Pauline Morrissette's 1999 Seattle WTO LETS Report
Friday November 26th to Friday December 3rd, 1999 Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
This would be our last opportunity before the Millennium to single handedly bring attention to L.E.T.S. and the power it would give us if we could link globally. With the internet this could be done almost overnight. So, now to the WTO, the World Trade Organization. The world is looking on Seattle where the world's richest man, Bill Gates who accumulated his wealth with Microsoft, just so happens to live? Are we being guided? This is a big gamble and the hundreds of thousands of L.E.T.Sers out there, who we wish could be here to back us up on this one, all we ask is that you pray for us and perhaps send off an urgent message to Bill Gates via his e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell Mr. Gates we want interest free banking for all L.E.T.Sers world wide. For those who have already taken the initiative to do just that, we say thank you and God Bless. There are many radical groups here this week in Seattle, but, I am sure we must look the most radical. More of what we are doing and what has happened so far at the Battle in Seattle. I departed Ottawa at 5 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 25th. I drove with my mother and friend Robert Cutler to Toronto where I would board Via Rails westbound train to Vancouver, then Via Trailhead Bus to Seattle. The reason we choose this mode of transportation first of all it was the most inexpensive way to get to Seattle. If you are ready to rough it a little and go Coach it is a huge savings over flying or anything else being offered. John went before me to set things up in Seattle for our Headquarters as I had business to complete in Ottawa. My train pulled out on time 11:00 a.m. My first day and night on the train proved to be very, very interesting and again I felt a certain peace of mind that things were connecting and I was not alone on this journey out West. My first contact, and I guess you can say now, my first new friend was Marlyne Mellor of St. Pierre, Manitoba. She was our Conductor-Hostess. As she explained to two gentlemen how to take the little hammer and knock out the windows in the event of a mishap, I looked on. Most people did not look amused, especially after two trains had already been derailed this month on this very line. I said to her I thought they should have backups. What if they fall asleep or worst yet, are not even in the coach? Marlyne then put me in charge of my own hammer and my own window. I felt much more secure knowing where everything was. Marlyne and I had many wonderful exchanges during her stint from Toronto to Manitoba where she was then replaced. I was seated beside Lorraine c. Crouch of Columbia, Missouri. Lorraine was also an activist and also destined for Seattle to report to K.O.P.N. Community Radio in Columbia on movements at WTO. She was stopping over in Vancouver to do a poetry reading. I was privy to her doing a couple of her poems on the train and enjoyed them immensely. The next group of people all came to me at different intervals of the trip and this group were to be my faithful companions for the duration. Each from different walks of life, yet all of like mind. This was a most wonderful experience for me. Our common gathering spot was the dome coach and throughout the trip, this is where we spent much of our time together. As I had spent most of my day in travel and had not eaten properly, I decided to visit their dining car and check it out. I was seated at the 9 p.m. session. Helen and Arch Jones asked if they could join me, I was delighted to have their company. Retired folks, but also very active, they were heading home to Prince George, B.C. They were also travelling in the coach. We talked of the beautiful scenery and I learned that Arch had at one time studied painting with Tom Thompson, one of the Group of 7, a very famous group of Canadian painters displayed in galleries all over. I told them of my quest in Seattle, how we wanted to link Global LET Systems and how they worked. After dinner we retired back to the coach and I gave Helen and Arch one of John's books "The Adventures of John "The Engineer" Turmel" to look over. I then went to the Dome car to take in some sights. In the Dome was a young man from New Zealand, John McCullough,Thunder River Farm, P.O. Box 79, Murchison, South Island, New Zealand. John and I struck up conversation. It wasn't hard as I had been to New Zealand and had things I could talk about. John was in Canada because he had been tree farming in New Zealand and had a special type of timber that he wanted to sell. He came in hopes of making a contact, plus he was thinking about moving to Canada but wanted to see it all. So what better way than by train. He had already been inspired by my next contact: Mady Irons c/o Falls Provincial Park, General Delivery, Campbell River, B.C. V9W 4Z8 PH.286-9724. Mady had a sleeper and was travelling first class but as she later told me, it was a real sleeper in first class, people were bored. So she also would congregate with us in the dome car. Mady does Tarot card readings and has her business called Dragonfly Illusions, she does Life Path Readings, Psychic Development Classes, Awareness Workshops etc. Mady had come back to read John's cards, they were in the very front seats with table and I was in the very back seat. Each time Mady would gaze up, I couldn't help but smile. I sensed a very profound connection between her and John then later found we three had a connection going on. After the reading John introduced us. We had a couple of small stops to let off passengers and would witness the changing weather from place to place, snow then no snow. I am sure we all spoke to many people at different intervals but we all seemed to end up looking for each other and back to the dome. I slept in the dome that night with several others, they slept on the floor, I slept all 3 nights across two seats in the dome car quite comfortably. The following morning Helen and Arch were looking for me. Helen said she had stayed up most of the night going over John's book and had many questions, would I join them so she could take some notes. They were looking for some answers as to how this all could help their son. Their son and a gentleman by the name of Michael Windsor, had gone to school together with Bill Gates. Michael Windsor is still working with Microsoft. Their son switched careers and moved to the Yukon to do tree farming, something, he is still unfamiliar with and needs help. He has over 40 acres and horses. When she told me this, I don't know what hit me first, the fact that I had spent several hours with a New Zealander who was an experienced tree farmer or the connection to Bill Gates. I was taken aback. But, I first took the direction that I thought would most excite them and the one I could do something about right away. I told Helen and Arch of John McCullough of New Zealand and ask if I could send him back and could they talk to him? It was done. Then we spoke of my quest to get to Bill Gates to ask the big question. Helen said she still had contact with Michael Windsor and I was to let her know how we made out. The whole time this exchange was going on, yet another young man across the aisle listened on and I could see with much interest. Tyler Rittinger of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was to become yet another of my faithful companions for the duration. He seemed to be with us in the dome car ever after that session. Tyler was supposed to get off the train in Saskatoon, and we had all basically said our goodbyes to him, but the following morning I was alerted that Tyler hadn't left. He made a fast call to his girlfriend and said he was going all the way with us. We were all delighted with this change of plans. We had many sessions of telling jokes and laughter prevailed throughout most of this trip. The diner proved to be too expensive and since my new friends all ate in the dome car, each stop we would jump off and get fruit etc. and enjoy each others company. Jeff Page was yet another of our group, Jeff from Knowlton, Quebec was a studious quiet young man and yet he seemed to laugh the hardest and although he said he couldn't remember jokes or tell them, he sure was having a great time listening to ours. Jeff was just taking the trip to see the West but I have a feeling he got more out of this trip than he had bargained for. By the end of our journey you could tell we had made solid friendships because just before the train reached Vancouver Station, all were quiet, the first time in this whole trip. This reflective time was letting us know that be it one day or one year, when you bond as this group did, it is hard to say goodbye. The scenery from province to province was very different. Our main stops were Sudbury Jct. and Sioux Lookout in Ontario. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Alberta, Jasper, Alberta lots of snow, very beautiful, then through the rockies into Kamloops B.C. then Vancouver. When we arrived in Vancouver it was a matter of hours until the last Grey Cup Football Game of the Millennium, Calgary Vs. Hamilton. Tyler and Jeff were making plans. Mady was taking John to Falls Provincial Park, her home, then John would meet up with Helen and Arch. Oh yes that connection was made and John will go to the Yukon to meet with their son. Wow. We exchanged addresses, had a photo shoot, did out hugging and kissing and parted ways. I then had to call my LETS contact, Brian Lutes. John had stayed with Brian on the way out also for a couple of days. The decision was made that I stay over in Vancouver that night to talk with some people about LETS. Brian instructed me to take the Sky Train East to the very end, a 30 min. ride to the Prince George Station. This is one of the most modern rail systems I have ever been on and the bridge going over the Fraser River is so high the view is spectacular. At the other end I called Brian to tell him I had arrived. He came to collect me on his souped-up bicycle. The bicycle had a small trailer attached in which Brian put my luggage. He asked if I wanted to ride the bicycle home since John had. I told him I was not as brave as John and since I was unfamiliar with my route and traffic, I would simply follow behind. On the way to Brian's home, he made a fast stop to show me Quibble Creek. As I stood on a plank in the middle of this shallow creek, I saw 4 and 5 pound salmon, dead. Brian explained they came here from the Fraser River to spawn and then die. He also told me that at night you could here them thrashing about from his home. At Brian's home the first thing was to direct me to my sleeping quarters. I dropped my bags in and then he took me to his computer to show me what he and John had accomplished during John's stay. The prayer to Bill Gates was now on the net in audio. I was thrilled. Brian is an electrical engineer very adept with computers and stepping John through this and how to do it was a big help. I then went to have a couple of hours sleep before my 4 p.m. meeting with some neighbours and friends. After that meeting we had to scurry off to yet another meeting with Albert Javant and his lady friend Sheila. Albert was the founder of the Canadian Fiji Senior Association and was looking for answers on how to integrate the young and old. Albert is from India but moved to Fiji as many Indian people had. He taught school there and was responsible for the Cox Commission to give equal rights to all teachers. 50% of the Indian people in Fiji get their revenue from Sugar cane farming. Many got 30-year leases to farm sugar cane. These leases are now expiring and the Fiji people are refusing to renew them, forcing the Indian people out from their farms and their homes. Albert tells me the best possible place they could go would be some place like Australia where the weather is compatible and sugar cane farming exist. But how to get them there is the problem. Sheila explained she had been helping Albert cook all day in preparation for his quests. We had a delightful meal, traditional soup, taro a large root boiled, with sweet potatoes, fried bananas, salad, main course consisted of beef with traditional pita bread. It was wonderful. I then spoke to them about LETS how they could use it. They saw the beauty and the social aspect of it. Albert's address is 111-7666 -119A Street, Delta, B.C. C4W 6N3 Phone 604 - 591-6226. The following morning, another ride on the Sky Train to the station, then onto the Trail Head Bus to Seattle with only 5 passengers aboard. We had a delightful driver who kept us amused all the way. We cleared customs without a problem. John met me at the Seattle station. They call Seattle the city of 7 hills like Rome. These weren't hills, these were more like mountains all pouring into a basin of water Lake Washington. Then it was straight to the A-1 Motel to drop off luggage and I have a down day. Then it was to work planning out our strategy with a schedule of events from the local newspaper. The following day was the big march. I have never been part of anything this large before. All the downtown streets were clogged with protesters. We had been passing out L.E.T.S. prayers to them all day and decided to take a break for coffee. I went to get us a couple of coffee's from a Starbucks. There were some benches and just in front of me, a peaceful demonstration of some Chinese meditating. All of a sudden a large thunder and smoke, it sounded like a bomb had gone off. This peaceful demonstration was turning ugly. A young girl I had been talking to on the bench, turned to me with a look of horror on her face and said "what was that?" I said that whatever it was, I didn't want to stick around and find out. People were running frantically away from the smoke. The employees of Starbucks were shutting down the place and running. I said to John "Lets get out of here." We made our way out of the confusion and came upon a restaurant called the Hurricane Cafe. A state of emergency had been called. As we ordered food, we watched live coverage of what was going on a few streets away. Looting, store windows being kicked in, the Mayor of Seattle who called the state of emergency and placed the Seattle downtown under martial law with a 7:00p.m. curfew. The buses were being rerouted and it we eventually got out of the downtown. We went back to our Motel and watched live coverage throughout the night of the turbulent scene on Seattle streets. The following day, security was pumped up because President Clinton would be in town. The National Guard were called in and the presence of militia and the hundreds of police officers in riot gear were a little unnerving. Yet as John and I picketed, even the police officers would give us a thumbs up with our "Abolish Interest Rates" message. One officer even asked for our flyer. Throughout the week and the different marches, many photos were taken. Some people told John they had seen him on Channel 5 T.V. in Seattle doing his poem. Others recognized us from Attac conference in France. One recognized John from the Arizona Republic's "World's Richest Pauper" article. Three reporters from Belgium were keen after we told them we had been in Antwerp and Betekom this summer with this same message about L.E.T.S. We met a Mr. Cornelius, Mac Harb's Campaign manager from Ottawa. We told him both John and I had run against Mac in different elections. Ralph Nader was in town. His session was sold out. But we did get to see him speak at the waterfront market demonstration. I am sure John's hard hat stuck in his mind. Many people asked if we were linked to Jubilee 2000. Jubilee 2000 wants to cancel the debts of the poorest nations. We want to cancel only the cancerous interest on debt for all nations. During my week in Seattle we were part of all major demonstrations. I had made my sign prior to leaving Ottawa. I got a large white sheet and I had stenciled on in 15" letters L.E.T.S. on first line, a large stop sign in middle and the last line the word POVERTY, with pictures of Bill Gates on either side of the stop sign. John managed to hold one side plus his own sign Abolish Interst Rates, we paraded with the rest of the protesters and had many photographs taken and handed out a lot more literature. Many people interviewed John and took his literature. Prior to this last march John and I had taken the bus out to Microsoft campus. We went over the Governor Rossilini bridge causeway which was a spectacular ride and view of Seattle. Microsoft Campus was pretty new looking and very Sci-Fi looking. We marched around there for awhile and then took a bus back. I pulled out of Seattle on Amtrak 4:45P.m. Went all along Lake Washinton waterfront. The many large yaughts were well lit up for Christmas, it was quiet the sight to behold. We passed the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln No 72, an aircraft carrier docked in Everett, Washington. The train ride back was not as eventful as coming out. Met one young lady who had been in jail for the last 4 days and she explained the procedure they had to go through. All who were arrested at the WTO had refused to give police their names or addresses. So she showed me her arrest warrant and all it had on it was "Jane WTO" as name, a real souvenir, huh. Glad I didn't get one. So that's a report on our last anti-poverty meeting of the millennium.
Send a comment to John Turmel