Clamshell Legacy History


This section is a collection of reflections in photographs, images, and words on the Clamshell Alliance and the antinuclear movement.

Like the Clamshell Alliance, this webpage project is democratic, inclusive, and diverse. It is not a polished history told in one voice or from a single point of view, but rather represents the voice of the people in anecdotes, stories, analyses, interviews, and images of all the kinds of people who are the Clamshell Alliance.

Representatives, “Spokes” from local and regional groups around New England sent representatives to discuss issues and planning. The spokes brought those discussions home to their groups and returned with the voice of their group until we hammered out a shared decision, or consensus. It was a superbly grassroots democratic process.

We were a hodgepodge of New Hampshire locals, New England natives, and transplants; we were students, fishermen, writers, carpenters, mothers, factory workers, apple pickers, teachers, farmers, and lawyers; we were Quakers, people with no prior political experience, communists with a small “c”, community and labor organizers, activists from the Native American solidarity movement, the antiwar movement, the women’s movement, and the nonviolent movement to build a just society. We were middle-aged, and old, and mostly young.

We came together—–

  • With a shared vision – a shared opposition to nuclear power, the “peaceful” atom, and its ugly twin, nuclear weapons.
  • To support home rule, the democratic process, and the people of Seabrook, NH and surrounding communities who voted repeatedly against the nuclear power plant despite state intimidation and retribution and corporate bribery in the form of promised tax cuts and “electricity too cheap to meter.”
  • We came together in opposition to centralized power and wealth that placed profits before life, and for the health and safety of future generations of all living things and the planet.
  • For safe, renewable energy, for conservation and stewardship of the earth, and for safe jobs at decent wages in alternative energy and conservation.
  • To channel our anger and resistance, and to celebrate and affirm life, with love, spirit, humor, joy, music, theater, community, and connection – to be more fully human.
  • In the shared commitment to nonviolence and democracy – full and respectful communication with each other and with those we opposed, and full participation of all who shared our vision through small affinity groups, in which each one played a part and all were heard.

We made mistakes. We lost the battle against the Seabrook nuclear power plant; Unit 1 finally went online in 1990 but Unit 2 was cancelled.

We thought we won the war.  President Richard Nixon in 1973 announced the plan of the nuclear industry to build 1,000 nuclear power plants by the year 2000. We stopped them dead in their tracks. For 30 years after the occupation, no new nuclear power plants received approval for construction and many nukes were scrapped.

Until now. Taking advantage of a sympathetic federal government, the even-more centralized energy industry has successfully squashed community involvement in nuclear plant licensing and has engineered heavy tax payer-financed construction subsidies to make new nuclear power plants profitable.

We offer these reflections on the Clamshell Alliance and the antinuclear movement not as the final word but as voices and images of people who participated in, were touched by, and changed by our experiences.  We offer these reflections in hopes they spur all of us on to renewed activism in opposition to the resurgence of nuclear power, to join with those who have kept the struggle going all these years, and to once again fight for justice with a strong and nonviolent heart.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote,

“The nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had.”

The Clamshell Alliance called up our resources and taught us the power of people joined together heart and soul to protect life and the planet, express our love and stewardship, and speak truth to power. We called it “Clam magic.”

By telling our stories, our intention is to seed that fervor, and to pull the thread of movements for justice through from the past, through the anti-nuclear movement that changed our lives and changed our world, through to the activism of the future. No nukes and freedom and justice for all!