1990. In January we were riding the euphoria of the fall of the Berlin Wall two months earlier—the miraculous beginning of a bloodless end to the nuclear superpower standoff. Seymour Melman, chair of the National Commission for Economic Conversion and Disarmament, announced on the Today Show that his organization would broadcast a National Town Meeting on Claiming the Peace Dividend.
It was the first his staff, including me, had heard of this. A major scramble to pull this off ensued. A Hollywood producer who had seen the show volunteered his services. Tensions flared. One Sunday morning, Seymour’s great friend Marcus Raskin was called in to mediate and get everybody working together and focusing on the big picture of what we were trying to accomplish. He was a master at this.
Two months later, in the Dark Ages before the internet, we linked 70 town meetings happening across the country that night to a national NPR broadcast in the ballroom of the National Press Club. Marc spoke, on the dias with two Senators, the head of the US Student Association, and the President of the Machinists Union, among many others.
Later Seymour’s National Commission merged with IPS. In the first defense downsizing since the end of the Cold War, IPS is back doing the work Seymour started, helping defense-dependent workers and communities chart a path to move into new areas of work that the country actually needs doing.
I remember marching to the White House with Marc Raskin, John Cavanagh,
Chicago Councilmember Joe Moore and hundreds of others in the run up to the
impending Iraq War.
We carried signs from hundreds of cities across the country bearing the
name Cities for Peace and delivering resolutions representing millions of
US citizens opposing going to war with Iraq and urging an investment into
struggling schools, infrastructures, communities and cities instead.
We delivered this message of peace to then President George W. Bush through
the White House gates. We didn’t stop the invasion of Iraq, but we made the
voices of peace loud and clear, invigorated the peace movement in this
country and loudly and proudly gave voice to the priorities of the people.
It was a proud moment to be an IPSer and and a US voice for peace.
- Karen Dolan
Marc Raskin, co-founder of the Institute for Policy Studies, was honored
with a portrait on October 21, 2012.
Marc Raskin co-founded the Institute for Policy Studies in 1963.
When I first learned of IPS, I couldn’t have thought that my journey would lead me to be the Media Manager of the organization.
I was living in San Francisco, but no, I didn’t have flowers in my hair. I was organizing against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and occupations, attending San Francisco State University, and studying international relations and foreign policy. It seemed I was marching and chanting every other day, getting arrested while peacefully protesting at the offices of war profiteers Bechtel Corporation and protesting our Congressperson Nancy Pelosi’s decision to vote for a military spending bill.
On one fine afternoon, school administrators tried to throw me off of campus for ten days with a group of other students for protesting military recruiters on campus. (We contacted the local news stations, held a press conference, and the good people of San Francisco came to our defense. The university overturned their decision immediately.)
That was 2005-2007. I found myself at the Green Festival, and spotted a table called “Foreign Policy in Focus.” I walked over and learned that FPIF is a publication supported by IPS. I think I spent about an hour talking to two young FPIF interns, and filled my backpack with FPIF materials. After semesters of trying to reconcile what I’d learned from the global justice movement with my international relations classes, it was a breath of fresh air to hear people talking honestly about foreign affairs in this “think tank without walls.”
Almost eight years later, here I am at IPS. Sometimes life has a funny way of working out for the best!
- Lacy MacAuley