Dear NAPF family,
Last month, photographs from around California, including from our home of Santa Barbara, reminded us that in a battle of human vs. nature, we can only hope for the best. The devastating images coming now out of Turkey and Syria are a further reminder that life is precious, that our planet is imperfect, and that we have plenty to worry about and to fix, without creating more messes ourselves.
It is scary to think that a nuclear weapon explosion in a city would be like an earthquake, and a hurricane, and a wildfire, plus a nuclear disaster – all at once. But for us at NAPF, this is motivation to work as hard as we can to try to ensure that such a thing will never happen again. And the only way we can guarantee that it will NOT happen is to get rid of nuclear weapons.
We have been hard at work since the start of the New Year on our mission to educate and advocate for a just and peaceful world, one in which nuclear weapons are abolished and stay abolished. Here are some updates on what we have been doing:
Interns: This year we are fortunate to have two interns from Columbia University, (Annamaria Belevitch and Jefferson Sheng), two interns from Drew University (Sean Becker and Joseph Holzman), four from Williams College (Fenely Caba, Tong Gao, Michelle Phan, and Abigail Wallach) and one from Colgate University (Sophie Karbstein). All have immersed themselves in learning about the issues and helping to advance our mission in a variety of ways, including through our youth initiative, Reverse the Trend: Save Our Planet, Save Our People (RTT).
Math for America: Over the last few weeks, I gave a series of three workshops to ~20 science teachers from public schools in NYC through an organization called Math for America. My workshop focused on the past, present, and future of nuclear weapons. In my last session, I answered one of their questions, which was what can they do to contribute to nuclear disarmament. I encouraged the teachers to teach their students about these issues, to give opportunities to them to learn more through independent projects, and to advocate for nuclear disarmament to their representatives in Congress. I also invited them and their students to visit the UN as guests of NAPF and hope that they will take me up on this offer!
Events: We held a few events last month in the NYC area. Christian Ciobanu (our Policy and Advocacy Coordinator) and I spoke (with Benetick Kabua Maddison of the Marshallese Educational Initiative (MEI) and Seth Shelden of ICAN) at a Model UN Conference for high school students at Columbia on January 14. The event was very well attended and received. Christian and one of our interns (Annamaria Belevitch from Columbia) organized and spoke at an event at Drew University on January 19, which was also a success.
At Columbia University for the Model UN Conference
At Drew University
On January 18, we organized and participated in an event at the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan, which was attended by diplomats, civil society, academics, and youth. The event was entitled “From the Pacific to the Steppes: Engaging with Frontline Communities on the TPNW,” and featured Ambassador Akan Rakhmetullin of Kazakhstan, Josephine Moote, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Kiribati, Benetick Kabua Maddison of MEI, Dr. Togzhan Kassenova, Senior Fellow with the Project on International Security, Commerce, and Economic Statecraft (PISCES) at the Center for Policy Research, SUNY-Albany, Veronique Christory, ICRC’s Senior Arms Adviser to the UN, and myself. The gathering was simultaneously a celebration of the second anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and an opportunity to discuss the treaty’s promises and its future, particularly as they pertain to affected communities. You can read about the event here and watch the recording here.
At the Permanent Mission of Kazkhstan
Dr. Togzhan Kassenova joined us via Zoom
I gave a talk last week to the Montecito Rotary Club at the gorgeous Music Academy of the West, where I discussed what we know about the science of nuclear weapons, their humanitarian consequences, and what we are doing at NAPF to get rid of them. It was wonderful to meet the Montecito Rotarians and to share with them information about our work and the motivation behind it.
Essays and Interview: In an essay published by Transcend Media Service late last year, I argue about the need for peace in Ukraine; you can find the article here. When the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists updated their Doomsday Clock a couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article for our website on my personal take of the clock reading. Last month, a Turkish journalist Feyza Gümüşlüoğlu interviewed me for her program on international politics for EkoTürk TV, where I discussed both the need for peace in Ukraine and the imperative of nuclear abolition. You can find the interview in full (23 minutes) here. I hope that you may have a chance to read and/or listen to learn more about what motivates us and what we are doing to reach our goals.
Vow from Hiroshima: We were excited to host the screening of The Vow from Hiroshima last Friday at the beautiful Santa Barbara City College campus! The wonderful Director Susan Strickler and Producer Mitchie Takeuchi joined us for the screening and conducted a Q&A afterwards. It was thrilling to share this inspiring and hopeful story of Setsuko Thurlow with our Santa Barbara community and to educate them about the TPNW, which Thurlow helped to bring into being. She, like so many Hibakusha, has been bravely and selflessly sharing her story to make sure that others never have to endure such a fate. We are grateful to Susan and Mitchie for sharing Setsuko’s story with the world in turn through this beautiful and uplifting film.
Q&A with the film’s Director, Susan Strickler, and Producer, Mithie Takeuchi
High school students from Los Angeles with the Director and Producer
Next Nuclear Dangers with Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg: Please mark your calendars for the next in our Nuclear Dangers series, which will take place following the anniversary of the start of the Ukraine War on March 2 at 11 a.m. PT and 2 p.m. ET. You may register for this Zoom event here.
We are thrilled that Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, two of the world’s foremost thinkers, along with our esteemed Board members Cynthia Lazaroff and Richard Falk, will give us their take on where we are in this war and what can be done to end the killing and start the healing. Please join us!
A friend recently gave me a tote bag as a gift, which says “Woman on a Mission.” I’m tempted to use a sharpie to add, “to get rid of nuclear weapons,” but won’t. The bag is beautiful as is and I don’t need to ruin it to make a point. It is a privilege to be able to devote my time and energy to this cause. The job is not an easy one, but knowing that we have so many people who support us in spirit and in a myriad of other ways makes it all much better. If you can, please make a contribution to NAPF today. We promise to use it wisely and to continue to advocate for a just and peaceful world, one that is free of nuclear weapons. That is the kind of world I want to leave to my children and that we should all aspire to leave to future generations.