By Lisa Savage, Maine CODEPINK Coordinator
Portland, Maine passed a resolution 7-1 when its City Council voted on April 5 to ask for war spending to be redirected toward human needs. The effort was part of a statewide campaign called Bring Our War $$ Home. CODEPINK activists joined peace and justice organizations all over Maine to bring pressure on the House of Representatives in a variety of ways.
The campaign began with a news conference in the state capital, and included key efforts to communicate the data from the National Priorities Project about the cost of wars to taxpayers in towns and cities. State legislators received artistic messages generated at a Draw-a-thon event envisioning what Maine’s $2.5 billion war spending could have bought instead, and 20 of them signed a letter to Maine’s representatives Pingree and Michaud. One PINK visited her state senator’s home with baked goods and secured his signature on the letter, a key win because he chairs the Appropriations Committee.
A steady stream of letters to the editor and op eds in local newspapers also carried the message, while at the town and city level local residents used their annual town meetings, school boards, and city councils to bring resolutions. Draconian cuts in education, social services, and infrastructure maintenance were on every agenda, and the connection to war spending was impossible to ignore.
Internal communication among activists kept us sharing ideas and encouraging one another’s efforts. In the case of Portland, careful preparation included working with friendly councilors to customize the text of the resolution, and organizing citizens to speak in its favor at the April 5 meeting. Tools for a campaign in your neighborhood may be found at the campaign website, linked above.