Oriented Screening and Discussion

Come join us at The Big Picture Theater and Cafe in Waitsfield on August 3rd from 6:30-8:30pm for a screening of the documentary Oriented followed by a meaningful discussion. 

The film follows the lives of three Palestinian friends who explore their national, sexual and cultural identities in Tel Aviv. They form a non-violent group called Qambuta to represent gender equality.

The discussion after the film will include panelists from Outright Vermont, Pride Center of Vermont, and Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel. The hope is to foster communication and discourse about the complex issues surrounding sexual and national identity. Our goal is to inspire community building and increase the support of and for those that suffer sexual, gender, ethnic or religious discrimination.

Tickets can be picked up at the Peace & Justice Store or Pride Center of Vermont in Burlington, Huntington Public Library, Warren Public Library or Hinesburg Public Library. There is a $10 suggested donation to help cover the cost of this screening. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. We recommend getting tickets in advance but it is not required, as long as there is space all who are present will be let in to the theater.

Violence Begets Violence

What a week of tragedy. To us at the Peace & Justice Center, it is important to remember that violence does not happen in a bubble. The cycle of violence in the systems of privilege and oppression must be understood.

In our nonviolence workshops, we explain the difference between visible and invisible violence. Invisible violence includes things like not being able to access childcare, losing a housing voucher because you put up a family member recently released from incarceration, restrictive voting rights, and much more. When suffering under this type of violence and unable to create change, it is easy to see why we might internalize that violence as seen in drug addiction, loss of hope, and self-hatred. This in turn can morph into violence against the people in our family and in our community in the form of domestic abuse, so-called “black-on-black” murder, or predatory drug selling. At its most extreme, the perpetual invisible violence experienced by individuals who are disadvantaged by our policies, institutions and cultural norms, creates reactions like what just happened Dallas.

People see this visible violence, point to the perpetrators and people in some way similar to them (in this case, brown and black people), and rationalize the lack of basic rights they are given, by saying they are animals or somehow less deserving. And the cycle goes on.

What I hope people will see, while in no way condoning extreme reactions, is that this is a response to violence – often violence that has been suffered not just an entire life, but for generations, in fact, since the founding of our country. When people fight back against institutions and agents of those institutions, they are often doing it out of a desperation that has been created by the (invisible) violence they live with day in and day out.

Add to the mix that the man who killed the officers is an Army veteran who served active duty. When one is taught, against human nature, that killing is appropriate, it is that much easier to respond to (invisible) violence with (visible) violence. This dehumanization is also part of why police officers have killed so many unarmed black men and women. Human nature revolts against such a thing. Yet when a person is given deadly weapons and enough emotional and physical armor, they are much more likely to go against their nature, misuse their power and create tragedy.

We mourn for those killed in violent attacks. We also mourn for those who kill – they have lost their humanity to such a degree that they are capable of and resort to killing.

-Rachel Siegel, PJC Executive Director

Nonviolent Activism 101 at Pride Center Vermont

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Come join the Peace & Justice Center at Pride Center Vermont on Saturday July 16 from noon to 5pm for our FREE Nonviolent Activism 101 workshop in Burlington!

Through this we’ll be looking into systemic forms of oppression and how nonviolence can effectively be used to combat them. We’ll then be working on building strategies to lift up movements and local efforts to create a more just world.

Peace & Justice Center’s Nonviolent Activism 101 invites community members to explore strategies of nonviolence aimed at breaking down systems of oppression. In the morning, we take a look at violence and systems of oppression. We start to develop an understanding of how nonviolent strategies are effective in taking on violence. The afternoon focuses on group practice. Together, we identify oppressive policies, institutions, structures, or practices within the community. We then practice developing coordinated nonviolent responses to these forms of oppression. In Nonviolent Activism 101, we build skills and strategies to lift up local movements and efforts that contribute to a just and peaceful world. We look forward to learning, working, and playing with you! Please bring a bag lunch. Donations for this workshop are happily accepted and will go to support the Peace & Justice Center’s Peace Education programs. You can RSVP online or call 863-2345 x6.

Gun Violence Sit-in

The sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives protesting Congress’ inaction on gun violence was something I never in a million years thought I would do. But since 20 children were slaughtered in Newtown, there have been over 1,000 mass shootings. We’ve had 30 gun-related moments of silence in Congress. Thirty. And in those three years, every moment of silence was followed by complete inaction on the part of Congress. We didn’t have committee hearings. We didn’t have a debate. We didn’t have a vote. We did nothing.

I returned to Congress after the Orlando tragedy completely heartsick. All of us were. Just think about the profiles we saw of people who were there—a mother who was dancing with her son, and threw herself between the bullet and her son. She died and her son lived. That was the last act of love by this woman to her son—and we do nothing? Many of my colleagues and I decided the status quo wasn’t working, and were determined to do something about it. Yes, it was unconventional. And no, legislators shouldn’t be doing that. But what we should be doing is legislating, and we haven’t been doing that. My point to speaker Ryan: put this bill on the floor for a vote. When Congress won’t even debate the issues of enormous consequence—after 1,000 mass shootings in the past three years—then Congress isn’t doing its job. So following civil rights giant John Lewis, I took an extraordinary step to protest that inaction.

by Rep. Peter Welch

Rep. Welch and John Lewis Sitting In

Frederick Douglass Community Reading

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 1.46.32 PMCome join the Peace & Justice Center at the Church Street side of Burlington City Hall on Tuesday July 12th from 5:30pm to 7pm for the Frederick Douglass Community Reading!

In 1852, Frederick Douglass, one of our nation’s greatest orators and abolitionists, was asked to speak at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In his provocative speech, Douglass said, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” And he asked, “Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?”

Douglass’s speech remains emotionally powerful and thought-provoking more than a century and a half after he gave it. The Vermont Humanities Council is supporting groups and communities statewide to organize public participatory readings of his compelling speech on or close to July 4 each year.

The Vermont Humanities Council is supporting groups and communities statewide to organize public participatory readings of his compelling speech on or close to July 4 each year. See full list of locations here.

If you would like to get involved and/or request to read a particular part of the speech email Kyle or call her at 863-2345 x6.

Frederick Douglass mini bio on Biography.com: