Category Archives: Social Justice

Justice Choir, a movement with a mission

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive ~ Thomas Jefferson

Resistance may take many forms – for the Justice Choir, it’s music that calls people of good will to share music and a commitment to a just society.  The motto of the Justice Choir “Start Local, Stay Vocal” says it all.

The Justice Choir is an idea that took form, then action, in the wake of the January 2017 Women’s March.  Learn more about the founders, Testa, Abbe and Ahmed here (https://www.minnpost.com/artscape/2017/06/tesfa-wondemagegnehu-and-westminster-church-are-starting-justice-choir-sculpture-ga) and about the role and support of Westminster Presbyterian Church here: https://www.minnpost.com/artscape/2017/06/tesfa-wondemagegnehu-and-westminster-church-are-starting-justice-choir-sculpture-ga

First on the Justice Choir to-do list was to create a repertoire for group singing, a Songbook, edited by Abbie, Testa and Andrea Ramsey.  https://www.facebook.com/justicechoirTC/.  And not the usual songbook.  The editors invited the public to crowd-create a collection of “songs to sing for justice, protest songs, marching songs, freedom songs, activist anthems, and songs of inspiration and change.”  Organizers encouraged “original songs, new tunes for old lyrics, new lyrics!” and advised the songs be “easy to learn, appropriate for all ages, accessible for group singing, and timely.

Submissions are now closed and the results are being readied for distribution under a Creative Commons license free of charge!  A matching YouTube video resource will introduce the songs to a broad community of singers and Justice Choir audiences.

Planners have also put out a call for sheet music, a growing resource of contemporary choral sheet music on themes related to social justice. (http://www.justicechoir.org/database.html)

Lest you think there is just one Justice Choir, performing in a single place of worship, know that the Justice Choir is not a single unit but a concept, a “living, breathing embodiment of the Songbook” as well as other music for social and ecojustice.”  The vision is of a movement of singing for change, programming and messaging focused on local issues, a nimble movement equipped to respond “popup” style to issues in their own communities” no matter the setting!

The energy of Justice Choir cannot be contained in one static blog post.  To learn more, then engage, stay in touch with the Justice Choir movement –  and get word of publication of The Songbook – here:

A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.” ― Barack Obama

RELATED POST:   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/8362528/Protest-songs-posing-or-inspiring.html

 

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Tomorrow’s journalists – challenges, rights, and great promise

The First Amendment is not so construed as to award merit badges for intrepid but mistaken or careless reporting. Misinformation has not merit in itself; standing alone it is antithetical to the purposes of the First Amendment as the calculated lie… The sole basis for protecting publishers who spread false information is that otherwise the truth would too often be suppressed. Supreme Court Justice Byron White

As often happens thinking and learning about a topic leads me to deep thoughts on where we go from here, how we are the creators of our own future.  Thus, reflecting on a recent post about Constitution Day (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/09/09/we-the-people-celebrate-constitution-day-by-learning/) led me to reflect on our role as individuals on whom the Founding Fathers depended to meet their high expectations – specifically, 21st Century economic, technological and political  challenges that re-order the historic relationship between government, the press – and “we the people.”

As is their way, my thoughts turned to what comes next – Who and what forces will work to preserve the inalienable right to know?  What are characteristics, the status, the working environment of the nation’s journalists?   And thus I found myself wondering what are the influences on aspiring journalists, what is their training, and what will lure a fledging seeker of truth to risk a life as a professional journalist?

Clearly, these concerns were shared by those far wiser:

Moreover, the Journalism Education Association Scholastic Press Rights Committee has produced a resource guide specifically related to Constitution Day 2017. http://jeasprc.org/2017-constitution-day-lessons/.  In fact. the Scholastic Press Rights Committee is an information mecca of essentials.  The Committee has published a video intro and links to new materials, lessons learned and timely resources on the rights of student journalists.

Other timely resources include these:

  • An article by Matthew Smith on the “importance of independent active press” focuses on the Constitutional rights aspect of student journalism focuses on the local scene: http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2016/05/06/your-right-to-know-state-should-protect-student-journalists/
  • The Journalism Education Association report entitled “Promoting Scholastic Press Rights Legislation: A blueprint for success” is exactly what the title suggests, a comprehensive blueprint for action. This is thorough and timely review of the rights of student journalists, steps to be taken in a student press rights action plans, related organizations that support student journalists’ rights, sample laws and recommended language. One essential feature of this resource is an excellent listing of related organizations, historical information about past legislation, and the names of experts who can offer opinions about legislative language.
  • The JEA also hosts a robust website, http://jeasprc.org that features a unique “Tools of Truth Landing Page” that covers current topics related to student journalists’ rights  http://jeasprc.org/tools-of-truth-landing-page/
  • The Student Press Law Center, established in the post-Watergate era, now headquartered in Virginia, focuses on the legal rights of high school and college journalists: https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Student+Press+Law+Center&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
  • The National Scholastic Press Association (http://studentpress.org/nspa/), located near the campus of the University of Minnesota, “promotes the standards and ethics of good journalism as accepted and practiced by print, broadcast and electronic media in the United States,”

Constitution Day 2017 inspires us to take a long view of a free press.  To do so demands that we get a better sense of what’s happening in student journalism.  Some indicators are close at hand:

In high schools and colleges throughout the nation young journalists are tackling major issues of social justice, civil rights, press freedom and the right to know.  Their rights demand attention and deserve recognition.

“I became a journalist is to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.”Henry Luce

IMPORTANT UPDATE: https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2017/aug/28/Student-Journalist-FOIA-Grant/

Protecting what’s OURS on Net Neutrality Day of Action

RED ALERT DAY – https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/9/17333188/net-neutrality-red-alert-day-of-action-reddit-tumblr-pornhub-cra-vote

The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet.  It requires a certain relish for confusion. Molly Ivins

If ever there were a call to relish confusion it is now –  the options for “relishment” are myriad.   And if ever there were an organized effort to “weaponize” confusion, it is the  war to end net neutrality now raging on the nation’s regulatory frontlines.

“Confuse and conquer” is an ancient strategy rendered ever more lethal by the fact that the digital age effectively limits time for the body politic to think, much less thoughtfully discuss.  Issues, especially issues involving complex technology, speed their way through a political process well-lubricated with corporate contributions and compliant appointees.

As many but not enough affected Americans know, Wednesday, July 12, is Net Neutrality Day of Action.  (https://www.battleforthenet.com/july12   For many of us whose dependence on the Net is assumed without question the ethos of the tool is vague and the implications are vaguer still.  Here’s one digestible overview of the issues and implications:

And yet there’s always time to crib for a deep dive into the digital age version of Cliff Notes – some basics:

The corporate campaign to confuse the public opponents of net neutrality has clogged the web with more than the citizen owner of the communication tool needs to know. Still, this is a KISS “keep it simple, stupid” moment.

Herb Schiller is the wise man whose words have long  shaped my understanding of the principle, if not the technology, of net neutrality.  More about Schiller’s prescient caution in this 2013 post: https:/marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/herbert-i-schiller/

The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people ~ Tom Clancy

 

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/us-house-panel-wants-google-facebook-atandt-ceos-to-testify-on-internet-rules/ar-AAoP6zY?ocid=UE01DHP

BACKGROUNDER- MINNPOST: https://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2017/07/everyone-claims-be-open-internet-so-what-s-latest-net-neutrality-fight-reall?utm_source=MinnPost+e-mail+newsletters&utm_campaign=956e5e91b0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_21&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3631302e9c-956e5e91b0-123365126

ADDENDA

Facing the dark side of Information Power

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth-  Buddha

As we the people come to realize and celebrate the power and accessibility of good information we face the unprecedented fact that information, this nation’s uniquely renewable resource, has been brutally weaponized.

Not that anyone needs more evidence, this piece in the NYT tells the story with clarity – and a flair.  (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html?_r=1)   Wired also offers a fresh analysis of the basics in this recent article:  https://www.wired.com/story/president-trumps-lies-and-untruths/?mbid=nl_7217_p1&CNDID=44690478

And yet the fact is that the forefathers created this democracy on the fundamental premise that we the people are thoughtful, informed, educated and oriented to search for truth. Today’s clash between truths and alternative facts is cataclysmic. The good news is that the torrent of alternative facts does not drown but inspires truth seekers to resist in creative and wondrous ways.

The fact that Congress is even now taking steps to unlock the work of the Congressional Research Service is a case in point. ( https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/congress-moves-to critical-research/)  In ways too diverse and numerous to describe concerned individuals and organizations are “taking arms” to resist prevarication. Some related stories.

Clearly, this nation faces an unprecedented challenge.  Instinctively we assume that the rules of logic prevail. It helps to face the harsh reality of the dilemma, to rethink the very nature of prevarication.  Consider this thoughtful article: https://www.wired.com/story/president-trumps-lies-and-untruths/?mbid=nl_7217_p1&CNDID=44690478

One creative – and mind-expanding —  approach is to view reality through a different lens, that of the artist.  A good prompt to refocus the observational lens can be is this article published in Hyperallergic.( https://hyperallergic.com/387008/the-trump-regime/)   To peer with greater depth into the creative imaginations of several contemporary artists explore this digital display: https://hyperallergic.com/tag/drawing-in-a-time-of-fear-lies/

The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others – Fyodor Dostoevsky

 

 

Summertime – A Good Time to “waste time” thinking!

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.

John Lubbock, The Use of Life

True enough – it is by no means a waste of time to slow down, to listen and watch – in fact this sort of clearing of the mind accomplishes two goals: it takes the mental spotlight off the blast from the Beltway, and, more important, it creates ideal conditions for serious thinking – about “life, the universe and everything.”

Some powerful prompts may help to  jumpstart the dormant thinking process, try some or all of these:

  • There are just a few days remaining to visit the current exhibit at the White Bear Lake Center for the Arts. “Woven Together: Traditions of the Indigenous Culture of Peru” is curated by Melanie Eberts, founder of ArtAndes. ( http://artandes.com)  Wilber Quispe is the master weaver who shares the challenge to preserve the ancient craft.  (http://www.presspubs.com/white_bear/image_4f11082c-56b8-11e7-879d-6b6e70ae7ba8.html)  Read more about the unique partnership of Melanie and Wilber here: http://www.startribune.com/duets-wilbur-and-melanie-woven-together-across-continents/268625052/
  • The theme of fiber art continues with a show featuring fiber artist Tressa Sularz, http://www.mnartists.org/tressasularzwill) To learn more about Tressa, her life and creative work, view her Voices of Northeast conversation here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Vq_pGW6Jm4.  Both exhibits are free and open to the public.  Learn more about the White Bear Center for the Arts here: http://whitebeararts.org
  • “Shout Out: Community Intervention, Independent Publishing and Alternative Distribution” is the theme of the Book Art Biennial, July 20-23, 2017. Centerpiece of the Book Art Biennial is presentation of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts Prize, “a unique award that showcases and honors the best artists’ books in the world.”  (Much more about this major national gathering on the MCBA website: http://www.mnbookarts.org/biennial/
  • Moving Image is Walker Art Center’s established series of exemplary films https://walkerart.org/about/moving-image/ “In solidarity with Minnesota immigrants and refugees” Mizna (http://Mizna.org) is collaborating with Walker to sponsor a series of films representative of the seven countries named in the original presidential travel ban.  Reshaping our World: Cinema without borders will be screened Wednesday evenings, 7:30 p.m. on July 5, 12, 19 and 26 and August 2.  Tickets are $10 (with reduced rates for Mizna community members).  The series begins with screening of A Stray, the story of a struggling young Somali-American living in Minneapolis.  The “stray” is, in fact, a dog with whom the young man, Adan, forms a friendship.  A Stray is preceded that evening by a screening of Rumee, a documentary created by Somali community residents who share refugee stories “from a strength-based perspective.” State Representative Ilhan Omar and actor Ifrah Mansour will discuss the films. The special viewing is just one feature of Somali Week 2017. (https://somaliweek.org) Details here: http://mizna.org/articles/events/175.shtml
  • It’s 4th of July weekend – think “up to the lake!” On Friday evening, June 30, Tim Jollymore will share the pleasure.  He’ll be reading from his new book, Lake Stories & Other Tales at Eat My Words, 1228 2nd Street Northeast.  https://www.facebook.com/events/299092377204602/.  (You may even have an opportunity to the bookshop complete their move to new digs just up the road…)
  • Discovering hidden attributes of your of-an-age abode? Learn about Researching the History of Your Minneapolis Home at one of the learning opportunities sponsored by Special Collections staff at Minneapolis Central Library. The popular training sessions are scheduled for July 1, 10:30-11:30 at Special Collections, 4th floor, Minneapolis Central Library and August 5, 10:30-11:30 at Roosevelt Library.  Register online at https://hclib.bibliocommons.com/events or call 612 543 5669.

To truly expand your thinking horizons take advantage of the seasonally and politically  timely opportunity for deep thinking about the Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964.  It was the Civil Rights Act that outlawed all segregation on the basis of raceThe Law was intentionally – and decidedly – specific that this was to include any hotel, motel, restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, gas station, movie theater, concert hall, theater, sports arena, stadium of other place of “exhibition or entertainment.”  (You get the idea.) When he signed the bill Johnson was anachronistic but firm when he affirmed: We believe all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty.”

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them~~ Albert Einstein

Rekindling the vision of the 19th Amendment: A centennial challenge

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

That’s it – that’s the full text of the 19th Amendment, words crafted with care by suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  The proposed Amendment was first introduced in 1878, ultimately passed decades later.

Yesterday, Sunday June 4, 2017, marked the 98th anniversary of Congressional passage of the 19th Amendment.  The House of Representatives voted 304-90 and the Senate voted 56-25 in favor of the Amendment — which was then sent to the states for ratification.  Most times the reminder would have inspired a flicker of awareness; in light of the times, the occasion ignited a call to action!

The times demand that we embrace the centenary of this monumental moment in the nation’s history.  Women and their male supporters earned the right to vote in the face of bullying, misogyny, alternative facts (i.e. lies), money and mockery.  They resisted, collaborated, and kept a steady eye on the mission.  They understood that this democracy depends on the will of an informed electorate.  They spoke truth to power – and they succeeded.

On June 4, 2019 the nation will commemorate the centenary of Congressional passage of the joint resolution that led to passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, aka the Woman’s Suffrage Amendment, to the Constitution.   Recognition of the centenary of the 19th Amendment has the potential to expand our knowledge and appreciation of our roots and hone our collaborative strategies. If we seize the possibilities, awareness of the 19th Amendment can fuel a movement based on bipartisanship and acceptance of the fact that thoughtful policy has the power to trump pernicious prevarication and the over-rated glories of wealth.

June 4, 1919 was a pivotal step in the very long struggle.  A robust centennial campaign has the potential to magnify the import of the Amendment we take for granted a century later.  It seems to me that the best way to honor our forebears is to learn about their struggle, their strategies, their commitment to honor policy over politics.  It may seem early to celebrate – it’s certainly not too early to plan.

Though most long-range planning projects focus on a budget, the coin of the realm in this instance is the truth of history.  The work begins with serious research, the raw material of which is already on library shelves or in the digital stratosphere.  Recognition of the day is a moment in time; the real story lies in digging into the true facts and forces that shapedthe suffragette movement.  The mission, hopes, tribulations and ultimate success of a powerful crusade are recorded in carefully-chosen  words and photos that capture the era and rekindle the spirit that imbued the suffragettes.

This early mention of the forthcoming commemoration is simply a starting point – with special reference to the struggle for equality as it played out in Minnesota.   Future posts will focus on the immense archival records, literature, photos, memorabilia and other resources that make the movement for women’s right to vote  come alive. My hope is that the efforts of those who fought for women’s rights will inspire us to get up and do what needs to be done to assure that the vision and labors of the suffragettes inform and inspire us to value and protect an engaged and informed electorate that makes democracy work.

The principle of self-government cannot be violated with impunity. The individual’s right to it is sacred – regardless of class, caste, race, color, sex or any other accident or incident of birth ~~ Susan B. Anthony

 

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive – A quarter century of sharing

No man can rationally live, worship, or love his neighbor on an empty stomach. ― Woodrow Wilson

 When the National Association of Letter Carriers launched their first national food drive in 1993, most Americans felt confident that hunger was a temporary challenge,   A quarter century later Americans – children, elderly, mothers and their infants, jobless workers – go to bed hungry night after night.   Children cannot learn, sick people cannot heal, workers cannot be productive – because they are malnourished.

And the future is grim at best.

The good news is that the nation’s letter carriers remain committed to continue – even expand – their national food drive.  The 25th annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is set for Saturday, May 13, 2017. (https://www.nalc.org/community-service/food-drive)

Last year the food drive collected a record 80 million pounds of nonperishable food.  This brought the total donations to date to more than 1.5 billion pounds.

The efforts of the letter carriers are shored up by hundreds of individuals and organizations that join in the drive.  This year’s partners include the U.S Postal Service, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Valpak, United Way Worldwide, the AFL-CIO, the AARP Foundation and Valassis.  Also joining letter carriers are their family members, friends, neighbors and other postal workers.

Details about this year’s drive have been – or soon will be – in every resident’s mailbox.  Sponsors are quick to remind donors that all contributions are tax deductible.  The Stamp Out Hunger Toolkit offers a wealth of ideas for promotion, collaboration, the logistics of the day  https://www.nalc.org/community-service/food-drive/food-drive-toolkit

Stay in touch with the Stamp Out Hunger Drive on Facebook (Facebook.com/StampOutHunger);  on Twitter follow @StampOut Hunger.  Be sure to check out the great StampOutHunger graphics here:  (https://www.nalc.org/community-service/food-drive/body/food-drive-17-RGB-flat-final.jpg)

Most important, plan ahead, think about the Stamp Out Hunger drive when you make your grocery shopping list.  Add some nutritious, delicious, non-perishable groceries that will help a local food shelf meet the needs of neighbors who need the helping hand that you are able to extend – with a little help from your generous letter carrier!

The rich swell up with pride, the poor from hunger.  Sholom Aleichem