Interfaith Peace Walk arrives on Bainbridge today

Participants in the Interfaith Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free Future brave the rain Thursday as they passed through downtown Winslow on their way to the Nipponzan Myohoji temple on Lynwood Center Road.  - Connie Mears/Staff Photos
Participants in the Interfaith Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free Future brave the rain Thursday as they passed through downtown Winslow on their way to the Nipponzan Myohoji temple on Lynwood Center Road.
— image credit: Connie Mears/Staff Photos

Just because you participate in a Peace Walk, doesn’t mean you don’t get hurt.

After walking 15 miles for three consecutive days, Rev. Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister of Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church on Bainbridge, has developed some world-class blisters.

Still, he is upbeat, affirmed by the overwhelming positive response he has received while participating in the Interfaith Peace Walk for a Nuclear-Free Future.

The walk, which is timed to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, began Monday in Olympia, and will end Jan. 16 at the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, a Poulsbo-based organization that shares 330 feet of fence with the Naval Submarine Base Bangor.

On Thursday, he and others from the Bainbridge Island North Kitsap Interfaith Council walked from the Sadako Sasaki statue in the Seattle Peace Park to the ferry terminal. They arrived at 1:45 p.m. for the Bainbridge Island leg of the 60-mile peaceful demonstration.

“We’ve had thumbs up, peace signs, people waving, smiling, and beep beeps. We even had an ‘auhoooga’ today,” he said Wednesday of motorists’ reactions to the single-file line of walkers.

He and others weathered this week’s pouring rains to call attention to the proliferation of nuclear warheads concentrated at Bangor.

“I felt called to participate because walking is something I can do,” ten Hove said. “It makes me feel less complicit in the destruction.”

Planting seeds of peace

“We are planting seeds,” said Senji Kanaeda, a Buddhist monk from the Nipponzan Myohoji Dojo on Bainbridge. “Maybe they will grow. That is our hope – little bit our vocation,” he said with a heavy accent from his native Japan.

In the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandhi, the walkers are committed to using exclusively nonviolent action to affect social change.

“The Peace Walk is made of local activists who you might not know exist,” said Mia Niwa, also from Japan, who flew from New York City to attend the walk. “They aren’t on TV or in big newspapers, but they care and want to make a difference – even if it’s a small thing.”

The walk itself is straightforward and anyone who agrees to the nonviolent tenets can participate. Kathryn Keve, who used to stand with the Women in Black, lends logistical support instead of walking.

The lead position, held by ten Hove this year, carries a sign calling for peace. Other participants drum, pray, chant and bond during the six-day walk.

One Bainbridge woman walked the 60 miles with – and for – her two young daughters, sharing her concern for the world they will inherit.

Civil disobedience

The walk ends Saturday at the Ground Zero Center and from there, particpants will congregate at the gates to Bangor.

There, a handful of the walkers will participate in a nonviolent civil action, intentionally blocking the gate to the base which will trigger their arrest by either the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department or Bangor’s Military Police.

Scott Wilson, Public Information Officer for Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office said Ground Zero participants, who also march on Mother’s Day and on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, are “for the most part, polite and peaceful.” Participants who block the road are arrested in an “administrative booking.”

Bainbridge resident Denny Moore is familiar with the drill. He was arrested (again) in May during the Mother’s Day civil action – handcuffed, fingerprinted and booked on charges of “attempted disorderly conduct.”

A veteran himself, he understands the culture of “just following orders.”

Still, he feels the situation warrants such drastic measures.

“If Kitsap County were to secede from the U.S., it would have the third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world,” he said.

According to the Ground Zero Website, each of the 24 missiles on the Trident submarines is capable of carrying eight 455-kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead being 30 times the explosive force of the Hiroshima bomb).

“The alternative is not to do anything,” he said. “Why would you not do something?”

Kanaeda and fellow monk Gilberto Perez are committed to “doing something.” They both have participated in Peace Walks since 2005, including walks in Japan and last summer’s Trinity-to-Trident Walk which started at the nuclear testing grounds in New Mexico and traveled all the way to Bangor.

“We are not agitators,” Kanaeda said. “We wish peace. This is the thing we can do. These are small steps.”

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