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Question: Can a small, grassroots response make any real difference? CPNN article: The "Letter"
CPNN Administrator
Posted: Oct. 05 2003,05:21

This question pertains to four articles: The "Letter"; Guilford Peace Alliance Marches in Autumn Parade; A Peace Vigil on the Town Green; and Beyond Red vs. Blue: A March for Peace in the Heart of Georgia.
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Tony Dominski
Posted: Oct. 08 2003,07:06

Jim,  Thanks for the great and inspirational article.  It does illustrate the truth that peace grows person to person in a community.  Now the Somalis and the Maine residents can grow together having gotten past their initial conflict.  Best regards,  Tony
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Posted: Nov. 28 2003,19:35

Update: The “Letter” and “The Letter”

Well, I guess they have come back. Not the same ones that were here on January 11th but another form of “the media.”  We musn’t sell them short; they know a good story when they see one.
In this case, though, it’s the doing of a single person, independent film-maker, Ziad Hamzeh. I have learned that he has crafted a thoughtful documentary of the events surrounding Lewiston Mayor Raymond’s plea to the local Somali community and of the fallout that ensued.
His film, ironically titled The Letter, as was my earlier report, has apparently caught the nation’s attention. Premiering on November 13th at The American Film Institute in Los Angeles, the documentary recieved high praise and has been requested by HBO, Showtime and PBS, among others.
The Many And One Coalition, the local group that quickly formed to organize the peace rally on Jan. 11th, is alive and well and has become the community’s watchdog on issues pertaining to diversity. They, too, have requested a copy of the film to be shown locally. It will probably be some time before I have the opportunity to see the film myself but the fact that is of national interest underlines how a few “common folk” can have a significant impact on public conciousness.
Jim Sargent
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Jack clint
Posted: Dec. 22 2003,08:41

Mr. Hamzeh deserves a medal from the state of Maine.  I did see his film The Letter.  It made me proud to be from Maine.  He certainly understood the story more than a whole lot of Mainers did.  I take my hat off to a brilliant filmmaker.
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Posted: Dec. 22 2003,11:54

Thank you, Jim and Jack, for calling this film to our attention.  I looked for it on the Internet and found it reviewed on a site called filmthreat.  But I have not seen it playing in the commercial movie theatres.

Perhaps one of you could write a review of it for CPNN?  Someday maybe if CPNN reaches its full potential, it could be a lobby for the commercial media to distribute and show films like this.
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Posted: Jan. 03 2004,21:04

Thanks, Jack and Bluebird, for your rosponses to "The Letter". Hamzeh's film will be shown Jan. 17th at 7 p.m. at the Lewiston Middle School (free and open to the public).
This will be the Maine premiere and a centerpiece of a ten-day celebration of community, diversity and justice by the Many And One Coalition. MAO is the group that organized the rally in opposition to the white supremecy gathering in Lewiston last year.
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Posted: Sep. 14 2004,12:01

Another Peace Vigil

    In 1991, before and during the first Iraq war, a fair-sized group of citizens in and around Concord, Massachusetts demonstrated against the war at the town green and along a major highway.  Passing motorists were about equally divided between support and opposition to this demonstration.  Shortly after that conflict had ended, a few people decided to create a peace vigil which would bring attention to the human costs of war, partly motivated by the terrible destruction inflicted on the Iraqi people.  Vigil participants walk slowly in a circle around the town green, while two in rotation hold the poles of a banner which says “We walk with all who suffer because of war.”
    For a long time the vigil was held the first Friday of each month, from 8 to 9 am at the peak of the morning commute.  Hundreds of vehicles view the message since Concord Center is a crossroads.  All are welcome to join, and periodically one of the participants writes a letter to the local paper drawing attention to the vigil.  Since the current Afghanistan and Iraq wars, participants have decided to conduct the vigil every Friday.  Over the years there has been a gradual change in motorist sentiment – they are now expressing support by about 20 to 1.  We hear comments like “I would join you if I could.”  Certainly, for a couple of seconds, many people are led to reflect on the larger issues facing this country and the world.
    Quietly, there appear to be hundreds of these events all over the country.  Reports of vigils will inspire others to do likewise.  I strongly believe that small steps like this by a few people can have over time a large effect.
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