For four decades, Nina Swaim, from Seabrook to Wall Street to the gates of Vermont Yankee, Nina Swaim wrote, testified, and was arrested battling nuclear power and nuclear weapons, with wit, intelligence and passion. A gathering to commemorate her life will be held 1:00pm on Sunday, November 1st at the Seven Stars Center in Sharon, Vermont. (I89, Exit 3).
From the Valley News
Sharon, Vt. — Eleanor (Nina) Hathaway Swaim, 77, died Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, at her residence in Sharon. Nina was born into a conservative family in Sherborn, Mass. She graduated from Saint Mary’s in Littleton, N.H. and earned a B.A. at Boston University, an M.Ed. at Columbia University, and a Certificate in Conflict Resolution at Woodbury College.
As an administrator in the Foreign Students Office at Columbia in 1968, Nina was originally negative about the disruption of campus life during protests against secret war research at the university. After learning more about the links between the university and the war in Vietnam she came to understand the corruption of the military/industrial/educational complex and the racism inherent in Columbia’s expansion plans into Harlem. She joined the protesters and her life was transformed to a fighter for peace and social justice.
Nina worked in a GI bookstore near a military base to assist soldiers protesting the war in Vietnam; she crewed for her brother’s bike racing in Canada; she learned the printing trade and co-founded the feminist New Victoria Press in Lebanon; she became active in the anti-nuclear movement and was a founding member of the Upper Valley Energy Coalition with close ties to Clamshell Alliance; she was arrested on numerous occasions at Seabrook, N.H., Vernon, Vt., Wall Street, N.Y., and First National Bank, Boston, to expose the dangers of the nuclear industry. She was frequently joined by her mother at anti-nuclear protests. In 1980, she wrote A Handbook for Women on the Nuclear Mentality with Susan Koen. She was a passionate foe of war and blocked the gates at the General Electric plant in Burlington, Vt., when it was manufacturing gatling guns for use against indigenous people in Central America, and she was a tireless organizer of vigils in the Upper Valley as war after war scarred our national fabric. Critics who decried her efforts as ineffectual have come to appreciate the long-term impact of her tireless, steadfast commitment to building a better world. Nina always saw her work as international and went to Nicaragua with a Vermont cotton brigade to learn about the revolution first hand. She worked as a cooperator in Mozambique with the revolutionary women’s organization to study and report on the problems of water from the perspective of Mozambican women. She toured Gandhian ashrams in India to learn the power of Gandhian nonviolence – a philosophy to which she was totally committed.
As recently as Sept. 21 Nina was arrested in Williston as part of the Williston Six who chained themselves to the gate of the Vermont Gas Systems pipe yard to protest the import of fracked gas into Vermont and the continued expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. She looked forward to a jury trial to defend the necessity of acting to prevent further climate disruption.
Nina studied mediation at Woodbury College when it was a completely new profession and was instrumental in bringing mediation into the Vermont court and education systems. She was mediation coordinator for the Vermont Supreme Court. For years she worked as a mediator with a commitment to mediation as a nonviolent means to resolve conflict and build sounder personal relationships and communities. She was a strong believer in cooperatives as an alternative economic model and was active in the formation of the Upper Valley Food Coop and the South Royalton Market. She was a devoted and passionate beekeeper and a fighter for the health of honeybees. She spearheaded the organization of a day-long conference on honeybees, pollinators, and pesticides at the Vermont Law School just this past April. Nina was a practicing Buddhist and worked for 18 months as volunteer staff at Insight Meditation Society.
Nina spent hours tending her flower gardens. She loved hiking in many parts of the U.S. and climbed all 4000 footers in Vermont and New Hampshire as well as trekking in Nepal, France, Peru, and the Ruwenzori Mountains of Uganda. Horses were often a part of her life and she worked at dude ranches as a wrangler/cowgirl and with High Horses therapeutic riding program in Wilder.
She is survived by her husband Douglas V. Smith and her brother, Stanley Swaim of East Burke, and by her step-daughter, Kirsten Elin; and grandsons, Ezekiel Elin and Jett Elin of Hanover.
A Gathering to commemorate the life of Nina Swaim will be held Sunday, Nov. 1 at 1 p.m. at the Seven Stars Center in Sharon. All are welcome.
Gifts in memory of Nina may be sent to Rising Tide Vermont, 21 Decatur Street, Burlington, VT 05401, or to Resist, 259 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144-9816.