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Renny Cushing & Kristie Conrad: "I'm not gonna get run out" 


You could call them dedicated activists. Cushing and Conrad have been involved in causes their entire adult lives. (Well, Cushing got his start as a teenager protesting the Vietnam War.) They were two of the core members of the Clamshell Alliance, which fought plans to build a nuclear power plant in Seabrook, NH. Over the past 20 years, Cushing has been an active opponent of capital punishment. His involvement was sparked by a personal tragedy. 






June 1, 1988. The house then belonged to Cushing's parents. 


He tells the story while sitting at the kitchen table. "My mother was laying on the couch there watching the Celtics, when there was a knock at the door. My father was sitting at this table. He got up and answered the door, and there were two shotgun blasts." 

Robert Cushing was dead, the victim of a senseless murder in the doorway of his home. The home now occupied by Renny and his family. 

You might well ask, why live in a place that holds such a bitter memory? But Renny Cushing isn't your average guy. He fights for things he believes in. As a teenager, he was an active opponent of the Vietnam War. After high school, he spent several years bumming around North and South America. Then he returned home and became a leader in the Clamshell Alliance, the grassroots organization that fought the construction of the Seabrook nuclear power plant. 

And, in the wake of his father's murder, Renny Cushing adopted a new cause: abolishing the death penalty.  


So he's a fighter. But still. To live in that house? To pass through the front door several times a day? 


He calls it a matter of principle: he doesn't want the house to be defined by his father's murder. "My parents bought this house in 1951 on the GI Bill," he says. He was born the following year, the first of seven children. "I was brought home [from the hospital] to this house. My grandfather built part of this house. My cousin Charlie was the bricklayer who built the fireplace.


"My father died here -- but my kids learned to walk here. I'm not backin' down. I'm not gonna get run out." 

Read the rest of their story in my book, including their own life stories and their account of the Clamshell years.
Read an extended transcript of my interview with Cushing and Conrad, including their lives before Clamshell and how the Clams came together and developed their strategy of nonviolent civil disobedience.  
Also: In 2006, I interviewed several former members of the Clamshell Alliance for a magazine assignment. I've posted transcripts of three interviews: the late Guy Chichester, Cathy Wolff, and Arnie Alpert.
A group of former Clams has created a website containing historical material on the Alliance.   
Renny Cushing is currently Executive Director of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, an organization opposed to the death penalty.  

Contact me by e-mail at john (at) johnswalters (dot) com.