December 6, 2017
We have a new office space to serve WILPF US and WILPF International!
Dear WILPF US Members:
We've been without a "land" office since the end of May. Thanks to the WILPF US members Jan and Al Corderman and Eileen Kurkoski, boxes upon boxes and small office equipment were stored safely in Boston. Arrangements were made for mail and materials to be sent to a PO Box in Des Moines to our Interim Administrator. I sent out an 'ask' in the President's Corner for branches and branch listserv to join an Ad Hoc committee to consider a new permanent space or a remote/mobile office. However, I had a few conversations with various branch members, but no solutions appeared at the time.
When an opportunity recently appeared at the AFSC (American Friends Service Committee) office here in Des Moines, it seemed a practical solution as well as an inexpensive one. Also, the lease can be for 6 months at a time and would give us more time to strengthen the NY and Washington DC branches and, of course, all other branches. Putting aside the debate for now about a mobile or land-based office, the priority was to have strong branch support at an easily accessible site.
Last Friday, after reviewing the materials about the AFSC House and the financial commitments, WILPF US voted unanimously to sign a contract for $185/month. We were paying $77/month for rental on storage, which increased to $85 this month. The rent at the Boston office was $828/month. We've set aside $500 for moving storage materials from Boston to Des Moines. The space also offers the possibility of utilizing it for WILPF US functions and meetings, such as our annual in-person Board meeting. There is a new addition that offers a large, open meeting room on the upper level and a modern kitchen and space for 64 people on the lower level.
Des Moines offers several opportunities to highlight WILPF US, locally and globally. Here's a few examples:
- Des Moines WILPF US hosted the 30th Triennial Congress 2008 on the Simpson College Campus and hosted the WILF US Program Retreat 2015;
- National leaders of PSR, Drs. David Drake and Maureen McCue (Iowa City) and founding member of Mayors for Peace, Mayor Frank Cownie are located here. In addition, Drake University, University of Iowa, Simpson College and others noted educational institutions provide national and international resources;
- Extensive collaborations with local, national and international non-profits, peace organizations, environmental organizations as well as various religion-oriented groups and activists;
- WILPF Des Moines holds week-long protests against the World Food Prize every October with WILPF US partner, Food Sovereignty Alliance, including the Strong Feisty Woman Award;
- During presidential election years, Iowa is the first caucus state, which provides opportunities for individuals, groups and organizations to meet the candidates face-to-face.
There are other reasons that right at this moment the AFSC House seems an appropriate meeting place for us. On the upcoming Human Rights Day, many of our members and branches will be celebrating ICAN being awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize and particularly the participation of WILPF members Rae Acheson, Suzi Snyder and Felicity Ruby. On that same day, the State of Illinois honors the legacy of Jane Addams. There is now the rising hope that Emily Greene Balch may receive recognition in Boston and in the nation for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1936. It's good to remember that both these women began their work in the United States with their interest and work in the settlement house movement. Additionally, and more radically, they both were strong suffragists and founders of the Women's Trade Union. Responding to the humanitarian needs of their communities at the turn of the 19th century and into the early 20th century, they instilled their life-long work with the idea that local community issues, which are often the root causes for war, are the foundation for national and international service toward the common good.
Therefore, when we state that WILPF US is a grassroots and global membership-guided organization, it is built on the precepts espoused by Addams and Balch throughout their lives. A journey taken "by mixing on the thronged and common road where all must turn to one another" (Addams). The AFSC House is filled with woman and men who follow that same pathway. We hope you will come to visit and join in our activism as we join with others. The local is the global pathway to solidarity for the common good.
Yours in Service,
Mary Hanson Harrison
WILPF US Section and the members of the WILPF US Board