The Peace & Justice Center is a Vermont-based non-profit, membership organization. Our mission is to create a just and peaceful world. To this end, we work on the interconnected issues of economic and racial justice, peace, and human rights through education, advocacy, training, non-violent activism and community organizing.
Current PJC Programs:
Cost of War Series: At the beginning of 2014, our Cost of War program began its focus on drones. Cost of War: Focus on Drones is a two-year, statewide campaign in Vermont to educate the populace on the dangers of drone warfare during its first year, and to start a grassroots anti-drone movement during its second year. Which is about to begin. We hope to have anti-drone resolutions on many town meeting agendas in March 2016.
Recruiting for Peace: As part of our Peace programs, the Peace & Justice Center does counter military recruitment. We work with high school students to encourage them to pursue educational and work opportunities outside of the military. We believe that a peaceful world is possible, and we recognize the need to educate ourselves and our communities about peaceful communication and action. As recruiters for peace, we hope to share our beliefs with young people and help them find a path toward success and fulfillment without relying on the military. We do this work through direct engagement with youth in schools, and we offer training and resources to community members who want to recruit for peace.
Our Racial and Economic Justice Program is about to launch five new educational programs as our Racial & Economic awareness initiative. They include, “History of Institutional Racism in the USA,” “How to Talk to Kids About Racism,” “Ethnicity, Diversity, Sameness and Difference” which is designed for school aged kids. We also have a discussion group on Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” which we are currently hosting for the third time and are hoping to host in various locations throughout Vermont.
Our Peace Program is also about to launch new programs for the public and for schools, faith-based orgnaizations, businesses and other institutions and groups. They include, “Activism 101: Rallies, Marches, Protests, Civil Disobedience and More,” “Non-violent Conflict Resolution,” and “Peacework for Kids.”
Peace & Justice Store supports fair trade vendors from Asia, Africa and Latin America and local vendors. It also serves as an introduction to the public of our work as a whole as well as being an ethical option for people to shop and/or learn about what fair trade means. The Fair Trade Education Program is embedded in the store.
Garment Industry Campaign: This campaign has focused on the politics and trade ethics behind the garment industry. Earlier this year, we collaborated with UVM student groups and worked successfully to convince UVM to affiliate with Workers Rights Consortium, an independent labor rights monitoring organization focused on protecting the rights of workers in the garment industry. Their commitment to making this change means that all UVM apparel will be ethically sourced! It’s a great example of the local affecting the global and something we are incredibly grateful to have been part of.
Cocoa Campaign: Our Cocoa Campaign is continuing to raise awareness about child trafficking and slavery in the cocoa industry. We hope that through educating about current industry practices we can motivate consumers to start asking questions and demanding cocoa products free of forced child labor. We have been speaking primarily in elementary schools, and many other groups in the community engaging them in a campaign that calls for Vermonters to take an active role in demanding US companies to end abuse in the cocoa industry. In the Spring of 2013 we celebrated the commitment of Lake Champlain Chocolates to become Fair Trade Certified by 2015, and we are looking forward to many similar victories in the coming year.
Allied Membership Program: We continue to support several smaller groups (such as Stop the F-35 Coalition, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Vermont Compassion Center, I Vote Vermont, and Vermonters for a Just Peace in Israel/Palestine) who are working on a variety of peace and justice issues. We offer fiscal sponsorship, physical meeting space, media outreach, etc. to help make those groups more effective in their work to create peace and solve social justice issues.
Volunteers and Interns average 20-25 a month with over 125 different people over the year and more than 9,300 volunteer hours last year! We give students and others valuable job training and professional development and in return we receive time and energy that is critical to our operation.