Online Edition: September 2006     Vol. XIX, No. 1

sponsored by Peace Life Center, Public invited

  • MODESTO PEACE LIFE CENTER VIGILS: Vigils are held once a month; Friday evenings; call the Center for info: 529-5750.

  • PEACE LIFE CENTER WILL BE OPEN TUESDAY, July 19, Noon to 3 pm. Come by for coffee or tea and just to chat or look at our book and magazine collection. Bring your own bag lunch; there may be films some days. 720 13th St. Call us 529-5750, we'll get back to you with info on vigils and other activities.

  • Click here for other Peace Actions around the Valley and Mother Lode

The 2007 Peace Essay Contest is starting--download the Flyer and read or print by clicking here


San Joaquin Connections--Our Sister Publication to the North--July Issue (pdf)

Peace & Justice

Around the Center: 


Living Lightly

Recipes from Connections

A Gathering of Voices--Donna Phillips

Out and About


Masthead and Back Issues

Opinion and Letters to Connections

Modesto’s own progressive radio and television


Did you know that we in Modesto have are own progressive radio station that runs 24 hours a day? We can also see and hear alternative progressive voices on Comcast and the Charter Cable System,. This is all due to the hard work of one individual, Brad Johnson.

The radio station can be found at 106.1 on the FM dial, or go to www. for live web streaming. If you live in Northwest Modesto and Salida, the station generally comes in fine, and I’ve received it in my home in Southeast Modesto on certain days. Get away from the same old corporate-for-profit or sponsored media, and hear some independent voices. Tune in on your car and home radios. You’ll hear shows like Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, Media Matters, Free Speech News and many others programs that offer progressive and alternative viewpoints on foreign and domestic affairs.

There is also a program produced locally by Mike Killingsworth, a member of the Modesto Peace Center’s Media Committee. His program, called The Ghost of Bob Marley, is produced in his home with a computer and a microphone. So far his shows have dealt with counter recruiting, the Iraq war. A program dealing with global warming is in the works.

On television you can view non-corporate independently produced programming on Saturday and Sunday nights on Modesto Comcast Channel 26 from 10 p.m. to 12.a.m. If you live in Turlock, Ceres and other surrounding areas and are on the Charter Cable System, you can watch the programming on Channel 15 on Thursday nights from 7:30 p.m. to10 p.m. All of this again is due to Brad Johnson who has worked for several years to acquire these time slots and bring alternative voices to our TV watching audiences.

During these blocks of time you may sometimes see people you know, local peace programs, and activities. The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration programs, Modesto Peace/Life Center Peace Essay awards presentations, vigils, and anti-war demonstrations are just some of the local events that have been broadcast on these stations.

ACTION: Join us at the next PLC Media Committee meeting on Wednesday, September 27, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. at the Peace Center located at 720 13th St. Ph. 529-5750. If you have a program you would like aired or have questions, call John at (209) 765-3813.

BOOK REVIEW: book brings cohousing home: review


Scotthanson, Scott and Kelly Scotthanson. The Cohousing Handbook. 2005, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, British Columbia. ISBN 0-86571-517-3. 291 pages.

This nuts and bolts guide to cohousing offers abundant resources for people interested in cohousing. Cohousing is an intentional community, shared housing arrangement that aims to balance privacy and family autonomy with frequent opportunities to share with neighbors. The Cohousing Handbook would seem most interesting to people considering forming or joining a group to construct housing for such a community or for those in the process of planning or building it.

Since the first cohousing developments constructed in Denmark in the 1960’s, the concept spread to North America in the late 1980’s. Plenty of wisdom from these pioneering projects informs this recent guide.

Architect Chris Scotthanson and workshop facilitator Kelly Scotthanson approach cohousing from a highly practical angle. Thoroughly examining the many complex issues from engineering to finance at each stage of planning and construction, they seldom take cheerleading roles. That doesn’t mean a visionary moment or two didn’t shine in. For me the visionary high point came while I read a list of usual features of a cohousing common house including “Mail pick-up location, with bulletin boards and personal ‘cubbies’ for internal communications” (p. 139). Not only could I imagine myself there, I wanted to be there, thrilled by the notion that I might live in a place that celebrated belonging to that place and to that place’s culture. And for a moment I pictured myself in a space designed to make it easy to share the day-to-day business of that belonging.

There were more surprises. For one thing, I think of cohousing as a desired choice for people interested in reducing their household ecological footprints—tree huggers and prairie fairies if you will. To such people the quintessential antagonist, the developer, appears in this book as an essential protagonist. For another, I found I became rather resistant in the chapter on designing. It seemed the authors, by advocating use of standard materials, were ignoring my desires, if I were to participate in cohousing, to live in a place designed with aspirations towards ecologically sustainable culture. In the next chapter the sun came out, as they discussed how to balance needs for affordability with conservation of energy and other resources.

Scotthanson and Scotthanson emphatically favor siting cohousing in already-developed areas rather than rural settings. They are equally sure of the need of groups who are attempting to build cohousing projects to cultivate relationships with professionals and leave the construction to qualified contractors. If you imagine cohousing as a back-to-the-land hippie commune, your stereotype will be challenged by this work.

LOCAL OPPORTUNITY: Modesto residents have gathered to explore building cohousing here as early as 1998. A presentation organized by Martin Zonligt at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in October of 2005 revived interest. There is now a Yahoo online group dedicated to local cohousing possibilities. Further information at or by phone, (209) 523-8871

An affordable dignified funeral plan


"You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty." So a Jessica Mitford (1917-1996) web page answers Margaret Mead's "never doubt that a few dedicated folks can change the world."

As awareness of Vietnam, civil rights and social justice grew, Mitford's 1963 best-seller, The American Way Of Death, took on the funeral industry.

A "huge, macabre and expensive practical joke on the American public," she wrote, undertakers peddling bizarre services and products to — as one industry journal put it — encourage families to "atone for real or fancied neglect of the deceased with Mercedes class caskets."

One reaction was the birth of the memorial society cooperative movement, which pursued a notion that Loved Ones could be laid away for less than the thousands charged to those who could least afford it.

It took five years (1968) for this 120-chapter movement to reach Modesto. Born at Modesto's Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, the non-profit Stanislaus Memorial Society includes among its duties lending a supportive presence to the bereaved as a cushion against mortuary pitches pushing mink-lined coffins.

It seemed to fit my other social views - on needless wars, forced pregnancy (smacking of slavery), racial bigotry and the high U.S. cost of health care - even such practical matters as the right to die with dignity,.

In my third board stint I am delighted that once adversarial relationships with the funeral industry have evolved into working side by side to provide affordable services. As the time for my needing its services gets uncomfortably nearer, I feel gratified to be a part of it.

The cost for the average American funeral is $5,200 to $6,500, depending on which search mechanism entry you believe, cemetery plots not included.

A Stanislaus Memorial Society contract with Allen Mortuary of Turlock provides a rock bottom cremation for $450 (it was $75 when the SMS was born), including pickup and delivery within 30 miles, Casket $1,124 extra. SMS is simple, dignified, inexpensive, and includes reciprocity with most other societies in the U.S.

A one-time SMS membership fee costs $25 for an adult, $10 per child under 18. Obtain details, enrollment forms and instructions for the undertaker by writing the SMS at Box 4252 Modesto 95352, leaving a number at 521-7690, or emailing, or Membership begins when required forms are returned and filed.

ACTION: Attend the society's annual membership meeting at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006 probably in the Stanislaus County Public Library basement. Speakers will include organ transplant recipient Nancy Fox of Modesto and Rev. William Sanford of Atwater whose Death-Made-Less-Difficult Book deals with advance planning.

MICL still going strong


The Modesto Institute for Continued Learning (MICL) begins its twenty-first year of bringing enrichment classes to Stanislaus County seniors (over 50) this year. Classes began August 28.

Planned and carried out by the seniors who attend, a variety of interests are covered, including book reviews, travel, politics, public speaking, and writing your story. Also included are potlucks, day trips, and movies.

Meeting at Modesto Jr. College west campus, Bldg. 6000, registration is $40 a semester, plus $10 parking fee. If you missed the August 24 registration day, show up at the classroom to find out more, Monday thru Thursday 10 to 3 (two sessions) And, best of all, no tests and no attendance rules!

Visit the “Wall of Hope”

A “Wall of Hope” opened in the Modesto Junior College Library on Friday, August 25, 2006.

The Wall of Hope is a visual display of the many people and movements that throughout history have worked nonviolently for peace, social justice, and environmental sanity.

The exhibit includes well-known events and people like Mahatma Gandhi, César Chávez and his United Farmworkers Union who organized here in the San Joaquin Valley, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement as well as lesser-known people and movements like Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Ky, Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai and her Green Belt Movement, and Kathy Kelly with Voices in the Wilderness.

At the heart of the exhibit is the belief that in a world beset with violence, those who have experimented with nonviolence have sown seeds of hope for our future: there is a way to resolve conflict other than through physical force and military might.

ACTION: See the exhibit! There will be a book to record your thoughts and impressions.




Tenth of each month. Submit peace, justice and environmentally friendly event notices to P.O. Box 134, Modesto, CA, 95353, or call 522-4967 or 575-4299, or email to Jim Costello. Free listings subject to space, availability and editing.