Monday, January 17, 2011
This past Saturday I had the pleasure of participating in the Georgia Students For Public Higher Education's(GSPHE) winter conference in Athens. It was a great excuse to bust out our shuttle bus, get a crew and drive to Athens.
When we showed up it was clear that this Athens crew had it together. In a short period of time they not only put together the conference, which included speakers from around the globe, but they were able to pack the room full of people. I must also mention that the food situation was pretty amazing, hats off to my old pal Kelsea Norris for whipping up all that deliciousness!
I was tasked with facilitating a one hour movement building workshop that had a focus on base building, legislative work, and media. It was a challenge packing what could be a conference of its own into 60 minutes but I managed not to be long winded guy. No one booed me out of the room so folks were either being polite, or I did a satisfactory job.
I was really impressed with the next session which brought folks from around the world, through skype, into the room with us to share their analysis and organizing experience. It's that type of global connection that we need now. In this global economy I think it's safe to say that we can no longer wait for the leaders of our individual nations to represent us, to usher in the change the world needs. We can't wait for our leaders to lead. We must build movements to big for borders and force our leaders to follow us, or be left behind.
The GSPHE crew seem to get it. Their conference program was a reflection of the connections they've identified between systems of violence and oppression. GSPHE has panelist from the Georgia Dreamers, they made clear statements of support for the Georgia prison strike, were clearly in solidarity with university workers, and they pointed out the crisis of priority in military spending.
GSPHE, along with the rest of our great state faces an uphill battle this legislative session. We know that k-12 budgets can afford to lose another penny, but it already seems that the new Governor hope to cut even more from an already broken system. University students are facing an even greater tuition and fee hike, and the wildly popular HOPE scholarship even appears to be on the chopping block. GSPHE seemed to have some potential solutions that make a lot more sense then relegating children to ATMS, or pounding the final nails into our public k-12 schools.
I for one am exciting to see what GSPHE develops in the coming months, we need them no more then ever.
To learn more or get involved with GSPHE please visit:
Photos by Caitie Elle & Dawn Gibson
American Friends Service Committee