Wednesday, January 20, 2010

MLK Day 2010

On Monday, we had a table at the MLK Day celebration at Huston-Tillotson University following the march from UT and the Capitol. It was a great day! The march drew thousands -- one of the largest turn-outs I've seen over the years. Weather was good, and I think that the Haiti disaster may have drawn people, also, to express the solidarity and humanity that King stood for.

I marched with CodePink colleagues with our banner from UT to the Capitol and then scooted over to H-T to set up our NOY table before the marchers arrived.

Thanks to Tura, Bobby and Craig for being there at the table (photo above -- taken toward the end of the time we were there, when most of the crowd had migrated to the music stage). Lots of people stopped at the table, from young children to teenagers to older adults. The peace wheel was popular. There was one group of quite young children who came by twice because, as their accompanying adult told us, "of all the booths, this was their favorite." Those kids knew the most about the peacemakers on the wheel -- even about Gandhi and the salt march. I learned that they attend Primavera Montessori School, which stresses peace history. That's good news!
I always hope that the peace wheel and the info sheet on historical and current peacemakers encourages some further enquiry by the kids into what peacemaking actually entails and how many ways there are to do it. Lack of teaching about this is always pretty apparent. One young person, when the wheel stopped at MLK, said, "Um, he was the first Black man in America?" This is on MLK Day, no less! Another teenager, when asked what MLK did, couldn't come up with anything, even after suggestions like, "What kinds of methods did the Civil Rights movement use?" and "How about what Rosa Parks did..."

One woman who came by looked at our materials and nodded her head, saying that her husband is a disabled vet and that they've had to fight for his benefits. Another woman who looked at our materials shook her head, no, saying "war is bad, but we need it sometimes." She said she grew up in Biafra. Before the marchers arrived, I talked for a bit with one of the women who was volunteering at the Planned Parenthood table next to ours. She said she was a 5-year Air Force veteran and that she was curious about our message. We talked about it, and she was supportive, although she said her experience in the Air Force was generally positive and that thankfully, she had not experienced sexual abuse herself. She was in the psychiatry field. One teenager who came by with her mom nodded at the "Ten Excellent Reasons to Not Join the Military" book and flier and said that she had dissuaded one of her sisters from joining even though they were from a military family. A group of students from McNeil High School in Round Rock came by and expressed interest in setting up a talk there with us.

The music was loud from the stage, which did make it hard to talk very long with those who came by the table, but it was a festive atmosphere with many community groups and vendors.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Youth poets in the new year

A new year/new decade notice from the Texas Youth Word Collective:

EVENT: They Speak Youth Poetry Slam
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 23rd, 2010, 4 pm
ADMISSION: $5 cover, free for slam participants, under 5 & teachers
PLACE: The Independent (corner of E. 5th & Brushy St.)
Austin, Texas 78702
CONTACTS: Tova Charles (514) 554-3720, Project Coordinator
Dr. Sheila Siobhan (512) 422-6653, Co-Director

Happy New Year!!!!! As a new decade begins, we at the Texas Youth Word Collective, also entering a new era, wish everyone much success and prosperity. One of the great things about a new year is the idea that you can change and make things better: your grades, your health, your life. You can reinvent yourself. With that in mind, if you have never been to our youth poetry slam, They Speak, we extend to you a special invitation to do something new; come check it out, start a trend amongst your friends and family, do something cool. For those of you that have been long-time supporters of TYWC, we welcome you back to show the uninitiated how much fun the youth slam is and how you picked up your own cool points. School teachers are admitted free of charge!

So, we invite all of you (the rookies, the veterans, and the curious) 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.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Student protest of US military build-up in Guam

check out this youtube video of one of the high school students in Guam who spoke out during a hearing on January 8 in opposition to US plans to move US Marine forces from Okinawa to Guam, and the negative economic, environmental and cultural effects that would have on the people of Guam. See this site for more info.

Grants for solar energy electrician training

In yesterday's issue of the Austin American-Statesman business section, there was an article about Capital Area Workforce Solutions receiving a grant of $4.8 million in conjunction with the Austin Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee for use in solar energy Green Jobs training.

According to the article, "The training is targeted at current and future workers, with skill sets ranging from unskilled labor to highly skilled electricians." ... "The jobs for these workers are directly tied to utility-scale and commercial solar projects..."

If you are interested in applying, please check out the Workforce website here. According to the article, more training details will be available in February 2010. Check it out!