Sunday, October 05, 2003

"In 1971 an ad hoc group of activists in Vancouver who for two years had been protesting American nuclear tests on Amchitka Island in the Aleutians without success, decided they too needed to ignite a spark. Their plan was to sail a broken-down boat named the Phyllis Cormack to Amchitka to "witness" the next bomb test. Hampered by storms and the U.S. Coastguard, they were forced to turn back, with expectations that their venture had been a failure. But thousands of supporters who had been following their efforts in the newspapers greeted their return and a second boat was immediately sent out. The second boat was still 700 miles from the island when the bomb went off and it appeared that all had been for naught. But as a result of the worldwide media attention the U.S. announced an end to tests on Amchitka and the island was restored to its prior status as a bird sanctuary. It was the first victory for Greenpeace."

"For Hoffman and the Yippies their actions and the ones that followed were part of the long history of guerrilla theater, "probably the oldest form of political commentary," says Hoffman. "We would hurl ourselves across the canvas of society like streaks of splattered paint. Highly visual images would become news, and rumormongers would rush to spread the excited word.""

"For the Canadians their Alaskan Sea adventure grew out of a Quaker belief called "bearing witness." A person who bears witness to an injustice takes responsibility for that awareness. That person may then choose to do something or stand by, but he may not turn away in ignorance. From this belief and a modest first adventure has grown the organization that claims over l.5 million contributors and offices in 17 countries. The organization's name was coined in preparation for that first adventure, green to signify the activists' conservation interests, and peace to signify their second goal."(Community Arts Network: Witness: The Guerrilla Theater of Greenpeace by Steven Durland)