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Commencing the fast: Women Against War.

Documenting Democracy, Now

For Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, Monday’s premiere of Women’s Fast For Peace—the Hudson Mohawk Independent Media Center documentary on the 40-day fast organized by Albany’s Women Against War—is the culmination of things done right.

“What is important about the film is that it is documenting this grassroots effort of more than 100 women and it is independent media that is doing it,” Goodman said. “I don’t think that we get this kind of information from the mainstream media and yet it is happening, not all over the country, but all over the world. And it is about time that we start to see what is going on at the grassroots through an independent filter and not through a corporate lens.”

Goodman, the award-winning journalist whose nationally syndicated, commercial-free daily news program is carried locally by WRPI-FM, Troy, will speak at Monday’s event, to be held at the Christ Church on 5th and State streets in Troy at 7 PM. Goodman will offer her testimonial on the importance of local, independent media.

“The rest of the media amplifies the voices of the people in power,” Goodman said. “Independent media brings us the experiences of the people in their own communities speaking for themselves. It is a very important way to find out what people are doing, what civic groups are doing around the world.”

Women Against War, a group dedicated to the causes of peace and social justice, organized the Women’s Fast For Peace, an event that was carried out over the 40 days bridging the Muslim holy day of Ramadan on Dec. 5 with International Women’s Day on March 8. More than 100 women participated in the rolling fast, each refusing to eat for 24 hours while reflecting on war and trying to envision solutions for peace.

Many of the participants came to the Women’s Building at 79 Central Ave. in Albany to sit, add their words to the fast’s collective journal, and share their thoughts with the Hudson Mohawk Independent Media Center folks who documented the event on film.

“I participated in the fast because words alone felt too weak, “ said WAW member Nadya Lawson at one point during the film, “too weak to be heard by an indifferent media, too weak to be acknowledged by posturing politicians, too weak to communicate with the public. Fasting as a community of women was a way to turn voicelessness into a call to action, an individual act of conscience into a collective call for power.”

“The Women Against War fast was a very unique opportunity to represent a dialogue about peace in a way that was deeply thoughtful, intelligent and not stereotypical,” said Branda Miller, who edited the film.

Further, Miller said the event gave local independent media activists an opportunity to work collectively and inform the community.

“We live in the information age with more and more opportunity for information, yet we are still in the same old position where we are passive consumers rather than active producers of information,” Miller said. “Women Against War and the Hudson Mohawk Independent Media Center are profoundly aware that it is time for use to take control and pick up the camera so that we can reframe the discourse from our own point of view.”

Goodman espouses the need for an independent media, and speaks from experience. As the current global independent media boom was burgeoning in 1999, Democracy Now! and other independent media outlets covered the five days of intense protests opposing the World Trade Organization meeting known as “Battle of Seattle.” Goodman broadcast daily from the protests, providing needed relief from the erroneous reports being provided by mainstream sources.

“At that time got more hits than,” Goodman said. “When CNN was reporting that no rubber bullets were being shot at the protestors, we were picking them up by the handfuls until they had to retract their statement. Now why would they say that? They were busy covering what the police commissioner was saying and not being out there on the streets experiencing it for themselves.”

Goodman said the mainstream media’s coverage of the U.S. military’s invasion of Iraq further drives home the need for a critical, independent media.

“I think it is really a terrible problem with the mainstream media that, for example, NBC and Fox name their war coverage the propagandistic name that the Pentagon uses,” Goodman said. “The Pentagon can call it whatever they want, they call it Operation Iraqi Freedom, but the media should not be calling it that. [And if they do], what makes them any different than state media?”

The film, Women’s Fast For Peace, will be shown at the Christ Church at 5th and State streets in Troy on Monday (April 21) at 7 PM. There is a $10 suggested donation, with all proceeds going to benefit the Hudson Mohawk Independent Media Center.

—Travis Durfee

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