Saturday, March 27, 2010

New group name stresses Sustainability of Nonmilitary Options

This month, we decided to make a change to the name of our group. In light of the many ways that war and militarism are unsustainable to our planet and all its inhabitants, we are making a transition from the name, Nonmilitary Options for Youth, to Sustainable Options for Youth. The acronym, SOY, is appropriate, too. "I am" in Espanol, expresses our view that every person has intrinsic talents and possibilities that should be allowed to grow and flourish in a healthy environment.

Over the summer, we will gradually change the name on our literature and other materials. Our message and goals remain the same: to offer area high school students alternative points of view and information regarding the realities of military life and to discuss nonmilitary, sustainable options for pursuing their goals after high school.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Keeping his(her)story alive at LBJ/LASA High School

On this day, 102 years ago, women in the needle work industry went on strike in NYC to call for higher wages, a shorter work day and an end to child labor. Rights taken for granted now, such as basic voting rights, were denied to women then, and were only gained through years (decades) of nonviolent action, including marches, petition drives, worker strikes and public demonstrations.

The his(her)story of such people's movements is not well-known among high school students, so tabling with our peace wheel and NOY literature at LBJ/LASA High School felt like the right place to be today. Students during both lunches were interested in the books, buttons and pamphlets at the table, and the peace wheel and penny poll were popular. Among the penny poll jars, health care and the environment received the most penny votes. At the peace wheel, it was good to see kids get interested in several of the people on the wheel whom they didn't know. We often hear students tell us that they attended Barbara Jordan Elementary School, or they know that Austin has a Cesar Chavez St., but they don't know who those people were. One student who took a peace wheel info sheet said, hopefully, that maybe some of those people would be on the TAKS test. I wish!

As Hart and I were setting up the table, a woman stopped by who was visiting LBJ as part of the Breakthrough Program, which aims to get low-income, first-generation students into college. Students can apply to the program in the 6th grade, and the program supports them from middle school through their high school graduation. This woman said she had lived in the Rio Grande Valley, where she had seen recruiters in the schools on a daily basis. She was glad to see our alternative materials, and we gave her a copy of the "It's My Life!" book as a resource for the students she works with.

Among the peace wheel prizes, we had "make bridges, not enemies" stickers sent out by CodePink, which provided a good opening for mentioning that International Women's Day bridge actions were taking place today around the world. Hey, we should have one in Austin, said a group of young women who were clustered around the peace wheel. Yes!

Photo above from the Million Musicians March for Peace, Austin, March 2009

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Marching for International Women's Day

To help celebrate International Women's Day, (March is also Women's History Month), I went to San Antonio along with 6 others from CodePink Austin to participate in their annual march through downtown yesterday. It was a diverse, spirited crowd, and I liked the range of peace and justice messages on the signs and banners held by the marchers. We held a banner made for the occasion by our own seamstress extraordinaire, Heidi Turpin. There was a notable presence of counter-recruitment signs and messages displayed throughout the procession, too, as shown in the other photos above. This was significant in San Antonio, home to several military bases.

Big thanks to Sylvia Thompson for these photos.

Monday, March 1, 2010

BayPeace Youth Resource Fair draws a crowd

The photos above show some of the great goings-on at the Positive Opportunities for Youth Resource Fair held last week in Oakland, CA. The afternoon event was organized by BayPeace (Better Alternatives for Youth) in Oakland. The resource fair included performances by students and a visit to that evening's school board meeting to hand-deliver their 160-foot roll (!) of signed Youth Manifesto petitions asking the board to adopt a policy that would protect students from getting aggressively pursued by military recruiters.

Thanks to Jeff Paterson for taking photos, and to Susan Quinlan for sending them!