Connecting the Dots Program Accomplishments
From April 2006 through March 2007 we organized seven monthly Hinesburg Community Potlucks. We now have close to 100 people from our local community on our potluck mailing list. The potlucks addressed numerous timely issues such as the growing movement of soldiers against war and the rising anti-war movement in Vermont; the campaign to shut down the School of the Americas in Fort Benning Georgia and action taken by Vermonters to stop torture, a Vermont campaign against lawn chemicals; the potential impacts of global warming on Vermont; the possibilities for renewable energy in Vermont; the international movement against global warming and the fair trade movement in Vermont. Each of these events provided opportunities for people to get involved. We have also created a “how-to” guide to enable others to organize potlucks in their own community.
These potlucks have been extremely effective at bringing new people into our organization. We have gained nearly a dozen new members in our group and numerous people who began attending the potlucks have volunteered for us one or more times and have gotten more involved in the issues that were raised, and the numbers attending the potlucks continue to grow. We are also developing a plan to promote these important social organizing tools in other communities.
Will Miller Social Justice Lecture Series
Anne Petermann is on the Board of the Will Miller Social Justice Lecture Series. Global Justice Ecology Project collaborated with the Series on the following events:
-Sameer Dossani, Executive Director of the 50 Years is Enough Network for Economic Justice spoke about the impact of global economic policies on local communities, emphasizing the importance of local organizing in global struggles.
-Panel on Immigrant Rights and the Immigrant Community in Vermont
-Food Not Bombs Co-Founder Keith McHenry on the radical movement to feed hungry people
-Sanho Tree on the US War on Drugs and its impacts on Latin America and the US
These events are always well-attended with hundreds participating. The use of the events as an organizing tool for local groups has enabled participants to learn about new initiatives and increased involvement in local campaigns.
Community Organizing Internship
We created a Community Organizing Internship, the objective of which is to train future Vermont leaders in the field of community organizing and to facilitate our ability to successfully carry out the previously listed initiatives. In 2006, Kelly Stoddard, a Master’s Degree student from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, worked with us full time from January through June. She created our potluck how-to packet and organized several of our Community Action Trainings and community potlucks, as well as creating a new brochure for the organization.
Anti-War/ Corporate Globalization Organizing
Over the course of the spring of 2006, GJEP was a leading presence in the Vermont Says NO To War campaign. In this role, we conducted media outreach for the campaign including organizing and speaking at press conferences, which generated a good amount of media for the effort to end the War in Iraq.
Community Action Trainings
From March through October 2006 GJEP organized five trainings to support community organizing in Vermont. These events included over 75 people, several of whom were introduced to Vermont activism through our monthly community potlucks. We collaborated on these events with the Peace & Justice Center, the Citizen’s Awareness Network, the Vermont Skillshare Collective, student groups at the University of Vermont and Vermont Says NO to War affiliates.
Laura Bush Protest
We strategically timed a press conference for May 18 to announce the call to protest a visit by Laura Bush, who was coming to promote the candidacy of a pro-war Congressional hopeful. One person was ticketed at this protest. It received widespread media coverage. Both the protest and press conference received coverage in the Times Argus, the Rutland Herald, the Burlington Free Press, WCAX (CBS-TV), WPTZ (NBC-TV) and VPR, WDEV, WGDR and other radio.
John Negroponte Protest
GJEP also helped organize a protest against John Negroponte in June when he gave the commencement address at St. Johnsbury Academy. Negroponte was the notorious Ambassador to Honduras during the Contra War in Nicaragua, and has been accused of allowing numerous atrocities to happen under his watch. The action included 75-80 people, and was arguably the highest profile anti-war event in Vermont in 2006. At this action, four activists were arrested – two for disrupting Negroponte’s speech and two for trespassing on school grounds. GJEP acted as direct action consultants, and documented and wrote about the protest.
The protest received widespread coverage including a headline on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman reading our press release, and the re-printing of an article about the action written by Global Justice Ecology Project in Toward Freedom, and Indymedia outlets across the country. Within Vermont the Negroponte action was covered in the local Caledonia Record on six different occasions, the Times Argus, the Burlington Free Press, the Rutland Herald and VPR each ran pieces twice about the Negroponte protest – once beforehand and once after. It was also covered on WCAX and WPTZ.
World Bank/ IMF Protests
GJEP Co-Director Orin Langelle is also a member of the Board and Steering Committee of the 50 Years Is Enough Network, an organization founded to challenge the unjust policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. He participates every year in the mobilizations against the World Bank at their annual meetings in Washington, DC. This included participation in various anti-corporate globalization meetings in Washington, DC in April 2006.
Midwest Social Forum
Over the Fourth of July holiday in 2006 in Madison, Wisconsin, Co-Director Orin Langelle participated in the Midwest Social Forum as part of a panel presentation on “Grassroots Struggle against Water Privatization: fight against corporate water bottling companies. He showed GJEP’s” Water is the Blue Soul of the Planet, photographic powerpoint from the 4th World Water Forum and the International Forum in Defense of Water held in Mexico City.