Sunday, December 19, 2010

Horizons Students Share their Campaign!

As the year approaches it's end and schools across the country are preparing for their winter breaks, Horizons high school students have been preparing for it's annual, "More Than Just a Word" performance. The students take time from their normal curriculum to put together multiple short skits and performances. Every student participated in skits about a gay high school couple, a twisted sleeping beauty story, and a transexual story. There was break dancing and hip hop singers.

Opening up "More Than Just a Word" was one of the groups from our "Be the Change" Curriculum. This group presented to the audience the 1000 pinwheels they planned to send to the President. The students are going to make a wish on their 1000 pinwheels for cleaner energy resources. We are glad that the kids were able to share their pinwheels with the audience and are so proud of of their hard work! A special thanks to Erin Glynn, from the Sierra Club, for providing the kids t-shirts and moral support.

Josie Figueroa
American Friends Service Committee

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Arrest in Millen, GA Protesting the Corrections Corporation of America Prison

The first video shows my arrest. I had not wanted to be arrested, and I certainly did not begin to plan the event with the idea of being arrested. Having recently returned from the 2010 SOAW rally in Columbus, GA, where the Muskogee County Police made arbitrary and unjustifiable arrests (and here and here), I did realize this was a possibility.

Activists in Millen, GA Resist Expansion of the Prison-Industrial Complex

On December 15, 2010, Governor Sonny Perdue attended the groundbreaking ceremony of Jenkins County Correctional Center in Millen, GA. Activists from Jenkins County, the Central Savannah River Area and Atlanta came to voice their opposition to this expansion of the prison-industrial complex.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Atlanta Rallies To Defend Dissent

Less then a week ago a groups of Atlanta activist from different organizations got together at the International Action Center Atlanta office to respond to the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. They decided to a rally against not only the repression against Assange, the arrest of Private Bradley Manning, but the recent crackdown against anti-war organizers in Chicago by the FBI as well.

Around 100 or so demonstrators showed up in yesterday, in front of the CNN center. The freezing cold icy streets didn't stop folks from coming out and making noise.

Several folks actually wrote parts of the recently leaked cables on poster board and at one point, Tom Lorre with The Progressive Student Alliance at GSU, began to read parts of the cables through a megaphone.

People all over the world have expressed outrage over the crackdown on whistle blower Bradely Manning and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Both appear to be guilty of nothing more than tell the truth, exposing government lies. The question on many peoples minds now is what does the exposure of these lies mean? Where do we go from here?

Many of the lies exposed through Wikileaks have serious implications about war, exploitation of economically depressed nations, and really bad behavior of multi national corporations.

Today it has been reported that Julian Assange has been released on bail, but will remain under house arrest.

Video Shot by Catie Leary:

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Be The Change Tour: Americus!!

In response to a special request from our close friends at Koinonia Farms, we decided to pull off one more stop on the Be The Change tour in the historic city of Americus. Americus holds a special place in our hearts for a number of different reasons.

One, Americus is home to Koinonia Farms. Koinonia is a shinning example of the deep roots of social justice in Georgia. Koinonia was one of the first racially integrated farms in the south. Blacks and whites not only worked side by side, they ate together and were paind the same wage. This might sound like the most basic right in 2010 but in the late 40's it was so upsetting to Sumtnar county residence that Koinonia was attacked constantly. Koinonia's road side stands were bombed, children were beaten, and the community was fired upon several times.

Two, Koinonia is not only the birthplace of Habitat for Humanity, it's also the birthplace of the statewide Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition.

And three, Americus is home to oe of my favorite Fair Trade Coffee projects, Cafe Campesino. The folks at Cafe Campesino also hosted the tour stop at their national coffee roasting site in the heart of down town Americus.

Art as an Agent for Change delivered a slightly tweaked performance, coming across as slightly edgier at times, which I certainly enjoyed.

On a personal note, this night was a reunion for me. I can't express how much I enjoyed being on the road with the AAC crew and witnessing their performances every night. Much love and much respect. I love ya'll!

Paul, Jenell, and I crashed at Koinonia Farms and enjoyed the hospitality from folks on the farm the next day.

Special Thanks to Jenell Holden for taking photos!

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Universal Declaration Of Human Rights Turns 62, United States Still Fails to Ratify

On December 10, 1948 the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

The declaration turned 62 this past Saturday, and though the United States continues to fall short of ratifying this landmark piece of global legislation, people from all over the world recognize December 10th as Human Rights day.

In Atlanta the whole week was marked by a number of events all over the city. AFSC's own Alice Lovelace played an instrumental role in planning the finale event, "RISE:Artist Respond to Human Rights" which was held at the historic Rialto theater in downtown Atlanta. Alice also performed an original spoken word piece, which was quit stunning.

Turn out was great, and the performances were amazing, over 70 artist performed dance, song, and poetry.

Attendees were encouraged to show up early and stay late and get to know several groups doing human rights work in Atlanta, American Friends Service Committee was of course one of those groups.

I had the pleasure of staffing the AFSC table. I saw a lot of old friends, and I definitley made a few new ones too.

One thing that was painfully clear is that the world needs the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today as much as it ever has.

For the full text of the declaration visit:

Here's a short clip of the performance, taken from the upper section of the Rialto:

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Friday, December 3, 2010

Defending Public Education In Dalton!

This past Tuesday we were invited to meet with members of Dalton State University student group, Students United for Peace, about the current crisis facing publicly funded education and ways that Dalton State students can plug into the campaign to defend public education in Georgia.

We've been planning on making as many of these trips as possible in an effort to make Georgians aware of the impact that cuts to education have already had and the looming threat of even more threats.

Our Trip to Dalton provided us with another exciting opportunity. Dalton State has the highest percentage of Latino students in the state, and while the recent Board of Regents decision to bar undocumented students from attended several publicly funded colleges does not yet apply to Dalton State, It certainly looks like it eventually will if there's not some serious push back from students and community. Eva Cardenas, with the Georgia Dreamers, was able to connect us with local Dalton organizer American Guner with Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights(GLAHR). America talked about the recent Board of Regents ban and ways that GLAHR and student groups in Dalton can support each other. By the end of the meeting it seemed clear that future collaberation between GLAHR and Students United for Peace is enevitable.

So members of Students United for Peace committed to get at least 100 report cards signed to be delivered to the Georgia house and senate and continue to brainstorm ways to build a base at DSU in defense of public education.

If you or your cmmunity/student/church group is interested in exploring ways that you can pressure the power holders to make education our youth a priority lets us know! We'd love to schedule a visit!

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SCAP Opens New Doors Of Possibilities For Tri Cities Students

On Tuesday November 3oth Student Career Alternatives Program(SCAP) was invited to spend a lunch period with students at Tri Cities High School to discuss and explore the many under promoted post high school options.

We've been invited to a lot of schools this year for lunch room tabling or career/resource fairs. We usually have students attention for about 60 seconds and we're competing with their lunch or with dozens of other exhibits. We often leave questioning how much information we were able to really transmit to students.

The Tri Cities Counseling staff does it different. They promoted our visit ahead of time and gave students an opportunity to sign up to spend 30 minutes with us. We were given the opportunity to really talk about how and why SCAP started, and ways in which the prison and military industrial complexes impact our bodies, minds, and communities.

It was great to be able to really spend time explaining to kids how some of the more popular post high school options we promote like Americorps, WWOOF, and apprenticing work. We also got to promote our upcoming art contest(One of our winners from last year, Lisa Bi, was @ the session!) and offer kids a free membership to WonderRoot Community Art Center!

Feedback from students who came out was great. It was clear that many of the students present were hearing about options that had not been presented to them in the past, and they were hearing an alternative perspective on the benefits of military service. I know that when I was in high school most of my peers reached out to that which seemed in the realm of possibility. That realm was often filled with the options that were being presented in school, in my community, and on tv. Sadly for many of my peers options were limited to the military, college, minimum wage, or criminal activity.

Opening new doors of possibility is what SCAP aims to do, and this past Tuesday, we did it well:)

When I got back to my e-mail at the office today I got an Email from the Counselor that set up our session, Anne Davis. Anne wrote up a little feature on our visit for the Tri Cities Website!
Check it out:

Big Thanks To Anne Davis! We are really pumped about going back to Tri Cities!!

For those interested in our updated, "It's My Life" alternative career resource visit:

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Dreams Will Not Be Recruited

The Student Career Alternatives Program benefit concert was a real treat for all of us who weathered through arguably the busiest week in SCAP's history.

It was an evening of music and poetry inspired by resistance and I'm excited that we were able to get some good video from the event to share with ya'll!

The evening, which was emceed by SCAP's own Josie Figueroa, was kicked off by a few amazing spoken work performances by Mannie Rivers and Dejah Alt. I caught a pretty awesome recording of one of Mannies poems but sadly Dejah's audio didn't turn out well.

Ryan Harvey, who I've been a huge fan of for years, totally captivated the crowd with every song that he played. Ryan has a way of discussing complex political issues through his songs while remaining extremely engaging and entertaining. That is a really tough balance to achieve in my experience yet Ryan seems to do it pretty effortlessly. Take the time to check out the vids we shot.

After The Wild went on the whole room pretty much turned into a dance party. There was so much action in the room that the video was pretty much unusable, but another awesome energy filled performance by one of Atlanta's favorite folk punk bands.

Mannie Rivers

Ryan Harvey

More Ryan Harvey

Even more Ryan Harvey

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Monday, November 29, 2010

AFSC Brings Demilitarizing Strategies And Analysis To SOAW

AFSC's national youth and militarism task force meeting was planned to take place right before this year's School of the Americas Watch(SOAW) because several AFSC staff from other regions planned on participating in the demonstration at the gates of Fort Benning. Knowing that several AFSC staff from around the country were going to be at SOAW this year was exciting, as I was putting together a workshop on how to demilitarize your campus and community that would have a national audience.

I was equally excited that a local Student Career Alternative Program(SCAP) organizers, Josie Figueroa, Jenell Holden, Caitlin Barrow, Molly Mclaughlin, Erica Schoon, and Brett Davidson were all coming as well!

Thanks in part to all the buzz generated by SCAP folks during the day our early evening workshop ended up being standing room only. The workshop covered strategies to develop relationships with local high schools, connecting youth with non-military post high school options, building a student campaign, and how to create local policy changes that limit military recruiters access to youth. A big thanks to Darlene Gramigna and Jesus Palafox from the Chicago AFSC for facilitation help!

My favorite part of the workshop was right after it ended. Conversations were sparked between SCAP organizers and workshop attendees from all over the country. We had several enthusiastic college students that have asked us out to thier campuses over the next few months and we're excited to make those trips!

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Saturday, November 27, 2010

AFSC At The Gates Of Fort Benning

Our Atlanta office has worked with the Georgia Peace and Justice coalition for the last few years to provide as much space for Georgia youth to come down to the gates of Fort Benning for the yearly mobilization to close the School of the Americas, which is organizing by the School of the Americas Watch.

The School of the Americas (SOA), in 2001 renamed the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation,” is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Initially established in Panama in 1946, it was kicked out of that country in 1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” The SOA, frequently dubbed the “School of Assassins,” has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned.

Over its 59 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Americas.

This year with the help of a $500. contribution from the Atlanta Chapter of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition(GPJC) we we able to provide lodging and some transportation for 18 youth. Many of the young folks that came down also helped AFSC and GPJC staff literature tables at the gates Fort Benning. They also attended, along with about 30 other Georgians, our yearly Georgia activist meet-up which is a sort of an informal gathering which provides space for folks organizing in Georgia to get to know each other, connect issues, and explore opportunities to collaborate and share resources.

One thing I personally noticed was that despite the number of total number of folks at SOAW this year being lower then years past, there seems to be more folks from Georgia not only showing up but playing active roles in various aspects of the demonstration. From building intricate giant puppets, to performing on stage, to facilitating workshops Georgians seemed more present this year.

To learn more about the SOAW visit:

To visit GPJC Atlanta chapter go to:

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Monday, November 22, 2010

Peace Recruiters Converge In The ATL pt. 2

So our task over the course of three days was not only to share what we're doing separately in our individual cities, but to attempt to develop a plan for nationally collaborative work. Can we be more then the sum of our parts and what would that look like? Could there be a nationally "branded" effort that would work in both New Orleans and Portland? That was our challenge.

Organizers are managers in a sense, which means we have ideas and experience about what works and what doesn't, we've all developed instincts over the years of our work. This can work for us when we get together in that often times one person can see potential obstacles that perhaps another hasn't experienced. It can also be a challenge to find consensus amongst a group of passionate organizers who have strong ideas about what works in their community and what doesn't.

The second and third day of our meeting was inspiring, and really tough at times. Folks got emotionally and physically burned out, others had lots of questions about the direction of our work. It was honestly the toughest AFSC national gathering I've ever attended. It's also potentially one of the most productive. Perhaps meaningful organizing isn't supposed to be a piece of cake, perhaps that's why we call it a struggle. Maybe the struggle isn't just against the systems of oppression and violence, but also a struggle to organize ourselves and our communities. Sometimes it's a struggle against our old idea and behavior patterns.

The good news is that we developed some pretty amazing plans for the next 12 months. One is really broad and super youth driven, the other deals with something a little specific and policy driven. I'm not going to go into details just yet as we're ironing out kinks but I'm excited that we're gonna see real national collaboration around youth work at AFSC, I believe this will position us to turn up the volume a few notches. This will make us more than the sum of our parts.

Oh, and I did get a few minutes to give a super lazy tour of some of Atlanta's street art, which of course took us to the Krog tunnel. Would have loved to have given a more legit tour of Atlanta. Maybe next time.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee