The seventh annual Pigstock (the former name of Peacestock) event was held on Saturday, July 18, 2010 under a partly cloudy sky with a very brisk wind and unseasonably cold temperatures. Most people came unprepared for the cold weather and people were willing to share extra jackets and blankets in an attempt to keep us all warm. This weather however did not deter the enthusiasm of those in attendance and most stayed till the very end.
The event started in the morning at 9:00 AM with announcements from various local peace groups. The Executive Director of national Veterans for Peace, Michael McPherson, gave us information on what was happening on the national level for Veterans for Peace and gave his views on how we can best proceed in working for peace. It was a most interesting talk.
The next session at 10:30 AM was a discussion about the hardships women face in the military. The talk was led by Helen Benedict, Professor of Journalism at Columbia University, author and journalist who spoke of her new book, The Lonely Soldier , which had just been released. Her stories of women in the military were both sad and it was hard to understand why today’s military had become that way. Chante Wolf, a Gulf War veteran and member of Veterans for Peace, Chapter 27, Minneapolis, Minnesota gave her true life account of the extraordinary difficulties and discrimination she experienced in her military career. This discussion left one feeling angry but anxious to see that women in the military get the full respect that they deserve and do get in civilian work.
During the noon lunch break more announcements were made and we were then entertained by Roger and Jo Cuthberson, also known as String Beans, Chick Pea and Garbanzo who sing and play the mandolin and cittern . They also accompanied Bill Habedank who mustered up enough courage to sing the debut of his new song, The Wind of Peace, also accompanied by Bill McGrath, on guitar. It was not a performance by Mr. Habedank that would lead him to try out for American Idol but people seemed to enjoy the song and he hoped others would try singing it.
After a long break the afternoon session started at 1:30PM with our keynote speaker, Chris Hedges, the 2002 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. Mr. Hedges is a prolific writer and has written several well renowned books. He had served all around the world as a foreign correspondent in many war zones during his career. He had seen first hand what war does to both the warrior and the innocent civilians. At Pigstock he spoke of his new book The Empire of Illusion. It was a spellbinding dissertation on what was becoming of American society which allowed us to become so fearful and prone to violence and greed.
After another short break, Chris Hedges joined a panel of local experts including Coleen Rowley, the FBI whistle-blower and Time magazine co-woman of the year 2002; Nigel Parry, a blogger and long time activist ; and Jeff Nygaard, a blogger and writer with Nygaard Notes. They continued discussing what Mr. Hedges had talked about earlier. The talk was very interesting and the time went by much too quickly but people had had a long day and were ready to eat a delicious supper.
While relaxing and eating we were entertained by Junkyard Empire who played their original music which was very good. Nigel Parry also performed a couple original songs doing a solo and accompanying himself with his guitar.
Towards dark the bonfire was lit and people settled in around the campfire for some sing-along music being led by Bill McGrath from Northfield, Minnesota. New friendships were made and everyone enjoyed the conversations. Some stayed up until the wee hours of the night.
This was another memorable Pigstock and made us wonder how we could top this event but we knew we would try very hard next year.