Why would I travel to Lowville (Who-ville?), don hoop skirts and black lace-up
boots, and twist my hair into a style my daughter called "ugly" early
on a Saturday morning in May? I traveled to Lowville (near Watertown, New York)
to take the Peace Tax Fund display, Equal Exchange Coffee, and other peace and
justice resources to a booth at the Civil War Reenactment held there on May
22-23, 2004. How did I get an invitation to take these to a Civil War reenactment?
The event was held on land that will soon be partly owned by the Adirondack
Camping Association, which has a strong
I dressed as abolitionist author Lydia Maria Child (complete with her "ugly" hair style-a center part with all hair pulled in front of the ears and twisted into a curl) in order to make it easier to start conversations in that environment. Child wrote the poem "Over the river and through the woods to Grandfather's house we go," which is well known by most people, and all of us at the reenactment could agree on the abolition of slavery. While Child faced hostility and loss of income for her unpopular stance on slavery in her day, people today see her as a safe figure. On a display, I wrote key points about Child's life, and asked, "What would she write about today?" with a list of ongoing and new issues such as racism and capital punishment (she was strongly opposed to capital punishment).
While many people stopped to look at the Peace Tax Fund display, I had less success in starting conversations about it than with easier topics such as Equal Exchange Coffee. However, I was glad for the chance to plant seeds and to link Peace Tax Fund slogans with other issues of peace, justice, faith and conscience.
Sue Klassen has served as a co-Congressional District Contact with Dennis Lehmann for twelve years. Dennis is moving to South Dakota this summer, and Sue's roles as homeschooling mother and Vice-President of Finger Lakes Restorative Justice Center have convinced her she can't do the job alone. We are looking for a new CDC for the Rochester, New York area. However, Sue will continue to take PTF materials wherever she goes in her role as Peace and Justice Advocate for New York Mennonite Conference, and likes the idea of dressing as Lydia Maria Child more often.