Westchester People’s Action Coalition (WESPAC), a Westchester County-based peace and justice organization, has been a force for progressive social change since 1974, starting with the courageous and dynamic leadership of Connie Hogarth and the many dedicated activists who surrounded her and built up the organization. I started working for WESPAC as the sole paid staff person in May 2001 and inherited a mailing list of hundreds of people in the Westchester area who have worked tirelessly and selflessly for a more just and caring world.
Our committees work on a diverse range of socio-economic, political, and environmental issues including ending militarism at home and abroad. We are mobilizing our membership for the October 2 “One Nation Working Together” rally and march in Washington, D.C., and will share transportation arrangements with local chapters of the NAACP. We have observed how much harder it is to bring folks out into the streets to protest the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as the worsening domestic economy redirects attention to more immediate concerns.
Our message is that these perpetual illegal wars abroad are not sustainable, draw crucial resources away from real human needs and domestic job creation, and have contributed to a declining dollar and weakening purchasing power. WESPAC is concerned about the next few years ahead of us, given economists’ predictions that people will continue to lose their jobs and homes in the months and possibly years ahead.
For this reason, our younger members have turned their attention to local housing and food justice issues to ensure that our communities have at least the basic requirements for survival. Our food justice committee works on improving access to quality local produce for the most vulnerable populations in Westchester. We actively support the farmers growing food in our county and encourage folks to share local produce at our events, potlucks, and networking gatherings.
Our campaign to ban hydro-fracking in New York State is connected to our food justice work in that once the deep rock drilling starts for natural gas in the upstate shale rock formation, our water reserves and our drinking water will be polluted with hundreds of highly toxic chemicals. WESPAC’s Friends of Turtle Island is a Native American solidarity group that has produced a film on this urgent topic through an indigenous lens. “The Unfractured Future” is available on our website.
We provide the Westchester community with a meeting space as well as a web space and listserv that help get the word out about upcoming events and actions to hundreds of socially conscious people. Our more seasoned organizers help inform and advise newly forming groups and committees.
Some of our other activities include the Iraqi Student Project–Westchester under the umbrella of the WESPAC Middle East Committee, which provides a support network for Iraqi refugee students who have been displaced by the war in Iraq and have been offered tuition waivers at local universities. We continue our Palestine solidarity work seeking a just solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict that guarantees the rights and security of the Palestinian refugees who remain stateless in the West Bank, Gaza, and the Diaspora.
Finally, WESPAC has moved our office to the Good Counsel Campus located next to Pace Law School in White Plains. See our website for details on upcoming events, including our Teach-In on Iraq and Afghanistan at Iona College in New Rochelle on October 6 with Raed Jarrar, Dahlia Wasfi, and Matt Southworth. WESPAC deeply appreciates and respects the work of the War Resisters League as an organization that has been resisting war at home and abroad since 1923! We thank you for your excellent work.
Contact WESPAC at (914) 449-6514.