Volunteer Spotlight: Patterson Deppen

Each month, we share the stories of World BEYOND War volunteers around the world. Want to volunteer with World BEYOND War? Email greta@worldbeyondwar.org.


New York, NY, USA

How did you get involved with anti-war activism and World BEYOND War (WBW)?

I did not seriously get involved with anti-war activism until recently in late 2020. This is when I reached out to WBW’s No Bases Campaign to get involved with resisting US foreign military bases. I was put in touch with WBW’s Board President Leah Bolger who put me in touch with the Overseas Base Realignment and Closure Coalition (OBRACC), which WBW is a member of.

I hesitate to call myself an anti-war activist because my contribution has mostly been research intensive. However, my research on military bases has taken me around the world (virtually) and put me in contact with some of the most committed anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and anti-militarist organizers and activists around the world. I look forward to getting more involved on the ground with some of them here in New York.

What kinds of volunteer activities do you help with?

Aside from my research on military bases for OBRACC which I was lucky enough to have WBW financially support, I’m part of the all-volunteer events team here. Not only do we post WBW sponsored events, but we also work to make this a central hub for events contributing to the larger anti-war movement around the world.

What’s your top recommendation for someone who wants to get involved with WBW?

Never center yourself and know your place. Focus not only on what you can bring to the larger anti-war movement around the world but also what you can bring to your local community. If you’re from the Global North, white, and of a privileged background, constantly check yourself and confront your own positionality. Always listen but never be afraid to speak up against the oppressors and war profiteers.

Know your audience. Don’t waste your time trying to change people who are already committed to profiting from war and oppression. WBW is a great home for this. Focus on what’s on the horizon and the people you need to get there. It’s often better to be an optimist rather than a pessimist in anti-war organizing and activism. Keep your work and analysis grounded in the material conditions of the day and don’t lose sight of the potential for radical and revolutionary change.

What keeps you inspired to advocate for change?

Reading about and learning of the people who struggled and resisted before me. Keeping them in mind provides a never-ending drive for advocation, resistance, and struggle.

Don’t forget about political prisoners. Specifically regarding anti-war activism in the US, this has included people like Judith Alice Clark and Kathy Boudin, as well as David Gilbert who is currently behind bars with a life sentence for his anti-war activism. Even more broadly this can include people like Mumia Abu-Jamal who has consistently had his life-threatening illnesses ignored while in solitary confinement on death row. We’re not free until they’re free.

How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your activism?

Safety and health precautions for and fear of Covid 19 has made me very hesitant to attend in-person events. Since the pandemic began, I haven’t attended any in-person rallies or protests. When I was studying in the UK, I was hoping to get more involved on the ground, but the pandemic hugely disrupted this.

However, there are virtual spaces out there for anti-war struggles. WBW provides this. Many other organizations provide this too. Attend webinars, reading groups, and online events. You can still build radical and progressive anti-war spaces online. But never forget there is a world outside of this and it’s not an end all.

Posted June 8, 2021.

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