PORT TOWNSEND — Friday is a day to rejoice — to ring the bells that still can ring — for Douglas Milholland, an advocate for the long haul.
After years of seeking ratifications around the world, the United Nations will declare its Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons Treaty in effect on Friday.
Fifty countries have signed onto the treaty, and although the United States is not among them, Milholland celebrates some 1,200 Jefferson County residents who have endorsed it.
In 2019, Milholland gathered those signatures on a petition to support a nuclear weapons ban. Since then he has sought and gained support in proclamations by the Port Townsend City Council, Jefferson County Board of Health and Jefferson County commissioners.
“It’s easy to be on the right side of history with this one,” Commissioner Kate Dean said Tuesday after the board voted unanimously for a proclamation designating Friday as the day to celebrate the comprehensive treaty.
Last October, Honduras became the 50th nation to sign the agreement, which bans testing, production, possession and stockpiling of nuclear weapons.
Three months hence, the ban enters into force, legally binding the states that have ratified it.
In Jefferson County, Milholland hopes for a socially distanced celebration replete with drums, flutes, violins, voices — separate and together at noon Friday.
“My job,” he said, “is to encourage people to party in place. We can’t gather, but take out your cellphone and make a little movie of what you do,” and email it to [email protected]
Gabe Van Lelyveld, owner and producer at Whaleheart Productions, will edit the clips into a video to post on Facebook in February. Van Lelyveld, who is Milholland’s son-in-law, is volunteering his services for the project.
“My wife Nancy and I might sing a couple of songs,” Milholland said, adding Van Lelyveld may come over to record the moment on video.
The Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons Treaty is “a big deal,” Milholland said. “It’s not a win; it’s a change of course” on a long road.
Milholland, 72, finds plenty of nourishment for his activism. When asked what he does to keep himself motivated, he replied: “I water my roots. I’m rooted in the local Quaker group, I’m rooted in my family, my grandchildren, in my body of friends, in my hometown.
“I’m rooted in the realization that our planet is moving from ‘What’s in it for me?’ to ‘How can I help?’”
On Wednesday morning, Milholland added he was “very happy” to see the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
The rest of us have roles to play in the future of the nation and world, he said.
“Our job as adults,” he said, “is to not ruin the planet for future generations.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]