Marches, rallies, buses

It is a busy time for activist mobilization. We are aware of four more national marches in the next few months:

We encourage you to “Buy Local” when it comes to bus tickets. A national for-profit company, Rally Bus, rented most of the buses in the state for the Women’s March and charged much more than the nonprofits.

PJC will organize buses to these events if we do not hear about other groups already doing the same. We have a call out to sister organizations so we can share accurate information with you and to determine which events we should rent buses for. We will keep you up-to-date as we learn more.

So far, we have confirmation that 350VT is organizing buses to the Climate March. The bus ticket prices will be on a sliding scale and no one is ever turned away based on need. They will have buses leaving from all across the state. Contact Katherine for more info.

Reflections Two Weeks Later

Friends, things are changing for the worse and things are also changing for the better. The brutality of life is more visible for some of us than it was two weeks ago and surely harm is being done. However, it is not new. The harm has been happening, for some of us less blatantly and to a lesser degree perhaps, for as long as I know.

Let’s be real about our challenges and let’s also celebrate our victories. Here are a few recent wins: the South Burlington School Board voted to change the Rebel name, Governor Scott spoke against immigrant bans, and even Teen Vogue has offered a fabulous strategy to disrupt business as usual! Positive things are happening.

If we stay organized and engaged in active nonviolent resistance, we can make the world better at a faster pace than it is getting worse. Thank you for being part of our community and for using the PJC as the resource we strive to be.

“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am writing this to share with you my own personal strategy for survival, as well as the things we have to offer you at the PJC.

My personal strategy is threefold: action, spiritual practice, and joyful connections. I will expand on that later. First, there are a few things I want to make sure you are aware of that we offer at the Peace & Justice Center. Many of you know we host events and workshop, that we have a store, and that we are part of a few legislative coalitions. I want to be sure you also know the following so we can be as useful to you as possible:

We have a community calendar. We do not profess to know the entirety of what’s happening statewide, but we provide as much information as possible. Please take advantage of this. Tell us about your events and check the calendar for others.

We have our biweekly enews that not only lists the PJC workshops and events, but also community events, articles from other activist groups and individuals, $2 vouchers to the Flynn, and other things you might not expect! You can receive the enews by emailing Wendy.

We act as an incubator for smaller or newer groups. We have an Allied Group program for folks looking for fiscal sponsorship and other infrastructure support. (Current groups include Stop the F-35s, Save Geprags Park, The Clean Elections Project, and Vermonters for Justice in Palestine.) We also help groups and individuals in less formal ways. We have meeting space available, we can list things in our enews and on our calendar, we have a community library with too many resources for me to keep up with, and more.

We host monthly drop-in groups: one on Toxic Whiteness and one called Disrupting Violence Discussion and Practice Group.

Since the election, we have been inundated with people looking for support to organize and access information. We are grateful to act as a hub for individual activists and groups. We’ve been doing so since 1979! However, in order to continue to say yes, we absolutely need to grow our capacity by growing our membership. We are just four part-time staff people plus a store manager. We support the efforts of Vermonters to create nonviolent resistance and change and we need our members to enable us to do so. The more members we have, the more we can say yes.

Memberships start at $15 or through volunteer hours. Please consider becoming a member at whatever level is meaningful to you. You can learn more about membership levels and benefits here. Please join today. It is a simple action you can take that has great value.

And now, for those of you who made it this far, here is my personal plan to stay both awake and afloat.
  1. Joy: I seek ways to cultivate positivity and meaningful human connections. If I am unable to access laughter and lightness during such heavy times, I will get pulled down. If we don’t practice loving those who are easiest for us to love, we will find it almost impossible to love those who we are resisting.
  2. Spiritual Practice: This might be religion for you. For me it is about being of service, and utilizing prayer, meditation, and satyagraha to the best of my ability every day. It is about creative life force. I play guitar. I choreograph dances. I spend time in nature. Anything that gets me out of me is spiritual. It is that which helps me tap into the interconnected web of energy and love that binds us.
  3. Action: Since I was a kid and started noticing injustice around me and toward me, I have needed to actively resist. The harshness of this world is at times unbearable. In order to maintain some semblance of emotional balance, I need to be involved in resistance movements. I seek community with others who are creating alternates to our mainstream cultures, working for solutions, and not allowing the status quo and unchecked privilege to prevail.

I recently heard the re-airing of an interview on NPR with Congress member John Lewis. It is worth a listen. He talks about how nonviolence was practiced in the civil rights era (he calls it “love in action”) and its usefulness today.

If you are reading this, we are already connected in some manner. The work we are doing together is crucial and has deep value. I hope you stay healthy, stay engaged, and stay in touch. I can’t do this without all of you.

peace,
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Rachel Siegel
Executive Director, Peace & Justice Center

Nonviolent Activism 101

nonviolent101poster3The Nonviolent Activism 101 workshop presented by the Peace & Justice Center focuses on recognizing and dismantling the various systems of oppression in our society in order to navigate the path towards peace and social justice. This program teaches participants about the various types of violence, the effects of oppressive systems, coupled with the nonviolent strategies needed to combat said groups. Some techniques explored during the workshop are CLARA (Calm, Listen, Affirm, Respond, Add Information), the Coordinated Nonviolent Response to Systems of Oppression, and discussing various systems of privilege and oppression in small groups.

Past participants in this workshop found the realizations and honesty brought on by discussing their role in systematic oppression to be particularly meaningful. The tangible tools and visual representations of violence throughout this presentation give attendants the elements needed to clearly articulate and present what they learned to their peers and especially to those with opposing perspectives. In conjunction with those who have differing views, the de-escalation techniques explored here, such as CLARA, are integral in constructively and peacefully discussing contentious subjects. This program challenges and reconstructs many misconceptions regarding oppression and privilege which some participants found to be the most difficult yet essential part of this experience.

 

Of Earth and Being: Works of Diane Elliott Gayer

The world around us is a unique, complex environment which should be appreciated and celebrated. Diane Elliott Gayer’s work, Of Earth and Being, is a journey through both space and time, highlighting the natural and built world around us, and our place in constructing it.

Come to the Peace and Justice Center on Saturday, February 4 from 3-4 pm for a book reading and photo exhibit, with light refreshments to be provided. The event will honor Gayer’s work, Of Earth and Being, which is a collection of photographs and essays critiquing and celebrating what we know and who we are. The work is informed by Gayer’s own experiences as an architect by training, ecologist by nature, and problem-solver by instinct. Gayer has had firsthand experience with shifting paradigms and understanding cultural history, moving from Switzerland to the United States in the 1960s. In the 1980s, however, Gayer found a home in Vermont in which she began a design practice, engaging communities in ecologically-based physical spaces and empowering local decision-making.

For more information about the book, or how to buy a copy, please contact the author or access the website at www.facebook.com/ofearthandbeing/

Welcome to our Spring 2017 Interns!

We are so delighted to welcome our Spring Interns to the Center this week! There is much work to be done and we are delighted to continue all that we do with the infused energy and meaningful perspectives of this entire team! Read below to hear about why these individuals have decided to give so much of their time to support the work of the Peace & Justice Center.

Pictured (left to right): Halle Apelgren, Chandler Loyd, Kira Nemeth, Sarah White, and Amanda Morelli. Not pictured: Alice Urbiel, Quinn DiFalco, and Josie Colt

“I joined the Peace & Justice Center because I want to do my part in encouraging peace through nonviolent activism at a time when ignorance and violence increasingly permeates everyday life.” – Kira Nemeth, Peace Work Intern

“As a senior at UVM, it is important to me that I am spending my last few months at school doing something worthwhile with my time. I want to help bring awareness to the community about fair trade, racial justice, peacework, and human rights and what better way to do so than through the Peace & Justice Center?” – Sarah White, Programming and Fundraising Intern

“I joined the Peace & Justice Center because I believe everyone has the right to a quality and dignified life. The organization strives for social justice both in a local and international context and greatly values intersectionality. PJC is about empowering others of oppressed and marginalized identities and, especially as someone who is a woman of color, all of this of great importance to me. I really look forward to working with them and actively making a change in today’s society.” – Amanda Morelli, Fair Trade Intern

“I decided to be an intern with the PJC Programming Team because I am passionate about racial, social, economic and environmental justice and want to increase awareness in the community to address these issues.” – Chandler Loyd, Programming and Fundraising Intern

“Locally and globally, I recognize the PJC as an integral piece of the pursuit of social justice. Holding this in mind, I joined the PJC as a way to strengthen my ties to Burlington’s local community with the aspiration of better understanding what my role will be in the creation of peaceful and just world.” – Josie Colt, Racial Justice Intern

“The day after the inauguration, many echoed the sentiment ‘Do not mourn, organize,’ and for the past year and a half as a volunteer with the Peace & Justice Center, I have seen the team do exactly that. I applied to be part of the PJC Programming Team so that I might be able to be part of this beautiful and motivational mechanism geared by education, love, and a deep and profound respect for the dignity of all human beings. I wanted to be part of the team that put together very hard and uncomfortable dialogues about the cycle of poverty perpetuated by free trade, institutional racism in our country, and peaceful conflict resolution, and part of the team that helps activists all over Vermont come together peacefully, with a humble dignity and fierce bravery, to protest, to educate or to be informed, to serve the community, to raise one another up, and to bring injustice to the forefront of our everyday lives.” – Quinn DiFalco, Fair Trade Intern

“I feel a strong urgency for activism today given the racist/sexist/homophobic sentiment that pervades current political rhetoric. I am excited to be a peace work intern at the PJC because I want to be involved in an organization that is committed to ending prejudices and injustices through education and community involvement.” – Halle Apelgren, Peace Work Intern

“I decided to be a Racial Justice intern because I am just beginning my racial awareness journey and I have so much to learn. The PJC seemed like the best place to learn, educate and grow in a space that is safe but also allows me to challenge myself and go deep into the complicated aspects of race and racism.” – Alice Urbiel, Racial Justice Intern