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WILPF Gathering 2018
morning yoga
morning yoga
garden feet
Notes from the Gathering: July 26 - 29, 2018

Friday, July 27

10 am: We were pleased to start the Gathering with a presentation by Sue Mehrtens,  founder and president of the Jungian Center for Spiritual Sciences in Waterbury VT. Several Gatherers have attended her classes over the years, and have found her insights on psychology, politics and spirituality to be not just interesting, but personally helpful in illuminating a path between anxiety and overwhelmedness in this chaotic time. Her theme was “How to Thrive: Thoughts on Our Future: Opportunities and Challenges”.

After Trump's election Sue gave a series of lectures on what can be done to survive in these times. Her talk to us was a summary of these lectures.

Like Jung she explores taking dreams seriously. She spoke of her dreams coinciding with the Hopi prophecies. She described six trends we can use to survive and thrive.  For more information visit her thought crammed website: (Thanks to Catherine and Eileen for notes).

1:15: Connecting women and earth awareness: three presenters.

Filmmaker and environmentalist Dorothy Tod reported on her kayaking expedition to Nova Scotia: “ I wanted to go to the far edge of my Vt. watershed and meet the Labrador Current. I wanted to feel the place where Europeans first settled and encountered the Dawnland people. I wanted to eat ancient water trapped in ice.  I got to do all this and more. I watched the sun rise out of the ocean and set followed by a close conjunction of the crescent moon and Venus; I slept happily on the earth. I was inspired to explore this part of the world by a childhood friend, Myron Arms who wrote “Riddle of the Ice”.  He is a sailor and his curiosity about currents,  the ocean’s circulatory system and effects of climate change has provided a scientific basis for me to think about such things.

Dorothy lives in Warren VT next to the occasionally overflowing Mad River. On the berm between her house and the river she has built a “fluvial mitigation permaculture medicinal kitchen garden.”

Susan Merhens.jpeg

Sue Mehrtens


Pagan, pipeline opponent and frequent participant at the VT Witch Camp, Karen ’River’ Bixler:  “We proudly call ourselves witches, tho many who come to witch camp have to hide the fact.  Our beliefs are similar to indigenous beliefs.  We don’t even try to steward the land.  We just get out of the way.  She recommends Sheri Mitchell’s book Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change.  Women will carry the trauma of the witch burnings in our genes, until we heal. The burnings were essential to the rise of capitalism: Read Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici

Witches say we are ALL ENERGY. At Standing Rock we learned that there is no ‘other’.  They pray for us to find our way.   We are in the birth canal and we must go through it.


Beth Adams, a WILPF member from Northampton MA is a passionate supporter of  “Stand4Forest”: A Unified Call for Forest Protection in the U.S.

She said “Every acre of cut forest jeopardizes our future.  We need to support efforts to stop the growing pellet burning industry (often called ‘bio-fuel or bio-mass).”  (note: Burlington VT relies on wood pellet supplied energy for much of its electricity.  The McNeil Generation Station is one of the largest pellet stations in the country)

See 17 minute film: TED TALK:  U.S. Forests and the Climate Emergency-Danna Smith. Go to Stand4Forests for additional resources.

Beth is doing trauma therapy from some aggressive activist opposition.


Beth shared her time with Rochester librarian Jeannette Bair who is very concerned about the Robinson Integrated Resource Plan in the Bingo Basin / West Rochester being proposed by Green Mountain National Forest, Rochester Ranger District.  "This started pre-Trump.  Plans are to cut 18,000 board feet of saw timber and 57,000 cords of pulpwood in both clear cutting, group selection cuts, and thinning on over 9,000 acres.   They plan to auction off many of the areas’ trees.  They have done it in the Hancock and Granville areas.  They talk it up saying they are creating ’View Sheds” but actually they will be cutting significant amounts of trees for profit. Up to 1/3 of this 30,000 acre section of the Bingo Basin will have logging, prescribed burning in clear cut areas and application of herbicides on over 4,000 acres.  Jeannette is questioning the Environmental Impact Statement's lack of adequate analysis of the loss of  carbon sequestration due to the planned "harvest."  The film: “Burned” by Vermonters Alan Dater and Lisa Merton is an excellent resource, and makes the point that New England is the only part of the country so far not deforested.  Jeannette will contact the filmmakers and try to arrange a screening at the Rochester Library in the fall.

Many of the people who live in the area have strong support of the USFS.   We must work locally if we hope to modify this program.

Thursday, July 26

3:00 pm Arrival/Registration and building of fire pit.

7:30 pm Dinner.

Friday, July 27

7: 30 - 8:30 am Yoga

8:30 - 9:30 am Breakfast

10:00 - 12:00 pm Welcome to the Gathering - Robin Lloyd.

Jung's Vision of Our Future with Susan Mehrtens, writer, teacher and founder of the Jungian Center for The Spiritual Sciences, Waterbury, VT.


12:00 - 1:00 pm Lunch


1:15 - 3:00 pm Connecting Women and Earth Awareness, Karen Bixler (River), pagan and pipeline opponent; Beth Adams, co-founder, MA Forest Rescue Campaign; & Dorothy Tod, filmmaker and water activist.

3:15 - 4:30 pm Different perspectives on the framework for WILPF International Reorganization - Eileen Kurkowski, Secretary of the board of WILPF US, and Nancy Ramsden, former treasurer for International WILPF.

5:30 - 6:30 pm Dinner

6:30 - 8:00 pm Militarism and Nuclear Disarmament -  Barbara Soros, author and body/practitioner, and Marge Van Cleef, educator and anti-drone activist.

8:00 - 9:00 pm Sing-along at the fire pit near the pond. Bring drums and guitars.

Saturday, July 28

7:00 am Yoga

8:00 - 9:00 am Breakfast

9:00 - 10:15 am Poor Peoples Campaign: introduction, Robin Lloyd; Paki Weiland, activist and sometimes host of the (Code) Pink House in Washington D.C.; Catherine Bock, Quaker, biker and participant at the Standing Rock protests.


-break for tea -


10:30 - 12:00 pm Prospects for progressive candidates in New England state offices in the next election - Sandy Haas, VT State Representative for Rochester-Bethel; Jaime Contois, Director of Strategic Development at Rights and Democracy; and comments from women from MA and PA.


12:00 - 1:00 pm Lunch


1:00 - 3:15 pm What is fascism? What are we seeing? What can we do? What is the problem - Fascism or Corporatism or Militarism? Charlotte Dennett, lawyer, independent journalist and author of The People vs Bush; Valerie Moghadam; Sameena Nazir, human rights activist from Pakistan; Sandy Baird, lawyer and educator; and Kristina Borgesson, independent journalist and author of Into the Buzzsaw: JOURNALISTS EXPOSE THE MYTH OF FREE PRESS, and the video TWA Flight 800..


4:30 pm Muslim Girls Making Change. Rochester Public Library, second floor, on the Square.Introduction by Christine Meagher and Fabiola Mujomba. Performance followed by discussion led by Sameena Nazir. Free. Refreshments. Watch a video here.


8:00 - 9:00 pm Film: Signs Out of Time, Peggy Luhrs introduction.

Sunday, July 29

8:00 - 9:00 am Breakfast.


9:00 - 10:30 am What is Fascism, What can be done? A continuation of Saturday's discussion.


- break for tea -


10:45 am Remote call with Martha Hennessy, war resister under house arrest.


11:00 - 12:30 pm Women's Issues and Organizing: Connecting the Global with Possibilities for WILPF. What can we learn from women around the globe that can inform our activism here. Lesley Becker: facilitator, Sameena Nazir: Pakistan and Southeast Asia, & Zoe Morris: Rwanda.


12:30 - 1:30 pm Lunch


1:30 - 2:00 pm Debriefing the 2018 Gathering; Envisioning 2019 Gathering, Robin Lloyd.


2:00 - 3:00 pm Tying it all together; Where do we go from here?


3:00 pm Afternoon coffee and farewell.

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