Anti-Nuclear, Historical Memoir, Political Activist

Radio interview Open Borders

I am so excited to share with you an in depth radio interview with March Twisdale of the Voice of Vashon, 101.9 FM, KVSH. Our conversation was recorded before Christmas and is now part of March’s New Year programming. I recommend it to you because her questions elicited as discussion of the fear generated in Seattle in 1981 when the first Trident nuclear submarine entered Hood Canal. She also bring out the women’s career vs. motherhood issues working their way in my own development. Your interview is airing this week and next, Saturday January 12 / 19 @ 11am and Monday January 14 / 21 @ 12noon. If you can get Voice of Vashon,be sure to listen on 101.9 FM, KVSH.

If Vashon Island, WA will not reach you. March produces a podcast. The link is below. Download it for entertainment on your next long walk. Then buy the book and share it with your family and friends. Give it to your local library. And thank you for your interest in preventing nuclear war in 2019.

Betsy Bell Interview – PPP071

Anti-Nuclear, Political Activist

What can I do to prevent nuclear war?

One question has come up at all four of the book launch events since Open Borders came out Oct. 16th: what can I do to prevent nuclear war? The question is slow to surface as audience members old enough to remember begin to relive the frightening times in Seattle in the 1980s when children were practicing duck and cover in their classrooms and bomb shelter signs appears on the walls of buildings downtown.

What can one do? Get involved in the anti-nuclear weapon movement through Washington Against Nuclear Weapons WANW, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibiltiy, Earth Care not War Fare and Ground Zero to name a few. Find their next meeting on the calendar under the menu tab “calendar”.

Where does the money come from to keep the nuclear war machine going? Following the money may be the most effective way to reverse current policy. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons recently published a study revealing the money path. I encourage you to take a look at their findings. One darling of personal finance and family investment (my husband and I began building our nest egg with a $25 a month contribution back in the 1970s) is Vanguard. In fact, I just counseling my grandson to begin his investment program with a Vanguard account and promised to match his monthly contributions. I was shocked and dismayed to find Vanguard in the top ten of the companies investing in nuclear weapons.

ICAN executive director Beatrice Fihn:If you have been wondering who benefits from Donald Trump’s threats of nuclear war, this report has that answer. These are the companies that stand to profit from indiscriminate mass murder of civilians. We grow less safe while they cash in on chaos by banking on Armageddon.”

What can I do to prevent nuclear war? Call your broker. Then write to the company after you pull your money out and explain why you have left them. Even if your account is only a pittance, your opinion will sting, register a welt that burns the skin. Enough of these welts make even a very large company uncomfortable. Perhaps even uncomfortable enough to change.




Open Borders book signings

October 23rd, 6 – 8 p.m. University of Washington Bookstore, 4326 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105. Meet the author, Betsy Bell, and engage in a conversation about Citizen Diplomacy in the face of nuclear war in the 1980s. Joining her on a panel will be Prof. Eric Johnson of the UW history department and Dr. Roscius Doan, founder of a medical exchange program in Tashkent in the 80s. Please join us.

November 11th, 12:15 – 2 Saint Mark’s Cathedral Shop, 1245 10th Ave. E, Seattle, WA 98102. Meet the author, Betsy Bell, and engage in a conversation about memoire and history with Dick Carter, one of the essayists included in Open Borders and UW Professor Elena Campbell, History Department.

November 14, 6 – 7:30, Homestreet Bank, 4022 SW Alaska Street, Seattle, WA 98116 co-sponsored by the West Seattle Chamber of commerce.

Please pre-order the book at Amazon, Elliott Bay, Third Place Books or the Indiebound store nearest you. If you are interested in reading a proof copy and writing a review on any of these sites, including Goodreads, please notify me for either an electronic version or a hard copy. I’d appreciate your reviews prior to the events. Thank you, thank you.



Radio broadcast about Citizen Diplomacy

Take a listen to this MyNorthwest story from late fall last year. You get my voice as Felix Banel interviews me about Target Seattle and Citizen Diplomacy in the 80’s.

Here’s a picture of Don Bell, chair of Target Seattle: Preventing Nuclear War, in 1982-1984.

I’m getting involved with Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, one of the sponsoring organizations that kicked off Target Seattle’s public education events in the 1980s helping our local citizens understand the dangers of nuclear war. As informed people, we have the power to take action. WPSR is re-kindling actions to prevent nuclear war today. Take a look and take action.

In faith for our future where all people respect all other people and work to insure peace,

Betsy Bell


Political Activist

Why Citizen Diplomacy?

Dear One,

You may ask, why Citizen Diplomacy in 1980s? In the opening sessions of spring quarter 2018 at the University of Washington, Dr. Eric Johnson will introduce a couple of octogenarians to talk to his history students about what we hoped to achieve by engaging in citizen diplomany initiatives during the Cold War. Rosanne Royer and I will let these young people know what it was like to participate in the anti-war activities that involved hundreds of people in Seattle in the 70s and 80s.

The students are doing “real history”. We are living history participants. They’ll be using media and technology–digital humanities–building skills that will have practical value across the disciplines. We were operating before the internet, social media, digital anything. We sat in living rooms, church parlors, university lecture halls, talking to each other. We gathered signatures. We went to Copy Mart or a real typesetting printing operation.

These college kids have a chance to ask us what we thought we could achieve through our involvement and how we think today about what we did in our forties.

I’m not sure what we achieved. So many factors came together to bring about the collapse of the USSR. Did our efforts play a significant role in that collapse; did we help end the nuclear arms buildup? What we did in Seattle contributed to a movement that resulted from converting fear into hope through action.

Personally, I was accustomed to taking action when it came to race and women’s rights when issues came up in my high school and early in my marriage: the 50s and 60s. Then in the 70s, I helped start a recycling project in Seattle. I helped write legislation to include the highly gifted children under the children with disabilities umbrella. When friends and fellow citizens got together to work on difficult issues, I often ended up in some small leadership role.

Citizen diplomacy was initiated by others. I went along. Then I found my particular niche: sharing our Sister-City, People to People story of friendship with communities around the US, especially on the east coast. The tool was a slide show created by Marlow Boyer. I was the promoter. It was exciting. I didn’t stay for the long haul. Life got in the way.

From my 2018 perspective, I believe people-to-people diplomacy may be the only way we can avoid a nuclear holocaust. We have heads of state who seem willing to sacrifice the planet Earth herself to achieve world dominance. The race to build new weapons is on.

How else will a Russian, North Korean, Iranian or American leader be detered from making a first strike than by having Russian citizens, North Korean citizens, Iranian and American citizens in large numbers visiting in each other’s countries? I’m not sure anything else could deterent these leaders.  These men are not interested in doing no harm. They want to win.

Citizen Diplomacy will not be the arbiter, but without it, there may not be a solution that favors real people and real places. Real people talking over tea makes this conflict particular. Who has the biggest bomb is an abstraction that forgets the particular. Citizen Diplomacy remembers.

Let keep Open Borders. Dr. Johnson is using passages from my book Open Borders: A personal story of love, loss and anti-war activism in the class. You can get your copy when it is published this fall. Be sure to sign up to be notified when it is available for purchase.

In hope for our future, Betsy