Monday, November 16, 2009

Work in local parks in the new Austin Conservation Corps

Here's a new opportunity for working a green job locally while you go to college. Thanks to the Austin American-Statesman for today's story about the new Austin Conservation Corps, which provides outdoor work in area parks for young adults. The Austin Conservation Corps is modeled on the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930's when CCC workers built some of the most enduring buildings and trails in our national and state parks. The Austin program is a joint project between Goodwill, Austin Community College, Austin Energy and the Austin Parks and Recreation Dept. It's designed for students to work in the morning and go to college in the afternoon or evening. To find out how to apply, contact Chris Jacobi at Goodwill at 748-2721.

Here's the Statesman article, published today:

New Conservation Corps to beautify trails, help young adults with jobs and education
By Erin Mulvaney


Monday, November 16, 2009

Xavier Netherland said he has felt more independent since he started working a month ago with a team dedicated to preserving the trails alongLady Bird Lake.

Netherland is one of the nine inaugural members of the Austin Conservation Corps — a 12-week program that pays college-age people to improve city parkswhile gettingan education. The 19-year-old Austinite said he hasn't worked very much in the past and has valued his work experience with the program.

He began taking evening classes at Austin Community College shortly after he started working with the corps; all of the crew members are either ACC students or are enrolled for next semester.

"Any young student, or person, could get a lot of experience in this way," said Netherland, whose crew helps maintain native plants along the trails. "We are making (the trail) look more like Texas. I love it. In a way, it's a better experience than school because it makes us independent."

The Conservation Corps was launched by ACC's Center for Public Policy and Political Studies, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Austin Energy and Goodwill Industries of Central Texas. The team began working Oct. 1.

The new group's name harks back to the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal program that built parks in Texas. The Civilian Conservation Corps put unemployed young men to work on building roads, planting trees and curbing soil erosion, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Austin's Conservation Corps members are paid $7.25 to $10 an hour by Goodwill, and Austin Energy provides money for a supervisor. The Parks and Recreation Department supplies tools and equipment.

Former Gov. Mark White, a member of ACC's public policy center, said the program is an inexpensive way to clean and repair the trails. "It gives young people a positive way to earn money and a great way to advance their education," White said.

The program falls under the federal Workforce Investment Act, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor, and is intended to help young people from low-income families overcome barriers to education or employment by offering job training and help with post-secondary education, said Laura Griebel, the Goodwill youth services program manager.

"The hope, of course, is that they will continue their post-secondary education and get jobs," Griebel said. "I would love to see some of them get jobs at the Austin Parks and Recreation Department or other green jobs."

The program requires the team to work from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday alongside city employees maintaining the trails. The crew builds retaining walls, fills spots with granite or gravel and works on drainage issues, said David Pereira, supervising coordinator for the corps. Goodwill selects people to participate in the corps program.

The corps provides members with opportunities, Pereira said. "It's a fork in the road. They can ask themselves, do they want to go on, have they found something ... that they like, that they want to make a career out of and get an education for?"

Pereira said that working on the crew is also a hands-on interview for city jobs. City employees get to see the young people's potential as well as learn more about them during their crew work than they would in a half-hour interview, he said.

Shilda Calvin, 23, is the only woman on the crew. She said that she enjoys helping on the trail — whether cutting bamboo, laying cement or building benches. Calvin said that after she finishes studying music management at ACC, she would like to work for the city. "Sometimes, it's tough, but I say to myself, 'Keep working hard,'" she said.

drawing by blog editor

Calling all youth poets

An announcement from the good folks at the Texas Youth Word Collective:

EVENT: They Speak Youth Poetry Slam

DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 21st , 2009, 4 pm
ADMISSION: $5 cover,
PLACE: The Independent
501 Studios
501 Brushy Street
Austin, Texas 78702
CONTACTS: Tova Charles (512) 963-8292, Project Coordinator
Dr. Sheila Siobhan (512) 422-6653, Co-Director

It just so happens that the weekend before Turkey Day, we have just the thing: The They Speak Youth Poetry Slam. After listening to the words and works of these teenagers, you will go home with one more really big thing to be thankful for: the plenty of an intelligent, thoughtful conscious generation to come. The performances of these young people will stir your soul, make you think, and make you wonder what the future will be. You are cordially invited to come get yourself a heapin’ helpin’ of nutritious slam poetry to tide you over until turkey and dressing are pulled out of the oven.

The Chinese consider the number 8 to be a lucky number, signifying sudden fortune, prosperity. This being our 8th season, the Texas Youth Word Collective (TYWC) is looking to make this year’s youth slam just that – a sudden fortune of poetry prosperity. This season will bring some new twists, starting with the name of the slam: the They Speak Youth Poetry Slam. Why the change? Because we wanted the name to be a worthy identifier instead of a simple descriptor; a name that exemplifies the character and motivation of youth slam and its participants.

Another twist on the new season: monthly writing workshops. TYWC will be conducting monthly writing workshops so that youth can hone their writing skills and prepare their work for the slam. Through the workshops, we hope to not only encourage youth to write more new work but to produce more challenging, quality writing for performance. This, we hope, will raise the participation and competition in the youth slam. These are just some of the upcoming changes/improvements we are making this season.

So, we invite you to come help us continue to launch this, our 8th season of the city wide youth poetry slam,, the They Speak Youth Poetry Slam See what all the excitement is about and be inspired by the voices and leaders of tomorrow. Those participants between the ages of 13 and 19 will be eligible to compete for a spot on the team we take to Brave New Voices 2010 in the home of the stars, the City of Angels, Los Angeles, California

Please come for a night of stirring, thought-provoking poetry. This project is funded in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The healing (st)arts

This week in Killeen, TX at the GI coffee house, Under The Hood, veterans held a writing workshop. The workshop had been planned for Veterans Day, prior to the terrible shootings on base. The importance of the arts as vehicles of healing and nonviolent resistance took on added significance in the wake of the shootings.

Here's a great article about veterans in the arts, written by journalist, Dahr Jamail last month as published on his site.

Art as Resistance
by Dahr Jamail

“Throughout history, culture and art have always been the celebration of freedom under oppression.”
- Author unknown

Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have tough truths to tell, and it has been well demonstrated that the establishment media does not want to broadcast these. Given the lack of an outlet for anti-war voices in the corporate media, many contemporary veterans and active-duty soldiers have embraced the arts as a tool for resistance, communication and healing. They have made use of a wide range of visual and performing arts - through theater, poetry, painting, writing, and other creative expression - to affirm their own opposition to the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The first Warrior Writers Project workshop was led by Lovella Calica. To help veterans deal with their experiences in Iraq, she encouraged them to write. Those who were willing to do so were asked to share their writings with the group. An anthology of these compositions was produced as the book “Warrior Writers: Move, Shoot and Communicate.” Calica has since gone on to lead three writing workshops with veterans, and has published a second book, “Warrior Writers: Re-making Sense.”

The goal of the Warrior Writers Project is to provide “tools and space for community building, healing and redefinition … Through writing/artistic workshops that are based on experiences in the military and in Iraq, the veterans unbury their secrets and connect with each other on a personal and artistic level. The writing from the workshops is compiled into books, performances and exhibits that provide a lens into the hearts of people who have a deep and intimate relationship with the Iraq war.”

Warrior Writers has also created exhibits that showcase artwork by members, and photographs taken by them in Iraq. It is a largely self-supporting endeavor wherein the funds generated from the sale of books and artwork help sponsor veterans to travel around the country, reading from and displaying their work, as well as funding other workshops. It has now grown into the Combat Paper Project.

Iraq veteran Drew Cameron and artist Drew Matott co-founded People’s Republic of Paper (PRP), a paper-making studio in Burlington, Vermont. PRP offers artist residencies and also houses the Combat Paper Project. Cameron’s commitment to the unique venture is premised primarily upon the need he experienced “for catharsis and reconciliation,” and on his conviction that people must hear the soldiers’ side of the story. As he wrote in one poem,

If I say nothing, I have failed.
If I do nothing, I am guilty.
If I live by these ideals of democracy I can see that war is failure.
A war of opportunity rather than necessity is unjust.
War is the antithesis of peace, prosperity, democracy and freedom.
Let us hear the stories of these young men and women.
Let us see through the eyes of the Iraqis
and the minds of the soldiers
what has occurred under the auspices of freedom and democracy.
Let us then ask ourselves if conflict has brought peace.
Let us be challenged by the horrific atrocities that no one should
have to bear, and then ask ourselves if they were worth it.
The idea of integrating the Warrior Writers and PRP into Combat Paper evolved from a workshop at Green Door Studio, which combined photography, artwork and readings from the first Warrior Writers book. During an evening reading session, the participants realized there was a lot of potential to extend the intense experience to far more people than any workshop could include. On the second day of that workshop, Cameron assembled a group of veterans and began making paper of the uniform he wore during the occupation by shredding, beating, and pulping it to form sheets of paper, and his friends loved it. That was the genesis of the Combat Paper Project.

In Cameron’s words, “The residual anger from being used as tools for an immoral and illegal occupation finds release when shredded pieces of the uniforms are cooked and macerated in a Hollander beater to produce paper pulp.” Cameron told Truthout, “The fiber of the uniform, replete with the blood, sweat, and tears from months of hardship and brutal violence in Iraq, tells its tale through these sheets, which are then turned into books, broadsides, personal journals, or works of art composed by the veterans. The entire process is aimed at enabling veterans to reclaim and transform their uniform as a piece of art. It is a step toward reconciling veterans with their traumatizing participation in the occupation. This symbolic act gives them the hope to carve a path through which to reenter civilian life, not by distancing themselves from their experience and the accompanying guilt, but by taking responsibility for their actions. In 2007 we put together the second anthology, ‘Re-making Sense.’ The title comes from the goal of remaking sense of our relationship with the war, of our lives, of what we do now, as veterans.”

He says that combat uniforms that just sit in closets or boxes in the attic can remain associated with subordination, warfare and service. The Combat Paper Project redefines them as something collective and beautiful. The slogan for the project is “From uniform to pulp, Battlefield to workshop, Warrior to artist.”

Cameron, who hails from a military background, was raised by his father to value the ideals that the military professes: loyalty, integrity, and honor. His trip to Iraq altered everything, and “it wasn’t until after I came back that the truth hit me. I would keep to myself, and try to block out my experiences in Iraq. In the course of processing my memories I realized we had destroyed … [Iraq's] infrastructure and were not there to help. I realized it was not about freedom and democracy, and recollecting the way we had conducted ourselves, and the way we had brutalized the people turned me against the occupation. We were trained to fight and win battles. I was in the artillery, trained to blow shit up. We were not there to re-build anything or help the Iraqi people.”

Cameron was frustrated and aghast at the whitewashing of the situation in Iraq that the corporate media was engaged in. At the massive US air base Camp Anaconda, just north of Baghdad, he had access to satellite television and he realized that the images and stories coming out were different from what he was seeing on the ground.

“I remember intelligence reports that briefed us on attacks against us and how we were going to be hit were almost never in the news. I remember being hit for seven consecutive days by mortars, but that did not make news. As the violence escalated, we went from being able to go outside the gate to get sodas to not allowing Iraqis within two miles of the base because of fear of mortars and bombs. The American mainstream media coverage was always this spectacular type of reporting, full of the visual splendor of tanks and such, and not much content.”

That discontent with the media influenced Cameron strongly, spurring his desire to bring out the truth about what the US government has done in Iraq. “The fundamentals of civil society and infrastructure have been so changed and altered in Iraq that it is absolutely devastated. To get your mind around that is challenging.”

The art projects have been instrumental in assisting Cameron to come to terms with his experience in Iraq and in helping him heal.

“I can see it in my own writing, how the anger, gore, and frustration flows out graphically before transitioning into a deeper reflection and contemplation about how to approach the cultural relationship between militarism and our society. I have been able to purge all that stuff that made me so anxious, and now I’m more deliberate and patient in trying to understand what is happening in this country. It has helped me understand war-making and how this country works. My dad was in the military. It is so deeply rooted in us, it’s in our subconscious, and we have to root that out and be able to transcend it.”

He believes that the power of the written word and of artwork can achieve what few other channels of communication can. “You can tell people through a didactic political conversation or panel how brutal the whole thing is, but it is not the same. What we are now doing through our art and our writing gives people the full picture.”

The Combat Paper Project is the culmination of collaboration between combat veterans, artists, art collectors, and academic institutions. It is mostly displayed in public places, even on the street, which often attracts other veterans. Cameron is hopeful that with continued touring of exhibits and ongoing outreach, more veterans will join in. “We are trying to reach out beyond that … Last weekend, we had art-hop [where businesses allow artists to showcase their work], and I met four vets. One was a Vietnam vet who remained AWOL for over twenty years before returning home. They all want to be part of the project.”

Cameron intends to continue work with both the Warrior Writers and Combat Paper projects, and hopes that “eventually one of these is started with the veterans on the West Coast. The commonality of experience that connects vets is really eye-opening. We’ve worked with vets from Vietnam, Gulf War, Bosnia … and the paper-making ritual has been transformative for everyone who has participated in it. For some it is an end and a rebirth.”

The co-facilitator of the project, Drew Matott, is not a veteran, but an artist who has been involved in paper-making since 1998. Matott is interested in creating a dialogue with the public about the occupation of Iraq. One method he uses is to juxtapose art pieces that veterans created before a workshop against post-workshop pieces by the same veterans to underscore the transformation that has occurred in them.

“Usually the first pieces are very, very dark, when they first came in. Their latter projects reveal the healing that has taken place,” says Matott, who hopes the project will soon go international. In late 2008, he was in dialogue with the Ottawa School of Art, which was interested in bringing the group up to do a Combat Paper Project with AWOL soldiers in Canada. “Then we’re looking at taking some guys to the United Kingdom, to work with vets from Iraq and Afghanistan there, simultaneously opening the project up to wars other than the ones fought by the United States, involving soldiers from the United Kingdom who have been involved in other conflicts, also bring it near bases for active-duty folks to attend as well … I think it is making a difference.”

The project has had exhibitions around the country, in cities such as Minneapolis, Chicago and San Francisco, with many more to come.

Writing is also a primary means of both catharsis and resistance for soldiers returning from both occupations. Brian Casler spoke with Truthout about the immense relief from PTSD that participating in the Warrior Writers had brought him.

“For the marine, that was the first ‘ah ha!’ moment. We were sitting there, a small group of people at Fort Drum when Calica, who was leading the workshop, read out a letter written by a soldier to his family. She asked the group to guess where the letter was from. Everyone guessed Iraq or Afghanistan, and were stunned to hear that it was in fact from a French soldier in the trenches during World War I. He was an anti-war soldier and he was writing home about all the problems they were facing. It was verbatim the same crap we have going on. And then I read up on the Vietnam letters home, and that was also verbatim the same crap we have going on. Then, I listened to my fellow veterans at the workshop and said to myself, ‘That’s me. That’s me. Those words feel like they’re coming out of me. Your poetry speaks a piece of my heart.’ And every time I push Warrior Writers, I say this is the anti-war veteran’s heart right here on paper. Get it. I got a piece of me in there, but you know what, every piece feels like it’s a piece of me in there.”

Jon Michael Turner, a former US Marine Corps machine-gunner, became an icon of the anti-war movement when at the Winter Soldier hearings in Silver Spring, Maryland, in March 2008, he leaned into his microphone and said in an emotion-choked voice, “There’s a term ‘Once a marine, always a marine.’” Ripping his medals off and flinging them to the ground as the room exploded in applause he added, “But, there’s also the expression ‘Eat the apple, fuck the corps, I don’t work for you no more.’”

Turner was the first veteran after Cameron to become part of the Combat Paper Project. He was still in the military when he moved to Burlington and heard about the effort. “My first night in Burlington I started to make paper out of the stack of uniforms in my trunk.”

It was an accumulation of his experiences over time rather than any single event in Iraq that had turned Turner against the occupation. He remembers:

“Halfway through my second tour, things started to click with me. One of my close friends was killed, and another close friend, I don’t know how the fuck he survived it, but he got destroyed by a mortar. It was also about how much we were pushing people out of their houses. We would kick them out of their houses and they had nowhere to go. Seeing this, and interacting with the people and seeing how our actions affect them did it. Plus, I was scared for my life each time I went anywhere, wondering if that was going to be the day. Finally it hit me. It sucks that it took three years, but I realized things happening there were not right.”

Turner has found a genuine conduit to release the havoc that his time and actions in Iraq have wrought upon him, and to heal himself:

“All the experiences I’ve gone through, and all my built-up frustration and thoughts and anger … instead of taking it out on another person, I can put it into my art, and this allows me to reclaim those experiences. I can take part of my military uniform and cut it up, and turn it into a piece of paper. On that blank piece of paper I put one of my poems for other people to experience it, and for that moment when they read it, they can see it all through my eyes.”

He is not fully relieved of his trauma.

“I still struggle. The problem is [that] there is so much I need to reclaim. The Warrior Writers Project has taught people that they can express themselves through writing, and as traumatic as the experience may be, it’s coming out in a beautiful way.”

He is hopeful that the healing will continue as the project grows, and not for him alone.

In January 2003, Aaron Hughes was studying industrial design at the University of Illinois when he was called up by his National Guard Unit. After being trained in Wisconsin, he was shipped to Kuwait, where he spent fifteen months with a transportation company hauling flatbed tractor-trailers full of supplies to contractors, marines and other units. He regularly took supplies from camps and ports in Kuwait to bases in Iraq, such as Camp Anaconda, Baghdad and Talil Air Base.

After his tour, Hughes returned to college and decided to major in painting. He created more than fifty works of art from the nearly two hundred photos that he’d shot while in Iraq. Rather than attempting to provide a narrative of his experience in the occupation, he wanted his art to depict a deeper reality. Discussing his art with journalist Tatyana Safronova, he expressed the view that “narrative creates absolutes and I don’t have one.” Instead, Hughes sought forms of expression more similar to memory, with the “abstractions and complexities that exist in images or in poetry too.”

Safronova describes one of Hughes’s oil paintings, in which Hughes portrays a kneeling soldier in black and white, in uniform and holding a gun, unaware of two silhouettes of Iraqi boys standing behind his shoulder. The children are ghost-like, faceless, their images blurred into the desert. “It was very huge disconnect between us and them,” Hughes said.

A charcoal and watercolor piece titled “Do Not Stop … ” represents the consequences of the orders given to drivers in convoys not to stop when children were on the road. The painting shows a soldier’s boot next to the body of a dead child. “Safwan is the city that you cross the border into, in Iraq, and I’d say there’s a convoy going through about every ten minutes, or less actually …” Hughes explains to Safronova, “and these convoys have between 20 and 100 trucks in them. So that’s like between a quarter mile to two miles long convoys, and these trucks are huge trucks. And there’s a lot of kids on the road and … it was really hard to control those kids. So there were some things that happened there with kids getting hit by trucks.” In a poem that accompanies the piece, Hughes writes: “Keep the truck moving and don’t stop. Forget the kids! Now, now I can’t forget the kids. Damn kid. I’m not even there. Hundred thousand miles away and it’s still in my fucking head.”

Hughes uses his art in other ways, as well. During fall 2006, he went to a busy street intersection in Champaign, Illinois, and began “Drawing for Peace.” In the performance, he set a sign in the street that read:

I am an Iraq War Veteran.
I am guilty.
I am alone.
I am drawing for peace.

Expanding on his action, on his website, Hughes wrote: “It is an attempt to claim a strategic space in order to challenge the everyday and its constant motion for a moment of thought, meditation, and PEACE.” The video recording of the same action shows how Hughes had effectively shut down a street by drawing on it. Several buses stop for ten minutes. Many people exit the bus and stand on the street to watch him work before strolling away. Cars drive by him, seemingly unaware, but he works on, kneeling to draw, ignoring them, engrossed in his work. A motorcycle policeman appears and demands that Hughes leave the road and then pulls him off by his arm. Hughes returns and continues working on the dove he is drawing, until the cop again pulls him off the road, yelling at him. Hughes, dressed in his desert camouflage jacket, listens to the policeman patiently, then takes his sign and walks away. The camera pans back to show traffic resume, and cars and buses driving over the dove Hughes has left on the street.

The veteran, who has participated in marches, rallies, and the Operation First Casualty program, is seeking to publish his book “Dust Memories,” a visual documentary of his journey through Iraq. His work has been exhibited in the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Urbana, Illinois, as well as in galleries in Chicago, Champaign and New York.

Truthout asked Hughes why he chose art as his means of protest.

“I see creative expression as one of the closest ways we can touch our humanity. By finding outlets for this, we can break through the structures that have been set up to encourage us to dehumanize each other.” Hughes believes that art can be used to create a culture of a politically educated democracy because “As long as we have a culture that is depoliticized, we can’t deal with the occupation of Iraq effectively.”

When he was deployed to Iraq, Hughes carried with him the culturally constructed ideas of America as the great helper.

“But when I got there, I saw we were oppressing and dehumanizing the Iraqis. Seeing that first-hand, and recognizing the structures that allow this to happen, I had my perspective flipped around on me, and I saw how rooted in hate, greed, and racism this war actually was. People are making billions of dollars while other people are dying, and I don’t know how to respond to that but through revolt and by finding a language to fight against it. And that is where art comes in. I can use this to speak out against what is happening in Iraq. Through my art I have even found ways to work with the population I used to oppress in Iraq. I now work with a group that gets prosthetics to Iraqi kids who need them, and kids who have lost their eyesight because of us. These children are still willing to embrace me as a human being. That degree of forgiveness is something that is difficult to reconcile without being pushed into finding ways to break through the hatred and sustain hope in humanity through love.”

Theatre has been a tool for resistance and social transformation across cultures and ages. American soldiers have used it too, with the objective of exposing the reality of the occupation to the general population, and to exorcise themselves of the dark experience.

Truthout interviewed Jeff Key while he was driving from his home in Salt Lake City to Denver to perform “The Eyes of Babylon,” the one-man play that he has developed from his Iraq war journals. Writing down his experiences in a notebook he carried in the cargo pocket of his uniform kept him sane, says Key. For entertainment, he would read his entries aloud to fellow marines. After returning home, Key was inspired to turn his entries into a play when friends who heard him read encouraged him to do something with his writings. He wrote the play, and a workshop version of it opened at the Tamarind Theatre in Hollywood, California. It ran there for eight months and closed to full houses. Since then, Key has toured “The Eyes of Babylon” nationally and internationally.

Key mentioned that he had two more plays in the works. “We’re going to continue touring this one for a year, and I’ve just been busy with the charity foundation, but the play is my principle form of activism.” The charity is the Mehadi Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Key that serves “as a support network providing assistance to United States Armed Forces veterans” enlisted during the invasion and occupation of Iraq “who seek help dealing with issues of PTSD, drug and alcohol concerns and other issues.” The organization also provides “aid and assistance to Iraqi civilians as they attempt to rebuild in the wake of the conflict, with specific emphasis on the alleviation of hunger and rebuilding homes and schools destroyed by the War.”

The lack of coverage of the occupation of Iraq worsened in December 2008, when major US television networks ceased sending full-time correspondents to Baghdad. In Afghanistan, as the situation has spiraled out of control, independent media coverage there has become more sparse as well. The door is now left open wider for veterans to use alternative methods to get their message out. With countless stories to tell, in increasing numbers, veterans stirred by their conscience are using creative outlets and artistic expression to articulate their opposition to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Art and literature sublimate the human experience. They have the power to transform those who create, as well as those who experience the creation. It is not short of any miracle that despite having been through some of the most life-threatening and morally appalling experiences, so many soldiers and veterans have retained their sanity and emotional intelligence. It is even more commendable that they have found within themselves the energy and resolve to deploy those precious assets to accomplish the two-pronged objective of healing themselves and reclaiming the ideals of democracy by making public their resistance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

In the lunch room at Akins HS

Last Friday, Hart and I had a NOY table at Akins HS in far south Austin. I always enjoy being at Akins, partly because we are set up right in the middle of the cafeteria where students wait in line at the various food counters. The students see us and our banners ("make art, not war" and "peace is green, peace is creative") and are curious. "What's this about?" is usually the first question.

Akins has a large JROTC program and several students who came up to the table identified themselves at JROTC members. Often, JROTC students are wearing dog tags. Hart had his dog tags on, too, and that got conversations going.

During the break between the two lunches, a special ed teacher came up to the table and said, "I'm pro-military." We responded that because we are anti-war, we are pro-enlisted people. That is, we are pro-human being, which especially includes people in the military who we don't want to see killed or injured. She said she'd worked as a civilian on several US military bases abroad and was married to an enlisted person. She also identifited herself as a strong Christian and was worried about the US "becoming socialistic." We had an interesting back-and-forth with her -- very cordial even though we disagreed. She said Jesus was "a warrior." Hart countered that he was a 'warrior' with words, but not with a sword.

A vice-principal who hadn't heard of NOY came up to the table and took a few pieces of literature to read while he was officiating in the cafeteria. He returned them later without comment. We've vetted our literature with several staff at Akins in the past -- with the coordinator who sets up our visits and the previous principal. We also make materials available through the counseling area and the library and have been invited to table at their career fairs in the spring.

Right before the end of the second lunch, a bunch of students decided to start filling in the "I'd rather buy ________ than war!" fliers, some of which are posted here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Get a (Green) Job!

We made a new flier this year with a War is NOT Green! message. Did you know that the US military is the number one institutional polluter in the WHOLE WORLD?? One reason is that the US military is the largest single consumer of oil. In fact, here's a mind-boggling related statistic I just learned: The US is spending approximately one BILLION dollars per 1,000 troops in Afghanistan, and part of the reason the cost is so high is that the military is paying about $400 for every gallon of gasoline used to transport troops around the region because it is so difficult to get the fuel there.

I thought that in addition to containing facts about the un-green military, our flier should have a list of some ideas for getting green jobs. Here is what I have so far, including a few local options and some with a national scope. These are just a few of the many possibilities out there. If you think of others that you'd like to see included, let us know!

Get a (Green) Job! ...Check out these jobs and job training possibilities for creating a greener, more sustainable world -- and earning a living at the same time…

Casa Verde Builders
Casa Verde is an award-winning local Americorps program that teaches hands-on construction skills by building energy-efficient homes from the ground up. As an Americorps program, participants earn a living allowance as well as an education award to use toward college. 512-236-6100

ACC renewable energy technology training
Austin Community College offers classes in new, high-demand job fields such as solar panel installation and design.

Student Conservation Association (SCA)
Founded in 1957, this program offers work for young adults in the national parks, marine sanctuaries, cultural landmarks and community green spaces in all 50 states in the US. Check out the possibilities at or phone the closest field offices to Austin: 214-442-1633 (Dallas) or 713-520-1835 (Houston).

Green Dream Jobs
This website keeps a running, up-to-date listing of all kinds of jobs that have an environmental focus, including organic farming and green building.

National Alternative Fuel Training Consortium (NAFTC)
This network of training centers focuses on automotive technology used to operate and maintain alternative-fuel vehicles. The two training centers in Texas are in Ft. Worth at Tarrant County College (817-515-4614) and in Tyler at Tyler Junior College (903-510-2153).