Meet the key individuals and organisations who counted out $542 billion in nuclear weapons money during UN disarmament week (Oct 24-30), and symbolically reallocated this to climate protection, poverty alleviation and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Most of the counting was done by the New York core team of five individuals: Susanna Choe, Bill Kidd, Vanda Proskova, Christopher Salata and Alyn Ware.
There was also money counting in New York by individuals and by teams from some of the supporting organisations including Fridays for Future, United Religions Initiative/Ribbon International, 350NYC.org, Granny Peace Brigade, Beyond the Bomb, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Duo Dimeo, Global Coralition, Pax Christi and the Peace Action Student Network. And there were satellite counting actions organised by partner organisations in London, New Mexico, Philadelphia and Wellington (New Zealand).
New York Core team
Susanna Choe (USA)
Susanna is a Korean-American humanitarian and futurist. She has an educational background in international affairs and business management, and has work experience in digital economies through Y2x. She is Co-founder of Peace Accelerators, a NYC based, non-profit and 21st century peace movement of ethical futurists. Peace Accelerators programs include Farms not Arms, Operation Revel to establish the International Day of Peace as the first global holiday and Operation Evolve using the perspective of astronauts to foster the consciousness of planet earth as our common, interconnected home.
Susanna helped set up the Count the Nuclear Weapons Money Hub, including the three exhibitions: Project Holocene by artist Russ Ronat depicting endangered species; an exhibition by Basia Gaszczynska from Global Coralition on restoring coral reefs; and an exhibition of Memes from supporters of Move the Nuclear Weapons Money. Susanna was also the project chauffeur, ensuring that the model missile, money, flags, counting baskets and core team members got to the external counting events. These events occurred at the United Nations, New York City Hall, Union Square by the Gandhi statue, Jacobs Engineering (a nuclear weapons contractor) and Strawberry Fields – the memorial to John Lennon.
Susanna counted: $63.3 billion (63,300 notes of $1 million).
Bill Kidd (Scotland)
Bill is a Member of the Scottish Parliament, where he co-convenes the All Party Group on Nuclear Disarmament, and where he was the Chief Whip in the Scottish Government from 2012-2018. He also serves as Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND).
Bill has been a leading voice in the Scottish campaign to oppose the UK nuclear weapons system – the Trident nuclear armed submarines which are homeported in Faslane, Scotland. He has helped build majority in the Scottish Parliament opposing nuclear weapons and supporting the establishment of Scotland as a nuclear-weapon-free zone. He has been active in defence diversification initiatives to ensure protection of jobs should the UK Trident renewal program be curtailed and Faslane closed to the UK nuclear fleet. Bill has also been active in promoting nuclear disarmament internationally, including representing the Scottish Parliament and the First Minister at international meetings such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences and the United Nations General Assembly.
Bill counted $17.4 billion (17,400 notes of $1 million)
Vanda Proskova (Czech Republic)
Vanda is a student of international relations at American University in Prague, Czech Republic, and a Vice-Chair of the PragueVision Institute for Sustainable Security. She was the main organiser of the conference Bertha von Suttner: 130 years of ideas that don’t get old, which was held in in October this year co-hosted by the Czech Foreign Ministry and City of Prague. The conference considered the relevance of the ideas of Prague-born Bertha von Suttner (first woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize) to today’s peace and security issues. Vanda coordinates the supporting memes for the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money Campaign, and assists in intern supervision for the campaign and for Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. Vanda organised the social media for the event and managed the individual and team counters.
Vanda counted $39.4 billion (39,400 notes of $1million)
Christopher Salata (USA)
Christopher Salata is a New York based globalist, futurist, social networker, visionary and promoter of a Global Peace (R)evolution. He is co-founder with Susanna Choe of Peace Accelerators (see above). Christopher served as event manager for Count the Nuclear Weapons Money. He helped set up the Hub, find the external counting locations, and liaise with counting partners and potential supporters. Christopher, who is an engaging speaker and socializer, also moderated the opening event, conducted most of the video interviews of money counters and led the public outreach at the external events.
Christopher counted $126.5 billion (126,500 notes of $1million)
Alyn Ware (New Zealand/Czech Republic)
Alyn Ware is a Prague-based peace and disarmament consultant and project manager. He coordinates Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, is consultant for the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, and is the Director of the World Future Council Peace and Disarmament Program. He is also co-founder of the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign. Alyn served as Count the Nuclear Weapons Money project manager, blog writer and liaison with the satellite counting events (London, New Mexico, New Zealand and Philadelphia).
Alyn counted $173 billion (173,000 notes of $1million).
New York Counting teams
United Religions Initiative/Ribbon International
United Religions Initiative (URI) and the Ribbon International kicked off the money counting at the Hub on October 24 (after the UN press conference). URI is a global grassroots interfaith network that cultivates peace and justice, and promotes nuclear disarmament through their program Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons. The Ribbon International facilitates the creation of peace ribbons (peace art on connected pieces of cloth) by citizens of all ages. URI and Ribbon International counters included Monica Willard, Michele Marie Peppers, June Tano, Barb Gathard, Julie Schelling and Sande Hart.
URI and Ribbon International opened the nuclear weapons counting with The Nuclear Abolition Prayer. Click here for a video recitation of the prayer by political, professional and religious leaders including William J. Perry, former Secretary of Defense; George P. Shultz, former Secretary of State; Dr. Sidney Drell, Professor Emeritus at the Stanford Linear Accelerator; Ambassador James E. Goodby, former Strategic Nuclear Arms Negotiator with the U.S.S.R.; Right Rev. William E. Swing, former Episcopal Bishop of California, and others.
URI and Ribbon International volunteers counted $12.2 billion (12,200 notes of $1million)
Fridays for Future (School Strike 4 Climate)
Every Friday, a group of pupils from New York schools holds protests outside the United Nations as part of the global Fridays for Future (School Strike 4 Climate) movement. The school pupils’ strike on Friday October 25 including a counting of the nuclear weapons money, with a focus on moving the money to support Climate Action (SDG 13). New York Granny Peace Brigade and Veterans for Peace joined the action making it truly inter-generational. Fridays for the Future youth campaigners Olivia Wohlgemuth and Shiv Soin liased with Christopher Salata to organise the nuclear weapons money counting.
Fridays for the Future youth counted $4.5 billion (4,500 notes of $1million)
350NYC is the New York City affiliate of 350.org, a global grassroots network of local groups in over 188 countries working to solve the climate crisis. 350NYC.org was instrumental in moving the New York City to adopt policy to phase out investments of the NYC pension funds in the fossil fuel industry over the next five years. 350NYC.org took an active role in the UN press conference launching Count the Nuclear Weapons Money, helped organise the counting action at City Hall and is cooperating in the campaign to move NYC to divest from the nuclear weapons industry. See Money counters call on New York City to divest from nuclear weapons. 350NYC.org money counters were led by Margaret Perkins and Monica Weiss.
350NYC.org volunteers counted $7.8 billion (7,800 notes of $1million)
Granny Peace Brigade
The Granny Peace Brigade is an anti-war education and demonstration group in New York City made up of older women dedicated to the goal of peace with justice domestically and globally. Members of the Granny Peace Brigade joined the Fridays for Future/Schools Strike 4 Climate money counting action in front of the United Nations on October 25 and also the counting of the nuclear weapons money near the Gandhi statue on Saturday October 26, at which they sang peace and disarmament songs. Granny Peace Brigade also performed at the opening event for Count the Nuclear Weapons Money at the Hub on October 24.Granny Peace Brigade money counters included Nydia Leaf, Mercy Van Vlack, Mary Lutz and others.
Granny Peace Brigade members counted $15.8 billion (15,800 notes of $1million)
Beyond the Bomb
Beyond the Bomb is a United States grassroots movement to prevent nuclear war and make concrete progress on nuclear disarmament. Their key campaigns are to a) achieve a U.S. policy of no-first use (to never initiate a nuclear war); b) empower the congress to prevent the President from unilaterally launching a nuclear war; c) cut the bloated nuclear weapons budget; d) ensure government funding for clean-up of nuclear weapons production and testing sites; and e) ensure reparations and support for communities impacted by nuclear weapons development. Beyond the Bomb provided an action centre at the Count the Nuclear Weapons Money Hub, for people to take action after they counted money. The main money counter from Beyond the Bomb was Yasmeen Silva.
Beyond the Bomb counted $9 billion (9,000 notes of $1million)
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) USA is an inter-faith network fostering compassion, solidarity reconciliation, peaceful resolution of conflicts and nonviolent action to dismantle oppressive structures. FOR the oldest and largest US peace organization, with more than 125 local affiliates throughout the country. The FOR counting of the nuclear weapons money was led by Rev Emma Jordan-Simpson, FOR Executive Director.
Fellowship of Reconciliation counted $4.3 billion (4,300 notes of $1million)
Duo Dimeo is a collaboration of two classical pianists Victor Dizon and Racquel Borromeo which explores and performs classical and classical/jazz fusion music for two pianos, four pianos and two pianos plus percussion. Duo Dimeo organised two concerts to promote and benefit Count the Nuclear Weapon Money, in addition to counting some nuclear weapons money.
Duo Dimeo counted $2 billion (2000 notes of $1million)
Peace Action NY Student Network
The Peace Action NY Student Network empowers student advocates to take action on issues of peace, disarmament and justice. Peace Action student members from New York University Peace and Macaulay Honors College helped organise nuclear weapons money countings at Washington Square Park (next to NYU) and Strawberry Fields (close to Macaulay College). The main counters for Peace Action Student Network were Janet Lee, Maevyn Davis-Rackerby and Yeniliz Peguero.
Peace Action NY Student Network counted $1.8 billion (1,800 notes of $1million)
Global Coralition is a global coalition to preserve and restore coral reefs. We have already lost 50% of our corals in the last 30 years from rising ocean temperatures, C02 emissions, over/dynamite fishing, hurricanes, sedimentation, and runoff. Urgent action is required to prevent further destruction to coral, and to restore life to dying reefs. The main counter from Global Coralition was Tigerlily Lim.
Global Coralition counted $1.8 billion (1,800 notes of $1million)
Pax Christi Metro NY
Pax Christi Metro New York is an affiliate of Pax Christi International, a global Catholic peace movement with consultative status at the United Nations. Pax Christi MNY provides a community for Catholic New Yorkers where peacemaking is paramount within the context of their faith. PCMNY collaborates with members of other faith traditions and civic groups who share a commitment to non-violence and actively seeks creative opportunities to work together for peace and justice. Pax Christi counters included Rosemarie Pace, Ed.D., Director of PCMNY and Mary Yelenick.
Pax Christi counted $1.2 billion (1,200 notes of $1million)
A London nuclear weapons money counting was organised by Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War and held on Saturday 26 October outside the Ministry of Defence. Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War works for a world where taxes are used to nurture peace, not pay for war. They campaign for a progressive increase in the amount of UK tax spent on peacebuilding, and a corresponding decrease in the amount spent on war and preparation for war. They also support the legal right of those with a conscientious objection to war to have the entire military part of their taxes spent on peacebuilding. The main organisers and counters were Karen Robinson, Robin Brookes, Fay Salichou and Jonathan Maunders.
Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War counted £5.2billion (10,400 notes of £500,000 each)
In New Mexico there were counting events at Taos Plaza (Taos), State Capital Roundhouse (Santa Fe), Socorro Plaza Gazebo (Socorro) and outside the Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos). The events were organised by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety in cooperation with Youth United for Climate Crisis Action and Taosenos for Peaceful and Sustainable Futures. The counting events focused on the role that the State of Mexico plays in the US nuclear weapons complex. See $13 billion of public money to be counted for peace at New Mexico nuclear weapons facilities. The main counters were Suzie Schwartz, Sandy Schwartz, Joni Arends, Sheri Kotowski, Jan Bennet, Kay Matthews, Louisa Lopez, Paul Pino and Holly Beaumont.
A counting of nuclear weapons money was held on October 24 at City Hall Philadelphia Courtyard organised by the Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia. The organisation’s mission is to oppose war, occupation, torture, and the violence of poverty, racism and environmental degradation. They are committed to the struggle to make a safe and peaceful world for all children and grandchildren…ours and everyone’s. The event included songs led by the Grannies such as ‘We are a gaggle of Grannies’. See Photos of the Philadelphia counting and some videos of the counting action. Main organisers and counters were Jean Haskell, Gloria Hoffman, Helen Evelev, Paula Dance, Linda Battiste and Ruth Van.
Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia counted $4.5 billion (4,500 notes of $1million)