Gary Richards tells me he is writing a novel about some escapades among people who influenced the Civil War. He began it about ten years ago, researching it thoroughly and thinking about it ever since. “But,” he warns me, “you can’t reveal the plot.” I promise, so you will not hear about the exciting, action-packed adventure here. You will have to wait for the book. Or the movie.
We meet at the political advocacy table outside the PORCH sort on Monday, where he has been filling in for Kathleen Shapley-Quinn. He’s the PORCH neighborhood coordinator for the Greenbridge Condominiums between Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and has been since he and his wife Geraldine, who is the president of Chapel Hill NOW, moved from Oswego, New York five years ago. At first, they came south for half a year (they have children and grandchildren hereabouts), then decided that shoveling snow all winter was something he could do without. He’s retired from professional work now, but not from advocacy…he fills his days with it, and we are the better for his energy.
In Oswego, he had been cooking for the soup kitchen, so he began volunteering at TABLE, then coming to PORCH, which he likes for its dedicated and nearly entirely volunteer engine. “Those three ladies [Christine, Debbie and Susan] are my heroes!” he says. “I’d nominate them for the Peace Prize if I could.”
His activism began early in his college days at Buffalo. “I’d see posters for films on the NLF [National Liberation Front], mistakenly assuming they were about the NFL,” he laughs. It was the Vietnam era, so the transposition of initials made quite a difference, as he soon found out. “Hey, I thought. Here I am a middle-class white guy. What does all this mean to me?” It was an awakening to the many injustices in the country and world that led him to declare himself a pacifist.[Read more…]