1980s

By early 1980, the Commission had an active membership of 60 with a newsletter mailing list of 300. A reorganization of the Commission, growing out of diverse philosophies within the staff, brought about Mary Ann’s resignation. Having brought the right people together, Dominique, Mary Ann and Chuck moved on to other endeavors. Sister Marie Nord, a Franciscan Sister also from Rochester, MN, stepped in as Director. The office was moved to 235 East Fountain. A governing Board of 8 members representing a broad spectrum of the Colorado Springs community was established along with criteria for Board nominations. The Board consisted of 3 officers, 3 to 7 at-large members plus the chairpersons of major Task Forces: Anti-nuclear Task Force (renamed Peacemaking Task Force in June ’83 to include opposition to chemical and biological weapons as well as new weapons being planned for space) and the Task Force on Central America. These Task Forces were very active in educating the public and giving public witness. The murder of Archbishop Romero and the four American missionaries in 1980 triggered the intense work of the Task Force on Central America which focused on human rights violations particularly in El Salvador.

In October 1981 Karla Koll assumed the position of Director, replacing Sister Marie Nord, osf who assumed leadership with the Anti-Nuclear Task Force. Karla left the Director’s position in August 1982. Ted Gutmann served as Director from August ’82 to August ’83. Chris Davis came in as Director and served from 1983 through 1986. In 1986 Sister Joan Brown was hired to assist Chris and in January 1987 Joan Brown and Maggie Jezreel became Co-directors. Maggie left in October of 1987 while Joan remained as Director until 1990.

Major efforts:

• The Commission worked diligently to stop uranium mining in large areas of southern Colorado because it was contaminating the environment, endangering the Colorado Springs water supply and facilitating the arms race. Addressed numerous ecological issues; devoted an entire page in each issue of AfJ to the environment/ecology.

• Members with legal expertise provided counseling to those seeking “CO” status.

• Rocky Flats was the ‘smoking gun’ in Colorado and much effort—including several instances of peaceful resistance, arrests and jail time—was directed toward exposing the truth of its operations and calling for its transformation to peaceful endeavors.

• Teach-ins, prayer vigils, and letters to the editor raised awareness—of the space command and Space Operations Center recognizing these entities as developments to increase first strike capabilities of the U.S. military and of the role of U.S. policy in the violence perpetrated in Central America.

• Collaboration—Nuclear war prevention was done in coalition with ENACT of Colorado College, the Peace Library, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Colorado Springs Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Freeze. As a statement of conscience, several Bijou and PPJPC members expressed their objection to war by becoming war tax resisters. In March 1983 Bill Durland, Esther Kisamore and Peter Sprunger-Froese were among those protesting a train that went through Colorado Springs carrying 100 nuclear warheads en route from Texas to a trident submarine at Bangor Naval Base near Seattle.

• A Task Force studied the causes of hunger and homelessness and promoted the merits of buying locally. Members promoted the boycotts of Salvadoran coffee and of GE as a major nuclear weapons producer.

The annual Way of the Cross/Way of Justice began in 1984. This Good Friday pilgrimage through downtown Colorado Springs recalls the suffering and death of Jesus while drawing attention to present day violence and injustice. This annual event continues to the present.

The PPJPC office moved in September 1984 from 235 East Fountain to a large room in the Sacred Heart parish educational center on West Colorado Avenue where it remained until July of 1990.

In the June 1986 issue of Active for Justice a Mission Statement appears for the first time. It reads: The Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission is composed of people of faith and conscience, seeking to create a more just and peaceful global society. The Commission embraces nonviolent social action, education and self-education.

A Pax Christi group began forming locally in 1985 and continued for some years.

In the summer of 1987, Bill Sulzman initiated Citizens for Peace in Space (CPIS) which has continued to take the lead in education and action against the militarization of space.

PPJPC was awarded 501( c ) 3 not-for-profit status in August, 1988.

During the ‘80’s a great deal of effort was also put into becoming better known in the community, primarily through outreach to churches. Events were broadly advertised through local churches and very respectable numbers participated in events. The Editorial Board for AfJ was established in 1988. The Urban Experience Program was begun in 1989 while Arts for Peace was born in 1990 with a $1500 grant from the Chinook Fund.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply