To Judi and Lou Friedman: A thank you and farewell

Two people who were very precious not only to Beyond Nuclear, but to humanity, chose to leave this world on Tuesday, July 26th.

Judi Friedman, 80 and Lou Friedman, 81 — educators, humanitarians, peace envoys, parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues — died at home in Connecticut, leaving life in the same selfless manner that they lived it.  

They slipped away together like two teenagers on a secret date, which in many ways is exactly who they always were.  Sweethearts since college, sweethearts they remained.  Their enduring love envisioned no agony of separation or bereavement one from the other; no hell of hospitals; no burden on their loved ones.  They ended it when they still could, clear of mind but wracked by too many physical tortures.

Nothing we can say or write about them can ever do them justice.  The praise they heaped on our work, our commitment, was almost impossible to return.  To them, we were always amazing, precious people, doing incredible and important work.  Yet these were the accolades that described Judi and Lou precisely.

Lou Friedman was a founding board member of Beyond Nuclear and the Chair of our Board of Directors at the time of his death.  He also co-founded Beyond Nuclear, helping to craft the organization from its inception.  He was our cornerstone, our anchor.  But Lou also ensured that our building would not crumble; our ship would not drift or founder.  He worked tirelessly to build Beyond Nuclear into the organization it is today, reaching out to everyone far and wide to encourage their support and participation.

Judi Friedman ran her own Connecticut-based organization — People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE).  At the same time, she was as much a part of the Beyond Nuclear family as Lou.  She too reached out to offer help, ideas, leads.  We would not be where we are today without them.

How they found the time to dedicate themselves to our cause alongside the many others they embraced will forever remain a mystery.  From promoting détente between Russians and Americans during the Cold War; peace activism through Promoting Enduring Peace; fundraising for victims of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster; protection of nature and all creatures and plants; running nature camps for children; and promotion of renewable energy implementation; their lives were replete with service.  

They saw all issues as connected.  Environmental advocacy was as much about civil rights as it was about clean air.  And they still had time for family and friends, their dogs and horses.  The big picture and the small held equal importance.

They were early pioneers of solar energy, and they lived that talk at their Canton, CT home. In addition to solar panels, the land around their home was graced with berry bushes, ponds, stables and a paddock, and wooded areas to ramble in.  A second home in Sandisfield, MA, offered solace and refuge and an opportunity for Judi to introduce visitors to the minutiae and curiosities of the natural world, from edible bull rushes to petrified fungi.

Judi wrote many books in her efforts to help children, especially, stay in touch with nature and the outdoors.  She maintained a wonder for that world that was both inspirational and infectious.  

Lou, a teacher by profession, founded the Westledge School in Simsbury, CT, in 1968.  It was deliberately experimental and multiracial, and like Lou, it was bold and forward-thinking.  When the school closed, Lou and Judi’s commitment never wavered.  On they went to the next challenge.

This included, in 1985, a peace cruise they organized on the Mississippi River for U.S. and Soviet citizens.  They also visited Moscow and presented Mikhail Gorbachev with a solar watch.

Alongside PACE, Beyond Nuclear became the heart and soul of their activism over the last ten years.  There were times when the frustration of the challenge to get people to care about the dangers of nuclear power became exasperating.  Why didn’t the major media give greater coverage to this issue — especially after Fukushima?  How could we get more members of the public to learn about the dangers of nuclear energy and vigorously oppose it?  Where were the charitable foundations that might support our work?

Lou and Judi’s answer was always to work harder, come up with new ideas, and do more.  And when we did, Lou and Judi responded with enthusiasm, affirmation, encouragement and accolades.  On March 26, 2010, PACE honored the staff of Beyond Nuclear with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  

In a 1992 New York Times article about Lou and Judi, the reporter noticed a framed letter on their wall dating back to 1880, written by Judi’s aunt to her grandmother. It read: "Do all you can, for all the people you can, in every place you can at all the times you can, in all the ways you can and as long as ever you can.”  It was a mantra that Judi and Lou held to throughout their lifetime.

So while we still struggle with the sorrow and irreplaceable loss we feel; while we strive to come to terms with the fact that Planet Earth will no longer reap the benefits of having Lou and Judi living on it and working on behalf of its welfare and survival;  we know we must continue their work and endeavor to achieve that world beyond nuclear, beyond hate and beyond war.


Protect the Great Lakes: Tell NY Gov. Cuomo to Hang up on Nuclear Subsidies, Ring for Renewables/Efficiency Instead!

Please call New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office right away at (518) 474-8390, or message him here. Gov. Cuomo has ordered the NY Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve a $10 billion bailout for the state's dirty, dangerous, and financially failing atomic reactors, at ratepayer expense. The PSC could act as soon as Monday, August 1st, so please take action immediately! Click here for some simple instructions and sample call scripts you can use when you call. Propping up New York's four age-degraded atomic reactors on the Lake Ontario shore (FitzPatrick, Ginna, Nine Mile Point 1 & 2) would put the drinking water supply for nine million people in two countries at increasing risk of breakdown phase disaster. Incredibly, Indian Point Units 2 & 3 near New York City now appear to be eligible for the ratepayer bailout too. Indian Point's safety and security risks threaten more than 20 million people within a 50-mile radius. All these reactors need to be shutdown before they melt down. This bad precedent must be nipped in the bud, lest it add momentum to nuclear bailout schemes in numerous other states, including CT, IL, NJ, PA, and others. More.


Speaking truth to nuclear power at both major party national conventions!

Erica Gray of the Virginia Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Committee holds an iconic Smiling Sun "Nuclear Power? No Thanks!" flag at the UN climate march in New York City in Sept. 2014. NIRS spearheaded the Nuclear-Free, Climate-Free contingent there too, which numbered in the thousands or marchers.Beyond Nuclear has striven to push back against the nuclear industry's lobbying juggernaut, by taking part in major organizing efforts in both Cleveland, Ohio and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in recent days. In the shadow of the Republican National Convention, we conducted an anti-nuke/pro-renewables workshop at the People's Justice and Peace Convention (PJPC), and led the successful effort to include a related plank in the PJPC platform, to be delivered to both major political parties. We also raised the "Nuclear Power? No Thanks!" flag (see photo, flag), figuratively and literally, in a diverse progressive coalition march to Cleveland's public square, near the convention center. Then, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Philly, we stood in solidarity with the national anti-fracking movement at the "Summit for a Clean Energy Revolution." We also joined with colleagues from NIRS, and grassroots groups from across the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, and beyond, to form the colorful Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free contingent, as part of the 10,000-person strong "March for a Clean Energy Revolution." In this election year of Republican climate crisis denial and lockstep pro-nuclear advocacy, as well as the Orwellian betrayal of the phrase "clean energy" -- even by way too many Democrats -- as code for nuclear power, we've got our work cut out for us!    More


Urgent final reminder: Comment on DOE's radioactive waste dump by July 31! Use Beyond Nuclear talking points

Representatives from a coalition of environmental and public interest groups protest the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's "Nuke Waste Con Game" at the agency's Rockville, MD HQ in late 2013.The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has held nine public meetings across the country since January, regarding so-called "Consent-Based Siting" of centralized interim storage sites (de facto permanent parking lot dumps) for high-level radioactive waste, and the "Mobile Chernobyl" truck, train, and barge shipments it would take to deliver the irradiated nuclear fuel there. Thank you to everyone who turned out, both in person and via Webinar: you have helped hold DOE's feet to the fire, making clear they are being watch-dogged. There are a few more days left for the submission of written public comments by DOE's July 31 deadline. Beyond Nuclear has prepared a  Top 10 List you can use to prepare your own comments, as well as two-page and 13-page, more detailed versions of the  "We Do Not Consent!" talking points. Comments can be submitted by email, mail, fax, or Web form, by 11:59pm Eastern time on Sunday. The resistance against radioactive waste risks also continues on other fronts. For example, on July 18th  an environmental coalition appealed an adverse court ruling in favor of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Nuclear Waste Confidence policy a month earlier. More 


ACT BY TOMORROW (Fri., 7/22): $8 billion bailout would worsen radioactive risks to the Great Lakes!

Graphic art from AGREE action alertNY Governor Cuomo and his Public Service Commission have proposed a massive $8 billion bailout, at ratepayer expense, to prop up three financially failing Exelon atomic reactors in upstate NY on the Lake Ontario shore, and a fourth currently owned by Entergy but that Exelon also wants to buy. The nuclear bailout would gobble up two-thirds of a Clean Energy Fund originally meant for renewables, like wind and solar power, as well as energy efficiency. These four age-degraded reactors are also deep into their breakdown phase, so continued operations significantly increase the risk of a catastrophic radioactivity release on the shore of the Great Lakes, drinking water supply for many millions downstream in the U.S., Canada, and a large number of Native American First Nations. Please take one or more of the following actions ASAP to prevent this dangerous boondoggle -- the public comment deadline is tomorrow, Friday, July 22nd, as the PSC races to rubber-stamp this bad deal. You can use the Alliance for a Green Economy's (AGREE) web form, and/or  Public Citizen's web form, and/or sign and submit a letter drafted by Clearwater. If this nuclear bailout precedent gets set in NY, Exelon's and other nuclear industry lobbyists could then attempt to get away with it at dirty, dangerous, and expensive atomic reactors in other states too. More