Mike Shell: Thank you for your service!
SEYMPeace.org was created by Mike Shell who has kept the page current and relevant for many years. Mike has stepped down and Steve Kinney of the SEYM Peace & Social Concerns Committee will maintain SEYM Peace pages going forward. The new plan is for "more of the same, it ain't broke and I don't intend to fix it." Our thanks are due to Mike for years of dedicated work here. The new maintainer especially appreciates the neat, clean work Mike has done "under the hood" where the HTML that makes it go lives!
From PRONICA: Urban Gardening Presentation in Managua
This is the latest blog by Laura Hopps, ProNica’s program director in Nicaragua, regarding her Pickett Endowment for Quaker Leadership grant. It’s about an urban gardening and food security workshop she held at Quaker House in Managua. -- Melissa Ajabshir
Quaker Earthcare Witness: Mary Jo Klingel Interviewed
Mary Jo Klingel, of Quaker Earthcare Witness and the SEYM Committee for Earthcare, sends this out to all SEYM Friends concerned for our care for the Earth:
"I participated in a radio interview at FGC about the workshop I was attending there, called Gathering for a Deeper Relationship with Earth. This is the link to the show."
Half-Million Iraqis Died in the War, New Study Says
We cannot be reminded too often that our debt to the Iraqi people is ignored and unresolved. Will Friends take up the concern for reparations? Will Friends seek accountability for the misuse of our taxes and resources to mount the invasion of and carry out the destruction of a country without even a just cause for the war?
"In the new PLOS Medicine journal survey, led by public health expert Amy Hagopian of the University of Washington in Seattle, an international research team polled heads of households and siblings across Iraq. The researchers, including some from the Iraqi Ministry of Health, aimed to update and improve past estimates of the human costs of the war and occupation. [,,,] We think it is roughly around half a million people dead. And that is likely a low estimate."
Article: National Geographic Iraq War Deaths Survey 2013
A relevant Friends program may suggest one way forward: Madison Quakers Inc. has raised more than a million dollars to fund humanitarian projects in Quang Ngai province in Vietnam.
Working for healing & reconciliation: mqivietnam.org
New Quaker Organization To Address Palestine-Israeli Conflict
The Quaker Palestine Israel Network (QPIN) is a new national Quaker network dedicated to Palestine Israel Concerns.
"The purpose of the QPIN network is for Quaker activists to share ideas, energy, and experiences educating their own Meetings about Palestine Israel concerns, and to provide guidance for Friends who hope to educate their Meetings about the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement and encourage their Meetings to take action. A Steering Committee is being formed to determine QPIN’s goals, structure, and processes, to set up networking tools, and to grow the organization by finding and supporting new members."
Announcement & sign-up: quakerpiag.blogspot.com
How Prisons Change the Balance of Power in America
Southeastern Yearly Meeting has a long standing concern for the issues surrounding mass incarceration: The United States has the world's largest prison population, both in raw numbers and as a percentage of our population. This Atlantic article raises some key concerns.
"With so many powerful arguments being made against our current criminal justice system, why then does it persist? Why haven’t the American people, particularly those who are most negatively affected by this most unsettling and unsavory state of affairs, undone the policies that have led us here? The answer, in part, stems from the fact that locking up unprecedented numbers of citizens over the last forty years has itself made the prison system highly resistant to reform through the democratic process. To an extent that few Americans have yet appreciated, record rates of incarceration have, in fact, undermined our American democracy, both by impacting who gets to vote and how votes are counted."
Full article: How Prisons Change The Balance Of Power In America
Seeking way forward at AFSC:
"Criminal Justice reform is catching fire in Quaker communities around the country, in large part due to the publication and popularization of Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow.” The facts embedded in every page are undeniable and horrifying, and illustrate a truth that many have known for years, that these injustices are tied directly to this country’s history of slavery."
AFSC Acting In Faith: Healing Justice
Friends Committee on National Legislation In Action:
"Quakers Scrambling to Discourage Syria Bombing" is the title of an article in the August 28th US News & World Report. Good coverage of the efforts of FCNL.
To see more about what FCNL is doing with the Syria issue, go to their website: www.fcnl.org
Protecting Our Florida Waters
Gainesville Friends held a very successful community meeting about conserving and protecting our Florida springs. Called the 'Spring to Action Forum', the event featured a presentation by the Florida Springs Institute director, Bob Knight.
"Water is the essence of Life, and as Quakers, we believe it is our spiritual responsibility to protect and conserve Florida's waters. We are deeply concerned about the depletion and degradation of the Floridian aquifer, as well as the springs and waterways of our region and our state. Please come and share your ideas about how we can work together to conserve and protect our precious springs, rivers and aquifer. "
This message was included in an invitation that went out to other faith congregations and members of the community, welcoming them to attend a public forum at the Meeting House on Sunday August 4, 2013 at 1:30 pm. More than 50 people attended the event, which was sponsored by the Quaker Earthcare Witness Committee, with support from Peace and Social Concerns.
Bob Knight's presentation about the endangered status of the springs and aquifer included an informative slideshow, and it was followed by a lively Q & A and discussion period. Many attendees left their contact information on a sign up sheet. The Gainesville QEW committee will be exploring options for following up on this successful event. Be sure to visit the website of the
Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute: http://floridaspringsinstitute.org.
Friends throughout Florida are concerned about protecting our endangered springs, rivers, and aquifer. Here are some organizations and resources for staying informed and taking action.
Reaching One Child at a Time
Tampa Meeting follows a leading, starts a program to support literacy for disadvantaged children
by Nancy Triscritti, Tampa MM
It seems so unfair that some students can already be behind when they first enter kindergarten. I teach in a Title I school, and year after year I see children entering kindergarten who, before they even start, are behind. Studies show that the children from families who value literacy and have books in the home begin kindergarten nine months to fifteen months ahead of those from homes with no books. This gap almost never decreases, and in the summer, when students spend most of their time in their home environment, it continues to grow.
I bought up my concerns at a recent envisioning session to determine our meeting's Peace and Social Concerns projects for the coming year. To my surprise, but pleasure, this concern resonated with a large number of Friends. From this session, two projects were born. The first was to quickly come up with ten books to send home with ten children from low socioeconomic homes. The immediate response and effort put forth amazed me. For one thing, we learned more about each other. One person shared that he was a volunteer with the Friends of the Library at the Hillsborough County Public Library, where we could purchase quality books for twenty-five cents each. Several Friends went to various library locations to purchase these books. Others scoured their shelves at home. From these efforts we came up with more than enough books. I was able to send home bags of ten to twelve books with each of ten children.
I'd like to share the story of just one of these students. Chyanne is my lowest performing third grade student, she reads at a mid-first grade level. Chyanne comes from a very challenging home situation where there are nine or ten kids living with their grandma, a mix of siblings and cousins. I went to Chyanne's classroom with a bag of ten or so books and I took her into the hall with her backpack. I explained that they were for her to take home and keep so that she could enjoy them there. I also told her not to take them out at school (I knew it would create a distraction for other students). This was around 9:30. Later in the day, around 1:00, I was in her room to give her teacher some paperwork. Chyanne was sitting at a table with her teacher and she had on her backpack. I asked her why she was wearing it. Her teacher started laughing, and then said that she didn't know what I had given to Chyanne, but that she had refused to take the backpack off all day! She even wore it to lunch! What a feeling that gave me and should give all of us!
The second project is more long-term. It will give us at least a starting point for reaching one child at a time to bring opportunities for literacy support in the home for my low socioeconomic students. We plan to continue collecting books as well as a few other supporting supplies. Over the summer I will make ten sturdy bags with handles which will hold a set of alphabet letters or tiles and a small dry erase board and marker. This part of the project is made possible by donations from within our Meeting. On a daily basis a book and directions for a word work activity will be added to each bag. Each day, Monday through Thursday, a bag will travel home with each of ten students and then return the following morning when the book and the word work activity will be switched. This summer I plan to type up and print a large variety of these activities to have them available for quick placement in the bags. Our book collecting effort will continue throughout the year as we increase our resources, and to have available sets of books to send home next summer. One other aspect of the project is a short training session with parents to prepare them for using these daily activities with their child.
My hope and belief is that other teachers in my school will notice what I am doing and pursue a similar effort on their own, or perhaps the school might write a grant for such an effort. If other Meetings or individuals are interested in supporting this project to narrow the learning gap, gifts of money and donations of books would be gratefully appreciated. Additionally, any individual or Meeting led to develop a similar project near them may feel free to contact Nancy Triscritti by email at RRecovery@aol.com or by phone at 813-833-1875.
August 2013 Update
Our Reaching One Child at a Time project has continued. In the spring of 2013 we were able to send books home with 15 students to enrich their summer. The feedback from both parents and children has been encouraging. Parents have expressed appreciation of the project. One parent has shared how nice it is to have quiet activities to do with her child. Another said that reading with her child gives them things to talk about and that they both look forward to the time they spend together with books. It has been rewarding to me to see the children's eagerness to see what their book for the night will be when they come to my classroom to trade out books and activities.
Tampa MM meeting has set the goal for this year at 500 books. That would be 10 books for each of 50 students. Books they cherish as being their own!