Grantee Profile: Solidarity in Action-the Student Farmworker Alliance
Muste Institute Board Transitions
New Pamphlet Prices
New Grants, September 2004
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November 8, 2004
The recent presidential election has shown us that we have a lot of work to do. Over the past six months, many people donated their time and money in an unprecedented mobilization to try to halt a rightward trend in this country. The challenge we now face is how to change the "hearts and minds" of people everywhere- red states and blue states-about the issues: war, social and economic injustice, the death penalty and prisons, immigrant and workers' rights.
The real work of nonviolent social change takes place at the community level. This has been, and continues to be, the focus of our efforts. The Muste Institute supports grassroots activists across the country and the world who are reaching out and making a difference. Some of our recent grants have gone to anti-death penalty organizers going door-to-door in Nebraska; youth in Burundi learning to confront ethnic hatred with nonviolent action; Vietnam veterans talking to current military recruits about the realities of war; Israeli and Palestinian pacifists uniting against occupation; and September 11th families and emergency workers seeking to end the cycle of revenge.
As Leslie Cagan, national director of United For Peace and Justice, points out in the enclosed letter, the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute has long played a significant role in sustaining the peace movement. All this work is made possible by your contributions. It is an important time for us to expand our grantmaking and educational projects. So, after you've read Leslie's letter and this issue of Muste Notes, please make the largest contribution you can to support our efforts. We can't do it without your help.
Solidarity in Action-the Student Farmworker Alliance
The Muste Institute recently made a $2,000 grant to Student Farmworker Alliance for the "Beat the Bell" campaign. This article was written by SFA's Fall 2004 intern, Caroline Kernahan. From a small group of Florida students who met during a 220-mile "March for Farmworker Justice" from Quincy to Tallahassee in 2001, the Student Farmworker Alliance has mushroomed into a national network of youth and students at over 350 high schools and colleges. The SFA's focus has been working in direct partnership with farmworkers struggling against sweatshop conditions and modern-day slavery in the fields. However, the momentum and excitement of its members embraces many diverse concerns of the global justice movement.
Currently, SFA-which is based in Immokalee, Florida-works alongside the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to educate students and youth about farmworker poverty and its relationship to fast-food giants such as Taco Bell. In addition to raising awareness, SFA also animates students and young consumers to demand change from the fast-food industry. This nascent movement has already energized thousands of students and youth nationwide, and provided them with tools they can use all their lives: the ability to discover and use their voices and leadership skills to foster social change.
For example, at Notre Dame University in Indiana last spring, freshman Tony Rivas fasted for seven days to protest his school's involvement with Taco Bell and draw attention to Florida farmworkers' inhumane working conditions. Hundreds of students across the country quickly followed suit in an unprecedented rolling hunger strike, which included Notre Dame, Michigan's Grand Valley State University, Central Michigan University and University of Florida. Pennie Alger, University of Florida's "Outstanding Student of the Year" and a member of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), refused to eat the dinner held in her honor, in order to educate others about the hunger strikes and the boycott.
Other students have participated with the SFA in several National Days of Action, or annual Taco Bell Truth Tours, which have brought together young people and farmworkers across the country to network, brainstorm, and learn together about farmworker poverty and its connections to consumers. These tours culminated in massive actions outside Taco Bell's headquarters in Irvine, California, and in 2002 included a ten day hunger strike by students, farmworkers, and religious allies. Still other students have organized to block or remove Taco Bell restaurants from 19 campuses throughout the country, sending an unmistakable message to the fast-food corporation that its target market- young people-do indeed care about human rights violations in the products they consume.
As a result of their involvement with SFA, some students have learned to write press releases and letters to the editor. Some have sharpened their researching skills and learned about the purchasing practices of the multibillion dollar fast-food industry. Others have learned about debating and preparing arguments, gaining the ability to speak articulately with leading officials on their campuses. Many students have learned about organizing and activism-from planning protests and marches to workshops and speaking tours-and about networking and building a national coalition of students and youth. As Brian Payne, co-founder of SFA, says: "This involvement represents a stark contrast to a more typical view of college students as not caring, going after their own whims, and partying."
The Student Farmworker Alliance is full of tomorrow's leaders for social change who are discovering today their niche in the global justice movement. We are finding answers to important questions, learning to effect change in new avenues, and gaining strength by partnering with non-traditional allies. Fortunately, we are but one of many reasons to believe that another world is indeed possible. For more information about the Student Farmworker Alliance, please visit our website at www.sfalliance.org or call 239-657-8311. -
Muste Institute Board Transitions
The Muste Institute welcomes a new board member, welcomes back a returning member and bids farewell to a departing member.
Our new board member is Peter Muste, a freelance producer, stage manager, writer, performer and director with extensive experience organizing events and meetings for a wide variety of organizations. Peter has been associated with Radio City Music Hall since 1985, and was a founding director of Chicago's Public Access Theatre, which brought socially relevant plays to parks and other public spaces. He has been a supporter of the Muste Institute since its inception and served as chair of our 25th Anniversary Committee in 1999. Peter is A.J. Muste's grandson; his father was A.J.'s son John Muste, who passed away in 2002. He lives in the mid-Hudson region of New York with his wife, Patricia Sexton, and their two children, John James ("J.J.") and Kate.
Jill Sternberg, who served on the board from 1997-2001, has returned following a leave of absence in East Timor, where she worked with Nobel Peace Laureate Josť Ramos-Horta and his Peace and Democracy Foundation. Jill and her partner, activist Charlie Scheiner, participated in efforts to strengthen civil society in East Timor following its independence after a quarter century of military occupation by Indonesia. Jill remained on the Advisory Committee of the International Nonviolence Training Fund during her time in East Timor, and will now help facilitate the INTF from her position on the board.
We're sorry to lose Rebecca Libed from the board, which she joined in January 2003. Rebecca first came to the Muste Institute in October 2001 as a part-time administrative assistant while pursuing her master's degree in nonprofit management at the New School University. A year later, after receiving her degree, she was hired as Community Development Project Manager at the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation. She left the board to devote more time to her volunteer work as co-coordinator of the New York/New Jersey chapter of GABRIELA Network, a US-Filipina women's solidarity organization which is a sponsored project of the Muste Institute. We will miss Rebecca's thoughtfulness and energy on the board, and we thank her for her dedicated service.
New Pamphlet Prices
After more than 20 years, the Muste Institute is finally raising the cover price of our "Essay Series on Nonviolence" pamphlets. The expense of printing has risen each year, and our previous price had dropped below cost. Our pamphlets are now $2.00 each, or $1.40 each for orders of 20 or more. Grassroots organizations seeking to use our pamphlets in their program work can contact us to discuss deeper discounts or other arrangements. We will continue special offers for our regular supporters, such as free shipping when you use the order form on the last page of this newsletter. We have also begun offering a "sampler pack" of all 15 of our Essay Series pamphlets for $20 postpaid. Our pamphlets make great gifts, too!
New Grants, September 2004
CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS INTERNACIONALES
Managua, Nicaragua: $2,000 (SFE)
Centro de Estudios Internacionales (Center for International Studies) was founded in 1990 in Nicaragua to work for peace with justice and for an end to all forms of violence, including economic violence. This grant from our special donor-directed Sheilah's Fund East goes for the Central American Forum of Nonviolent Resistence and Peace-Building, a three-day strategy conference in October 2004 in Managua. http://www.ceinicaragua.org.ni/
LIONESS MEDIA ARTS
Forest Hills, New York: $1,000
This grant goes for post-production expenses of "Race to Execution," a documentary revealing the pervasiveness of racial discrimination within the justice system and how that bias determines who ends up on death row. Director Rachel Lyon plans to make the film available as an organizing tool for grassroots groups working to end the death penalty. http://www.lionessmedia.com/
NEW HAMPSHIRE VETERANS FOR PEACE
Manchester, New Hampshire: $1,200
Veterans for Peace is a national organization founded in 1985; this grant goes to the A.J. Muste Chapter in New Hampshire, founded in 1991. Specifically, our grant goes for counterrecruitment efforts in public schools in New Hampshire, giving students the facts they need about recruitment, the military service, ROTC programs and the impending draft. The group also plans to provide a speakers' bureau for schools and church groups. http://www.nhvfp.org/
PARTNERS FOR PEACE
Washington, DC: $1,000
Founded in 1991, Partners for Peace seeks to educate the U.S. public about key issues in the effort to secure peace and justice in the Middle East. This grant goes for the eighth Jerusalem Women Speak: Three Women, Three Faiths, One Shared Vision tour, which seeks to promote a more balanced U.S. policy towards Israel and Palestine, to find a solution to the long-standing conflict, and to bring a just and lasting peace to the region. The tour brings three women-a Christian Palestinian, a Jewish Israeli and a Muslim Palestinian-to travel the U.S. together for 17 days, telling the stories of their daily lives and their hopes for peace to audiences and media outlets. http://www.partnersforpeace.org/
PEACE BRIGADES INTERNATIONAL
Washington, D.C.: $2,000
Peace Brigades International (PBI), founded in 1981, is a grassroots organization of volunteers from 40 countries who provide nonviolent accompaniment to human rights, civil society and peace activists threatened with violence. This grant goes for two teams of volunteers to escort and defend Mexican activists at six grassroots human rights groups, primarily in the southern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero. PBI helps protect these activists while demonstrating the effectiveness of nonviolence, promoting human rights and widening the space for social justice activism. http://www.peacebrigades.org/
STUDENT FARMWORKER ALLIANCE
Immokalee, Florida: $2,000
Student Farmworker Alliance was founded in 2001 as a national network of youth and student activists dedicated to supporting farmworkers' struggles for fair wages, dignity and an end to sweatshop conditions in the fields. This grant goes for student outreach in the "Beat the Bell" boycott campaign, holding the Taco Bell restaurant chain accountable for labor practices which cause poverty and suffering among the workers who pick its tomatoes. The campaign seeks to pressure the company by mobilizing students to get Taco Bell off their college campuses. http://www.sfalliance.org/
STUDENTS CREATING PEACE NETWORK
Fairfield, Iowa: $1,000
Students Creating Peace Network is an organization of high school students in Fairfield, Iowa. This grant goes toward a peace festival for Fairfield students in September of this year, and a youth-led video project chronicling stories from 15 students of different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups from around the U.S., to show how young people can be a positive force for nonviolence. http://www.maharishischooliowa.org/activities/scpn.htm
VIETNAM VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR
Chicago, Illinois: $1,000
VVAW was founded in 1967 to oppose the U.S. war in Vietnam. This grant goes for the Military Counseling Program, a project employing a Vietnam-era veteran who has been counseling veterans and GIs since the 1970s. The program is aimed at working with military personnel, veterans and young people considering military service to provide them with counseling, educate them about their rights and encourage them to oppose war. http://www.vvaw.org/
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute makes small grants to groups doing nonviolent organizing for social change. Our next deadline for proposals is February 18 and April 29, 2005. To read our grant guidelines, click here.