The war called Desert Storm was the catalyst that brought peace-oriented organizations in Monterey County together.  The U.S. government began threatening war on Iraq in August of 1990 after its invasion of Kuwait.   On Labor Day weekend, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom invited local groups to join in a public “teach-in” and protest demonstration against the U.S. plans.  Window-on-the-Bay was the chosen site, and the well-attended event was the first of a series that fall that made the waterfront park a traditional place for local demonstrations.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in January of 1991. marches converged from three directions on Custom House Plaza for a peace rally where Mel Mason, former City Councilman from Seaside, was the dynamic keynote speaker.  In the immediate aftermath of that day, the Desert Storm war was declared and the local peace groups met to organize a coalition for peace advocacy and action:  PCMC was born.   PCMC mounted demonstrations, letter-writing campaigns, meetings with our congressman, huge discussion meetings, film series, educational flyers and gatherings to push for peaceful settlement of international crises. 

The Peace Coalition actively protested:

  • The Gulf War (Desert Storm) 1991.
  • The Bosnia War  1994-1995
  • The Kosovo War in Serbia 1998-1999
  • The Afghanistan War 2001
  • The Iraq War 2003

On February 15, 2003 PCMC was a part of the largest world-wide demonstration in history against that imminent Iraq war – to no avail.  As the Afghan and Iraqi wars became permawar, PCMC continued its networking and educational events and distributed a weekly email calendar listing the many peace and social justice events in Monterey County. We have made policy statements against U.S. drone warfare and for foreign policy decisions that promote peaceful negotiations instead of further military involvement.

Entering its 26th year, the Coalition is aligning itself with World Beyond War’s effort to bring peace groups together all across the country in a great grassroots effort to develop the steps needed to move us from a militarized society to a peace culture. The first part of each regular PCMC meeting is open for comments from the public, an opportunity to think together where the peace movement should go from here.

News Story — Marielle Argueza – March 2, 2021 – Monterey County Weekly

Lifelong peace activist Joyce Vandevere dies at age 94

In a 2016 interview with the Weekly, Joyce Vandevere said “We have to think, step by step, how do we get to [peace]? It’s an incremental thing. It isn’t going to happen overnight.” — Nic Coury

Many locals could recognize her face from the street, perhaps demonstrating against American military intervention. Others might recognize her name from the color-coded monthly newsletters she sent coalescing peace- and justice-related events for Monterey Peace and Justice Center. However, people knew Joyce Vandevere, her name was synonymous with fighting (on all fronts) for a more peaceful and nonviolent world. 

Vandevere, a longtime Monterey resident, teacher, mother, wife, and founder of the local chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, died peacefully in her home on Feb. 17. It was her 94th birthday. 

Born in Alameda, California in 1927, Vandevere knew the history of the United States during tumultuous social movements and wartime intimately. One of her earliest memories was wondering why her Japanese classmates suddenly didn’t show up to school because the U.S. response to the Japanese military’s bombing of Pearl Harbor. Her son (and former Monterey County planning commissioner) Keith Vandevere calls this her first memory of her “political awakening.” 

More experience came during her higher education while pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Pomona College and then a master’s in psychology and child development at Stanford University. During this time, she toured Europe with her college friends, after World War II. She would go on to become a director of a preschool in San Francisco, bringing her into the circle of prominent labor leaders like Harry Bridges, who were among the parents of her students. 

She married her husband, biologist Jud Vandevere, in the 1950s. In 1956, the couple moved and bought a house in Monterey. That’s when the pair began to make a name for themselves as anti-war and environmental activists. It was during the first few years in the area that Joyce became active in her opposition to the Vietnam War, offering counseling to Fort Ord soldiers. She also supported the United Farm Workers Union and advocated for prison reform, working with families of incarcerated relatives through the organization Friends Outside. 

She helped co-found the local chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and also the Monterey Peace and Justice Center. She balanced her activism with her day job teaching pre-school and kindergarten, and in her career she eventually co-founded Learning Community, an alternative program at Del Rey Woods Elementary School. 

Vandevere was devoted to her family, but also helped where she could. She would take in and house numerous individuals for varying periods of time to keep them safe. “Many of those people became extended family,” Keith writes in an obituary. 

It was the sum of her experience—teaching, demonstrating, and working closely with disenfranchised people—that informed her well-rounded approach to activism. She wasn’t one to just march in the streets (although she did that too), but she did the work where it had to be done. In an interview with The Weekly in 2016, she spoke of an evolution in anti-war activity: “Some people criticize us for not demonstrating as we have in the past. But we need to organize. That’s the real work.”

She is survived by her son and daughter, Keith Vandevere and Gwyn Vandevere, along with five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. 

In an interview with Joyce in The Weekly in 2016: