still see Peter running his log building crew. He employed me once in a while when I needed some cash, even though I had no skills in that area, but Peter is a loyal man. If he decides you are worth his friendship, he goes all the way. He kept many peace activists working for many years before his "retirement," which has only turned into full-time unpaid work for others less fortunate.

Bringing solar power to Mexico is coals to Newcastle, but to a Newcastle without a coal plant. Peter has been a hobby alternative energy developer for many years. I still laugh when I think of his efforts to create a waste paper adobe in northern Wisconsin. The mad inventor had me helping him after I was released from prison for one of my plowshares actions (dismantling part of a nuclear command facility). Peter actually paid my to hang out as he did his Gyro Gearloose experiments with bales of old newspaper and a homemade slurry. Now he's in adobe country at last, probably living in a newspaper palace, walls full of old headlines and Doonesbury comics.

As my generation slides into retirement, I cannot think of a better couple of role models than Peter and Polly Edmunds. They've been living lives of service for decades and used their log restoration company to help those of us who were nonviolent activists earn a living to support our real work of nonviolent resistance to militarism. Now they are spending their golden years still giving, to those who are trying to survive in our southern border war zone.

If you can afford a few dollars for such a worthy effort, please visit their site and donate this season.

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