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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Peace Recruiters Converge In The ATL

The Past Wednesday Night AFSC from around the country met at 60 walton street to kick off our national Youth & Militarism task force meeting. Our local counter recruitment group, Student Career Alternatives Program hosted the meeting, providing a pretty amazing spread of delicious food.

After sharing food and getting to know each other we transitioned into a show and tell, with pictures and videos, for organizers around the country. It was pretty exciting and inspiring to see what was working for folks in different communities. We saw planty of clear examples of tangible victories, large and small, around the country. Portland, the Bay Area, LA, New Orleans, Chiago, and of course Atlanta(presented by SCAP's own Josie Figueroa) highlighted their efforts to bring real non-military options to youth and challenge the systems of violence and oppression that control our bodies, minds, and communities.

After the show and tell session we went right into a group discussion about challenges and potential collab ideas. There was much discussion about the department of defenses's role in the redrafting of the Dream Act. It was a really a blessing to be in a space with folks from all over that are doing some of the most challenging youth organizing work in the country.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Below is one of the video submission from AFSC's, "One Trillion Dollars For Peace" youth video art contest that came out of a youth Group that Pablo Paredes works with in the Bay area. It's a great example of how young folks are making some of the connections between systems of vioence and oppression that control our minds, bodies, and communities.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Defending Public Education In Statesboro!

Last year over four billion dollars was cut from Georgia k-12 public education, and students attending publicly funded universities saw their fees increase by 17%. The long term effects of these cut, if they remain, on the future of education in our state seem unmeasurable. We already know that some school districts are being forced to ration calories at the lunch line, institute four day school weeks, and of course cut teachers and school workers. It's hard to imagine things getting much worse...but they can, and they might.

This upcoming legislative session could see even more budget cuts for k-12, and more tuition and fee hikes for college students. That's why are work to build a movement to defend public education is literally a fight for the future, that's right our future is on the line here; not just the future of every current student but every future student.

This past week kicked of the first of several dozen trips we are organizing around the state in our effort to build a campaign to defend education. We had two organizers from Georgia Students For Higher Education join me on the road to Statesboro Georgia, home of splash in the boro, Georgia Southern University, and the best Howard Johnson in the Country. We had the pleasure of meeting with Bobbi Jo Rogers, Jeremy Foreman, and Dr. Rosemarie Stallworth. They couldn't have been a better trio. Jeremy is and extremely hands on staff with the hands on network, he also just seems to know every single soul in the boro, no joke. Bobbi Joe is an education major at Georgia Southern, and Dr. Stallworth has very to Georgia Southern. It seems that, during our meeting, we established some pretty clear challenges and next steps to begin organizing in the boro and ways to plug into te broader statewide network.

Big Ups to Sofia Lipko and Hira Mahmood for rolling out there and helping to make this meeting be a success!

If you're interested in bringing us out your way just let us know!

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Another Atlanta Is Possible?

During our 8th week in our ongoing Be The Change curriculum at Horizons school students began our two hour session by reporting back on all the progress they had made in the last week. They had fundraisers planned(big ups Monica!), graphics designed, music written, facebooks groups started, and more! We were impressed to say the least.

After report backs we again split up into working groups and spent the rest of our time learning how to wheat-paste, create stencils, spray paint, structure a song, build strategy, create and edit video footage, plan fundraisers, and create digital photos.

We invited all the students to come out to Student Career Alternative Programs, "Our Dreams Will Not Be Recruited" concert planned for Sunday(11/21). Student seemed excited about the concert, some even planned to carpool.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee