Nearly 50 people gathered Tuesday at Northern Light United Church for a discussion about seeking peace with Iraq. The meeting was a roundtable discussion on the options available to Juneau community members who are concerned about the current U.S. political and military stance towards Iraq.
Judith Maier, a principle organizer for the meeting, said she got the idea for the discussion when she called local congressional offices in early September. She asked for the representatives' positions on a U.S. attack on Iraq and she said the people in the offices had to call the federal legislators' Washington, D.C., offices.
"That surprised me," Maier said. "So I asked if other people had been asking the same questions, and they said I was the first to call. I thought then that maybe we deserve what we're getting, if we haven't spoken. That was the moment when I thought I could wait no longer."
Linda Miller, another organizer for the meeting, said she also felt a need for the discussion. "We are gathering to see who all else in the community is feeling concerned, to share our feelings and listen to other people."
Maier and Miller, along with Peggy and K. J. Metcalf, decided to hold a meeting open to all members of the community. Most of the attendees at the discussion were unanimous about opposing the prospect of a war with Iraq, said Maier.
"It surprised me. I think that mostly people were looking for a peaceful solution for Iraq. Certainly there were many facets to that, with people wondering whether or not to rely on the U.N., or whether it was in accordance with international law, but mostly people felt the same way."
Miller said she was pleased with the number and the variety of people at the meeting.
"People came at (the issue) from different angles: economics, the children aspect, all different kinds of concerns, but the overall feeling was we just can't, we mustn't do this war," she said.
Actions discussed at the meeting include purchasing advertisements to list supporters of a nonviolent stance toward Iraq, circulating petitions to give to Alaska's congressional delegation and writing letters to the editor of the Juneau Empire and the Anchorage Daily News.
Maier said the next steps for the people at the meeting are to continue to educate themselves and others about the situation, and to find an action to express the group's feelings. While the meeting's organizers are not sure yet what specific actions will be taken, they are confident the group will become a more vocal and visible segment of the Juneau community.
"We'll be meeting again next week, and hopefully we'll organize some educational forums and work with the university to include different segments of the population," Maier said.
The group will meet at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday at Northern Light United Church, 400 W. 11th St. For more information on the group, contact Miller at 789-2501 or Maier at 789-9229.
Christine Schmid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.