Farewell Newsletter from VCNV

We’re attaching a PDF version of Voices’ final print newsletter. You can download it here:

Sarah Ball’s Afghan Diary is included on our website here. Below, we wished to share two other items from the newsletter, our cover letter explaining Voices’ closing, and our “Moving Forward” page outlining next steps.

Dear Friends,

We are writing this cover letter with true appreciation for all who read it.

For 25 years, recipients of our newsletters have participated in numerous Voices delegations, fasts, vigils, walks, presentations and other events. You have generously shared resources, enabling our work. Since Voices in the Wilderness was founded, in 1995, we’ve been fortunate to struggle, learn, and grow with an endless list of extraordinary individuals and like-minded groups. We’re very grateful for so many years of helpful guidance and collaboration.

Our appreciation however, is tinged with anxiety and sadness as we are writing here to say Voices for Creative Nonviolence, as a campaign, is ending. This will be our last newsletter. We’ll archive our website and close our operation at the end of 2020. Yet, we’ll surely look forward to continuing our activism. Our efforts to resist wars and to build peace will continue, but in a modified form

Why did we decide to close VCNV?

During this time of pandemic, we’ve learned to craft new means of outreach and activism. We haven’t been able to form delegations, organize walks and lengthy vigils, or travel as itinerant educators to various communities as we have in the past. Greater involvement in local activism has been a plus for our Chicago crew.

Zoom and Skype gatherings have thankfully enabled us to stay in touch with colleagues and respond to speaking invitations, but we recognize reality has now shifted

We’re no longer able to visit our friends in Afghanistan and elsewhere in person. This greatly changes our ability to support and learn from them and their projects as we were previously able to do (In this newsletter, we’re featuring a fine article Sarah Ball wrote about her experiences when she
visited Kabul)

We recognize organizations must adapt and change in response to changing circumstances. Please see page 7 of this newsletter for important notes from the small committee which has been overseeing closure of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

We expect and look forward to a new collective, one which will strive to meet the challenges of the times and current realities. More information will be provided on this in a separate writing in the near future. For now, we ask you to accept our sincere thanks for all you’ve done to maintain Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Dag Hammarskjold’s words come to mind: “For all that has been, thank you. For all that will be, yes!”

Kathy Kelly, writing on behalf of the Committee to Oversee Closure of Voices for Creative Nonviolence: Sean Reynolds, Sarah Ball, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi, Kathy Kelly, and Bob Alberts

Forward From Here

A committee of Voices activists made up of Sean Reynolds, Sarah Ball, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi, Kathy Kelly, and Bob Alberts met weekly over the past several months to plan the closure of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. The committee wishes you to know these important details:

Voices for Creative Nonviolence UK (www.vcnv.org.uk) is not closing and will continue its work ably led by Maya Evans.

The Afghan Peace Volunteers (ourjourneytosmile.com) and the Global Days of Listening (globaldaysoflistening.org) will welcome ongoing communication and solidarity.

We at Voices U.S. will be archiving our website, and closing our bank account, in early 2021. We again thank all who have so generously supported us. We pledge to return-to-sender any checks
we receive after November 10th. All of the money in our account will be disbursed. 

Any funds designated for the Afghan Peace Volunteers will be sent to them, and we hope to assist their budget requests for the Afghan calendar year which runs from March 2020 – March 2021.

We will also make, and additionally encourage, donations to:

  • Voices for Creative Nonviolence UK (www.vcnv.org.uk)

  • Jesuit Refugee Services projects in Kabul (1627 K St NW Ste 1100, Washington, DC 20006). Voices members have regularly visited JRS projects, including education efforts, within a particular refugee camp, and have known of JRS’ admirable work in Kabul since our first visit in 2010. Checks can be sent payable to Jesuit Refugee Services, with “Kabul projects” written in the memo section and/or with an accompanying note designating that the contribution is for JRS’ projects in Kabul.

  • Emergency Surgical Center for Victims of War, Afghanistan (https://en.emergency.it/projects/afghanistan-kabul-surgical-centre/). Voices members have regularly visited their hospital in Kabul since our first visit to Afghanistan in 2009. Donations can be made through Emergency’s website.

  • Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Fund (https://yemenfoundation.org/) Donations can be made through the website or checks can be made payable to: Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation (YRRF) and mailed to: 3216 74th Place SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040

Over the years, we have collaborated with several other organizations whose work we also plan to support with contributions. These include:

  • World Beyond War (worldbeyondwar.org)

  • Witness Against Torture (witnessagainsttorture.com)

  • The Nuclear Resister (nukeresister.org 

    and

  • The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (kingsbayplowshares7.org)

We thank you for your support for all these years. You haven’t heard the last from any of us, and we’ll vigorously continue our activism post-Voices, both as individuals and as each other’s
persistently dear friends.

So that we can keep you apprised of our future efforts, we ask you to please take a moment now to phone / email us (info@vcnv.org 773-865-6042) making sure we have your most current contact information, with a special focus on current email addresses and backup email addresses so we’ll stay in contact. In any case, we’d love to hear from you. Of the resources that went into making Voices work, your commitment to peace was always the most essential. We earnestly look forward as your friends and fellow activists to striving alongside you in the years ahead.