By Matteo Tamburini, Board president
Janet Marino has done some sterling work in our community as Executive Director of the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center from May 2011 to now, keeping the spotlight on issues that are no less pressing for being far from the public eye. One step towards moving the issues closer to the street has been to move the WPJC office out of the Bellingham Herald Building to its current location on Bay Street, where we are proud that it has been used by a variety of community organizations and initiatives such as Amnesty International, the first steps of the recently formed Racial Justice Coalition, the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival, and more.
She has helped coordinate and promote many speaking events by activists such as Brian Willson, Cindy and Craig Corrie, Michael McPhearson, as some of the young Palestinian writers involved in the Gaza Writes Back book project, and most recently David Swanson. It is in part through events like these that the conversation about militarism is kept alive in our community. Janet has also been the steward of the Alternatives to Military Service program, helping to coordinate volunteers as part of this ongoing work.
Janet also worked to help coordinate local mobilizations such as the protest against US bombing in Syria in 2013, part of an international movement that effectively stalled President Obama’s push to bomb that country (the only time in history that combined pressure has prevented military action by our government) and allowed Secretary of State John Kerry to stumble onto a peaceful way to rid Syria of chemical weapons.
Recently, Janet has also joined the efforts of the Friends Committee on National Legislation to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force that granted President Bush the authority to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and which President Obama relies on to continue drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan, as well as waging a counterproductive bombing campaign against ISIS.
This has been and continues to be the bread and butter of the work of the WPJC.
However, Janet has also presided over some pretty major changes to the organization. The main change has certainly been that the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center has become the home of the Whatcom Civil Rights Project and the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, which means that she took on the responsibility of being the one of the main organizers of the annual Martin Luther King Human Rights conference at Whatcom Community College.
We are grateful for all her work, wish her the best of luck with her new job, and look forward to all the work she will do to create a better, more just society in the future!
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