From managing Jerry Brown’s 1992 presidential campaign to filming the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, Jodie Evans is a bundle of energy, striving to make a change in the world.
Since co-founding Code Pink in 2001, she has turned her focus toward promoting peace and ending war – goals that won’t be easy to achieve, she admits.
“We don’t live in a socialist, caring, empathetic system,” said Evans, 63. “And we won’t be able to end war before we end the war economy.”
On Sunday, Dec. 10, she will deliver a presentation at the Sonoma Community Center titled “A Peace Economy vs. A War Economy.” The 4 p.m. event, sponsored by the Praxis Peace Institute, will focus on how to grow a local peace economy and “fight the war machine.”
Evans, a longtime activist, has channeled her focus at home and abroad on “challenging the narrative that power puts forward.” Her organization Code Pink, which launched in 2002, is women-led and approaches issues from a feminist perspective. Its main goal “is to end war and bring the money home.”
“The thing about war – and trying to stop it – is that it’s overwhelming and complex and it shuts people down,” said Evans. “As an activist you’re trying to find a lever to pull to create change.”
With the current White House and Congress, she said, the change is not going to come from Washington.
But that doesn’t mean she – or the 400,000-strong network of Code Pink members – is going to stop trying.
One such Code Pink activist was arrested earlier this year at the confirmation hearing for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Desiree Fairooz laughed when Sen. Richard Shelby introduced Sessions as a champion of civil rights, citing his history of “treating all Americans equally under the law.”
Other Code Pink members have been arrested for protesting and demonstrating in Washington D.C., something Evans said members do at least three times a week.
Evans herself was arrested in 2011 at a protest against conservative financiers David and Charles Koch.
However, a more fruitful avenue for change, she believes, is Code Pink’s campaign to get people to “divest from the war machine.” In her view, everything from sexual harassment to the commodification of “what used to be free” can be traced back to the war economy.
People and companies need to “quit making a killing on killing,” she said.
Since Trump’s election, “A lot more people are interested in being engaged,” said Evans.
Evans’ long history of activism dates back to her time working with Jerry Brown, during his first foray as Governor of California in the 1970s.
“He did some radical s---,” she said. “Jerry was a Buddhist. He wasn’t married. He was dating rock ‘n’ roll stars.”
“I think Jerry is more of a politician now, which is hard for me,” said Evans, conveying a hint of disappointment in Brown’s second round in state governorship. “I think he’s more conservative.”
Evans entered the world of activism and politics as a maid in Las Vegas in the 1970s. “I organized to fight for a living wage,” she said. Twenty years later, she returned to Vegas as a documentary film producer.
“I realized that being a woman who had grown up in Las Vegas has affected me,” Evans said. “I wanted to tell the story of growing up in the wild wild west – and watching the abuse of the patriarchy.”
Evans said she and the filmmakers followed the story of 20 Las Vegas women for three years – from strippers and showgirls to cabbies and hotel maids.
“I stripped so I could have a relational experience with them,” she said.
Directed by Amie Williams, the 1999 documentary “Stripped and Teased: Tales from Las Vegas Women” was just the first in an award-winning line of provocative and relevant films for which Evans signed on as producer. Her other producer credits include “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” – a 2009 film directed by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith, which won a Peabody Award – and 2013’s Oscar-nominated “The Square.”
She says her next project will be a book on the war economy.
“When we sit down and do an inventory of our time, we can see what we’re putting our time into – and that can be about things that are destructive,” said Evans. “Anything that’s making a profit is creating the inequality that leads to this destructive equality.”
Evans believes, however, that the “field of generosity is always there,” as seen in selfless acts like parenting.
“To grow a local peace economy, it means engaging in your local community,” she said.
This is something for which she believes Sonoma to be well suited.
“I’m really looking forward to coming to Sonoma,” Evans said. “I love coming to new communities, especially places that already have a robust commitment to the peace economy.”