Nonce Upon a Time 4:
Legs Against Arms & Give Peace a Dance
Beginning in 1982, I joined a group of like-minded, peace-loving, Seattle environmentalists who decided we'd rather not die in a nuclear war. It's hard to imagine it now but, at the time, nuclear tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union were the highest they had been since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1961. President Reagan was publicly denouncing the crumbling Soviet Union as an Evil Empire while planning a 'Star Wars' missile defense system. But the real threat was a series of votes in Congress to expand and deploy an anti-ballistic missile defense system...not a joke like Star Wars, but real rockets with real warheads.
So, we decided to do something about it - in particular, to plan an event, a 10 K "fun run" to raise money that we would apply to creating and airing television commercials urging people to write to Congress to vote against weapons of war. Naive, huh? Optimistic, huh? Silly, huh?
The thing was...it worked. Our Legs Against Arms run encouraged hundreds of people to volunteer, get sponsors and donations, and run and party on October 2, 1982. The event raised nearly $100,000, which we put to a very well-thought-out TV campaign that resulted in changing enough votes in the Washington State Congressional delegation to defeat a bill to spend billions of dollars on mutually assured destruction.
Click here for a link to one of the two award-winning TV ads we created with the help of professional ad agencies, and here for news releases I helped write and publicize as part of the Coordinating Committee.
The next year, with a slightly different cast of characters, we hosted a 24-hour dance marathon, called -- what else? -- Give Peace a Dance, as part of the Northwest Peace Festival.
Our motto: Peace -- It's the best cause for celebration!
Once again, we were successful beyond our wildest dreams, and GPAD became an annual event in Seattle for several years, while the concept was picked up by peace groups in Portland and San Francisco where I had moved in 1983 (and participated as part of a dance team called Red Star: Really Excellent Dancers So Totally Against Repression). The name Give Peace a Dance continues to pop up around the country, and there is a Philadelphia peace group that hosts an annual 5k Legs Against Arms run, now 30 years later!
Here are some of the T-Shirt designs that were very much a part of the Legs Against Arms legacy. Posters designed by Seattle artist Art Chandry are now hanging in museums of design.
My Sunnyside Ave. housemates and dance team: Joan Martelli and Sarah Sharbach
Then, after I moved to San Francisco, I helped with the local GPAD for CISPES and Nuclear Free Groups
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