Friday, January 31, 2014

Reagan students say education is most important

We had a crew of 6 of us today for the career fair at Reagan HS -- it was great to be with such a spirited and experienced group.  The career fair was held in the school gym, and our SOY table was situated directly across from a Marines recruiting table.  They had their chin-up bar -- and so did we.  Making the point that peace takes courage -- and that inner discipline can't be hammered into a person by taking orders -- we invited students to try as many chin-ups as they wanted to try, and to take a look at our military reality materials if they were thinking of enlisting.  Most students who came by the table also voted with a stack of 10 pennies to distribute among 5 categories in the Penny Poll.  And here are the results:  EDUCATION came in first, with 178 pennies in the jar.  Second was ENVIRONMENT with 115 pennies.  HEALTH CARE was next at 108 pennies, then HUMANITARIAN AID with 85 pennies.  Lastly, the MILITARY jar held 47 pennies.  So, if Reagan HS students could decide how our tax money is spent, they would likely not have to worry about how they are going to pay for college or their family's health care.  They might live in a more sustainable world.  And the military might have to stop paying for recruitment in schools.

ACC mascot (with stickers) stops by our table

Marines recruiting table across from us

Our crew (minus one), with ACC mascot

Explaining the Penny Poll

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Goodbye to an American hero

“I’ve often thought, standing onstage with 1,000 people in front of me, that somebody over on my right had a great-great grandfather who was trying to kill the great-great grandfather of somebody off to my left. And here we are all singing together. And wouldn’t it surprise all those great-grandfathers if they could see their great-grandchildren singing together? They’d probably say, ‘Why did we fight so hard?’ Good question!

We all go to different churches or no churches, we have different favorite foods, different ways of making love, different ways of doing all sorts of things, but there we’re all singing together. Gives you hope.”

-- Pete Seeger

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Peaceforce crew at Lanier HS

We were glad to table at Lanier HS today, and so happy to have a crew of Hart, Tami and a new friend, Susana.  We really enjoyed talking to students who came by to do the chin-up bar (for Cesar Chavez t-shirts), try the Peace Wheel and take literature.  I didn't get too many takers on the DIY art today, but we have a new block print that is easy to use and that students can add to with rubber stamps, etc. and the stencils are still available, too.  It's fun!  We also had the penny poll available for students to vote on their priorities for govt. spending.  As Hart explained, if Lanier students could decide on government spending, college would be covered.
We added to our literature in the library and career center.  Thanks, Vikings!
Susana and Hart talking with students

Hart's IVAW hockey shirt

MLK book display at the Lanier library

New block print plus rubber stamps

SOY brochure next to military fliers in library, as we are allowed to do by AISD policy

SOY brochure next to recruiting fliers in library

IVAW patch on Hart's hockey shirt

sign on chin-up bar

Military reality fliers next to recruitment brochures

student rubber stamp art folder

Do it yourself!

sign on chin-up bar

Tami, Susana and Hart with students, doing the penny poll

t-shirts we stenciled for chin-up bar prizes

peace crew

new booth at Lanier, where students use "halla dollas" (Valhalla...) to purchase things

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr. born 85 years ago today

"War is Not the Answer."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

His extraordinary leadership in the US civil rights movement produced the best export the US has ever given to the world:  a model for how nonviolence can work in the face of violence and terrorism.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Starting the new year with a SOY table at Travis HS

Tami, Hart, Ben and I tabled at Travis HS today during their single lunch period.  Students came by and were curious about our brochures, the chin-up bar, Peace Wheel and Penny Poll. Thanks to Hart for reintroducing the Penny Poll and for bolstering our supply of Austin Community College brochures.  I was especially glad to see the brochure on their utility lineworkers program.  This is a job in high demand.  Strong physical skills and an interest in applied science could lead to a good, well-paid job as a power line worker with a 2-year associate's degree.  Check out their department at 512-223-6404.

It was good to see the notices about the GO Center (college and career center) at Travis helping students navigate financial aid sources for college.  And there were some good books on display in the library on the subject of bullying.

As Hart said, the way the US acts in the world is often like a bully.  For those who want to join the military, that is an important consideration.  Do they really want to be a bully?  Most kids really don't.

Books in library display

Book in library display

chin-ups for peace -- building discipline from within

A student does the penny poll

Hallway poster

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Guantanamo: 12 years of injustice

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. 155 men are still imprisoned there without due process.  The terrible injustice of this prison and the effects on the men who are being held there are expressed candidly in this public statement from Guantanamo prisoner, Shaker Aamer:

Today is the twelfth anniversary of the establishment of Guantánamo Bay. It has been a blot on the reputation of America, and will remain that until, first, it is closed, and second, lessons are learned from it that can help prevent any repetition in the decades to come.
It will soon be 12 years that I have been in Guantánamo. I arrived on the day my youngest child Faris was born (February 14th, 2002). Even then, I had already spent some two months in US captivity, undergoing terrible mistreatment. Those are twelve years that are lost to me forever.
What I have missed most has been the opportunity to do my part to fill up my four children’s reservoir of love. The early years of a child’s life is a parent’s best chance to show them what love is, before they become more distant with approaching adulthood. Losing this, my opportunity and obligation, is my greatest regret.
However, we must look forward, rather than backwards. Even though British agents supported the Americans in my abuse, I wish them no ill. I do not even want to see them punished. I want only to come home to my family so that I can try to make up to them what I have been unable to provide for all these years.
I am on hunger strike once more. The US military wants to repress the truth about Guantánamo, but the truth will always come out. Others suffer even more than I do. All hunger strikers in Camp VI are now being brought over for a dose of the worst medicine the military can provide here – Camp V Echo, the Alcatraz of Guantánamo Bay. The cells are all steel, and the metal chills the bones as if you are trying to sleep in a refrigeration unit. They now punish us with force feeding, and they punish us with hypothermia, all because we call for justice.
Yet justice will be restored – justice must be restored.
I must say one thing to people out there about January 11: My biggest fear is that someone will do something stupid on the anniversary. When anyone does something wrong on the outside, we on the inside have to pay the price for it. When there was that incident in Yemen, the Americans banned the Yemenis from going home – even though it had nothing to do with the Yemenis here in Guantánamo Bay. I am grateful to those who support us. But if anyone wants to demonstrate on our behalf against the black stain that is Guantánamo, please do it in good faith and good humour, and above all practice no violence.