Newlyweds Robin Goldberg and Erik Foley had been planning to travel to Europe for their honeymoon after graduating from college. Instead, they ended up driving across the United States to promote nonviolence and peace.
Motivated by the events of Sept. 11, the couple decided to plot out a road trip across the U.S. that would spell out “NO WAR” on the map. Ann Arbor was the most recent stop on their trip, which will conclude in California in December.
“Gandhi said we need to be the change that we desire,” Foley said. “It would be really nice if each of us Americans could pause for a minute.”
Foley said they are trying to make people “stop and think about their lives.”
The two embarked on the 20,000-mile trip in a Volkswagen van decorated by a friend. The decorations included paintings of the Trail of Tears, the Crazy Horse Monument, the eternal flame at John F. Kennedy’s grave and a large sun.
They plan to stop at 50 places to memorialize victims of violence and recognize those working for peace. Stops include Walden Pond in Massachusetts, the National Civil Rights Museum in Alabama, the Oklahoma City memorial and Columbine High School.
“The idea had come from previous road trips,” said Foley, who added that after Sept. 11, he saw the words “no war” spray-painted on the ground. “As soon as I saw it, I said ‘that’s it.'”
The two decided to go on the trip by the end of last September, departing shortly after they graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Boston last spring.
“My mom thought it was pretty ridiculous,” Goldberg said. “I don’t think either (family) thought we would do it.”
They began their journey by visiting Doris “Granny D” Haddock. Haddock walked 3,200 miles across the country at age 90 to raise awareness about campaign finance reform.
“She had never met us before. She made us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Goldberg said. “She gave us every contact she had made.”
Haddock walked around the U.S. capital 24-hours-a-day during the last three days the Senate debated the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill.
Foley said they are trying to appeal to people who “want peace, but don’t know what to believe” and motivate others to commit to nonviolence in their own lives.
“We don’t have funding,” Goldberg said. “We spent half our budget on a new clutch in Virginia Beach.” They have been relying on mutual savings and the support of people they have met on the trip.
“Some days we don’t even spend a dime,” Goldberg said.
In Ann Arbor, the two said they spent the night with a man they met at Ashley’s Pub on State Street.
Both say they are keeping journals and recording video which they plan to use to make a documentary.
“It can feel really daunting,” Foley said. “People say, ‘what can I do?'” Foley said the two were inspired by Haddock and also by Julia “Butterfly” Hill, a 25-year old women who spent more than three years living in a redwood tree to raise awareness about the destruction of ancient forests worldwide.
“Everyone finds their own way,” Goldberg said. “Everybody has got this in them. … You don’t have to sit in a redwood, drive across the country or walk across the country.”