Starting 2017 Loudly and with Purpose

January 25, 2017

This past weekend marked the beginning of a new, challenging era for social justice advocates. It also saw what may have been the largest demonstration in U.S. history - millions of women, men, and children marching together across the nation (and the world) to be heard. Yet the real work lies in the dedication and continued efforts of the activists, advocates, community leaders, artists, and cultural strategists who devote themselves to social justice day in and day out. We are honored to be connected with many of them, and hope to uplift their incredible work each month in Partner News. This month, we are celebrating:

Creative Change alumna and cultural strategist Lina Srivastava (CC ’16) is part of a volunteer collective that is launching #MY100DayPlans, a civic action campaign encouraging citizens to creatively counteract the Trump Administration's First 100 Days. The campaign organizers “hope to work with a group of diverse partners to source actions that will engage people around the country and help them flex their civic muscles” by posting an action every day that responds to areas Trump has targeted in his 100-day plan. Lina invites all to join #My100DayPlans, asking for two specific things: “We want to hear about your actions and resources. We want to amplify your work (and we will of course attribute the action to you.) Please submit ideas on this form over the 100-day period. We ask you to amplify this project to all your colleagues and networks, and ask people to sign up and commit to action and use the #MY100DayPlans hashtag so we can see what everyone is up to.” Learn more.

Creative Changer Molly Murphy (CC ’16) and Working Films are seeking submissions for an organizing initiative that will showcase stories of just transition and climate resilience. The Just Transition Media Project aims to eliminate fossil fuel dependence and build sustainable communities “in which economic and social systems are transformed to be equitable and humane.” Working Films is calling for documentary media projects that illustrate the principles of just transition and/or that highlight community-based efforts that put these principles into action. Apply here to be considered for the Just Transition Media Project and learn more about the project here.

Filmmaker and Creative Changer Grace Lee (CC ’14) gave the opening keynote at the International Documentary Association’s Getting Real Conference in September. Last week, her keynote was published in Documentary Magazine. Grace is also one of five recipients of the Chicken and Egg Pictures Breakthrough Award. The program recognizes and elevates experienced women directors with unique voices who are strong filmmaker-advocates for urgent issues and creative visions. Grace directed American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, which won six festival audience awards and aired on the POV documentary series on PBS.

Communications Institute Fellow Daryl Atkinson (CI ’14) was quoted in a New York Times article on the stark change in criminal justice policy that Trump’s administration may usher in under his “law and order” platform. Defending the success of “second chance” initiatives under the Obama Administration, Atkinson was quoted as saying “To me, the [Second Chance] Fellowship is a testament to the fact that the [Obama] administration is really walking the walk. This shows people with records that opportunities are still open to them.” Daryl is the first Second Chance Fellow for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Communications Institute Fellow Janaé Bonsu (CC ’16), National Public Policy Chair of Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), wrote an op-ed in Dissent responding to the largest prison strike in U.S. history, which occurred in September. Specific demands, which varied by prison and state, included the right to be fairly compensated for work, basic amenities such as clean water, and an end to solitary confinement. In her op-ed, Janaé asks us to “imagine if prison laborers were entitled to a minimum wage, overtime pay, and workers’ compensation when injured on the job. It might be difficult to envision if you’re not used to thinking of incarcerated people as workers. But it’s their labor of cooking, clerical and janitorial work, running the laundry, and even agricultural work that keeps prisons operating.”

Communications Institute Fellow Vicki Gaubeca (CC ’16) elucidated on why former Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, President Trump’s choice for Department of Homeland Security, is such a problematic candidate in a recent ACLU blog post. Vicki points out Gen. Kelly’s hawkish and alarmist stances on border security, and his desire to increase militarization of the Southwest border.  Vicki argues that “American people deserve a 21st century border – one that honors the vital economic and cultural contributions of border communities to the nation.” Vicki Gaubeca is director of the ACLU-New Mexico Regional Center for Border.

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law welcomed advocates and activists to join its upcoming Advocacy Exchange on Jan. 25, a live broadcast that asked “Given the signals from the incoming administration, what should be the focus of an antipoverty and racial justice agenda now?” The talk included the Shriver Center’s John Bouman, Marie Claire Tran-Leung, and Andrew Hammond, who discussed the importance of the civil legal aid community in the days ahead and substantive issues to prioritize. Watch a recording of the broadcast. Before you watch, read the speakers’ Clearinghouse article on the issue: Now What? Poverty-Fighting Ideas for a Another New Administration.