Alaska's voice against nuclear weapons

Support Point Hope: Alaska’s Youth Congress for the Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, organized by Veterans For Peace (Chapter 100).

Our mission is to empower youth to become advocates for nuclear disarmament. Point Hope, a five-day youth congress, will bring together high school students from across Alaska as well as from other nuclear-impacted states and countries (Russia, Kazakhstan, Japan, and the Marshall Islands) in order to study nuclear weapons policy and develop advocacy skills in visual story-telling and digital mobilization. The first of its kind to be held in Alaska, Point Hope aims to engage youth from rural Alaskan communities, and  to create an enduring statewide movement that can bring Alaska-specific concerns and insights into the ongoing efforts of national and international organizations dedicated to the global elimination of nuclear weapons. 

To make this happen, we need your help

Who | Up to 40 high school students
What | An intensive, five-day nuclear disarmament youth congress
Where | Sitka Fine Arts Camp
When | April 6-10, 2020

Why now?

The nuclear arms race is back.

Earlier this month (August 19th, 2019), the US military tested a missile which, until just a few weeks ago, was banned under the US-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. According to the Pentagon, “data from the test will be used to inform future weapon development.”

The destruction of the INF Treaty is not the only cause for concern. In 2019, the JCPOA collapsed. New START is set to expire in 2021. And there are rumors that the US may withdraw from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) - the cornerstone of the international nuclear policy regime. Meanwhile, the US, Russia, and China are preparing to modernize and expand their nuclear arsenals. Six other nations that already possess nuclear weapons may follow suit. And still others may seek to acquire them. As they have in the past, citizens of the world must challenge the madness of a new nuclear arms race.

In the words of Darlene Keju (Marshallese peace activist and founder of Youth-to-Youth in Health), “The way to reach the elders is through the youth.”

2020 is a significant year for nuclear disarmament. It marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the 75th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations, and the 50th anniversary of the NPT.


Photo (by Michael Penn): David Katzeek, Tlingit elder and community leader, speaking at a Hiroshima Remembrance Day Event organized by Veterans For Peace in Juneau, Alaska, August 6th, 2019.

Why Alaska?

In 1958, the US Atomic Energy Commission proposed detonating up to six thermonuclear weapons in Alaska, 30 miles south of the native village of TIkigaq (Point Hope). Community members of Point Hope, and many other Alaskans, rose up in opposition to the proposed tests (code-named Project Chariot), and successfully defeated the project. It was the first successful opposition to the US nuclear establishment and launched America’s modern environmental movement. The story of Point Hope offers inspiration to the next generation of nuclear disarmament activists in Alaska and around the world.

A few other reasons.

·  Three underground nuclear weapons tests were conducted on Amchitka in the Aleutian Islands between 1[phone redacted] (including the United States largest underground test, Cannikin).

·  Alaska’s proximity to the nuclear-armed and nuclear-impacted states of Russia, China, Japan and North Korea.

·  During the Cold War, Alaska played a role as a bridge between US-Russia relations.

·   Alaska is at the epicenter of the climate-nuclear nexus.

Both the Point Hope City Council and the Native Village of Point Hope have endorsed the youth congress and have given permission for the use of the name Point Hope.

Our Fundraising Goal

Veterans For Peace (Chapter 100) has reserved Sitka Fine Arts Camp as the venue for Point Hope. This beautiful, historic campus is perfectly equipped for our program, with dormitories, classrooms, lecture halls, cafeteria, and computer labs.

The cost of renting Sitka Fine Arts Camp (April 6-10, 2020) is $28,000.00

This cost includes:

·  Lodging for up to 40 high school participants and 20 adult chaperones, workshop leaders, and guest speakers

·  Full meal service (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for all participants and staff during the youth congress

·  Classrooms, lecture halls, and technology rental fees

To reserve the space, Veterans For Peace (Chapter 100) paid a 50% deposit of $14,000.00 (paid for by a grant from the Ploughshares Fund and private donations). Now, we need to raise the funds to cover the remainder of the rental fee!

Our goal is make Point Hope free for high school participants. If we meet our fundraising goal of $14,000.00, we will not have to charge any participant a registration fee, which will increase the ability of participants from rural or low-income settings to attend.

Photo (by SFAC): A youth program held at Sitka Fine Arts Camp, on the former Sheldon Jackson College campus, in Sitka, Alaska in 2016.

Project Timeline

Oct 2018 | VFP (Chapter 100) launched the initiative

Feb 2019 | Shelby Surdyk was brought on as Juneau-based project manager

Mar 2019 | Shelby traveled to Point Hope, Alaska to meet with school, Mayor, and City Assembly

Apr 2019 | Shelby attended the NPT 2020 Review Conference Preparatory Committee Meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York

May – Sep 2019 | VFP applies to grants

Sep – Dec 2019 | VFP conducts local fundraising campaign

Dec 2019 | Online student application opens

Jan 2020 | Acceptance notices are sent

Jan – Mar 2020 |  Youth congress participants complete independent research assignments

Apr 2020 | Point Hope youth congress is hosted in Sitka, Alaska

Aug 2020 | Post-Congress webinar for participants

Sep 2020 | Follow-up with assessments with participants

Organizing Task Force

In addition to Juneau’s local chapter of Veterans For Peace, this project is supported by a core-team of experienced community activists including Shelby Surdyk, Judith Maier, Don Gotschall, Rich Moniak, KJ Metcalf, and Amy Paige.

Workshop Leaders

For Point Hope: Alaska’s Youth Congress for the Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, we have recruited a rockstar team of workshop leaders.

Photography, story-telling, and social media
Instructor: Pascual Gorriz Marcos (United Nations)

Documentary filmmaking for social change
Instructors: Taylor Dunne (The New School) & Eric Stewart (Adams State University)

Digital Mobilization
Instructor: Colleen Moore (Beyond the Bomb)

Partners and Co-sponsors

This project is sponsored by Veterans For Peace (Chapter 100), Juneau People for Peace and Justice, the Northern Light United Methodist Church.

It is funded in part by a grant from The Ploughshares Fund .

Other collaborators, allies, and supporters include: Nuclear Free Schools , the Critical Issues Forum, the PEAC Institute , the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Abolition 2000 Youth Network , and the CTBTO Youth Group .

Thank you for your time and support!

For more information, visit our website: 


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Shelby Surdyk 
Juneau, AK
Veterans for Peace Inc (100 Juneau) 
Registered nonprofit
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