A Rhode Island Clam By Shel Horowitz

A Rhode Island Clam

By Shel Horowitz

I got involved with the Clamshell Alliance through an affinity group organized out of the Providence, RI Quaker meeting youth group. But I actually first took part in the antinuclear movement back in 1972, when Con Edison proposed (and quickly retracted) a nuke 2 miles from NYC! In 1974, I did a school project on the safety issues of nukes for a school project and got scared. So when I heard about clamshell, of course I got involved.

Pete Hill facilitating a small-to-large-group consensus meeting in the Manchester Armory is one of my favorite Clamshell stories. I was so astounded and impressed that a couple of years later, I attended a nine-month training at Movement for a New Society to learn those and similar skills.

As far as I know, Clamshell was the first large-scale grassroots movement in this country to be entirely based on the affinity group model and to make a pledge of nonviolence. The publicity we got while incarcerated in the armories following the 1977 occupation resulted in numerous similar groups sprouting up all around the country–and the complete paralysis of the civilian nuclear power industry for the next 30 years. While we lost the battle when Seabrook did go online, it was the last nuke to do so, despite Nixon’s push for 1000 nukes by 2000.

This is a tremendous legacy, and I have used lessons from Clamshell in much of the organizing I’ve done since then, from a local (and successful) environmental group called Save the Mountain here in Western Massachusetts to an international web-based campaign on business ethics at

Clam was not only a model for how to organize, but also really helped to focus public awareness on energy issues. We see Clam’s continuing legacy in everything from the awareness of global Warming to the proliferation of solar and other appropriate/renewable technologies. Every person who was ever involved should be really proud of what we achieved.

Shel Horowitz, now living in Hadley, MA, was a founding member to the Rhode Island Clamshell Alliance.


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